This week we will be focusing on a relatively modern team, the 2009 team, which means I won't have career numbers for comparison. There are four things about this team that stand out and none of them stand out in a good way. The first is the short printing of rookie cup cards. I consider the cards without cups, just as valid as the SPs, and I am not going to waste money to get the actual cup version. If I, as a Rookie Cup collector, will not spend the money chasing them, then Topps should see it as a bad idea. Secondly, it is the first appearance of a Photoshopped All Star Team member. Chris Getz was traded after winning the award, so I am counting his appearance on the team as a member of the White Sox. Thirdly, in my opinion it is the most poorly chosen Rookie All Star Team of all time, with only 2 out of 10 selections that I agree with, but I will get into that a little later. Lastly, and most egregiously, is the first appearance of the "tin cup." These silver cups are so bad that I didn't even include them on my header. I would rather forget they existed at all. Happily, Topps realized what a mistake these godawful cups were and discontinued their use after just one year. Now that I completely whetted your appetite for mediocrity, I am confident we can delve into the mess that was the 2009 Topps Rookie All Star Team.
Omir Santos - New York (NL) - C - (Rookie) 4 (Career) ?
Travis Ishikawa - San Francisco - 1B - (Rookie) 3 (Career) ?
Chris Getz - Chicago (AL) - 2B - (Rookie) 3 (Career) ?
Gordon Beckham - Chicago (AL) - 3B - (Rookie) 5 (Career) ?
Elvis Andrus - Texas - SS - (Rookie) 6 (Career) ?
Chris Coghlan - Florida - OF - (Rookie) 4 (Career) ?
Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh - OF - (Rookie) 6 (Career) ?
Nolan Reimold - Baltimore - OF - (Rookie) 5 (Career) ?
Tommy Hanson - Atlanta - RHP - (Rookie) 5 (Career) ?
J.A. Happ - Philadelphia - LHP - (Rookie) 6 (Career) ?
Strongest Team Members (in 2009) - J.A. Happ, Elvis Andrus, Andrew McCutchen
Strongest Team Members (as of 2013) - Andrew McCutchen, Elvis Andrus, Gordon Beckham
Weakest Team Members (in 2009) - Travis Ishikawa, Chris Getz, Omir Santos
Weakest Team Members (as of 2013) - Omir Santos, Travis Ishikawa, Chris Coghlan
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0 (although Santos was a Colorado minor leaguer in 2013)
Best Card (IMHO) - Andrew McCutchen (arriving from the dugout is very poetic)
Worst Card (IMHO) - Omir Santos (he looks like he is drawn instead of photographed and may be since there are no defenders visible)
Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams) 2
It's only been five years since this team was put together and 7 of the players have already turned into journeymen big league players at best. The only thing saving this collection from a 1 is the presence of Andrew McCutchen (and Elvis Andrus to a lesser extent). Take those two away and this team is in the running for worst Rookie All Star Team of all time.
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 Wieters - Baltimore
In 2009, it was Wieters by a fairly wide margin over Santos and Ryan Hanigan of the Reds. I realize that Matt Wieters is not signed by Topps, but neither was Charles Johnson when he was selected in 1996.
First Baseman - Garrett Jones - Pittsburgh
Normally in this section I am an advocate over the player with a full season over the player with a half season. However in this case, the half season of Jones was so much better than the full season of Ishikawa that it would almost be silly to argue otherwise.
Second Baseman - Ryan Roberts - Arizona
Roberts is one of my least favorite players of the past few years, but I am still convinced that he was the best rookie second baseman in 2009. He was better than Getz in all major stats excluding steals and RBIs including all three major averages (BA, OBP, SLG).
Third Baseman - Casey McGehee - Milwaukee
This was actually a tough battle between Beckham and McGehee, but McGehee was just slightly better than Beckham in just about everything. This choice was not as bad as the others, but was still incorrect regardless.
Shortstop - Elvis Andrus - Texas
Finally, we come to one that Topps got right. It would have been nearly impossible to get this one wrong though because Andrus' only competition was half seasons from Paul Janish of the Reds and Everth Cabrera of the Padres among others.
Outfield - Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh, Seth Smith - Colorado, Colby Rasmus - St. Louis
There were a ton of decent rookie outfielders in 2009. There were actually 15 players that appeared in over half of their team's games that qualified as a rookie outfielder. To make matters worse, none of them would qualify as a "slam dunk" choice either. In the end, I went with McCutchen, Smith, and Rasmus in that order over the likes of 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Coghlan, Reimold, Arizona's Gerardo Parra, Mitch Maier of the Royals, and Dexter Fowler of the Rockies among others.
RHP - Rick Porcello - Detroit
Here is another position where there was no dearth of candidates. I went with Porcello over Hanson despite Hanson's superior ERA because of his pitching nearly 50 more innings than Hanson. Other candidates were 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey of Oakland, Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann, and Randy Wells of the Cubs.
LHP - Ricky Romero - Toronto
There were actually three solid candidates for this slot in 2009: Happ, Romero, and Brett Anderson of Oakland. I think Romero was just a bit better than the other two in the major categories. Although a reasonable argument could be made for any of these three.
PREVIOUS TRIVIA ANSWER
What team has had the most members of the Topps Rookie All Star team in the 21st Century (2001 Topps - 2014 Topps)?
Atlanta Braves 9
Rafael Furcal - 2001
Damian Moss - 2003
Adam LaRoche - 2005
Brian McCann - 2006
Jeff Francoeur - 2006
Tommy Hanson - 2010
Jason Heyward - 2011
Craig Kimbrel - 2012
Evan Gattis - 2014
There are a few others with 8, but Atlanta stands alone as the team with the most decorated rookies in the 21st century.
ROOKIE CUP TRIVIA QUESTION
What card number(s) has played host to the most Rookie Cup cards?
NEXT WEEK'S PREVIEW
The 1986 team appearing on 1987 Topps.
Thanx for reading.