Monday, November 18, 2019

Another Player Collection Tiers Update

Over the last couple of years, my process of organizing and categorizing my player collections has grown increasingly complex, though it's also provided me with more insight as to where each player stands in comparison to all the others.

Initially, I started by creating a complete inventory of all the cards of players I collect on Google Sheets with one spreadsheet designated for each player. Each row lists the year, card number, set name/info, and the team name. This process is repeated for every card of all the players I collect, and that number can be anywhere from 8-460.

Next, I introduced the idea of player collection tiers roughly a year ago. Using this process, I list all of my PCs in one Google Sheet from largest to smallest and, along the way, sort them by 4 separate tiers: Platinum (200+ cards), Gold (100+), Silver (50+), and Bronze (49>).

Through the player collection tiers, I'm able to see where each player collection, by the total number of cards, ranks in comparison to all the others. For example, I know that Fergie Jenkins, a player collection with 81 total cards, is #74 on my list of PCs.

Last April, I wrote an update on player collection tiers in which I detailed the changes that occurred since I began this endeavor. Considering how much has changed over the last several months, I figured it was time to craft an update once again and that this could be a reoccurring post a few times a year.

Unsurprisingly, Nolan Ryan remains #1 on the list by a long shot and, to be honest, I don't believe that any of the other player collections will ever catch up.

Ryan's 482 total cards (excluding a small handful that I haven't added in yet) beat Ken Griffey Jr's 280 soundly for the #1 spot on the list. Since there's no real competition rivaling Ryan's #1 spot, I'm instead looking to make steady additions to the player collection.

Specifically, I'd like to have 500 total Nolan Ryan cards by the end of the year, a goal I set for myself back in January.

Ken Griffey Jr may trail Nolan Ryan by over 200 cards for the #1 spot, but there's always a fair amount of competition between him and Greg Maddux to see who will earn the "runner-up" position.

When I updated you all on the player collection tiers back in April, Maddux occupied the #2 spot on my tiers list, but he has since been usurped by Griffey.

At the moment, Maddux trails KGJ by just 3 cards to round out the top 3. After that, there's a pretty significant drop (~30 cards) before the #4 PC, Manny Ramirez.

Last time, the platinum tier, reserved for player collections with 200 or more cards. had just 7 players, but that number has grown by 3 in the subsequent months. Vladimir Guerrero and Randy Johnson have added their names to the list, cementing each of my top 10 player collections at 200+ cards.

With these two additions, the closest I am to adding another player to the platinum tier is both Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg at 180 cards. Even though I come across their cards somewhat often, it'll be a little while before the top tier expands to encompass 11-12 players.
The gold tier, featuring players with totals anywhere from 100-199 cards, has grown to include 35 members over the last few months. Specifically, I've seen a fair number of active players cross the threshold as of late.

The additions of so many active players to the gold tier are somewhat surprising, considering that it used to be Craig Kimbrel, Joey Votto, and Miguel Cabrera not too long ago. Now, that group includes Anthony Rizzo, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, and Buster Posey.

At any given time, there's always at least 1 player on the cusp of moving up to another tier, whether it's silver, gold, or platinum. At the moment, Evan Longoria is the closest to making this happen at 99 cards, just 1 away from becoming the 46th PC to reach 100 cards or more.

I thought this would happen following my previous trip to the card show, but the Longoria card that I picked up (shown above) was a duplicate. Thus, I'll have to wait a little longer before the 3-time All-Star moves up.

The more progress I make with this endeavor, the higher the bar is raised for players to achieve a certain ranking on my list of 260 player collections. For example, to make the top 100 out of all the players that I collect, a PC has to have at least 62 cards.

Still, players are moving up the list constantly, and players have been consistently reaching the silver tier mark of 50 cards since my last PC tiers update. Currently, 84 of my player collections find themselves between 50-99 cards.

Of course, the majority of my player collections (135/264) are part of the bronze tier, meaning I have fewer than 50 cards of that player. Since this tier encompasses more players than any other, there's an extensive range of players who are apart of it.

Some, like Wilbur Wood and Mickey Lolich, may never move up enough to join the silver tier simply because of how few cards have been produced of these 70s pitchers. 

Other guys' totals, like Alex Bregman's, have increased since I began collecting them, and it's only a matter of time before they reach 50 and maybe even 100 cards.

