A Look at Stats on the Backs of Baseball Cards

From SABR member Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus on May 11:

For many of us, the introduction to baseball statistics came not through reading magazines (or Baseball Prospectus) or watching games on television, but through our favorite childhood hobby, baseball cards. When you’re a card collector as a kid, you’re constantly handling your cards, memorizing the faces and poses on the front, and poring over the numbers on the back. Brilliant players like Barry Bonds or Mike Schmidt are obvious even to seven year old kids when compared to the more pedestrian players that make up the bulk of the set.

Thinking about baseball statistics one day, it occurred to me that fans who have trouble with advanced stats generally do so because they’re hung up on the more traditional stats, the “back of the baseball card” stats. If you’re first taste of statistics are from your baseball cards, and your baseball cards only tell you things like home runs, runs batted in, and batting average, maybe the resistance to advanced stats is understandable. I thought it might be informative, therefore, to take a look at the backs of baseball cards over the years and see exactly what stats have been offered. Did they change much in the past? Have they adapted to the new stats world of today?

Beginning in 1952, when Topps came onto the scene, I looked at the back of cards for position players for every regular set published (this includes Topps, Fleer, Donruss, Score, and Upper Deck). The stats offered on the backs of these cards are shown on the “cards” below (organized by manufacturer and decade).


Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=13888

Discussion: How did baseball cards shape your own view of stats? Tell us at SABRNation.

Originally published: May 12, 2011. Last Updated: May 12, 2011.