Wednesday, October 30, 2013

#98 Derek Jeter

About the Front: If you're not as familiar with this set as I am, maybe you're surprised to see Derek Jeter...although that's a bit less Jeter than usual. The teenaged version of the Yankee captain looks to be about 75 pounds soaking wet.

About the Back: "Good range at shortstop"? When's the last time you heard that said about Jeets?

Triple Play:

1. Blah, blah, blah: 1996 Rookie of the Year, five-time World Series champion, 2000 World Series MVP, 13-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glover, five-time Silver Slugger. All-time Yankee franchise leader in games (2,602), hits (3,316), and steals (348).

2. Derek's list of personal partners is well-known, and includes Mariah Carey, former Miss Universe Lara Dutta, and actresses Jordana Brewster, Jessica Biel, and Minka Kelly. Rumor has it that he sends one-night stands home with a gift basket containing autographed Jeter memorabilia.

3. Do you want to gawk at high school yearbook pictures of Derek Jeter? Of course you do.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Oh, for the days when this guy was another faceless prospect. Young Kevin had no idea how much misery Derek would visit upon the Orioles for the next two decades.

Bill James Said: Nothing. I guess he wasn't keen on forecasting the careers of low-level minor leaguers.

On This Date in 1993: October 30. The Greysteel massacre took place in Northern Ireland. Three members of the loyalist paramilitary group UDA opened fire in a crowded bar, killing eight civilians and wounding 13 people.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#97 Scott Fletcher

About the Front: "I've got it!" Or maybe Scott Fletcher is saying, "You got it!". Either way, he looks mighty comfy in his blue turtleneck with team logo peeking over the top of the jersey.

About the Back: Who was the unfortunate pitcher who gave up a go-ahead double on a pitchout? That would be sidearm/submarine thrower Terry Leach.

Triple Play:

1. When George W. Bush owned the Texas Rangers, he and his family named their English Springer Spaniel "Spot Fetcher" in honor of Fletcher. Of course they did. Spot has her own Wikipedia page. Of course she does.

2. After retiring, Scott managed Tampa Bay's Class A Charleston RiverDogs club in 1997. He was a coach at Emory University from 1999 through 2004, and he is currently the Atlanta Braves' assistant hitting coach.

3. His daughter Brittany is engaged to be married to current White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I recognize this as another one of those pesky last dozen or so cards that I needed to complete this set. Guys like Scott Fletcher and Terry Steinbach stick in my mind because of their stubbornness.

Bill James Said: "His .402 on-base percentage was a career high; his 16-for-19 performance as a base stealer was by far his career best." I guess Boston was good to Scott.

On This Date in 1993: October 29. The first "Got Milk?" commercial airs on American television. The ad, directed by Michael Bay, features a man who is unable to intelligibly answer a $10,000 trivia question because his mouth is full of peanut butter. "Aaron Burr!"

Monday, October 28, 2013

#96 Russ Swan

About the Front: For a guy named Swan, he sure doesn't look very graceful. Please hold your tomatoes until the end of the show.

About the Back: Russ took the loss in said big league debut, allowing five runs (three earned) in a five-inning start. Topps was kind enough to spare you the details.

Triple Play:

1. On June 9, 1990, he debuted as a Mariner with seven no-hit innings against Detroit. He allowed back-to-back singles to Cecil Fielder and Tracy Jones to start the eighth, but kept the Tigers off the board and picked up the win.

2. After his pitching career ended, Swan coached at Washington State University and in the Rockies' organization.

3. Sadly, he died under suspicious circumstances in 2006, when he was just 42 years old. Russ was found unconscious at the bottom of a stairwell in his home in Arizona, the victim of an apparent robbery. He died nine days later in the hospital as a result of his injuries.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: His name spelled backwards is "Naws Ssur". I didn't notice that as an adolescent, but if I ever travel back in time and meet my younger self, I'll be sure to tell him that.

