Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rosenthal's HOF Picks and Mine -- Trammel, Schilling and Mussina

Mine, from an earlier blog:

McGwire OR Sosa
Martinez OR Hoffman

Rosenthal's MVP Ballot:



Our lists are essentially the same, except that I chose Trammell and McGwire (or Sosa) and Rosenthal left those guys completely off his ballot. He chose Raines, who I left off my ballot for reasons explained in my blog, linked above. He also chose Edgar Martinez AND Trevor Hoffman, while I was only willing to choose one of those guys, because a) Martinez essentially pinch-hit 4 or 5 times a game (even David Ortiz has played the field more--and better--than Edgar) and because b) Hoffman essentially pitched one inning every three days or so, on average. In other words, these guys were specialists who simply didn't play as often as everyone else.

Alan Trammel, a shockingly underappreciated player (by me, too, until recently, and still by Rosenthal), played the field, every game, at a high level for a very long time, and was one of the top shortstops ever, according to JAWS. Even better than Jeter, and other HOF shortstops. His numbers (below the JAWS stats) show that he was better than your average HOF shortstop.  In other words, he should be a HOF shortstop. (You should view his stats at, here.)

That means more to me than a guy who pinch hits a few times a game and never fielded. And you can't say that Martinez played his position well, and it's not his fault he didn't play the field as a DH...except that Edgar Martinez was a truly awful defensive player, to a very heavy, negative degree (look at his page at He was so bad that, yes, he was a DH because he couldn't field, not because everyone else was already on the field and you had to hit him somewhere. The Mariners correctly kept him off the field because he was a defensive liability, to the tune of over -9.7.  That's bad. And Hoffman? His heaviest workload as a closer was in 1996, when he pitched 88 innings. (You can see his baseball-reference page here.)

Overall I'm okay with Rosenthal's picks. I'd rather he have chosen Trammel over Raines, but as I mentioned in my blog entry about my picks, I feel Raines is HOF worthy as well. But not as much as Trammel. Sportswriters have dropped the ball on Trammel for the 15th (and, alas) last time. But I'm confident the Veterans Committee (or whatever it's called now) will fix that wrong in a hurry.

Lastly,'s JAWS says that Curt Schilling is the 27th best starting pitcher in baseball history, and way ahead of the HOF average pitcher. And Mike Mussina is 28th!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

M101-2 Sporting News Supplement Bob Harmon

Photo: 1911 M101-2 Sporting News Supplement Bob Harmon of the St. Louis Cardinals, from my own collection.

First, I had a helluva time getting this picture into my computer, as it would only scan as a .pdf, and then wouldn't load into this software for this website.  I had to scan it again, CONTROL + ALT + PRINT SCREEN, save it into Paint, then crop that, then save that as a jpeg., then bring it to this page. I don't know if you can see the big size of it like you could my other cards written about here.  If someone knows of a better way around this for me--or how I can make my scanner not scan larger images as a .pdf, please comment here and let me know.  Or send me an email, if you'd prefer.  I appreciate it!

Anyway, I saw lots of these images up for bid on ebay from PWCC, where I get a lot of stuff.  I've heard of these before, but had never seen them.  The inages were striking, and I saved them all from my Watch screen on Ebay before I deleted them from it when the bids climbed too high.  In good condition, these can go for hundreds, and a good condition HOFer, like Ty Cobb, can bring crazy prices.  I really wanted a Jake Stahl one of these, and I forget why I deleted it.  I didn't know much about the cost and value of these, and this one climbed over $30, so I backed off.  It was one of the best shots I saw, right up there with Clark Griffith standing on the dugout steps, and Connie Mack standing in his suit.  Truly awesome pics, but they got really expensive.  If only I were rich.

So this one of Bob Harmon is ripped in the lower left corner, as you can see, so it cost me only $9.50. The shipping was $12, but when I won other cards (some Ted Williams and Clementes and a few others), those were only $.25 more after that, so it averaged out to $1.15 for each of the 13 (yes, I know it's crazy) items I got.

These very large photos are not considered cards, per se, as there were actual Sporting News cards published after these supplements proved popular with the public.  The photographers must've been amongst the best of their time, because these images are all classically striking.  I wish I could've gotten them all. Unfortunately, this is the only one I got.

These supplements were just that: included in issues of The Sporting News between 1909 and 1911, which in itself looked more like a newspaper than a magazine, just like it does today.  They were often folded, which is not considered a detriment to their value, but they are extremely thin and therefore very fragile.  Mine would've sold for over $30 had it not been a little torn, and Bob Harmon was just a common player.

He was a tough-luck pitcher who could've done much better, or much worse.  He led the league in 1911 in game starts, earned runs and walks, but finished 23-16 with a 3.13 ERA and was 14th in the MVP voting.  His WHIP was a bad 1.35, and he walked more than he struck out, so this was a rather lucky season.  His luck would not last, though, as he went 13-17 and 16-17 for Pittsburgh a few years later, but with ERAs of 2.53 and 2.50.  He had losing records every year and spent 1917 out of the majors, but returned with Pittsburgh in 1918 and had the best WHIP of his career, a very good 1.06--though he still walked more than he struck out.  He finished 2-7 that year, which proved to be his last.

His career record was 107-133, with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.3 WHIP, but only gave up 1,966 hits in 2,054 innings.  If he could've found the strike zone a little more often, he may have been one of the best, because they couldn't often hit him.

But, then again, had he been much better, I wouldn't have been able to afford him.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"Stoney" Ulysses S. Grant McGlynn T206

Photos: 1910 Admiral Schlei, Catching, Sweet Caporal 350 / 30 and 1910 Stoney McGlynn, Piedmont 350 / 25, from my own collection

So these are two T206s I got much earlier this year, both replacing identical cards that were in poor condition. Both cards were in ungraded and very poor condition, with no hope of grading higher if I'd sent them to a grading company.  Both were purchased during my rookie days of T206 collecting, when I thought these cards were much harder, and much more expensive, to obtain than they really are.

Not that they're cheap, of course.

I bought 12 T206s in this batch, from July, with the total cost of shipping for all 12 just $6.50.  That's just $.54 per card.  So the McGlynn card, in PSA 2 Good condition, cost $26 and $.54 shipping, for a total of $26.54.  The Schlei card, in PSA 3 VG condition, was $43, with $.54 shipping, for a total of $43.54.  Both are in the upper tier of what I consider to be allowable prices for me to buy.

The very up-to-date T206 valuation website I use places the McGlynn card at $33 and the Beckett Graded book value (BV) is $40.  So that's a profit of between $6.46 to $13.46.  The real profit is on the lower end of that; you can get a T206 in PSA 2 Good condition on Ebay for between $25 to $35, routinely, for a common T206.  Anything below that is a steal (I've had some in the teens) and anything above that is a rip-off (I won't buy a common T206 in good condition for over $33).

The Schlei card is valued at the T206 website at $49 and the Beckett book's BV is $40.  So that's a loss of $3.54 or a profit of $5.46.  I knew I may have overspent a tiny bit on this one, which I justified because a) Schlei cards are a little more expensive in Ebay bidding, for some reason, and b) it was a little personal because this was one of the first cards I bought as a T206 rookie and I was eager to replace my mistake.  Also, I'd lost out on quite a few Schlei T206s, for some reason, even though there are three Schlei T206 variations (he was a popular NY Giant player).  Anyway, I find the website's valuation a little more up-to-date Ebay accurate, which I can attest to because he was such a pain in the butt to finally get.

So I basically break even on these two cards.  That's not usually good enough for me, but, like I said, they were replacements, and one was oddly personal.  I know that's a bad rule of business--buying when it's personal--but the Schlei was such an incredible hassle to finally get, it was worth it for me.

I'll go into McGlynn's background and save Schlei's for another time, since I've got his two other cards.

Background and Career

Ulysses Simpson Grant McGlynn was born in 1872 and played his first major-league game in 1906, at age 34, which is very old for a rookie, of any time, of any team.  He played for the St. Louis Cardinals his only three seasons in the majors, 1906-1908, which is a harsh thing to wish upon anybody.  His "best" or most productive year was in 1907, when he finished 14-25.  This isn't as bad as it looks.

The Cardinals that year finished 52-101, which means he won and lost a quarter of his team's wins and losses, which is a ton for just one pitcher.  He led the league with his 25 losses, but he also led the league with 39 game starts and 33 complete games, which means the team didn't think he was costing them games.  (They wouldn't have let him start and complete so many games otherwise.) This also means they realized they were terrible, and that he was their best chance to win, for whatever that was worth. He was probably the best pitcher on a very bad team. He led the league with 352 1/3 innings pitched, which makes sense if he leads the league in GS and CG.  He also led the league in hits allowed, but only gave up 329, which is really good for 352 IP.  But he also led the league in earned runs allowed, with 114, which--given the few hits he gave up versus innings he pitched--means he allowed a lot of walks, which he did: 112, which also led the league. That led to a 1.25 walks + hits per inning pitched, which is not good, but also not terrible.  His ERA was 2.91, in a time when plenty of pitchers had ERAs much higher and much lower than that.  But it was not close to being the highest that year, which means that his record still should have been much better than it was.  He probably pitched in a lot of bad luck, and his team didn't score much for him (I looked at his lineup, and it wasn't good), and he probably pitched just bad enough to lose a lot of the time.  Still, his record would've been at .500 or a little higher if he'd been on a better team.  He would've been the bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher for a better team and wouldn't have led the league in anything, but he would've been better. He was 2-2 the year before and 1-6 after, with ERAs that were still pretty good, but he pitched for St. Louis when they were not good.

(Though he did play with HOFer Jake Beckley, who played in the majors between 1888 to 1907, which means he was one of the few players to have an Old Judge baseball card and a T206.  Clark Griffith was another. Beckley finished with 2,934 hits and also finished in the top-90 in most offensive and defensive categories.  This justifies his selection for the Hall by the Veterans Committee 53 years after he died.  When that many years passes after a player's death and then he gets elected by the Veterans Committee, you wonder, but he was not one of the Veterans Committee's many bonehead picks. Beckley was also born in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, so he may have known Mark Twain, who was also born there.)

Astute readers may wonder why I have a 1910 T206 of a player released in 1908.  Answer: T206s have both major league and minor league players in the set.  And minor leaguers are that in name only. From 1909 to 1912 he played for the minor league Milwaukee Brewers, a good minor league team at the time.  He twice won over 20 games for them and played for them until he was 39.  He left the game for a year and then came back for Salt Lake City, and then did the same and returned with El Paso.  And then he was done.  He was probably paid just as well--if not better--in the minors than he had been in the majors.  The minor league teams were not owned and run by the majors at the time, and often held on to their good players before they sold them or traded them to a major league team.  Major league teams also traded players to minor league or independent league teams all the time, who then sometimes traded them to other major league teams.  Players also jumped teams all the time, and were sometimes made to go back.  Other times they did not go back, but could not enter a city or state sometimes of the team they'd jumped.  Players also jumped leagues all the time, as late as 1915, when many star and HOF players jumped to the new Federal League.

The game was simply run differently back then.

McGlynn played for Independent League and Minor League teams before he hit the majors, too.  My guess is that he played for bigger crowds in his minor league days, especially for Milwaukee, than he did for the 100-game losing St. Louis major league team.  Regardless, I'd be surprised if he thought of himself as unlucky for his major league time.  He was not a Doc "Moonlight" Graham.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mike Trout

Photos: Fronts and backs of my 2011 Mike Trout Bowman rookie cards, from my collection.

So, as promised, here are the Mike Trout RCs I spoke of in my last post.  As I mentioned, I don't typically buy recent cards.  Like, ever; I mostly do T206s, 1933 Goudeys, the 1887-1890 Old Judges, and Topps and Bowman HOFers pre-1960.

I made an exception this year for these three Mike Trout RCs, plus the Bryce Harper RC shown recently, and a Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Altuve RC, because they were very cheap, in mint condition, and of undervalued, under-rated players I believe have a good chance to be stars for a very long time.  Goldschmidt's RC values will go up, especially when he hits free agency and plays for a team collectors care about.  I mean, nobody cares about the Arizona Diamondbacks these days.

Anyway, as I also mentioned, the Mike Trout / Bowman situation was confusing, and took me awhile to come to terms with.  In essence, there are rookie cards that are actually rookie cards, and rookie cards that Ebay sellers say are rookie cards but that aren't, and rookie cards that people believe are rookie cards because they were released during the same season as the player's actual rookie cards, and rookie cards that are not rookie cards because they're prospect cards.  A rookie card is not necessarily the first card released of that player by a major card company.  (Those are now prospect cards and minor league cards.  This is confusing for those of us old enough to remember when the prospect cards from the, say, 1980 and 1981 Topps sets were the actual rookie cards.  Now they aren't.)  A rookie card is the first card made of a player once MLB has decided that he has made enough at-bats, or has pitched in enough games, to qualify as a rookie player.  This can often be a few years after the player has been in the big leagues, and long after his cards have started to appear.

So...the Mike Trout cards shown here (in the first photo, starting at the top and going clockwise) are:

a) ungraded Bowman Draft #101
b) Bowman Chrome Draft #101, graded 9.5 Gem Mint by Beckett (I love that case, by the way, though I don't like the BCCG case, which is also Beckett, just to add to the confusion)
c) Bowman Chrome #175, graded 9 Mint by PSA.

Though the swinging photos of the drafts are the same, and though the number on the back, and the design on the back, are the same, these are different cards.  One's a Chrome, and one's not, and that's just the way it is.  Everything else about them is the same, except the Chrome's picture is maybe not as bright and clear.

The first card, the Bowman Draft, cost me $19.38, including shipping.  I'm frankly taking a chance on it, hoping it'll be graded a 9 or 10.  If it isn't, I've got the other two that are, and this one's a gift for one of two people I know will love to have it, regardless of condition.  They're not as serious about this as I am.  It'll cost me about $7 more to get it graded, shipped and insured, so the total I'd invested in it by then would be $26.38.  At that figure, this card needs to grade an 8.5 to break even.  These values have risen recently in the Beckett Graded guide, and I believe they'll continue to do so.  By the time the next issue comes out, it may only need to grade an 8 for me to break even.

The next one, the Bowman Chrome Draft #101, graded 9.5 Gem Mint by Beckett, has a book value (BV) of $100.  It cost me $50.50, which includes shipping.  This card has also increased in value recently, and I believe it will continue to do so.  You can never assume you can re-sell something for the BV, but I believe this card will come close.  Often you're lucky to get 50% of BV when re-selling, but I believe I can sell this at one of my summer yard sales for $75, which is 75% of the BV.  If I were a baseball card picker, which I suppose I am, I would make a profit from this card of at least $25, especially from baseball fans or card collectors who don't like to use the internet.  Lots of those come to my occasional yard sales.

The last one, the Bowman Chrome #175, graded 9 Mint by PSA, I paid a little more for: $58.51, including shipping. Its BV is $80, which has also gone up recently.  Only a $22 profit on this one, if I ever need to re-sell it, but I believe it'll be worth more by that time.

So why the exception for Mike Trout?  Why buy all three of his Bowman RCs?

Well, first, go to his baseball-reference page here, and take a look at these numbers.

In the only four full years of his career, he's finished 2nd in the MVP voting and has won it once.

He bats leadoff (a move I don't like, and it hasn't helped the Angels) and hits lots of homeruns and drives in a lot of runs, and steals bases and walks (and Ks) a lot, for silly high on-base percentages. As an example of how well he does these things, in his MVP year he led the league in runs scored and in runs batted in.  That's very, very rare, to do that in the same year.  That's a Ruth / Mantle / Williams / Mays thing to do.  Of those, only Mantle and Mays had the same combination of speed and power.  But Mantle ruined his knees and ankles and Mays only showed off his speed on defense after awhile.

Ah, yes--the defense.  He makes acrobatic catches normally.  He doesn't have a great throwing arm, but he can run and go get it as well as anybody.  His first two years he was a web gem about to happen.

Every season he's played, he's led the AL in WAR and in Offensive WAR.  He's been in the top-4 in Slugging % and in OBS.  Top-3 in Runs Scored, Homers, Triples and Walks.  Top-2 in Runs Created, Adjusted Batting Runs and Adjusted Batting Wins.  And Base-Out Runs Added and -Wins Added. And Top-3 in Putouts as an Outfielder, which means he can really go get 'em, and his pitching staff gives up lots of flyballs.

An average CF in the HOF will have 27 Black Ink statistics.  He's already got 20--in just four years. An average HOF CF will have 144 Grey Ink stats.  He's got 77--in just four years.  An average HOF CF will have a 100 HOF Monitor.  He's at 75 already.  The HOFer will score a 50 in HOF standards.  He's at 31 after four years.  He's already the 40th best CF to ever play, and is compared favorably to Mantle, Frank Robinson and Jimmie Foxx.  His 7-year peak is almost that of the average HOFer--in just four years.

And when next baseball season comes around on April 1st, he'll be 23 years old.

And he's the one the ballplayers themselves say is the best right now.  They talk about him like the real old-timers talked about Ruth and Honus Wagner.