Sunday, September 22, 2013

1987 Sportflics #115 "Tri-Stars"

Card Review: 1/3 of 4.2  I remember really liking Sportflics around the time of this card.  I was about 7 or 8.  They weren't easy to find, and it was always sort of a treat when my mother would take my brother and I to the card shop that sold them.  Most the cards we were buying at the time were Topps from our little league snack bar, and Fleer from the grocery store.  Pulling any sort of Wallach back then was cause for jump up and down celebration.  But even then, I remember not really liking this card.  It had more to do with the words on the back.  

Number of this card in my collection: 5
2015 update: 7
2016 update: 9

Long winded statistical gripe about the back of this card:

Tim Wallach had the bad luck of playing during the same time as Mike Schmidt, and in the anonymous market of Montreal.  Had he had a similar career five years later as a Met or Yankee, his legacy would be much different, and I would never be able to afford to amass so many of his cards.  That's just the way things work, I'm not complaining.  But that does not excuse, in anyway, the back of this card.

Wallach gets one sentence on the bottom, which states he; "has worked hard to make himself a solid third baseman."  What?  Over the previous three seasons, he'd won a gold glove, silver slugger, and been an All-Star twice.  His numbers dropped a little in '86 because he stubbornly played through multiple severe injuries from spring training into August before the team finally shut him down.  Sports Illustrated even did a piece on him, in which the magazine argued that Wallach had past Schmidt as the best third baseman in MLB.  You probably don't recall the article, so here's a link, it was titled "An Expo in Need of Exposure."  The first line of the article read; "For nearly 10 years the answer to the question, "Who is the best third baseman in the National League?" was Mike Schmidt. But last year there was a new answer, Tim Wallach, which in turn leads to some other questions. Like, "Who is Tim Wallach?" "  But per sportsflics, he's just some borderline Major Leaguer that's become "solid" due to a lot of hard work.

I guess the writers at Sportflics didn't get the memo.  But they certainly seemed to know who Chris Brown was.  It's forgivable not to remember who Chris Brown was.  He played all of six seasons and only twice appeared in more than 100 games, averaging only a mere 74 games a season over that span.  During the '86 season, in which he had all of 416 AB, 7 home runs, and finished 5th in errors while not cracking the top 5 in most positive defensive categories, he some how made the All-Star team.  


Sportflics must have been impressed (or the writer was a relative), because here's what they wrote:  Chris, second only to Mike (Schmidt) as the league's best all-around third baseman, was in contention for the batting title until a shoulder injury did him in in early September.  What? Ignoring the nonsense about being the 2nd best third baseman for a second (which I'll address below), I don't think "contention" means what Sportflics thinks it does.  Tim Raines won the '86 Batting title, Brown would have finished a distant 10th, that is, if he had even been eligible for the batting title.  Brown was 86 at-bats short of even qualifying for the batting crown.  He would have had to hit .419 over those 86 at-bats to catch Raines.  A tall order for a .269 career hitter like Brown.

Let's also look at this assertion by Sportflics that Brown is 2nd only to Schmidt (whereas at the same time SI was arguing Schmidt was 2nd to Wallach).  Since Brown was a rookie in '84, I'm only going to include the three year window from '84-'86, which I believe is fair (though Wallach had emerged as a star NL 3rd baseman way back in '82 when he blasted 28 home runs and drove in 96 in his first full season)



These list are clearly dominated by Wallach, Pendleton, Cey, and Schmidt.  Brown barely makes an appearance.  The fact that Schmidt won 2 gold gloves during this three year span is a tesitiment to the power of reputation (Wallach won the other, and should have won the two they gave Schmidt).  Another objective note is that Wallach finished 3rd, 2nd, and 8th in overall Defensive War over during these three seasons.  Pendleton finished in the top 10 in '85, and '86, no other NL 3B's cracked the top 10 during that span. I broke the above catagories down Top 25 style, awarding 5 pts for a 1st place finish, 1 for a 5th.  Here are the results:

National League 3B Fielding 1984-86
1. Tim Wallach ......................38 pts
2. Terry Pendleton .................27
3. Ron Cey .............................16
4. Buddy Bell ........................12
5. Mike Schmidt ....................10
6. Craig Nettles .......................7
7. Hubie Brooks ....................5.5
8. Chris Brown ......................4

I think it's safe to assume that Sportflics wasn't talking about fielding when they described Brown as 2nd to only Schmidt among NL third basemen.  So lets look at hitting.  Below are the numbers of each of the players above in major offensive categories over that span.  I'm excluding Bell who spent more time in the AL, and Hubie Brooks who was primarily a 2B, and including Schmidt's '85 season in which in played first base and not third.

NL 3B Hits 1984-86
1. Mike Schmidt .................458
2. Tim Wallach ..................403
3. Terry Pendleton .............357
4. Ron Cey ........................307
5. Craig Nettles .................282
6. Chris Brown .................273

NL 3B Runs 1984-86
1. Mike Schmidt .................279
2. Ron Cey .........................177
3. Tim Wallach ..................175
4. Craig Nettles ..................158
5. Terry Pendleton ..............149
6. Chris Brown ...................113

NL 3B Doubles 1984-86
1t. Tim Wallach ...................83
1t. Mike Schmidt .................83
3. Ron Cey ..........................66
4. Terry Pendleton ..............58
5. Craig Nettles ....................45
6. Chris Brown ....................43

NL 3B Home Runs 1984-86
1. Mike Schmidt ...............106
2. Ron Cey ........................60
3. Tim Wallach ..................58
4. Craig Nettles ..................51
5. Chris Brown ..................24
6. Terry Pendleton .............7

NL 3B RBI's 1984-86
1. Mike Schmidt ...............318
2. Tim Wallach ................224
3. Ron Cey .......................196
4. Craig Nettles .................181
5. Terry Pendleton ............161
6. Chris Brown ..................121

Once again, it seems obvious that Sportflics couldn't have been talking about hitting when they described Chris Brown as 2nd to only Schmidt among NL 3rd basemen.  So what in the world were they thinking when they made that inane assertion 25 years ago?  Perhaps they were trying to predict future performance.  Lets take a look:

Tim Wallach would play 10 more seasons, make three more All-Star teams, win two more gold gloves, another Silver Slugger and retire with over 2,000 hits.

Terry Pendleton would play 12 more seasons, win an MVP, and three gold gloves

Ron Cey retired in 1987

Craig Nettles retired in 1988

Chris Brown would appear in 179 more games over 3 seasons and collect another 134 hits.  He never made another All-Star team, or even held down a regular starting role.

So clearly Sportsflics was off if they were trying to project future output.  I think the conlusion is that whoever wrote the back of this card for Sportflics was a complete idiot, and/or likely related to Chris Brown.  It's one of the better examples of the general lack of respect, accolade, and appreciation that Wallach received throughout his career.






2 comments:

  1. Not to mention what he did to poor Rhianna!

    /might be the wrong Chris Brown

    ReplyDelete