Bill James Said: "A 30-year-old lefthander, pitched well for the Mariners in 1991, not so well in 1992, poorly in '93." Says it all, really.

On This Date in 1993: October 28. The California wildfires blaze on for a second day. They will eventually destroy 700 homes and over 16,000 acres of land.

Friday, October 25, 2013

#95 Larry Walker

About the Front: That is one marvelous dugout shot. I'm sure the players and coaches refer to the apparatus behind Larry Walker as a bat and helmet rack, or something boring like that. But when I look at it, I think "cubby holes". It brings back memories of preschool.

About the Back: How does a guy like Larry Walker go undrafted? Like most Canadian kids, he dreamed of playing hockey, and only dabbled in baseball during summers. But after getting cut from two Junior A hockey teams at age 16, Larry turned his attention to the diamond. He was relatively inexperienced for an 18-year-old when the Expos took a $1500 flyer on him after watching him play for Canada in the 1984 World Youth Championships. That gamble certainly paid off.

Triple Play:

1. Though it's Walker's hitting stats that jump off the page, he also had a cannon for an arm. On July 4, 1992, he threw out Padres' shortstop Tony Fernandez at first base on a hard-hit single to right field.

2. Like many ballplayers, Larry was superstitious, especially concerning the number three. He wore #33 throughout his 17-year career, married his wife Angela at 3:33 PM on November 3 (11 x 3 = 33), always insisted on having a phone number full of threes, and took practice swings in multiples of three before stepping to the plate.

3. His superlatives: seven Gold Gloves, five All-Star selections, three Silver Sluggers, and the 1997 National League MVP award. In 1997, he led the league with 49 home runs, a .452 on-base percentage, .720 slugging, and 409 total bases. His .366 batting average trailed only Tony Gwynn (.372), but Larry did capture three of the next four NL batting crowns. His career slash line of .313/.400/.565 was unquestionably boosted by the thin air of Colorado, where he played his home games for nearly a decade, but his 141 OPS+ indicates that he was still damned good on his own merits.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember looking at a price guide in 1993 or so and seeing that Larry Walker's 1990 Score rookie card was worth a few bucks. I was thrilled, right up until I pulled out my stack of cards from that set and saw that I had Greg Walker, not Larry. Thanks a lot, Greg. Now, of course, you can get Larry's rookie card for 45 cents. Sheesh.

Bill James Said: "The Expos cleanup hitter, needs to get to 100 RBI and/or 100 runs to be widely recognized as a star." Check, and check.

On This Date in 1993: October 25. Less than a week before Halloween, legendary actor and horror maven Vincent Price dies of lung cancer at the age of 82.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

#94 Lance Johnson

About the Front: Lance Johnson looks a lot tinier than I remember. At 5'10", he's not especially short, but he is a pretty slight 160 pounds. I suppose that it's all relative; these guys were bigger when I was in grade school.

About the Back: Johnson went on a good triples run, leading the league every season from 1991 through 1996 with the exception of 1995, when Kenny Lofton beat him out 13-12. For his career, One Dog had 117 triples and just 34 home runs. That's a rare ratio these days.

Triple Play:

1. In 1993, Lance did not hit a home run in 579 regular-season plate appearances. In Game 4 of that year's ALCS, he launched a two-run homer against Toronto's Todd Stottlemyre. That made him the first player in MLB history to go deep in a postseason game after being shut out in the regular season.

2. His lone All-Star selection came with the Mets in 1996, when he achieved career highs across the board: .333/.362/.479, 117 runs, 227 hits (led league), 31 doubles, 21 triples (led league), 69 RBI, and 50 steals. He is still the only player in MLB history to lead both major leagues in hits, as he topped the American League with 186 in 1995.

3. During his playing career, Lance owned One Dog Records, a label that produced rap albums.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: One thing that always stood out about Lance Johnson was his immaculately-trimmed goatee.

Bill James Said: "Had the highest ground ball/fly ball ratio in the American League (265-110)." It doesn't hurt to hit it on the ground when you've got wheels.

