Friday, November 16, 2018


One day after publishing my statistical comparison post about right fielders ..Mookie Betts was named American League MVP.


Mookie did it all for the Red Sox in 2018, leading the league in WAR, batting average, slugging, runs scored, and runs created. After a down year in '17, Betts' bounce-back season was so superb, one ESPN writer wondered aloud if he has passed Mike Trout as the best player in baseball.

I am freaking the f*ck out that Betts will want a bigger contract than whatever Bryce Harper gets this off-season. He is absolutely worth 10 years and $350+ million, and while it is convenient to say "it's not my money" the fact is that if Betts doubles (or triples) his salary it will be very difficult for Boston to keep Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez in the fold.

When Mookie made his way up the ladder in the Sox' minor-league system - as a second baseman - I remember thinking he had potential, but wondered where's he gonna play? Dustin Pedroia was blocking him at second, and it seemed inevitable that Boston would trade Betts for pitching help. There was one comment in particular that I'll never forget:

 Mookie Betts for Matt Harvey. Who says no?

Fortunately the Sox moved Betts to a different position rather than a different team.

I've been spoiled as a sports fan this year. Mookie is the second player from my favorite team to be named MVP of his sport. 

Devils winger Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy this summer, a week after my favorite hockey player, Alex Ovechkin, finally won his first Stanley Cup. Which makes it hard for me to complain about the sub-par season the Green Bay Packers are having.

I feel bad for Aaron Rodgers though. The front office needs to get their act together and surround him with a team that can contend for a championship. I'd much rather see him win another one of these..

..than one of these:

I've got a big football card post cued up, so that I can focus on preparing for Black Friday. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Right Fielders & Recent COMC Purchases

While we wait for Bryce Harper to sign a record-breaking contract (coming off a season in which he was worth 1.3 WAR) I thought it would be fun to look at some other great Right Fielders.

Does anyone else remember this commercial? It was the first thing I thought of when starting this post.

It's been a while since I've done one of these statistical analysis posts; I planned to write about first basemen but nothing jumped out at me and then my internet connection was nearly non-existent for most of the summer. Also I've been buying (and selling) a few cards of right fielders lately, so I'll sneak some COMC purchases in here as well.

Let's start with this - there are more Hall of Famers representing right field than any position other than pitcher. And yet there are still a handful both in and out of the Hall that are often overlooked.

Not this guy though. The great Roberto Clemente is as beloved as any baseball icon. Statistically (based on career WAR) he's the sixth-best RF ever. However, due to his tragic and premature death after the 1972 season, Clemente played at least three fewer seasons than the five players ranked above him - including the slightly underrated Mel Ott and the very underrated Frank Robinson.

In 1975 Frank Robinson was named player-manager of the Indians, becoming the first African-American to manage a team. Frank was also the second black manager in the majors, since no other men of color had been hired before he became the Giants' skipper in 1981.

The average career WAR total for the 25 Hall of Famers who primarily played right field is 72.7. Eleven players met or exceeded this threshold, and ten of them are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Clemente isn't the only great right fielder to play for PITTSBURGH. Paul Waner is tenth all-time in RF WAR and third at the position in career hits with 3,152 - nine more than Tony Gwynn.

Dave Winfield is fifth on the career hits list for RFs. His 3,110 over 22 seasons falls just short of the 3,141 collected by the man who succeeded him in San Diego. Dave's career WAR is 64.2, lower than three players at his position who are not enshrined in Cooperstown. 

Joe Carter is 17th all-time in RBI by a right fielder, and collected as many extra base hits as Joe DiMaggio. That, and his unforgettable home run in the 1993 World Series, is enough to earn him consideration on this year's Veteran's Committee ballot. However he rarely walked, and his slash line of .259/.306/.464 only merits a career WAR of 19.6. 

No single statistic tells the whole story (and I use WAR mostly for convenience than anything else) but that's alarmingly low for a player of Joe's stature. George Springer could pass him with a solid 2019 season (same for Yasiel Puig.)


