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, May 1, 2021

Rating the Rookie Cups 2.0 - 1991

Good evening all.  Once again I am just minutes into Saturday with my Rating the Rookie Cups post.  This week the problem was viral.  Not the physical virus, but the computer kind.  It wasn't a serious problem, but it cost me a few hours today and gave me a headache and basically made me not want to look at my computer a lot.  I took a power nap and I am rocking once again.  Yes, I did just say that I was rocking.  I'm old.

Helping to prove that I am old, this week I am showcasing a team that was rookie during my freshman year in high school 30 years ago, the 1990 Topps Rookie All Star Team.  Since I have rebooted this series, this is the first team I reviewed in the original go around.  It was fun looking back at my work from almost a decade ago, but it also showed how much I was really just guessing back then.  

The team features one of the instances of a rookie getting a cup card and being traded in the same season.  Felix Jose was traded from Oakland to St. Louis in exchange for longtime Cardinals hero Willie McGee.  It's not a common occurrence, but did happen as recently as 2020 with Nick Anderson who split the season between the Marlins and Rays.

As far as the set goes, Night Owl (in his civilian identity of Gregory Gay) wrote a piece for Beckett recently about this set that I can't even hope to top.  Just a fantastic write up on the set.  Although I gotta say that the commenters on the article really leave a lot to be desired.  I can honestly say that Topps was not on my radar in 1991.  I was a Score fan and spent the last real year of my teenage collecting almost buying Score.  I still love 1991 Score, but I do wish I had given Topps a little more love too.

Let's take a look at the 1990 Topps Rookie All Star Team.

Sandy Alomar - C - Indians- Season Rank (9 of 61) - Career Rank (16 of 61)

Hal Morris - 1B - Reds - Season Rank (25 of 61) - Career Rank (25 of 61)

Delino DeShields - 2B - Expos - Season Rank (16 of 61) - Career Rank (14 of 61)

Robin Ventura - 3B - White Sox - Season Rank (38 of 61) - Career Rank (10 of 61)
Jeff Huson - SS - Rangers - Season Rank (42 of 61) - Career Rank (46 of 60)

Felix Jose - OF - Cardinals - Season Rank (150 of 184) - Career Rank (120 of 184)

Dave Justice - OF - Braves - Season Rank (38 of 184) - Career Rank (38 of 184)

Larry Walker - OF - Expos - Season Rank (99 of 184) - Career Rank (2 of 184)

Kevin Appier - RHP - Royals - Season Rank (24 of 50) - Career Rank (10 of 50)

Scott Radinsky - LHP (RP) - White Sox - Season Rank (33 of 34) - Career Rank (17 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, 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 which as I mentioned above means moving Scott Radinsky to the reliever category and adding a LH starter to the team. 

Catcher - Todd Zeile - Cardinals

There were three candidates for catcher in 1990 and they were all fairly strong.  The three were AL ROY Sandy Alomar of the Indians, Todd Zeile of the Cardinals, and Greg Olson of the Braves.  It ended up being a dead heat between future Rockies teammates Alomar and Zeile through my first tiebreaker, so I had to go with the final tiebreaker of who scored better against the third guy and Zeile ended up winning.  Although the case could easily be made for standing pat with Alomar, I am sticking with my formula and going with Zeile.

First Base - Carlos Quintana - Red Sox

First base was arguably the deepest position in 1990.  There were 4 qualifiers along with 2 "buzz worthy" rookies that fell short of the 100 game level that I included anyway.  They included Hal Morris of the Reds, Carlos Quintana of the Red Sox, Phil Stephenson of the Padres.  John Olerud of the Blue Jays was mostly a DH, but he is included here since I don't have a DH spot and he played some 1B.  The other two notables were future HOFer Frank Thomas of the White Sox and one year wonder Kevin Maas of the Yankees.  A lot of close battles, but all were defeated by Quintana who really just played the most games.

Second Base - Delino DeShields - Expos

If first base was the deepest, second base was by far the shallowest.  There were only two challengers at second base, Delino DeShields of the Expos and Mark Lemke of the Braves.  Lemke would become somewhat of a folk hero in Atlanta, but his rookie year was noticeably worse than DeShields who held his spot.

Third Base - Robin Ventura - White Sox

There were four candidates for the third base position, Robin Ventura of the White Sox, Jim Leyritz of the Yankees, Carlos Baerga of the Indians, and Travis Fryman of the Tigers.  Ventura did not have a great rookie year, but he was the only one that played a full season and won the spot relatively easily.

