Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ranking the Sets from 2017

Over 9 months ago this fun-filled baseball card collecting season began, and the first card of Topps Flagship, Kris Bryant, was obtained by many collectors.

Since then, Topps, as well as Panini and other companies, have released dozens of products that range from low-end cards like Topps Flagship to the highest of high-end like Topps Dynasty. And while I have not and will probably not ever be a high-end collector, I have accumulated decent totals of cards from 16 different sets this year. And yes, today I am going to be ranking them.

Here they are, the 16 sets that I have acquired cards from ranked solely by set design, creativity, and other key details.

#16 Panini Diamond Kings

I'm trying to be fair to this set, but I'm sorry, I just don't like it. This is the 3rd year of this product's revival and it's gotten worse and worse after each year. I appreciate the inclusion of lesser-known players like Al Oliver, but the lack of creativity with the set design and the repetition of the image on the front and back were just a few of the reasons why I dislike Panini's attempt at Diamond Kings.

#15 Topps Gold Label

The same week that this product came out, the base cards and even some parallels were available in the dime bins. That should be a sign that something is definitely wrong with this set. Topps' 2nd year of the Gold Label revival saw them fall flat on their faces after a pretty successful 2016 design. The foil is dreadful (seriously who actually wants foil on baseball cards anymore) and the backs are boring. The only decent part is the inclusion of retired players in the set, that is what saved them from being last on the list.

#14 Topps National Baseball Card Day

Yes I know this wasn't a heavily-produced set like the others on this list, but I still got 2 packs on National Baseball Card Day plus a few exclusive Mike Trout cards, so I felt the need to put it on the list. I love the promotion that Topps did and I had a lot of fun taking part in it, but the set is nothing special. Not to mention that the backs are some of the worst I've seen in a while. Still, the whole idea of this set is very cool, and the promotion went well, so I have to give Topps credit for that.

#13 Topps Bowman

The Bowman base set has been less than spectacular for the last few years. Especially since Topps decided to get rid of borders in the set. I just think the base set lacks personality. It's just very bland and there isn't much too it. The backs, however, save the set as they feature the typical résumé, skills, and up close along with a really nice splash of color. If only the front of the card was as good as the back.

#12 Panini Donruss/Optic

I cannot believe that I am putting Panini Donruss above sets like Bowman, but I was pleasantly surprised with the set Panini put together. Granted it's not fabulous, but it's easily better than the 3 awful set designs from 2014-2016. The backs aren't great, but the fronts make up for it. Plus, they put Pete Rose in the set, so thank you for that Panini.

#11 Topps Bunt

The 2017 Bunt set is not as good as the 2016 set, but it's still a pretty good looking set. Topps proved that they actually take at least 1 piece of advice from the fans as they brought back the much-loved set that debuted in 2016. The backs still stink, but the front of the cards look really nice as they provide a much-needed splash of color in an era in which card collecting has been taken over by silver designs and blue sharpies for autographs.

#10 Topps Gypsy Queen

The 2017 Gypsy Queen set attempted to differentiate itself from everything Gypsy Queen has ever done before, and they succeeded. Unfortunately, that meant getting rid of relics, one of my favorite parts of Gypsy Queen for 6 whole years. They did incorporate certain variations that I thoroughly enjoyed such as capless and the missing nameplates. And their backs were very good in a year in which card backs were completely ignored by both Topps and Panini. The set still has its problems which is why it's at #10, but it did succeed in pulling off a transition year for the brand.

#9 Topps Finest

Topps Finest, like Gold Label, Bunt, and Gypsy Queen set that didn't look as good in 2017 as they did in 2016. However, I do like the very modern approach that Topps took to this set. I don't mind the silver and white background on this card and really like how well Topps pulled off this modern set. I still easily prefer 2016 Finest to this set, but because of how many of these I've found in the dime bins, I decided to put this set at #9.