A quick note on some of the cards in this post before I get into a statistical comparison: I don't consider myself a 'flipper' and try to avoid the practice of profiting off other collectors. But with Black Friday approaching and these cards being listed at tantalizingly low prices, I was able to earn some extra cash towards future COMC purchases. The Clemente, Waner, Carter, and Winfield cards were all bought with flipping in mind - although I'd be happy to keep any that don't sell.

such is the case with Shoeless Joe here

The Joe Carter card in particular was a surprising find at $5.25; Thunder Clap inserts are rare - and Gold Medallion parallels are extremely so. I re-sold it within an hour for a nice profit, but I wasn't greedy. A Juan Gonzalez from the same set sold for over $66 on eBay; I asked for less than half that amount for Carter.

Now let's get back to comparing underrated right fielders...

I go back and forth on Larry Walker every year. His career WAR of 72.7 is equal to the average of every Hall of Fame right fielder. Buuut he played in Colorado and his home/road splits aren't great. He won seven Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and an MVP award. Buuut he was always injured, rarely played more than 140 games in a season, and only has 2,160 career hits (24 fewer than Joe Carter.)

Apparently the BBWAA feels the same way; Walker's Hall of Fame vote totals have been all over the place: 20.3% on his first try, 10.2% on his fourth. He had a big jump on the last ballot, to 34.1% - his highest total yet. Buuut he's still a long way from getting in, and he's running out of time.

It appears likely that Larry will be the latest in a long line of RFs who didn't quite make the cut for one reason or another (not counting Joe Jackson, Sammy Sosa, or Gary Sheffield. We know why they’re not in.) Here's a list of ten other right fielders - five in the HOF and five out. Which side does Walker belong on?

Larry Walker72.7.313/.400/.56538313112160141
Dwight Evans67.1.272/.370/.47038513842446127
Reggie Smith64.6.287/.366/.48931410922020137
Dave Winfield64.2.283/.353/.47546518333110130
Vladimir Guerrero59.4.318/.379/.55344914962590140
Bobby Bonds57.9.268/.353/.47133210241886129
Enos Slaughter55.3.300/.382/.45316913042383124
Kiki Cuyler46.7.321/.386/.47412810652299125
Chuck Klein43.6.320/.379/.54330012012076137
Tony Oliva43.1.304/.353/.4762209471917131
Dave Parker40.1.290/.339/.47133914932712121

Klein’s slugging % blew me away – that's quite a high average for someone with only 300 career bombs - but then I dug a little deeper. It seems his home/road splits are as severe as Walker’s – if not more so – and his production dropped after a 1933 trade from the Phillies to the Cubs. Park factors aren't just a thin air thing.

If you had a golden ticket to Cooperstown and you could only select one right fielder for enshrinement, who would you select and why? Are there additional RFs you would like to see in the HOF? Let me know in comments!



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pretty Girls from Gavin

A few weeks ago Gavin offered up some surplus customs for trade. I was happy to take a few off his hands.. but what I really wanted were original Baseball Card Breakdown creations.

I had received a "Pretty Girls" mini in a previous trade package and was hoping he could whip up a few of my favorites. The Allen & Ginter set is a nice one, but I never really sought them out due to their size (I can never find Ultra-pro pages that fit non-traditional cards.)

Gavin indicated that this template was kind of a tough one anyhow, and so I
tried to make his work a little easier. I made a list of six famous ladies I like, e-mailed him a few pictures to choose from, and gave him one design element request for these Pretty Girls cards:

fairly basic, borderless design...but with "Pretty Girls" written in ribbon/cursive at the top left and the first name written in the same style

Naturally, I went with Jennifer Lawrence as card #1. Around this time last year I spent actual money on Hunger Games cards just to have her in my collection. (retailers like Dave and Adam's are practically giving those cards away.)

