by Phoenix Desertsong, Lifelong Sports Nut
If you’ve been following Major League Baseball top prospects for even just a few years, you will know the name of Jurickson Profar. He was a highly touted prospect for a reason. On his 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects card, you could see Jurickson simply oozing with talent. The smile on his face as he takes a practice swing in the photo screams a guy that just loves to play some baseball.
But, Profar didn’t get to play nearly as much baseball as he, the Rangers, baseball fans, and card collectors would’ve liked. Injury after injury kept eating into his playing time. When he would try to get a chance in the majors, he just couldn’t put things together before yet again losing a chunk of the season to some injury. Eventually, he finally got to play a full season, even if it took until 2018...
So, when he finally broke out with the Texas Rangers in 2018, it still felt like a disappointment. To hit .254 with 20 HR and 77 RBI - and stealing 10 bases WITHOUT being caught - would be a pretty nice season for most players. After years of getting hurt and not really establishing himself in his limited chances, 2018 was a nice break for Profar. He played all over the diamond, while mostly at third base and shortstop. Unfortunately, he didn’t rate well at any position on defense.
A Second Chance for Jurickson Profar?
The Rangers decided that they would sell high on Profar’s decent success with the bat and on the bases. They let him go to the Oakland A’s in a three team trade that netted them pitchers Kyle Bird and Brock Burke, as well as minor league infielder Eli White. Ironically, White is somewhat similar to what Profar has become - a guy without a position who’s useful enough with the bat and on the bases to have a role with some MLB team. Bird and Burke each had lousy MLB debuts, but both showed promise in the high minors.
The A’s were certainly disappointed in their return. They ended up trading Emilio Pagan and a competitive balance round draft pick to the Rays in the complex three team swap. Profar hit only .218/.301/.410 and was "worth" minus 10 runs at second base. Meanwhile, Emilio Pagan was one of the best relievers in baseball for the Rays. The Rangers are probably thrilled that they got what they did.
There were some positives. Profar still hit 20 HR. He stole 9 bases and was only caught once. The switch-hitter murdered left handed pitching. His batting average on balls in play was a piddly .218. Surely, you’d expect Profar to have a bit of positive regression, right?
A Third Chance for Profar with the Padres?
Being one of the most cost-conscious organizations in the league - to put it nicely - the A’s decided that they would cut bait on Profar. While a projection arbitration salary of $5.8 million is hardly awful for a guy who will likely perform closer to his 2018 than his 2019 results, the A’s decided to move on. They decided to swap their struggling infielder for catcher Austin Allen and a player to be named later.
After their trade of Luis Urias to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Padres had a three-way fight for playing time at second. Ian Kinsler was terrible in 2019. Greg Garcia is a useful utility Infielder quite likely stretched in full time duty. Ty France had monster AAA numbers and was the guy with the most upside. But, you can't blame the Padres for wanting somebody with Profar's pedigree.
Padres GM A.J. Preller is quite familiar with Profar from his days in the Texas front office. While the familiarity is certainly a factor, it's not like there wasn't a use for him. His Steamer projection for 2020 alone makes him a clear starter at second base even with his fielding difficulties.
Steamer 2020 Projection (125 games): .250/.331/.431, 18 HR, 67 R, 64 RBI, 7 SB
Because of his propensity for injury, his projection accounts for at least some missed time. But even if that time, FanGraphs has him bring worth 2.2 WAR. That's a slightly above average player. Going into his age 27 season and being projected to earn $5.8 million through arbitration is fine for the Padres. The A's just wanted to move on.
What did the Padres give up? Austin Allen didn’t impress in his major league debut, but scouts project him to grow into more of his raw power. He could be a nice find for the A’s, for sure, even if he’s just their third catcher at the moment. He’s not nothing, although a very underwhelming return considering what a star Profar was expected to be.
The good news for Profar is that he definitely has a starting job with the Padres. If he can get his throwing issues under control, he could be at least a passable defensive second baseman. As even a slightly below average fielder, his bat and speed are still good enough tools to make him a 3 WAR player. It would be good to see him hit the ball harder with more consistency. But, in just 2019, his expected wOBA was .323 VS his actual .301 wOBA was enough of a gap to show he was unlucky.
Will Profar reemerge in the baseball card hobby? Right now, it doesn’t seem like he will. It's highly unlikely he suddenly becomes a 30 HR & 100 RBI stud out of nowhere. Could he finally have some good batted ball luck and put together a really nice year, though? There may be some untapped potential there yet. In any case, it’s easy to like this trade for the Padres.
