As I mentioned a week or two ago, I found 19 of the 20 cards in the super-popular Rookie Sensations insert set from 1992 Fleer. It's one of my favorite sets, not because of the subjects, but because of the beautiful, classy design.
But how did these sensational rookies do in the end? Let's find out!
The only player I'm still missing from the set is Frank Thomas, one of the three big players included in the checklist. After successful 1990 and 1991 seasons, there was no doubt as to why the Big Hurt was put as card number one in this insert. He is the only player to compile a career average over .300, as he hit 521 home runs over 19 seasons. He was a superstar through 2000, but still put up respectable numbers through the end of his career. He's the only other player in the set with a retired number (with the White Sox), though that could change when Rodriguez retires. He was a five-time all-star, four-time Silver Slugger, two-time AL MVP, 1995 Home Run Derby champion, and 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Looking at the list, only a couple players didn't make it beyond their third year, and while only three became HOF-potential superstars, several of the "Rookie Sensations" were productive for a decade or more. Why is that? I believe part of it is because all of the players had experience, with most of them making their debut in 1990. As such, they all showed promise after receiving major league experience. These days, most insert sets focusing on hottest rookies include mostly minor leaguers (such as the Bowman's Best Prospects insert set). There's no guarantee Bryce Harper will be successful in the majors or even make it at all. Another part may be research done by Fleer in deciding who to put in the set. Only a couple players were fast-tracked, and thus had time to develop and mature.
Will we ever see a set of this size with so many successful rookies again? It's possible, but not likely. The 2011 Gypsy Queen Future Stars set might be this year's comparison.
What are your thoughts?