Guest Blog: Top 10 New Collections to Start on a Budget.

(Editors Note: This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Please welcome COMC Member Tycrew to the COMC Blog! Tycrew is a University of Illinois alumni and is currently in graduate school working towards a career in dentistry. His areas of focus in the hobby are football and baseball, but as a lifelong collector, his collection is not just limited to those sports).

The perfect collection is what we all are striving for in this hobby. It is an ever elusive goal along with the oft insatiable drive to find the perfect combination of cards that allows you to take a step back and stare in awe. Most average collectors are not going to ever be able to afford to add the Graded 10 Mike Trout rookie autograph flight to our personal collections. Us mere mortals must abide by budgets and finical restriction. That said, financial restriction does not need to limit us. I put together a list of potential collections that can all be complied while being fiscally responsible. The goal is to to always be adding loads of intrinsic personal value while sending only a little cash. It doesn’t have to have a huge price tag to be the prefect collection.

Bonus) Jersey Cards NBA Starting Five

I’ll be honest, I don’t collect basketball cards and that is why this idea is a bonus. I open packs of them on occasions and then try to trade them away as soon as I get them because they just do not fit in my collection. If I did collect basketball, I would do this: I would find a jersey card for every player on the starting five on my favorite basketball team. It’s a small collection that is highly displayable. Even if you are a Warriors fan, and every player is an all-star, the jersey cards are affordable. You can always expand to the whole bench too with out running out of dough

10) Your fantasy teams

This idea could be a fun one especially if you can get the others in your fantasy league to buy into the concept too. The core set up would involve you drafting your team like normal but, once the season begins, you cannot start the player unless you have their card. There are all sorts of different rules you could add to make this work for you and your friends. To add a degree of difficulty you could make a requirement that all the cards have to be numbered or an insert. It would make the league more fun and add an exciting twist to free agency. Setting up a keep league where you can only keep the player if you have their autograph could also be an intriguing option.

9) The Regional Gems Collection

You would be surprised how many players from your area have a rookie card. Most likely they only ever got a rookie card, but that’s all it takes. This collection usually will stem around your high school. Go back and make a list of the schools from your area. Obviously start the list with your school. Then add the crosstown rivals and then make sure throw the rest of the conference in for fun. Use your favorite web search to find the guys who made it to the big,s and who you need to look out for going forward. Occasionally, you will be searching through a box at a show or opening a pack and find someone from your area to add to the collection too. People in the community will be impressed when you show them, and you will always be able to add to the collection as more guys work their way up the ranks.

8) Home Run Derby Bat Card

Some relic cards can almost seem disappointing when people are only on the hunt for autographs or high price cards. Not in this scenario. The whole goal of the collection is to get a bat card from every player in the most current year (or your personal favorite year’s) home run derby. Even though some of the top players are in the derby, most solo bat cards are reasonably priced, and there are only eight guys with the most recent rules.

7) Starting QB for every NFL Team

To be clear this is not going to be the cheapest collection when you start it. Among all of the ideas on the list this one will have the highest start up cost. This will be a long term investment though. Once you get the starters in the collection, you will only need to replace a few a season which makes it very affordable long term. This might have the best display options of any of the ideas on the list two. A big matted frame with the teams listed with window spaces for the card would look sharp in just about any man cave in the nations.

6) Old Players, New cards

Keep a look out for famous players on new cards. These usually come in the form of inserts or numbers, but can also be autos and relics too. There are many old timers that have tons of new cards that you can pick in in the quarter box at shows or on COMC. Pick a player, pick a team, pick an era – they all will work. Most of these cards are very affordable and look great. The hard part about this collection is it is limitless!

5) Player collection

If you don’t have a favorite bench player or back up or guy who didn’t ever make it quite as big then you need to find one. A player from your childhood who you really liked works too. The only two rules here is it cannot be the hot rookie, or a superstar, and you cannot arbitrarily pick someone for this collection. If you do just casually pick someone you will quickly begin to get buyer’s remorse. I found my player when I was young. Mark Prior was my favorite Cubs pitcher growing up. Not sure why, but he was. Even though he won’t make the Hall of Fame or get his number retired, I still really think of him as one of my favorite players. His autograph is reasonably priced, and I can’t get enough. Find yourself a Mark Prior.

