Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Drafting the 2012 Topps Checklist

2011 Topps Factory Set
All-Star Bonus #3
Mrs. Claus was kind enough to get me a 2011 Topps factory set for Christmas, as has become her habit over the past few years.  I spent a lovely evening over the break going through the set and sorting the cards into number order.  Included within the box were five bonus All-Star cards, including the Roy Halladay card featured here.  After much consideration, I've decided to remove this Halladay card from the factory set box and store it within my 2011 Phillies binder. 

As I was sorting the set, I started pondering what I'd change about the Topps flagship offering.  I even toyed with the idea of putting my ideas into an actual working checklist for a re-imagined 2012 Topps set.  Time permitting I may tackle this project, but for now, here are my thoughts on how the 2012 Topps set should look.  (Of course, we're way too late in the process for any of these ideas to take effect, but it was fun to think this all through.)

Set Logistics
- The complete set would consist of two regular series of 396 cards each and a third series of 264 cards.  That's a total of 1,032 cards, which some may think is about 300 too many, but stick with me here.
- First series would be released on February 1st, second series would be released on June 1st and the third series would come out on October 1st.
- I don't like how Topps sprinkles highlight cards and award winner cards and other such nonsense throughout the set.  These are subsets.  Back in my day, these cards would be grouped together consecutively, as nature intended.
- If you're a free agent or if you've been traded between the end of the season and December 15th, you're not included within the first series.  This would mean no Phillies cards for Ryan Madson, Roy Oswalt, Ben Francisco or Jimmy Rollins in the first series.

2011 Topps #214
Set Composition - Series 1
(Caution:  There be math ahead.)
7 highlight cards start the set.
15 N.L. team cards and 15 A.L. manager cards would be included and I'd permit these to be inserted randomly throughout the series - no need for grouping.
- Somewhere in the middle of the first series would be 8 league leader cards featuring the prior year leaders in the major statistical categories from each league and the cards would be numbered consecutively.
- 6 postseason cards, as follows - one for each of the divisional series and one each for the league championship series.  Again, these would be grouped consecutively.
3 checklist cards
- 12 cards for a to be determined fun subset (or two).  Boyhood photos?  Super Veteran cards?
- 330 player cards, 11 players per team.  To be clear - the players included would have all played with their featured teams in 2011 and there would be a 95% or greater chance they'd be coming back in 2012.  For example, the Phillies base card checklist for the first series would be as follows - Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Wilson Valdez, John Mayberry Jr., Joe Blanton, Antonio Bastardo.

2011 Topps #460
Set Composition - Series 2
15 A.L. team cards and 15 N.L. manager cards.
8 World Series cards.  One for each game and a recap
10 cards for a to be determined fun subset.  I'm thinking about father/son cards or mascot cards or even classic combo cards, but only if the combo is in fact classic.
- 3 checklist cards.
- 345 player cards, either 11 or 12 players per team.  These cards would be for the guys who switched teams during the off-season or who were free agents.  Again, as an example, here's the Phillies base card checklist for the second series, giving the Phils 12 cards - Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix, Dontrelle Willis, Michael Martinez, Kyle Kendrick, Michael Stutes.

Set Composition - Series 3
18 cards for the All-Star Game starters.
- 7 highligt/record breaker cards for first half achievements, including the obligatory home run derby champion card.  (I could cut down on the amount of highlight cards and replace with new manager cards, if needed.)
- 2 checklist cards.
2011 Topps Update #US92
- 237 player cards, either 7 or 8 players per team.  These cards would be for in-season acquisitions, rookie sensations or guys who just didn't fit into the first or second series.  For the Phillies team set - Jose Contreras, Justin De Fratus, Brian Schneider and five other players from a pool of new additions or guys like Joe Savery, David Herndon, Pete Orr, Michael Schwimer, Domonic Brown, John Bowker, Scott Podsednik or Pat Misch.

In summary, if Topps were to use my set composition guidelines, we'd have 1,032 cards in a set, subsets grouped together and anywhere from 29 to 31 players from each team.  I know if I had a spare half a day, I could come up with the complete checklist for the first series and probably half the checklist for the second series.  (Topps:  Let me know if you're interested and I'm sure we could negotiate an acceptable form of payment.)

And have I mentioned there would be either no or only one insert set included within the packs?  Maybe that's a topic for a future post . . .


hiflew said...

One of the biggest problems I see with your well thought out plan would be the extreme majority of star players would all be in Series 1. That could present a problem for selling series 2. As a collector, I think the idea works though. Although I would prefer to see the Topps set used as a yearbook of 2011, not a look forward to 2012. Meaning all players would be in their 2011 uniforms in the first two series and perhaps in the new uniform in Series 3. Basically treating Series 3 like the 80s version of the Traded set.

Anonymous said...

The first card image you posted (the Halladay factory set insert) illustrates, for me, the biggest frustration in collecting today. It's so hard to keep up with every single new release and special insert that it's easy to miss cards you would otherwise be interested in. I like to think I do a great job of keeping up with these things, but until I saw this post, I knew nothing about that Halladay card.

Section 36 said...

Aren't there 10 AS game starters now with a DH every year? May have to trim a couple highlights off. I love the set-up. And, Topps can still put Jeter and Pujols in every series. Perfect!

Jim said...

Hiflew - Having all the stars in Series 1 is definitely a problem I identified. I'd need to hold back a few guys (Halladay, Howard, Hamels, etc.) to make Series 2 worthwhile.

14k - I had no idea that card existed until I opened the factory set!

S36 - Yep, I'd need 10 All-Star cards.

Steve F. said...

Jim, I just discovered your site (along with that of "14,000 Phillies" as well). It's a blast, and I'm about to become a regular reader!

A question, in case you are still monitoring this post's comments--the Halladay comment at the start of it reminded me. Do you have any idea of whether the 2007 Topps Factory Set "Holiday Edition Rookie Exclusives" card #17 of J.D. Durbin is a different photo from his 2007 Topps Chrome and 2007 Topps U&H cards? I would guess it is, but before I buy a second 2007 factory set just to get it (I of course didn't buy the holiday set that year....), I'd like to make sure. Thanks for any advice you can give.


Jim said...

Hi Steve. Welcome aboard!

I honestly don't know the answer to that question, but I'm guessing it's probably a different photo of Durbin. Check with 14,000 Phillies - he'd definitely know as he's got the most extensive (and well-researched) Phillies checklist around.