Monday, July 30, 2018

First Impressions: 2018 Topps Big League

I had read enough reviews about Topps Big League that I finally decided I needed to see these cards first hand. Fortunately, my local Wally World had them available. I decided to buy a pack and make note of my first impressions:

#37 J.D. Martinez

Alright! A Red Sox All-Star card right out of the gate!  That's a good way to start off. Now that I have the cards in hand, I like border design - it's simple and clean. The photographs are a step below what we currently get in the base set, but better than what I grew up with. The BL logo is unobtrusive and doesn't take away from the rest of the card. This is a pleasing looking card.

#86 Ken Giles
#156 Mike Leake
#81 Jonathan Schoop

Let's take a look at the back, shall we? Topps go old school with graphics free backs, and uses a two color contrast based off the team colors, which works well on cards like the Orioles, less much so if you're a White Sox fan (See below). What the backs lack in graphics, they make up with text. Unlike the base set, there seems to be little wasted space. Two bars of facts and trivia sandwich the truncated stats.

#125 Alex Wood
#155 Steven Souza Jr.
#332 Roger Clemens

One of the great things about having legendary players on modern cards is now we can see these players' WAR among the stats. Clemens had over 10 WAR in 1997! That's crazy! I wonder what his WAR was when he won the MVP award in 1986? Wait a minute... If you are one of those collectors that don't like Topps' penchant for only showing the past 5 years of stats, then this ups the annoyance factor up a bunch. Legends get expanded - but still incomplete - stats! Why, Topps, why?

#176 Lucas Duda
#336 Cal Ripken Jr
#382 Adeiny Hechavarria

One thing I noticed was that for the most part, the pictures are neatly framed within the border. A few, like Adeiny here, break the mold and have a part of the picture extend beyond the box. I'm not sure if this is inconsistency in design or intentional.

#340 Jim Plamer
#75 Garrett Richards
#398 Andrew Triggs
#236 Luis Castillo
#76 Aroldis Chapman
#387 J.T. Realmuto
#189 Tyler Saladino

The Did You Know? feature is one of the great things about these cards. Saladino wins the award for having the best one of the pack!

#109 Yoenis Cespedes
#371 Christian Villanueva (RC)
#33 Scooter Gennett
#308 2017 AL Doubles Leaders (Ramirez/Lowrie/Betts)


I've always had a fondness of League Leader cards, especially when it shows the top 3 players. All 3 players made the All-Star team this year!

#94 Jean Segura
#343 Alex Rodriguez
#34 Dominic Smith (RC)
#354 Home Run Apple (BL)

Beyond baseball players, the stadiums they play in have their own unique personalities, and when you're lucky enough to go to a game, you see firsthand how the venue adds to the overall enjoyment. Cards like this are fun.

#MI-5 Rhys Hoskins (Ministers of Mash insert)

Meh. Not really a fan of this insert. The color splash is too sloppy and the nameplate does nothing for me. I will say Hoskins impressed me at the Home Run Derby, so I'm glad to have his card at least.

#300 Kris Bryant (Players Weekend short print)

I like the idea of a short print being different in design! I don't have to look at at a microscopic number to tell this apart from the base card. 

#400 Eduardo Rodriguez (Gold)
#267 Kevin Gausman (Gold)
#114 Marcell Ozuna (Gold)

The standard parallel in the set is gold borders, which in my opinion doesn't separate itself a lot from the standard tan color. I suspect one of the other darker colored borders will look better.

Final thoughts:
I paid $5.24 with tax for 30 cards, which comes to less than 18 cents a card - For a set designed towards kids, this is a good way for them to get a lot of cards for their money. The overall product is good too - attractive without being too flashy. At 400 cards, set completion is a reasonable goal.

Overall, this a good first attempt in the new Big League line.


  1. For some teams, the Ministers of Mash cards are unreadable in hand.. I got a Cano one and you couldn't read it.. Shows up great in a scan though.

  2. Did You Know: Tyler Saladino was traded to the Brewers almost three months before this set was released?

    I hate the enormous lag time between transactions and when Topps acknowledges them.

    The leaders cards look awesome tho.

  3. I agree. It is especially annoying with their Update sets because the cutoff appears to be some time between the All-Star game and the July trade deadline.