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
Relief pitchers are hardly a big deal in the baseball card hobby. Of course, guys like Dennis Eckersley and Lee Smith have their fans and collectors. But, a lot of the best relief pitchers out there, even the most consistent, don’t have much of a following. Still, when you’re building a dynasty baseball team out of cards from the Junk Wax era from 1987-1993, it’s good to find some diamonds in the rough, guys like Dale Mohorcic.
Who? Sure, Dale Mohorcic was never a household name. But in 1987, his efforts in relief for the Texas Rangers earned him 3.1 Wins Above Replacement for the Texas Rangers. That was a follow-up to a decent 1986 in which he earned 2.2 WAR. I’m sure you won’t hear people wax nostalgic about Dale, but he did have a couple of pretty good seasons as far as results are concerned.
Of course, with a strikeout rate of 4.3 K/9, that leaves a lot of your success up to the defense. Mohorcic’s FIP of 3.98 and FanGraphs WAR of 1.0 in 1987 (and 0.9 WAR in 1986) gives you more of an idea of the pitcher Mohorcic really was. Indeed, both his 1986 and 1987 seasons were fluky. He had a strand rate of 81.1% in 1986 and 80.1% in 1987, both of which are very high. He also had a BABIP of only .248, which is crazy low - although it was a more sustainable .295 in his good 1986 season.
So, who is Dale Mohorcic? Where did he come from, and what happened to him?
Dale Mohorcic the Journeyman
Mohorcic began his quest through the minor leagues began in the short-lived independent Northwest League with the Victoria Mussels. He was the ace of their staff in 1978 with a 2.02 ERA! Dale caught the attention of the Toronto Blue Jays, who purchased his contract. He was underwhelming in their farm system, though, and was released.
The Pirates were intrigued by Mohorcic, though, as a reliever. He actually enjoyed a fine season in 1980 mostly as a closer. The Pirates held onto him until after the 1984 season, trying him again as both a starter and a reliever, but he never really caught on. They let him go before the 1985 season.
He caught on again with the Texas Rangers and enjoyed a decent 1985 season in relief at AAA. He returned in 1986 and found his way to the majors.
After his strong 1987 season, he scuffled early on in the 1988 season. The Rangers decided to move on from him, deciding to try out Mitch Williams - who himself would struggle but become a pretty good pitcher soon after. Williams himself would be traded to the Cubs after the season in an otherwise underwhelming package for Jamie Moyer and Rafael Palmeiro, The Rangers won that trade. The Yankees picked up Mohorcic for Cecilio Guante, formerly a pretty strong reliever, but he only gave the Rangers 0.3 WAR for the rest of 1988 and 1989.
Mohorcic, on the other hand, actually pitched very well for New York, and gave the pinstripes 0.8 WAR in only 22 and two-thirds innings. He was dreadful in 1989 though, being “worth” -1.2 WAR. Mohorcic even spent time in the minors, where he actually pitched very well. Probably because of those good minor league innings, he did catch on in 1990 with the Montreal Expos, pitching well at AAA, and had OK results with 0.6 WAR in 53 innings with the big club. He hung up his cleats after that.
Dave Mohorcic as a Closer?
To be fair, Mohorcic isn’t really someone you’d consider a prototypical closer type pitcher. He walked guys liked a power pitcher, but struck out guys like a finesse pitcher. When he limited the walks, he was pretty successful. But, like a lot of relief guys that pitched to contact, you rely so much on the defense that it’s hard to stay consistent for long periods of time.
Mohorcic hearkens back to the old days of grinding out game after game. This is before bullpens became more specialized. You were either a mop-up guy or a back-end guy like a set-up man or a closer. Mohorcic gained a reputation in the minors as being a shutdown relief pitcher. While he didn’t blow anyone away with peripheral stats, it’s actually possible that Mohorcic could’ve kept pitching and ate some late innings for a few more years.
For my Junk Wax dynasty, I’d consider Mohorcic as a great candidate to serve as a middle reliever or a late inning guy strictly against right-handed batters in a 3+ run game. His platoon splits weren’t great (.247/.309/.364 against RHB and a whopping .305/.351/.446 against LHB). This was a guy who tied Mike Marshall for the major league record of pitching in 13 straight games. It’s hard not to want a guy like that on your team. He showed up and gave his best. In an age of bullpen specialization like today, he’d actually probably have fared a lot better.
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