Sunday, December 4, 2016

Today's Game Era Committee Hall of Fame Ballot

     Tonight at 6 p.m. EST, the 16-person Today's Game Era Committee will vote on 10 different people for the opportunity to be entered into the MLB HOF.  The 10 people on this year's ballot include 5 former players (Mark McGwire, Orel Hershiser, Will Clark, Harold Baines, Albert Belle), 2 former manager (Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson), and 3 former executives (George Steinbrenner, Bud Selig, John Schuerholz).  To be selected into the HOF under this format, the ballot member must receive at least 75% of the committees vote (or 12 out of 16).  Here are my picks if I had a vote:


Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 Topps #118: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins, P

     I was shocked to learn that Jose Fernandez passed away this morning at the age of 24 in a boating accident near Miami Beach.  He was the NL Rookie of the Year (2013) and a 2-time All-Star (2013, 2016) in just his fourth MLB season.  Today's Marlins game against the Braves has been cancelled.  This is a tragic event for the baseball community.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Topps #250: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, 1B

     Miguel Cabrera hit a first pitch single to load the bases in the Top of the 3rd inning for his 2,500th career Hit.  According to, he was the 100th player to ever reach the milestone, and was the youngest to do so since Hank Aaron did it in 1967.  The Hit came off a pitch from Trevor Bauer of the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, and was fielded by Abraham Almonte in Right Field.

     Averaging 179 Hits during each of his first 13 seasons with 169 Hits so far this year,  there's no telling how far Cabrera will go by the end of his career.  At this rate, Cabrera should reach 3,000 Hits before the end of his 17th MLB season in 2019.  A sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, the 11-time All-Star has a .320 career Batting Average, 1536 RBI, and 441 HR's.  If he were to play a full 20 seasons, Cabrera would have 6 seasons left to play before retiring.  He was the last Triple Crown Winner since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967.

Monday, August 8, 2016

2016 Topps #700: Ichiro Suzuki, Miami Marlins, OF

     Ichiro Suzuki's 3000th hit came as a Triple off Chris Rusin of the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field yesterday.  What's even more interesting about this fact is that Suzuki and Rusin both have the same birthday on October 22nd.  It will forever remain a mystery what could have been if Ichiro had played his entire career in the Majors.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

2016 Topps #566: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, DH

     Alex Rodriguez announced his "release" from the Yankees today; however, he never did not use the word, retirement, and will remain eligible to sign with any interested team.  A-Rod's final game with the Yankees with be on Friday, August 12th.  Although he is not the oldest player left in the Majors (Ichiro Suzuki holds that honor), A-Rod is the last player in the Majors still around from the the 1994 strike season.

     The number of players still around from the 1990's is rapidly dwindling down.  The only other ones I could find based on a quick scan of the 2016 Topps set are: Bartolo Colon ('97), David Ortiz ('97), Carlos Beltran ('98), Adrian Beltre ('98), and A.J. Pierzynski ('98). 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016 Topps #637: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals, P

     Strasburg has started the 2016 season 13-0, which hasn't been done since Roger Clemens did it in 1986.  No one has started of a season 14-0 since 1912.  Strasburg will have an opportunity to do so today.

Friday, June 10, 2016

2014 Topps #265: Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals, P

     Yordano Ventura pitched his first full season in the majors during the 2014 season after making only three starts the previous year.  Ventura made 30 starts for the World Series contending Royals in 2014, winning 14 games with a 3.20 ERA and 159 Strikeouts in 183 Innings Pitched.  He made two starts against the Giants in the 2014 World Series, winning 1 game with a 1.46 ERA and 6 Strikeouts in 12.1 Innings Pitched.  He also scored a Run on a Hit in 4 AB's during the regular season.

On June 7th, 2016, Manny Machado charged Ventura on the mound in the 5th inning after being hit by a 99 mph fastball.  Earlier in the game Machado stared Ventura down and taunted him with verbal expressions after popping out in the 2nd inning.  For the altercation, Ventura was suspended for 1 start, while Machado was suspended for 4 games.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2015 Topps Update #US169: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, P

Max Scherzer signed a $210 million contract with the Nationals before the start of the 2015 season, securing him in D.C. through 2021.  Scherzer made good on his first year of the contract, receiving 2 Pitcher of the Month awards and reaching his third consecutive All-Star game appearance.  He finished 3rd in Innings Pitched, 2nd in Strikeouts per 9IP, and 2nd in Walks per 9IP.  Scherzer led the N.L. in Strikeout/Walk ratio and Fielding % as P in 2015. 

