Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2011 Topps Phillies

2011 Topps #300, 2011 Topps Update #US100, 2011 Topps #460 and #174
Trying to stay awake during the Phillies-less postseason gives me a good reason to look back to the last year the Phillies kept me up late at night in prior Octobers.  I'm going to try to get through my look back at the 2012 and 2013 Topps Phillies cards during this postseason so that this series is finally current.  I'll take a look at the 2014 Topps Phillies cards following the release of this year's update set.

The Set
2011 Topps #300 (Back)

Number of cards in the set:  Omitting any short-print or gimmick cards, series one, series two and the update series all contained 330 cards, for a whopping 990 cards for the complete 2011 Topps set.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  The set has a nice, clean design allowing for plenty of room for the photography to take center stage.  As I wrote back in February 2011 after I had opened my first packs of 2011 Topps, the full team name circling the baseball in the lower right doesn't need to be there twice.  Other than that, it's hard to find fault with the design or this set in general.
Notable competition:  None to speak of, and this is the last post in which I'll even list this as a sub-category.  Upper Deck issued a logo-less set in 2010 and Panini would come along in a few years with more logo-less products.

2011 Topps #420, #219, #495 and #89
2011 Phillies
Record and finish:  For the fifth and final year in a row, the Phillies won the N.L. East, finishing with a franchise high 102 wins to just 60 losses.  The second place Braves finished 13 games back.  Unfortunately, the postseason ended prematurely as the Phils were defeated in five games by the eventual World Champion Cardinals.

Key players:  Pitching was the emphasis in 2011 as the Four Aces - Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt - came together to open the season.  Lee had been traded away following the 2009 season, but he re-signed with the Phillies prior to the 2011 season.  The four starters would finish with a combined record of 59-33 and a 2.71 ERA.  Halladay and Lee led the way with 19 and 17 wins respectively, and Halladay started the All-Star Game for the National League.  Ryan Madson assumed the closer's role with Brad Lidge missing significant time due to injuries.  Madson ended up saving 32 games and Antonio Bastardo recorded eight saves.

2011 Topps #656, 2011 Topps Update #US92 and 2011 Topps #638
Ryan Howard turned in another solid season, driving in 116 and hitting 33 home runs.  Unfortunately, his bat really hasn't been heard from since.  Raul Ibanez drove in 84 runs and Carlos Ruiz hit .283 while the rest of the offense had relatively mediocre years.  Hunter Pence provided a spark following his acquisition from the Astros in July.  In 54 games with the Phils, Pence hit .324 with 11 home runs.  Placido Polanco provided steady defense, winning his third Gold Glove and his first as a third baseman.

2011 Topps #359
Key events:  The key takeaway from the regular season is that the Phillies absolutely dominated the competition throughout the year.  However, it's hard to appreciate and look back fondly on their play during the 162 regular season games given their quick exit in the playoffs.  Halladay and the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter battled throughout the decisive N.L.D.S. Game 5, with the Cardinals emerging with a 1-0 victory.  In a play that's still hard to watch, Howard grounded out to end the game, rupturing his Achilles on the way to first.

In other news, utility infielder Wilson Valdez earned the victory in a 19-inning game against the Reds in May.  Valdez came in to pitch the 19th, holding the Reds scoreless and earning his own Chachi Highlight card to commemorate his feat.

2011 Phillies in 2011 Topps
There are 25 Phillies cards to be found within the base set, and another six within the update series for a total of 31 cards.  There are also veteran variation cards for Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts.
Who's in:
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 8 cards
#219 Carlos Ruiz (c), #420 Ryan Howard (1b), #214 Chase Utley (2b), #199 Jimmy Rollins (ss), #89 Placido Polanco (3b), #656 Raul Ibanez (lf), #495 Shane Victorino (cf), #US92 Hunter Pence (rf)

2011 Topps #214, #199, 2011 Topps Update #US189 and 2011 Topps #341
  • Cards of the starting pitcher rotation - 4 cards
#300 Roy Halladay, #US100 Cliff Lee, #460 Cole Hamels, #174 Roy Oswalt

