How MLB logos changed in the 1960s and 1980s

Flying around the internet is an animated GIF of all the MLB logos since 1876. You really need to click over and see it. (I don’t want to illegally steal it by posting the image here).

It’s fun to see how they change overall over time. At the very start, all the logos were simple monograms. The monograms started to fade away, and by the 1960s the logos became very clip-art-looking. Then the clip-art faded away in favor of showing the names of the time in bold text by the 1980s. The 80s also saw almost all the logos inside circles.

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Ichiro and President Obama

As Ichiro broke Ty Cobb’s hit record yesterday, I’m glad to say that I still have hanging on my cube wall, a 2010 Upper Deck baseball card where Ichiro meets President Obama. 

Do you have any baseball cards hanging up at your desk? Ichiro meets President Obama

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Jacob Hannemann “can’t wait to play in wrigley”

 

Jacob Hannemann inscription on 2013 Leaf Trinity

A professional baseball player expressing his dreams on the front of a baseball card. Looking at autographs, you wonder where is the soul. You want to see some sort of meaning behind a player’s autograph.

On the 2013 Leaf Trinity “Authentic Inscription” series, players are to write inscriptions next to their autographs. Some players simply write “Go Tigers” others scribble down their stats or perhaps some award. Minor leaguer Jacob Hannemann revealed his emotions by writing “Can’t wait to play in Wrigley.”

Has he made it to Wrigley since 2013? Not yet. Hannemann is currently with the Tennessee Smokies, Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. At 24 years young, hopefully he will be able to play in Wrigley Field.

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Phil Cavarretta and Ken Griffey, Sr.

Phil Cavarretta is like Ken Griffey, Sr?

The first nine players on Phil Cavarretta’s “Similarity Score” is a bunch of guys from Pre-WWII.

  1. Dixie Walker (915)
  2. Wally Pipp (911)
  3. Sam West (903)
  4. Augie Galan (899)
  5. Harry Davis (891)
  6. Wally Moses (890)
  7. Gee Walker (890)
  8. Ben Chapman (887)
  9. Ed Konetchy (882)
  10. Ken Griffey (880)

But then check out that guy listed at #10. Ken Griffey, Sr.

         Player From  To Yrs  WAR    G   AB    R    H  2B 3B  HR RBI  BB  SO
Phil Cavarretta 1934-1955 22 34.6 2030 6754  990 1977 347 99  95 920 820 598
Ken Griffey     1973-1991 19 34.4 2097 7229 1129 2143 364 77 152 859 719 898

         Player   BA  OBP  SLG  SB CS OPS+
Phil Cavarretta .293 .372 .416  65  0 118
Ken Griffey     .296 .359 .431 200 83 118

The career numbers do compare pretty well. You have the typical difference in strikeouts/homeruns from different eras. But the averages are pretty similar. Griffey stole more bases, but how in the world did Cavarretta never get caught stealing? Was that not a stat back then?

Hat-tip to the Chicago Tribune for running an Instagram photo of Cavarretta. This caught my attention to this under-appreciated Chicago Cub.

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analzying past prediction for 3,000 hit club

3000-hit-club

Yesterday Starlin Castro became the youngest Cub to reach 900 hits. I was trying to find who was the youngest Cub to reach 1,000 and came across a July 6, 2011 article by Bleacher Report giving a list of “12 Players Who should Reach 3,000 Career Hits“.

Well, it’s been almost four years. Let’s see how they did.

1. Ivan Rodriguez
2,842 career hits as of 7/6/2011
2,844 career hits as of 6/3/2015
off by 156
last year of service: 2011
This one is simply the best. After this article Rodriguez managed to get just two more career hits. TWO!

2. Alex Rodriguez
2,760 career hits as of 7/6/2011
2,987 career hits as of 6/3/2015
active (age 39)
He needs just 13 more.
Bleacher Report got this one right.