On This Date in 1993: October 24. What the heck. How about another Calvin and Hobbes strip?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

#93 Pedro Astacio

About the Front: Pedro Astacio knows that the smart pitcher accessorizes. Check out his glove, with its lovely shade of Dodger blue.

About the Back: Seriously? Pedro tosses four shutouts in his first 11 career starts and you're giving shout-outs to his high school and the scouts who signed him? Bad form, Topps.

Triple Play:

1. Astacio spent parts of five seasons in the middle of his career pitching for the Rockies, an unenviable task. How out-of-whack was the offensive environment in Denver before the humidor? In 1999, Pedro went 17-11 with an ERA+ of 115, struck out 210 batters in 232 innings, set a team record with seven complete games...and had an earned run average of 5.04.

2. He owns a ranch in Quisqueya in the Dominican Republic. It is reportedly adjacent to the ranch of former Orioles/Mets/etc. closer Armando Benitez.

3. Wikipedia tells me that Astacio applied for Pakistani citizenship because of his amateur interest in jai alai, but this is unsourced. A Google search turned up a message board post from a Padres' fan in 2008. I'm gonna say that this is probably bunk, but it's also too weird to go unmentioned.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I was always amused because his name reminded me of pistachios.

Bill James Said: "He embodies most of the things you look for in a young pitcher - a power pitcher working in a pitcher's park, whose arm was not abused at an early age." Yeah, moving from Dodger Stadium to Coors Field must have been a shock to the system.

On This Date in 1993: October 23. Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6. Back-to-back World Champions for Toronto. "Touch 'em all, Joe!"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

#92 Tom Pagnozzi

About the Front: Do you think the other catchers were jealous of Tom's gently tousled version of helmet hair? He makes it look good.

About the Back: Although Pagnozzi stayed with the Cardinals through 1998, he would only top 100 games once more, logging 119 in 1996.

Triple Play:

1. Tom won three Gold Gloves for his defense behind the plate. In 1994, the last of his Gold Glove seasons, he led the league with a 50 percent caught stealing rate.

2. He hit a career-high 13 home runs in 1996, and went deep twice in a game three separate times that year. He did not have any other multi-homer games in his career.

3. His older brothers, Tim and Mike, played minor league ball in the 1970s. Tom's nephew Matt (Tim's son) is a catcher who has totaled 42 big league games from 2009 to present with the Cardinals, Rockies, Pirates, and Astros.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I just read somewhere that Joe Torre moved Todd Zeile from catcher to third base to make room for Pagnozzi in the Cardinals' lineup. That might have impressed me as a kid, but even then I knew of Zeile's reputation as a bat in search of a position.

Bill James Said: "After a horrible start he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in May, which explains the decline in playing time." Tom played 92 games in 1993.

On This Date in 1993: October 22. Scottish military officer, engineer, and race car driver Innes Ireland died of cancer at age 63.

Monday, October 21, 2013

#91 Craig Colbert

About the Front: Look ye upon the only Topps card of Craig Colbert's brief big league career. He played 49 games as a rookie in 1992 (in his seventh pro season), another 23 in 1993, and that was that.

About the Back: Craig was the only 20th-round draftee from 1986 to make it to the majors. That makes him something of a success story, really.

Triple Play:

1. Colbert actually played third base in his first career start on April 18, 1992. In that game he singled twice in four at-bats, drove in a run, and scored a run. He appeared in ten games at the hot corner and four games at second base in his tenure with the Giants.

2. He was a manager in the Padres' farm system from 2000-2006, including first-place finishes in 2001 with the Lake Elsinore Storm and in 2004 with the Portland Beavers. He was also San Diego's bench coach in 2007 and 2008.

3. At last check, Craig is a Phillies' scout.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I am 99.9% certain that I never saw him play, but I'm reasonably sure that his name is pronounced phonetically, and not with the silent "T" that has been popularized by late-night satirical pundit Stephen Colbert.

