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.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Rating the Rookie Cups 2.0 - 1972

Greetings all.  Got a late start today, so I am posting a little later than I intended.  It is technically Saturday now, but I'll pretend I am in the Central time zone and still count it as Friday though.  I hate to ruin a nice streak by just a few minutes.  

This week's team is the most recent team that I have completed, 1972 Topps.  As most of you know, 1972 Topps is well known for the rarity of the high numbers.  There are no really big names in this set, but 2 of the players are in the rare final series.  I was lucky enough to track down a cheap Doug Griffin in good condition several years ago, but the Willie Montanez eluded me for a decade.  I finally just broke down bought one for around $5 on eBay, but the condition is horrible.  So if any of you happen to have an extra one in decent condition, let me know.
The most obvious thing to talk about is that this is the 50th anniversary of this team and thus is the current year's Heritage product. 
As far as the team goes, there is really nothing about it that really stands out.  I usually have some type of trivia for every team, sometimes more than one piece of trivia, but I honestly have nothing here.  I guess the only thing I really have is that I was born exactly two days before Chris Chambliss's dramatic playoff home run for the Yankees in 1976.  

As far as the set goes, I know some people absolutely love this set, but it's not one of my favorites.  The marquee letters are fun and the colors are also fun in most cases, but I don't like the lack of a position indicator on the front.  I also don't think the plain nameplate really fits with the psychedelic rest of the design.  
The biggest flaw in my opinion is just the small percentage of the card devoted to the photo.  Let me state up front that I love borders and don't really like full bleed photography, but it is too extreme in this instance.  You have the regular border and then the larger colored inner border and the photo is on barely 50% of the card.  Just not a big fan.  

Let's take a look at the 1971 Topps Rookie All Star Team.

Earl Williams - C - Braves - Season Rank (12 of 61) - Career Rank (26 of 61)

Chris Chambliss - 1B - Indians - Season Rank (30 of 61) - Career Rank (16 of 61)

Doug Griffin - 2B - Red Sox - Season Rank (51 of 61) - Career Rank (55 of 61)

Steve Braun - 3B - Twins - Season Rank (47 of 61) - Career Rank (25 of 61)
Chris Speier - SS - Giants - Season Rank (27 of 61) - Career Rank (15 of 60)

Bill Buckner - OF - Dodgers - Season Rank (175 of 184) - Career Rank (37 of 184)

Angel Mangual - OF - Athletics - Season Rank (179 of 184) - Career Rank (181 of 184)

Willie Montanez - OF - Phillies - Season Rank (26 of 184) - Career Rank (83 of 184)


Bill Parsons - RHP - Brewers - Season Rank (36 of 50) - Career Rank (46 of 50)

Ross Grimsley - LHP - Reds - Season Rank (42 of 49) - Career Rank (17 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 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.  In this case, and all cases before 2011, I am retroactively adding a relief pitcher spot to the team.

Catcher - Earl Williams - Braves

For the first time since I have started doing this, we have a walk.  NL ROY Earl Williams was the only rookie catcher anywhere close to qualifying. 

First Base - Chris Chambliss - Indians

I didn't have to wait long to find the second rookie walk through.  AL ROY Chris Chambliss was the only rookie first baseman anywhere close to qualifying.  At least it was the two Rookies of the Year that probably would have won regardless.  

Second Base - Doug Griffin - Red Sox

Second base competition was fairly weak in 1971, but at least there was some.  I still had to lower the bar to 97 games to pick up two challengers for Doug Griffin of the Red Sox.  They were Ron Theobald of the Brewers and Tim Foli of the Mets.  It required two tie breakers, but Griffin was able to hold his spot over a very competitive one year wonder in Theobald.

Third Base - Steve Braun - Twins

Like most positions in 1971, third base also suffered from a lack of rookie competition.  I lowered the bar to 89 games to pick up three players.  They were Steve Braun of the Twins, Bobby Valentine of the Dodgers, and Darrell Evans of the Braves.  Braun was not dominant by any means, but he was able to hold the spot over the longtime slugger Evans and the future manager Valentine.

Shortstop - Chris Speier - Giants

Shortstop was the one position that had plenty of contenders, at least in terms of games played.  There were 5 rookie shortstops with at least 127 games played in 1971.  They were Chris Speier of the Giants, Roger Metzger of the Astros, Toby Harrah of the Senators, Enzo Hernandez of the Padres, and Marty Perez of the Braves.  Despite the increased competition, Speier easily held his spot.

