Thursday, November 1, 2012

1990 CMC Set By the Numbers

One of the conclusions I expected to draw at the end of this project was a calculation of how badly the 1990 CMC set missed the mark on its original intention.

In the end, though, I came to understand how that original intention, the pre-rookie or tomorrow's stars today, no longer mattered.

What the makers of the 1990 CMC set ultimately provided was a wonderful snapshot on one minor league season. These were the players on these rosters, all in about the first week of May 1990.

These weren't all the prospects, though some of them were. Most of them, though, weren't. Often times, those that weren't provided the best stories.

So, with that, the question was, how to gauge player success?

All along, I made sure to keep track of the basic level of success, who made the major leagues.

That was a pretty black-and-white number. Either they made it, or they didn't.

As it happened, a total of 608 actually made the majors, some for as little as one game, two for even less than that. Those two, Terrel Hanson and Joe Law, provided two of the more compelling stories on paper, they each got called up, but never got into a game. But they're still counted here as major leaguers.

But that number means that another 283 players in the set never made the majors.

After they made the majors, how long did they stay? Or how long did they stay in the minors, working to ultimately get little or no time in the majors?

I ended up settling with a five-season major league test, a number that could cover five full seasons or even a game or two in each of five seasons. In that category, players who had at least one game in each of five seasons, there ended up being 271.

The 10 years in the minors count was a little more fluid, or a little less precise. That number came in at 163.

Another measure of success, or lack of success, was there these careers were five years later, in spring 1995. Players who had achieved success by then were in the majors and members of the player's association. Those who hadn't, weren't, and became targets to play in that spring's replacement games.

Though records aren't complete, by my count, about 117 of the players in the CMC set went on to play in replacement ball in spring 1995.

Then what of the players that made the majors? What did they do?

Five made the majors and made enough noise to win the Rookie of the Year award. David Justice took it home in 1990 with the Braves. Jeff Bagwell and Chuck Knoblauch took home the award in 1991; Tim Salmon in 1993 and Bob Hamelin in 1994.

The number of players in the set who went on to be a major league All-Star hit just 38.

Some also went on to win post-season honors. Three, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell and Juan Gonzalez, went on to win MVP awards. There were no Cy Young Award winners in the set.

As far as playing elsewhere, at least 60 of the players went on to play at some point in Japan, some, including Bobby Rose and Luis Lopez, starred there.

Then there is the ultimate level of success: The Hall of Fame. While none have gotten in yet, it appears at least one, and maybe a few others, will get there.

Thomas, with his 521 career home runs, appears to be the lock. He is first eligible on the 2014 ballot.

Already on the ballot, and collecting notable numbers, are Bagwell and Edgar Martinez. Bagwell pulled in 56 percent of the vote on the 2012 ballot, while Martinez pulled in 36.5 percent. Yet to hit the ballot are Curt Schilling, 2013, and Luis Gonzalez, 2014.

I think I may have one or two more posts, featuring some of my favorite stories and interviews. Then I'll get into some reposts and, likely along side those, some continuation of the main thrust of The Greatest 21 Days, player features.

1990 CMC Set By the Numbers
Cards Featured: 880; Players/Coaches Featured: 891; Made the Majors: 608; Never Made the Majors: 283; 5+ Seasons in the Majors: 271; 10+ Seasons in the Minors: 163; Replacement Players: 117; Rookie of the Year: 5; All-Stars: 38; Played in Japan: 60 MVP winners: 3; Cy Young winners: 0; Hall of Famers: 0, for now

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