Bill James Said: "A 29-year-old backup catcher, the Giants like to run their second-string catchers back and forth to Phoenix so that they get some playing time, which enables two or three players to share what is essentially one job." The following catchers took turns behind starter Kirt Manwaring in 1993: Jeff Reed (66 total games), Colbert (23), Andy Allanson (13), and Jim McNamara (4).

On This Date in 1993: October 21. The day after a wild 15-14 Toronto win that included 32 total hits and 14 walks, a pitchers' duel breaks out in Game Five of the World Series. Curt Schilling shuts out the Blue Jays on five hits in a 2-0 win. Juan Guzman allows one earned run in seven innings in a losing cause. The Series will return to SkyDome with the Jays still ahead of the Phillies, three games to two.

Friday, October 18, 2013

#90 Scott Erickson

About the Front: There's Scott Erickson's trademark black glove. When he pitched for the Orioles, Scotty routinely insisted that the team wear its black alternate jerseys whenever he got the start.

About the Back: Scott's 20-8 1991 season and his 13-12 1992 campaign sure don't differ much statistically. And gee, a quick peek at Baseball Reference tells me that Erickson got an average of 5.53 runs per game in support in '91. In '92: 3.85. That would do it.

Triple Play:

1. Scott no-hit the Brewers on April 27, 1994, wriggling his way past four walks and a hit batter.

2. In 2000, he was named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People". I bet it just ate Brady Anderson up inside.

3. In recent years, Erickson coached the Carolina Mudcats (2012) and Mahoning Valley Scrappers (2013).

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Scott Erickson was another shrewd Orioles pickup in mid-1995. They bought low on him, as he'd gone 20-36 since 1993 with an ERA well over 5.00. He went 9-4 in Baltimore through the rest of the season with a 3.89 ERA. He remained a dependable mid-rotation arm until his elbow went kerblooey in 2000.

Bill James Said: "Led American League in all the good categories, like losses (19), hits allowed (266), runs allowed (138) and stolen base percentage allowed (87.5%)."

On This Date in 1993: October 18. Here's the cover of that day's New Yorker, with a Yankees flavor.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#89 Eric Anthony

About the Front: Nothing much to see here. Just a solid action photo of Eric Anthony squaring up a ball in Shea Stadium. We know that Eric had a decent mustache, and that the Astros' jerseys were made by Russell Athletic. Of course, now all 30 MLB teams are outfitted by Majestic. The times, they are a-quite different.

About the Back: Ugh, check out those batting averages. Trust me, he didn't walk enough to make up for it. In 1992, his on-base percentage was an anemic .298.

Triple Play:

1. Anthony led the minor leagues with 31 home runs in 1989, when he was named the AA Southern League MVP as a member of the Columbus (GA) Mudcats.

2. After he batted .249/.319/.397 in a career-high 145 games in 1993, the Mariners inexplicably traded Mike Felder AND a 21-year-old Mike Hampton to Houston to obtain him. He batted .237/.297/.412 in 79 games in Seattle, and was released a year later.

3. Anthony's big league legacy may be the 440-foot home run he hit in a home game against the Cubs' Mike Bielecki on May 17, 1990. It was one of the few balls ever hit into the upper deck in the Astros' former home stadium.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: The prospect sheen was mostly (if not completely) off of Eric by the time I popped in on baseball, so I missed any collector-driven hysteria for his cards. If you were collecting in the early 1990s...was there ever any Anthonymania?

Bill James Said: "He's cut his strikeouts the last two years (only 88 strikeouts in '93), but he's done that by flattening out his swing, so he's hitting the ball on the ground (205 ground ball outs in 486 at-bats), and frankly he's never going to make it big hitting ground balls."