This is not a new picture of Jennifer (I miss her long locks) but it is my favorite of all-time. I'm thrilled that Gavin chose it for the front photo.

The card backs feature a second photo...

Gavin wrote the text on all of these. I had thought about writing some myself but his reputation and knowledge speaks for itself. Also, these are in Card Savers because I didn't want to smudge the ink; Gav warned me about it and I didn't take the cards out of the sleeves, but a tiny bit of text did start to smudge (on other cards, not this one.)

Kristen Bell is a mutual favorite of ours. I have a couple Kristen cards in my collection but Gavin has a much, much better one.

Here's a look at the back. As is the case with Jennifer, I've seen all of the films/shows mentioned.


If you've heard of Katherine McNamara before, there's at least a 65% chance it's because of this blog. I adore this young actress (and she's quite a good signer, too.)

The photo Gavin chose for the back is probably my favorite. I really hope that Shadowhunters helps her land some more significant film/TV roles in the future.

Batting cleanup in this set is Supergirl star Melissa Benoist.

She's another multi-talented actress who can sing better than most chart-topping pop stars. Glee never interested me, but I wouldn't say no to seeing her perform as Carole King in the Broadway hit Beautiful.

Melissa is featured in the Cryptozoic Supergirl trading card set (no autographs though). I picked up one card on COMC and might grab some more before the end of the month.

When I made my request for six custom cards (eight, counting some MusiCards you'll see in a future post) I told Gavin that he didn't have to make all six, if he was too busy or I was asking for too much of him (I've got a complex, what can I say?) The first four would have been fine with me, but he had no problem fulfilling my entire order. And so, we have card number five...

Here's another under-the-radar actress that might make you say "Who?"

Britt Robertson first caught my attention in Under The Dome..and then I forgot about her (I haven't seen her in anything mentioned in this text) until I heard about a film called Ask Me Anything, where she plays...a blogger. I really want to see that someday - if I can ever find it. I'd also like to get my hands on one of these Under The Dome autographed cards. They're not cheap though.

Until then, I'll try to catch Britt in the Shonda Rhimes legal drama For The People.

Rounding out the "original six" we have my dream girl Anna Kendrick..

...and by "dream girl" I mean that she has literally appeared in my dreams. This photo was featured in that dream journal post, wherein I alluded to a potential card connection.

I hadn't noticed until this card, but Gavin used different colors for each name. The black really pops here, and it matches this photo perfectly. I read a preview page of Scrappy Little Nobody and I'm making a mental note to read the whole thing. (now that I've just typed it out, it's not a mental note..)

As I said, I offered to trim this list down to four. Gavin's response was to suggest I add three more to the list, so I'd have enough to fill a 9-pocket page. Sounds good to me!

In the seven spot I chose yet another talented signer, Victoria Justice. She's been featured on this blog - and on a trading card - before. 

I don't care what anyone says, Victoria is the most talented and strikingly beautiful Nickelodeon alum ever..and this is coming from a guy who straight-up obsessed over Amanda Bynes back in the day.

So... when Gavin gave me the option to choose three more Pretty Girls subjects, I had to think a little bit. This time last year Taryn Southern would have been right at the top of the list - which is why I commissioned Corky to produce a 4-card set of Southern singles.

Did I need another custom card of her? I suppose not. But I'm very happy to add this one to my collection. I didn't have a lot of photos to choose from, but this outdated close-up looks fantastic. Taryn has one of the most perfect faces I've ever seen. That god.

The back features another classic pic. Oh hey, I just though of an idea..what if Taryn and Victoria played partners in a police or courtroom drama? It would be called Southern No mention of her latest album I Am A.I. but Corky's cards covered that.

The ninth and final card in the set is someone who has just recently landed on my radar. College sports fans probably know Laura Rutledge better than I do; I've only seen her a few times on SportsCenter and Get Up. (Didn't realize they were the same person at first. But when I did...)

Gavin appears to be more familiar with her work, possibly due to her San Diego connections?

