Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Last Pick-up of 2017

So, here it is… my last pick-up of 2017.

It’s the 303rd signed card in my all-time Brewers collection. I actually have a longer post about some recent pick-ups for that binder, but I’ve decided to put it off until I get a COMC order that was my Christmas present to myself so I can do a whole project update thing at once.

But for now, we’ve got Dante. Most will remember Bichette as a four-time All Star with the Rockies, a slugger who placed second in the NL MVP voting in 1995 as the Rox won a playoff spot in just their third year of existence. He nearly won the award, finishing just behind Barry Larkin. But Bichette spent two years in Milwaukee before becoming one of the original Blake Street Bombers as a semi-regular right fielder. On the 1992 Brewers, which won 92 games and almost upset the Blue Jays for the division title, he batted .287 with 18 steals.

After the season, the Brewers – with Darryl Hamilton ready to start in right – traded Bichette to the brand-new Rockies in exchange for Kevin Reimer. The swap came as the Brewers were still “trying” to resign Paul Molitor. But, since Reimer was primarily a DH, it indicated the Brewers were resigned to losing the franchise icon to free agency. I wrote a whole thing on this awful period in franchise history about a year ago… it’s pretty good and it conveys some of the things I feel when I look at this card.

Funny thing about Bichette is that I remember him being a beast in Colorado, kind of a lower-level Larry Walker. But he ends up being one of these guys that advance stats casts a much different light upon. He had a decent three-year peak, but had very few walks for a power guy (just 22 walks in his near-MVP season of 1995), was a terrible fielder, and had some pretty wicked home/away splits. But most stunning – to me, anyway – was that for his career, which included 274 homers, over 1,000 RBI, nearly 2,000 hits – he totaled just 5.5 WAR according to baseball reference. I know that some people deathly hate WAR. I’m not at all sold on it as the elusive “God Stat” that will settle every baseball argument ever, but I do find it to be a useful jumping off point for stat discussions. And here is a guy who actually got three Hall of Fame votes in 2007 – who has a lower career WAR than Jonathan Villar.

And this is what I love about collecting. Here is a card I picked up for a few bucks because I needed it to fill a spot in one of my binders, and it told me a little story. Even the card itself – 1992 Leaf – brings me back to an aisle at our local ShopKo when I was ten years old, talking my mom into buying me a few packs on every shopping trip and being THRILLED when I pulled a Gold Rookie of Steve Hosey or some other such flop. It was a nice way to end my collecting year.

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