Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Topps Arrives

As I have found over the past several years, I'm better off buying into a case break to get my Brewers sets completed and get most, if not all, of the basic inserts crossed off my want lists. Rather than buying into a case break with one of those commercial breakers, though -- you know the ones, the guys who jump around when a swatch of fabric shows up and act like that swatch just rewrote War and Peace into a handy 200-page summary -- I prefer to break with "Crackin' Wax" and "Literal Quirk" over at Crackin' Wax

I do that because Chris is a collector, and he does the breaks for charity. I also like supporting the little guys where possible, so here is the advertisement for Chris's other project, Varsity Trading Cards. VTC looks like a great way for kids to get started as collectors by getting their own cards -- the whole process is described on Chris's website that I linked to. Let me tell you -- these cards look and feel good in hand. Here's a sample front, complete with a spot for the kids to get their friends' autographs, just in case:

The backs look good too:

So, in case your kids are playing baseball or softball or you are a coach wanting a custom card for you as a blogger and a coach, check Chris's website out. I mean, sure, you could get a Topps card, but does Topps really deserve more of your money? šŸ˜

Okay, so, 2017 Topps. Yeah. As with every new year of the flagship, there is always debate about whether people like the design. It's okay. As was the case with last year's set, though, it is definitely a design undertaken with the mobile apps in mind. I think we will all see this a lot as long as Topps sees its apps as being more likely to generate significant revenue than physical cards -- we cardboard collectors will get whatever works best on a phone, and we'll need to live with it.

Here are the base cards:

A couple of head-scratching inclusions, particularly Chris Capuano and Will Middlebrooks. Capuano did not pitch after May thanks to injury, while Middlebrooks made 10 appearances in July of last year around the time that the Brewers were close to trading, and then traded, Aaron Hill. Capuano is probably done pitching, and Middlebrooks went to Texas to join the old Brewers Rest Home in Arlington.

Who would I have included instead? It's tough to say too much since series 2 is yet to come, but I'd have preferred HernƔn PƩrez, Domingo Santana, Carlos Torres, Chase Anderson, or Blaine Boyer over Middlebrooks. Capuano is fine -- he's a long-time MLB player who'd been with the team before, so sentimentality is okay here -- but even including him is a bit of a stretch. The true problem is that roster turnover at the bottom of the roster last season probably makes life difficult for Topps to find a usable photo for someone like Jhan MariƱez.

Jonathan Villar & Jhan MariƱez
I could be wrong about that, though.

Anyway, in an odd confluence of this case, the only parallels I got were one each of the foil and the gold parallel. The odder confluence is the fact that both parallels were of the same player:

It was an Orlando Arcia hot case, I guess. Arcia was in the major leagues long enough last year such that he will no longer have rookie eligibility this season. He struggled at the plate for his first month in the big leagues -- hitting .184/.259/.296 through September 2. He did a bit better the rest of the way out -- .252/.297/.417 over his final 108 plate appearances. Still, all small sample sizes. At just 21 years old when he was called up (he turned 22 on August 4 and celebrated after the team's off day that day with getting his first major league hit against Braden Shipley of the Arizona Diamondbacks -- a single to right field to drive in HernƔn PƩrez.

I hope he gets better with the bat as he develops. He has the glove to be a major asset at shortstop so long as he doesn't turn into Rey OrdoƱez version 2.0.

When I say that I hope he develops, I mean it. Arcia is the Series 1 Brewers representative on the Topps 1987 redux. And my god are we going to get a ton of wood grain this year. What with this insert set -- which despite the 100-card insert in Series 1 will likely carry over the Series 2 (and the Brewers will get one more card in the insert featuring Ryan Braun...I'd be shocked if we get a second and pick up Jonathan Villar) -- and with Heritage using the 1968 woody design, it's going to look more and more like a forest in collecting this year.

The Topps "Salute" inserts look suspiciously like last year's Topps Bunt design to me in my mind's eye. Let's see -- am I right?

