15 March 2016

At the Trade Deadline 45: The Prowling Cat Cleans Out His Clutter, and I'm Reaping All the Benefits, Part 5

Here is another set that I pried from the hands of The Prowling Cat during his big closet cleaning event. In this case the card set isn't a food issue, it's a toy store issue. This 1986 Young Superstars of Baseball set was put out by the now-shuttered Key Bee toy stores. I remember going into a few Kay Bee stores when I was younger, but I don't recall ever buying anything from them. I just remember that they felt crowded and disorganized. I wonder how great they were at picking out superstars?

Rick Aguilera played for 16 seasons and put up some decent numbers, with three All-Star appearances right in the middle of his MLB career. I'll go ahead and give him a passing grade. Chris Brown was 4th in Rookie of the Year voting and made the All-Star team in 1986, then pretty much disappeared. I'll mark that down as a fail for prognostication. Tom Browning had a decent career over 12 years, with an All-Star appearance and a World Series Championship to go along with pretty good numbers. I'll give him a pass. I'm being lenient here with my grades, as the superstar standard is pretty high. I'm going with a definition that is more like "pretty good over a period of time with acceptable numbers and / or accolades." It's all a subjective judgement through my own personal lens. So I'm scoring this group as 2 - 1 in favor of these guys being actual Young Superstars.

The card backs are pretty detailed, with plenty of biographical data, a paragraph about the player, and one year of stats to go along with a career stat line.

Tom Brunansky played 14 years with one All-Star appearance (1985) and a Championship. He mostly stayed positive on the WAR front. I'm calling him a win. (3-1) Vince Coleman won Rookie of the Year, stole a bunch of bases, made a couple of All-Star appearances, and lasted 13 seasons. The second half of his career was much worse than the first half, but I'm going with a win here. (4-1) Ron Darling had only one All-Star appearance, but he got a Championship and the first half of his 13-season career was pretty good, along with a small bounceback during his later career in Oakland. He gets a win from me. (5-1)

Alvin Davis' career wasn't much for longevity, but he was pretty good during the first seven of his nine season, front-loading things with an All-Star appearance and Rookie of the Year honors in 1984. I'm calling him a borderline win, as his WAR each of those seven years was pretty decent. (6-1) Mariano Duncan was tough for me to gauge. He had one All-Star appearance during a year in which he only played 88 games and racked up 0.4 WAR. He won two Championships, one with the Reds and one with the Yankees. It is interesting to me that those two seasons and his rookie year were his only three outstanding seasons. Based on his overall career, though, I am calling this one a loss. (6-2) Shawon Dunston's career numbers probably don't warrant it, but I am calling him a win for nostalgic reasons. He had a couple of All-Star appearances and a few good years here and there in his 18-season career, but overall he wasn't spectacular. But his name is one that I remember from the baseball cards of my youth. It seems like his cards were always around. So I'm calling his inclusion in this set a win. (7-2)

If I don't pick up the pace I will never get this post done. Sid Fernandez was good enough for long enough that I count him as a win. He made a couple of All-Star teams, won a Championship, and averaged more than 2 WAR/year over a 15-season span. (8-2) Tony Fernandez was also very good. He had a nice strong run and averaged over 2.6 WAR/year with several All-Star appearances, several Gold Glove awards, and a Championship. (9-2) Brian Fisher doesn't make the cut. His rookie season of 1985 was pretty good, but that was about it. He was never very good after that and washed out in a few seasons. (9-3)

John Franco put together a pretty decent long career. He made a few All-Star teams. I'm going with a win for him. (10-3) Julio Franco played in the MLB for about a million years, off and on from 1982-2007, or from just after I was born until just before my 26th birthday. He played baseball in Japan just last year in 2015, as a player-manager for the Ishikawa Million Stars. Franco had plenty of really good seasons and accolades, so he counts for a win. (11-3) I don't even have to look Dwight Gooden up (I did anyway). He counts as a win. (12-3)

Ozzie Guillen counts as a win, both for his playing career and his notoriety / success as a manager. (13-3) Tony Gwynn is a win. He's a Hall of Famer and probably individually has as many All-Star appearances as everyone we've already covered combined. (14-3) Jimmy Key is a winner. He has enough accolades and numbers to count. (15-3)

Don Mattingly had a good strong career and hung around in the Hall of Fame voting for a long time, so he counts as a win. (16-3) Oddibe McDowell has a cool name, but his seven seasons in MLB don't quite measure up to his cool name. I'm marking him in the loss column. (16-4) Roger McDowell's numbers probably don't measure quite well enough, but I'm going to argue that his zany antics give him a win. It's hard to measure relief pitchers anyway. (17-4)

Dan Pasqua played pretty well during his time in the league, but he didn't play long enough or outstandingly enough to merit a win according to my Superstar-meter. (17-5) Terry Pendleton was pretty good and won an MVP award, so I think I have to include him as a win. (18-5) Jim Presley does not get a pass as a young superstar of baseball. (18-6)

Kirby Puckett is a superstar by any measure. (19-6) Ernie Riles had 2-3 decent years among his 9 seasons, but not enough to count as a superstar. (19-7) Bret Saberhagen has plenty of resume items to push him into superstar territory. (20-7) 

Mark Salas wasn't much more than a part-timer during his career. He's not a superstar. (20-8) Juan Samuel was pretty close on the strength of three All-Star appearances, but I'm not feeling it overall. (20-9) Jeff Stone was not a superstar. He had more seasons with a negative WAR than seasons with a positive WAR (20-10)

Darryl Strawberry had some character issues, but he was a superstar. He counts for a win. (21-10) Andy Van Slyke was good enough to make my list of winners. (22-10) Frank Viola had himself a good career. I am counting him in the win column. (23-10)

Well, with a 23-10 record Kay Bee had a pretty good record at predicting which of these players would develop into superstars. I probably could have graded these guys a little tougher and come up with a 10-23 record, but that wasn't any fun. I wanted to include semistars and fan favorites in my grouping. I guess I could make the record 24-10 by including The Prowling Cat as a trading superstar. Thank you for these cool cards!

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