The 40 Most Undeserving MLB Starting Lineup Figures Ever | Sharapova's Thigh

The sales for the Jeff Manto Starting Lineup figure likely went about as well as his career.

As a kid, there were two things I collected above anything else: sports cards and action figures. I had thousands of baseball cards and enough He-Man action figures to make my parents question my sexuality at a very young age.

So when I found out that there was a toy/collectible that combined sports cards WITH action figures, well, I got a shitload of them. They were of course called "Starting Lineup" figures, featuring an action figure of an athlete as well as a card of them in the box. These became hugely popular for young sports fans(and some nerdy adults), and were made for all major sports, with Major League Baseball being the only sport to have the figures made every year they existed, from 1988-2001.

As you'd imagine, all of the superstars were featured in the yearly Starting Lineup sets, but there were some very questionable choices as well. And looking back on those figures, there's a bunch that make you say, "They made a Starting Lineup figure for HIM?"

I decided to take a look back at some of the players featured that ended up having unspectacular, and maybe even crappy careers that were undeserving of a badass action figure. For this post, I'm just focusing on the MLB Starting Lineups, and maybe I'll do ones for the NBA and NFL as well in the future. It's possible you were a fan of some of these players and there were probably good reasons for most of these players to be included in the Starting lineup figure sets at the time(maybe they were Rookie of the Year, had one great season, etc.) but looking back now, it seems ridiculous.

I've included pictures of the figures I could find, otherwise I just went with a baseball card. Anyway, here's my top 40 worst choices for MLB Starting Lineup figures ever(not ranked, just in alphabetical order as it's pretty tough to figure out which ones are crappier than others)...

Alan Ashby(1988)
Solid catcher with a 17-year career in the majors and currently a broadcaster. However, his only really good full season at the plate was in 1987 at the age of 35, right before this 1988 Starting lineup set was of course released. He then hit .238 with a .694 OPS the next year, followed by a .164 batting average in 1989, his last season. A career .245 hitter with a .681 OPS, no All-Star games, and not on the leaderboard for any meaningful statistics in his entire career.

Jeff Ballard(1990)
A career 41-53 pitcher with a 4.76 ERA. He had an ERA over four every season, except for the year before his Starting lineup figure was released, when he went 18-8 with a 3.43 ERA. The remaining four years of his career, he'd go 13-25 with his best ERA in a season being 4.86. Nothing like making action figures of #5 pitchers.

Todd Benzinger(1990)
The three years before the release of his figure in 1990, he hit .278, .254, and .245. He hit 17 homers in 1989, but had just a .674 OPS. He'd really never have a better year the rest of his career as a regular player, which he didn't get to be very much. Imagine bringing the Todd Benzinger's figure over to your friend's house while he's got Rickey Henderson. Embarrassing.

Damon Berryhill(1989, 1990)
Can you believe they made two figures for Damon freaking Berryhill? I get sick just seeing his name as a Cubs fan. Arguably the best season of the catcher's career came as a rookie(technically even though he played in 12 games in 1988 ) in 1989, where he .259, 7 homers, 38 RBI, and had a .690 OPS. He hit under the Mendoza line four times in his career. He also hit just .152 in 66 postseason at bats. "Another Damon Berryhill figure, thanks Santa. Guess I'll just have to wait until next year for that Sega Genesis."

Glenn Braggs(1989)
This Glenn Braggs figure is currently going for $72 on eBay. There's so many things wrong with this world, but that comes close to taking the cake.

Mickey Brantley(1989)
He showed promise from 1986-1988, the first three years of his career. However 1989, the year of his Starting Lineup figure release, would be the last season of his career. He hit just .107 that seasons. Starting Lineup curse?

Tom Brookens(1989)
He was the baseball player version of Ned Flanders. A fan favorite because of that look, and he gave accountants everywhere the thought of considering a new career. But let's be honest, he wasn't much to write home about on the diamond. Still, kickass stache, no doubt.

