A place where Colorado Rockies baseball card collectors (all 3 of us) can waste some time reading about our favorite sport. The Rockies and their cards will be the primary focus, but I like to go off on tangents as well so anything and everything baseball related may be covered here.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Rating the Rookie Cups 2.0 - 1974


Welcome to the relaunch of Rating the Rookie Cups 2.0.  I am calling it 2.0 because I intend to reexamine all of my choices from the past and because there are a few changes as well.  Before I begin my analysis of the team, I want to address a topic brought forth by the great Fuji.  Fuji posed a question in last week's prelude post about how I determine who the Rookie All Stars were in the years that Topps did not add cups to the cards.  I really wish I had a profound answer to that very good question, but I simply got them off of Wikipedia.  Many of my college professors would threaten to take back my degrees for admitting to using that site as a source of information, but it's quick and easy.  I do recall that the 1982 team was identified in the 1983 Topps sticker album.  Not with a cup, but with bold text beneath their sticker.  Some of the more notable players excluded from cups were included in the 2005 Topps Rookie Cup set as well.
With that topic in mind, instead of beginning with a reexamined team I decided to go with a team that has not yet been featured here at the Quarry, the 1973 team which was shown on 1974 Topps cards.  The most notable trait of this particular team is that it is the first one that did not put cups or trophies on the cards.  I don't really know why the cups were omitted in 1974 because they added them back the next year.  I'm sure there was a reason though, even if it probably doesn't make sense now.  

Let's take a look at the 1973 Topps Rookie All Star Team.

Bob Boone - C - Phillies - Rookie Rank (16 of 61) - Career Rank (14 of 61)

Gary Thomasson - 1B - Giants - Rookie Rank (50 of 61) - Career Rank (39 of 61)

Dave Lopes - 2B - Dodgers - Rookie Rank (19 of 62) - Career Rank (12 of 62)

Dan Driessen - 3B - Reds - Rookie Rank (40 of 61) - Career Rank (13 of 61)
Jerry Terrell - SS - Twins - Rookie Rank (46 of 61) - Career Rank (50 of 60)

Rich Coggins - OF - Orioles - Rookie Rank (83 of 184) - Career Rank (169 of 184)

Gary Matthews - OF - Giants - Rookie Rank (20 of 184) - Career Rank (22 of 184)

John Grubb - OF - Padres - Rookie Rank (101 of 184) - Career Rank (81 of 184)

Steve Rogers - RHP - Expos - Rookie Rank (23 of 50) - Career Rank (8 of 50)
Randy Jones - LHP - Padres - Rookie Rank (33 of 49) - Career Rank (13 of 49)


Here are the players I feel should have made the team.  This is based solely on rookie years stats and is a straight up "battle of the stats" with my opinion not factoring into the decision.  I give a chance to all rookies from that season that either played in 100 games, started 15 games, or had at least 10 saves.  If there happen to be less than 2 rookies that meet those qualifications at a position, then I will just compare the top two that don't meet parameters.  In this case, and all cases before 2011, I am retroactively adding a relief pitcher spot to the team.

Catcher - Darrell Porter - Brewers

This was essentially a two man race between actual choice Bob Boone and Porter.  I know that Boone was a far better defender at the position, but for the purposes here, offense matters more.  If I was building a team from scratch in 1973, I would definitely pick Boone over Porter as my catcher.  But for this Rookie All Star Team, Porter narrowly edges him out.

First Base - Tony Muser - White Sox

There were three positions that stood out as weak on this club no matter who was chosen.  First base was one of them.  There were three candidates for this spot among actual winner Thomasson, Tony Muser of the White Sox, and slugger Hal Breeden of the Expos.  In a close battle, the future Royals manager came out on top.

Second Base - Dave Lopes - Dodgers

I went into this thinking there were a couple of positions that probably were not going to be close.  Second base was one because of Lopes' notability.  But as it turned out this was a really close race between Lopes and the career year of runner up Pedro Garcia of the Brewers.  Lopes hung on by the skin of his teeth over Garcia and strong third place finisher Jorge Orta of the White Sox.

Third Base - Ron Cey - Dodgers

According to my criteria, there were four candidates for this position: Topps pick Dan Driessen, Ron  Cey of the Dodgers, future HOFer Mike Schmidt of the Phillies, and Ken Reitz of the Cardinals.  This was not even really close as Cey should have easily been the selection.  I guess it was a sign of the time that the only thing Driessen had over Cey was a better batting average.  Even though he was a clear third in the race, everyone was just lucky that Schmidt did not really acclimate to the majors until his sophomore year.

Shortstop - Jerry Terrell - Twins

I mentioned earlier that there were three weak positions in 1973, well here is the second.  There was no dearth of candidates though as five players met the criteria, but not of them were really that good.  In the end, it came down to a tiebreaker between Topps choice Terrell and the guy whose name became much more famous in the future for a different athlete, Mike Tyson of the Cardinals.  Terrell barely held on, but he did hold the spot.

