Wanted to feature the new manager of the Blue Jays. I liked him as a pitching coach with the Red Sox, and wish him the best.
Tag Archives: Donruss
I think I’m due for a team post here or there, especially after looking at my collection again last night. I pulled the complete 86 Leaf set from a box of 1986 Leaf I purchased at a flea market back in 2004, but I only got the complete 86 Donruss team set this year. In the interests of space and boredom, I will only choose one of the sets for each player, as they’re basically the same thing with a different logo.
Hubie Brooks had the best year of his career in 1986, hitting .340/.388/.569, good for a 161 OPS+ and 4.7 WAR. Consider that he was playing shortstop, and he looked like the real deal.
Tim Burke was in his sophomore season, and had a 9-7 record with a 2.93 ERA but a 1.470 WHIP. Still, he was worth 2.1 wins above replacement, and would improve.
Andre Dawson was, of course, in his last year as an Expo. 1986 was another solid year for the Hawk, as he hit .284/.338/.478 with 20 homers and 18 SB. His speed was nowhere near where it had been earlier in his career, but he was still a well-rounded player, especially for that era.
Mike Fitzgerald only played in 73 games in 1986, hitting .282/.364/.440, pretty damn respectable for a backup catcher, good for a 0.7 WAR. As annoying as getting Fitzgerald cards can be, he wasn’t a terrible player that year.
Bret played on the storied 1988 Team USA baseball team that included players such as Jim Abbott and Tino Martinez. The Expos drafted him in the seventh round of the 1988 draft and assigned him to High-A West Palm Beach, where he had an underwhelming .267/.366/.346 line. He didn’t do much better in 1990 in Jacksonville, but in 1991 he broke loose at AAA Indianapolis, hitting .312/.461/.532 and earning a promotion to the Expos. He raked in his rookie season, hitting .353/.435/.515 in 57 games for a 2.1 WAR. He also had a completely unsustainable .400 BABIP, which means he was getting incredibly lucky. He stayed with the Expos for 92, hitting .232/.354/.281 for a 1.3 WAR. Actually not bad for a middle infielder, and he had regressed in terms of BABIP, meaning his true talent lay somewhere in between the two extremes. Unfortunately, the Expos weren’t convinced, and left him unprotected for the expansion draft, hence what you see here. He played 99 games with Florida that year, and sure enough, hit right in between the two extremes, going .277/.344/.371, a 1.7 WAR.
He stuck with the Marlins for another year, then went to the Orioles, and finished his career with the Cubs in 1996 at the age of 28. I’m not sure I understand what happened to him, though. He was a pretty good hitter up until he joined the Orioles, then he just went downhill FAST. I never thought he was going to be a hall of famer, but I did think he would be a star, and had the skills to be one. Oh, well. At least he had a hot wife for awhile.
I was shocked to realize I’d never featured this card on this site before. I won this on eBay late last summer, and always meant to get around to it, but I guess the site went dark before I could get to it. I remember getting it for ridiculously cheap and feeling like I’d gotten one hell of a steal. The significance of 7/19/00 is that it was Bradley’s MLB debut. I think it’s weird that they didn’t make a note of it anywhere on the card – why have him sign it that way if you’re not going to feature it in the card somehow? My only guess is that it was for an idea that didn’t pan out.
By the way, he went 3-for-5 in that game. Auspicious debut!
Good lord, even I didn’t realize how much I found at The National, and these posts are just scratching the surface, really. Let’s take a look at a sampling of the Expos and Nationals from the aughts.
I really liked this series. I remember scooping up a bunch of these at a card shop back in 04, but the only one I can still find these days is Rafael Palmeiro. Maybe I traded some away, I don’t know. Either way, I was quite happy to find this O-Cab. The 00’s Diamond King issues were such an improvement on the ones in the 80s and 90s, there’s really no comparison. No offense to Dick Perez, but whoever was doing the art here was much better. Unless it was Perez and his style changed?
I remember this set being lauded for its hits when I got back into collecting in 04, but I only ever managed to snag base cards. That’s fine by me, I like this design a lot. Very classy.
04 Topps Gallery will always be near and dear to my heart because I pulled one of my favorite cards from it (I’ll be featuring it soon), and I was glad to come across an Expo from the set. They don’t quite get to the level of Upper Deck’s Masterpieces set, but I enjoy the Gallery issues nevertheless.