3. Johnny Damon
2,662 career hits as of 7/6/2011
2,769 career hits (no longer playing)
off by 231 hits
last year of service: 2012

4. Ichiro Suzuki
2,342 career hits as of 7/6/2011
2,877 as of 6/3/2015
needs 123
hits per year until age of 40: Well, he’s 41 right now.
active (age 41)

5. Michael Young
1,958 career hits as of 7/6/2011
2,375 career hits (no longer playing)
off by 625
last year of service: 2013 (age 36)

6. Albert Pujols
1,978 career hits as of 7/6/2011
2,568 career hits as of 6/3/2015
needs 432
active (age 35)
hits needed per year until age of 40: 87
If he maintains 550 at bats per year for the next 5 years, he needs to bat .157

7. Juan Pierre
1,929 career hits
2,217 career hits (no longer playing)
off by 783
last year of service: 2013 (age 36)

8. Carl Crawford
1,544 career hits
1,880 career hits as of 6/3/2015
needs 1,120 hits
active (age 33)
hits needed per year until age of 40: 160
If he maintains 550 at bats per year for the next 7 years, he needs to bat .291

9. Jose Reyes
1,243 career hits
1,798 career hits as of 6/3/2015
needs 1,202
active (age 31)
hits needed per year until age of 40: 134
If he maintains 550 at bats per year for the next 7 years, he needs to bat bat .243

10. Robinson Cano
1,171 career hits
1,887 career hits as of 6/3/2015
needs 1,113
active (age 32)
If he maintains 550 at bats per year for the next 8 years, he needs to bat .253
hits needed per year until age of 40: 140

11. Adrian Gonzalez
1,021 career hits
1697 career hits as of 6/3/2015
needs
active (age 33)
hits needed per year until age of 40: 187
If he maintains 550 at bats per year for the next 7 years, he needs to bat .338

12. Joe Mauer
1,032 career hits
1592 career hits as of 6/3/2015
needs 1,408 hits
active (age 32)
hits needed per year until age of 40: 176
If he maintains 550 at bats per year for the next 8 years, he needs to bat .320

12 active players reaching 3,000 hits is just plain nutty.

Break down the history of baseball into 20-year generations, because that’s just about the length a player needs to get 3,000 hits. Dating back to 1871 there are 6.2 generations. I’m ruling out 1995-2015 because those guys are still playing.

There are 27 players to get 3,000 hits. Derek Jeter is ruled out because he’s in the 1995-2015 generation. For the benefit of the doubt Craig Biggio and Rafael Palmerio are included. This all equates to 4.35 players per generation going the 3,000 hit club.

Not 12, but 4.35.

Out of the Bleacher Report’s group of 12, I’m betting two, maybe three get there. Arod for sure. Pujols is in good shape. Ichiro, at the age of 41, is on the brink, but he’ll probably need to play another year and I’m not sure he’s going to do that. Reyes is a candidate, but I don’t see him holding up for another 9 years. The same for Cano. Adrian Gonzalez, Mauer, and Crawford are completely out. And of course there’s the guys on the list who are no longer playing.

It would be interesting to predict which four active players will get to 3,000. Pujols, Arod, and Ichiro need not be included because they’re in the twilight of their careers. The crop is tricky. Miguel Cabrera? Adam Jones? Starlin Castro? I have a hard time seeing any of those three make it.

Categories: Fun with baseball stats | 1 Comment

Reassembling a baseball bat from relic cards

Baseball card manufacturers like Topps (and formerly Upper Deck) slice apart game-used baseball bats and embed them into cards. What if you bought a stockpile of one player’s relic cards and reassembled the bat? It would look rather like a LEGO bat, I’d imagine. Or if you sanded off the rectangular edges, you’d end up with a plywood bat.

Gary Sheffield has 27 relic baseball bat cards currently on sale at comc.com–all from the “2001 Upper Deck SP Game Bat Edition Piece of the Game” edition.