Outfield - Gary Matthews - Giants, Al Bumbry - Orioles, Rich Coggins - Orioles

In this competition among eight candidates, two rose to the top, the respective Rookie of the Year in each league, Matthews and Bumbry.  Honestly, I could not find any reason that Bumbry was not one of the real life choices.  Out of the six remaining candidates , any of five of them would have been a nearly equally good choice for the spot.  However, Coggins outlasted strong challenges from fellow Topps choice Johnny Grubb, Bob Coluccio of the Brewers, Charlie Spikes of the Indians, and Richie Zisk of the Pirates.  Ironically, the outfielder that was clearly at the bottom ended up with the best career of the lot, Dwight Evans of the Reds Sox.

RH Starter - Doc Medich - Yankees

Among six starters that met criteria, it turned into a three man race between Medich, Topps pick Steve Rogers, and Steve Busby of the Royals.  Busby was quickly shown to be third in the race.  The battle between the remaining two is the somewhat classic pairing of the solid full season rookie and the player that performs better on a per game basis, but that only plays half the season.  I have found that match up to be a virtual coin flip in most cases, but as was the case here Topps usually awards the half season guy.  My stats say otherwise, although it was very close.

LH Starter - Randy Jones - Padres

Aside from the top two outfield spots, this was the easiest choice of all positions.  It was not so much a case of the future Cy Young winner being dominant as much as it was a lack of competition.  The only other candidates for the spot were hybrid starter/reliever Rich Troedson also of the Padres and the half season of the minor league skipping 18 year old overall #1 draft pick David Clyde of the Rangers.  Jones won easily over both.

Relief Pitcher - Doug Bird - Royals

This was a very strong year for relievers as there were six rookie pitchers with more than 10 saves along with a few more that were close to 10.  I kept this match up to only those with 10 or more though.  Doug Bird won a very close 3 man race over Elias Sosa of the Giants and Cy Acosta of the White Sox.  


100% - Perfect, 80-90% - Great, 60-70% - Good, 40-50% - Poor, < 40% - Utter Failure


With this group, Topps got 5 out of 10 correct for a 50% average.  A couple of the ones they got incorrect were pretty much toss ups, but so were a couple of the one they got right.  So it all pretty much evens out.  Ron Cey and Al Bumbry being excluded are two of the all time biggest blunders, so I can't justify giving Topps any extra credit here.

Final Thoughts on the Team

Strongest Team Members (rookie) - Gary Matthews, Bob Boone, Dave Lopes
Strongest Team Members (career) - Gary Matthews, Steve Rogers, Dave Lopes
Weakest Team Members (rookie) - Gary Thomasson, Jerry Terrell, Randy Jones
Weakest Team Members (career) - Rich Coggins, Jerry Terrell, Gary Thomasson
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0 (all were retired before Colorado existed)

Best Card (IMHO) - Gary Matthews (as much as I hate the horizontal 74s, this is the best)

Worst Card (IMHO) - Randy Jones (the Grubb is almost as bad, but Jones adds a weird shadow)

All in all, this team did not have any Hall of Fame players, but it had over half the team with long successful careers.  Even the weakest players ended up with fairly long careers.  Only Rich Coggins peaked with his rookie year.  The strange thing about this year is that every single position other than LHP had at least two rookies that could have easily won.  Most years there are a lot of close battles, but there are also usually 2-3 runaways.  Even the LHP was not a runaway in 1973, it was more of a win by default.  Although to be fair, Gary Matthews would have been a runaway winner if there weren't 3 spots in the OF.  

I hope you all enjoyed the slightly new format.  It's a lot of fun for me.  I enjoyed it so much, I even maintained my database during my blog hiatus when I didn't even have an outlet other than myself.  Although if I am being 100% honest, this post annoyed me.  I had most of the text typed in and was putting in the photos when everything went blank and auto-saved, so I had to start over.  Luckily I had a preview post open, so I at least had a copy of the text on screen to retype.  It wouldn't let me cut and paste though.  Took an extra hour, but hey it's a labor of love.


The 1998 team pictured on 1999 Topps cards.

Thanx for reading.


Fuji said...

Great post. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.
As a teacher, I caution my students about Wikipedia... but still use it for quick information all of the time.

night owl said...

Retro justice for Ron Cey! I sense a custom card coming on.

Nick said...

I still find it strange that a few older Topps sets omitted Rookie Cups for whatever reason. Like whoever was in charge of that called in sick the day they went to print.

Brian said...

Neat! I too collect the All-Star rookie teams, I have to admit that I punted on collecting for years like 1974 when Topps didn't use the logo.

I have been posting on each year's class, and my "current" season is that 1998 class. I haven't finished it yet, but my last entry was on Ben Grieve.

This was a fun read!