Shortstop - Eric Yelding - Astros

Shortstop was another position that was a bit shy on challengers.  There were two solid contenders in Eric Yelding of the Astros and Jeff Huson of the Rangers and I picked up a third in Edgar Diaz of the Brewers when I lowered the bar to 81 games.  In the end, the speedy Yelding took the spot over the defensively minded Huson.

Outfield - Dave Justice - Braves, Larry Walker - Expos, Felix Jose - Cardinals

The outfield in 1990 was not a particularly deep class either.  There were only 5 players over the 100 game limit, so I lowered the bar to 81 to pick up a full complement of 9.  Justice and Walker were clearly the top two guys.  Among those considered for the third spot were Eric Anthony of the Astros, Darryl Hamilton of the Brewers, Marquis Grissom of the Expos, and Glenallen Hill of the Blue Jays.  It came down to a tight three way battle between Felix Jose of the Cardinals, Greg Vaughn of the Brewers, and Jack Daugherty of the Rangers with Jose holding his spot.

RH Starter - Kevin Appier - Royals

As usual, there were a lot of contenders for the right handed starter spot.  1990 was especially strong with 4 rookies with double digits in victories.  Kevin Appier held off strong challenges from Kevin Tapani of the Twins, John Burkett of the Giants, Ben McDonald of the Orioles, and Mike Harkey of the Cubs.

LH Starter - Randy Tomlin - Pirates

There were very few left handed starters in 1990.  There were only 2 that met the 15 start requirement, so I had to lower the bar to 11 starts to pick up enough competition.  Among those considered were Chris Nabholz of the Expos, Steve Avery of the Braves, and Tigers teammates Steve Searcy and Brian DuBois.  It came down to the only full year starter in Pat Combs of the Phillies and a late season call up in Randy Tomlin of the Pirates.  In this case, the half season proved to be better than the full.

Relief Pitcher - Steve Frey - Expos

There were a handful of candidates for the relief pitcher spot including Topps's LHP choice Scott Radinsky of the White Sox.  I lowered the bar to 7 saves and got a tightly packed group of relievers including Jeff Gray of the Red Sox, Kent Mercker of the Braves, Stan Belinda of the Pirates, and the Expos trio of Steve Frey, Bill Sampen, and Scott Ruskin.  It was a very close battle with Frey winning over close runner up Belinda.


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


Topps did okay here.  They only got 6/10 according to my system, but catcher could have easily gone either way, so I am not really counting that against them.  First base was a case of a very high batting average winning out.  Shortstop was possibly a case of them considering Eric Yelding an outfielder instead of a shortstop since he played both positions.  But it was still a bad call.  The one choice they made that has absolutely no defense is Scott Radinsky.  I was never been a big fan of choosing relievers over starters unless the reliever was particularly great.  That was not Radinsky in 1990.  Just a bad call.  But I don't really have a leg to stand on, because I only got 7/10 correct on my original picks before I started using my stat system.  Proving it really isn't easy to make these picks, even years after the fact.

Final Thoughts on the Team

Strongest Team Members (rookie) - Sandy Alomar, Dave Justice, Delino DeShields
Strongest Team Members (career) - Larry Walker, Robin Ventura, Kevin Appier
Weakest Team Members (rookie) - Felix Jose, Scott Radinsky, Jeff Huson
Weakest Team Members (career) - Jeff Huson, Felix Jose, Scott Radinsky
Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 2 (Alomar, Walker) (Although Huson is the color guy on Rockies games now)
Best Card (IMHO) - Robin Ventura (Alomar and Appier are both really good, but I gotta go with the great throwback jersey here)
Worst Card (IMHO) - Hal Morris (not a bad shot, but zoomed in way too much)

This team is definitely solid with Larry Walker taking the #2 outfield spot on the all time career Rookie Cup team.  Walker is the only Hall of Famer, but there were several other very good underrated careers in Justice, Appier, Alomar, DeShields, and Ventura.  For career, I would probably this team right about the middle of the pack.  For rookie season, I might put it just a bit below average.  There were no really bad rookie years, but there were also no really good ones either.  Just a fairly average set of rookies that produced a few really great careers.


The 2013 team pictured on 2014 Topps cards.

Thanx for reading.


Fuji said...

Love the well-cropped action shots of Huson and Radinsky. Wish Topps would have zoomed out a tad bit more on the Alomar.

Jon said...

This was good one. I'm glad I didn't miss it!