Chris Brown(1988)
Not that Chris Brown. Nope, not even the football one. We're talking about the okay baseball player from the 80s. He hit .237 before his Starting Lineup came out. He wouldn't even hit .237 in the remaining two years of his career.

Chuck Carr(1995)
Stole 58 bags in 1993, but also led the league in times caught trying to steal, which happened 22 times. The dude's best part of his game was definitely speed, but he was a Willy Taveras in that he didn't get on base enough to use it, with a career .316 on-base percentage. If they made a Hot Wheel or something of him to show off the speed, that might be cool. But just a figure? Child please.

Andujar Cedeno(1995)
He had a couple of solid seasons in 1993 and 1994 which is why this figure was made, but was just a career .236 hitter. I feel bad even saying that, as Andujar was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 2000.

Roger Cedeno(2000)
Like Chuck Carr, fast as hell but didn't bring much else. We did get more into the stolen base back in these days than we do now, but still... why on earth would you buy this? And it's of him in an Astros uniform on the figure, and a Mets uniform on the card. Just pick a damn team for him, Hasbro. Nobody wants an Astros/Mets mix of a shitty player for a toy.

Mike Dunne(1988)
Dunne had a terrific rookie year in 1987, going 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA. So this looked like a potentially great figure at the time, but he'd get rocked in an injury-shortened career after his rookie season, with a record of 12-24 for the rest of his career.

Scott Fletcher(1989)
A longtime blah utility player. His best OPS in 15 seasons was .760, he hit .300 once, had no more than five homers in a season, and didn't total 100 steals in his career either. A useful player, but this is basically like making an action figure of an Aaron Miles these days.

Albert Hall(1989)
His career numbers in nine seasons(910 plate appearances): .251 batting average, five homers, 53 RBI, 67 stolen bases, .663 OPS, 81 OPS+. Were there really that many worse players in the entire league over that period?

Chris James(1989)
Not a bad player, but basically a utility guy that played on eight teams in ten seasons. A poor man's Mark DeRosa or Casey Blake. There should be at least four or five position players better than this dude on each team. Undeserving of an action figure I say!

Travis Lee(1999)
Travis Lee had a few good years, but he was considered the next big thing and never really put it together. Never among the league leaders in any statistical category.

Jose Lind(1989)
I told my friend while I put this list together that I remember Jose "Chico" Lind looking like a combination of Neifi Perez and a frog. I was right. His highest batting average as a starting player was .262, his best on-base percentage was .308, and his highest OPS was .646. He did win a Gold Glove, but three years after this figure came out in 1992.

Kevin Maas(1992)
Huge rookie season for the Yankees where he hit 21 homers in 254 at bats. Became a starter next year, and hit .220, with 23 homers, and 128 strikeouts in 500 at bats. He wouldn't be a starting player in the remaining four years of his career.

Jeff Manto(1996)
AAAA hitter. Had some outstanding minor league years, but couldn't do it in the majors. He had one solid year where he hit 17 bombs with the Orioles in 1995, but never hit over three homers in the other eight years of his career, and was a career .230 hitter. Making action figures for a "power" hitter whose season-high in RBI was 38 just doesn't seem right.

Marc Newfield(1998)
In six seasons, the most at bats he had in a season was 370. The next most was 186. He had a .249 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, and .678 OPS. He surely didn't make up for that with speed either, as he had just one career stolen base.

David Nied(1993)
Nied was the Colorado Rockies' first pick in the 1992 expansion draft. I remember seeing douchey "The Nied For Speed" posters and shirts all the time in the Denver area. They may have been sort of cool if he was actually any good. He'd go 17-18 in his career with a 5.06 ERA.

Ken Oberkfell(1988)
Hit over .300 a couple times, but only hit over three homers once in his 16-year career. Got a lot of singles, but not much else. His beard, personality, and old school type of play made him known, but a mediocre player overall.

Jose Oquendo(1989)
A fan favorite in St. Louis for his ability to play all over the place. He played every single position on the diamond. A nice little utility player, but didn't bring much to the table offensively. I just have a hard time not putting a guy that had just 14 homers, a .256 batting average, and .663 OPS in 3, 737 plate appearances on this list.