#8 Topps Chrome

The only reason that I separated this from Topps Flagship, and put it lower than the set was that the Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger hype was at its highest when this set was released, and so the prices of everything in the set skyrocketed. And while I got some pretty nice cards from the set, I still feel like the regular Flagship was better done than Topps Chrome, so that's why Topps Chrome is here.

#7 Topps Flagship/Opening Day/Update

This years' Topps Flagship design was a vast improvement over the disastrous 2016 set, and it looks better than what 2018 Topps is going to look like. I'm glad Topps eliminated the smoke and created a set that has something for every type of collector in it. I love the Five Tool insert as well as the Bowman Then & Now. And while they over-hyped the 1987 insert set, and I don't think anyone wants to see a Topps Salute card again, I still think they did an excellent job with this set as it was a big improvement over 2016. 

#6 Topps Fire

I week ago I didn't have a single card from 2017 Topps Fire. Now I have enough to form an opinion of the Target-exclusive set. I was very happy to see that Topps put out a set that had so much color and so many creative elements. The set consisted of 3 base set designs. One was decent, one was pretty good, but the one shown above is my hands-down favorite. The carefully chosen colors and details absolutely blew me away. And considering that this is the first time that this set has been released not as an insert, I was very impressed.

#5 Topps Heritage

Topps Heritage is a very reliable set, you always know what to expect. You have your base set, short-prints, flashbacks, New Age Performers, Then & Nows, and all the other fun stuff. It's consistency and well-done replications of Topps sets is my favorite part and is what causes me to collect the set year after year, and this year was no exception. 1968 Topps is one of my favorite sets ever made, so that's why I was very happy to see it in 2017 Topps Heritage. And Topps did not disappoint, even including a 1968 Topps Game insert to make this years' Heritage even better than I thought it could be.

#4 Topps Stadium Club

Now we're getting into the best of the best 2017 sets, and Stadium Club is the perfect example of this.  Topps pulled off one of the best Stadium Club sets ever, because of some very memorable cards from the set that includes Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson, and, of course, the now iconic Tim Raines card. The set was incredibly well-done and quickly helped me to become less skeptical of Topps Stadium Club as a set and helped me look forward to next years' release. That is if it doesn't copy yet another Fleer set next year.

#3 Topps Allen & Ginter

2017 Allen & Ginter was my favorite Allen & Ginter base set since 2009, and it's easy to see why. They kept it traditional with the color splotches, but also added oval-shaped frames that, to me completely made the set what it is. Usually, Allen & Ginter can be all over the place, but with the frames, there is more order in these cards and helps the set look so much better. Plus, it saw the return of Ernie Banks to baseball cards after a 2-year hiatus due to issues with his estate, so that made me very happy to get cards from this set.

#2 Topps Gallery

This set was a big surprise. Topps brought back the art-based set in its continued attempt to bring back old sets that debuted during the 1990's. And they truly delivered in the 2017 Topps Gallery set. The white borders with silver writing allow for the beautiful artwork to standout on these cards. And since there are so many stunning cards in this set, I had to give this set the world of credit because that is what it deserves.

And now here it is, the #1 set of 2017 is...

Topps Archives!

Yes, I had to put Archives here, simply because it was one of the best-executed sets in years. The sets included were 1960, 1982, and 1992, which are some of my favorite sets in Topps history. The inclusion of 1960, one of my favorite sets of all-time helps me forget about how Topps put 1982 in Archives for the 2nd time in 5 years. Still, the sets were incredibly replicated which is something Topps has struggled with in the past. And if that wasn't enough, it included cards of some of my favorite retired players and even historic manager Earl Weaver. You can tell that Topps really cared about this set, and when Topps cares enough they can produce some of the most incredible sets you'll ever see.

Let me know if I missed a set on this list. Also, please let me know what your favorite set of 2017 is. I'm really interested in hearing the sets that fellow collectors enjoy.


  1. Penny for Penny I think Topps Bunt was the best valve and it still looks better than Fire.

  2. I really need to try and find some Gallery to pick up. Also I actually enjoyed Gold Label (at least a little), but its the autos that really make that set for me. They're gorgeous.