Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Rookie of the Year Spotlight: Todd Worrell

Some of the collections I have been working on over the years are starting to get filled out and my goals are being reached. As a result, I'm starting to slow down a little when it comes to acquiring many cards for some of my mini-collections. Now that the collection is feeling more and more complete, I wanted to start showcasing the cards I have, player by player.

One such collection is my Rookie of the Year collection. I love collecting players who have won the award as the top newcomer in each league. This wasn't born of hot rookie hype and the desire to prospect. Rather, I became fascinated thinking about the careers of guys like Eric Karros, Jerome Walton, and Tim Salmon, who experienced varying degrees of success but may not have become superstars. I thought it would be fun to have a collection that chronicles the individual career journeys of rookie stars--whether they burned bright and flamed out quickly, regressed to the mean, or wended their way to Cooperstown.
My goal has been to fill a binder page for each player who won the award in my lifetime and to fill a row for older players. I may expand that later as I expand my vintage collection. The ultimate goal of my binder is to show a card from every different uniform the player wore, from fresh-faced rookie to grizzled vet. This series is to commemorate each Rookie of the Year's career and show my collection of their cards. I have a randomized list of winners that I use to determine the order of these posts, but for the second time in a row, I'm going away from that order. Today we highlight

Todd Worrell


Todd Worrell saw his first Big League action in 1984. He made 17 relief appearances and recorded a solid 2.91 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP. With his rookie status still in place in 1985, Worrell became the Cardinals' closer. That season, he pitched 103 2/3 innings in 74 games. He led the NL with 36 saves and lowered his ERA to 2.08. Not only did he beat out a loaded NL rookie field that included Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, Will Clark, John Kruk, and Kevin Mitchell, but he absolutely ran away with the award. He received all but one 1st-place vote. (The lone straggler vote went to Kevin Mitchell, who finished fourth.) Worrell was by no means a bad pick, but in hindsight he was a surprise. Using today's metrics, he might not have one. His 2.6 WAR was good, but was fourth-best behind Bonds (3.5), Robby Thompson (3.4), and Bruce Ruffin (3.2).

Over the next six seasons with St. Louis, Worrell kept his ERA under 3.00. from 1986-1989, he remained the Cardinals' closer. He earned his first All-Star bid in 1988 en route to a 32-save season. Tommy John surgery and a torn rotator cuff kept him on the shelf for all of the 1990 and 1991 seasons. He returned out of the bullpen in 1992, but not in the closer role. Still, he was solid. He signed with the Dodgers as a free agent and served as a middle reliever in 1993 and 1994. In 1995, he regained the closer role, which he would hold through the end of his career after the 1997 season. As the Dodgers' closer, he saved 32, 44, and 35 games from 1995-1997. He made two more All-Star teams in 1995 and 1996, and his save total in 1996 led the league. 


In 11 Major League seasons, Worrell pitched 693 2/3 frames, finishing 456 games and earning 256 saves. His career ERA was 3.09. He struck out 628 batters to 247 walks and held opponents to a .235 batting average. He even received MVP votes in two seasons (1985 and 1996) and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young voting in 1996. A good career, to be sure, but far from elite. In 2003, his first and only year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Worrell failed to receive a vote.

Since he spent his entire career with just two teams, it was easy enough to complete the run for Todd Worrell. The first page shown was all I needed for my binder. The second scan is just gravy. I'll keep any Worrell cards I come across, but I'm no longer actively seeking them now that his portion of my binder is complete.


  1. I don't remember him playing with the Dodgers, but I do remember pulling a lot of his 87T rookie cup cards.

  2. (Not so) Fondly remember him closing out many a Cardinals game versus my Cubs.