Tom Pagnozzi(1995)
He made an All-Star Game and won three gold gloves. A very good defensive-minded catcher that was very valuable to his St. Louis Cardinals' teams. But he was a below average hitter, and look at the rest of the players that were in this "extended series"for Starting Lineup figures in 1995: Jose Canseco, Rusty Greer(much better career than many realize), Kenny Lofton, Mike Piazza, Manny Ramirez, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Schmidt. Tom Pagnozzi doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of those names.

Dan Pasqua(1989)
Had very good power, but only hit 20 homers once, and his highest RBI total for a season was 66. Only a .244 career hitter, and hit under .230 five times.

Melido Perez(1989)
Not a bad career with a 4.17 ERA 243 games pitched(201 starts), but if he has a figure, so should his much better and crazier brother, Pascual.

Rey Quinones(1989)
Very cool look and name, but a .243 batting average and .644 OPS in his career. He didn't have a single notable season.

Pokey Reese(2001)
A light-hitting second baseman/shortstop that you're likely familiar with. He won two Gold Gloves, but I remember him most for making four errors on Opening Day in 1998.

Luis Salazar(1989)
I'm a Luis Salazar fan, as you can see by a Random Retro Cubs piece I did about him on The Friendly Blogfines. I'll even admit he was an average, at best, baseball player. His career on-base percentage was just .293.

Dick Schofield(1989)
Highest batting average in a season: .255. Highest OPS in a season: .719. This is on his Wikipedia page: "He shares the record, for most seasons having at least 400 at-bats and less than 100 hits, doing it four times."

John Shelby(1989)
Hit over 20 homers twice, but just a .233 career hitter with a .645 career OPS. 671 career strikeouts compared to just 182 walks.

Pete Stanicek(1989)
Who the hell is this dude? He apparently played 113 games with the Baltimore Orioles in 1987 and 1988. He had a .243 batting average, four homers, 26 RBI, and a .626 OPS. Seriously?

Kurt Stillwell(1989)
He once hit 10 homers. MAKE THE MAN AN ACTION FIGURE!

Ryan Thompson(1996)
Decent power, but never an everyday player. In 1994 with the Mets, he struck out a whopping 94 times in 334 at bats. He just retired in the last decade and I had forgotten he even existed.

Jose Uribe(1989)
.241 career hitter that hit just 19 homers in 10 seasons. The kids will love him!

Todd Van Poppel(1992)
When there's a Stephen Strasburg-esque right-handed young power arm, people might say, "He could be the next Roger Clemens or Todd Van Poppel." You don't want to be the next Van Poppel. It's basically synonymous with "bust".

Jerome Walton(1990)
Looked like a future star in 1989, his rookie year, as he won the Rookie of the Year and played a key part in the Cubs winning the National League East. Then he only hit .263 with two homers and a .680 OPS the following season, and would never be an everyday player in the majors after that.

Rick Wilkins(1995)
Fitting that Rick Wilkins follows Jerome Walton, as he also followed Walton as being a young, one-year sensation for the Cubs that would basically stink the rest of his career. Wilkins hit 30 homers and had a .937 for the Cubs in 1993. Besides 1993, he'd only be a starting catcher in one other season in his 11-year career.

Marvell Wynne(1989)
In eight seasons, Marvell's highest batting average was .266, his highest home run total was 11, his highest RBI total was 42, his highest stolen base total was 24(and caught stealing 19 times that year), and his highest on-base percentage was .325. I'm not just wondering why there was a Starting lineup figure made of him, but why the hell was he ever an everyday player?

Gerald Young(1989)
Random thought: He totally looks like Bip Roberts there. Also, aside from a rookie season in which he hit .321(only in 274 at bats though), he stunk. He put up seasons of 65 and 34 stolen bases, but also led the league in times caught stealing in those two seasons. Besides that, he was a .246 career hitter with no power.

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