My Athletics & Rockies For A “1964 Topps Giants” Tribute Set

As with the other posts in this series, I’m simulating the checklist from the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set (commonly known as “1964 Giants”) by selecting three representative players from each team.

At one point I was planning on doing the entire set, 90 customs in all, but then my schedule got too busy and I dropped the idea for a couple of months.

So far I’ve done 11 teams: The Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Braves, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Indians and Cubs.

Today’s post I’m doing the Athletics and Rockies, just to make sure that every team which made the postseason this year has a “team set”.

I’m planning on doing another two teams to get me halfway through the set, and after that I think I’m going to wrap things up by posting the remainder of the checklist with one custom per team.  I’ll get into that more when the time comes.

ATHLETICS
The A’s were kind of a difficult team to pick a checklist from because they’re very much a TEAM, not a couple of star players plus the supporting cast.

MATT CHAPMAN
Chapman is an outstanding defender but also scored 100 runs, drove in 68 and hit 24 homers.  He also lead the team in batting, on-base percentage, doubles and triples.

BLAKE TREINEN
Treinen represented the Athletics at the All-Star game, and finished the season with 38 saves and 9 wins.  His most notable numbers are his miniscule 0.78 ERA and 0.834 WHIP.

KHRIS DAVIS
Davis lead the Majors with 48 home runs and is probably as close to a “name” as the Athletics have.

Other Athletics considered:
Jonathan Lucroy – the other player who could be considered a “name”, but he didn’t have a good enough season to be included

Jed Lowrie – The other Athletics All-Star;  a strong case could be made for him.

Also: Sean Manaea, Matt Olson, Marcus Semien.

ROCKIES

NOLAN ARENADO
I see Arenado as a no-brainer.  He was the starting 3rd baseman for the National League in the All-Star game and lead the NL in homers.  He’s also won the Gold Glove in each of his first five season (and may win again in 2018;  those awards have not been announced yet).

WADE DAVIS
Was *not* an All-Star for the first time since 2015, but anyone who leads the league in saves and puts up a 1.056 WHIP while pitching for Colorado deserves some accolades.

CHARLIE BLACKMON
Last year he won the batting title and lead the league in hits, triples and runs.  This year he was an All-Star and lead the league with 119 runs scored.

Other Rockies considered:
Kyle Freeland – I feel it’s very important to point out why I left out Kyle Freeland.  All along I’d planned this set as if the checklist were finalized in May/June and the cards were issued in late Summer.  While Freeland did go 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA on the season, that’s mainly due to a monster second half, and when this checklist would’ve been finalized he was merely a very good pitcher.

Also:  Ian Desmond, Jon Gray, DJ LeMahieu, German Marquez, Adam Ottavino, Trevor Story

My Three Cubs For A “1964 Topps Giants” Tribute Set

As with the other posts in this series, I’m simulating the checklist from the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars set (commonly known as “1964 Giants”) by selecting three representative players from each team.

At one point it was meant to be every team, but life got in the way.

I kind of regret one of my choices for the Cubs; this is what happens when you rush through your analysis (blame goes mainly to that income-generating activity I perform 40+ hours a week).

JAVIER BAEZ
Baez seems no-brainer-y to me, just from the 101 runs and 111 RBI.

ANTHONY RIZZO
Don’t think I’ll get a lot of argument on this one.

KRIS BRYANT
OK, I admit I ended up more on the side of “perception” than “reality” with Kris Bryant… Not that he’s played poorly, but that other players are probably more deserving. Sorry, other Cubs.

Probably more deserving than Bryant:
Ben Zobrist – Better stats than Bryant while doing that Zobrist thing. I really wish the Mets had been able to get him three years ago when he was a free agent.

Jon Lester – 18 wins, 6 losses, a 3.32 ERA.

Also considered: Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras, Yu Darvish, Albert Amora, Jason Heyward, Addison Russell

Go ahead and leave a comment telling me that I’m a dummy, because you won’t get an argument from me.


Quick addition here… I posted my first “Hot Stove” custom out on Twitter earlier this week.

