1993 Finest: Scott Erickson

Much of the past few decades of baseball study has led observers to design metrics that adjust player performance for the eras in which they played. A straight up comparison between a steroid era slugger’s numbers and a dead ball slap hitter would look silly. Viewing their stats through modified, all-encompassing stats such as wRC+ help reaching more meaningful comparisons.

Of course, that’s just theoretical. What if a live ball era pitcher had the superpower of sending batters back in time to dead ball times? Enter Scott Erickson. Erickson was largely a member of the pitching staffs of the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles over a 15-season big league career. He made an impressive debut, winning 5 straight games in his 1990 rookie season and following that up with 20 more wins in 1991.

His secret was throwing pitches that induced a large number of groundballs, generating one of the higher ratios of grounders to flies in the game. This had two positive effects. First, fewer fly balls means less homeruns. Second, when players get on base (which was fairly often against Erickson’s 1.46 WHIP) he could simply erase the mistake by inducing a double-play. Erickson’s work wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty effective.

The last several years have included legal drama for Erickson. He and a close friend were speeding in separate vehicles through a residential area of Westlake Village in 2020 when the friend’s car struck and killed two children. She is said to have continued driving away until her car stopped running, prompting local prosecutors to bring murder charges against her. Erickson is not a co-defendant in the case and was instead charged separately with misdemeanor reckless driving. Local news coverage has been intense and will undoubtedly grow whenever this slow-moving legal process gets to an actual trial.

The Card

Erickson’s card is among those that are tiny bit tougher to locate on short notice. For those looking for third-party graded examples, it has the set’s 7th lowest PSA population count in any grade. Like the set’s Shane Mack card, there have been fewer annual transactions in recent years compared to the prior decade. The recent numbers are actually a bit overstated, as I was involved in three of these sales. I first acquired a NM-MT copy, then upgraded to a mint example when one became available. The original was soon sold to a fellow collector working on the set.