Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another learning experience: '64 Topps Minnie Minoso

I've said it a few times recently, card collecting has really helped me learn more about some of the greats, and no so greats of the sports I love.

At the monthly card show this past weekend, I picked up some more '64 Topps cards, including one of the high-number cards (of which I need many), Minnie Minoso.

I remember Minnie from the mid 70's when the White Sox brought him back to pinch hit at the age of 50, and then again 4 years later in 1980.  While I remembered those events fairly well, picking up this card made me realize I didn't know a lot about Minnie's career back in the 50's & 60's.

If Minnie hadn't come back to play in the 70's, this '64 Topps card would have been his farewell card The only other "mainstream" card after this was a '67 Topps Venezuelan release.   Minoso is still signing cards for Topps, and if you click on this eBay auction you'll see that he has a really great 'graph (imo). 

Being the stats geek that I am, I decided to look up his career stats, and found some interesting tidbits.

Minnie led the league in HBP an amazing 10 times, with two of those seasons seeing him get plunked more than 20 times.  Minoso led the league in steals 3x, while also leading in caught stealing 6 times.  The Cuban Comet (great nickname btw) also led the AL in games played in LF 7 times, led the AL in WAR in 1954 with a 8.3 rating, and was in the top 10 for OPS 8 times, despite only having as high as 24 HR in a season once. 

Minnie finished 2nd in the ROY voting in 1951, despite having what I believe to be much better statistics than the winner, Gil McDougald of the Yankees.   The funny thing is even though Minoso finished 2nd in ROY voting, he finished ahead of McDougald in the MVP race.  Figure that one out!!  The NL winner for ROY in '51 was some guy named Mays, you might have heard of him.  Minoso finished 4th in MVP voting 4 different times during his career as well.

Minnie also played quite a few positions early in his career.  When not patrolling left field, he played third, short, and the other two outfield spots also.  His career hit total fell just short of 2000, and his Hall of Fame aspirations never came to pass as he only hit 20% of the ballots twice during his 15 year eligibility period. 

And here I only knew him for his plate appearances after the age of 50....

Thanks for reading, Robert

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