Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Card of the Week: January 6-12
Our first ever selection is Jose Mesa's 1995 Topps Stadium Club. Mesa, along with 37 other former Major League players, is on the 2013 ballot for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. While the results are not released until Wednesday, it appears unlikely that the 1989 and '90 Hagerstown Sun will be enshrined in Cooperstown, nor reach the 5% threshold to remain on future ballots.
However, it is still an opportune time to look back at one of the best seasons of his career. Mesa became a full-time reliever in 1994, pitching 73 innings with a 3.82 ERA and 1.329 WHIP. During that strike-shortened 1994 season, the Cleveland Indians used a variety of pitchers in the closer's role, a title that solely became Mesa's in '95.
Mesa would flourish in '95 and become a driving force in Cleveland's run to the American League Central Title. The 29 year old posted a 1.13 ERA in 64 innings pitched, with a 1.031 WHIP, 58:17 K:BB ratio and a league-leading 46 saves. This led to the first All-Star selection of his career.
During the American League postseason, Mesa had a 1.50 ERA with 1 save as the Indians leaped over the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners to clinch a World Series berth for the first time since 1954. Cleveland's great run would end there, however, as they lost the title in 6 games to the Atlanta Braves.
Still, it was an impressive season for Mesa, who finished second in Cy Young Award voting, picking up two first place votes in a year where Seattle's ace Randy Johnson ran away with the honor. Furthermore, Mesa would place fourth in the American League MVP race, gaining a first place vote in a year where Boston's Mo Vaughn won the honor
Pitching 12 more seasons after '95, Mesa went on to accumulate 273 more saves, earning his second, and final, All-Star selection in 1996 with Cleveland. While he may not make the Hall of Fame, Mesa still managed to have a solid career and amassed one dominant season in 1995.