4) In person autographs

I do not need to tell you too much about this kind of collection. This is simply a reminder that not every card has to be DNA carbon dated, graded and personally certified with a COA to be a real autograph. Most teams have opportunities to meet the players with autographs. Taking base cards to those opportunities can really add personal value to a collection without spending money.

3) MLB Team Top 30 Prospect Autographs

This has been my most recent focus as of late. I went and found a website that ranked the 30 best prospects for the Cubs and made a list. I’ve been collecting autographs, but could have chosen base rookie cards just as easily. Spring training has become a blast watching these guys play with the big boys, and having the hope that one day they may become the big names on the roster. It is an evolving list, but without too much turnover, so it gives you the opportunity to keep up without having to build something completely new. Most guys are very inexpensive except the few top guys. You will have a prospect get good and have to dish out some cash but they are most likely to became a valuable card. This collection has the added benefit of giving you a chance at finding gem that turns in to the next MVP and pays for the whole collection.

2) Your college football player

Think about how many players you see in the dollar box at the last show you went to or COMC of college football players who went undrafted. There’s a lot of them and no one seems to what them. Well I want them, or at least some of them. I went to a big ten school with a bad football team. That doesn’t stop me from loving my alma matter and watching every Saturday. To me a lot of the best players on the team give it their best to make the league, but most fall short. That doesn’t stop the printing plates, however. Like with the baseball products, I like to keep a look out for the autographs. This collection is always evolving, and can keep you engaged with the college players you watched and cheered for three to four years. The best part is, unless you are a fan a power house program, most of these players are very affordable. Who cares if they don’t go pro, they were and always will be your guys.

1) The base card set

That’s right. The best collection on a budget is still and always will be a complete base card set. It is accessible and overwhelming satisfying. You can make it easy on your self and buy a box or two of the new stuff and almost ensure you get all the cards (and guarantee yourself a good insert or two), do it the old fashion way one pack at a time, or finish off your set via COMC. If vintage is more your style, you will probably end up spending a bit more, but you do not need to be sucked into grading or only having cards in perfect condition. You can snag lower quality copies via COMC, or go to local show or store and add to your collection. There is probably no better feeling than completing the set yourself. In contrast to many of the other collections, this collection has a defined start and finish which can be a great drive and also a great way to prevent you from over spending. The complete set is the king of affordable collections and I don’t see that changing any time soon!

The Official COMC Fantasy Pack Baseball Team of 2019!

When we’re not processing the millions of trading cards that come through the doors of COMC on a yearly basis, we like to embrace the hobby and have a little fun. Many members of our team have been fantasy sports enthusiasts for decades, and over the last few years we’ve tried to develop innovative and fun ways to incorporate sports card pack and box breaks with fantasy sports. You may remember our Fantasy Baseball Pack Battle League from last year.

This year, we’ve come up with a fun concept to build a fantasy baseball team using packs of the 2019 Topps Opening Day Baseball Card product. Unlike other fantasy games, we’re not trying to score points,but rather trying to build a team that can ‘win’ the most games using a unique scoring system.

If you want to play along at home, it’s really simple! All you’ll need is to two $9.99 blaster boxes of Opening Day and a way to keep track of your team and stats!

How to play: 

  1. Open all of your packs. Separate your batters and pitchers into two piles, then separate your batters into piles sorted by player position.
  2. Build your offense. Your Offense should consist of 9 players (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 outfielders, and a Designated Hitter). Choose three reserve players (any position) as well for backups in case of injury. Duplicate players are allowed if a player is an outfielder or listed at multiple positions. (If you did not receive a position player from each position, you may play a player of any position to compensate)
  3. Build your pitching staff. Your pitching will consist of 5 Starting Pitchers, 1 Closer, and 2 reserve pitchers (SP or closer). Duplicate pitchers are allowed. (If you do not receive enough pitchers to field a full staff — each pitcher you received may be played up to two times to compensate.If you didn’t receive a closer, you may play a sixth SP.)
  4. (Optional) Hard Mode: Play with a salary cap and build your team using the league average of $132 million or less by utilizing salary information found on Sportstrac.
  5. (Optional) Ultra Hard Mode: Any player with an real life salary of under $1 million is automatically bumped to $3 million. Players on rookie contracts still provide tremendous value, but not nearly as much as they do under hard mode.

