Monday, May 6, 2019

First Impressions - 2019 Donruss

I have a soft spot for Donruss. During the heyday of the junk wax era was when I collected heavily, and although a lot of their designs haven't aged well, I've always liked them. Whereas Topps usually went the safe route and produced simple, pleasing designs, Donruss tried to be bold with their borders. I appreciated that.

That soft spot led me to purchasing a pack of this year's product. (That, and the fact it's cheap.) This is the part where everyone laments the lack of an MLB license. To be honest, the lack of a logo doesn't bother me. It's no different than those unlicensed oddballs I enjoyed in the 80's. What's weird however, is that the lack of the team names bothers me more, especially with 2 teams apiece in New York and Chicago. I think the worst thing about the lack of a license is that most of us remember Donruss as it once was, and today's product is just a sad reminder of that. No matter how good of a product Donruss puts out now, it will never hold a candle to those junk wax cards.

Let's see what Donruss is doing these days...

#72 Chris Archer

The honorary first card of the pack. I like the front design.The angled lines don't take away from the main photo, although the gray triangle in the lower right corner feels like wasted space.

#41 Jonathan Loaisiga (RR)
#95 Justin Turner
#61 Juan Soto
#108 Jon Lester
#80 Adrian Beltre

The backs...well, they are backs, aren't they? Lots of wasted space, and I'm not even showing you the even worse backside of a Diamond King card. The print could have easily been enlarged. At least we get an Adrien Beltre sunset card with career stats!

#39 Jake Bauers (RR)
#87 Ronald Acuna Jr.
#113 Yoan Moncada
#5 Adam Jones (DK) (Independence Day parallel)

Now this is a parallel I can get behind! The blue border with white stars looks amazing. This is the bold innovation I was talking about...

#135 Mike Foltynewicz (Holo Red parallel)
#AA1 Jose Altuve (Action All Stars insert)

This is a nice looking card, and I was all set to praise it until I entered it into my collection on the TCDB. That's when I learned about all the different shape parallels this has. Those are the kind of parallels that annoy me. Diamond? Rapture? Pink Fireworks? Ugh. This is "Vector" one if you care.

#219 Sean Reid-Foley (RC)
#172 Justin Verlander
#223 Josh James (RC)
#151 Carlos Carrasco
#249 Nick Martini (RC)
#165 Javier Baez
#227 Ryan Borucki (RC)
#144 Jose Martinez
#231 Framber Valdez (RC)

Donruss pays tribute to it's 1985 set as well. I wish they went with the original red stripes here. The '85 set always reminded me of the A-Team van. I pity the fool that doesn't respect the past!

#121 Aaron Judge (Photo VAR)
#13 Mitch Haniger (DK)
#191 Michael Conforto
#152 Paul Goldschmidt
#12 Matt Chapman (DK)
#61 Juan Soto ("Juanjo" VAR)

Baseball Reference lists his nickname as "Childish Bambino" which is way cooler. I wonder if they can fit that on his next Players' Weekend jersey?

#184 Lorenzo Cain
#133 Walker Buehler ("@Buehlersdayoff VAR")
#14 Shohei Ohtani
#223 Josh James (RC) (Photo VAR)
#101 Mookie Betts (Photo VAR)

Getting to the end of the pack, I was starting to worry I'd get shut out of my favorite team, but luckily I scored two among the final 3 cards of the pack.

#16 Ronald Acuna Jr. (DK)
#197 Xander Bogaerts

This isn't a horrible set. It may be even one of the better ones of the post-license Panini era. I don't know if it's just me and my one pack but I find the player collation odd.  Just this one pack I got two different cards of Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr, and Josh James. Last year Donruss marked their special variations on the back, but I didn't notice any such tells in this years set. Still, it might be worthy of another pack buy.


  1. At least they're trying. I do feel like Donruss is relying too much on their old designs-though the same can be said for pretty much every other card set. And there are way too many parallels/variations.

    The lack of originality(and logos) is pushing me toward collecting other sports.

  2. i have to agree with Chris. Donruss isn't pushing the boundaries of creativity using new designs. There's usually an insert or two I enjoy picking up on the secondary market. I miss logos and names too but overlook much of this if the design is good. Overall Panini is quite creative so I'm not sure why more thought isn't put into this product.