by Phoenix Desertsong, Sports Nut
Michael Young may never reach the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he did have a memorable career, the majority which was spent with the Texas Rangers. Despite strong fielding percentages and high batting averages, though, Young is seen by many analytically-inclined baseball fans as an overrated player. Still, the career .300 hitter was overall a slightly above-average hitter and while he was below average defensively at second base, he wasn’t that bad at his natural position.
For me, what really hurt Young’s overall value was being forced over to shortstop, where he was far below average, and later to third base where he was comparatively even worse. To be fair, the one year Young won the Gold Glove at shortstop, he was actually 9 runs above average by TotalZone’s measure, although he was -4 runs below average by Defensive Runs Saved metrics.
But in the baseball card hobby, we don’t really care about defensive statistics unless your name is Ozzie Smith. But, Smith also added considerable value on the basepaths with stolen bases. To be fair to Young, he only stole 90 bases in his career, but was only caught 30 times. Sure, that doesn’t touch Ozzie’s 580 SB, against only 148 times caught. Ozzie also spent most of his career with the Cardinals, a team that’s always done very well in the card collecting world.
While Michael Young isn’t a player with expensive cards, he’s still an interesting, inexpensive target for baseball card collectors. In fact, he shares some high-end targets with a Hall of Famer and a future Hall of Famer. Let’s take a look at the best Michael Young baseball cards, from his rookie cards, autograph cards, and other memorabilia cards.
Michael Young Rookie Cards
2000 Topps Traded #T46 Michael Young
Michael Young’s first rookie card is the 2000 Topps Traded #T46. It’s often available for $2 or less and shows him with his first team, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays would trade Young in July of 2000 along with Darwin Cubillan for pitcher Esteban Loaiza. It wasn’t a horrible trade, but the Jays would probably regret it.
Graded examples of this card are extremely rare, with only about 60 of each in PSA 9 and PSA 10 condition. Despite many being listed, they don’t sell that often. This set is mostly known for the Miguel Cabrera rookie card, of which there are 1677 graded PSA 10 copies. Interestingly, it’s a set full of decent rookie cards, including Adam Wainwright and Adrian Gonzalez.
The Chrome versions of 2000 Topps Traded, however, are much more plentiful for Michael Young, with about 125 of each PSA 9 and PSA 10 available. Like the base Traded graded copies, they simply don’t sell very often, despite being listed plenty often.
Michael Young Autograph and Memorabilia Cards2006 Topps Co-Signers Ozzie Smith / Michael Young Dual Autograph Card #CS-83
Prices range from $7.50 to $17.50 for this card! Michael Young also features on a couple other of Co-Signers cards with Nolan Ryan and Kevin Millwood.
2005 Topps Pristine Power Core Game Used BAT KNOB #MY Michael Young #’d to 5
Easily the best memorabilia card of Michael Young out there is the Game-Used Bat Knob from 2005 Topps Pristine. Only 5 copies were ever printed, and one sold for over $30 in January 2019.
Other Interesting Michael Young Baseball Cards
2003 Donruss Team Heroes #525 Michael Young
As a set full of some decent autograph cards, 2003 Donruss Team Heroes is a fairly valuable baseball card set. The Michael Young base card #525 is worth around $1 but the glossy version is worth $2 or more, as are most glossy base cards in the set. There’s also a version numbered to 20 which is valued at over $15. Overall, it’s a set you should be looking into, even if not specifically for Michael Young cards.
2006 Topps Changing Faces - Michael Young w/ Hank Blalock, Kevin Millwork, Mark Teixeira, and Nolan Ryan
If you’re a big Texas Rangers fan, this is a particularly interesting subset of the Co-Signers set. None of them are worth much over $10, but they are cool looking cards. They are also serial-numbered to various amounts, including some #’d to 25. The Nolan Ryan would be my favorite here, as the Ryan Express is a huge hobby favorite.
2008 Topps Update Black #UH127 Michael Young / Derek Jeter #’d to 57
While not a memorabilia card, this card numbered to only 57 copies features Jeter, a future Hall of Famer. For that reason alone, this card can fetch north of $10. In the same set is a Black parallel base card of Michael Young #635 also numbered to 57 copies that can command about $2. The card he shares with Jeter seems like an easy investment to me.
