This is the second part of a series, inspired by this SABR Baseball Card Committee post, in which I use the framework of the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set – commonly known as Topps Giants – to select three players to represent each Major League team, whether it means whittling down the list of candidates from the reigning World Champion Astros or finding three worthy candidates from the burn-it-to-the-ground-again Marlins.
As with the previous post, I’m working under the pretense of picking a checklist for a set which will be released in late summer, as the original set was. Ideally I’d be choosing players who will have garnered All-Star consideration, as well as players who we would be fairly confident would still be active, still considered stars and (as is becoming more important lately) not in the middle of a PED suspension when the theoretical set gets released.
I’m also picking these players more as they would be picked for a vintage set, one looking to draw in fans looking for their favorite players… not the 21st century strategy of appealing to the lottery mentality.
Last week I did the Astros and Dodgers; this week I’m going to work through the Braves and Yankees. First, the Braves…
Freeman has been a leader of the Braves in recent years and has consistently been among their top players for the past year or two. He’s also among the team leaders in several statistical categories
Inciarte was an All-Star last year, won a Gold Glove and lead the 2017 Braves in Runs and Triples. As of the time I’m writing this, he leads the league with 18 stolen bases.
I had some difficulty picking the third Brave, but I went with…
Last year, Albies lead the team in several offensive categories while playing 2nd base. This year he leads the team in runs and homers.
Strongly considered for a slot:
Nick Markakis – I was tempted to add the former Oriole to the checklist, and a case certainly can be made for him. He lead the team in a couple of offensive categories last year and he continues to be an offensive force this year.
Sean Newcomb – His stats for this season look good, but then I noticed that three of his five wins came against the Rays & Marlins. That took a bit of the wind out of the Newcomb sails. (Update: Yes, Newcomb beat the Nationals last night, but it was too late for this exercise)
Dansby Swanson – Former #1 overall draft pick who’s very good but not yet a star.
Other candidates: Ronald Acuna, Mike Foltynewicz, Kurt Suzuki, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino
…AND NOW, MOVING ON TO THE YANKEES, STARTING (OF COURSE) WITH…
Last year Judge was the Rookie Of The Year, an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger award and was Player of the Month in June and September. He’s become a central figure of the Yankees in a very short time and there’s no way you could leave him out of a set like this.
Last year’s National League MVP, Silver Slugger and Hank Aaron Award winner is another Yankee who couldn’t be left out.
I’m still second-guessing the third choice, who is…
Severino was an All-Star last year and his 2018 stats – 8-1 record, 2.31 ERA plus a shutout – made me think he was deserving of the third spot
Strongly considered for a slot:
Gary Sanchez – Just barely beaten out by Severino. Sanchez was a 2017 All-Star and Silver Slugger.
Dellin Betances – Also an All-Star last year
Didi Gregorius – Didi was the April Player of the Month and certainly deserves being in the discussion.
Other candidates: Aroldis Chapman, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Masahiro Tanaka
So what do you think? Did I screw up by not going with Gary Sanchez? Would you have gone with Nick Markakis or Ronald Acuna? Make your arguments in the comments!