Remember that 04 Just Minors set? Here are the Expos:
This is another set that I remember having great hits at the time; I have a Reggie Jackson GU from this set that I cherish, so it was cool to be able to pick up some of the base cards. I also scored a Frank Howard that I’m sure will come up sooner or later.
These remind me of the Donruss Triple Play and Upper Deck Fun Packs concept. The back is Randy Johnson making a face, with an empty balloon so the kids can make their own caption. Meh. But I didn’t have it.
I never had any 06 SPx, so I was pleased to come across this one. There must be a Ryan Zimmerman from this set, but I haven’t found it yet. With so many other cards out there, it’s hard to prioritize it, but I’m sure I’ll find it sooner or later.
Time to take a break from National finds…
Say what you will about Barry Zito, I like this card a lot. It totally captures the spirit of 1989 Upper Deck, and the colors on his uniform mesh so well with the colors on the border. A card like this is why I think this design was begging to be re-used at least once.
I think this card also captures the spirit of 89 Upper Deck really well; the photography is a bit sharper than the 89 set, but the contrast of dark and light is so well-done that I think it’s what they were shooting for with some of those darker pictures and just weren’t able to capture. I think a lot of thought went into the shot selection for this set.
Here we get to the first mediocre shot of today. I’m not really sure what to say about it other than it’s A-Rod from his few years with the Rangers and was one of the more expensive cards of the set.
Man, there sure are a lot of Yankee logos on this card. But see what I mentioned in my last post about saying a player signed with a team when it’s abundantly obvious on the card? I mean, ABUNDANTLY. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about these kinds of cards. The first example I can recall was Darryl Strawberry’s 1991 Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck cards:
I guess if you’re trying to beat the other guys to show him in his new uniform, I could see it, but it seems like a waste of a potentially good card. I also take the view that a given set is a historical record of the previous season, so these kinds of cards should be saved for update sets or later series. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about the Giambi, but I get why they did it. Thankfully, it’s the only one in the set.
Ah, here we go. Bowman finally comes into its own. The design is still kinda just “eh”, but they went with a higher-quality card stock and a glossy finish, which did a lot to upgrade the experience. And, of course, it was also short-printed thanks to Topps only printing enough for the orders placed. Unfortunately, given some of the iconic cards in this set, it’s a damn shame Olerud’s card falls so far short. Yeah, a shot up the nostrils, that’s what we need.
Olerud improved at the plate in 1992, posting a .284 BA and .825 OPS, clearing an .800 OPS for the first time in his career. His OPS+ jumped to 125 after hovering around the 115-118 range previously, and his strikeouts dropped by 20 to 61 after 84 the year before. His eye was developing.
1992 Donruss represents a much-needed improvement. While the design certainly has its problems and gets wearisome when you look at too many of them, gone is the bizarre paint splotch designs and random lines, replaced with a more utilitarian, straightforward design. Yeah, it’s boring, but at least it’s not hideous. This shot is okay, I guess. Like 1992 Donruss, it’s competent, but boring. I could imagine some better things to do with a first-base shot.
John was showing his competence with the glove in 1992, as well. Having taken over for Fred McGriff, he was tied for fourth in the AL in 1992 with three total zone runs at first base, putting him behind Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire (surprise), and Rafael Palmeiro.
This is another latter-day find, and it’s an interesting design for a 1992 card. Not sure that I like the whole “fanatic” logo in the upper-right, but I kind of like the torn paper at the bottom, and the large number is interesting. Not sure why they identify him as an infielder when he only ever played first base, though. I was happy with it as an addition to the collection, however.
Olerud showed up to Spring Training, 1992, having bulked up. He said:
“”I think I got to make adjustments. I got to figure out how they are gonna pitch me to get me out. The pitchers are always changing. If you hit a particular pitch, then they’ll try something else. And if somebody gets you out with a certain pitch, pretty soon everybody is throwing it.”
Everything’s Gone Green. That’s all I can think of when I see this set. I mean, it’s all right design-wise, I guess. Would team-coded colors have killed them? And what’s with losing so much space to design elements? The photo itself is all right, but good lord, are there enough shots of Olerud at first base? It’s like the companies decided now that he was out from being a DH it was time to compensate completely.
