Whew! I finally finished all the work that it took for this post. To be honest, some of it was I’ve had less time (put in less time) to do blog posts. But most of it was that it took forever to finish up the spreadsheet that went into this post. It was a beast. It involved the following steps
First, two things I do as part of each completed set post – so I already had these done in most cases (but not all)
- me copying every single Topps checklist from each year – Topps, Topps Traded & the 3 Topps ML Debut years
- Eliminate the managers and subsets like All-Stars, etc.
- Combining the Traded/Debut/Topps sets and eliminating duplicate players.
Then here’s what I had to do that was new.
- Get a list of every MLB player in the decade from 1989 through 1999 seasons. I’ll discuss the 11-year decade later. We’ll call that data set #A
- Combine the 10 years of sets above. This includes 1990 Topps through 1999 Topps. But not 1999 Topps Traded (yet).
- Eliminate the numerous duplicates.
- Deal with designations like “RC”, “PROS”, “DP”, etc.
- That gives me “Players with Topps cards” – we’ll call that data set #B
- Compare data set #A to data set #B, and figure out how many players from A are represented by #B
- Add in players in 1999 Topps Traded who played in the 11 year decade but didn’t have a card in data set #B
First, getting the info from Baseball Reference isn’t easy. They have a function that I can tell you how many players, but getting it into spreadsheet form takes a bit. You can only download 200 players at a time, so I had to export 10 times and do some copying and pasting to put together data set #A.
The clean up takes forever. Let’s just say there was a lot of figuring out duplicates. The great outfielder who just got inducted into the HOF is listed as “Ken Griffey” on BB Ref, but he’s listed as “Ken Griffey Jr.” on baseballcardpedia for the Topps sets. David Justice is called Dave Justice in different places. There are occasional misspellings in the Topps checklists. So while I use filtering and duplicate elimination – it’s a lot of manual work to figure stuff like that out.
I also have to figure out guys who have the same name who played in the decade or had cards in the decade.
Why do I do this to myself? I don’t know. I’m an accountant – I’ve always been kind of into useless stats like this. Anyways, here’s the post that took me so long to put together!
Representation of decade:
Data Set #A
The 1990-1999 Topps sets should, in theory, tell the story of the 1989-1998 MLB seasons. Since I’m eventually going to include 1999 Topps Traded in this, it also includes rookies from the 1999 season. So it isn’t quite the decade of the 90’s when you do this comparison – it’s 11 years instead. During those 11 seasons, 2,954 different players graced the fields of Major League ballparks.
Data Set #B
Of the base cards from data set #B, there are 2,336 different players featured. I’m sure you could cut it up a little differently – I included all the Draft Picks, Team USA, and Propsect cards. So some of the players have Topps cards but never made the major. If you pull out all the guys who have a card but never made the big leagues, that’s 2,054 of the 2,954.
To this number, there are 2 players from a subset to add because they played in the “decade” but didn’t have any regular cards.
- Mike Schmidt retired in 1989, and didn’t have a regular card. But he did have a Turn Back the Clock card in 1990 Topps.
- Steve Rodriguez has a card in 1991 and 1992 Topps Traded as part of Team USA. He eventually made the majors in 1995, playing for the Red Sox and Tigers in 18 total games. He had regular cards from 1995/1996 in Stadium Club, Upper Deck, Pacific, Score Summit, Score and UD CC – with both teams – but none in the flagship Topps set that show him as a major leaguer.
The number is up to 2,056
Then I added in 1999 Topps Traded – at this point just adding players who played in the 90’s but didn’t have a card in the previous sets listed. The first 75 cards were rookies, the rest were traded veterans. There are 13 players to add from there.
- 4 players were in the veteran portion of the set but this was their only Topps card from the decade. They were all actually rookie cards, just guys who’d been traded but didn’t have a card earlier.
- Brian Daubach, Bruce Aven, Creighton Gubanich, Matt Mantei
- 9 guys from the rookie section who played in 1998 or 1999
- Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Hernandez, Dave Roberts (yeah the guy now managing the Dodgers), Juan Pena, Kip Wells, Mark Quinn, Rob Ryan (not the Defensive Coordinator), Ryan Rupe, Sean Spencer.
So that makes 2,069 players. The 2,069 players represent 70.0% of the 2,954 players from 1989-1999.
That’s down from a little over 75% in the 80’s Topps sets.