Baseball Cards: Goal, Jobber, 401k & Future Graded – AL Teams Edition

Tony Bps Spina, and his antics, from #BpsRips. Nightly at 8pm EST on Twitter.

This is the sequel to the National League Edition of the same name where we take a look at each team’s Goal, Jobber, 401k Piece and Future Graded – just like the title states. It’s all connected – the title to the description to the subject matter to the photos. I had loads of fun and received some great input from some of the finest baseball minds ever created. Who are those people? Well, find out every night on Twitter Live at 8pm EST. It’s my show, #BpsRips!


For a refresher, here is the meaning of the words in the title:

Goal – A card that overjoys you when you pull it out of a pack. It’s the card that you would like to have on your shelves to admire. These are often iconic to the industry, as a whole, in some cases.

Jobber – A professional wrestling term used to describe a wrestler who’s routinely defeated by main-eventers, mid-carders or low-carders. Enhancement talent if you will. We affectionately use the term to identify some of our favorite baseball players whose cards are often pulled out of packs or hit during breaks. Most times these cards can be found in the common bins at your Local Card Shop.

401k Piece – This is the card from the past that you thought would have increased so much that you could safely retire once you sold it. It’s the card that would have appreciated just like your 401k in normal times.

Future Graded – This is the prospect card that you obtain in hopes it can increase in value. It’s the card that you get graded so, if you’re into making a profit, you can maximize its sales price if you want to move it. This can also give you an idea of who to trade for in your dynasty leagues for fantasy baseball.

AL East

Goal – 1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr.

As much as I dislike Ripken for his selfish pursuit of that streak, his Rookie Card is rather iconic and is still fairly popular to this day. He is a Hall of Famer and put up some good numbers during his career and was a pioneer in changing the position from light-hitting/good fielders to bigger, middle-of-the-lineup hitters.  Honorable Mentions: 1978 Topps Eddie Murray, 1957 Topps Brooks Robinson

Jobber – 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken

In keeping it clean and preventing me from having to apologize for cursing, I’m going with this version of the infamous Ripken card that caused such a controversy in the summer of 1989. For his 12 year career, he hit .247 with 20 home runs giving me a reason to believe that he was only in baseball due to his last name. Jobber.

401k Piece – 1990 Upper Deck Ben McDonald

Let’s change the talk to more positive vibes and discuss the first overall pick in the 1989 draft out of LSU – Ben McDonald.  Big things were expected out of him especially after he made the major leagues the following year and threw a complete game shutout in his debut.  However, he never had quite the success that was predicted. McDonald finished his career with the Brewers and ended with a 78-70 W-L record with a respectable 3.91 ERA.

Future Graded –  2019 Bowman Draft Adley Rutschman

The first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft has a chance to become a very special player. He has an advanced hitting approach, can hit for power, and even plays good defense at catcher. Historically, catchers aren’t among the most popular cards but maybe Rutschman can reverse that trend if he fulfills his potential. He checks in at number on one our Baltimore Top 50 Prospects list.

 

Goal – 1939 Play Ball Ted Williams

Teddy Ballgame. The Splendid Splinter. The Kid. The Thumper. These are some of the great nicknames for one of the finest ballplayers ever to play the game. Williams finished his career with an amazing slashline of .344/.482/.634 with 521 home runs. He could have had even more stats if not for missing three years of his prime due to serving his country.

Jobber – 1991 Donruss Larry Anderson 

Larry Anderson brings back bad memories for Red Sox fans as he was the player the team obtained for Jeff Bagwell. In Boston’s defense, they needed a middle reliever and Andersen had a solid career in that role. He was also a clubhouse prankster and evolved into a humorous announcer for the Phillies. Nevertheless, the trade amplified his Jobber status immensely. I personally have a tremendous Larry Anderson story, but that will have to wait for another day, or night on #BpsRips.

401k Piece – 1988 Score Ellis Burks

Burks had a great rookie season going 20/27 and had some really nice years throughout his career especially in 1996 with Colorado where he hit 40 home runs, stole 32 bases, scored 142 runs, and slashed .344/.408/.639.  This was Score’s first year of issuing cards so excitement was high and Burks’ rookie card was one of the goals during 1988.

