This week I am going to show off the last (to date) Rookie All Star Team that did not feature any Rookie Cups on the card. The set in the spotlight this week is 1986 Topps. Some of you may have read about my personal feelings for this set in my Best Topps Set Countdown. Obviously this set means a lot to me. However, the set is definitely not known for a great, hobby-friendly, rookie class. But there were some decent players to begin their careers in 1985. This team is also notable for two reasons. First, for having no second baseman and two shortstops on the team. Second, for having a tie vote for the right-handed pitcher, the first time since 1978 with more than 10 players on the team.
Let's take a look at some of the best rookies from 1985.
Once again ratings will be on a 1-10 scale for both rookie year and career.
Glenn Davis - Houston - 1B - (Rookie) 7 (Career) 5
Chris Brown - San Francisco - 3B - (Rookie) 7 (Career) 2
Earnie Riles - Milwaukee - SS - (Rookie) 5 (Career) 3
Oddibe McDowell - Texas - OF - (Rookie) 7 (Career) 3
Larry Sheets - Baltimore - OF - (Rookie) 3 (Career) 2
Roger McDowell - New York (NL) - RHP - (Rookie) 4 (Career) 5
Tom Browning - Cincinnati - LHP - (Rookie) 9 (Career) 6
Strongest Team Members (in 1985) - Tom Browning, Vince Coleman, Oddibe McDowell
Strongest Team Members (Career) - Vince Coleman, Ozzie Guillen, Tom Browning
Weakest Team Members (in 1985) - Larry Sheets, Roger McDowell, Earnie Riles
Weakest Team Members (Career) - Larry Sheets, Mark Salas, Brian Fisher
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0
Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams) 3
In 1985 this was a very strong team, but most of these guys peaked in their rookie years. There are no hobby superstars or anyone that even sniffed the Hall of Fame, but there are a few solid careers amongst the mostly disappointing ones.
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 - Mark Salas - Minnesota
Although his career never took off, Salas was the best rookie catcher in 1985 over the likes of Mickey Tettleton and Tom Nieto.
First Baseman - Glenn Davis - Houston
This was probably the easiest choice of any. Davis had an outstanding rookie year and there wasn't competition other than a half season of Sid Bream.
Second Baseman - Jim Pankovits - Houston
I made this change not because Pankovits was better than Riles or Guillen (he wasn't), but because neither Riles nor Guillen played a single game at second base in 1985. There were only two rookies that played second even a little in 1985 and Pankovits was better than Paul Zuvella.
Third Baseman - Chris Brown - San Francisco
Once again, this was a relatively easy choice. Brown had a very strong rookie year and his competition of Tim Hulett and Steve Buechele just didn't measure up.
Shortstop - Ozzie Guillen - Chicago White Sox
This was the position with the toughest battle in 1985. It was neck and neck between Guillen and Earnie Riles. In the end, I chose AL Rookie of the Year Guillen because he was much better defensively at a premium defensive position. Others considered were Mariano Duncan, Jose Uribe, and Shawon Dunston.
Outfield - Vince Coleman - St. Louis, Oddibe McDowell - Texas, Larry Sheets - Baltimore
Topps got this one right. Coleman, the NL Rookie of the Year, and McDowell were easy choices, but I looked really hard to find a better choice than Sheets. It just wasn't there with Ivan Calderon of the Mariners and Steve Lyons of Boston among others.
RHP - Rick Aguilera - NY Mets
Topps went the route of using both Big Apple rookie closers as the RHP. I think a third New Yorker should have been the pick. Best known later as the Twins closer, Aguilera had a very good rookie year as a starter and gets the nod over Fisher, McDowell, and Kirk McCaskill.
LHP - Tom Browning - Cincinnati
Usually the LHP category is the weakest, but in 1985 it was arguably the strongest. Browning won 20 games, so he was an easy selection. In just about any other year, Teddy Higuera or Joe Hesketh would have been easy choices.
LAST WEEK'S TRIVIA ANSWER
Last Week's Question - What are the four franchises that have had the fewest total members of the Topps All Star Rookie Team?
San Diego Padres - 10 (most recent - 2005 Khalil Greene)
Tampa Bay Rays - 8 (most recent - 2012 Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings)
Colorado Rockies - 6 (most recent - 2008 Troy Tulowitzki)
Arizona Diamondbacks - 3 (most recent - 2008 Chris Young)
Unsurprisingly, three of the four were 90s expansion teams. The fourth team from the 90s, the Marlins, came in with 12, which makes sense considering the amount of fire sales and starting over that has happened in Florida. The Padres surprised me quite a bit. I just figured since they never really had that many good teams, there would probably be a bunch of rookies. At least three of these teams have a good shot at adding to their total next year, so all is not lost.
ROOKIE CUP TRIVIA QUESTION
As of 2012, which franchise has gone the longest without a single player appearing on the Topps Rookie All Star Team? (Hint: The player is still active)
NEXT WEEK'S PREVIEW
The 1992 team appearing on 1993 Topps.
Thanx for reading.