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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Random Topps Card of the Day: 1984 Topps #637 Philadelphia Phillies '83 Batting & Pitching Leaders

It's a brand new year, and the Topps Card Randomizer is running at full strength since October. The Randomizer now includes 2012 Topps and Update Series cards (991 cards) to the spreadsheet and who knows what else will come up as the year progresses.

Thanks to the Topps Card Randomizer, introducing the Random Topps Card of the Day for Tuesday, January 01, 2013:


  • Official Card Set Name and Card Number: 1984 Topps #637.
  • Player Name, position, team:  Gary Matthews, outfielder, Philadelphia Phillies; John Denny, pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Special:  Batting & Pitching Leaders:  Philadelphia Phillies
  • Commentary: When I first seriously started collecting Topps cards back in 1989, I noticed that Topps, within the realm of their 792 card sets, always made room for team leader cards.  Which, when sorting sets into teams, made sense when cards included EVERYBODY, down to the third-string catcher and mop up reliever.  The manager included the checklist of the players on the team, down to the position, and occasionally, their uniform number.  The team leader card included the batting and pitching leaders in a number of key categories, often including players who do not get the recognition the stars of the team usually get.  When I started buying sets from years prior to 1986, I began to see that the way things were done in 1989 were not always the case.  For instance, in 1984, the team leader cards did not include the team leaders in key stats, but a team checklist (for the record, the manager's cards included the man's playing statistics and managerial statistics).  However, the cards featured two players Topps considered the batting and pitching leaders for each team.  In the case of the Phillies, the defending NL Champions, the subjects included Gary Matthews, who lead the team in batting average with .258 (among those who would qualify for the batting title anyway); and John Denny, who went 19-6 with a sparkling 2.37 ERA that year. All 26 batting & pitching leader cards feature the teams batting average and ERA leaders.  Nothing against Sarge, but Topps could have picked Mike Schmidt to represent the batting leaders.  Why?  Because Schmidt led the team in homers (40 to Matthews' 10), rbi's (109 to 50), and maintained a .255 average.  Schmidt even had higher percentages in the OBP/SLG/OPS department ( .399/.524/.923 to .352/.374/.727).  But this was 1984.  Batting averages carried a lot more weight in the statistics world (and on cardboard) than the other percentages, so that's why Matthews got the card.  Even on a team that included Steve Carlton, Willie Hernandez, and Tug McGraw, there was no doubt that John Denny was the pitching star of the Phils that year, even winning the Cy Young Award.  In 1984, Sarge was traded to the Cubs and led the league in walks (103) and on base percentage (.410) while providing protection to the "Daily Double" combination of Bob Dernier (who was traded in the same deal) and Ryne Sandberg.  Denny, on the other hand, missed all of June due to injury in 1984. Although he went 7-7 in his decisions, he still finished the year with a 2.45 ERA, 94 K's, and a WHIP of 0.978. 
  • Lo-Hi Beckett value: $0.08-$0.25.
Tomorrow's card will be: 1995 Topps Traded and Rookies #31T. Post will arrive at 1:00 PM CST. Post will arrive at 1:00 PM CST. We're looking back at a card from 1995 here on the blog tomorrow.

Sincerely,

JayBee Anama

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