Future Graded – 2018 Bowman Draft Chrome 1st Triston Casas

The top prospect on our Boston Red Sox Top 50 had his first card in the 2018 Bowman Draft set. Casas has the tools to develop into a force in a strong Boston lineup and has been heating up lately at AA Portland.

Goal – 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle

Similar to the T206 Honus Wagner piece, this card transcends the industry and is iconic across the board. The interesting thing is that this isn’t even his rookie card, which is almost always worth more than 2nd year cards. Honorable Mention: 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly

Jobber – 1986 Topps Ed Whitson

After pitching well with the Padres and Giants, Whitson signed with the Yankees and spent 2 years in New York finishing with a 15-10 record, a 5.38 ERA, and breaking a 57-year-old man’s arm. Yep, you read that right. Whitson was not only a Jobber but also a bully. His manager, Billy Martin, always got the best out of his players but Whitson didn’t take too kindly to Martin’s coaching and decided to break his arm during a bar fight. And we don’t condone that.

401k Piece – 1990 Score Kevin Maas

Kevin Maas took the league by storm hitting 21 home runs in 254 at bats after being promoted on June 29th in 1990. He played in the Media Capital of New York and was going to fund our retirement accounts once he retired. The problem is, he didn’t cooperate in that fantasy and he was out of baseball after 22 games in 1995 for Minnesota.

Future Graded – 2020 Bowman Chrome Jasson Dominguez

The much-hyped July 2019 International signee has some loud tools and ranks first on our New York Yankees Top 50 List.  As much potential as he has, he is only 18 years old and is years away from the major leagues. If you’re a gambling person, take the chance to sell high on him, if you can. Is it worth the gamble to hold onto his cards when they are rather high very now?

 

Goal – 2006 Bowman Chrome Evan Longoria

Tampa doesn’t have the history like the Yankees or most other teams so the obvious choice here is one of their finest players, Evan Longoria. Longo was the 3rd pick in the 2016 Draft and rose quickly through the organization before debuting in the majors in 2008 and won Rookie of the Year and played in the World Series where his team lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. Think about that. You’re two years out of college and are appearing in the World Series in your first year in the majors. He played with Tampa until he was traded to San Francisco after the 2017 season but is the all-time Rays leader in many offensive categories.

Jobber – 1998 Upper Deck Kevin Stocker

Stocker had a pretty solid rookie season for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993, hitting .324 with a .409 OBP. He was dealt to the Rays during the 1997 Expansion Draft for Bobby Abreu, who had a pretty good career making this probably the only lopsided deal Tampa has ever made that was not in their favor. Stocker ended his career with a .254 average and 23 home runs over almost 2300 at-bats. Jobber.

401k Piece – 2003 Topps B.J. Upton

As with Longoria, the Rays don’t have many players to choose from but Upton was highly touted when he was drafted and had good potential. As the 2nd overall pick in the 2002 draft, hopes were high for the shortstop and, while he had some nice seasons, he never developed into a superstar.

Future Graded – 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Wander Franco

The number one prospect in our Tampa Bay Top 50 and also on our overall Top 197 List is very close to the majors and the prices of his cards already reflect the high esteem that Franco is held in the industry. He has all the makings to fulfill the predictions of greatness everyone forecasts.

 

Goal – 1980 Topps Dave Stieb

You would think a team with as many winning seasons as the Blue Jays would have a better choice here but most of their better players were imported from other teams – Rickey Henderson, Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, to name a few. As far as hometown player goals, Dave Stieb is the choice. He won the second most games in the ’80s, is a member of the Canadian Hall of Fame, and had a great mustache, although his rookie card doesn’t show it.

Jobber – 1981 Donruss Danny Ainge

Ainge played 14 years in the NBA winning 2 championships with the Boston Celtics and made the 1988 All-Star team. He was a hustler on the court, often trash-talking his opponents and scrapping with them. If we judged him by his NBA career, he’d be a mid-carder but he played with the Blue Jays for three years, batting .220 during his career. Going by the baseball numbers, he was indeed a Jobber.