This is one of three designs I’ll be using for my “Hot Stove” customs between now and March. This one is based on 1962 Post/Jello cards, but is more of a “take” on the original than a re-creation of it. The script font isn’t the same, the colors are going to be by team rather than by league, and the original’s lines of statistics will be replaced by… other things (“Did You Know” this time around). As I learned from last year’s 1963 Post customs, stat lines are a pain in the arse.

At any rate, the design needs a couple of minor tweaks, but I’m largely happy with it. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

My Three Indians For A “1964 Topps Giants” Tribute Set

Because I’m fascinated with how three players were selected for each team in the 1964 Topps Giant-Sized All-Stars (aka “Giants”) set, I’m continuing to create my custom set for all of the postseason teams (and maybe one or two after that).

Like with the Red Sox last week, I see a clear-cut trio at the center of the Cleveland Indians…

JOSE RAMIREZ

Ramirez has been an All-Star two years in a row (and a starter in 2018), plus he was the AL Player of the Month this July and a Silver Slugger winner last year.

COREY KLUBER

Just for being last year’s Cy Young Award winner, Kluber would be a shoe-in here.  Being one of just two pitchers in the Majors to win 20 games this season just cements his status.

FRANCISCO LINDOR

Is it too soon to call Lindor a “perennial All-Star”? He tied for the Major League lead in runs scored and was the May 2018 AL Player of the Month.

Other players considered: Mickey Brantley, Andrew Miller, Yonder Alonso, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion

My “1964 Topps Giants”-inspired Customs Return With Three Red Sox

Back in May I had been inspired by a SABR Baseball Card Committee Article about the 1964 Topps “Giants” set. I was intrigued by the article’s discussion of whether the 3 cards each team got holds up in hindsight, and I decided to do my own 15-week series trying to re-create the set using 2018 players and picking 3 players per team… something which has it’s challenges on rosters brimming with talent, plus different challenges for those teams which were clearly heading for a long season.

Like anything else I attempt on this blog, things tend to take more time than I intend them to, and I had to abandon the idea after just four posts.  I still enjoyed the general idea and for much of the summer I toyed with the idea of resurrecting it .  It wasn’t until recently that I gained enough time and brainpower to seriously consider going back to it in some abbreviated form.

Having suffered through a long, long, long Orioles season and a roller coaster Mets season, I quickly realized that it wouldn’t make sense to go back and do those teams which had been sellers at the deadlines… The three best Orioles, for example, are now long gone.

“If I were to do this again”, I said to myself, “it would make the most sense to tackle the postseason teams which hadn’t already been done”.  I’d already featured the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Braves, and Brewers, so that left the Cubs, Rockies, Athletics, Indians and Red Sox. I decided to dip my toe back in the water with the A.L. East Champions, and see how it goes from there.

Fortunately for me, I had an easy time picking three players from the deep Red Sox roster…

…Starting with the 30-30 player who lead the league in batting and slugging, lead the team in doubles and runs, and is a strong candidate for MVP, MOOKIE BETTS.

I could go on, but there’s just no way that Mookie gets left out.

CHRIS SALE doesn’t have any league-leading 2018 stats and his 12-4 record is hardly the stuff of legends, but his 237 K’s, 2.11 ERA and 0.861 WHIP clearly indicate that he’s the team’s best starter.

We’ll wrap this up with the team’s big addition this past offseason, J.D. MARTINEZ.

Martinez lead the team with 43 homers and 111 runs, plus lead the league with 130 RBI.

Other candidates included closer Craig Kimbrel (42 saves), Andrew Benintendi, All-Star Mitch Moreland, former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (17 wins), Xander Bogaerts and David Price.

If you have different thoughts on which three players should make up the Red Sox portion of the checklist, go to the comments and tell me I’m an idiot (you won’t be the first, I promise you).


I didn’t want to have a “Custom Sunday” post consist of just these cards, so I’m going to throw in three more unreleated customs.