On This Date in 1993: October 17. The visiting Phillies evened up the World Series at a game apiece with a 6-4 victory. Terry Mulholland earned the win while falling one out short of a quality start, but Mitch Williams earned the save by pitching around a pair of walks in 1.2 hitless innings. Jim Eisenreich's three-run homer off of Dave Stewart was the big blow.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#88 Mike Stanton

About the Front: This is Mike Stanton, evergreen situational lefty of the 1990s and 2000s, not Mike (a.k.a. Giancarlo) Stanton, the power-hitting Marlins outfielder of today. It's a good thing the latter decided to go by Giancarlo, to save us all untold confusion.

About the Back: There's something that tickles me about seeing a journeyman's early-career stat line, before the journey really begun. In Stanton's case, there are still 15 seasons and 7 other teams yet to come. In order: Red Sox, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Yankees again, Nationals, Red Sox again, Nationals again, Giants, and Reds.

Triple Play: 

1. Mike appeared in the postseason every year from 1991 through 2002, excepting 1994. (I'm so sick of typing that.) In 53 career postseason games, he had a 5-2 record, one save, and a 2.10 ERA. He permitted only one home run in 55.2 total innings. He was even better in 20 World Series games, putting up a 1.54 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.

2. His career total of 1,178 career appearances as a pitcher is second all-time, trailing only Jesse Orosco (1,272).

3. Stanton made his only career start on May 9, 1999, pitching four scoreless innings for the Yankees against Seattle. Jason Grimsley vultured the win with four innings of one-run relief.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: When I was a kid, I didn't even know about the previous Mike Stanton, a righty pitcher with the Mariners and three other clubs (1975-1985). It was probably for the best.

Bill James Said: "Don't expect 27 saves from him again this year: he lost the closer role in early August, and will have to earn his next shot at it." Stanton instead settled into the LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) role, peaking at eight saves in subsequent years.

On This Date in 1993: October 16. The World Series opener went to the Blue Jays at Skydome, as Curt Schilling was touched up for an uncharacteristic seven runs (six earned). Devon White and John Olerud went deep in the 8-5 Jays win.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#87 Kevin Reimer

About the Front: I wonder if Kevin Reimer's classy wraparound shades are taking up quite enough real estate on his face. I also wonder if it's possible for a 230-pound man to creep out to a modest lead on his tiptoes.

About the Back: O, Canada! Reimer actually had dual citizenship. His parents were Canadian, but he was born in the States while his father Gerry was patrolling the outfield of Cincinnati's AA Macon Peaches club.

Triple Play:

1. In 1991, Kevin came on like gangbusters in the second half, hitting 16 of his 20 home runs after the break and slugging .535 (.407 SLG pre-break).

2. Reimer was chosen by the Rockies with the ninth pick in the Expansion Draft, but they subsequently traded him to Milwaukee for Dante Bichette. You could say that Colorado won the hell out of that trade, but who's to say that Kevin wouldn't have put up big numbers in Denver?

3. He spent the final two years of his playing career (1994-1995) in Japan with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. He batted .298/.368/.543 with 26 home runs and 97 RBI in his first season abroad before slumping badly in 1995.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Hey, add to our Kevin tally. I guess I'd better get a definitive count. There are 18 total Kevins in the 1993 Topps set, and Reimer is the third we've encountered.

Bill James Said: "It would be the understatement of the day to say that Reimer is not Phil Garner's type of player, but he is capable of better seasons."

On This Date in 1993: October 15. "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf gets heavy play on the airwaves. I've still never figured out what "that" is, but hindsight tells me that it was probably "age gracefully".

Monday, October 14, 2013

#86 John Habyan

About the Front: John Habyan's legs appear to be about five feet long. Pinstripes will do that for anyone who's remotely tall and thin, I guess.

About the Back: I would've guessed taller than 6'2". Also, though Habyan's career slightly overlapped with that of his idol, he and Tom Seaver never appeared in the same game.

Triple Play:

1. John earned the win in his second career game, allowing an unearned run in two innings of relief against Boston but benefiting from a five-run Oriole rally in the bottom of the eighth. The decisive blow was a two-run double by Eddie Murray, because Eddie Murray is a badass now and forever.

