Thursday, October 30, 2014

Congrats To Hunter Pence and the San Francisco Giants

Despite the Phillies not being involved and the Baltimore Orioles getting swept by the Kansas City Royals I really enjoyed the postseason.

This morning we featured a card to note the Royals fine season, tonight we recognize the champions

2011 Topps #US92 Hunter Pence

Yes, For 15 Minutes Hunter Pence was a Philadelphia Phillie. In a different world Hunter Pence is still with the club and they have won 3 more championship.

That, of course, did not happen. Regardless I am happy for Hunter Pence. He seems likea  great guy, Things have worked out well for him with the Giants, and he has had a pretty decent 2014 playoff.

2011 Topps #US92
I like this card for our final 2014 postseason card. It shows one of the series heroes with the Phillies, AND it also shows Raul Ibanez lurking in the background. Ibanez wasn't on the Royals World Series team, but he was on their 2014 squad and was in the dugout for the Series. Fox featured him during in game interviews. Raul Ibanez like Hunter Pence has always seemed to be a professional person and player who can offer something to a team, even if he cannot contribute on the diamond. I am glad the the Royals made him part of the festivities.

2014 Playoff Postings 
This concludes our 2014 Playoff Postings series. We have covered all 10 teams and featured 27 cards. During the series I tried to feature interesting and topical cards. An index of all the cards can be found here. Hope you enjoyed it.

The OnDeck feature for Phungo is an analysis of the 2015 Hall of Fame candidates. We have reviewed a few of these already including Tom Gordon & Scott Eyre (for the playoff series) , John Smoltz. and Pedro.

Sources & Links
2014 Playoff Teams

Kansas City Royals Black & Blue

Kansas City Royals fans have my sympathies. And I am sure that some are feeling Sad or Blue today or beat up, hence Black & Blue today.

Hopefully this fun set of cards from 1983 Fleer will bring a bit of a smile to their faces

1983 Fleer Super Star Special #644 Bud Black
1983 Fleer Super Star Special #643 Vida Blue

Fleer created the above card pair as part of their 1983 Super Star Special Subset.

Flip Side

1983 Fleer Super Star Special #643 Vida Blue (b-side)
1983 Fleer Super Star Special #644 Bud Black (b-side)

The reverse of both cards contains the same blurb about the two pitchers and a B/W "thumbnail" of the combined cards.


Here are the individual cards

 1983 Fleer Super Star Special #643 Vida Blue

1983 Fleer Super Star Special #644 Bud Black

1983 Fleer Super Star Special
Earlier this year we posted a Dave Concepcion - Manny Trillo Super Star Special Card. The column contains a short description of the 1983F Super Star Special subset. To read it go here and scroll down.

Sources & Links
2014 playoff teams 
Bob Lemke's Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #141 Joe Buck

Barring inclement weather or some other unforeseen development the 2014 baseball season will draw to a close this evening.

Fans of one team, either the Giants or the Royals, will be very happy. The fans of the other will be bummed
I will have mixed emotions as the season concludes. 
The Phillies fan in me will be glad to see it go, while the baseball fan in me will try and maintain the illusion of baseball by following the hotstove information and winter leagues.

Other fans will have their own sets of emotions. The changing of seasons, the passing of another year are all existential questions one may consider as another year concludes.

 I want to consider another less serious question:

What about folks that dislike this “Fan Favorite”?

2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #141 Joe Buck

There is great irony in the above card. I have never heard Joe Buck referred to as a “Fan Favorite” or even a Favorite broadcaster. There is an incredible amount of dislike thrown his way – not sure why. Perhaps because he was paired with Timmy McCarver for so long, maybe because he is so ubiquitous – he is everywhere, or maybe because he is a legacy to the position and some folks feel like he is only a broadcaster because his father held the position so prominently. Everybody I talk to seems to feel that Buck is against their team – but he of course can’t be against all of the teams.

I have my own theory – his surname rhymes with a common expletive. It makes it really easy to scream vitriol at him.

2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites
I believe 2004 was the middle issue of a 3 year run of Topps All-Time Fan Favorites. The 150 card set contains cards of favorite players from the past plus a handful of cards dedicated to folks connected to the game such broadcasters like Joe Buck, Owners, Commissioners and Umpires. There are eight Phillies in the set include Mike Schmidt, Dick Allen Darren Daulton and Joe Buck's former broadcast partner Tim McCarver.

Each card is on a different Topps design - For Joe Buck we get to see 1998 Topps. 

