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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.