Retro Jays Cards

Baseball cards helped me fall in love with the game and the Blue Jays. Over a couple of decades I have spent way too much time, and probably money, collecting memories of my baseball fandom. This is a place to wallow in nostalgia for cheap pieces of cardboard and the players on them.

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Posts tagged "RBI's are a joke"

George Bell Diamond Kings, 1986 Donruss, #4

Ah, the classic Diamond Kings insert series by Donruss. Easily the most iconic cards in the Donruss series throughout the 1980’s, the Diamond Kings were paintings of a star from each team, done almost exclusively by Dick Perez, a baseball focused artist with works in the Baseball Hall of Fame. They were the first baseball cards to feature paintings as artwork since the 1956 Topps series.

While the cards did get a little more ridiculous as the decade went on, this George Bell card is actually a decent likeness and, at least for me, is the card that comes to mind when someone mentions the Diamond Kings series.

The write up on the back is fine, although I do strenuously object to the phrase “carried the Blue Jays for much of the year.” WTF? The 1985 Division Champions were not carried by George Bell. Do not get me wrong Bell had a very good year, but he was not even close to being the best position player on that team. Bell’s .275/.327/.429 line falls way short of Jesse Barfield’s stellar .289/.369/.536 numbers. Just look at their fWAR that year and Bell’s 3.8 looks forgettable when compared to Barfield’s monster 7.5. But they were not looking at WAR (obviously) nor OBP or SLG. Nope. George Bell had 95 RBI’s and Barfield only had 84 so therefore he, apparently, carried the team.


I am always happy to see the mention of San Pedro de Macoris, a town who produced plenty of key components of great Toronto teams of old including Bell, Manuel (Don’t Call Me Manny) Lee and the great Tony Fernandez. The town in the Dominican Republic has long been, and continues to be, a factory for major league talent including Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano,  Robinson Cano, Jose Valverde and Johnny Cueto.

Joe Carter Record Setters, 1992 Fleer, #685

A card celebrating a made up record for a nearly useless stat? Sign me up.

Marketing Carter as “The Sure Thing” is certainly a stretch, especially for this time period. Before I go back to sneering at the reverence of the Joe Carter myth, I should say that he really was great in that 1991 season with Toronto. His 5.1 fWAR and .273/.330/.503 line that season is very solid, especially considering the trainwreck that was 1990 for Carter.

If you solely went off this card you would think Carter was one of the elite offensive weapons in the game from 1989-1991, but his 1990 Padres season is one of the best examples in baseball history of the uselessness of RBI as a measure of offensive achievement. As part of a Padres lineup that included Tony Gwynn, Roberto Alomar, Jack Clark and the underrated Bip Roberts, Carter was placed in the heart of the lineup to capitalize on his supposed run creation prowess. The result? A team that ended up scoring below the NL run average, in large part because of Carter. Carter had an OPS+ of 85, a wOBA of.299 and a fWAR of -1.8. But all that didn’t matter because he drove in 115 runs, right? Add this to the fact that Carter was relied on in CF a fair amount that season and was abysmal defensively, and you have a nightmare for Padres fans.

But still, HOORAY for made up records!

Also, worth re-visiting that Joe Carter loves The Wiz and Vanessa Williams.

Joe Carter, 1993 McDonalds series by Donruss, #32

Joe Carter and McDonalds. Two things I appreciated a lot more in 1993. Both now seem rather overrated. RBI’s are the baseball equivalent of quarter pounders. Both are poor representations of what they claim to embody (offensive value/cheeseburgers).