The scandal surrounding NLCS co-MVP Chris Taylor’s absence from any Topps Flagship product has gotten it’s share of attention lately, but Taylor isn’t the only one done dirty by Topps. Not by a long shot.
If you’d missed it, the issue concerns Taylor not being included in 2017 Topps Update, Series 1 or Series 2, despite his becoming a breakout player for the National League champion Dodgers and appearing in 140 games in 2017.
I’d suspected that Taylor is not the only notable omission Topps made. What I did to confirm my suspicions was to take all of the players listed on the PDF checklists issued by Topps (which had, in between, been loaded into my personal baseball card database) and compare them to a list of players who’d appeared in any games in 2017.
I realize that Topps flagship sets are a commercial product and never really intended to be an exhaustive document of the MLB season… But you’d think that anyone who played enough to qualify for a batting or ERA title would have their own little spot in a combined 1000-card checklist… Right?
So here’s the breakdown… If you take the checklists for Series 1, Series 2 and Update, remove the duplication, the team cards, the combo cards and such, you’ll have 776 different players represented (FYI, this does include the two-player rookie cards from Update as two different players). On the other side of the equation, there were 1,458 players who appeared in the Majors in 2017, but a pretty decent number of those are “cuppa coffee” guys and September callups.
When I bumped one list against the other, I found that the list of players who did not appear in flagship Topps included five batters with at least 502 plate appearances and 6 pitchers with at least 162 innings pitched.
Some of the players who did appear in flagship include David Ortiz (retired), Angel Pagan (Topps was the only organization which had any interest in him), Derek Holland (who has not pitched 162 innings since 2013) and David Wright (who has not played since 2016 and has not had 502 PA’s since 2014). Granted, Topps didn’t know that three of these guys wouldn’t make an impact on 2017, but they could’ve held them back for a while.
A little side note… I normally wouldn’t do customs for a during-the-week post, but for a variety of reasons it was easier than scanning, plus some of these guys don’t have a whole lot of cardboard.
First, let’s start with the position players, ranked by the number of games they appeared in.
Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals – 145 games
AB – 587; R – 80; HR – 19; RBI – 78; BA – .288; OBP – .324
Merrifield was the starting second baseman for a team that was expected to be competitive in 2017… Granted, the Royals were not, but Merrifield did lead the AL with 34 stolen bases.
Recent Cardboard: 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers; 2017 Topps Now
Yolmer (Carlos) Sanchez – Chicago White Sox – 141 games
AB – 484; R – 63; HR – 12; RBI – 59; BA – .267; OBP – .319
Yeah, the White Sox stunk this year, and Sanchez didn’t put up amazing numbers, but he didn’t suck either.
Recent Cardboard: 2017 Topps Now, 2017 Topps White Sox team set (as Carlos Sanchez on those 2015 cards — Yolmer is his first name)
Chris Taylor – Los Angeles Dodgers – 140 games
AB – 514; R – 85; HR – 21; RBI – 72; BA – .288; OBP – .354
The previous two players were on losing teams. I did mention the whole “breakout” and “co-MVP of the NLCS” before, right?
Recent cardboard: 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers and a poopload of 2017 Topps Now
Tim Beckham – Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles – 137 Games
AB – 533; R – 67; HR – 22; RBI – 62; BA – .278; OBP – .328
I’m willing to give Topps a flyer on this one. Beckham wasn’t doing much of anything with the Rays in the first four months of the season, but getting traded to the Orioles lit a fire under his butt… Oh, I forgot, Topps Update’s checklist was apparently finalized around the All-Star break.
Recent cardboard: 2015 Topps Heritage
Ben Gamel – Seattle Mariners – 134 Games
AB – 509; R – 68; HR – 11; RBI – 59; BA – .275; OBP – .322
If Ben Gamel put up these numbers with the Yankees, his original organization, he’d be in every freakin’ set that Topps put out. Tell me I’m wrong.
Recent cardboard: 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers; 2017 Topps Seattle Mariners team set
…and the fact that he’s in the Mariners team set just pisses me off even more. The only work Topps had to do to get him in flagship was changing the card number.
Now let’s get to the pitchers, in descending order of innings pitched.
Patrick Corbin – Arizona Diamondbacks – 189.2 Innings Pitched
Games – 33; Record – 14-13; ERA – 4.03; K – 178; WHIP – 1.418
Patrick Corbin had me double-checking my findings… He’s in Heritage, he’s in National Baseball Card Day, he’s in the D-Backs team set, he’s in freakin’ Honus Bonus, for cryin’ out loud… but he’s not in Series 1, 2 or update? Are ya kidding me???
Recent cardboard: 2017 Heritage; 2017 Topps Arizona Diamondbacks team set; 2017 Honus Bonus Fantasy Baseball; 2017 Topps National Baseball Card Day
Lance Lynn – St. Louis Cardinals – 186.1 Innings Pitched
Games – 33; Record – 11-8; ERA – 3.43; K – 153; WHIP – 1.229
I understand that Lance Lynn missed all of 2016 after Tommy John surgery, but on the other hand he tied for the 2017 National League lead for Games Started.
Recent cardboard: 2017 Heritage High Numbers; 2017 Topps Now
Mike Leake – St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners – 186.0 Innings Pitched
Games – 31; Record – 10-13; ERA – 3.92; K – 130; WHIP – 1.28
Guys like Beckham and Leake would likely get into Update if Update was an update (and a woodchuck would chuck wood).
Recent cardboard: 2017 Heritage High Numbers, 2017 Topps Now; 2017 Honus Bonus
Dan Straily – Miami Marlins – 181.2 Innings Pitched
Games – 33; Record – 10-9; ERA – 4.26; K – 170; WHIP – 1.299
Dan Straily appeared in Donruss, but not Topps. Sink your teeth into that.
Recent Cardboard: 2017 Donruss; 2017 Topps Gypsy Queen; 2017 Topps Heritage (with the Reds); 2017 Topps Heritage High Numbers (with the Marlins); 2017 Honus Bonus
Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – 169.1 Innings Pitched
Games – 34; Record – 14-7; ERA – 3.82; K – 113; WHIP – 1.273
A 14-7 record for a 77-85 team? That’s not too shabby in my book. Plus nobody in the NL plunked more batters than Urena.
Recent Cardboard: 2015 Topps Update; 2015 Topps Heritage High Numbers
Luis Perdomo – San Diego Padres – 163.2 Innings Pitched
Games – 29; Record – 8-11; ERA – 4.67; K – 118; WHIP – 1.509
In the past 10 years, there have been two pitchers named Luis Perdomo, and both pitched for the Padres. The first Luis Perdomo pitched in San Diego in 2009 and 2010, for the Twins in 2012, and in independent baseball as recently as 2016. Tell me that didn’t cause confusion somewhere at some time.
Recent Cardboard: 2017 Topps Stadium Club; 2017 Gypsy Queen; 2017 Honus Bonus
Just to salvage some of the research I did… I originally went looking for players who appeared in 100+ games but didn’t get represented in Topps Flagship. There are TWENTY-THREE of them all together. Here are the guys who appeared in 100+ games but didn’t have the necessary plate appearances for this post (in decending order of games): Greg Garcia, Albert Almora, Ezequiel Carrera, Darwin Barney, Gorkys Hernandez, Wilmer Difo (Are we not men?), Andrew Romine, Guillermo Heredia, Delino DeShields, Matt Davidson, Joey Rickard (Another Oriole left out of flagship? What a shock), Erick Aybar, Manny Pina, Alen Hanson, Chris Herrmann, Tyler Moore, Austin Barnes (another NL champion Dodger).