Gary Sheffield: 27 2001 Upper Deck SP Game Bat Edition Piece of the Game

Taking just the wood chips from each of the 27 relic cards, here’s how they look together:

Gary Sheffield game-used bat relic baseball card

These 27 chips would total approximately a 3.6-inch wide by 3.8 inch high card. To purchase all 27 cards on comc.com, it would cost you $92.48 before shipping and handling fees. So for about $100, you can assemble your own 3.5 x 3.5-inch square of Gary Sheffield’s bat.

But Gary Sheffield? How about a real American hero? Like Jose Canseco. He has 20 cards for sale from the “2001 Upper Deck SP Game Bat Edition Piece of the Game” series.

Jose Canseco Game-used bat relic baseball card

His 20 cards in total runs up to $95.18. The wood grain of his bat runs a tad darker than Sheffield’s bat. But there’s a little more interesting wood grain. My favorite of the twenty is the chip that has a slight knot in the grain.

Jose Canseco: 2001 Upper Deck SP Game Bat Edition Piece of the Game

This knot must have caused the wood to splinter off making an irregular cut on the top of the chip. That imperfection makes this bat relic a little bit more unusual–much like the man Jose Canseco.

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Which is better: collecting baseball cards on pinterest or collecting the actual physical card?

1962 TOPPS #234 WORLD SERIES GAME 3 "MARIS WINS IT IN THE 9TH"

As collectors of baseball cards, we love finding a great card and adding it to our collection. Take Roger Maris’ 1962 Topps card.

Maris captured swinging his mighty bat during a World Series win. The exact moment of the bat is frozen in time and is echoed compositionally with the yellow box declaring what is happening. The wood grain design of the card echoes the wooden bat.

A beautiful card. I’d love to add it to my collection.

But what really is a baseball card collection in real life? A stack of cards? Perhaps the cards are in a binder. A binder that sits on a shelf.

There are two aspects to baseball card collecting.
1. Hoarding
2. Sharing

A primal urge of many baseball card collectors is to accumulate things. The urge the gather and get more and more. Storing cards up in boxes. Hoarding. Amassing a collection, so you can say you have the biggest collection of Player X cards. The thrill of the hunt.

A second primal urge is sharing cards with others. Sharing a card with someone and saying, “wow, the design of this card with the photo is fantastic.” The social aspect of baseball card collecting. Opening packs with friends. Trading cards. Going to a show with your brother. Pointing out cards that you like. Sure, we can acquire cards along the way, because of our love for baseball cards. But that action of sharing is key.

This sharing makes me reconsider simply collecting baseball cards on pinterest, instead of the real card. Sounds crazy, right? Amass a collection of cards online, and you never have the real thing! True. But a collection online can faciliate sharing and commenting.

Baseball card pinterest board

My brother Erik and I both share a baseball card pinterest board. We occasionally pin cool cards to the board. I like reading his comments on cards. Erik is the one who first pinned that Roger Maris card with the comment, “some nice lines on this card.” I replied, “Whoa. Yeah. Check out how the bat is parallel to the yellow box.”

Roger Maris card pinterestThis card is so nice that I immediately went to eBay to buy one. You can get one for about three to five bucks, including shipping. A good deal for an older card. But I opted to skip buying one. I already have the great interaction of reading and replying to my brother’s comment online. If I bought the card now, it would just sit in my desk drawer. Or maybe I might hang it up on my file cabinet by my computer. But if I hang up the card, there is no comment by my brother next to the card. You can’t see my response to my his comment on the file cabinet.

Posting cards online enables to have this sort of conversation archived, and always available to continue the conversation.

At some point Pinterest might go away. But the same could happen to my baseball cards. They could burn up in a fire. Or get tossed out to the garbage. We like to think, “oh no! I would never let that happen to my cards!” But it could. We think of the physical ink on cardboard as something permanent. But in the scheme of life, it’s temporary.

Which would you rather have? The cardboard hanging up on a file cabinet? Or a digital image where you can actively leave comments? I go back and forth between the two. For now I enjoy both.

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