28 February 2016

Just the Commons, Ma'am 10: John Kruk 1986 - 1992

After I picked up his 2015 Topps Archives Signature Series card I went a little crazy and ordered a whole John Kruk player collection from the Just Commons website. As usual there was a card that came up missing in their inventory, but they sent me a refund pretty quickly for it. Their prices on singles are pretty good and you get free shipping on orders over $15, but it takes a while to fill orders, there is usually at least one card missing from your order, and I am not a fan of their packaging methods. Just Commons fills a particular niche that I find valuable, so in spite of my complaints I will keep using them. This is a pretty nice bunch of cardboard, but there sure is a lot of it. I scanned it all grouped by year, and this first batch goes from 1986 to 1992.

I have a passing familiarity with all of these sets, but for the most part they predate my entry into collecting. I do vaguely remember having a giant stack of 1987 Topps that I got from somewhere. One of those Fleer cards is the glossy version.

I always thought of Kruk as a member of the Phillies, but he played over a third of his career games with the Padres. One endearing thing about Kruk is that he looks like a regular dude. There are a lot of athletes that you just can't identify with because they look like athletes.

That card in the center of the bottom row is the one that started this while project. Kruk's 1989 Topps Traded card is one of the ones that Topps selected to buy back for the 2015 Archives Signature Series product. It's just such a weird picture to choose for a card, with Kruk staring vacantly at the camera in a very shadowy room.

I had my first fantasy baseball draft for the 2016 season this week. I'd run quite a few mock drafts and I felt pretty ready for it, but of course my plans all fell apart within a couple of rounds. The season might be recoverable, but I'm thinking I might lose the $20 entry fee this year.

One of those 1990 Topps cards is an O-Pee-Chee. From the front they look the same, but the back has all the French on it. I like the picture they used on that card.

My draft started out pretty well. I got Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock, Edwin Encarnacion, and Corey Kluber to start things out in the first four rounds. I would have liked more home runs out of the first few picks, but I still think I did okay there.

There are some pretty nice photos in this bunch, with some good batting shots and a couple of action photos of Kruk working in the field. I especially like the 1991 Leaf in the left center, the 1991 Score card in the middle, the 1991 Topps card in the lower left, and the 1991 Upper Deck in the lower right with the ball visible in the shot.

In the fifth round things kind of fell apart for me. I didn't really like any of the available picks, so I chose Miguel Sano as the clock ran out. I just don't trust the younger players much on my fantasy rosters. I'm more of a high floor guy than a high ceiling guy. Then I picked Eric Hosmer. There were several runs on pitching and I grabbed Sonny Gray and Cole Hamels next. Picking three pitchers early meant that my stock of bats was lower than I like it to be. At this point in the draft any batter you pick is going to have a big hole or two in his game somewhere. I still had a couple of outfield spots to fill, but I had 12% of a plan for them. Filling out my infield was where my struggle was going to come. I also tried a new strategy of ignoring relief pitchers until the end of the draft. That was a bad move on my part.

The Donruss and Donruss Triple Play pictures look like they were taken in the same game, maybe even in the same at-bat or same swing. I'd have to inspect the crowd a little more closely to be sure. I'm not sure on the Fleer card, but that one looks pretty close, too.

So at this point in the draft I was hurting for a 2nd baseman, a catcher, two outfielders, and a utility guy. I wanted some power, but I didn't want to draft any guys with really low batting average to get there. It's incredibly hard to make up ground in the ratio-driven categories like batting average, ERA, and WHIP. Even strikeouts are basically a ratio because the leagues have innings limits and you need to maximize your K/9 if you want to be competitive. I got Roughned Odor at 2nd, Evan Longoria as my utility guy, and Billy Burns and Alex Gordon to fill out my outfield. They're all good enough players, but none of them really stand out as that guy who is going to put a roster over the top. I closed out this portion of the draft by grabbing Devin Mesoraco at catcher and Hisashi Iwakuma because I needed to bring down my ERA and WHIP.

There are some pretty nice gems here, although Kruk is doing some serious mean-mugging on that Studio card. I guess this is also when the card brands exploded so much that I needed two scans to fit all of the 1992 cards in.

By this time in the draft (Round 15) anyone who was an established closer was long gone as well as most of the high-end middle and late relievers. I wound up with a couple of guys who are battling for closer jobs (Carter Capps, David Hernandez) and a few guys who have traditionally good ratios or who might have a shot at some saves if the main guy goes down (Darren O'Day, Hunter Strickland, Koji Uehara). I also rounded out my bench and my starting rotation, again trying to balance counting stats against ratios. My final roster looks like this:

It's not the greatest assembly of talent I've ever seen. I used a fantasy website to look at my league and it churned this Position Analysis out for my team:

It's a 12-team league, so you can see that things aren't looking good for me outside of my starting rotation and my corner infielders. I think it's probably counting Manny Machado as a 3rd baseman rather than a shortstop where I will be using him, so maybe my middle infielders could get a bump there. But my relief pitching is weak, my outfield is shaky and low on power numbers, and my catcher is a big question mark. It could all pan out in the end, but right now I feel worse about my roster than I do most years.

I realize that telling someone about your fantasy roster is about as exciting for them as hearing about your Dungeons & Dragons character or the dream you had last night, but I like to capture my feelings about the fantasy baseball season for my own benefit from time to time. Hopefully there were enough cool John Kruk pictures to make it worth scrolling past all of my draft talk.


  1. Dude, The next time you want to load up on a bunch of non HOFers from Just Commons, get with me first. I had/have a ton of that stuff you grabbed from Mehmet. I use JC too, it is my go to place for my Braves team base cards. I totally get the issues with them, almost every order I have a few missing cards. Right now I have 78 cards in my cart. Reminds me I need to get them paid for. Lmk which Next player you're gonna stock up on.

    1. I hate to impose on people, even if it is just for a bunch of old junk wax. I'm also pretty impulsive, so it often isn't more than a few minutes between thinking about a new PC and putting the acquisition plan into action. I don't know what my next PC is going to be. I've got too many as it is.

  2. I was about to say the same thing that John did -- I have tons of those late 80s/early 90s cards I could send your way.

    On your fantasy team, I don't think it's that bad to have punted on relievers. The turnover in closers from even the start of the year through the end has gone crazy over the past few years -- like 40% turnover. That said, hopefully you're looking at your options now for those shaky closer roles!

    1. I just never think to ask the blogosphere when it comes to acquiring cardboard. No doubt there are tons of unwanted junk wax cards out there waiting for a new home, but inquiring about them has never been my go-to move.

      I just made a pretty big trade in my fantasy league. It is probably a step back as far as closer prospects go, but it should be a big boost to my rotation and hopefully at least a wash among my bats.

      I gave up Manny Machado, Roughned Odor, Carter Capps, and dropped Melky Cabrera. I got Noah Syndergaard, Jung Ho Kang, David Peralta, and Anthony Rendon. It could be a really good trade and it could turn out awful for me. In looking at projections I think I will come out with a bit of a loss in the batting categories, but I think overall I gain quite a bit in the pitching categories. Fantasy sports is such a crap-shoot.