I don’t like the Dodgers at all, but Dodger wins don’t suck as much when Justin Turner plays a key part in the victory, as he did yesterday when he hit the game-winning home run.

…and I felt like bringing back my 1985 Fleer template.

I recently decided to feature some customs of former MLB players who are now playing in Japan; today we have former Cub Kosuke Fukudome.

After playing with the Indians and White Sox in 2011 and 2012, Fukudome returned to Japan and has played the past six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers.

Wrapping up with another of my 1968 Topps Football customs, which I’m having fun with despite the fact that I’m not a tremendously well-informed NFL fan. You can’t go so far wrong with Drew Brees, anyway.

In my head, any reference to Drew Brees is followed up with Ronnie Van Zant saying “Ooooo, Mr. Breeze!”.

Which 3 Cardinals, Twins Would You Pick For A “1964 Topps Giants” Style Set?

In my little imaginary universe, Topps has decided to revive the 1964 Giant set and has put me in charge of determining the checklist for a set to be released late this summer. As with the original, each team is given three cards in the set, no matter if they won the World Series or got the top draft pick. Who gets left out from the contending teams? Who fills out the trio on the bad teams?

Just to be clear, the checklist is meant to appeal to baseball fans looking for their favorite players as well as each team’s best players… Ideally the players who, when this set comes out, had been 2018 All-Stars or at least considered for that honor. There’s no “lottery mentality” involved here, so a highly regarded and heavily hyped but struggling rookie is not going to be included.

This is the fourth of a series, and this time we’re covering the teams from the 1987 World Series, the Cardinals and Twins.

CARDINALS

YADIER MOLINA

For this checklist, I’m intentionally focusing on performance in 2017 and 2018. I’m not sure the statistics support the selection of Yadi, but the man was an All-Star last year, is a future HOFer and unless he were massively overstaying his welcome it just wouldn’t seem right to leave him out of any Cardinals trio.

MARCELL OZUNA

He’s here more for what he did with the Marlins last year (All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger) than what he’s done this year with the Cardinals, but I felt like he still belongs.

TOMMY PHAM

This is a choice I struggled with, because Pham isn’t one of those guys who is THE BEST, but it seems like no matter how you slice and dice the team’s statistics, he’s AMONG THE BEST, so I’m giving him the last Cardinals slot.

Strongly considered:
Carlos Martinez – An All-Star last year, Martinez was narrowly beaten out by Pham.
Jose Martinez – Leads the team in many offensive categories in 2018 and is having something of a breakout year at the age of 29
Miles Mikolas – If we considered only this season to date (7-2, 2.43), Mikolas is a shoo-in.

Others Considered: Harrison Bader, Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Dexter Fowler, Greg Holland, Bud Norris, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright

TWINS

JOE MAUER

Like with Yadi and the Cardinals, I don’t feel like you can leave out Mauer. His numbers have fallen off, but I don’t think enough to exclude him.

BRIAN DOZIER

Gold Glove and among the better players on the team.

ERVIN SANTANA

He has been injured most of this year and was included based on his very strong 2017… but it wasn’t an easy decision.

Strongly Considered:
Eddie Rosario – He was very good last year, is very good this year, and that almost got him in. Almost.
Miguel Sano – An all-Star last year, but he’s been struggling this year and recently got optioned to the minors.
Byron Buxton – Gold Glove last year, but not enough performance this year.

Others considered: Jose Berrios, Jason Castro, Eduardo Escobar, Max Kepler, Brandon Kinzler, Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi, Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney


One quick comment to wrap things up… After choosing three position players for the Cardinals, I got to wondering if, back in 1964, Topps had included at least one pitcher for every team. Something like that would affect the way I selected future teams. I went through a few teams from the 1964 set before I ran across the Kansas City Athletics who were represented by outfielder Rocky Colavito, 1st Baseman Jim Gentile and shortstop Wayne Causey.  That answered my question, but as I had to go through at least 10 teams before finding the A’s, perhaps I should make inclusion a factor where we’re choosing between a pitcher and a position player for the third slot.

