21 April 2018

Blog Bat Around: My All Autograph Team

Zippy Zappy came up with the most recent Blog Bat Around idea, trying to build the best autograph roster possible using cards from your collection. His rules require you to trim your list down to a starting roster full of position players, a designated hitter, a starting pitcher, two relievers, and a closer. I looked at that and decided that instead I would try to build a full 25-man roster. I ran into a little trouble with filling out my pitching spots, but in the end I was able to build a full 25-man roster. It's made up of a mixture of my favorite players as well as the best guys I could find for a given position. If you just want to see which players I picked to match Zippy Zappy's format, you can skip past all the pictures and go to the bottom of the post.

Catcher - Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio played most of his career as a second baseman, but he played a few hundred games at catcher. That's good enough for me to justify placing him here in my roster. This beautiful autograph relic card came to me as a prize in a contest over at Collecting Cutch.

First Base - Wally Moon

Here's another guy who I'm playing out of position a little bit. He played 136 games at first base and his 1963 Topps cards lists his position as OF - 1B, so I'm putting him here. I just had a lot of outfielders on my list, and not a lot of good autographs featuring first basemen.

Second Base - Jose Altuve

I'm lucky I got this card recently, as it is my first autograph of the Astros' star second baseman, Jose Altuve. It's a nice-looking card, and it hasn't been featured here on my blog yet. He fits right in on an all-time roster, as the defending AL MVP.

Shortstop - Omar Vizquel

I think this card is still in my collection. I pulled it from a box of Topps High Tek. Vizquel may not quite be a Hall of Famer, but he'll be a solid defensive presence for my team. I kind of wish I had a Carlos Correa autograph for this spot, but I don't.

Third Base - Yangervis Solarte

Third base was kind of a black hole in my collection when it comes to autographs, so Yangervis Solarte is my guy here. So far this year, he's the 32nd-best hitter in fantasy baseball, although I imagine that ranking will fall a bit as time goes on.

Left Field - Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson was primarily a right fielder, but he made 834 appearances in left field. He won the 1958 NL Gold Glove award for his play in left field, so I think he'll do all right there for my team. I waited three years for Topps to send this Topps Archives redemption for a framed mini autograph, and by the time they sent it they couldn't be bothered to put the frame on it.

Center Field - Fred Lynn

Fred Lynn gets my center field spot. A lot of the autographs in my collection come from Topps Archives products, and this one is no different. This is probably one of the first autographs I pulled when I got back into collecting in the middle of 2013, and it even came out of a retail blaster. I have typically had terrible luck with retail breaks of Archives, but not this time.

Right Field - George Springer

Going back to the home team for The Raz Card Blog, we've got George Springer in right field. That's where he's made the majority of his appearances so far, so I didn't have to push him out of position to get him onto the roster.

Designated Hitter - Aaron Judge

I have a nice power bat in my DH spot, with Aaron Judge looking to follow up his monster rookie year with another great season. I pulled this autograph from a blaster of Gypsy Queen before Judge-mania really set in and baseball cards disappeared from store shelves.

Catcher - Evan Gattis

My back-up catcher is Evan Gattis. I had to find an excuse to get this card into this post, as it's one of my favorites from my collection. I went crazy on 2014 Topps Stadium Club, and this was a card I pulled from the product.

Bench - Bo Jackson

The potential of Bo Jackson was undoubtedly greater than the reality turned out to be, but I was at a very impressionable age when Bo Knows was everywhere. If there was a Hall of Hype, he could be one of the first guys inducted.

Bench - Josh Reddick

I couldn't get all of my main player collection guys onto this list, but I think Reddick will fit in just fine on this roster. I watched him hit a grand slam tonight to go along with another home run, so he's got power in his bat. He is better known for his glove, though, making acrobatic catches at the wall. I have autographed cards featuring him as an Astro, but I like the way this one from his time on the A's looks.

Bench - Francisco Lindor

I probably should have picked an infielder who plays more positions for this bench spot, but Lindor has been about as good as it gets at the shortstop position over the last couple of years. I guess my manager will have to work out those playing time issues.

Starting Pitcher 1 - Randy Johnson

I've got a pretty decent staff ace here in Randy Johnson. This is the other card in this post that hasn't been featured here on the blog yet. I got it a couple of months ago, but just haven't found the right moment to post it. He put up a lot of numbers, and was probably one of the most intimidating guys to ever step foot on the mound.

Starting Pitcher 2 - Phil Niekro

My second starting pitcher is another Hall of Famer, knuckleballer Phil Niekro. Batters should be suitably bamboozled by his offerings the day after facing Johnson's flamethrower stuff. 