Scoring

The scoring system for this game involves converting your players on-field performance into ‘wins’, with a goal of building a team that can win as many games as possible. You can track your players performance throughout the year using Baseball-Reference.

Hitting Scoring 

Every 40 runs = +1 win
Every 15 Home Runs = +1 win
Every 15 Stolen Bases = +1 win
Every 30 RBI’s = +1 win
Every 50 walks = +1 win

Example: Mike Trout in 2018: 101 runs (2), 39 HR (2), 24 sb (1), 79 RBI (2), 122 walks (2) = 9 wins
A team with an offense comparable to nine 2018 Mike Trout would earn 81 wins.

Pitching Scoring

Every 5 Wins = +3 Wins
Every 5 losses = -1 Win
Every 5 Saves = +1 Win
Every 75 Strikeouts = +1 Win

Examples:
Justin Verlander (sp) in 2018: 16 wins (9), 9 losses (-1), 290 strikeouts(4),= 12 wins
Edwin Diaz (rp) in 2018: 0 wins (0), 4 losses (0), 57 saves (11), 124 strikeouts (1) = 12 wins

A team with a pitching staff comparable to five 2018 Justin Verlander and a 2018 Edwin Diaz would earn 72 wins. Combined with the hitting total, this team would win a total of 153 games.

Exception: Autographed cards pulled from your 2019 Topps Opening Day Blasters are worth 50% less points than their non-autographed counterparts. Why? Because you’re already a winner if you hit an auto out of an Opening Day Blaster, duh! Also, you should be submitting that card to COMC to sell ASAP!

Substitutions: If any of your hitters fail to appear in at least 108 games (2/3rds of the season) during the 2019 season, you may swap them for a reserve player from any position. If any of your starting pitchers fail to make 20 starts throughout the 2019 season, you may swap them for a reserve. If your closer fails to appear in at least 45 games in the 2019 season (save opportunity or not), you may swap them for another relief pitcher.

Our Team:

For this game, we’ll be using the hard mode of staying under the $132 million salary cap.Opening two blasters yielded enough position players and pitchers to field several teams, so you should have no trouble building a team or three to play along. A lot of good players got the snub due to our salary cap restriction. We passed on elite fantasy players like J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Nolan Arenado, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, and Stephen Strasburg simply because we could not make the numbers work. Our strategy was to divide the money in half as close as possible to balance out hitting with pitching.

Hitting:

Designated Hitter: Mark Trumbo ($13.5 Million)
Catcher: J.T. Realmuto ($5.9 Million)
First Base: Anthony Rizzo ($11.28 Million)
Second Base: Gleyber Torres ($605,000)
Short Stop: Francisco Lindor ($10.55 million)
Third Base: Rafael Devers ($614,500)
Outfield: Ronald Acuna ($560,000)
Outfield: Mike Trout ($17.6 million)
Outfield: Mitch Haniger ($590,000)

2019 Hitting Payroll = $61.19 million

We ran into a salary cap problem after our initial team configuration, which meant that J.D. Martinez and his $28 million contract had to be downgraded to Mark Trumbo’s more manageable $13.5 million deal. Our second and third year players provide insane value for their price tag, allowing us to pay for Trout, Rizzo, Lindor , and Trumbo. We went with the hometown favorite Mitch Haniger as a sentimental pick over a certain player riding our bench. More on that later.

Pitching:

SP: Justin Verlander ($28 million)
SP: Gerrit Cole ($13.5 million)
SP: Trevor Bauer ($13.0 million)
SP: Blake Snell ($1.6 million)
SP: Jacob Degrom ($9.0 million)
Closer: Edwin Diaz ($607,000)

2019 Pitching Payroll = $65.7 million

We had way too many good pitchers to choose from, so we had to make some extremely tough decisions. In the end, we decided that the Houston Astros 1-2 combo of Verlander and Cole simply provided too much value to overlook. Trevor Bauer has in insane K/9 ratio, and reigning AL CY Young Winner Blake Snell is the best deal in the Opening Day set. We round out our pitching staff with the NL Cy Young Winner Jacob Degrom and his new teammate Edwin Diaz, who should still be capable of closing 50+ games for what should be a competitive New York Mets team.