Investing in Michael Young Baseball Cards
While Michael Young was a pretty good player who had some truly All-Star seasons, and is remembered fondly by many Texas Rangers fans, Michael Young baseball cards are among the coldest in the hobby. While there are many graded examples of his Topps Traded rookie cards, they simply don’t find buyers often. Even cards that he shares with Hall of Fame or future Hall of Fame talents tend to sell on the low side.
If you’re looking to make money on your investment in Michael Young cards, the best way to go is to buy one of those cards he shares with Derek Jeter, Nolan Ryan, or Ozzie Smith - all hobby favorites. Numbered relic cards are also a nice investment, since they can be had for cheap, and they can later be sold as part of a player collection.
As with any hobby, you should invest in what you like. If you’re a Rangers fan, or believe Michael Young is a player worth collecting, he’s not a bad choice. He’s just not going to bring much return on your investment in the future.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Sports Nut
Digging through all those generally worthless “junk wax” baseball cards of 1987 to 1993, you’ll occasionally find a card that commemorates a great season of a not so famous player. However, to celebrate Bob Tewksbury becoming the Mental Skills Coach of the Chicago Cubs, we take a look at his finest season, which happens to fall right in the Junk Wax era. In building a “Junk Wax Dynasty” it’s important to consider Tewksbury’s 6.4 WAR season with the 1992 St. Louis Cardinals.
The 1992 Cardinals didn’t do much; at 83-79, they placed 3rd in the NL East. Ozzie Smith, Ray Lankford and even Bernard Gilkey were all-star level players that year, but it wasn’t quite enough for them to make the playoffs. Tewksbury pitched like an ace that year, and he never again had a season quite like it, although he was decent in 1993 (2.7 WAR) and had two 3+ WAR years with the Twins at the end of his career.
Interestingly, FanGraphs sees Tewksbury’s 1993 season more favorably than his 1992 season. That’s because FanGraphs uses FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) for its WAR calculation rather than ERA. But for purposes of “Junk Wax Dynasty” we are focusing on results, which is why we’re using Baseball Reference’s ERA/RA9 (Runs Allowed/9) based WAR. FanGraphs has Tewksbury’s 1992 season being worth 4.0 WAR and his 1993 season at 4.3 WAR, thanks to an inflated BABIP (batting average on balls in play).
One thing that FanGraphs does show us, though, is that Tewksbury was probably a better pitcher than his Baseball Reference page may suggest. On Baseball Reference, Tewksbury was worth 21.3 wins in a 13 year career, 10 of those full seasons. But FanGraphs sees him as worth 31.3 wins. That’s because in his “worst” years, he actually pitched better than the results would suggest.
Tewksbury only had a career strikeout rate of 4.04 K/9, but a walk rate of merely 1.45 BB/9. He rarely gave up homers (0.71 HR/9), but with a batting average of balls in play of .300, he relied heavily on his defense. His career ERA of 3.92 belied an FIP of 3.65. So, in reality, he was actually a slightly-above average pitcher who just had some bad luck with defense behind him.
In retrospect, Tewksbury’s 1993 season is actually better peripherally than his 1992 season. In 1992, he had a strikeout rate of merely 3.52 K/9 but a walk rate of only 0.77 BB/9. His strand rate was a high 80.8% and his BABIP only .257, which are big reasons why his 2.16 ERA was a mirage compared to his 3.14 FIP. His 1993 season featured a 4.09 K/9 and a 0.84 BB/9. But he suffered from a .316 BABIP and a more “normal” 70.3% strand rate (career 68.5%).
Still, Tewksbury was actually the pitcher that a lot of teams thought that he was, a workhorse that kept you in games. Suffice it to say, the Yankees should’ve never traded Tewksbury for Steve Trout to the Cubs. Unfortunately for Tewks, he didn’t pitch well for the Cubs and spent a lot of time in the minors until the Cubs let him go and the Cardinals picked him up. He pitched quite well for the Cardinals at AAA, and the rest is history.
If you’re looking to build a team with players from only 1987-1993, consider adding a 1992 Bob Tewksbury to your pitching staff. Heck, even a 1993 Bob Tewksbury would make a fine fourth or fifth starter. At the very least, you know he’ll do all he can to keep you in the game. He was definitely a mentally skilled pitcher, and perhaps, was actually pretty underrated in his time.
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