Topps did a reasonable job of recreating their own 1998 product. The design is basically the same. The originals have a fade beyond the inner border of the photo - The above TFF card does not. The name box at the cards bottom features team colors. The flip (which we will speak to in a minute) specifies Buck as a Cardinal. Blue is obviously not the Cardinals Color - The only other card in 2004 TFF that features the 1998 design is of broadcaster Ernie Harwell who represents the Tigers - the blue box is more apt here and Topps may have used the same template when building the Buck card. 

Flip Side
2004 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #141 Joe Buck (b-side)
Reading the flip side of Buck's TFF card we find him described as "A flawless professional". So either a lot of folks are in disagreement with Topps or being a flawless professional ins't what they are looking for in a broadcaster

Perhaps the St Louis Cardinals fans enjoy Joe Buck – they are his home town team and the team for which he did his first broadcasting. KC Royals may also see Buck as a local kid and be fond of the broadcaster. 

Regardless baseball fans that dislike Buck will not have to deal with him for a few months unless they are football fans, particularly if your football team is a top tier NFC team (Like the Philadelphia Eagles). In that case you will have about 3 months of Joe Buck football to look forward to.

Trading Card DB

Baseball Card Database

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 Playoffs: Royals George Brett 1978 Topps #100

The Kansas City Royals return home tonight, Unfortunately for them they are down 3-2 in the best of seven series and facing elimination. Tonight in an effort to help the Royals extend the Series and the season we bring out a Hall of Famer for our posting.

1978 Topps #100 George Brett

We have seen plenty of George Brett during the 2014 World Series and for good reason - 3000 Hits, 300 Homers and a member of the Royals 1985 World Series Team for whom he won ALCS MVP honors.

He is also the Royals only legitimate Hall of Fame Player. They have had a few other players make cameo appearances on the teams HoF register - Kllebrew, Cepeda, and Gaylord Perry - but none of them spent more than a season in Kansas City.

1978 Topps #100
1978 was the first time that George Brett checklisted a Hero Number. It was an honor that Topps gave to Brett 10 times during his career including his return to card #100 in 1985. At one time or another Brett occupied every Hero Number between 100 and 700.

I like a couple of things about this card, first George appears to be enjoying a nice pinch of chewing tobacco - that may be a no-no on a modern baseball card. Secondly I like the All-Star Shield used in 1978T. I believe it is the only year that style of flair was used for All-Stars, it has always evoked a Interstate route number sign for me. 

1978 Topps #100 George Brett (b-side)

On the flip of Brett's 1978T Card his 215 hit 1976 season is noted. 38 years later it still ranks as the Royals 2nd best single season hit total - Willie Wilson eclipsed Brett with 230 hits for the 1980 AL Pennant Champion Royals.

George Brett HoF Index
This posting is going to function as our HoF Indes for George Brett:
1977 Topps #231 Record Breaker Consecutive 3-Hit Games
1982 Topps Kmart #34 1976 All-Star Game/1980 MVP aWARd discussion
1991 Topps #2 RB 3 Batting Titles in 3 Different Decades 
1991 Score #769 HL 3 Batting Titles in 3 Decades
1994 Topps #180
2002 Fleer GOTG Dueling Duos #DD-27 (with Phillies HoF Mike Schmidt)
Phungo Complete HoF Page

Sources & Links
Playoff Teams
Phungo Complete HoF Page
Baseball Card Database

WAR Stories: What Team Phungo Knows about WAR

Absolutely Nothing! 

Zero, Nothing, Zilch, Nada.

Well it is slightly more than that, Like I know it is an approximation of the value a players has to their team. The value is a way of rating all players by one number regardless of position. The number also approximates that value in wins that player has over a replacement player (AAA/AAAA player)

A team full of replacement players would win an estimated 50 games, which means some recent Astros teams were basically replacement teams.

WAR is comparable between eras. and 8.0 WAR today is meant to be an apple to apple comparison to the WAR of previous eras. WAR can be used to compare Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Ted Williams to Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, Mike Trout and Steve Jeltz or any other player past/present.   

But beyond that info, I am not really sure how WAR is calculated. I trust Sean Forman, Baseball-ref, FanGraphs and Baseball Info Solutions have done their due diligence and stand by the product they have created. 

I am presenting this purely as a reference to my own understanding of WAR and where I am coming from when referring to WAR and or making projections about WAR.

Monday, October 27, 2014

WAR Stories: Phillies 2015+ Chase Utley

The 2014 MLB season is drawing to a close and it is time for us baseball fans to face the fact that the long winter and baseball offseaason is nearly upon us. We here at Team Phungo hope to keep the baseball spirit going with a couple of different features. We still need to finish up our 1964 Phillies retrospective, There are a bunch of 2015 HoF candidates I would like to get to and the 1959 Baseball Thrills Subset coverage remains unfinished.

