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The 10 most under-appreciated players of the 1990s: #6 Shane Mack

Posted by Andy

Shane Mack checks in at #6 on our countdown.

Let me talk about the card first...I've already featured a Stadium Club card on this countdown, but this card was too interesting to pass up. In no particular order, here are some comments about this card:

  • It's got the full-bleed photo on the front as well as a full-bleed back.
  • This set (1991 Stadium Club) is the first I can remember with foil, and it was used well here, on just the Stadium Club logo and the little arrows to the left and right of Topps--and maybe on those horizontal lines, not sure. But they didn't use it on the player name, which can often be difficult to read.
  • The photo on the front is really unusual. Obviously, Mack is not batting at home plate, as there is no batter's box or anything else you'd expect to see, plus the catcher is teammate Junior Ortiz. If Mack is in a bullpen or along the sideline at a stadium, then there's no way he's actually taking batting practice. I'd have to think, then, that he's there just to simulate a batter for a pitcher who is warming up. That makes this card the only example I can think of where a player is actually simulating something for a real reason (as opposed to for the photographer.)
  • The back of the card is super-cool, like all Stadium Club cards. One's eye is drawn directly to Mack's rookie card, an Olympic card from the 1985 Topps set. These Olympic cards resulted in some players having rookie cards long before they reached the majors, with Mark McGwire's card from this set being another example.
  • The fastball stats are the back and weird. I'm not even going to discuss it. Nice try, but it doesn't work.
Now for Mack's career.

He was a first-round draft pick and a member of the Olympic team, giving him a high profile when he reached the bigs. He put up two stinky partial seasons with the Padres, who them let him get taken in the Rule 5 draft.

Mack went on to be one of the best Rule 5 draft picks ever, as he put up 5 awesome seasons with the Twins.  Among players with at least 2400 plate appearances in the AL over 1990-1994, here are those with the highest OPS+:

Rk Player OPS+ PA Pos Tm
1 Frank Thomas 184 2844 *3D CHW
2 Ken Griffey 156 3100 *8/D39 SEA
3 Rickey Henderson 150 2658 *7/D8 OAK-TOT
4 Jose Canseco 142 2498 *9D/1 OAK-TOT-TEX
5 Danny Tartabull 141 2516 *9D/7 KCR-NYY
6 Paul Molitor 140 3147 *D3/45 MIL-TOR
7 Rafael Palmeiro 139 3250 *3/D TEX-BAL
8 John Olerud 137 2631 *3D TOR
9 Cecil Fielder 131 3214 *3D DET
10 Mickey Tettleton 131 2902 *2D/397 BAL-DET
11 Shane Mack 130 2434 *789/D MIN
12 Julio Franco 129 2564 *4D/379 TEX-CHW
13 Lou Whitaker 128 2516 *4/D DET
14 Roberto Alomar 126 2528 *4/D TOR
15 Harold Baines 126 2435 *D/97 TOT-OAK-BAL
16 Chili Davis 126 2752 *D/7913 CAL-MIN
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/17/2012.

Mack wasn't quite in the top tier of players but he was solidly in the star realm over this period.

After that, he played in Japan for a few years and then came back for a couple good partial seasons to finish out the decade.

I did not know that Mack's brother Quinn Mack also played in the majors.

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