Reserves

Hitter: Juan Soto ($578,000)
Hitter: Max Muncy ($575,000)
Hitter: Whit Merrifield ($1.0 Million)
Pitcher: Dereck Rodriguez ($561,000)
Pitcher: German Marquez ($565,000)

Bench Reserves Payroll = $3.279 million

Admittedly, spending $126.89 million of our $132 million before considering a bench probably wasn’t the best idea. Our team finds itself extremely thin in the event of a pitching injury, with us not having the cap room to add a veteran or top backup pitcher. All in all, we spent  $130.1 million of our $132 million, and it was extremely difficult to pass on some of the game’s best. If we had played uncapped, our team would have looked substantially different!

What do you think about our fantasy game and scoring system? Have you come up with any good ways to turn your trading cards into an interactive ‘fantasy sport’? If you decide to play along at home with us, let us know how your draft goes and who’s on your team! We’ll be checking in with an update blogs along the way throughout the season to track our progress!

Catch COMC in Virginia (USA) on March 29th-31st and Edmonton (Canada) on April 6th & 7th!

We’re sending our team on the road for our first trading card show appearances this year! These are just the first two of many stops that we intend to make in 2019. For our full trading card show appearance schedule, please see our Upcoming Appearances Calendar. Here you will find dates, show information, and all the info you need when we’re coming to your area!

The Chantilly Show (Dulles, Virginia, USA)
March 29th – 31st.

Come join us in Dulles, VA for The Chantilly Show on March 29th-31st, 2019! We will be at table number #343 accepting your drop-off submissions, answering your COMC and account related questions, and much more.

To expedite the drop-off process, please be sure to use our submission wizard prior to the show and print paperwork to include with your consignment. Please use the Chantilly Show option when prompted to select a submission center.

 

The Summit Sports Collectible Show #10 (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
April 6th & 7th, 2019

The first Canadian stop in 2019 will be at the Summit Sports Collectibles Show on April 6th & 7th, 2019 in Sherwood Park, Alberta.  Stop by our booth for all of the following and more:

  • Drop off consignment submissions to save time and money on shipping!  Please package your items well for drop-off and include paperwork using the submission wizard prior to the show. Choose The Summit Show as a submission center when prompted.
  • Free giveaways for everyone (one per person per day, while supplies last)
  • Games for COMC account holders with a chance to win prize cards including a 2015-16 Upper Deck MVP Connor McDavid rookie card.  Be sure to sign up, Registration is free!
  • Games for COMC account holders’ children to win instant prizes
  • Answering all your COMC and account-related questions!

Guest Blog: Cardboard Therapy

(Editors Note: Please welcome COMC Member Jason1969 to the COMC Blog! This post comes to us thanks to the Call to Arms we put out earlier this month seeking guest writers. Jason enjoys writing about baseball and baseball cards for the SABR Baseball Cards Committee and on his personal blog. He can be found on twitter as @HeavyJ28.  His main collecting interest is vintage baseball, especially Hank Aaron, but he also boasts (and yes, that’s the right word) over 600 different playing career cards of Dwight Gooden cards, many of which he was able to obtain right here on COMC)

By Jason A. Schwartz

For my guest appearance on the COMC blog I will get personal. My hope is that most readers will never find themselves in my shoes, but I hope my experience can help any of those who someday do.

Just under five years ago I found myself in a near-empty apartment alone. In the basement was my guitar, in the kitchen was a coffee mug, and in my hands was a small cardboard box containing the top hundred or so cards I’d saved from when I was a collector back in the day.

For the first time in a decade I opened the box and flipped through the cards. The rush of memories was incredible. Sometimes it was of the player and how much I loved him (in a fan sort of way, please). Other times it was the recollection of where I was and who I was with when I bought the card. The one constant as I made my way through the stack of top loaders was joy, something I hadn’t felt for a while.

I hadn’t purchased a baseball card for 20 years, and I suspected a lot had changed in that time. Were the Beckett Monthly and the Kit Young mail-order catalog still around? (Yes.) Were there still local card shops in every neighborhood? (No.) Were my Jose Canseco rookie cards worth a lot? (No.) Had the Hobby moved to the internet? (DEFINITELY!)

