Thursday, May 3, 2012

#164 David Palmer - Montreal Expos

After boring head and frontal shots on his first three cards, Topps gives David Palmer an action shot.  Although he was 24 in 1982, he looks very young in the inset pic.  I wonder what made Topps use purple and orange borders for the Expos?
Player:  David Palmer was a 21st round pick of the Expos in 1976 and after a rough year of Rookie-ball, he had solid back to back seasons.   His minor league success earned him a brief five game look with Montreal in 1978.  He did fairly well, allowing three earned runs in 9.2 innings. 

Palmer stayed with the Expos for the '79 season and pitched in several roles throughout the year.  He earned two saves and won two of three decisions in April with a 2.89 ERA.  He then was used in less stessful middle innings in May and June.  After a spot start on July 13, he joined the rotation later in the month and excelled, allowing two or less runs in 8 of 10 starts.  He finished with a 10-2 record and a 2.64 ERA (139 ERA+) in 122.2 innings.

With veterans Steve Rogers and Bill Lee, and a slew of talented young starters such as Palmer, Scott Sanderson, Charlie Lea, and Bill Gullickson, the Expos had a lot of competetion for the starting rotation in 1980.  The competion from his teammates and and an elbow injury in July limited him to 129 innings.  He did a good job when available posting a 2.98 ERA to go with 8 wins. 

Palmer had two surgeries on his elbow and missed the '81 and '83 seasons. In between he manged to pitch in 13 games in '82.  When healthy, he was effective with six wins and a 3.18 ERA in 73.2 innings.  He bounced back in '84 and started the year in Montreal's rotation.  He made history with a rain shortened five inning perfect game on April 21.  He missed all of August and ended the year  
Flipside: Since he pitched in just 13 games, Topps pretty much nails all of his '83 highlights. The silhouette looks a lot like Palmer on the front of the card.

Oddball: Palmer had a little power in his bat, with his best offensive year in '88 with the Phillies. In 39 at bats, he hit four doubles and two homers with a .256 average and .513 slugging percentage.

History: Palmer will always be remembered for his five inning perfect game in '84. Although he never pitched in the postseason or won any major awards he was very good before injuries derailed his career. Despite spending most of his career as a starter, he only pitched more than 152 innings once in his career and after he did, he was never the same. If he had to do it all over maybe Palmer could have had a long career as a reliever.

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