Olerud missed some games in the middle of 1992 with a strained hamstring. His time out of the lineup coincided with an offensive slump throughout the Jays lineup. Of course, they would end up rallying down the stretch, but his absence hurt the team.
With 1992, Ultra started finding its legs. 1993 is probably my favorite Ultra set ever, but 92 was pretty damn good, and a much-needed improvement. My only quibble is the green marble border along the bottom – it gets awfully boring after awhile. And, of course, it’s yet another shot of John playing first base. Like I said…the card creators must have been overjoyed. OVERJOYED. Heh.
Well, time to finally get into the 1991 Oleruds. I admit I’ve dragged my heels a little with this, mostly because I knew the scanning process was going to be laborious. I also think most of the 91 issues are butt-ugly. There was something about that year that just meant ugly cards. But here we go…
I’ve read some people think this is a nice-looking set. Those people are crazy. I never, ever cared for this set, and it was kind of the apex of the fugly Bowman issues. I mean, how could anyone love a set that has those ugly MVP cards? This card sure doesn’t do anything to break the ugly trend, either, with a poor generic shot. Not much to say about this one, other than there’s a reason I don’t have any doubles of it.
In 1991, John finally took over at first for Fred McGriff. He would eventually go on to win three gold gloves at the position, and while gold gloves generally don’t count for much, Olerud was a damn solid first baseman, one whom I tried to emulate in my playing days.
Okay, I have to admit this is a marked improvement from 1990 Classic. I’m not crazy about the ’91 logo, as it reminds me a bit too much of the zubaz from 1990, but beggars can’t be choosers and all that. On this particular card, however, the blue is a bit too much with the Toronto uniform’s clashing colors. The shot itself is one we’ll see over and over in my Olerud collection, rendering the overall card boring.
Of course, John was one of those players who jumped straight to the majors from college, but unfortunately did not stay that way. In 2005, in the twilight of his career, he played three games for Pawtucket, torching a 1.017 OPS and earning a call-up back to the big club, where he did a solid job. Does anyone know if he got a minor league issue for that year? I kind of doubt it, but it would be neat to have.
I wasn’t aware of the existence of this card until very recently, and was thrilled to get it from checkoutmycards.com. I think the 91 design looks much better in this purple color, and the shot of Olerud is not only interesting, but the colors fit better with the border. I definitely wouldn’t mind having a few more copies in my collection.
Did you know John was a 2007 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee? Pretty cool. He also has an award named after him for college players who both pitch and hit well. At Washington State University he set single-season records with a .462 average and 23 homers, as well as a 15-0 record as a pitcher. He was also 1987 and 1988’s college player of the year, so you can see why he came with some hype.
This was another card I wasn’t aware of. Does that single red card exist? I haven’t seen it anywhere, but I sure would want it. Regardless, I love this card, even if I’m not crazy about the color of the borders. Who wouldn’t want a card with these players on it back in 1991? Although I don’t understand Olerud’s inclusion with some proven stars of the late 80s (and all confirmed drug users), I’m not going to complain about getting to add those guys to my player collection.
In the context of these other players, who once all appeared destined for the Hall of Fame but fell short, I had to wonder, is Olerud a Hall-of-Famer? As much as I’d like to think so, probably not. Even as a fan, I wouldn’t vote him in. But Fangraphs has an interesting case for his candidacy. It’s at least worth a read.
And now on to the more general releases, ones of which I have a dozen or more. You know, objectively I shouldn’t like this card. It’s the junkest of the junk, it’s the messy, godwaful 1991 Donruss design (albeit the slightly more palatable second series), and it’s a damn generic shot, but for some reason the whole thing works for me in a way that I can’t quite explain. Maybe it’s the blues and greens working together. I’m not sure. But this is one of my favorite regular-issue 1991 Olerud cards.
Reading that Fangraphs article, I never realized Olerud had a 97 total zone score over his career. That puts him in some elite categories, and just below Albert Pujols who currently sits at 101 and whom I’d consider to be the best-fielding first baseman I’ve ever seen. Sure, the position may not be premium defensively, but having played it, I know that good first baseman really can make a difference that isn’t appreciated until you see someone like Pujols or Olerud play it.
We’ll continue our journey through 1991 very soon…