By evening I had made an online purchase of three of the Hank Aaron cards I needed for his basic Topps run. There were important areas of my life where I felt powerless, but it turned out buying Hank Aaron cards wasn’t one of them. Ditto for completing my 1957 Topps Brooklyn Dodgers team set that had been one card short for more than two decades, and ditto for starting on the 1956 version of the same.

I may have gone a bit overboard at times, but man oh man did I love coming home to a #MailDay! Man oh man was it a thrill to frame my completed Hank Aaron run and hang it on my wall. And man oh man was it fun to become part of an online community of collectors who not only buy, sell, and trade cards but eat, breathe, and sleep cards as obsessively as me! (Okay, don’t take that last part completely literally.)

When we’re at low points in our lives we sometimes hear that “it gets better.” I’m here to bear witness that it does. There was a lot I did to get from there to here, and I won’t kid you that some of it—maybe most of it—completely sucked. However, one little thing I did that made a huge difference was getting back into the hobby I loved so much as a kid. In my case, pairing “cardboard therapy” with “real” therapy proved to be the perfect combination for rebuilding my collection as I rebuilt my life.

Rich Reminisces: Thurman Munson

By Rich Klein
When I was growing up my two favorite teams were the Houston Astros in the National League, and the New York Yankees in the American League. Let’s face it, you can’t really root for both New York teams unless you like the flip-flop between your allegiances. In my generation, my three favorite players growing up were Jim Wynn and Cesar Cedeno of the Astros, and Thurman Munson of the Yankees. All three of the players had some interesting life stories, but sadly one of them would not even live until the 1980’s. When Thurman Munson’s plane crashed on August 2, 1979 that truly was one of the saddest days of my young life. When you really know a player more for what they do on the field than with any off-field characteristics, it’s easier to admire what they were.
Munson was drafted as the fourth overall amateur draft pick in 1968, and while the scouting in the 1960’s was not as sophisticated as 50 years later, Munson was a wise selection as he was in the majors barely a year later. In fact, he was such as good prospect that Topps placed him on one of those two-player Rookie Stars cards early in 1970 set:
Sy Berger always claimed that Topps had a better idea than most people about whom teams would keep in the majors, and in this case they batted .500 as Munsion had his fine career, but Dave McDonald would never play with the Yankees again and make a cameo with the 1971 Montreal Expos to conclude his major league career.
It’s really not a bad card, but his second year card, now that’s an even better card! His 1971 card, because of the black borders, is even harder to get in great condition than the 1970 rookie stars card. The 1971 card is even more significant because technically this is the first action photo ever on a base Topps card. Yes, we can consider card #5 the first action card in any Topps set EVER.
Because Topps was based out of New York, many of their photographers were also based out of the Metropolitan area.  You can see the backgrounds of either Yankee or Shea Stadium on many of the photos, and in 1971 you can see lots of action photos featuring players from those two team. Here is an example of Munson on the background of a couple of cards:
Vada Pinson was a great player in the 1960’s and was still a very good player in the early 1970’s, which is why he also earned an action photo in the set. Notice the player prone wearing #15. Yep, that’s Thurman!
A couple of years later Terry Crowley‘s card has Munson featured as well:
Munson is featured just as actively as Crowley is on his own card.  There are other cool background players on 1970’s action cards. Especially in basketball where you will see Hall of Famers from other teams on many cards. But for our purposes, we’ll just stick to Munson. Recognize the player Johnny Bench is going to tag out in this 1977 World Series card?  Yep, Thurm is making another guest appearance:
Munson’s career continued to thrive and in 1976 he won the American League Most Valuable Player award. His 1976 cards have always been among my favorite cards. But if you notice both the Topps and SSPC card feature Munson with a full beard. One team rule New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had was no beards, and these cards help to show Munson’s independent streak over the facial hair issue:
I always wonder if the photo on his 1976 Hostess card was taken as part of the same photo shoot as the Topps card:
As I mentioned in an earlier column, within a few short years Munson would perish in a plane crash, and the last card issued whilst he was living was the 1979 Burger King Yankees set. I believe it is possible to have a signed card, but I have never seen a signed 1979 Burger King card in the past 40 years. Munson was not the easiest person in giving out autographs to fans, yet in a fascinating conundrum, most Yankee team signed balls have legit Munson signatures and not what are called “Clubhouse” signatures.
And if you really want to really know why Thurman was so beloved: Munson had not hit a homer in months. His power was sapped from the 1975-77 era.  He was hurting all over. But in this 1978 playoff game, with his body aching from those hard catching years, and in the pressure packed 1978 American League Championship Series, he hit what was probably the longest homer of his career.

