24991171_824422467766453_2842158090274850389_n.pngOur first past season offering is now up and available on the Store!

Presenting the 2001 season, where Arizona toppled New York (A) in a thrilling best-of-7 championship series.

The year also featured a 116-46 finish for Seattle, one of the greatest regular season performances of all time.

In the NL Central, Houston and St. Louis finished tied for the division lead, with Chicago just 5 games behind them.

In fact, no NL division was won by more than 2 games, with Arizona narrowly edging out San Francisco in the West and Atlanta beating Philadelphia in the East. The 3rd place teams in each division finished just six back. Plenty of exciting division races in the Senior Circuit.

In the AL, New York and Seattle crushed their divisional foes, but the Central was narrowly won by Cleveland, with Minnesota and Chicago each within 8 games.

A 102-win Oakland team rounded out the playoff picture as the AL Wild Card representative.

Here’s a brief look at some of the set highlights.

All teams shown next to player names are the team on which the player card appears.

Hitting

Most Deep Drive Readings

SFG Barry Bonds              13
CHC Sammy Sosa               11
COL Todd Helton              11

Bonds set the controversial record of 73 home runs in 2001 and also hit 107 extra-base hits, tied for 3rd best of all-time. Helton’s 105 XBH is 5th best all-time and Sosa’s 103 is tied for 6th best. Not pictured here – the other five players who are among the 100 all-time highest marks for extra-base hits in a season!

Most Deep Drive Home Runs

STL Mark McGwire             83
OAK Greg Myers               75
SFG Barry Bonds              65
CHW Jose Canseco             63
CLE Jim Thome                61

Big Mac had 29 home runs with just 4 doubles, so if you end up in that Deep Drive section of the card, you can be pretty certain it’s going out of the park.

Most On-Base Chances

SFG Barry Bonds              33
OAK Jason Giambi             28
COL Larry Walker             28
HOU Lance Berkman            26

Bonds had a ridiculous .515 On-Base Percentage in 2001. That was helped a bit by the 35 intentional passes he received, of course. That helps explain how Larry Walker (.449 OBP, 6 IBB) is only 5 chances behind him.

Most Strike Out Readings

CLE Russell Branyan          28
STL Mark McGwire             24
MIL Jose Hernandez           23
SDP Ray Lankford             23
CHC Todd Hundley             23

Branyan struck out in more than one-third of all plate appearances, but there are some free-swingers in this set for sure.

Top Base Stealers

HOU Glen Barker             10+F
DET Roger Cedeno             5 B
NYY Alfonso Soriano          5 C
LAD Tom Goodwin              5 C
SDP Emil Brown               5 C

Barker appeared in 70 games for Houston, entering as a pinch-runner in 30 of those appearances. But after going just 4-for-10 in stolen base attempts, you may want to put the brakes on this (F) runner or just use him as a late-inning defensive sub (CF-4).  League-leader Ichiro Suzuki (56 SB) is a 4A.

Pitching

Fewest Deep Drive Readings – Starters

BOS Pedro Martinez           0
OAK Tim Hudson               1
CHC Kerry Wood               1
LAD Kevin Brown              1

Pedro and Brown didn’t have enough innings to qualify for the league ERA titles, but they were filthy when present.

Most Deep Drive Readings – Starters

TEX Rick Helling             10
TEX Rob Bell                 10
MIN J.C. Romero              10

Helling allowed a league-worst 38 long balls in 2001.

Fewest Deep Drive Readings – Relievers

NYY Mariano Rivera *         rare 6
SEA Jeff Nelson              rare 6
CHW Keith Foulke *           rare 7
KCR Cory Bailey              rare 8

Not exactly surprising names up top. Batters hit just .136 off of Jeff Nelson and .209 off of Rivera. If you’re wondering why they have the same “rare 6” readings, check out the difference in defensive ratings behind those pitchers. Mo needs a little extra help to make up for some shortcomings in the field.

Fewest On-Base Chances – Starters

BOS Pedro Martinez           8
ARI Randy Johnson            10
CHW Mark Buehrle             10

Already mentioned Pedro’s dominance when available, but Big Unit had a 1.01 WHIP in his 249.2 innings pitched. Buehrle’s 1.07 stands out in the AL.

Fewest On-Base Chances – Relievers

SEA Arthur Rhodes            6
SFG Robb Nen *               7
NYY Mariano Rivera *         7

Rivera’s 50 saves and Nen’s 45 were tops in their leagues, thanks in part to keeping runners off base. Rhodes is an elite setup man in Seattle with a 0.85 WHIP.

Most Strikeout Readings – Starters

ARI Randy Johnson            28
BOS Pedro Martinez           27
ARI Curt Schilling           20
CHC Kerry Wood               20
BOS Hideo Nomo               18

Johnson fanned 13.4 men per 9 innings, which is 2.2 better than the 2nd place guy in the league – Wood. That’s among qualifiers, of course, which means you get a stellar card for Pedro again. Johnson’s teammate, Schilling, helps form a terrifying duo in the Arizona rotation.

Most Strikeout Readings – Relievers

TOR Dan Plesac               28
CHC Tom Gordon *             27
SEA Arthur Rhodes            24
SEA Jeff Nelson              24
HOU Octavio Dotel            24

Plesac struck out nearly 36% of all batters faced. Still, with that 0 Endurance rating and 5 hard ground out readings on his card, you’ll be saving him for just the right situations, say men on base and less than two outs?

Best Hold Ratings – Starters

CIN Osvaldo Fernandez        -10
CHC Jon Lieber               -3

We get one of those infamous “minus tens” in this set.

Fewest Fielding Checks – Starters

ARI Randy Johnson            3
BOS Hideo Nomo               3
CLE CC Sabathia              3
CHC Kerry Wood               3
BOS Pedro Martinez           3

High strikeout guys are always good for keeping the ball out of play, but a guy who walked a ton like Sabathia (14 SO chances, 9 BB chances) is also good for it.

Teams With No Rated Closers

ATL                      
BAL                      
MON                      
PIT

You’ll have to mix-and-match with these teams who dealt their regular closers before season’s end.

Fielding

Top Catcher Arms

HOU Brad Ausmus              -1
SEA Dan Wilson               -1
STL Mike Matheny             -1
CIN Jason LaRue              -1
MIN A.J. Pierzynski          -1
TEX Ivan Rodriguez           -1
PHI Todd Pratt               -1
PHI Mike Lieberthal          -1

You got to have Pudge with a -1, right? Also two Philadelphia catchers in the mix. Oh, and look, Seattle gets a -1 back there as well. As if they weren’t already stacked enough!

Worst Catcher Arms

BOS Scott Hatteberg          +2

Boston allowed 223 stolen bases in 2001, which was 66 worse than anybody else.

Best Fielders

COL Todd Helton              1B-5
ANA Scott Spiezio            1B-5
TBD Steve Cox                1B-5
SFG Jeff Kent                2B-5
MIN Corey Koskie             3B-5
PHI Scott Rolen              3B-5
STL Placido Polanco          3B-5
COL Jeff Cirillo             3B-5
MON Orlando Cabrera          SS-5
ATL Rey Sanchez              SS-5
ATL Andruw Jones             CF-5
ANA Darin Erstad             CF-5
OAK Johnny Damon             CF-5
ATL Brian Jordan             RF-5
BAL Chris Richard            RF-5
PIT Armando Rios             RF-5

Presenting “The Fives”. It’s always difficult to compare these to the historical Gold Glove winners, particularly when that award is often given to either established names or players who are better known for their hitting than fielding. Still, Helton and Kent are the two names here who took home that piece of hardware.

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