401k Piece – 1986 Topps Cecil Fielder

Fielder’s card is similar to the Randy Johnson rookie where he didn’t gain entry into this special club until a few years after the card was produced, which meant quite a few of his cards could have been eaten or set on fire, which limited their availability. The first basemen was on his way to Jobber status until a season overseas turned him into “Wild Bear.” He came back to the AL, signing with Detroit, and hit 51 home runs for the Tigers, sparking a massive interest in his rookie cards.

Future Graded – 2021 Bowman Chrome 1st Austin Martin

Martin sort of fell into Toronto’s lap with the 5th pick in last year’s Draft, as many people predicted he would go first or second. He does rank 1st overall in our Toronto Top 50 which is a great consolation for him. Martin brings an advanced hit tool to his game and should move quickly to the majors.

 

AL Central

 

Goal – 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas

The Big Hurt enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with Chicago ending his playing days with a .419 OBP and 521 home runs. He was a 5 time All-Star and won the AL MVP Award twice and was among the most feared hitters of his generation.

Jobber – 1991 Upper Deck Michael Jordan

Air Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time and perhaps the most competitive human being on the planet. However, we can’t let those heroics blind us to the reality of his baseball career. He never made the major leagues but slashed .202/.289/.266 in 436 at bats for Double-A Birmingham in 1994. He did steal 30 bases but was caught stealing 18 times. Did he have potential to turn into a mid-carder? Absolutely. But potential doesn’t prevent us from calling him a Jobber, for perhaps the only time in his life.

401k Piece – 1991 Upper Deck Alex Fernandez

Fernandez was Chicago’s 1st round pick in 1990 and debuted in the majors a few months later going 5-5 with a 3.80 ERA. He was part of the Mount Rushmore of future retirement vessels along with Brien Taylor, Todd Van Poppel and Ben McDonald from that era. Can anyone say Enron?

Future Graded – 2019 Bowman Draft 1st Chrome Andrew Vaughn

Vaughn was the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 draft after dominating in college. He made his debut earlier this season and is playing well for the team. Vaughn is our Top Ranked Chicago White Sox prospect and the future looks bright for him.



Goal – 1992 Upper Deck Jim Thome

Thome was one of the best hitters on those stacked Cleveland teams of the ’90s. Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga and a number of other hitters formed a young nucleus that contended for many years. Of all the players, Thome was the most successful, having been elected into the Hall of Fame in 2018 after hitting 612 home runs in his career.

Jobber – 2020 Bowman Logan Allen

Just like Topps is doing with Jordan Yamamoto, they’ve created a Mount Rushmore of readily available autographed cards of middling pitchers who’ll be told they can’t play the game quite soon. Allen has struggled in his short time in the majors which bodes well for Jobber status.

401k Piece 1989 Topps Mark Lewis

Lewis was an exciting draft pick for Cleveland in 1988 after dominating high school. His career never quite panned out after hitting 48 home runs in 11 years.

Future Graded – 2016 Bowman Chrome 1st Nolan Jones

Jones has been around for a few years and is very close to making the majors. He checks in at the top spot in our Cleveland Top 50 List.  Jones was drafted as a third baseman but has also played games at first and outfield in an attempt to get his bat in the lineup.

 

Goal – 1992 Upper Deck Cecil Fielder

I can pretty much guarantee this card probably won’t show up on many lists as goal pieces but there’s so much going on with this card, how could it not? The Chicken was the mascot for San Diego in the NL. The Tigers play in the AL. This card photo would have been taken in 1991, which was 6 years before Interleague Play became a thing. San Diego plays their Spring Training games in Arizona and the Tigers play in Florida. It looks like that picture was taken at Tiger Stadium so why would the Chicken be there? And why is Fielder sitting down with such a smile on his face? What was the Chicken pointing at? Who put that towel around Fielder’s neck? What’s in the cooler in Fielder’s hand? I have so many questions that need answering. Honorable Mentions: 1978 Topps Lou Whitaker, 1978 Topps Alan Trammell

Jobber – 1988 Donruss Jim Morrison

The one amazing thing about this Jobber is never talked about – the resurrection of the former lead singer of the rock group, The Doors. After dying on July 3, 1971, Morrison came back to life as a third basemen for the Pirates and Tigers but never reached the same superstar status in baseball as he did in the music world. What could his career have been like if he focused his full attention on baseball during his earlier years? We’ll never know.