And the night after his plane crash, the Yankees still had a game the next day, and if you want to cry go right ahead: I once asked Jerry Narron, who started as catcher that day, about what it was like trying to catch that game, and he stated that it was the hardest game he ever had to play in.

Would Thurman had made the Hall of Fame? My instinct says his career would have wound down before getting the career stats, but in our memories he was the straw that stirred the drink for the 1970’s Yankees.

10 Baseball Rookies to Watch in 2019

Who doesn’t love rookie speculation? With the start of a new MLB season comes a fresh new crop of rookies who’s potential will spark the imagination of millions of fans. Who will walk away with Rookie of the Year honors? Who will make an immediate impact with their team? Will they be remembered among the greats of the game? Will they jump out of the gate at an unprecedented trajectory that looks to rival the record books?

Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge put on a spectacle in 2017, crushing nearly every pitch that came there in way. Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuna, and Juan Soto carried the rookie torch in 2018, dazzling baseball fans with raw talent that infused much needed youth and excitement to their respective teams. Now we turn to 2019, where the next wave of call ups will have to fill some very big shoes. Without further ado, here is our list of 10 prospects that we believe can live up to that hype and then some!

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3b, Toronto Blue Jays) – The number one prospect in all of baseball is expected to make his debut in Toronto in 2019. The son of a Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero (who knew a thing or two about hitting himself), Vlad Jr. has been revered as a generational talent, capable of winning MVP awards as a premier MLB hitter for years to come. He hit .381 in the minors in 2018 split between AA and AAA ball. When he arrives in the majors he will be 20 years old, and is expected to lead a youth movement in a city that is eager to compete with the titans of the AL East.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

2. Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox) – By utilizing his tall 6’4″ frame, Jimenez generates incredible power and bat speed through the zone, drawing comparisons to the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton from a power perspective. This 22 year old also hits for huge average, hitting well north of .300 in the minor league level. The White Sox may have missed out on the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but they have a superstar waiting in the wings in Jimenez.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

3. Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres) – While all eyes might be on San Diego’s newest Megastar Manny Machado, who inked a 10-year $300 million dollar deal with the club last month, Tatis should also be arriving to the team in 2019. Tatis is a player more than capable of posting a 20-20 stat line while hitting for high average.He’s touted as above-average in the field, bringing a blend of speed and athleticism to his game. With the revival of competitive baseball in San Diego, Tatis Jr. will not fly under the radar on a team that is expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2019 and beyond.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

4. Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros) – Even though Tucker struggled mightily during his ‘cup of coffee’ with the Astros in 2018, failing to impress in his 72 plate appearances, the Astros have high hopes for this 2015 first round draft pick. Praised for his hand-eye coordination and strong plate discipline, it’s only a matter of time before Tucker puts it all together at the major league level. Kyle has the luxury of playing for a World Series contender, which has allowed him more time to develop in the minors before cracking the big league starting lineup. The Astros expect Tucker to bring that progression to the major league level at 2019, and he should fit in nicely to an already stacked batting order once he gets acquainted to major league pitching.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

5. Austin Riley (3b, Atlanta Braves) – The hot corner in Atlanta belongs to Austin Riley once the time is right, and it appears that time will be 2019. His raw power combined with an above average arm and athleticism makes him a dual threat at the plate and in the field. Riley is not afraid to strike out at the plate, as his contact rate could use some work. With a little refinement, he should slot in nicely to an already power-packed Braves lineup. With so much protection around him, Riley could find himself in contention to deliver the same Rookie of the Year crown that Ronald Acuna Jr. brought to Atlanta in 2018.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

6. Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals) – Suffering an injury that took him down for much last season, this rare five-tool talent is expected to return to form in 2019. All was not lost for the Nats however, as Robles injury opened the door for the emergence of Juan Soto. Robles is expected to be the rookie to watch in Washington in 2019, possessing a blend of power, speed, and athleticism that make him a dynamic player. He should have no trouble getting on base often, and keeping opposing hitters off the base pace with his defense in center field.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

7. Nick Senzel (3b/2b/OF,  Cincinatti Reds) – Drafted second overall in the 2016 draft, Senzel should help boost the Reds infield in 2019. While the team will appreciate his versatility in the field, fans will love Senzel for his pure hitting ability, as he is a contact hitter who doesn’t strike out often and earns plenty of walks as well. The Reds have a good track record of developing similar players (see: Scooter Gennett), and with the Reds adding Sonny Gray and Yasiel Puig in the off season, Senzel could be the missing piece to help spark a wild card push in Cincinnati.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

8. Brendan Rodgers (infield, Colorado Rockies) – Great bat speed? Check. Mammoth home run power? Check. Playing all his home games in Coors Field? Check! All signs point to Rodgers being a shot in the arm to the Rockies offense in 2019, joining the likes of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon with his 30+ home run per season potential. Rodgers has improved his K:BB ratio over his minor league career, and is touted as an above average defender capable of playing multiple infield positions. He could be a late season call-up depending on how competitive (or lack there of) the Rockies are in 2019.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

9. Forrest Whitley (SP, Houston Astros) – The second Astro featured on our list, Whitley’s arrival at the major league level will bring much needed depth to a thin pitching rotation. Beyond Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the ‘Stros will need to find consistency, and could turn to Whitley early in the season. He posted a ridiculous 143 strike outs over 92 innings in 2017, but found his 2018 season shortened due to a drug violation suspension. Although his command could use a bit more work, he has multiple plus pitches, including a 12-6 curve and slider with late movement to compliment a 98 MPH fastball.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

10. Peter Alonso (1b, New York Mets) –  A power hitting first basemen who will play his rookie season in New York. That should be all the convincing that you need that Alonso could be the real deal. The Mets top prospect mashed 36 minor league long balls in 2018, while hitting .285 and drawing nearly triple the amount of walks he did the previous season. As long as he can improve and show consistency at the plate, he will be given a pass for his below average speed and average at best defense. At 6’3″ and 245 lbs, this 24 year old should be the talk of the town if he can live up to the hype.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

 

**Bonus** : Justus Sheffield (SP, Seattle Mariners) – A little home town bias before we wrap up, shall we? The Mariners acquired Sheffield as part of the deal that sent ace James Paxton to New York. The M’s believe they have their ace of the future in ‘Shef. He posted a 2.48 era over 116 innings between AA and AAA in 2018, while striking out 123 batters. With a wipe out slider and above average sinking fastball, Sheffield will play a pivotal role in the youth movement in Seattle and will find himself in the starting rotation in 2019 and beyond.

Three Cards to Consider Owning:

What do you think of our list? Did we snub someone who you’ve got your eye on? Let us know in the comments below who you think will be a rookie force to be reckoned with in 2019!

The Good Word: A Well Designed Mail Day

By James Good

For the last three plus years at COMC I’ve seen every single tweet, Instagram picture, and Facebook post that we’ve been  tagged in. My absolute favorite posts that we get repeatedly see are our customer’s Mailday pictures, where they show their followers all of the items that they recently received in their latest COMC shipment. We routinely reshare these on our instagram page and twitter accounts, so be sure to keep tagging us in your #Maildays!

Seeing all of our customer’s incoming items for their personal collection inspired me to share some of the contents of an incoming COMC package of my own. While there are plenty of not so exciting items in that package that simply fill the gaps of my Mitch Haniger player collection, there are bunch of other items that have been inspired by my latest inspiration for collecting: buying cards based on unique card design.

I think that card design is a very low priority for a lot of collectors, as we’ve grown accustom to cards designed around sticker autos and recycled designs, among other visually unappealing decisions. Most prospectors don’t even consider card design when stashing away players in hopes of a later payday. The truth is that the card design for the majority of modern cards is very underwhelming. I’m not going to publicly shame any manufacturers, because with so many sets being printed these days, poor design choices were bound to happen. Just like without the bad moments in life we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones, without bad card design, we couldn’t appreciate good card design.