Along with those unfinished items, I would also like to revisit a series we only got four players into in 2014.  Our look at the current Phillies ball club which we dubbed Phillies 2014+

2014 Bowman Chrome #123 Chase Utley

The goal was to project the Phillies Win total by accumulating the rosters WAR totals. I also figured that in addition to gauging our predictions it would give us a chance to examine and consider todays players.

Today we present the first installment of Phillies 2015+ as we discuss the NL All-Star Second Baseman Chase Utley

2014 Utley -A tale of Two Seasons
Chase Utley was an All-Star in 2014 and he earned that distinction with a solid two months of play at the beginning of the season. Utley was so good in early 2014 that he had reestablished himself as a potential future Hall of Fame candidate.

Thru June 10th Utley had played in 58 games and recorded a .318/.373/.498 slash line. After that he batted a truly poor .239/.317/.348. The resulting final totals were a pedestrian .270/.339/.407. That is a 109 OPS+ kids.
2015 Phungo Verdict

To project WAR I am going to take a look at the players similarity scores and attempt to figure out how they apply to their upcoming season.

For Chase Utley's 9 of his age 35 comps our beyond their age 36 seasons. Seven of those 9 actually played at age 36. Based on that number Utley has a 78% chance if returning in 2015.  Unfortunately Utley's two biggest comps Hall of Famer Joe Gordon and the more contemporary Nomar Garciaparra never played beyond their age 35 season. That is a very sobering thought for Utley Fans.

A much happier comp, who I always return to for Chase Utley is Jeff Kent. I like it because 1) Kent played until he was 40 2) He made the postseason 3 different times at age 36+ 3) He appeared on "Survivor" after he retired. As an aside I will note that I would prefer that Chase and Jen Utley appear on "the Amazing Race" over "Survivor" but I would watch either one.

Jeff Kent also posted a 3.9 WAR at age 36 and 3.7 at 37. As a Phillies fan, I would LOVE to see Chase Utley put up numbers that would get him to a 3.7 WAR.

In reality I don't see it.

In his favor Utley is coming off his best season since 2011 - His 3.6 WAR at age 35 was better than all 9 of his comps including Kent.   

The flip side to that is that Kent, Vinnay Catilla, and Bobby Grich are the 3 of the 9 comps to have 2.0+ WAR seasons a age 36. Jeff Kent is the only one of the three to have a mentionable career beyond 36.

I give Chsse Utley a 3.0 WAR in 2015. That puts him right between Castilla and Grich.

2014 Bowman Chrome
This year BowChro is debuting special backs that carry a visual representation of a players performance.  I felt as though this would be a fun card to post as we go all in for the analytics.

Chase Utley's 2014 card shows his hot/cold zones.

 2014 Bowman Chrome #123 Chase Utley

There it is stay off Low and inside to a lefthander. Utley also likes the High and outside pitch and pretty much anything low versus righties.

This is one of three back styles I have seen in 2014 BowChro. The pitchers have location graphs, while some hitters have spray charters.

Phillie 2015+
I will be keeping running track of the 2015 Phillies projected Win total as we analyze the roster. A link to those totals is here.

Sources & Links
WAR Stories Phillies 2015+ Index
Chase Utley Player Collection Index
Cardboard Connections

WAR Stories Phillies 2015+

This is the Index for our Phillies 2015+ series.

The goal of Phillies 2015+ is two fold. 1) I want to take a deeper look at the Phillies roster 2) I want to see if we can project the Phillies win total/playoff prospects. I am going to attempt to do this by projecting the 2015 WAR of the players on the expected Phils Roster.

2014 Bowman Chrome #123 Chase Utley

The Table below is a running table of my guesses at 2015 WAR ratings for various Phillies. You can click on players highlighted in GREEN  to see a somewhat more in depth discussion of the players projection. 

2015 WAR 
age 2015
2014 WAR
Cody Asche
Freddy Galvis
           25              -0.7          0.5
Odubel Herrera
Aaron Harang

           31             DNP



Justin DeFratus


Wil Nieves

Grady Sizemore

M A Gonzalez


Replacement Team


Total Wins

Actual Wins


Other 2015 WAR projections
Jimmy Rollins +2.0 (traded Dodgers)
Marlon Byrd
Kyle Kendrick

Note: I don't know much about how WAR is calculated, I discuss my ignorance here.

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions