Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This Time Last Year in Topps Now Part 2

It’s already time for another “This Time Last Year in Topps Now” post.

A year ago today, John Lackey became the 16th person in MLB history to have earned a victory against all 30 teams. On one hand, that sounds impressive. Thousands of pitchers over the years and only 16 have accomplished that feat?

But realistically, this could only have been done beginning in the 1998 season when the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays joined the league to make an even 30 teams. Since then, there is an average of just below one pitcher per season added to the list. When you factor in the introduction of interleague play the year before, this feat isn’t nearly as impossible as the small list implies.

In fact, less than a month after Lackey, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals defeated his former team, the Detroit Tigers to become the 17th person.

And as of this post, 9 more active pitchers sit on the cusp at 29 teams beaten. Among them is Lackey’s current teammate, Jake Arrieta. The only team he hasn’t beaten? The Cubs. I don’t know that Arrieta’s career will end with the Cubs but here’s hoping!

Despite what the back of the card tells us, I would hardly say this list contains all-time greats aside from the already mentioned Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

I guess Barry Zito was a Cy Young winner and a couple of other guys had All-Star selections. Maybe Scherzer eventually, but his feat was after this card so they weren't thinking about him. Two characteristics specifically jump out at me when scrolling down this list of names. Team hopping or longevity. Or in the case of most, both.

However, I don’t mean to poo-poo all over this stat, as it really is quite an accomplishment. So let’s take a look at how Lackey got there.

In his MLB career, Lackey spent 8 seasons with the Angels, 3 ½ with the Red Sox, 1 ½ with the Cardinals and the past season plus with the Cubs. Here are the teams in order of his first win against them.
Dodgers 6/30/2002
Mariners 7/26/2002
Tigers 8/5/2002
Blue Jays 8/10/2002
Indians 8/16/2002
(Devil) Rays 8/27/2002
Orioles 9/1/2002
Rangers 9/26/2002
A’s 4/11/2003
Yankees 5/13/2003
Phillies 6/10/2003
Twins 7/13/2003
Cubs 6/11/2004
White Sox 7/6/2004
Royals 8/24/2004
Rockies 6/26/2006
Red Sox 7/30/2006
Reds 6/13/2007
Mets 6/17/2008
Nationals 6/23/2008
Giants 6/15/2009
Angels 5/5/2010
Diamondbacks 6/17/2010
Brewers 6/17/2011
Astros 4/28/2013
Padres 7/2/2013
Braves 5/28/2014
Pirates 8/25/2014
Marlins 8/15/2015
Cardinals 4/18/2016

Although it took a couple of tries for Lackey to beat some of the teams, there was no way he could have done this any sooner because 4/18/2016 was the first time he faced the Cardinals in his career.

As with the Addison Russell card, this one has a short print run (shortest among all Cubs cards at 244 copies) and the value has skyrocketed. Also like the Russell card, I picked this one up on the secondary market originally for less than the $10 list price.

I did a quick search but I couldn’t find any readily available data about pitchers who have lost to all 30 teams. I thought that would be an easier feat to accomplish seeing as you only need to face one batter to get a loss but face 15+ as a starter to get a win. But on the flip side, such futility might not yield the opportunity to continue to lose.

Certainly the guys on the winner list have the appearance count to have made it happen but I’m too lazy to look them all up individually. Lackey, for the record, has only lost to 27 teams, remaining undefeated against Diamondbacks, Mets and Nationals.

*Edit: Had some time to kill so looked up a few of the other guys on the list. More on that in a day or two.

1 comment:

  1. I think the line about all-time greats is just lazy writing.