2. In Habyan's final career game, he drew a walk against Tom Glavine, but also allowed a stolen base by Javy Lopez.

3. After retiring, John became a gym teacher and varsity baseball coach at his alma mater, St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, New York.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I knew that Habyan was an ex-Oriole, but I didn't realize that the O's traded him to the Yankees for Stanley Jefferson, who put up 0.3 WAR (wins above replacement) in parts of two seasons in Baltimore. Since Habyan was worth 4.3 WAR in four years, I'll just add this deal to the list of reasons to hate the Yanks.

Bill James Said: "Has always pitched well, and sometimes brilliantly, the first half of the season, but has had trouble in the hot months and late in the year." If John had such splits in his career, they flattened out later on. He had a first-half ERA of 3.79 (1.42 WHIP) and a second-half ERA of 3.94 (1.28 WHIP).

On This Date in 1993: October 14. Against the Grain debuts on NBC. It is based on Buzz Bissinger's book "Friday Night Lights" and stars John Terry and Ben Affleck, among others. Only eight episodes make it to air.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

#85 Sandy Alomar

About the Front: There is a true look of concern on Sandy Alomar (Jr. if you're nasty)'s face. Maybe he just took a nibble of that batting donut and learned the hard way that it's not that kind of donut.

About the Back: Sandy made the All-Star team each year from 1990 through 1992, then missed out for three straight years, and then made three more Midsummer Classics in a row. Then he was shut out again for the duration of his career (1999 through 2007).

Triple Play: 

1. I already wrote about his brother Roberto, so you know the drill. Their father was Sandy Sr., a middle infielder for the Angels and five other teams from 1964 through 1978.

2. His peak year came in 1997, when he batted a career-best .324/.354/.545 with 21 homers and 83 RBI. He was also the All-Star MVP, thanks to a game-winning two-run homer hit in front of his home crowd in Cleveland. Sandy even came up big in the postseason, slugging .507 with five home runs and 19 RBI while starting all 18 games on through Game Seven of the World Series.

3. Alomar has been on the Indians' coaching staff since 2010, and managed the club on an interim basis for the final six games of the 2012 season.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I don't know about the 11-year-old me, but 15-year-old me was none too fond of Sandy. He spoiled Mike Mussina's perfect game bid and had a walkoff hit in Game Four of the ALCS to give the Tribe a three games to one lead in the series. Jerk.

Bill James Said: "

On This Date in 1993: October 9. The Braves scored nine runs off of four Philly pitchers in the sixth and seventh innings to earn a 9-4 victory in Game Three of the NLCS. The big blows were a two-run, tie-breaking double by David Justice in the sixth and a bases-clearing double by Mark Lemke an inning later. Atlanta took a 2-1 lead in the series.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

#84 Kurt Stillwell

About the Front: Bill Pecota alert! That's the identity of the baserunner sliding into second base and forcing Kurt Stillwell to go airborne to make the relay throw. The date is July 26, 1992, and it's the bottom of the fourth inning at Shea Stadium. Pecota hit a one-out single off of Bruce Hurst, but was wiped off the basepaths here as Charlie O'Brien hit into a double play. This preserved the San Diego lead at 1-0, which would be the final score as well. Hurst went the distance, winning a seven-hit shutout.

About the Back: I'm not saying that high school statistics aren't a great gauge of major league talent, but Kurt's .552 average in his senior year is greater than his two highest MLB single-season batting averages put together.

Triple Play:

1. His father was Ron Stillwell, a middle infielder who played a total of 14 games for the Washington Senators in 1961 and 1962.

2. How in the world was Stillwell an American League All-Star reserve in 1988? His first-half splits (.261/.337/.428, 7 HR, 36 RBI) are better than his full-season numbers, but unless offense was significantly weaker league-wide than it is today, I'm still scratching my head.

3. Kurt has been an agent for Scott Boras' corporation since 2000.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: That sure is a dopey face that Stillwell's making. I know that kids my age stuck out their tongue when playing sports to emulate Michael Jordan, but it doesn't really translate to baseball and journeyman infielders.

