Thursday, March 28, 2013

1989 Topps Dennis Eckersley

For most players from this time, more often than not, their 1989 Topps card is the one I most associate with a player. And Dennis Eckersley's card is no exception. At this point, he'd made a pretty decent run with is career.
He was a two-time All-Star, finished in the top 7 for the Cy Young award twice and was a 20-game winner with the Red Sox. According to his Baseball-Reference profile, Eck had led the league in other ratio categories but his 1988 Saves total of 45 was the first of the categories normally recognized by a Topps baseball card.
Are these first ballot Hall of Fame stats?!?

It was one shy of Dave Righetti's fairly recent MLB record of 46 and as recently as 1982, John Hiller had held the record for 10 years with 38. Granted, just a few years after Eck's 45, Bobby Thigpen would obliterate it with 57, but at the time it was huge, especially for a converted starter. The times, they were a'changing.

Looking into my crystal ball, I see that Eckersley would only lead the league once more in Saves, although he would be in the top 5 six other times. He certainly passes the Hall of Fame sniff test. But after looking closer at his stats, aside from playing on a couple of better teams earning him a few World Series appearances, I'm not sure how he got in before Lee Smith.

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