The 1988 Project Day 24 – Ricky Jordan

1988 Fleer Update

The cards I’m going to show you today were incredibly hot property in late 1988/early 1989. Ricky Jordan was a budding superstar. No kidding. Today he’s little more than a baseball footnote, but we were all convinced he was the second coming, and we weren’t the only ones. What’s even funnier, however, is that a lot of people had the other top Phillies prospect, Ron Jones, ranked even higher than Jordan, and Jones barely even scratched the Majors. I guess that’s why Upper Deck chose Jones as a Star Rookie over Jordan? I never got that back in the day. But we’re not here to talk about Jones.

Ricky was a first-rounder for Philadelphia in the 1983 draft and started at Helena in the Pioneer League. Finding exact stats for that era is tricky for some reason, but it looks like he consistently hit .274 or above, but his SLG was a bit paltry for a first baseman: he never topped a .491 SLG. So why exactly was he a vaunted prospect? In fact, looking at his numbers, he would be considered an underperformer these days.

1988 Score Rookie & Traded

He made his major league debut on July 17, 1988, against Houston. He started at first and went 2-for-2 with a home run and two walks. Can’t get much better than that. He went on to put up a .308/.324/.491 line with a 1.5 WAR in 1988, which may have contributed to his super prospect status. Given a full-time job in 1989, he dipped from an .815 ops in 1988 to a .724 ops in 1989. That meant he went from 131 OPS+ to 107 OPS+, slightly below average for a first baseman, but his glove really killed him in 89, dropping him to a 1.0 WAR. He was injured in 90 and thus mustered only a 73 OPS+ with a -0.5 WAR. He recovered, but was never the same batter. What little power he had had was sapped, which is just not a good thing for a first baseman with a weak glove. In fact, in four seasons he had the following injuries: a sore left wrist, an injury to his left hand and a fractured jaw. Two surgeries on his right shoulder (in 1995 and 1997) eventually ended his career.

Slim pickings here, but I’m definitely going with the Score card. The photo is better, and his position isn’t all squashed near his hands. Plus, it was a holy grail card for us way back when.

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