i really enjoyed seeing these active league leader cards in 2012 topps. one of the main reasons was we got to see the expos in a flagship set again, thanks to the awesomeness of vladimir guerrero. here he is sandwiched between albert pujols and todd helton on the batting average leader card for the nl.
vladdy and helton were just a few ticks behind pujols at the time.
but now pujols is in the al so his nl career average is still .328, while vladdy is (unofficially) retired, and helton's average sits at around .318. meanwhile, because topps used the criteria of any active player with the proper amount of playing time (in the case of batting average it was 3000 plate appearances) in the respective league, we get bonus vladdy thanks to his years of service with the angels, rangers, and orioles. technically, guerrero was not on a roster when this card came out, but that's ok by me.
i also really like this card because all three players - ichiro, joe mauer, and guerrero, are wearing memorial patches. the mariners were mourning their announcer dave niehaus, the twins had lost harmon killebrew, and the o's recognized the passing of mike flanagan. it's a great card in that respect. back to the numbers, vladdy just edged derek jeter from appearing on yet another card, apparently.
now, you might recall that back in 1984, topps first introduced the active leader cards in various categories. in that set, they had one card for each league in 9 different categories, which was more extensive than the cards in the 2012 release. the cards in 1984 included batting average, hits, home runs, rbi, wins, era, strikeouts, saves, and stolen bases. here's the front of the card for the american league active leaders in stolen bases.
hey, look - a couple of veterans on the yankees. i miss the mid-80's to early-90's when the yankees just couldn't put together a winning roster. anyway, bert campaneris leads the way with 649 career steals with the a's, rangers, angels, and yankees. dave lopes comes in second with 468. but wait, most of those came with the dodgers. take a look at the back.
so, topps lets us know that lopes (and moreno, among others) played in both leagues. so, should rickey henderson actually be second on this list? yes, he should. in fact, if topps had done this right, lopes wouldn't have appeared on this card at all. instead, he would have been in a dodger uniform on the national league's version of the card, behind joe morgan.
the same goes for the american league victories card
and the american league strikeouts card
i am not complaining about don sutton getting some face time, but had topps done in 1984 what they did in 2012, he would have been third on the national league strikeout list and in a dodger uniform, instead of brewers' duds.
so, i like the 2012 approach better. hopefully topps brings this subset back in a few years when there has been another generation of turnover.