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, April 9, 2021

Rating the Rookie Cups 2.0 - 1985


Good evening gentle readers.  Here I am once again to rate the rookie cups from the past.  This week I focusing on the 1984 Topps Rookie All Star Team featured on 1985 Topps.  

The 1985 Topps team features not one, but two players that top my position charts.  It is the first of three teams with that honor to be analyzed in this series.  The other two teams coming soon are shown on 1965 Topps and 2007 Topps.  

This was also the third time in Rookie Cup history where the Rookie of the Year in each league was included along with a teammate.  1961 featured NL ROY Frank Howard with Dodger teammate Tommy Davis along with AL ROY Ron Hansen and a pair of his Orioles teammates in Jim Gentile and Chuck Estrada.  1964 featured NL ROY Pete Rose with his Cincinnati teammate Tommy Harper while AL ROY Gary Peters was included with a pair of White Sox teammates in Pete Ward and Al Weis.  1985 featured NL ROY Dwight Gooden and his Mets teammate Mike Fitzgerald while AL ROY Alvin Davis appears with Mariners teammate Mark Langston.  1985 was the last time this occurred as of 2021.

As far as the set goes, 1985 Topps is a decent design that always seemed just a bit too busy for my tastes.  The large tilted team nameplate is nice and the logo bubble is also nice, but together they seem to be a bit much, especially for team where the team name is included in the logo (which was most of them at the time).  The color schemes for the cards are team based in most cases and look very nice.  

There were also three very interesting subsets in 1985 Topps as well.  Father/son combos featured a then current player photo pictured along with an old Topps card of their father.  #1 Draft Picks showcased a selection of overall #1 draft picks on the 20th anniversary of the player draft.  Arguably, the most popular subset was the US Olympic baseball team which featured the first card of Mark McGwire, but also included future MLB players Cory Snyder, Bill Swift, and Shane Mack among others.

Let's take a look at the 1984 Topps Rookie All Star Team.

Mike Fitzgerald - C - Mets - Season Rank (52 of 61) - Career Rank (32 of 61)

Alvin Davis - 1B - Mariners - Season Rank (1 of 61) - Career Rank (27 of 61)

Juan Samuel - 2B - Phillies - Season Rank (2 of 61) - Career Rank (15 of 61) 

Brook Jacoby - 3B - Indians - Season Rank (44 of 61) - Career Rank (22 of 61)
Jackie Gutierrez - SS - Red Sox - Season Rank (45 of 61) - Career Rank (58 of 60) 

Dan Gladden - OF - Giants - Season Rank (120 of 184) - Career Rank (88 of 184)

Carmelo Martinez - OF - Padres - Season Rank (81 of 184) - Career Rank (127 of 184)

Kirby Puckett - OF - Twins - Season Rank (115 of 184) - Career Rank (17 of 184)


Dwight Gooden - RHP - Mets - Season Rank (1 of 50) - Career Rank (5 of 50)

Mark Langston - LHP - Mariners - Season Rank (9 of 49) - Career Rank (8 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 - Mark Bailey - Astros

Catcher was a relatively weak position in 1984.  There were three contenders for the spot including Topps's choice Mike Fitzgerald of the Mets, Mark Bailey of the Astros, and Brad Gulden of the Reds.  It was a close battle, but Mark Bailey should have been the choice.

First Base - Alvin Davis - Mariners

There were three candidates for the first base position in 1984, AL ROY Alvin Davis of the Mariners, early Cuban defector Barbaro Garbey of the Tigers, and Gerald Perry of the Braves.  Garbey and Perry both had pretty good rookie years, but neither was in the class of Alvin Davis who had one of the better statistical rookie years of all time.

Second Base - Juan Samuel - Phillies

Second base in 1984 had a fairly strong class of rookies.  Although there were only three, all of them had the stats to belong at second on an average Rookie All Star Team.  The candidates were Juan Samuel of the Phillies, Tim Teufel of the Twins, and Marty Barrett of the Red Sox.  Teufel and Barrett were strong, but Samuel put up a historically good campaign and retains his spot.

Third Base - Brook Jacoby - Indians

Third base only had one rookie which met the 100 game requirement, so I lowered the bar all the way to 67 games to get a handful of players.  I ended up with 5 contenders: Brook Jacoby of the Indians, Terry Pendleton of the Cardinals, Jim Presley of the Mariners, Mike Pagliarulo of the Yankees, and German Rivera of the Dodgers.  Jacoby did not have a great rookie year, but his mere presence in more games was enough to defeat a runner up half season of future NL MVP Pendleton and the rest.

