2012 Heritage vs. Vintage #4 – All-Star Rookie Team

23 03 2012

Up next in the Great Heritage Comparison – All-Star Rookies.  Keep in mind – these cards feature players from the ASR team the year before.  So we’re comparing the 1962 ASR team to the 2011 version.  On the 1963 cards, compared to the 2012 Heritage version.  All pretty simple until someone gets hurt.

I’m comparing by position, not by card number.  The 10 players all have the same 10 card numbers (yay, Topps, yay!), but more often than not, Topps didn’t match up the card numbers at each position (boo, Topps, boo!).  I’m giving a half a point for each card winner, and then an additional bonus point to the team I deem the best.  This will be my longest post for this Heritage thing I’m doing – by far!

Second Base

The most notable thing about the 1962 Topps ASR team is that NL Rookie of the Year winner Ken Hubbs is not on it.  Hubbs was beaten out by Minnesota Twins second baseman Bernie Allen – who had the best season of his 14-year career in his first season.  In all fairness to Hubbs – Allen had a better year.  The 2011 second baseman was Danny Espinosa from the Nationals.

1963 Topps – Allen (.269/12/64, 646 PA’s)

2012 Heritage – Espinosa (.231/22/66, 658 PA’s, 17 SB)

Winner – Espinosa.  He had better overall numbers in his rookie year, and I think he’s likely to have a better future than Allen, who was a decent utility infielder for a decade or so.  I like the picture better on Allen’s card, but not enough to pick him.  I also don’t like that Topps sort of confused the card numbers here – Allen is card number 427, while Espinosa is 351.  These cards match up with other ASR cards – just not correct position wise.

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Pitcher

Hubbs won the RoY award due primarily to a lack of competition.  The entire ASR team was composed of American League players, save one – pitcher Al Jackson, who had the unfortunate circumstances of having a decent rookie campaign while pitching for the Mets in their expansion year.  Despite a respectable 4.40 ERA over 230+ innings in the spacious Polo Grounds, Jackson lost 20 games.  That kept Rookie of the Year voters from looking at him, but not the Topps ASR team.

In 1963, Topps was selecting a RHP and a LHP – but in 2012, Topps selected a starter and a reliever.  Jackson was the lefty, Dean Chance was the right-handed pitcher.  Chance was very good in 1962 – and was 2 years removed from a Cy Young award for the Angels.  He actually did garner some Rookie of the Year consideration – placing 3rd.

The 2011 crop pitching crop is pretty darn good, though.  Both of the Rookie of the Year winners were represented here.  This kept out some pretty good pitchers, most notably Ivan Nova of the Yankees.  But Jeremy Hellickson was excellent in his 29 starts for the Rays, and Craig Kimbrel broke the rookie saves record.  All 4 pitchers are compared below.

1963 Topps – Jackson (8-20/4.40/118, 231 IP)

Chance (14-10/2.96/127, 206 IP)

2012 Heritage – Craig Kimbrel (4-3/2.10/127, 77 IP, 46 SV – MLB Rookie Record, NL ROY)

Hellickson (13-10/2.95/117, 189 IP, AL ROY)

Winner – Hellickson and Kimbrel.  I’m giving Heritage the clean sweep and a full point here!  Hellickson’s numbers are eerily similar to Chance’s, so they’re pretty close.  Chance had a pretty decent career – he didn’t pitch for a really long time, but he did have two 20-win seasons and a Cy Young Award.  I think Hellickson can match that career.  Kimbrel definitely had a better rookie season than Jackson, though his ineffectiveness at the end of the year when the Braves really needed him scares me for his future.  He has a great strikeout-to-innings ratio, though, and he broke a fairly significant rookie record.  I’d clearly give the 2011 team at least a split – but I really like Kimbrel’s picture.  They got him to go to the stands or the press box of a park, so it’s a neat background.  That puts them over the top for the full point here!  For the card number – Jackson and Hellickson both have card #111, but Kimbrel had card #398 – which was Boog Powell.  Chance was 355.  Again – they matched up ASR players, just not the same position.

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Shortstop

That leaves us with one remaining Rookie of the Year winner to cover, and that winner was filling in at Shortstop for the New York Yankees while Tony Kubek was injured.  Tom Tresh would go on to a career just under a decade where he had good power and average hitting – but he was the best rookie in the 1962 season.  He had a career best 178 hits and 93 RBI, along with 20 home runs.  Tresh also performed very well in the postseason, hitting .321 with a homer and 4 RBI in the Yankees 7-game triumph over the Giants.