Outfield - Willie Montanez - Phillies, George Foster - Giants / Reds, Gene Clines - Pirates

The outfield was also a bit shy on rookie contenders.  There were only 5 players that met the 100 games played requirement, so I lowered the bar to 90 games and picked up 3 more.  Those not in contention included Roger Freed of the Phillies, Brock Davis of the Cubs, and Jimmy Rosario of the Giants.  Willie Montanez was clearly the #1 rookie outfielder, so that left the final two spots among Topps's choices Bill Buckner of the Dodgers and Angel Mangual of the A's along with Gene Clines of the Pirates and George Foster who split the year between the Giants and Reds.  In this case, Topps went 0-2 because Foster and Clines were pretty clearly superior.

RH Starter - Ken Forsch - Astros

As expected with the early 70s starters, there were a lot of young horses here.  Lots of innings among our 9 RH starters.  Some of the candidates included Steve Stone of the Giants, Jim Slaton of the Brewers, Steve Arlin of the Padres, and Reggie Cleveland of the Indians.  It came down to a two man race between Ken Forsch of the Astros and Bill Parsons of the Brewers with Forsch winning a somewhat tight battle. 

LH Starter - Paul Splittorff - Royals

Of the 10 or so sets I have reviewed thus far, this was the smallest number of LH starters I have had yet.  There were only 3 starters that qualified and I even lowered the bar to 10 with no success.  But there is only 1 spot, so 3 was fine.  The 3 candidates were Ross Grimsley of the Reds, Ken Reynolds of the Phillies, and Paul Splittorff of the Royals.  Splittorff was clearly the best starter and should have been the pick.
Relief Pitcher - Steve Mingori - Indians

Rookie relievers in 1971 were also in short supply.  I had to lower the bar to 50 games in order to collect 5 contenders for the RP spot on the team.  The lesser candidates were Jim York of the Royals, Denny Riddleberger of the Senators, and Al Severinsen of the Padres.  The spot came down to a really tight race between middle reliever Steve Mingori of the Indians and closer Lloyd Allen of the Angels with Mingori just barely edging out the victory.


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


Topps did very well with the infield, although the lack of contenders kind of diminishes that accomplishment.  They missed on both pitchers, but neither was particularly egregious, particularly since their choices had the most wins and that category was far more important in 1971.  The biggest mistake they made though was the choice of Angel Mangual over George Foster.  I am dumbfounded by that choice.  And I am even more dumbfounded that Mangual actually got 4 first place ROY votes.  I saw absolutely nothing impressive in his stats, but maybe one of you guys a little older than me can explain why Mangual's 1971 season was special.  Overall, I would not give Topps a lot of credit here even though they fell into the "Good" category. 

Final Thoughts on the Team

Strongest Team Members (rookie) - Willie Montanez, Earl Williams, Chris Speier
Strongest Team Members (career) - Bill Buckner, Chris Speier, Chris Chambliss
Weakest Team Members (rookie) - Angel Mangual, Bill Buckner, Doug Griffin
Weakest Team Members (career) - Angel Mangual, Doug Griffin, Bill Parsons
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0
Best Card (IMHO) - Bill Buckner (I always get a chuckle out of the bat getting ready to destroy the trophy.)
Worst Card (IMHO) - Chris Chambliss (Not horrible, but it is poorly framed.)

This was a pretty weak Rookie All Star Team, but in fairness it was a fairly weak rookie class in 1971 overall.  The season team is one of the weakest I have run across yet.  It will probably end up as one the bottom 10 teams when all is said and done.  The career team does look better though.  Bill Buckner was right on the cusp of a HOF career and still may make it one day through the Vet's Committee.  Chris Speier and Chris Chambliss also had very good careers, but the remainder of the team was not particularly strong.  For career, I would put the team higher, but not much higher, maybe bottom 20.  Definitely a below average team overall.


The 1990 team pictured on 1991 Topps cards.

Thanx for reading.


1 comment:

Jon said...

I was expecting to find some irritated collectors down here in the comments, after all, it's almost unheard of to see someone speaking ill of the '72 set on the blogs. Kudos to all those who've apparently held their tongue :)