Sunday, March 29, 2015

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #461 Mickey Mantle

Today we close out our year long look at the 1959 Topps Baseball Thrills Subset.

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #461 Mickey Mantle

This may be our last column on the subset but it is the first card from the series and it is dedicated to one of the greatest players of the era or any era, Mickey Mantle.

While some of the 1959 BT subset cards honor events that date back several seasons, the Mantle reflects directly back to 1958. For the 3rd time in four years Mantle led the AL in Home Runs. The Card back goes into some detail on Mantles 1950s HR titles.

Mantle's 42nd Homer alluded to on the card was hit off of Tom Brewer, a Right-Handed Pitcher.

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #461 Mickey Mantle (b-side)

In 1958 the Mick was challenged by Rocky Colavito who we profiled in an earlier BT column.  With a week remaining in the Season Mantle was leading the Home Run Race 41-38. Colavito hit knocked out three dingers in his final four games but it wasn't enough as Mantle had already hit #42 on September 24th

The 1959 Baseball Thrills Card represents a Home Run that Mantle hit off of Tom Brewer, a Right Handed Pitcher. According to baseball-ref, every AB Mantle took versus righties in 1958, was as a Left Handed Batter. Therefore the image depicted here cannot be the AB upon wihch Mantle hit Homer #42.

That as far as I took my research before once again checking with the 1959 Topps blog. CommishBob found that the photo the card pix was from the 1958 World Series.

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills
I hope you enjoyed our first Subset Series. We have another fun subset scheduedl for 2015, that series will commence soon.

Sources & Links
1959 Topps Baseball Thrills
1959 Topps one f/g card at a time

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 Heritage the Originals: Manager Cards 1966T #411 Gene Mauch

Topps elected to include Mangers in 2015 Heritage. I have mixed opinions on this. Heritage only has 500 cards (425 if you don't count SPs). Not sure how many of those are used for Managers. I did a spot check and not all 30 managers are on the checker - I didn't see Joe Maddon or Mike Methany on the list.

1966 Topps #411 Gene Mauch

The Phillies were led by Gene Mauch from 1960 through 1968. Their peak was 1964 when the Phils won 92 games. Mauch went on to manage the Expos Twins and Angels Winning 102 games. Every Manager that has won more games is in the Hall of Fame.

The 1964 Phils are one of three teams that Mauch took to the edge of the World Series. Mauch led two Angels teams in the mid-80s that lost winner take all ALCS games. The 1982 versus the Brewers the Angles took a 2 games to none lead in the then 5 game series. They lost the subsequent 3 games including a 1 run loss in game 5 which they led at the top of the 7th. They then lost game 5 to the Brewers after leading 3-2.

Four years later the 1986 Angels faced Boston in a 7 game ALCS. The Angles were set to clinch with a three run 9th inning lead in a crazy game 5, but things didn't work out.

Don Baylor and Dave Henderson each hit 2 Run homers for the Red Sox. The Angels tied the game in the bottom of the inning sending it to extras. In the top 11th Henderson hit a sac fly for the game winner. The series returned to Boston and the Angels never recovered - losing games 6 and 7 by scores of 10-4 and 8-1. 

2015 Heritage

2015 Topps Heritage #411 Ryne Sandberg

One of the few Phillies cards Topps matched up with the 1966 checker was the Ryne Sandberg manager card. Although they didn't do much to match up the shot. I have always liked the shot of Gene Mauch - not sure if what is in the foreground with the Phillies logo, perhaps a practice jersey stretched over a seat back or a bag. Regardless it is a bit different then your typical manager card of the era.

If you look closely, as the Phillies Room Noted,  Topps neglected to match up the capitalized font on 'Manager'. There is a big 'M' on the original, while Heritage goes with the little 'm'. The non-capitalized position is the format used throughout the set outside of the manager cards.

Ryne Sandberg is about to start his 2nd full season at the helm of the Phillies, No matter how successful he is here, I doubt he gets to manage the squad as long as Mauch's 9 seasons. Times have changed and the Phils just don't appear to have the talent that will get the team turned around soon enough for Sandberg to hold on for a long tenure.

Sources and Links
the Phillies Room
2015 Heritage Originals
1964 Phillies @ 50

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #468 Duke Snider

We return to our 1959 Topps Baseball Thrills series in the hopes of finishing the set prior to the start of the 2015 season. Today we look at Dodgers Hall of Fame Center Fielder Duke Snider.

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #468 Duke Snider

Duke Snider never won an MVP award but he led the NL in Offensive WAR three times, Position Player WAR twice, and Overall WAR once. He was a member of Dodgers clubs that won World Series in both Brooklyn (1955) and LA (1959). The eight time all-star was an early member of the 400 HR club, but had to wait until his 10th ballot to get into the Hall of Fame (1980).

Snider's career WAR numbers are consistent with Hall of Fame Center Fielders. The Hall has inducted 18 players at the position and Snider is top 10 in WAR, WAR7 and JAWS - of course Kenny Lofton is top 12 in those 3 categories and he has been scratched from the ballot.