She's a beauty queen and a sports personality. Who's the lucky bastard that got to wife her up?

That would be former Rockies and Red Sox infielder Josh Rutledge. Now I have husband and wife in my collection.

Gavin, thank you very much for these fantastic customs! I'm thrilled to add them to my growing custom card stash.


Friday, November 9, 2018

The Basketball card Diaries part Two

I've finished adding my basketball card collection to the Trading Card Database and football is well underway, so I thought I'd recap TCDB trades #2 and #3 in the second installment of...

In my first entry I mentioned a trade involving some 1989-90 Hoops set fillers and a half-dozen 2015-16 Donruss extras. It was basically a 5-for-1 deal with TCDB user porman - who is now my first 'friend' on the site. (Just an fyi, if anyone would like to add me as a friend I'm hockeydude) The Hoops cards arrived today.

My favorites among the 31 new cards include Jerome Lane's no-look pass, Eric Floyd's sleepy layup, Bill Laimbeer boxing out A.C. Green, and Scott Skiles running point for the Pacers - a team I never knew he played for.

Some of these all-stars and HOFers are brand new to my collection, some I had in my miscellany box until a month ago, and some have roller marks across the front. No biggie, I can always upgrade in the future. It's not like these are 1966 Topps high-numbers.

Thanks to porman I'm now at over 70% completion of this set. 

Now that I've pulled all the basketball cards out of my binder and sorted them chronologically I need to figure how how I want to store them. Do I put the common (non-star) cards back in the basketball binder? Do I keep them all in the box and maybe sleeve them up? I'm leaning towards that option - that way I can save the binder for sets I'm working on.
Before I even started scrolling through each year's basketball sets and creating a wantlist/tradelist I somehow stumbled upon an old wantlist post from TCDB user Billy Kingsley. You might know him on Blogger as Billy Kingsley. I had an Alonzo Mourning card he needed to finish off a set, and once I combed through my entire collection I proposed a trade.

Billy's bubble mailer also arrived today. It includes 21 cards of some 1990s faves:

I've just started building these two Ultra sets and I'm still under 10% completion... but there are some more incoming.

Early '90s Upper Deck. I've added the '92-93 McDonalds cards to the list of sets I'm now trying to complete. It's only 50 cards and I've got the Shaq and MJ already, so why not?

Some Hall of Famers from my peak collecting years - and beyond. These are the first two cards from 1999-2000 Topps Chrome I've ever owned; my NBA fandom ended around 1998.

Looking over my wantlist stats, it appears that I have a few preferred players that I wasn't quite aware of prior to this project. Hakeem Olajuwon was always my guy - but the second-most frequent player added to my wantlist was Dominique Wilkins, followed by Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O'Neal. These numbers will change once I make a wantlist for the 2000s, and I'll probably do a third entry in The Basketball Card Diaries at that point.

Also I should update or delete the Basketball Stars Master List tab. It's sort of unnecessary now that I'm on TCDB.

I have a few cards of the 1994 US Olympic basketball team but I don't remember that squad at all...which is odd to me, because I was a big basketball fan that year and a huge Olympics fan. With players like Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Shaq, and Reggie Miller I'm assuming that the "Dream Team" guys collectively decided not to play in '94 and let the stars who didn't make the cut two years prior have their shot.

Here's the rest of the batch from Billy, including some 1996-97 SP singles and a Gheorghe Muresan from his brief stint with the New Jersey Nets. 

If I hadn't received these cards in the mail, this post might have focused on some obscure and semi-random bigs from the 90s. Also, this set pays tribute to the 1989-90 NBA Hoops set, which was released a decade earlier (thus the X logo at the bottom right.) I don't think I'll try to complete this set, but I'll probably add a few to my wantlist eventually.

Thanks for the trades, "porman" and "Billy Kingsley"..:P

Have a great weekend, everyone. And sign up for Secret Santa! (if you haven't already done so)