And now, on to our reader participation part…

Would you have picked different Cardinals or Twins?

Which 3 Brewers, White Sox Would You Pick For A “1964 Topps Giants” Style Set?

In my little imaginary universe, Topps has decided to revive the 1964 Giant set and has put me in charge of determining the checklist. As with the original, each team is given three cards in the set, no matter if they won the World Series or got the top draft pick. Who gets left out from the contending teams? Who fills out the trio on the bad teams?

This is the third of a series, and this time we’re covering the former divisional rivals Brewers and White Sox.

BREWERS
I know we’ve got some Brewers fans out there, I’d be curious to know your take on this.

TRAVIS SHAW

I like Travis Shaw, so I’ll admit that I came into this looking for ways to justify putting him in this checklist. Last year he lead the team in doubles and RBI and tied for the team lead in homers. This year he leads the team in all three of those categories again. I’d call that justification.

CHRISTIAN YELICH

Top 3 in most offensive categories and one of the bigger names on the team.

JOSH HADER

On a team with several very good relievers, I have to go with the guy who’s the closer.

STRONGLY CONSIDERED FOR A SLOT:
Lorenzo Cain – Cain probably has as much claim to one of the three spots as the three players who got the honor, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Cain leads the team in On-Base % and hits.

Matt Albers – His stats are surprisingly good… well, surprising to anyone who saw him when he pitched for the Orioles.

Cory Knebel – An All-Star last year

Jeremy Jeffress – interesting bit of trivia; the Brewers had traded both Cain and Jeffress to the Royals in the trade that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee.

Ryan Braun – The best-known player on this team. That and $2.75 gets him on the subway.

Others considered: Jesus Aguiar, Chase Anderson , Zach Davis, Jimmy Nelson, Manny Pina, Domingo Santana, Brent Suter, Eric Thames, Jonathan Villar

WHITE SOX

JOSE ABREU

Abreu is this week’s one “no brainer”. He lead team in most major offensive categories in 2017 and does so again this year. Last year he was the league’s Total Bases leader and a 100 RBI guy.

YOLMER (CARLOS) SANCHEZ

The team’s leading triples guy last year and this, and among the top 3 in most non-power-related offensive categories. I’ll admit, this is very debatable, but I’m going with Yolmer (or Carlos, I’m never sure which one to go with).

TIM ANDERSON

He’s a shortstop and also is among the team leaders in a number of categories.

STRONGLY CONSIDERED FOR A SLOT:
Yoan Moncada – A hot prospect who probably should make a similar checklist in 2019, but to me he’s not quite there yet. Who knows, I might be regretting this omission before I get through all 30 teams.

Wellington Castillo – “Beef” would’ve gotten some consideration had he not been suspended for PDA’s

Others considered: Matt Davidson, Avisail Garcia, Nate Jones, Reynaldo Lopez, James Shields

Like I said, very few of these were easy decisions. Did I make the right ones? Let me know in the comments!

Which 3 Yankees, Braves Would You Pick For A “1964 Topps Giants” Style Set?

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…

FREDDIE FREEMAN

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

ENDER INCIARTE

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…

OZZIE ALBIES

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…

AARON JUDGE

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.

GIANCARLO STANTON

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…

LUIS SEVERINO

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!

Which 3 Dodgers, Astros Would You Pick For A “1964 Topps Giants” Style Set?

…That’s the question I’d asked myself after reading a SABR Baseball Cards Committee article written by Mark Armour which examined the player choices made for the 1964 Topps “Giants” set

…and got me thinking about the players I would pick from each MLB team if I were creating such a set today.  One of the things I love about the 1964 Giant set , aside from it being oversized and relatively affordable, is the egalitarian way the checklist was made up. Each of the 20 teams of the day was given three cards in the set, no matter if they were the 1963 World Champion Dodgers or the 111-loss Mets. This lead to some interesting choices… Which Dodgers got left out? Which three from the woeful Mets did they include?

