Sunday, October 13, 2013

Comparing the Major League Debut Classes of 1993 and 2013.

In 1990, Topps created a set honoring the players who made their MLB debut during the 1989 campaign. It was a relatively successful set, with future HOF's like Ken Griffey, Jr., and Deion Sanders (okay, he's in the Football HOF) and others. In 2009, I created a post comparing the MLB Debut classes of 1989 and 2009 in honor of that set. To coincide with the MLB Debut 1990 and 1991 boxed sets, I also wrote a post comparing the MLB Debut classes of 1990 and 2010 and again for the MLB Debut classes of 1991 and 2011.

Sadly, they stopped creating this set. I wish they would bring it back, if only so that every player who makes it to the majors has at least one Topps card to call his own. But even though Topps stopped the MLB debut sets (and they don't plan on making them any time soon), I did continue comparing the MLB Debut classes of 1992 and 2012. As the 2013 MLB season ended a couple of weeks ago, now would be a good time to review this year's 2013 MLB debutantes and compare them to the class of 1993. These have been fun posts for me to write, and it's nice to look back to see how the future stars of my youth (I was 17 in 1993), performed over the years.

According to Baseball Reference, 18,174 athletes have entered their names into the annals of Major League Baseball record-keeping. In fact, 230 of them made their MLB Debuts in 2013. That's 230 more players that have etched their names into history books, baseball encyclopedias, and baseball websites. Two hundred thirty more players who finally reached the pinnacle of their professional careers, no matter how long or how brief their stay was. They can honestly say that they have arrived.

In 1993, 203 players made their big league debuts up, from 162 players from the year before (this was the year that MLB expanded to 28 teams with the addition of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins). The first of three players to debut was Scott Pose (who debuted on April 5, 1993), the last was Carlos Delgado (who made his first appearance on October 1, 1993). Twenty-five players would go on to become All-Stars at some point in their careers. We'd all get to know their names on a regular basis like Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Jim Edmonds, Robb Nen, Aaron Sele, Shawn Green, Carl Everett, Mike Hampton and Curtis Pride. Players who had high expectations, but eventually faded from the spotlight (J. Owens, Domingo Jean, Ty Van Burkleo, Bob Hamelin) also made their debuts in 1993.

Believe it or not, one player who made his debut in 1993 was still on a MLB roster during the 2013 season. The debutantes of 1993 (as of the end of the 2013 season) combined for 60 All-Star Game appearances, 5,213 home runs, 21,455 runs batted in, 2,751 stolen bases, and a batting average of about .264. Pitchers who debuted in 1993 have gone on to a combined record of 2353-2432, saved 1963 games (601 by Hoffman), completed 164 games, faced 184,666 batters, struck out 28,901 of them, gave up 5,020 home runs, and had a cumulative ERA of 4.50.

At any given point during the 2013 season, there were 750 players on active rosters (not counting those on the disabled list). And in amongst the shuffling of talent, 230 baseball players, some who'd toiled in the minors for a very long time, and at least six players who were drafted in the 2012 free agent draft, got to step onto the field of a major league stadium for the very first time and play at least one inning of major league baseball. One hundred fourteen of them were position players, the other 116 stepped onto the pitcher's mound for the very first time. Of the 230, none were born in 1993, but five were born in 1992 (Xander Bogaerts, Nick Castellanos, Jose Fernandez, Taijuan Walker, and Jose Ramirez), and the oldest player to debut was 37 years old (Chang-Yong Lim).

The 2013 debutantes combined for one All-Star Game appearance (Jose Fernandez), 272 home runs, 1,133 runs batted in, 169 stolen bases, and a cumulative .242 batting average. Pitchers went 193-208 with an ERA of 4.05, striking out 3,245 batters, and saved 19 games.

Just for fun, let's compare both classes:
Of the players from the debut class of 2013 just like in 1993, there could be some Hall of Fame candidates. Most may go on to All-Star caliber, or very long careers in the bigs. And for some, this may be their only year in the majors. But all of them can say that they achieved their dream of being a Major League Ballplayer.

And nothing can take that away from them.

I've clamored before about wanting to bring back the Major League Debut set. But I know in today's age of exclusive contracts and rookie card restrictions that a set of this type might never see the light of day again. And although I have a feeling that many collectors would not want to get a set that might have stars but plenty of "never will be's" amongst them, a set like this could contain the only card of a player who played in one inning of major league ball.

Who knows what the future will bring for the 230 players who first appeared in 2013. Most might never play in the majors again, disappearing in the obscurity of minor league baseball for the rest of their professional careers. Creating a set called the 2014 MLB Debut 2013 would give them a slim piece of cardboard immortality.

Oh well, I can dream, can't I???


JayBee Anama

P.S. Some time this week, I will post my picks as to who I think will make the 2013 Topps All-Star Rookie team. There will be a contest involved. Details to come soon. jba

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