Tuesday, April 29, 2014

#26 Josh Phegley

#26 Josh Phegley
First impression of what’s going on: Here’s a guy I have never heard of outside of baseball cards. Granted I’m not a big American League guy but I've seen a few White Sox games on WGN when the Cubs aren't on. Phegley’s rookie card is in last year’s Update series.

On this card, he could be launching a bomb or merely flying out, but either way, his eye line looks like it’s headed towards the outfield.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 26: Josh Phegley #36 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field on August 26, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros defeated the White Sox 10-8. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Reality of the Photo: Cropping bats is ok with me, but it’s a little tight at Phegley’s elbow. The caption didn't give much detail about the at bat but let’s see if we can narrow it down with a little help from the BOXSCORE.

We knew the White Sox lost from the caption, but maybe Phegley had a good game?

Pretty good actually. Two hits, two runs, an RBI. Let’s see if we can pin down the photo.

A single to center in the third. That’s a possibility. And he came around to score. What else?

A groundout to shortstop in the fifth. Probably not.

An RBI single to center in the 5-run sixth that led to Phegley scoring another run too.

And finally a flyball to left field. If this was left center, I’d call it a maybe, but his eye line doesn’t say “left field line” to me. So the photo probably comes from one of those two singles from earlier.

Phegley was also involved in what seems to be an interesting double play in that game too, although its hard to tell from just a boxscore interpretation.

It looks like a squeeze play gone wrong for the Astros. With a runner at third and one out, Phegley fields the ball (bunt attempt?), throws to first for the second out. The first baseman, Paul Konerko, then fires home to the pitcher, Andre Rienzo for the third out for the uncommon, 2-3-1 double play.


After a little search, I found the play on MLB.com. I can't figure out how to embed it but here's the link:

So it wasn't a sacrifice attempt, just a weak hit.

Unfortunately for Phegley, there isn’t much to latch onto with this card. No real niches. There’s a partial Astros cameo in the background, but the photo is too blurry to make out who the player is.

On to the back:

Rookie Fact: Josh threw out 13 runners and picked off two in 64 defensive games.

I couldn’t figure out if Topps was underselling Phegley behind the plate or overselling him so I decided to do a little research myself. How many innings was he behind the plate in these defensive games? Was he a pinch hitter who stayed in for one defensive inning with no runners? Did the White Sox pitchers give up tons of singles and walks last year?

I was actually a little surprised by these numbers. Of his 64 defensive appearances, 47 of them were complete games. That seems like a lot for a backup, but what do I know?

Phegley’s 13 thrown out base runners was good for 30% of the attempts. That seems like a pretty high, or at least decent, percentage to me. Nearly one in three. But again, I’m no expert on the catcher position, so what do I know.

This blurb actually gave a fact and followed up with the others who have done it so I didn’t have to do the research myself. Yay!

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: #26
Player Name: Josh Phegley
Team: Chicago White Sox
Position: Catcher
Game Date: August 26, 2013
Opponent: Houston Astros
Stadium: US Cellular Field
Division: American League Central
Home/Away: Home
Outcome of the game: 10-8, Astros over the White Sox, Loss for the player depicted
Alternate/Throwback Jersey: No.
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Birthdate: 2/12/1988
Birthplace: Indiana
Cameos by: Unknown (Astros)
Photographer: Jonathan Daniel
Niche collections this card could fit into: Former 1st Round Draft Pick,
My Grade: This card isn’t bad. There isn’t much wrong with it at all, just some slight mis-cropping. But there isn’t much great about it either. It is the definition of average. Other than him being a younger player and no options, I don’t know why card manufacturers wouldn’t always showcase a catcher in their gear and/or a play at the plate. And I’m not even a catcher guy.

This card gets a C.

Although not a failing grade, here are some photos from earlier in the season than this one that could have been used to improve it.

A play at the plate where a Cub is safe? Yes!
A double high five with cameos? 
Broken Bat?

Celebrations and throwbacks? And a potential horizontal layout ? Ding! Ding! Ding!
Whoops, too many more and Topps might start to feel bad.

Friday, April 25, 2014

#46 Kolten Wong

#46 Kolten Wong
First impression of what’s going on: Well, this card has failure written all over it! Starting with Kolten Wong being a Cardinal and then having him trying for a double play against the Cubs? Blasphemy! All kidding aside though, this is a pretty sharp looking card. Nicely framed.

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 16: Second baseman Kolten Wong #16 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base to complete a double play as Donnie Murphy #8 of the Chicago Cubs slides into second base at Wrigley Field on August 16, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 7-0. (Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images)

The Reality of the Photo: Wow, look at all that open space. And for once, Topps didn’t over crop. The caption says that Wong is throwing to first base to “complete” a double play but it also says the Cubs won 7-0 so how much do I believe that?  I’m going to have to verify that by taking a look at the BOXSCORE.

The caption was right that the Cubs did indeed win 7-0 so I guess Murphy’s attempt to break up the double play doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things though with that score.

The Cubs grounded into three double plays that day, but only one involved Murphy.

The culprit behind it in this case was shortstop Starlin Castro.

This must have been sweet revenge for Wong as he himself killed a rally by grounding into a double play in the top of the second inning.

I don’t think the Rawlings logo on Wong’s glove is visible enough to count it as Free Advertising. And I don’t remember if I counted any previous MLB logos but there is a clear one between Murphy nameplate on the back of his jersey and his helmet. I guess between the two, I can give him a little credit.