I thought it would be fun to go team by team through the current Major League teams and work out a checklist like the 1964 Giants set. Like with the original, each team will be represented by three players.  To further establish some ground rules (and give myself some additional criteria when making player selections), I’m going to treat this as an actual product which would be released in late summer, as the original set was.  Ideally, when this set is “released” you’d want it to feature players who had been 2018 All-Stars or at least got some consideration in the voting.

With that in mind, would you include someone who won an award in 2017 but is out for most of 2018?  What about the star player on a cellar-dwelling team who’s likely to be elsewhere by the trading deadline? …The future HOFer whose best days are well behind him? …The hyped rookie who could just as easily be a flash in the pan as a superstar?

It seemed that last year’s World Series teams, both of which have no shortage for candidates for the checklist, would be a good starting point for this exercise.  To give  this all a visual element, I whipped up some custom cards combining the 1964 Topps Giants design with 2018 “Photo Day” images.

I’m going to start off with the National League Champions who made the cut, followed by the other candidates who did not.

CLAYTON KERSHAW

I view this as a no-brainer. Aside from being an elite pitcher, he was last year’s leader in wins and ERA, as well as being a 2017 All-Star.

CODY BELLINGER

He’s the reigning N.L. Rookie of the Year and an All-Star, and since he hasn’t imploded in his sophomore season, I’m including him as well.

KENLEY JANSEN

Jansen was the 2017 Reliever Of The Year and an All-Star, so I couldn’t ignore those honors.

As for the players who didn’t make the cut…

Corey Seager – He’s on the 60-day DL after Tommy John surgery, so despite last year’s All-Star nod and Silver Slugger award, I didn’t want to include someone who hadn’t stepped on a field since late April.

Justin Turner – He is clearly a key part of the team, was the NLCS Co-MVP and an All-Star, but he didn’t quite make the cut (even though I consider myself a fan).

Chris Taylor – He had a breakout performance last season and is the other half of that NLCS Co-MVP, but there’s clearly stiff competition.

Alex Wood – An All-Star; the NL Pitcher of the Month for May 2017; lead the Majors in 2017 with a .842 winning percentage (16-3).

Walker Buehler – Highly-regarded prospect; was involved in that combined no-hitter earlier this season.

Other Dodgers garnering consideration: Yasmani Grandal, Kenta Maeda, Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu

OK, let’s move over to those World Champion Astros… I’ll start with their no-brainer:

JOSE ALTUVE

He’s the reigning AL MVP, not to mention the batting leader and Silver Slugger winner. ‘Nuff said.

JUSTIN VERLANDER

Like Kershaw, Verlander seems like a gimme. He wasn’t exactly a slouch with the Tigers in 2017, going 10-8 for a 98-loss team, but he just came alive when he joined the Astros. He was the ALCS MVP and, of course, a former Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award winner.

I have a feeling this next choice is going to draw some flack…

GEORGE SPRINGER

I had a tough time deciding between Springer and Carlos Correa, and maybe people who follow the team more closely than I do will call me an idiot for not going with Correa, but hear me out…

Both Springer and Correa were 2017 All-Stars and key members of the Astros. What pushed me towards Springer was my invoking the “We’re making a real Giants set” criteria.  The card backs would feature a faux newspaper article about an accomplishment by each player (Here’s an example for Juan Marichal):

Springer was the World Series MVP, so he would provide for a better headline than Correa.

Besides, all of this wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun if everybody agreed with me.

Touching on the other Astros who got consideration…
Gerrit Cole – He’s been lights-out this year and had been in the past, but for me he wasn’t enough of a star in 2016 and 2017 to get serious consideration.

Alex Bregman – He may have a bright future, but just doesn’t have the list of concrete accomplishments his teammates have.

Dallas Keuchel, Chris Devenski and Lance McCullers – Each was a 2017 All-Star, but that only gets you so far when considering the Astros.

Other Astros garnering consideration: Marwin Gonzalez, Charlie Morton

OK, that covers my choices. Now it’s your turn…

Who would you have picked for the Dodgers and Astros? How did I completely drop the ball when making my selections?

Let me know in the comments!