The 2012 ASR shortstop came courtesy of a baseball family.  Dee Gordon is not only Tom Gordon’s son, but he also had the 2011 card of the year as proclaimed by the 2011 blog of the year!  That’s nice and all, but this ain’t your 2011 Topps set, here – we’re comparing your daddy’s 1963 Topps to Heritage!

1963 Topps – Tresh (.269/12/64, 646 PA’s)

2012 Heritage – Gordon (.231/22/66, 658 PA’s, 17 SB)

Winner – Tresh.  He had better overall numbers in his rookie year, and I think he’s likely to have a better future than Allen, who was a decent utility infielder for a decade or so.  I kind of like the picture better on Allen’s card, but not enough to pick him.

Tresh was card #470, but Gordon was #427 – matching up with 2nd baseman Allen from above.

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Third Base

Staying in the infield will take us over to the hot corner.  In 1962, that was 29-year old rookie Ed Charles, who got his chance with the Kansas City Athletics after a decade in the Braves minor league system.  Charles probably could have used a chance earlier than he got one – he hit .288 with 154 hits and solid power.  He was the 2nd best player on his team – and was pretty close to Norm Siebern.  Honestly – reading his “stats on the back” – I can’t believe he didn’t get a call up earlier.  He was behind Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews at 3rd, but you’d think they could have got a .290 hitter with some power into the lineup somewhere after 10 years.

Brett Lawrie was the 2011 version of the ASR hot corner.  But he was a late season call-up, not getting his ML debut until early August.  He did hit 9 homers in 43 games and slugged .580.

1963 Topps – Charles (.288/17/74, 20 SB, 604 PA’s)

2012 Heritage – Lawrie (.293/9/25, 171 PA’s)

Winner – Charles.  He played a full season and had really solid numbers.  I liked the info on the back of the card here, too, and I like the picture on his card – I’ve always been a fan of the sleeveless uni and that KC logo.  I’m further dinging Heritage for the mix up in position – Charles was card #67, while Lawrie was #280 – these two guys were flipped with the catcher.

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Catcher

Next up the catchers from the ASR teams were teammates of guys above.  While Lawrie was fielding throws from Blue Jays catcher JP Arencibia in August and September, 2011, the Angels’ Bob “Buck” Rodgers was calling balls and strikes for all of 1962.  Rodgers was one of the original members of the Angels – he was selected by the team in the expansion draft.  He got a cup of coffee in 1961, then became the team’s starting catcher in 1962.  Rodgers helped the team finish a surprising 10 games over .500 – unheard of for an expansion team in its second year.  He placed 2nd to Tresh in Rookie of the Year voting and caught Bo Belinsky’s no-hitter that year.  Buck went on to a good career as a signal caller and a decent MLB manager.

Arencibia also had a pretty solid year last year – though his .219 average and 133 strikeouts are a bit scary.

1963 Topps – Rodgers (.258/6/61, 624 PA’s)

2012 Heritage – Arencibia (.218/23/78, 486 PA’s)

Winner – Arencibia.  This was my toughest one.  I’ve changed the winner a couple of times – because, you know, this is important stuff that I should really be fretting about!  Neither picture jumps out at me – but I like that of Arencibia a little more.  I like Rodgers’ 1962 season a little more, and I like his career – the whole of it, including his stints as manager – more than I like JP’s future prospects.  Maybe the icing on the cake is what Topps didn’t do in 1963 – I’ve dinged Heritage for not doing cool things, so it’s fair to do it to Topps.  Bob Rodgers is best known as Buck – it’s a nickname after a comic book character – which is awesome.  But Topps doesn’t acknowledge it on this card, so Arencibia is my winner.

As mentioned, these guys card numbers were flipped with the cards above.

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First Base

The last infield spot is first base.  Mark Trumbo of the Angels was the winner in 2011 – though I don’t think that’s the position where he’ll be playing next year.  Sounds like 3rd base is he current plan – but between Kendrys Morales, Trumbo and “El Hombre”, the Angels have quite a few natural first baseman to make use of.  Trumbo was the runner-up to Hellickson for the Rookie of the Year award – he hit nearly 30 homers and had nearly 90 RBI.  But, like Arencibia – he’s a high strikeout guy.  His OBP was actually under .300 – so that will need to come up if he’s ultimately going to be successful.

Fred Whitfield was the First Baseman on the 1962 team.  He had a decent half-season for the St. Louis Cardinals before getting traded to the Cleveland Indians the next season.  From there, he was actually pretty good for Cleveland in 3 of the next 4 seasons.  In fact, he was very much like Trumbo in 2011 – a solid power guy who hardly ever walked (though Trumbo struck out more).  His career wasn’t very long – and after those 3 or 4 good years his production decreased pretty fast.

