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, May 21, 2021

Rating the Rookie Cups 2.0 - 2014

Good evening everyone.  I am back from my two week absence from the Rating the Rookie Cups series.  I guess I just needed a little bit of a mental health break.  Who knows, but I do know that I am ready to get going again.  Tonight we will take a look at another more recent team which contains some still active players, the 2013 Topps Rookie All Star Team pictured on 2014 Topps cards.  As usual, with active players the career ranks are as of the end of the 2020 season and are subject to change in the future.

The elephant in the room with this team is extremely sad and that would be the untimely passing of right handed starter Jose Fernandez.  No matter how he died, it is still an absolute tragedy that an athlete in the prime of his life was cut down at the young age of 24.  It's hard to believe that it has been almost 5 years since that awful boat crash took place. 

This particular Rookie All Star Team means a lot to me because it was the first of two teams that I chose as part of my Quarry Unlimited sets that I did between 2012-2014.  You can see my post about it along with the custom cards here.  My selections were actually made before Topps, so selections are not the same.  We actually only differed in one outfield position.  I chose A.J. Pollock and Topps chose Christian Yelich.  Read on to see which of us made the correct choice according to the stats.

As far as the 2014 Topps set goes, I think it can be summed up with one hyphenated word CLOSE-UP!  This set is full of photos that are zoomed in way too much.  You get a good look at the players' faces, but you lose all context of what is happening in the action shots.  It is just really off putting.  

One major design element of the set was a sideways tab which featured the team name in what appeared to look like an old file folder.  It's not really bad, but it seemed a little anachronistic for a 2014 set.  It seemed like something that would more at home in the mid 1980s since file cabinets were quickly becoming a thing of past by the mid 2010s.  

The other major design element is the name plate which is located beneath a really strange wave.  Again it is not a horrible element, but it seems to have absolutely nothing in common with the file folder theme.  If you cover up everything else and just look at the bottom quarter of the card, it would be fine.  But as a whole it just doesn't work.  

I enjoyed this set more than most people when it came out mainly because I loved the parallels.  But to me, this set has not aged well at all.  It's not as bad as the border-free era which followed, but I would rate 2014 as a very below average flagship set.  Definitely bottom 20, possibly even close to bottom 10.  But it does have some good points.  As I said, it is probably the strongest flagship set when it came to parallels ever.  They do look great in a page.

Let's take a look at the 2013 Topps Rookie All Star Team.

Evan Gattis - C - Braves - Season Rank (33 of 61) - Career Rank (29 of 61)

Matt Adams - 1B - Cardinals - Season Rank (46 of 61) - Career Rank (42 of 61)

Jedd Gyorko - 2B - Padres - Season Rank (38 of 61) - Career Rank (37 of 61)


Nolan Arenado - 3B - Rockies - Season Rank (32 of 61) - Career Rank (15 of 61)
Jose Iglesias - SS - Tigers - Season Rank (37 of 61) - Career Rank (35 of 60)

Wil Myers - OF - Rays - Season Rank (133 of 184) - Career Rank (118 of 184)

Yasiel Puig - OF - Dodgers - Season Rank (70 of 184) - Career Rank (98 of 184)

Christian Yelich - OF - Marlins - Season Rank (171 of 184) - Career Rank (68 of 184)


Jose Fernandez - RHP - Marlins - Season Rank (3 of 50) - Career Rank (9 of 50)

Hyun-Jin Ryu - LHP - Dodgers - Season Rank (7 of 49) - Career Rank (6 of 49)

Jim Henderson - RP - Brewers - Season Rank (19 of 34) - Career Rank (24 of 34)




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 or started 15 games.  With relievers the requirements are 10 saves and/or 65 games pitched in relief.  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. 

Catcher - Evan Gattis - Braves

Evan Gattis came out of nowhere to have a very memorable rookie year for the Braves.  His year was good without a doubt, but honestly there was no competition at the position either.  No other rookie catcher even started 40 games, so Gattis wins here by default, which is not meant as a slight to his deserving victory.

First Base - Matt Adams - Cardinals

First base is rarely in the middle ground.  It comes from a depth position of either very strong or very weak.  2013 proved to be the latter.  There was only one player that qualified for the 100 games played and he barely cleared the bar.  I lowered the parameter to 75 games to pick up three challengers.  They included Matt Adams of the Cardinals, Josh Satin of the Mets, Darin Ruf of the Phillies, and Nate Freiman of the Athletics.  Adams held on in a close battle over Satin mainly due to playing more games.

Second Base - Jedd Gyorko - Padres

Second base is another position that suffered from a lack of depth in 2013.  I had to lower the bar to 81 games to pick up 4 challengers.  They were Jedd Gyorko of the Padres, Nick Franklin of the Mariners, Anthony Rendon of the Nationals, and Jurickson Profar of the Rangers.   A strong power year from Gyorko easily held off the more notable names up against him. 

Third Base - Nolan Arenado - Rockies

Third base was a little stronger in depth as I only had to lower the bar to 90 games played to get to 4 contenders.  Topps's choice Nolan Arenado of the Rockies was up against Conor Gillaspie of the White Sox, Ed Lucas of the Marlins, and Jeff Bianchi of the Brewers.  Arenado was not yet up to his future offensive mashing in his rookie year, but he was more than enough to hold off the competition here.