Shortstop - Dave Anderson - Dodgers

Shortstop has a large number of rookies that played a significant role on their respective teams in 1984.  There were 6 rookies that met the 100 game requirement and I added a seventh that was at 99 games.  Among the lower tier were Curt Wilkerson of the Rangers, Tom Foley of the Reds, and Dick Schofield of the Angels.  The top 3 shortstops were not standouts, but they were all fairly close.  Dave Anderson of the Dodgers came out on top ahead of Jackie Gutierrez of the Red Sox and Bobby Meachem of the Yankees.

Outfield - Carmelo Martinez - Padres, Dan Gladden - Giants, Kirby Puckett - Twins

Outfield is usually a tough battle, but this one was ridiculously close.  Carmelo Martinez set himself apart as the best rookie OF in 1984 which left the final 2 spots to a tightly packed group of six players.  Dan Gladden of the Giants, future HOFer Kirby Puckett of the Twins, Mike Young of the Orioles, Dion James of the Brewers, Gary Pettis of the Angels, and Phil Bradley of the Mariners were the combatants.  Gladden emerged as the top player despite playing in the fewest number of games.  Kirby Puckett claimed the final spot in the closest competition I have ever had.  It actually took three tiebreakers before Puckett finally defeated Young.

RH Starter - Dwight Gooden - Mets

Right handed starter is usually filled with solid competition, but in 1984 the quality was just ridiculous.  I raised the bar to 18 starts and got 10 pitchers.  Of those 10 pitchers, there were a total of 11 future Cy Young Awards among 4 of them.  Just an amazing array of talent, but there is only one spot available.  Between the 10, two really stood out.  Among the rest was a virtual who's who of 1980s pitching: Roger Clemens of the Red Sox, teammates Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubizca of the Royals, Ron Darling of the Mets, and a strong one year wonder in Ron Romanick of the Angels.  It came down to a battle of future NL Cy Young winners in Dwight Gooden of the Mets and Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers.  Hershiser was a strong runner up, but there was no beating the rookie campaign of Doctor K.

LH Starter - Mark Langston - Mariners

The collection of pitchers on the southpaw side is not as impressive as the righties, but there were still several good contenders.  There were 7 pitchers that met parameters including Ricky Horton of the Cardinals, Dennis Rasmussen of the Yankees, Sid Fernandez of the Mets, Curt Young of the Athletics, and Ed Hodge of the Twins.  In the end, it came down to a two man race between Mark Langston of the Mariners and Mike Mason of the Rangers with Langston winning a closer race than expected.
Relief Pitcher - Ernie Camacho - Indians

Rookie relievers were in relatively short supply in 1984.  There was only one reliever that pitched more than 65 games and only 2 with 10 or more saves, so I lowered the games bar to 50 to pick up a handful of competitors.  Among the more notable names were John Franco of the Reds and future starter Jimmy Key of the Blue Jays.  Indians closer Ernie Camacho won handily over his Cleveland teammates Tom Waddell and Mike Jeffcoat along with Frank Williams of the Giants. 


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


I have been bashing Topps in this space quite a bit recently, but I have to give them credit here.  According to my system, they missed 2 out of 10, but both of them were relative toss ups, especially at catcher.  Even the shortstop mistake could be explained by batting average, of which Gutierrez was better, having a much more significant impact on selection in 1984.  Picking the top 3 outfielders correctly out of 7 very close contenders was very unlikely, but Topps did it.  So I will give it up to them this week.  I make no promises for next week.

Final Thoughts on the Team

Strongest Team Members (rookie) - Dwight Gooden, Alvin Davis, Juan Samuel
Strongest Team Members (career) - Kirby Puckett, Dwight Gooden, Mark Langston
Weakest Team Members (rookie) - Mike Fitzgerald, Jackie Gutierrez, Brook Jacoby
Weakest Team Members (career) - Jackie Gutierrez, Carmelo Martinez, Mike Fitzgerald
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0
Best Card (IMHO) - Dwight Gooden (close up of an intense stare is a great look on a card)
Worst Card (IMHO) - Brook Jacoby (close up of a goofy grin is not a great look on a card)

This team is in the argument for best season rookie team of all time according to my analysis.  Two of the positions are manned by the best statistical seasons out of 60 years and a third spot is the second best at his position of all time.  There are some weak spots at catcher and short and the outfield is not particularly strong, so it may not be the best ever, but it's definitely top 10 and probably top 5.  As far as careers go, it's not quite as impressive.  There is only one Hall of Famer in Kirby Puckett, but that doesn't mean the rest of the team is bereft of stars.  Although some players did not match their spectacular rookie years, there were several very solid careers among the rest.  The career team wouldn't be as high, but would still probably rank in the top 15 or so.  Very solid team.


The 2007 team pictured on 2008 Topps cards.

Thanx for reading.


1 comment:

Jon said...

I never really liked this set's design, and therefor never went out of my way to try and collect it. And I agree with your best card assessment, Dwight's is top notch!