Almost a Rookie in ’93 Finest

Explain this: Cordero struck out less than half as often as we had expected based on his minor league record, but still hit for more power but with a lower batting average.

Bill James

Bill, I can’t answer that one either. All I know is Cordero was briefly a popular prospect on a Montreal Expos team seemingly comprised of nothing but amazing rookies. He entered the 1993 season with only 45 games or so on his MLB record after missing a portion of the previous year with a severe case of chicken pox. Cordero seemed to have a promising mid-90s career that somehow ended up generating only 3 wins above replacement over more than a decade of play. Balky knees and a growing reputation for domestic violence ended his career in his early 30s.

Little about his future was known back in 1993. Topps included Cordero in the Finest checklist and other manufacturers were falling over themselves to get his cards into as many products as possible. He is in the popular 1991 Leaf Gold Rookies set, 1992 Donruss Rookie Phenoms and 1993 Team Pinnacle Rookies. His base cards received special designations identifying him as a future player to watch with apperances in Donruss’ Rated Rookies, Upper Deck’s Star Rookies, and Topps multiplayer Top Prospects alongside Chipper Jones.

Topps only put two rookies in the ’93 Finest checklist. There was, however, no shortage of “almost rookies” like Cordero bolstering the set’s prospecting credentials. This particular card has proven to be one of the more condition sensitive cards in the release with the highest grades commanding significant premiums over cards found in a more typical condition. I’ve never been able to bring myself to pay this premium, electing instead to pick up a NM-MT+ copy that was graded by BGS. BGS has fallen out of favor among collectors of this set, making their slabbed cards one of the more affordable options for those looking to follow a similar route.