The 2008 Topps Factory Set Mickey Mantle Chrome Refractor Reprints set is the perfect example of the modernization of a reprint done right. There isn’t an overload of numbered parallels, and the design is simply a clean replica of the original on a modern chrome cardstock. The 1952 Mantle RC has been reprinted time-and-time again over the years, most having some sort of poor design choice shoehorned in. Topps got it right in 2008, and in the 2006 Topps ’52 set where they swapped the background color of this iconic card in a creative re-imagining. I’ll probably never own the real thing, so these reprints fill the void in my collection.

One rookie card that I am fortunate enough to own is a PSA 9 2007 Bowman Chrome – Prospects Tim Lincecum Gold Autograph #’d 31/50. As I talked about in one of the earlier installments of The Good Word , I love manufactured patch cards. These three are among my latest pick ups that fit the qualifications of well designed cards. Lincecum’s unconventional pitching delivery might have shortened his career, but it did produce a wealth of great trading cards along the way. I’m a sucker for the stars and stripes, so the 2010 Topps – Jumbo Packs Manufactured Hat Logo Relic on the right ranks highly on my well-designed sets list.

 

Which leads me to this 1912 Player’s Countries Arms & Flags Tobacco Card #4. I am not much of a vintage collector, much to the chagrin of my colleague Rich Klein, who two years ago at a National Sports Collector’s Convention took my 1960’s football card knowledge to task. I think that anytime you can buy something that’s over 100 years old for $0.50, you probably should, and this card was no exception. Even being 107 years old with a bit of paper loss, it still checks all the boxes for a well designed card.

As a kid growing up in the 90’s, nothing stuck with me more than the roller coast ride that was the 1995 ‘Refuse to Lose‘ Seattle Mariners. During that period of time, I opened so many packs of 1995 Score in search of the Gold Rush parallel of my favorite Mariners and 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice looking for Gold Facsimile Signatures and You Crash the Game cards. I was never able to pull these two, but thanks to COMC, my hundreds of dollars of summer jobs and allowance money was not wasted in vein.

By comparison, the 1995 Score Gold Rush Parallel is inferior to the Platinum Team Set version. I really love the design on the Hitters Inc. subset, and not just because Albert Belle’s mean mug is a hidden gem. There were many iterations of Collector’s Choice ‘You Crash the Game’ contest across multiple sports, but the 1996 baseball version did it best with a bright orange and red foiled explosion design. Not only was it a great design, but it was a great concept that has stood the test of time. I know a certain 2019 Topps insert set with an awfully similar promotion.

If I were to rank Topps flagship designs, 1968 Topps would likely fall in the middle of the list. It’s not a bad design per say, it’s just not my style. I do love the rounded corners of the black border and white space between the player photo and border, but the textured brown outer border doesn’t work for me. That being said, this card jumps off the page to me because it features one of the best photos of any Mariner ever featured on a trading card.

Vogey looks larger-than-life in this pose, and the Safeco Field logo in the background is a nice finishing touch. It almost makes you forget that he has a career MLB batting average of .197, or that Safeco Field is now T-Mobile Park.This card screams “In Vogey We Trust” , that he’s our guy of the future, and that I’m willing to put in writing that he’ll hit 30 bombs whenever he’s given his first full year in the Bigs.

Last but not least, there hasn’t been a better non-sports set idea since the Map Relic Insert Sets from Upper Deck’s last two Goodwin Champions sets. These sets have checked all of the boxes I’m looking for when determining good card design:

  1. Make it unique
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Feature Great Photography

These cards do an perfect job encapsulating the points of interest they feature. The embedded map relic is a unique element that I don’t recall ever seeing on a card prior to these sets. My goal is to eventually collect all of the map relics of places that I’ve visited. Right now that list is at eight:

Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Capital HillGolden Gate Bridge, Freedom Tower, Mount Rainier, and Ruby Beach .

Ruby Beach holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the destinations along the first road trip that my fiancé and I went on almost four years ago. Traveling to the coast of Washington to be close to the water has been a recurring trend in our relationship. Later this year, we’ll get married near the beaches of Moclips, Washington, about 65 miles south of where the photo of this card was snapped.

Now it’s your turn! In the comments below, let us know some of your favorite cards from your most recent mailday!