1963 Topps – Whitfield (.266/8/34, 167 PA’s)

2012 Heritage – Trumbo (.254/29/87, 573 PA’s)

Winner – Trumbo.  This was another close one.  I’m not bullish on Trumbo by any means.  A OBP under .300 is a huge red flag for me.  He walked only 25 times in those nearly 600 plate appearances – and it’s not like he’s Vlad Guerrero who can just catch up to every bad ball that gets thrown to him.  But his 29-homer rookie season was still impressive, and Whitfield’s career numbers don’t make up much difference.  I don’t particularly like either card picture to make a difference.  Also – Whitfield has the capless attempt by Topps to act like they have a picture of him with the Indians, even though the picture was probably taken with the Cardinals.  Also – both these cards are #211 – so by me, Heritage got it right here!

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Outfield

Going with all 3 guys in this case.  Here’s the 2012 Heritage cards.

I kind of forgot who Josh Reddick was.  He’s not the former Duke guard, that’s for sure.  He was a Red Sock before getting traded to the A’s for Andrew Bailey.  Desmond Jennings for Tampa Bay and Ben Revere of Minnesota rounded out the team.  To be honest, this is one of the weaker ASR outfields as far as rookie year production goes.  Jennings and Reddick are both very good prospects, but they just didn’t play that much.

The Revere and the Jennings above were two cards I didn’t have yet – so I’ve got 7 of the ten.  Revere is an SP – so that makes sense, but Jennings is just one of the 40 or so “regs” that I still need and had to get photos off the internet.

Here’s the 1963 Topps cards:

Al Luplow of the Indians hit almost half of his career home runs in this one decent season – his 1962 rookie year.  He never had more than 350 at bats in a single season.  He did play for another 8 years, just didn’t get a ton of playing time.  Manny Jimenez was even more exaggerated – he had a great 1962 season for the Kansas City A’s, but that one season was nearly half of the playing time he saw his whole career.

Boog Powell, on the other hand, is the star of this crop.  He was decent for the 1962 season, but would go on to become an outright star.  He’s not quite Hall of Fame caliber – but he was excellent for quite a while.  He won the AL slugging title in 1964, and in 1969 and 1970 was arguably the best player in the league.  He was the MVP runner-up in ’69 and won the award in 1970 when the Orioles won the World Series.  He played in 4 Series with that Orioles dynasty, winning 2, and was a 4-time All-Star.

1963 Topps – Luplow (.277/14/45, 362 PA’s)

Jimenez (.301/11/69, 528 PA’s)

Powell (.243/15/53, 441 PA’s)

2012 Heritage – Reddick (.280/7/28, 254 PA’s)

Jennings (.259/10/25, 287 PA’s, 20 SB)

Revere (.267/0/30, 481 PA’s, 34 SB)

Winner – Powell, Jennings and Reddick.  I’m picking my top 3.  You have to love a Boog Powell All-Star Rookie card.  He has an awesome name, and he was a really good player for a pretty long time.  The 2011 guys still have their stories to write, but if any of the hitters approach Powell’s career I would be a) surprised, and b) very impressed.  Plus, his barbecue stand at Oriole Park is a better achievement than anything these guys could aspire to!  If you’re ever there, I’d recommend it – it’s just past the Babe Ruth statue, the stand with the longest line in the park!

I do like the chances for Reddick and Jennings – they seem like they have the tools to be good players.  So I’m taking them both closely above Jimenez, who had a very good rookie year but then never came close to that level of production.  He also benefits from the very cool KC A’s uniform, but not enough to over take Reddick for 3rd place in this group.

Jennings, Reddick and Revere are cards #195, 355 and 470, respectively, in the Heritage set – the last two match up with Chance and Tresh above.  Jimenez is #195, while Powell is #398 (matches Kimbrel) and Luplow is #351 (matches Espinosa).

Winner

Overall, that gives 2012 Heritage a surprising 3.5 to 1.5 victory in this case.  I think the teams are actually closer than this overall – because while the 1963 team has some players who just didn’t pan out, it’s got some very good ones, too like Boog, Chance and Tresh.  That ASR team has an MVP and a Cy Young to its credit – which I think would be a stretch for any of these players (except maybe Hellickson).  Still, I’m going to give the bonus point to 2012 Heritage in this case for the team across the board.  That’s a 4.5 to 1.5 winner toward my arbitrary determination!  Heritage has surprisingly taken the lead!

Heritage leades, 9-7.

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