Eh, a little bit. it's that massive diagonal that threw me off. Frankly, I prefer the Bunt design. This "Salute" insert is a yawner. 

Another of the inserts this year is the "5 Tool" insert:

This is a fairly contrived insert as well. When scouts say a guy is a five-tool player, they usually mean that a guy hits for average, hits for power, has speed, has a good arm, and is a good fielder. Braun isn't exactly a five-tool player -- there is a reason he was moved to the outfield from third base almost immediately after getting to the big leagues (he is an indifferent fielder). And while I guess they are good hitters, I don't get how Syndergaard, Arrieta, and Bumgarner get included.

Three more cards. First up, the final "new" card. Since I collect Dan Plesac, I prevailed on Chris to throw me one of the Plesac MLB Network insert cards.

I don't count this as necessary for my Brewers team set, but since he does not have any logos on his tie, I'll include it in my player collection for him. Why not? It's my player collection after all. I make the rules.

The other two cards were buyback cards. 

The HacMan, Jeffrey Leonard, with a gold stamp on it. I don't mind it or anything, but if I wanted to rediscover 1989 Topps, I just have to flip open any one of the boxes in my closet and I'll find literally hundreds of the damn things. The best thing for Topps with these is that they could keep sticking in these Rediscover Topps cards into packs for the next five years without updating anything. I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen either. And, if it does, maybe I'll try to put together a "rediscovered" 1989 Topps Set. That would be fun on some perverse level.

My final buyback was better:

Diego Pablo (Gonzalez) SeguĆ­. Diego came up with the Kansas City Athletics at the age of 24 in 1962. A Cuban by birth, SeguĆ­ started 171 of his 639 games as a major leaguer, and he holds the distinction of being the only player to play both for the Seattle Pilots in 1969 (12-6 record, 3.35 ERA, 12 saves and 2 complete games) and the Seattle Mariners -- at the age of 39 in 1977 (110-2/3 mediocre innings, 0-7 record, 5.69 ERA/4.54 FIP). 

As his SABR biography points out, Segui did not stop pitching in 1977 -- he went to Mexico and threw a perfect game in 1978. In fact, he pitched in Mexico (though without stats available) through 1985 at the age of 47! Maybe he was trying to hang around until his son David SeguĆ­ was old enough to play against him, but then gave up when David went to college first before being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. David also had a long career -- playing to age 38 in an independent league -- but not as long as his dad did.

My thanks go out to Crackin' Wax and LQ for running the break, doing the sorting, and getting all these cards to me so quickly. Now, I just have to figure out which inserts I need!


  1. I do wonder how Topps decides who makes the Flagship checklist every year. How in the heck did Will Middlebrooks get the green light?

    1. Topps always seems to leave out middle relief pitchers and utility infielders in their flagship.

  2. It's funny.. I opened a blaster and got a 1988 Topps.. As you said, I could flip open the box I have the set I'm trying to put together, or the mountain of dupes I have from it...

    Maybe I shouldn't tell Topps I have a mountain of dupes.. They may want them lol

  3. I love Chris' breaks, too. Unfortunately, since the Cubs turned the corner I've been too slow on the draw to claim them.
    Looking at the two Arcia '87 Topps cards, can anyone explain why the Brewers' logo is two different sizes? Quality Control?
    By the way, I like the upside of the Brew Crew. I read somewhere that Domingo Santana had the third highest exit velocity on batted balls in MLB last year. That's crazy! Arcia could turn the corner this year like Villar did last year. The Brewers are doing it the right way and should be in the mix for the NL Central crown in 2 to 3 years.

  4. Good eye Matt - Salute (super-sized yawn) does look a bit like the Bunt. Rediscover Topps...year after year after year.

  5. Best design in years! Really, as I just purged some of the 2010s flagship issues but I think I will buy a jumbo box when they drop a little

  6. That Diego Segui buyback is pretty sweet.

  7. I'm with you on player inclusions. I'm surprised Perez and Anderson didn't get a card.

    I would love to nab the Pirates in some of these. I follow him on Twitter so I'll keep my eye out.