The Four Aces are all represented and Joe Blanton (who was limited to eight starts because of injuries) has a card, but rookie Vance Worley who spent the majority of the season as the team's fifth starter, was omitted.  Worley's sole mainstream 2011 baseball card can be found in the Topps Heritage set.
  • Base cards of players who played with the Phillies in 2011 - 10 cards
#242 Brad Lidge, #267 Jose Contreras, #341 Kyle Kendrick, #379 Ben Francisco, #421 Domonic Brown, #469 Joe Blanton, #524 Michael Martinez, #638 Ryan Madson, #US117 Michael Stutes, #US189 Wilson Valdez
    2011 Topps #232
  • Base cards of players who did not play with the Phillies in 2011 - 2 cards
#232 Jamie Moyer and #325 Jayson Werth

Moyer missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery, and he'd come back in 2013 to pitch with the Colorado Rockies at the age of 49.  Werth signed his mega-contract with the Nationals following the 2010 season, locking him up through the 2017 season.
  • 2010 National League Leaders cards - 2 cards
#11 Roy Halladay (Wins) and #82 Roy Halladay (ERA)
  • 2010 National League Award Winners cards - 1 card, #146 Roy Halladay (Cy Young)
  • 2010 Highlights/checklist cards - 1 card, #359 Roy Halladay & Carlos Ruiz (Postseason no-hitter)
  • Team card - 1 card, #511 Jimmy Rollins (Walk-off celebration from June 23, 2010)
  • 2011 National League All-Star cards - 2 cards, #US85 Roy Halladay and #US154 Cliff Lee
Polanco, Hamels and Victorino, who also made the All-Star team in 2011, got left out of the update series.

Who's out:  There are three position players (John Mayberry, Jr., Brian Schneider and Ross Gload) and three pitchers (Worley, Bastardo and David Herndon) who were big parts of the 2011 team, but there wasn't enough room within the Topps checklist for their inclusion.

2011 Topps #511
Phillies on other teams:  Pence (#45) and Lee (#103) are featured with the Astros and Rangers respectively within the first series.  Pence has a Phillies card in the update series, but he also appears with the Astros on his 2011 N.L. All-Star card (#US304).
What's he doing here:  I can't fault Topps for including Moyer and Werth in the first series.  Although they may have wanted to hold off on Werth as it wasn't a guarantee he'd be back with the Phillies for 2011.  Werth's series one card was photoshopped to show him with the Nationals for the Topps Chrome release.

Cards that never were candidates:  I'll go with the six players I listed above under the Who's out section.  A case could also be made for a rookie card for pitcher Justin De Fratus who made his debut in 2011 and appeared in five games.

Favorite Phillies card:  The team card showing Rollins and a group of jubilant Phillies celebrating at home plate is cool, but my favorite Phillies card from this set is the card celebrating Halladay's no-hitter against the Reds in game one of the 2010 N.L.D.S.

Other Stuff
2011 Topps Silk Collection
Variations:  I liked the format I used for the 2010 Topps Phillies post, showing in chart form the different card variations to be found throughout the flagship, Chrome, Opening Day and Retail set, along with any variations to be found within the annual factory set.  Here's the 2011 chart, and it's interesting to note that Lee's cards in everything other than the flagship set most likely feature a photo from his first stint with the club in 2009.

Also of interest is the fact that Mayberry had a card within the Silk Collection insert set, which is his only card featuring him with the 2011 Topps design.  Why Topps decided to produce a silk card for Mayberry, but omit him from all other offerings is a mystery.

Memory Lane:  Here's a fun little post I did back in January 2012 showing Utley's various 2011 Topps cards all featuring photos taken within seconds of each other at Fenway Park in 2010.


Anonymous said...

J. C. Romero appears on card US64 in the update set as a member of the Yankees, one of his four stops that year. According to Baseball-Reference, he pitched 24 games for the Phils before being released in June. He signed with the Nats, who released him before he pitched in an MLB game. The same thing happened with the Yankees, but somehow he ended up on an update card with them. He finished the season with Colorado.

Jim said...

Thanks for the info . . . I didn't realize Romero had a card in the update series.