Bill James Said: "Not real fast, no power, makes regular visits to the disabled list." Don't sugar-coat it, Bill.

On This Date in 1993: October 8. The White Sox used a five-run second inning and a complete-game effort from Wilson Alvarez to take Game Three of the ALCS over the Blue Jays, 6-1. Toronto still held a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Monday, October 7, 2013

#83 Reggie Sanders

About the Front: It's true, Reggie Sanders was once a rookie! He's wearing number 16, which he wore with seven of his eight MLB teams. Sanders spent the 2003 season in Pittsburgh in a #19 jersey, since Aramis Ramirez already had ownership of Reggie's preferred number.

About the Back: When Topps tabbed Sanders as an All-Star Rookie, they couldn't have guessed that he'd play for another 15 years, retiring with 305 home runs, 304 steals, and 983 RBI.

Triple Play:

1. He was the second Reggie Sanders to play in the big leagues. Reginald Jerome Sanders played 26 games for the 1974 Tigers, primarily at first base. Reginald Laverne Sanders (yep, Laverne) is obviously the better-known of the two Reggies.

2. Reggie was ridiculed for an incident on April 13, 1994. Pedro Martinez had retired the first 22 Cincinnati batters before hitting Sanders with a pitch. The outfielder charged the mound and was ejected, somehow assuming that Martinez would sacrifice a perfect game to settle some personal score with him.

3. At age 37, Sanders set a Division Series record for the 2005 Cardinals by driving in 10 runs in a three-game sweep of the Padres. He batted .333/.385/.750 in 13 plate appearances, with three of his four hits going for extra bases.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: The 1994 Reds had two-thirds of an All-Sanders outfield after they traded for Deion. I probably would've been confused by the pair if Deion wasn't such an outsized personality.

Bill James Said: "(W)e must assume he is ready to move into the three or four spot, which means he could drive in 100 runs." Could, but didn't. Sanders peaked with 99 RBI in the strike-shortened 1995 season.

On This Date in 1993: October 7. The Braves evened their NLCS matchup with the Phillies at a game apiece by clubbing four home runs in a 14-3 rout at Veterans Stadium. Fred McGriff, Jeff Blauser, Damon Berryhill, and Terry Pendleton did the honors in support of winning pitcher Greg Maddux (7 IP, 2 ER, 8 K).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

#82 David Segui

About the Front: Here we have a young-looking David Segui ranging over to the first base line at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He's wearing a black wristband with his jersey number (21) embroidered in orange.

About the Back: In the summer of 2012, the Orioles signed Cory Segui as an undrafted free agent. He played junior college ball for the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes (yes, Fighting Artichokes). In 2013 in 33 games with the Rookie-Level Gulf Coast Orioles, Cory batted .211/.311/.256. He shouldn't start spending his future major league salary just yet.

Triple Play:

1. David is the son of former pitcher Diego Segui, who went 92-111 with a 3.81 ERA from 1962 through 1977 with the Athletics and five other teams. Diego was the Opening Day starter for both Seattle franchises, the Pilots (1969) and Mariners (1977).

2. Segui came into his own as a hitter after Baltimore traded him to the Mets in 1994. The first baseman peaked in 1997 with the Expos, batting .307/.380/.505 with a career-high 21 home runs.

3. He ranked sixth in the American League with a .334 batting average with the Rangers and Indians in 2000, and also drove in a personal-best 103 runs.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Segui hit a two-run home run on July 9, 1993, in the first game that I ever attended at Camden Yards.

Bill James Said: (After talking up David's strengths:) "On the other hand, he is turrible slow, doesn't have the power you want at first base, and hit .152 in the late innings of close games, worst in the league.