Starting Pitcher 3 - Luis Tiant

I went with Luis Tiant as my next starter. I considered a couple of other guys for his spot, but I couldn't deny his career numbers and kept him in the rotation.

Starting Pitcher 4 - Roy Oswalt

Oswalt was one of the key pitchers during the Astros' last run to the world series, and for several years he was a perennial Cy Young contender. He never quite got there, with a large part of that thanks going to Randy Johnson. Not a bad guy to have as your fourth starter. 

Starting Pitcher 5 - R.A. Dickey

He might be the one guy who doesn't quite fit in here, but I can't keep R.A. Dickey off of this team. He does have a Cy Young to his name, although the rest of his career hasn't quite lived up to that. I still like collecting his cards, though, and I want him on my team. Maybe he and Niekro can share knuckleball tips with each other.

Relief Pitcher - Michael Fulmer

I had to bump a couple of starters down to my bullpen. Hopefully their egos can handle it. I'll start off here with the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. He should be able to handle long relief duties for this team.

Relief Pitcher - Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott may not have had the greatest career on paper, but I couldn't leave this fan favorite off of this roster. He was a career starter, so hopefully he'll be able to eat up some innings out of the bullpen.

Relief Pitcher - Kent Tekulve

Kent Tekulve is the first lifetime reliever in my bullpen, and he was a pretty good one. He spent a couple of years in the Cy Young conversation, made an All-Star appearance, and was a key part of the Pirates' 1979 World Series team. But the real reason he's on this roster is that he always looked awesome on his baseball cards.

Relief Pitcher - Rollie Fingers

Here's another Cardboard All-Star, Rollie Fingers. He's got a great baseball name and the mustache of a silent film villain. He had a Cy Youg award and some World Series rings, but if he gets into the Hall of Fame, there are probably a lot of other relief pitchers who should be in ahead of him. This Blog Bat Around isn't about who should and shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. I'll still collect his cards and put him on my autograph team.

Relief Pitcher - Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton is another lifetime starting pitcher, but he pitched four innings of relief to close out Game 7 of the World Series last year, so you know he can handle the pressure. His career has been a bit bumpy, but he seems to have found himself in Houston, with a 17-7 record so far as an Astro.

Relief Pitcher - Billy Wagner

Billy Wagner is one of just six players with over 400 career saves, so he gets a spot in this bullpen. I probably should have made him the closer on the team, but he didn't quite make the cut, and instead will play the role of set-up man in my bullpen. He's a 7-time All-Star and a great Astro, so I had to include him on the roster.

Closer - Goose Gossage

Goose Gossage doesn't have as many saves as Billy Wagner, but he's in the Hall of Fame, he has 9 All-Star appearances, he's got a World Series ring, and he threw the ball really hard. He's pretty opinionated, but the eccentric closer is kind of a stereotype in baseball. You've got to be a little off to thrive in the pressure cooker of finishing off baseball games.

So that's the best 25-man roster I could come up with from my autograph collection. I'll type it all out here, and bold my choices if I stuck to Zippy Zappy's restrictions.

C - Craig Biggio
C - Evan Gattis
1B - Wally Moon
2B - Jose Altuve
SS - Omar Vizquel
3B - Yangervis Solarte
IF - Francisco Lindor
LF - Frank Robinson
CF - Fred Lynn
RF - George Springer
DH - Aaron Judge
OF - Bo Jackson
OF - Josh Reddick

SP - Randy Johnson
SP - Roy Oswalt
SP - Phil Niekro
SP - Luis Tiant
SP - R.A. Dickey
RP - Michael Fulmer
RP - Jim Abbott
RP - Kent Tekulve
RP - Rollie Fingers
RP - Charlie Morton
RP - Billy Wagner
CL - Goose Gossage

edit: I was so focused on the relative merits of baseball players that I forgot to include a card featuring the signature of a baseball player's relative! In the celebrity baseball fan spot of my roster, I am selecting Kate Upton, spouse of Justin Verlander, one of Houston's current ace pitchers.

Now my roster is complete. You can't have a good baseball game without some fans in the stands.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! It was fun to have an excuse to go through my collection and show some of it off!

  2. Well done. That is a solid team for sure!

    1. My team turned out better than I thought it would! Thank goodness for Topps Archives!

  3. That pitching staff... holy cow!

    1. I think they could rack up a few outs!

  4. Replies
    1. It's a really sweet card! I was lucky to win it!

  5. Oh dang. You just upped the ante. Great stuff!

    1. There have been some monster teams posted! My team is almost average by comparison!

  6. This was awesome. Your pitching staff is way better than mine. Plus you got some serious heat in the bullpen.....and Kate Upton.

    1. I just wish I had an autograph from Mr. Upton to push my pitching staff over the top!