In fact, there are roughly 30 players within 10 cards of silver tier status, so needless to say, I don't think that the overall growth of my player collections is going to plateau anytime soon.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Frankenset Page #71

It's crazy to think that by the end of this month, my 74-page frankenset series will likely draw to a close. I seem to be averaging one of these pages every week or so, so it stands to reason that the series will officially be wrapped up towards the end of the month.

Today's page is #71 in the series, featuring cards #631-639 that span 5 consecutive decades (the 1970s-2010s).  Let's get started.

#631 1983 Fleer Pride of Venezuela
This combo card may be the first of the page, but I'm already declaring it my favorite just like the Big Red Machine from the previous frankenset post. Both Trillo and Concepcion were entertaining players to watch in the late 70s and early 80s, especially when the former was a member of the Chicago Cubs.

Plus, there's something harmonious about the 2 red uniforms and the basic silver-bordered '83 Fleer design. There's just, to put it simply, a lot to like about this card.

#632 2016 Topps Ramon Cabrera
I could get into my issues regarding the 2016 Topps set yet again on the blog, but I'll refrain from that and instead focus on the fact that Topps did a nice job with this card.

Look, the card isn't groundbreaking or extraordinary, but I always love the way a catcher's action card looks as he prepares to throw the ball in an attempt to prevent a runner from stealing. If nothing else, the mediocre to put it kindly nature of the 2016 Flagship set didn't stain this card.

#633 2006 Topps Josh Barfield
I don't know if Topps was attempting a combination of modern and retro with the 2006 Topps design. All I know is that the color pairing did not work out very well as far as the San Diego Padres' cards are concerned.

Orange and brown may have looked great together back in the 1970s when Topps could make virtually any color combination work, but the same can't be said when a silver foil design is added to the mix.

#634 2013 Topps Drew Smyly
Over the last few years of Topps Flagship, particularly 2019, I've noticed a resurgence in retro uniforms making appearances on base cards. The inclusion of these throwback jerseys is something that I'm quite happy about, for they weren't always as common as they are now.

To be quite honest, I don't recognize the jersey that Drew Smyly is wearing in the card above.

#635 1978 Topps Joe Rudi
Joe Rudi remains one of my favorite members of the Swingin' Oakland A's teams from the early/mid-1970s, but by '78, Rudi was no longer playing in the Bay Area. He joined the California Angels after the 1976 season and remained there until '81 when he played for the Boston Red Sox for a year.

After a down season in Boston, Rudi spent 1982, the final year of his career, back with the Oakland A's. Interestingly enough, he hit a home run in his final MLB at-bat.

#636 1992 The Sporting News Conlon Collection
Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly fond of the breathtaking 1992 Sporting News Conlon Collection set. However, I don't want the cards to be featured too frequently and, thus, become repetitive.

With that being said, the photography, no matter how many cards I look at, never fails to impress me. The fact that hundreds of Conlon's photographs were compiled into one cohesive set is nothing short of extraordinary.

#637 2010 Topps Prestigious Pinstripe Power
The 2010 Topps set, even as far as this decade's Flagship products are concerned, does very little to impress me. The overly-large font used for team names is about the only thing that sets this design apart from others, and that's not necessarily a positive attribute.

It seems to me that this set is forgotten amongst all the others that have been produced this decade, and in my eyes, Topps should be thankful for that.

#638 2015 Topps Jimmy Rollins
Seriously, all you have to do is look at 2010 Topps next to a card from the 2015 Flagship set to understand what I'm saying. Topps has produced 20 base sets this century and as far as I'm concerned, none of them have come close to rivaling the colorful and vibrant 2015 design.

#639 1987 Topps
 Last up, a card from 1987 Topps, a set that we haven't seen featured on one of the frankenset pages in a little bit. As a result, I have slightly more positive feelings towards the wood-bordered set, because I haven't seen any of its cards in quite some time.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Top 5 Cards; Jacob deGrom

A couple of hours, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom captured the 2019 NL Cy Young award, giving him back-to-back award wins for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Last year, when the right-hander posted a historic 1.70 ERA and struck out 269 batters, deGrom was a lock for his first-ever Cy Young award. Though he was, once again, fabulous in 2019 (2.43 ERA with 255 K's) he wasn't quite as dominant as the year before.