On This Date in 1993: October 3. The reigning World Champion Blue Jays become the first team in American League history to have three players finish 1-2-3 in the batting average race, with John Olerud (.363) taking the honors and Paul Molitor (.332) and Roberto Alomar (.326) as runners-up.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#81 Lloyd McClendon

About the Front: This is one of the finest photos in the set. Lloyd McClendon is motoring around third base in Shea Stadium, trying to score the winning run in the top of the tenth inning as coach Rich Donnelly waves him around. All that, and some major air time for that Diet Coke billboard, too! There are enough context clues on the scoreboard to identify the date: August 12, 1992. McClendon pinch hit for Gary Varsho with two outs in the top of the tenth. Facing John Franco, he beat out a grounder to third for an infield hit. One batter later, Jay Bell tripled to score McClendon, and the Bucs held on for a 7-6 win.

About the Back: This is the first three-position designation we've seen. That's when you know a guy is a big star. Lloyd's catching days were effectively over by this time, though. He was behind the plate for only two games in 1991 and none from 1992 on through the end of his playing days in 1994.

Triple Play: 

1. He starred in the 1971 Little League World Series, hitting five home runs in as many at-bats. In the championship game against Taiwan, he hit a three-run shot in his first at-bat and was intentionally walked each time he stepped to the plate afterward. The strategy worked, as Taiwan prevailed.

2. McClendon was one of three players dealt from the Mets to the Reds in December of 1982, with Tom Seaver making his return to New York.

3. He returned to the Pirates as a coach (1995-2000), and was named the team's manager in 2001. His four-plus year tenure produced a 336-446 record and a paltry .430 winning percentage. In an infamous moment, he literally stole first base and walked away with it. He's currently the hitting coach of the Tigers.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: My tastes have changed a lot over the past 20 years, but one thing that hasn't changed is my dislike for diet soda. I can't stand the strong chemical taste of artificial sweeteners.

Bill James Said: "In the past, when his career has been in jeopardy he has come through with a big season, but that's harder to do at 35." Lloyd hit just .239/.278/.413 in 51 games in 1994, his final big league season.

On This Date in 1993: October 2. Greg Maddux wins his 20th for the second straight year, as the Braves pound the Rockies 10-1. The Giants also squeak by the Dodgers 5-3, so Atlanta and San Francisco remain tied atop the National League West Division entering the season's final day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#80 Cecil Fielder

About the Front: Man, even Cecil Fielder's forearms were fat. By the way, does anybody know what brand Cecil the Vessel's cleats were? Those don't ring a bell with me.

About the Back: Fielder was the first player to lead the majors in RBI in three consecutive seasons since Babe Ruth (1919-1921). But he failed to lead the league in RBI for a fourth consecutive year in 1993, settling for fifth in the American League with 117 ribbies.

Triple Play:

1. Cecil made a huge splash when he returned to the majors in 1990 and became the first player since George Foster in 1977 to hit 50 home runs. He's still the only Detroit hitter besides Hank Greenberg to ever have a 50-homer season.

2. Fielder was a midsummer acquisition for the Yankees in 1996 and helped them to their first World Series triumph in 15 years. In postseason play, he batted .308/.390/.519 with three homers and 14 RBI in 14 games.

3. A botched hit-and-run gave Cecil his first career stolen base in his 1,096 career game, which set a big league record. The thievery occurred on April 2, 1996, and the victims were pitcher Dan Naulty and catcher Greg Myers.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember watching Cecil's son Prince steal the show in the 1994 edition of MTV's Rock N' Jock softball game. Now the younger Fielder is a nine-year MLB veteran whose 285 home runs are just 34 behind his father's career total. When did we all get so old?

Bill James Said: "There's a place for him on a baseball team, but he's basically a big fat guy who hits home runs." This echoes Bill's more famous quote about Cecil: "Listed at 250 pounds, but one must wonder what would happen if he put his other foot on the scale."

On This Date in 1993: October 1. Carlos Delgado makes his MLB debut in a 7-2 Blue Jays loss to the Orioles in Baltimore. He subs for Randy Knorr at catcher in the sixth inning, and draws a walk against O's reliever Todd Frohwirth in his only plate appearance.