401k Piece – 1999 Upper Deck Matt Anderson

Anderson was the first overall pick in the 1997 Draft after a successful career in college. He was a fireballer, hitting upwards of 100 MPH on his fastball but, like with other flamethrowers, injuries derailed his career leaving us with another what-if tale.

Future Graded – 2020 Bowman Draft Spencer Torkelson

Torkelson was the first pick in the 2020 Draft and is among the top current prospects in baseball. He’s on the fast track to the major leagues in an improving Detroit lineup and looks to be their cornerstone first basemen or third basemen moving forward. As expected, Torkelson ranked first on our Detroit Tigers Top 50 list.

 

Goal – 1987 Topps Bo Jackson

One of the finest athletes in history and also one of the most popular what-if tales. If Jackson had stayed healthy, he could have been a Hall of Famer in two sports. Jackson had speed, power and a cannon for an arm. He rivaled Michael Jordan at the time for most famous athlete as his Nike “Bo Knows” campaign was everywhere. This card is definitely not as valuable as many other Royals cards but it’s iconic to Bps, as it took 49 episodes to achieve getting it in a pack. Honorable Mention: 1975 Topps George Brett

Jobber – 1990 Upper Deck Bill Buckner

Buckner had a very solid career but look at that tunnel between his legs. It reminds us of a dark time in Red Sox history. Buckner was an All-Star in 1981 and ended his career with a .289 average but he’ll always be remembered for the error in the 1986 World Series.

401k Piece 1989 Donruss Tom Gordon

Flash was a top prospect for the Royals and had some good years as a closer later in his career. This card was pretty hyped in 1989.

Future Graded – 2020 Bowman Chrome Bobby Witt Jr.

The son of the former major league pitcher with the same name, Witt impressed greatly during Spring Training, prompting talk of him making the major leagues on Opening Day. That, obviously, didn’t happen but Witt is on the fast track to stardom. Our top ranked Kansas City prospect is a five-tool player who should see the majors quite soon.

 

Goal – 1985 Topps Kirby Puckett

The accolades and awards that Puckett earned during his career are amazing – 10 time All-Star, 2 time World Series champion, 6 time Gold Glove winner and many more. Puckett’s 11 year career ended too soon as he was diagnosed with glaucoma (an eye disease) in 1996 which forced him to retire. He died at the young age of 45 in 2006 after suffering a stroke, 5 years after being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Jobber – 1987 Fleer Steve Lombardozzi

Lombardozzi may have been named after WWE Wrestler, Steve Lombardi, because both truly excelled as Jobbers in their respective fields. Our Jobber hit 5 home runs and slashed .260/.292/.333 across 6 seasons in the majors.

401k Piece 1990 Score Chuck Knoblauch

Before he had a case of the Yips, Knoblauch was a great leadoff hitter for the Twins. He won the Rookie of the Year award and a World Series title in 1991, playing solid defense and stealing over 40 bases three years in a row. He was ranked high on Minnesota lists in 1990 and getting his card was considered a good asset for future investments but his Yips and legal troubles after he retired prevented that from happening.

Future Graded – 2016 Bowman Draft Chrome Alex Kirilloff

Kirilloff is the top ranked prospect on our Minnesota Top 50 list and was promoted to the majors recently and played well after a slow start. He strained his wrist and landed on the Injured List just when he was heating up, but just returned and we’re looking for big things from the budding superstar.

