I am feeling a little bit of (welcome) pressure this week on Feature Friday after the wonderful outpouring of support for last week's first edition of Rating the Rookie Cups. I agree that this idea is one of my better ones and I hope I can do it some justice. I will also be adding a weekly Rookie Cup trivia question (sorry, no prizes other than bragging rights and the thrill of victory) and a sneak peek at next week's team to be rated at the end of this post.
On the block this week is one of the great rookie teams of my youth, the 1987 Topps All Star Rookie Team as shown on 1988 Topps cards. This is my all time favorite set for implementing the actual rookie cup into the design. It is also the first Rookie Cup team to feature a future Rockie, two in fact. There were definitely some memorable rookies in that year, so let's see if Topps got it right and how everything turned out.
Once again ratings will be on a 1-10 scale for both rookie year and career.
Mark McGwire - Oakland - 1B - (Rookie) 10 (Career) 9
Casey Candaele - Montreal - 2B - (Rookie) 4 (Career) 3
Al Pedrique - Pittsburgh - SS - (Rookie) 2 (Career) 2
Mike Greenwell - Boston - OF - (Rookie) 6 (Career) 5
Devon White - California - OF - (Rookie) 8 (Career) 7
Jeff Musselman - Toronto - LHP - (Rookie) 4 (Career) 2
Strongest Team Members (in 1987) - Mark McGwire, Kevin Seitzer, Matt Nokes
Strongest Team Members (Career) - Mark McGwire, Ellis Burks, Devon White
Weakest Team Members (in 1987) - Al Pedrique, Jeff Musselman, Casey Candaele
Weakest Team Members (Career) - Al Pedrique, Mike Dunne, Jeff Musselman
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 2 - Matt Nokes, Ellis Burks
Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams) 8
This was a very strong team in 1987 and, aside from the pitchers, put together some pretty good careers.
Whether you like McGwire or not, it's nearly impossible to argue that his career shouldn't be at least in the discussion for the Hall of Fame. Burks and White had over 2,000 career hits as well. Seitzer, Greenwell, and Nokes each put together solid 10+ year careers as well. Pitching and middle infield is the only thing holding this team down.
WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA
Here are the players I feel should have been on this Rookie All Star Team. This is based on rookie year data only.
Catcher - Matt Nokes - Detroit
This is one of the toughest positions to decide with several strong candidates such as B.J. Surhoff, Terry Steinbach, and 1987 NL Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago. Nokes was just too strong with his 32 homers.
First Base - Mark McGwire - Oakland
A no brainer with 1987 AL Rookie of the Year McGwire having one of the best rookie years of all time, power-wise. The competition was slight as well with only half-seasons of Rafael Palmeiro and Fred McGriff.
Second Base - Jerry Browne - Texas
This is one of those instances where I have no idea what Topps was thinking. Browne and Candaele had nearly identical stats with games played, at bats, and hits. However, Browne had 15 more RBIs and 20 more steals.
Third Base - Kevin Seitzer - Kansas City
Seitzer was way too strong for partial seasons of Dave Magadan and Ken Caminiti. Almost any other year would have seen a Rookie of the Year Award for Seitzer.
Shortstop - Al Pedrique - Pittsburgh
A very weak class of shortstops leads to Pedrique holding onto the win. Matt Williams, his main competition and yes a SS in 1987, only hit .188 in a partial season.
Outfield - Devon White - California, Ellis Burks - Boston, Mike Greenwell - Boston
These positions were also very difficult to choose because of the immense competition involved. Left out were Bo Jackson, Chris James, Bob Brower, and Tracy Jones...all of whom would have made it in many other years.
RHP - Mike Dunne - Pittsburgh
This was a close three way race between Dunne, Chris Bosio of the Brewers, and reliever Mike Henneman of the Tigers. Bosio led in K's and Henneman in ERA, but Dunne was very close behind in both categories while leading in victories so he gets the nod.
LHP - Joe Magrane - St. Louis
Joe Magrane outpaced Musselman in ERA and strikeouts by a wide margin. The only thing Musselman had was victories. Relatively easy choice here.
Which two players selected for the Topps All Star Team (for all seasons) did not get a card in the set that should have featured their cup card?
(answer to appear next week, but feel free to guess in the comments)
NEXT WEEK'S PREVIEW
The 1979 team appearing on 1980 Topps (well most of them anyway)
Thanx for reading.
Thanx for reading.