He also faced some tough competition from division rival Max Scherzer and Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, but the results, more or less, remained the same. Once again, deGrom received 29/30 first-place votes, catapulting him to his 2nd straight award win.

I'll be intrigued to see what rookie manager Carlos Beltran does with a Mets pitching staff in 2020 that'll consist of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Marcus Stroman.

This rotation, barring any injuries or declines in performance, should be among the best in baseball, and they'll have an excellent ace at the helm.

I haven't been player collecting Jacob deGrom for all that long, but I've amassed 61 total cards of the 31-year old. This total puts him at #100 on my list of player collections, organized from largest to smallest.

Though the countdown may not feature as wide of a variety of cards as some of the other players that I collect, I'm quite pleased with how the top 5 turned out.

#5 2018 Topps Chrome Negative Refractor
When deciding which cards should make the top 5 and what the order should be, I try not to include a card solely because I like the set design/parallel. I did, however, feel obligated to make a small exception for deGrom's negative refractor from 2018 Topps Chrome.

Unlike paper parallels or even, say, other refractors from Topps Chrome, the negative encompasses the entire card, so one's feelings towards this type of refractor will dictate their thoughts on the card itself.

Because I love the look of negative refractors, this card was a no-brainer to make the top 5.

#4 2016 Panini Donruss 1982 Design
If this 1982 Donruss insert from the 2016 set had the MLB license, it could've made the top 2 on this countdown. The fact is, however, that deGrom's helmet looks incomplete without the New York Mets logo as does his home uniform.

That's not to take away from how creative Panini was with this insert card by showing a picture of deGrom at the plate rather than on the mound. He's actually one of the better hitting pitchers in the NL after launching 2 home runs in 2019.

The lack of logos may have caused this card to miss out on making it higher up on the list, but I still appreciate the little nuances that make this insert so unique.

#3 2017 Topps High Tek Blackout Parallel Pattern 1
One of the benefits of player collecting 250+ guys, both active and retired, is that it exposes me to a plethora of products that I'd otherwise be widely unfamiliar with. I can think of no better example than Topps High Tek, a set I'll likely never buy a box of in my life.

The veteran base cards, however, routinely end up in the dime bins, even serial numbered cards and parallels, like the blackout one above. I particularly like the sleek design, for the back of the card is a light shade of grey and creates a contrast from the front.

#2 2019 Topps Inception Green Parallel
I don't know if I paid a dime for the green parallel above like I did for the blackout card from High Tek, but I'm certain that I haven't opened a box of Topps Inception in my life. As a result, we have yet another instance of my collecting a surplus of players and, thus, being exposed to a ton of different products.

A lot is going on with this card, to say the least. There's the green parallel along with the purple/blue background, making for an extremely modern design.

From the handful of Topps Inception singles that I have purchased, I love the base design and wish they'd release something like this set in a more affordable format.

#1 2017 Topps Bunt Infinite
It's not as flashy as any of the parallels on this list nor as creative as the Panini Donruss insert, but the simplicity and, honestly, the overall awesome design of this 2017 Topps Bunt insert helped catapult this card to the #1 spot on the countdown.

I love the contrast between the slightly-faded picture of deGrom and the outside of Citi Field, and while that's pretty much all this card has to offer, there's something to be said about its simplicity.

Some days, I'll go for a negative refractor or a blackout parallel to capture the #1 spot on a top 5 cards list. Other times, however, I prefer something simple yet stunning, and that's exactly what the Topps Bunt Infinite card does.

Monday, November 11, 2019

$5 Cards; Card Show Recap #25 Part 2

In what will likely be my final Baseball card haul until Black Friday (I'll either buy cards on COMC or head to the Mansfield show), I decided to vary in what I purchased so that I ended up with a wide range of different cards.

After initially picking up a stack of 90s oddballs and 2010s Red Sox cards, I wandered through the show floor with nothing particular in mind that I was searching for. As is often the case, I didn't have to look that long before I came across something of interest, a 2-row box of cards marked at $5 each.

Once I'd spent several minutes searching through the stacks of $5 cards, I knew where I'd be spending the rest of my time and money at the show. The bin didn't consist solely of Baseball cards, but there were, nonetheless, gems scattered across the 2 different rows.

Whereas I sometimes have to narrow down what I purchase to fit a certain budget, there were exactly 8 cards that caught my eye. Thankfully, I didn't have to swap any of them out and was able to secure every one of them.