 

AL West

Goal – 1965 Topps Joe Morgan

Even though Morgan is known more for his years with the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970’s, he started his career with Houston in 1965. Morgan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 after winning 2 MVP awards and being elected to 10 All-Star games in his career. Honorable Mentions: 1981 Topps Nolan Ryan

Jobber – 1991 Fleer Tuffy Rhodes

Rhodes is best known for his Opening Day feat in 1994 when he hit three home runs, making him the first National League player to ever do that. Those jacks were almost 25% of the total home runs he hit in his career in the states. But in Japan, he totaled 464 home runs before retiring at 40 years old after the 2009 season. If I was writing this outside of the Kintetsu Buffaloes Park rather than Citizen Bank Park, he would be listed above in the goal section. Since I can’t change my location right now, Rhodes must be labeled a Jobber.

401k Piece – 1990 Donruss Eric Anthony

After dominating the minor leagues, Houston was excited to promote Anthony to the major leagues in 1989 where he hit a home run in his 2nd game. He went on to show power sporadically throughout the his 9 year career but never developed into the player everyone had hoped.

Future Graded – Cristian Javier

Javier barely exhausted his prospect status by 4 innings pitched last year but he’s the pick here. The Astros have many other good prospects on their Top 50 List but Javier’s success this year pushed him here and a Future Graded doesn’t always have to be a rookie. Javier has thrown well during his time in the major leagues averaging almost 10 K/9 with a WHIP under 1.00.

 

Goal – 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout

Baseball’s best player since his rookie year has to be the team’s goal. Trout came up in 2011 and struggled out of the gate hitting .220/.281/.390 in 123 at bats. But the next year, he won Rookie of the Year Award and finished 2nd in MVP voting. He hasn’t finished lower than 5th in MVP voting in any of the years he’s played.

Jobber – 1987 Topps Jack Lazorko

This Jobber appeared in 69 games in 5 years finishing his career with a 5-8 record, 2 saves and a 4.22 ERA. The name alone would have included him on this list but his numbers amplify his Jobber status.

401k Piece – 1986 Fleer Baseball’s Best Wally Joyner

In 1986, they didn’t produce baseball cards digitally or release them the day after they debuted in the major leagues like they do know. If a hot rookie, like Wally Joyner, was called up, you had to wait until the card companies produced their Traded/Updated/Rookie sets usually in October. However, this Joyner card was different. Fleer didn’t wait until their Updated Set to release a Joyner card. They put Joyner into this 33-card set that was found at any store across the country in the middle of the summer and it was a great feeling to see this as you were thumbing through the set.

Future Graded – 2017 Bowman Draft Chrome Jo Adell

Adell exhausted his rookie eligibility last year after struggling mightily in his debut season. He’s currently in the minor leagues working to get himself back on track. There is too much talent here to see him not succeed, so this could be a great buy-low opportunity here. The Angels have other interesting options in their system as noted in their Top 50 list but none have the potential to be as good as Adell can be.

Goal – 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco

The Henderson was a great card and, to this day, is a still beautiful piece, but in 1980 the card business wasn’t as big as it was in 1986, so pulling a Henderson wasn’t quite the same feeling as opening a pack of 1986 Donruss and seeing this guy looking back at you. And without this card, I wouldn’t be here typing this since Mr. Canseco is my hero, inspiration and idol. No other player won Rookie of the Year Award in the American League in 1986 except Jose Canseco and nobody will ever do that. Canseco is also the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same year. While that feat was done a few times more, nobody will ever do that first besides Jose. Honorable Mention: 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson

Jobber – 2020 Bowman Gus Varland

The third player on the Topps Mount Rushmore of Jobber Pitchers, joining the two we previously discussed (Yamamoto and Allen). The fourth is none other than Philadelphia Phillie, Damon Jones. Varland may develop into a serviceable major league pitcher but the odds are against Jobbers from changing their Jobberist ways.

401k Piece – 1991 Score Todd Van Poppel

This card is perhaps the finest example of a 401k Piece. Van Poppel was the product of major hype even before getting drafted due to his asking price. He actually fell to Oakland with the 14th pick in the 1990 draft. Think about it this way – the best pitcher in the Draft was going to the World Series runner-ups Oakland Athletics, who were on top of the world after appearing in three straight Fall Classics. Van Poppel was rushed to the majors because he signed a major league contract and never quite developed into the ace he was supposed to be but seeing his rookie card in a pack was a sure ticket to early retirement.