On May 11th, 2016, Max Scherzer became only the 4th player to strikeout 20 batters in 9 innings pitched.  The other three were: Randy Johnson (2001), Kerry Wood (1998), and Roger Clemens (1986, 1996).  Scherzer's feat came against the Tigers in a 3-2 victory. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2015 Topps #491: Rougned Odor, Texas Rangers, 2B

Rougned Odor experienced his first major league playoff series against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 ALDS, where he hit a HR, a Double, and 5 Single for a total of 7 Runs and 2 RBI in 18 AB's for the Rangers.  Odor went from being the youngest player in the American League during his 2014 rookie season, to the 6th youngest during his 2015 sophomore season.  He has rapidly taken over as the primary 2B for the Rangers, playing 65% of the innings in that role in 2014 and 70% in 2015.

Rougned Odor was suspended 8 games for his part in a May 15th, 2016 altercation resulting from an illegal slide by Jose Bautista, who was also suspended for 1 game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2006 Topps Pre-Production #PP1: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners, OF

     Ichiro Suzuki had just completed 5 seasons in the majors to start 2006, although already 32 years of age.  He would again be selected to the All-Star team and win another Gold Glove award, both for the sixth consecutive time.  Suzuki led all of the majors with 224 Hits--a category that he would rank top two in for 10 straight years.  His 9 Triples and 45 Stolen Bases were also good enough to rank 3rd in the league that year.   

     The 2006 Topps Pre-Production release contained only 3 cards (I.Suzuki, A.Rodriguez, A.Pujols), and contained nearly identical photographs as the Topps base set.  During the 1990's, the Pre-Production sets often contained 9 cards with variation poses.  Regardless, I continue to integrate the Pre-Production cards with my base sets along with the Traded/Update sets as shown below.  Actually, the Pre-Production cards appear to be less "touched-up" than the base cards, which have always appeared to look dark to me in the 2006 set.  As always, the card backs for the Pre-Production vary a little from the base cards.  It's hard to believe that it's been over 10 years since the release of the 2006 Topps set.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

2015 Topps Update #US397: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, OF

     Bryce Harper had a really big season in 2015, winning the NL MVP award only 3 seasons after winning the NL ROY award.  Harper made his 3rd All-Star team in 4 MLB seasons, and won his 1st Silver Slugger award.  Statistically, Harper led the league in Runs (118), HR's (42), OBP (.460), SLG (.649), and OPS (1.109).  He also batted .330 (2nd) with 99 RBI, 38 Doubles, 172 Hits, and 124 Walks (2nd).  His 2015 salary was $2.5 million.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2015 Topps #650: Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox, 3B

     Pablo Sandoval signed with the Red Sox on November 25th, 2014 after 3 World Series championships with the Giants during his 7 seasons with the club.  The deal with Boston was for 5 years and $95 million with an option for a 6th year totaling up to $107 million.  Sandoval played in 126 games for the Red Sox in 2015, starting 122 of them at 3B. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

2003 Topps Traded #T52: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, DH-1B

     David Ortiz signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox at the start of 2003 after being released by the Twins a month prior.  Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners in 1992, but was traded to the Twins near the end of the 1996 season where Ortiz spent his first 6 MLB seasons.  With the Red Sox in 2003, Ortiz saw more playing time than he ever had in his career up to that point.  He broke the 100 RBI mark for the first time, hitting 31 HR's and 39 Doubles in 448 AB's.  Ortiz made it to the playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2003 after losing with the Twins against the Angels in 5 games during the 2002 ALCS.  This time Ortiz would lose as a Red Sox against the Yankees, but not hitting his first 2 postseason HR's with 4 Runs and 6 RBI in the 7-game ALCS.  He is set to retire with the Red Sox after the 2016 season.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2015 Topps #360: Adam Laroche, Chicago White Sox, DH

     Adam Laroche recently announced his retirement after 12 seasons in the majors.  He went through much of last season as a DH for the White Sox with 48 games at 1B--making only 1 error in 379 chances with a .997 Fielding Pct.  Laroche played nearly his entire career at 1B except for the 1 inning that he closed out for the White Sox last year, facing 3 batters and striking out 1. 
     Before the White Sox Laroche played for the Nationals between 2011-2014, which also happened to be the years that I spent going to Nats games in D.C.  He earned a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award in 2012, reaching his 3rd of 4 career postseason appearances, hitting 2 HR against the Cardinals in the 5-game NLDS.
     Laroche had 100 RBI seasons in 2010 with the Diamondbacks and in 2012 with the Nationals.  He made over 150 hits in 2007, 2009, and 2012.  Laroche had 42 Doubles with the Pirates 2007, and hit over 20 HR's ten times throughout his career.  He started in the majors with the Braves, and had a short stint in Boston for 6 games with the Red Sox in 2009.   