The first one I chose was a 1960 Topps card of Brooks Robinson, one of my favorite Flagship designs of all-time. Robinson is one of my gold tier player collections, meaning I have over 100 cards of the 15-time All-Star. This new pickup, however, is now the oldest card that I own of Robinson.

While each of the other 7 cards in this lot is a base card, the Joe Morgan card above is actually the only relic in the group, a bat relic numbered out of 99 from 2016 Panini Pantheon.

I purchased this card with a full understanding of the fact that relics aren't what they used to be because I believed that a $4 HOF relic was too good of a deal to pass up. The concept, however, is where I'm a tad confused.

This bat relic is from a subset called Gallant Gloves, so wouldn't it make much more sense for the memorabilia to be from one of Morgan's game-used gloves? Or if Panini can't get enough gloves to produce these cards, name the card something else.

Still, I purchase inexpensive Hall of Fame relics whenever I get the opportunity, and the Joe Morgan bat relic, despite the contradictory name, fits the bill.

2011 Topps Update is obviously known for the iconic Mike Trout rookie card, but the set is also home to first-year players such as Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt, and Anthony Rizzo.

Though I'll likely never come across a Mike Trout rookie card for a reasonable price, I can at least say that I have some of the other top rookies' cards from the highly sought after set, those players being Jose Altuve and, now, Anthony Rizzo.

Rizzo has been one of my favorite players in the game over the last several years. His consistency, both offensively and defensively, is truly remarkable, and I can only imagine what today's Red Sox team would be like if he was still a part of their organization.

His rookie card might not be the most valuable of the bunch, but I'm, nonetheless, thrilled at the price I paid to add this card to my Rizzo player collection.

The $5 price point was to steep for me to take a risk and purchase a card that I may already have in my collection, so I decided to check my player collection spreadsheets before adding this 1974 Topps Nolan Ryan card to the stack that I was amassing. Sure enough, I didn't have the card, but I do now.

This card, along with a few other .50 cent cards from yesterday's show, is getting me even closer to the 500-card mark that I'd like for the Ryan PC to reach by the end of the year.

The current total, with the additions from the card show, is around 485, and I'd like to get to 500 without explicitly buying 15 Nolan Ryan cards on COMC.

Because league leaders cards, particularly those from the 1960s and 2010s, often feature multiple players whom I collect, I need to have some way to decide which player collection the card will go towards.

I have a rule that the card will go to the highest-ranking player who also happens to be one of my player collections. I don't have a PC for Sandy Koufax (though I really should), so this 1967 Topps card, noting the '66 NL wins leaders, will go to Juan Marichal.

There's something about rookie cup cards, particularly those with the tall trophies from the 1960s, that never fails to captivate my attention. Plus, vintage rookie cup cards are a nice, inexpensive alternative to rookie cards, yet they're a tad more interesting than just a simple base card.

The condition of this 1968 Topps Tom Seaver card might not be too stellar, but the All-Star rookie trophy along with the extremely fair price helps me look past the crease down the middle of the card. Not to mention, the '68 Topps base set design happens to be one of my favorites.

The final 2 cards from the 8-card purchase are set needs, the first of which I have been trying to track down for quite some time now. I'm talking about Hank Aaron's final Topps Flagship card, an iconic shot of the true home run king as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

As is typical for the 1976 Topps set, the card features a daring color combination (pink and purple) that Topps was, somehow, able to pull off. Before Sunday's show, I hadn't seen a fairly-priced '76 Aaron card, so it was huge for me to check such a major card off the list.

Now, as far as I know, there isn't another big card like Aaron's standing in my way of completing this set.

 The most critical pick up from yesterday's show, undoubtedly, would have to be the 1961 Topps Willie McCovey card above, another major set need, of mine that I can now cross off the want list.

Unlike '76 and '79 Topps, there are several expensive veteran and 1 rookie (Juan Marichal) cards standing in my way of completing the 1961 Topps set. While I was able to make progress at The National, there's still a long way for me to go if I want to complete this 589-card set.

Adding this McCovey card to my collection is huge because it's another Hall of Famer, not to mention a high number, that I don't have to worry about.

But with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and most of the All-Star cards still on my radar, I'll have to hope that another bargain like this comes my way.