Future Graded – 2020 Bowman Draft Chrome Tyler Soderstrom

Soderstrom, a second generation ballplayer, was Oakland’s first round pick in the 2020 Draft. He’s expected to move quickly to the big leagues provided he continue to show his advanced hit-tool. He was ranked 2nd on our Oakland Top 50 right behind A.J. Puk who seems to be too injury prone to invest in over Soderstrom.

 

 

Goal – 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.

The story behind this card is pretty neat. This is an airbrushed card of “The Kid” in his Seattle uniform from a San Bernardino Spirits uniform. Upper Deck chose Griffey, instead of other players, to be the #1 card in their first produced set. The card quickly became a hot seller the day it was released giving us all hope of rivaling the Mantle card in value in future years. While it never came to that, the card still costs a pretty penny today.

Jobber – 1988 Fleer Mike Jackson

Jackson is our 2nd former singer on the list after Detroit’s Jim Morrison. After starting out with his brothers in the Jackson 5 (all former big-leaguers Tito Landrum, Randy Johnson, Jermaine Dye, Marlon Byrd) he went solo and produced some of the highest sold albums in history. Once he tired of the music scene, he became a solid middle reliever for 17 years in the big leagues even saving 40 games in 1988.

 

401k Piece – 1985 Fleer Alvin Davis

The 1985 AL Rookie of the Year started his career off strongly showing power and a solid average. He teamed with Phil Bradley, Jim Presley and others to give Seattle fans hope of contention but it never came to be. Davis left Seattle as a free agent and played one more year in the majors.

Future Graded – 2019 Bowman Chrome 1st Julio Rodriguez

Rodriguez is the 2nd ranked prospect in our Seattle Top 50 but should move to 1st with Kelenic promoted and looking like he’s ready to stay in the big leagues (albeit some early struggles). JRod has massive power and potential to hit for high average and should be part of a rebuilding Mariners team that should contend for years to come.

Goal – 1989 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan

This card truly encaptures the greatness of the Ryan Express. He’s on a baseball field throwing a football having a good time while his teammates are getting ready for the season. Who in their right mind would ask Ryan to practice his fastball after all of the success he already had in his career? I definitely would not. In fact, I’d encourage him to continue doing whatever made him the Hall of Fame pitcher that he ended up being.

Jobber – 1990 Donruss Blue Baseball’s Best Geno Petralli

Petralli played 12 years in the majors, finishing his career with 24 home runs with a .267 average. He was mostly a backup catcher who probably stayed in the majors that many years because of his defense or maybe even because of the leadership or intangible skills that people value highly. Who knows why but we do know one thing. He was a Jobber. It’s curious why Donruss included him in their Blue subset of Baseball’s Best. Maybe someday they’ll reveal that mystery to the public.

401k Piece – 1990 Donruss Juan Gonzalez

A hot rookie card is always in high demand. An error card is always in high demand. It’s so rare to find a rookie error card like this Juan Gonzales piece. This is like when Bobby Rayburn signed with the San Francisco Giants in the movie “The Fan.” A magical conjunction like the alignment of planets, as Robert DeNiro’s character Gil Renard said. Gonzalez’s career was controversial with accusations and rumors of steroid use but he ended his career with 2 MVP awards and solid overall numbers.

Future Graded – 2021 Bowman Chrome Maximo Acosta

As improved as the Rangers farm system is, there is no sure-thing future star here like in other systems. Acosta is young but there is potential for speed and power to go with his ability to hit and his Bowman cards are currently very popular. He was ranked 6th in our Texas Top 50 list.

 




About Tony Bps 50 Articles
Tony Bps Spina is a lifelong baseball fan hailing from the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia! Tony has loved baseball since 1980 and has followed the Phillies through good and bad times. Tony is married with 3 kids and works for a financial institution but has enough free time to play in 20 fantasy baseball leagues with 75% of them being Dynasty Leagues. He lives a few blocks away from Citizens Bank Park and attends many Phillies games per year in addition to their minor league teams in Lehigh Valley and Reading. He can be reached on Twitter at @TonyBps1.

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