Wong is also sporting the Stan Musial Commemorative patch that I briefly mentioned on Matt Carpenters’s post a few weeks back but didn't really go into.

Hall of Famer Stan Musial passed away in January 2013 and the Cardinals wore the patch all season.

On to the back:

Rookie Fact: Kolten was the 11th Cardinals player to make his MLB debut in ’13.

That’s kind of crazy. He wasn’t even the last, as they had one more debut in September.

By comparison, the Cubs, who used a team record 56 players in 2013, only had 6 make their MLB debut. Houston led the Majors with 15 MLB debuts while Colorado, Kansas City and Toronto all had the least with 3. Here’s a link to all 230 players who made their dreams come true last year.

The other two Hilo players mentioned but not named in the blurb are former Dodgers pitcher, Onan Masaoka (1999-2000) and former Tigers, Rangers, Padres and Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Villafuerte (2000-2004).

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: #46
Player Name: Kolten Wong
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Second Base
Game Date: August 16, 2013
Opponent: Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Wrigley Field
Division: National League Central
Home/Away: Away
Outcome of the game: 7-0, Cubs over the Cardinals, Loss for the player depicted
Alternate/Throwback Jersey: No.
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Birthdate: 10/10/1990
Birthplace: Hawaii
Cameos by: Donnie Murphy  (Cubs)
Photographer: Brian D. Kersey
Niche collections this card could fit into: Double Play, Free Advertising, Patch, Former 1st Round Draft Pick, Rookie Card, Cameo, Partial Southpaw

My Grade: As I mentioned, this is a pretty well laid out card. The crop is good. The action is solid, if not unfavorable to the Cubs. And despite being shown in a poor light here, the Cubs came out victors in the game from which this photo originated. Not every rookie has a decent photo for a card so Wong lucked out here.

It pains me to do this, but I’ll give this card an A. J

Thursday, April 24, 2014

#223 Joaquin Benoit

Ok, so I took a much longer than intended break from posting. The season is under way. If you follow my other blog, Once a Cub, you ‘ll know there were a few new collection pickup s that needed sorting through. I should be back to posting fairly regularly now but I think going forward, this will be an evening time posting instead of earlier like my other blog.

#223 Joaquin Benoit
First impression of what’s going on: Another potentially great card almost ruined by a bad crop job. Great throwback uniform. Joaquin Benoit is working the high socks but the uniform seems a little too baggy to say it’s 100% accurate. But that could just be my perception as I wasn’t around back then. I spy an umpire cameo that I’ll be looking into as well.

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 27: Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Detroit Tigers pitches while wearing a Detroit Stars Negro League tribute uniform during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Comerica Park on April 27, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Braves 7-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
The Reality of the Photo: As usual, plenty of room to fit Benoit’s entire glove into the frame.  And I knew it going into this post, but this photo is from the same game as my last post, Kris Medlen’s card. So here’s the link again to the BOXSCORE and the same line score:

But now let’s see it from the Tigers’ and Benoit’s perspective.

Luckily, the Tigers were up by two when Benoit entered the game because he did end up giving up a home run to Justin Upton before the Tigers tacked on two more in the bottom half of the inning.

If Topps had cropped off Benoit’s feet, we would have missed a shot at some Free Advertising. Instead we get the New Balance logo on the tongue of Benoit’s cleat.

The background is too blurry to make out the advertisments on the outfield wall.

The umpire credited with working second base that game was Mark Carlson. According to his Wikipedia bio, Carlson has been umpiring in the Majors since 1999.

As I mentioned in the Medlen post, last season, the Tigers hosted the 11th Annual Negro League Weekend for their series against the Braves. Here is a link from the Tigers website that talks about the weekend festivities. The Saturday game was the only one that featured the throwback uniforms though.

I probably should have spread these posts out rather than do them back to back since I’m using some of the same photos. Here again are the uniforms worn that day.

The Braves represented the Atlanta Black Crackers and the Tigers were the Detroit Stars.

And again, the high socks:

On to the back:

Rookie Fact: Joaquin won his first game on the day he was recalled, 5/9/2002.

That game went pretty well for Benoit. Six innings pitched, just one run given up.

But I want to go back to his first game, a season earlier. As you can see on the back of his card, it doesn’t look like it went well. I did notice that despite giving up six runs in five innings, Benoit didn’t suffer the loss. Did his team rally and save him?

Nope. On the contrary. The Rangers gave up 13 runs in the top of the 9th to Benoit’s future team, the Tigers.

I don’t know if it’s a normal thing for players making their MLB debut to give post-game press conferences, but Benoit would have had time to hit the showers and wait…and wait…and wait…

In this dream scenario, I wonder how long he would have waited before starting to think it was part of his rookie hazing.

Information I’ll be tracking:

Card Number: #223
Player Name: Joaquin Benoit
Team: Detroit Tigers
Position: Pitcher
Game Date: April 27, 2013
Opponent: Atlanta Braves
Stadium: Comerica Park
Division: American League Central
Home/Away: Home
Outcome of the game: 7-4, Tigers over the Braves, Win for the player depicted
Alternate/Throwback Jersey: Yes, throwback.
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Birthdate: 7/26/1977
Birthplace: Dominican Republic
Cameos by: Umpire Mark Carlson
Photographer: Mark Cunningham
Niche collections this card could fit into: Throwback Uniform, Free Advertising, High Socks

My Grade: The Kris Medlen card got a solid A. I do like the Stars uniform worn by Benoit better but not more than I liked the horizontal layout of the Medlen. Since it hit the same other niches, for that, it gets a slightly lower grade of A-.