Tuesday, March 5, 2013

1976 Topps - Jim Umbarger.

On card number 7 of the 1976 Topps set Jim Umbarger appears to be challenging Ed Brinkman for the long-neck award.

Umbarger came up with Texas in 1975 and appeared mostly as a reliever. In 1976 the southpaw moved into the starting rotation as all thirty of his appearances were starts.

Jim's violent pitching motion caused him to lose his cap on just about every pitch. It also helped him compile a 3.15 ERA (second best in the rotation) and a 1.328 WHIP over 197.1 innings. It is a measure of how bad the offense was in 1976 that Umbarger ended the season with a 10-12 record.

Going into the off-season Jim seemed to be sitting pretty. He had preformed well as both a starter and reliever on a Rangers club that was starved for good pitching. As a left-hander he was a minority on the staff. As a 23-year-old he was considerably younger than veterans Gaylord Perry and Nelson Briles at the top of the rotation. What Jim needed to do was lower his WHIP and stay consistent. That and figure out a way to keep his cap on while pitching.

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