1959 Topps Baseball Thrills #468 Duke Snider (b-side)

The 1959T Baseball Thrills card that features Snider is one of 3 fielding cards in the set and the reverse of the card documents Snider's defensive prowess. Unfortunately the numbers don't share that opinion. dWAR is even at best for Snider, and was a negative for his career. The conventional stats like putouts showed Snider hovered around 5th place in an 8 team league.

Sources and Links
1959 Topps Baseball Thrills Index

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WAR Stories 2015 Phillies Projections: Ken Giles

Ken Giles had an impressive Rookie Campaign in 2014. He became a valuable set up man, pitching 45+ innings with a very efficient 1.18 ERA (336 ERA+). Giles performance was recognized with a 4th place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting.

2015 Phungo #53 Ken Giles

Regardless of Giles success the Phillies would likley looking at ways to move Jonathan Papelbon, and if that does happen GIles would inherit the Closer role.

But who is Ken Giles? 

Prior to 2014 Giles had struggled throwing strikes and had some health issues. His control issues seem to have resurfaced during the early spring (5 Walks in 5 2/3 Innings).

During 2014 Giles was good enough for +2.0 WAR, however that was with a 5.8 K/BB rate. He is nowhere near that in his 5 spring training outings so far. 

I am hopeful that we see something great from Ken Giles but based off his inexperience and uneven performance at lower levels I am projecting a 0.8 WAR season for Giles

2015 Phungo 

This pix is from a Beautiful Sunday Day Game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. Giles showed all parts of his game, He struck out a batter and gave up a four pitch walk prior to inducing fellow RoY Candidate Ender Incarte to ground into a double play. It was one of only 3 DPs that Incante hit into in 447 PAs. 

Sources and Links
Phillies 2015+
2015 Phungo Checklist

Monday, March 23, 2015

WAR Stories: Phillies 2015+ Jerome Williams

The Phillies picked up Jerome Williams in early August of 2014 and he well. Over the course of nine starts with the club the Right Hander went 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA. 

2015 Topps #236 Jerome Williams

During his brief stint with the Phillies Williams peripheral numbers were better than career averages, in most categories including  WHIP, H/9, K/9, BB/9 K/BB, ERA+ and FIP.

Maybe Jerome WIlliams has found something, however I would think his 9 start bump with the 2014 Phillies is an anomaly. His 132 ERA+ with the Phils far exceeds any number he has ever put up. Outside of his rookie campaign in 2003 (128 ERA+) Williams has never done better than 104 ERA+.

It is also worth noting that Williams is now 33 years old and last year was not good enough to stick with not one but two teams that lost more games then the Phillies (Astros and Rangers).

Additionally Williams has struggled in two spring starts.

The Verdict
I am projecting a regression to mean for Jerome Williams. Last year he posted 1.5 WAR for the Phillies but negative numbers for each of his Texas based teams. At his age he is a replacement palyer at best. 0 WAR. 

2014 Topps Card
I like this card with a nice photo which prominently features Jerome Williams signature pink glove.  Williams wears the distinct glove to honor the memory of his mother who died of Breast Cancer.

Sources and Links
Phillies 2015 WAR Projections

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vittles: Ballpark Restaurant Bel Air MD

For over two decades me and a few college buddies have taken part of an annual bit of decadence centered around NCAA March Madness. In recent years the host -hood has been Bel Air Maryland, A routine stop on that tour is breakfast at the Ballpark Restaurant.

It is a bit of a sports memorabilia museum with a heavy dose of Orioles, Ravens and Colts, but encompassing many other teams and legends.

This year we were seated at a table that had the 1985 Topps Set varnished to the top.

Pretty cool idea for a junk wax era set. It isn't just throw away players, The Bullseye of the table is Mike Schmidt (under the Jelly Rack, you can see the Phillies logo jutting out) Garry Maddox and be seen pretty clearly just below center. I was seated between Reggie Jackson (then w/ the Angels) and Dennis Eckersley (Cubs). 

In fact the set was so cool that #WalletCard Chase Utley decide to hang out with the rest o the cards. 

He is seated next to The Phillies current pitching coach Bob McClure. Larry Bowa (Bottom left - Cubs) Burt Hooton, Goman Thomas (Mariners),  Lou Whitaker (Bottom Right), John Tudor (Pirates Top) Phil Garner (Astros) can all be spotted.

In general the kitsch of the restaurant doesn't extend to the names of the menu selections, however they did have a special noted as the "Boog Powell Breakfast". This was ordered by a member of our party and is a pretty good deal - note that in addition to whichever version of SOS you choose you also get an additional side of breakfast meat. Definitely a meal worthy of it's namesake.

The Aftermath. Note I am the one that didn't finish the toast crusts. Boog Powell snubbed his hash browns. That clean plate belongs to easily the thinnest member of our party.

For More Vittles click Here

Hall of Fame Index - Non Baseball

Chuck Bednarik
George Blanda

Bobby Orr


a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions