Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Top 50 On Cardboard- #23 Kirby Puckett

My Top 50 On Cardboard
#23
Kirby Puckett



1985 Topps Kirby Puckett RC


Kirby Puckett was one of the great players of my childhood.  He was an enemy of sorts in 1987 for me when the Twins defeated my Cardinals in the World Series, but he never got to the point of being the Mets or Cubs.  I think I really first started to like Puckett during the 1991 World Series.  Unfortunately, Puckett's career only lasted a few years beyond that ending in 1995 after he was diagnosed with Glaucoma.  Puckett still managed to win a pair of World Series rings and be elected to the Hall of Fame despite only playing twelve seasons.  


Hobby Impact-
Puckett had a huge impact in the hobby starting with his rookie card in the 1984 Fleer Update set.  The set is one of the iconic sets of the 80s and features, not only Puckett's rookie card, but also the rookie card of pitcher Roger Clemens.  The Clemens gets most of the attention, but the Puckett card is just as important in my opinion.  

1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett RC


Raw copies of the 1984 Fleer Update Puckett rookie card can usually be had for $35 to $40 on Ebay, but the price can be steep for high graded copies.  Puckett's impact in the baseball card hobby extended far beyond his rookie card though.  Kirby was a staple in baseball card throughout his playing career and usually had pretty cool cards.  He's one of my favorite 80s and 90s players to flip through and just look at the pictures on the cards.

Common cards of Puckett are dirt cheap since he was an 80s player.  His relics and autographs are a little bit different.  Since Puckett only played twelve years, and is a Hall of Famer, there is a slight premium with his relics at times.  I have never really found a bargin Puckett relic and have often found the most common of common ones still often push five or six bucks with shipping.  Minimum.  Relics from premium sets are downright pricey.

Of course, like his playing career ended a little too early, Kirby died in 2006 at the age of 45.  He was not a huge signer, so his autograph prices have remained really high over the last two decades since he retired.  Outside of his awesome Fleer rookie card that is one of his greatest current impacts on the hobby.  If you are looking for a challenging autograph to track down for your collection Kirby Puckett might be for you. 

I managed to track down one of the few certified Puckett autographs out there for my collection a few years back.  The vast majority of Puckett autographs are Upper Deck or Donruss autographs.  There are a few sticker autographs floating around, but it's not too difficult to find a few on-card autographs around at a slight premium.  I picked my autograph up from the Upper Deck Retro set.  

While the Retro set is not the best Puckett autograph in the world, I am just happy to say that I have one in my collection.  Again, fun card project for 80s baseball card fans.

On The Field Impact-
Puckett's value on the field is hard to judge because he did not play for very long.  He only had 2,300 hits and 200 home runs when he retired from baseball in 1995, but he called it quits at only the age of 35 because of health concerns.  Clearly if Puckett had played another 4 or 5 years and extended his career closer to the age of 40, he would have reached 3000 hits and approached 300 home runs.  Both extremely good numbers for a center fielder.

Puckett also won a batting title in 1989, but posted a batting average over .300 in every Major League season except for two.  Four times he posted the high hit total in the American League.  Puckett also posted more than 400 career doubles.  So, while Puckett's career picture still looks good, even with the shortened career, it looks even better when he look at some other statistics that are not cumulative. 

While Puckett's career WAR is about 20 points lower than the average Hall of Fame center fielder (50 WAR for Puckett vs 70 WAR average for HOF center fielder), his 7 year peak WAR as measured by the JAWS rating system has Puckett rated at 37 compared to 44 for the average.  The numbers are slightly below average, but I can handle a big Hall of Famer, and Puckett certainly belongs.

Outside of the big numbers, one of the first seasons I really enjoyed watching Puckett play was the 1991 postseason.  Puckett's overall postseason numbers were not great, and he did not take home any hardware, but he had a pretty impact on helping the Twins capture the team's, and Puckett's, second World Series ring.

While many people remember the Puckett home run that ended Game 6 of that World Series I always liked the potentially game saving catch that Puckett made on Ron Gant better:



Great catch!

Favorite Card-
So many good Puckett cards to choose from.  I already picked two of his rookies, so I will go with his 1993 Topps giant bat card.  Posted is the Topps Gold Variation. 




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