Shortstop - Jose Iglesias - Red Sox / Tigers

Shortstop actually had pretty good depth in 2013.  There were three regular starting options for the year and another two that qualified at over 100 games played.  The contenders were Jose Iglesias of the Red Sox and Tigers, Adeiny Hechavarria of the Marlins, Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks, Jordy Mercer of the Pirates, and Pete Kozma of the Cardinals. This was a super close battle between all five players, but in the end Iglesias held on by the skin of his teeth.

Outfield - Yasiel Puig - Dodgers, A.J. Pollock - Diamondbacks, Wil Myers - Rays

Outfield was a mixed bag in 2013. There were several players meeting the 100 game plateau, but many of them were mostly 4th OF types.  I lowered the bar to 96 games to pick up the challengers that included Juan Lagares of the Mets, Brandon Barnes if the Astros, and Oswaldo Arcia of the Twins.  I also included the two Topps choices (Myers & Yelich) that played less than 96 games as well.  Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and A.J. Pollock of the Diamondbacks stood out as clearly the best two outfielders.  The final spot came down to a really close battle between AL ROY Wil Myers of the Rays and one year wonder J.B. Shuck of the Angels.  Myers barely hung on.  For those curious, statistically Topps's third choice Christian Yelich of the Marlins finished 9th out of 10 rookie outfielders.

RH Starter - Jose Fernandez - Marlins

Right handed starter was by far the strongest position in 2013 as there were seven starters with at least 9 wins.  Some of the lesser challengers for the spot included Gerrit Cole of the Pirates, Dan Straily of the Athletics, Wily Peralta of the Brewers, Zach Wheeler of the Mets, and Chris Archer of the Rays.  In the end there were three starters that stood out above the rest: NL ROY Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, and Julio Teheran of the Braves.  Miller or Teheran would have been excellent choices in just about any other year, but in 2013 it wasn't even really close.  There were none better than Fernandez.

LH Starter - Hyun-Jin Ryu - Dodgers

Like most years, in 2013 the left handed starter position had far less depth than the right handed counterparts.  I had to lower the bar to 12 starts just to pick up 5 challengers for the spot.  They included Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, Tony Cingrani of the Reds, Martin Perez of the Rangers, Chris Rusin of the Cubs, and Pedro Hernandez of the Twins.  Ryu was clearly the best of the lot here and won easily.
Relief Pitcher - Trevor Rosenthal - Cardinals

There were a lot of rookie relievers in 2013.  There were 10 pitchers that either had over 10 saves or pitched in more than 65 games.  Some of them included Danny Farquhar of the Mariners, A.J. Ramos of the Marlins, Cody Allen of the Indians, and Brewers teammates Jim Henderson and Brandon Kintzler.  In the end, it came down to a close two man battle between Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals and Paco Rodriguez of the Dodgers which was won by the incredible strikeout power of Rosenthal.



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


Credit where credit is due, Topps did pretty good this time.  They only missed two and one was completely understandable with Jim Henderson having so many more saves than the competition.  The only one that was a "bad" selection was Yelich.  One could make the argument that since his career has gone so well that it was not a bad pick, but I would not be that one.  The Rookie All Star Team is supposed to honor the best rookie season at a position, not who you think will be a better player in five years.  And no one could ever convince me that Yelich was among the top three rookie outfielders in 2013.  That being said, as mistakes go for Topps in this endeavor, this one wasn't one of their worst.

Final Thoughts on the Team

Strongest Team Members (rookie) - Jose Fernandez, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig
Strongest Team Members (career) - Nolan Arenado, Christian Yelich, Hyun-Jin Ryu
Weakest Team Members (rookie) - Matt Adams, Wil Myers, Jim Henderson
Weakest Team Members (career) - Jim Henderson, Matt Adams, Wil Myers
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 2 (Arenado, Adams) (Adams just joined the Rockies last month)
Best Card (IMHO) - Wil Myers (the card is too close up, but the look on his face is priceless)
Worst Card (IMHO) - Jedd Gyorko (the Padres camo uniforms are among the worst of all time)

This team is still relatively young, but about half of them are no longer in the league for various reasons.  I listed Wil Myers as a career weakest, but I don't anticipate him staying there.  There are several others that he should pass in a short time.  Obviously, Fernandez's passing is not a case of diminishing skills, but Puig, Gattis, Gyorko, and Henderson are all out as well.  So even though the team is fairly recent, quite a few of the career numbers are now what they are going to be in perpetuity.  That being said, there is still a lot of talent on the team.  And there is a reasonable chance for this team to have two Hall of Famers in Arenado and Yelich when all is said and done.  Not to shortchange a late career push by Ryu, Iglesias or Myers at all as they have also had very solid careers thus far.  As far as career goes, I see this team settling as a top heavy team without a lot of depth probably somewhere in the middle of the pack.  As far as rookie seasons go, Jose Fernandez will forever have one of the best RAST seasons as a pitcher, and Ryu was strong also, but the positions players were middle of the road at best.  For season, this team is probably below average, maybe even bottom 20.


The 1980 team pictured on 1981 Topps cards.

Thanx for reading.


1 comment:

Nick said...

Not one of my favorite Topps designs by any means, but a pretty solid Rookie Cup team here. In 100 percent agreement with you on those awful Padres jerseys.