     Laroche's final card will most likely be in the 2016 set, but here he is in 2015 Topps next to a few of his teammates.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Baseball Card Price Guide Comparisons, 2010-2012

     I started using Beckett Monthly around 1987 for pricing data.  About 15 years ago,  I started using Beckett's  Official Price Guide of Baseball Cards, which I still use today as my primary checklist and as a pocket guide during travels (4-1/4" x 6-3/4").  I made it pocket-sized (1/2" thickness) by pulling out all the pages that I didn't need (everything except Topps, Bowman, Play Ball, Goudey, and Tobacco).

At home, I started using the much larger 2012 Beckett Price Guide 34th edition a few years ago (measuring about 8" x 11" with a 1-1/2" thickness).  I started outgrowing this guide lately when some of the vintage or more obscure sets I've been collecting were nowhere to be found.  I knew of two other options: the Almanac of Baseball Cards & Collectibles and the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards.  I found them both for $4.00 each ($0.01 + $3.99 shipping).

     I replaced my Beckett Baseball Card Price Guide with the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards (shown below).  This book is just like my other Beckett guide above, but much thicker (about 2-1/4" thick or 75% thicker).  It includes almost all of the vintage and obscure sets that I've been looking for, as well as modern pricing.        

     The Beckett provides a chart for adjusting pricing based on age and grade of your cards.  Older cards are hold their value better through the lower grades using the Beckett.  This method of pricing requires a little more figuring on our own part, so I've created a modified version of this chart to suit my collecting needs (provided on a separate tab of each of my blogs).

The Beckett provides only two columns for a LO and HI value.  I tend to use the HI column for singles and the LO column for complete sets (adjusted using my version of the chart above).  This is the method that I'm most comfortable with.

     I also purchased the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards as an opportunity for another perspective.  As far as I can tell, the Standard Catalog moved to strictly vintage pricing with its 2012 edition.  Beckett also began offering a strictly vintage price guide last year, but includes all four major sports instead of just baseball.  Both, the Standard Catalog, and the Beckett Vintage guide boast larger print.       

 My favorite aspect about this guide so far is the chronological index in the back.  Actually, I'd prefer price guides to be organized according to the chronological index for pre-Topps cards (through 1955 Bowman) instead J.Burdick's American Card Catalog system that's been used ever since his first publication back in 1939.  Back then, the industry didn't know much about the companies or the years that baseball card sets were produced, so a library-type card catalog system was invented to organize all of the sets.  Over the years, enough research has been conducted to determine who made the sets and when, so I figure it's about time to start organizing them chronologically.  A primary example is the 1911 Tobacco Gold (T-205) set being listed before the 1909 Tobacco White (T-206) set.  1909 should come before 1911.  I end up having to flip all over the book to go from one year to the next in many cases.  Knowledge of vintage sets becomes difficult to determine--It's confusing.  The chronological index in the back of the Standard Catalog is definitely a first step in the right direction.    

     For pricing, the Standard Catalog uses 3 columns based on condition rather than a range for a single condition, which leads to a little less figuring required.  There is a [NM 7.0] column, an [EX 5.0] column, and a [VG 3.0] column.  [EX-MT 6.0] and [VG-EX 4.0] pricing can be determined by averaging two adjacent columns.

     As a low grade vintage collector, the key to most of my pricing is in the shaded portion of the guide shown below:

*[GD 2.0] condition cards can be determined by halving the the [VG 3.0] column,
*[FR 1.5] condition cards can be determined by halving the [GD 2.0] column.
*[PR 1.0] condition cards are stated to be worthless, which I'll take to be less than [FR 1.5].

  I'm just not so sure that I'm on board with this system yet.  I tried pricing a few low-grade cards using the above logic and came up with some interesting results.  

     I tend to use the Beckett guide more for pricing and the SCD guide more for locating or identifying sets.