Last week brought the grand return of Rating the Rookie Cups. This week, I will try and settle back and get into a groove. Today I am focusing on the 1993 Topps All Star Rookie Team which was featured on 1994 Topps. This group is significant because it features the first appearance of the "wooden base" rookie cup which is still in use today. It also features the first appearance of a Marlin in their inaugural season. The Rockies, who also debuted in 1993, would not have their first member until Todd Helton in 1998.
J.T. Snow - California - 1B - (Rookie) 4 (Career) 5
Carlos Garcia - Pittsburgh - 2B - (Rookie) 4 (Career) 3
Wil Cordero - Montreal - SS - (Rookie) 4 (Career) 5
Wayne Kirby - Cleveland - OF - (Rookie) 3 (Career) 2
Tim Salmon - California - OF - (Rookie) 8 (Career) 7
Steve Cooke - Pittsburgh - LHP - (Rookie) 5 (Career) 2
Strongest Team Members (in 1992) - Mike Piazza, Tim Salmon, Jeff Conine
Strongest Team Members (Career) - Mike Piazza, Tim Salmon, Jeff Conine
Weakest Team Members (in 1992) - Wayne Kirby, Wil Cordero, J.T. Snow
Weakest Team Members (Career) - Wayne Kirby, Steve Cooke, Carlos Garcia
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 1 (Mike Lansing)
Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams) 4
This team is all about three players: Piazza, Salmon, and to a slightly lesser extent, Conine. The remainder of the team were fairly mediocre both during their rookie year and throughout their career. Topps just generally did a bad job on picking this team. Follow me to the next section for the proof for that statement.
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 - Mike Piazza - Los Angeles
In one of the easier decisions of all time, the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year Piazza gets the nod over platoon seasons for Oakland's Scott Hemond and Erik Pappas of the Cardinals.
First Base - Troy Neel - Oakland
This must have been a case of Topps not wanting to separate Snow and Salmon. There is no other explanation for why Snow was selected over his AL West counterpart Troy Neel. In fact, I would have Snow 4th on the list behind Neel, Florida's Orestes Destrade, and Kevin Young of the Pirates.
Second Base - Brent Gates - Oakland
Here is case #2 of an Athletic getting passed over for an inferior rookie, although this one wasn't as egregious. Gates had a better average and OBP, while Garcia had slightly better power numbers. Gates' lead was bigger than Garcia's, so I went with him. The best rookie on defense, Rich Amaral of Seattle, was a close third.
Third Base - Mike Lansing - Montreal
Despite not having the strongest of rookie years, Lansing was a relatively easy choice at the hot corner. 1993 was a down year for third base rookies with the biggest competition being Craig Paquette of Oakland. Was Oakland composed entirely of rookies in 1993?
Shortstop - Ricky Gutierrez - San Diego
It was a close battle between Cordero, Gutierrez, and Philadelphia's Kevin Stocker. Stocker had the best averages, but only had a half season's worth of play so I knocked him out. Gutierrez was slightly better than Cordero in just about everything except power. The other person I considered was Colorado's Vinny Castilla who started out at short for his first year, but he didn't have that good of a rookie year in comparison.
Outfield - Tim Salmon - California, Jeff Conine - Florida, Chuck Carr - Florida
In my mind, Salmon and Conine were absolute locks. The third spot was a tough call between Carr, Kirby, and Al Martin of Pittsburgh. Carr had the speed, Kirby had the defense, and Martin had the power. In fact if you combined the three players into one, you might have a Hall of Fame type career, but player each was fairly one dimensional. I chose Carr because his one dimension was much bigger than the other two.
RHP - Armando Reynoso - Colorado
This was the toughest decision by far as I had 6 fairly good choices for this position. Reynoso, McMichael, Jason Bere of the White Sox, St. Louis' Rene Arocha, Boston's Aaron Sele, and Pedro Martinez of the Dodgers. You could make a strong case for any of them being the selection, but I went with the leader in WAR Reynoso simply for his being the ace of an expansion team in the extreme hitter's environment that was Mile High Stadium.
LHP - Kirk Rueter - Montreal
There were only two major left handed rookies in 1993 and Topps picked the wrong one to honor. Normally in a battle between two players, I give the edge to the player that play the entire season over a mid season call up. However in this case, Rueter's 8-0 record, 2.64 ERA run following his call up was much more impressive than Steve Cooke's full season of 10-10 record, 3.89 ERA.
LAST WEEK'S TRIVIA ANSWER
Since its inception in 1960, how many Rookie of the Year Awards winners were NOT included as members of the Topps All Star Rookie team?
Here they are from the most recent to the oldest.
2009 - AL winner Andrew Bailey replaced by Tommy Hanson of the NL
2005 - NL winner Ryan Howard replaced by Dan Johnson of the AL
2004 - AL winner Bobby Crosby replaced by Khalil Greene of the NL
1999 - NL winner Scott Williamson replaced by Billy Koch of the AL
1989 - AL winner Gregg Olson replaced by Tom Gordon of the AL
1987 - NL winner Benito Santiago replaced by Matt Nokes of the AL
1981 - AL winner Dave Righetti replaced by NL winner Fernando Valenzuela
1979 - NL winner Rick Sutcliffe replaced by Mark Clear of the AL
1978 - AL winner Lou Whitaker replaced by Paul Molitor of the AL
1976 - NL co-winner Butch Metzger replaced by AL winner Mark Fidrych
1976 - NL co-winner Pat Zachry replaced by AL winner Mark Fidrych
1973 - AL winner Al Bumbry replaced by Rich Coggins of the AL and Johnny Grubb and Gary Matthews of the NL
1965 - NL winner Jim Lefebvre replaced by Joe Morgan of the NL
1962 - NL winner Ken Hubbs replaced by Bernie Allen of the AL
Some of these are extremely egregious omissions such as Sutcliffe and Howard, but others are understandable such as Metzger/Zachry and Righetti. The thing I find most interesting is that of the three times a ROY winner was replaced by someone from his own league, twice it was by a future Hall of Fame player in Paul Molitor and Joe Morgan and the third time was with a reliever that had a lot more staying power in Tom "Flash" Gordon. Maybe Topps did have a little insight after all.
ROOKIE CUP TRIVIA QUESTION
As of 2013, how many members of the Topps All Star Rookie teams are enshrined in the Hall of Fame?
NEXT WEEK'S PREVIEW
The 1988 team appearing on 1989 Topps.
Thanx for reading.