Today is going to be more of a rant though, but it will feature a cool old baseball card from the 1980s. While I was hanging out, not writing, I ran into this ESPN article about who the next Hall of Famer on each team will be, and when they will get into the Hall. Some of the picks were slam dunks and easy to choose. For example, picking Jeff Bagwell as the next Hall of Famer for the Astros is an easy assumption to make, or Mariano Rivera being the next Yankees player is also an easy choice. Other players on the list kind of annoy me.
More or less, I never understood why articles, and baseball fans who speculate on future Hall of Fame players, always throw in players who have two or three years worth of experience and are south of 25 years old. I love Giancarlo Stanton, fun player to watch, but at 26 and 200 home runs speculating on the Hall of Fame is a bit of stretch. Same with Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Robbie Ray, Mauricio Dubon, and Yordano Ventura.
and it's a two way street too. I also saw a Cardinals blog declaring that Stephen Piscotty will not reach the Hall of Fame.
I am not going to say that we won't look back in twenty years at articles like these two and see that everything that was written has come true. All of the players on that list are very talented and could very well put up the type of numbers over time that land players in Cooperstown. However, there have been a lot of players who have been speculative Hall of Famers at a young age and never made it. Putting up Hall Worthy numbers for one season is tough, let alone producing at a high level for a decade or more.
Let's flashback to when I was in late elementary school. One of the coolest collection of sets were put out in 1987. Tons of great players had rookie cards in those sets: Greg Maddux, Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, Raffy Palmeiro, Will Clark. Great names.
One of my favorite players from the 1987 sets was Wally Joyner. I traded for a ton of his cards back in the late 1980s. I was mainly a Topps guy at that point, dabbled with Donruss and Fleer, but I found what I did not pull out of packs with other kids at school and around the neighborhood.
What wasn't to like?
The Angels first baseman lost out on the 1986 Rookie of the Year to A's outfielder Jose Canseco, but actually had better numbers. Canseco hit .240/.318/.457 and Joyner hit .290/.348/.457, sure Canseco had more home runs and RBIs, but Wally had a higher OPS and WAR. In fact, during his first two seasons Joyner put up seasons with 22 and 34 home runs, 100 and 117 RBIS, his OPS was .805 and .894, and OPS+ was 119 and 137.
Being all in on Wally cards, this 1987 Topps League Leaders card was my favorite....
I blew up the card in the scanner, but it is actually a mini card. Kind of wish Topps had used this design the other year when the stuck the 1987 designed cards in their base set as minis. I know the production run on 1987 baseball card was astronomical, but this card felt special because not many people seemed to have the little Topps cards. I would later come to find out that it was more likely that my little corner of St Louis County did not have many, or at least the kids in my little corner of the world did not.
I am not even going to post the exact numbers, but after 1987 Wally was not quite the same. Not to say he was a bad player, in fact he did a great job of getting on-base with several seasons over .370, but his power slipped and was in stark contrast to his other first base peers in the live ball/steroid era. I still enjoyed seeing Wally Joyner cards pop up during his time with the Royals, Padres, Braves, and oft forgotten return to the Angels.
Beyond the cool mini card above, I have a few other favorite Joyner cards. My two favorite being his Upper Deck Demo card, which I think I have already shared in a previous post, so I will share one more favorite from late in Wally's career:
I believe I found this card at a show sometime in the last year or two for a few dollars. I know that Wally also has a few reprint type cards in some of the Archives products, but I honestly like having the Padres card. While enjoying Wally Joyner, I did it mostly from afar. Angels games were on late, and rarely in St. Louis, the Royals were terrible and never on television. I checked box scores, watched SportsCenter, etc to keep up with him from time to time. However, the Padres years of Joyner's career were my chance to see him in person.