The box that Topps sent me had 285 of the 350 base cards, including a variation card of Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Included among the base cards are Future Stars, team cards and Award Winners.
As usual, Topps sprinkles in parallels, most notably gold numbered to 2015. I found 11 of these cards, four rainbow foil cards and a black parallel of Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez numbered to 64. The black parallels are hobby-exclusive cards. Other parallels collectors might find are Snow Camo cards, numbered to 99; pink (50), clear (10) and 1/1 platinum and printing plate cards. Rainbow foil parallels fall every 10 packs.
On to the inserts.
Highlight of the Year continues from Series One. This is a 30-card set that falls one in every four packs. The theme remains a key moment or feat from that particular season. True to the projected average, I pulled nine of these cards.
A new insert, exclusive to hobby product, is Baseball Royalty. This is a 25-card subset that includes the game’s greats. There are two per hobby box; the cards I pulled were of Joe DiMaggio and Cal Ripken Jr. Other stars featured include Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. More recent stars like Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter also are featured. Gold parallels are numbered to 99.
Eclipsing History is a 15-card insert that collectors will find in every 10 packs of a hobby box. It serves a dual purpose, celebrating a record breaker and the player whose mark was broken. I pulled three of these cards.
Heart of the Order is a 20-card insert that focuses on the players who bat third and fourth in the lineup, like Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Jose Canseco, Prince Fielder, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ted Williams. But where is Miguel Cabrera? Well, guess you can’t include every potent bat in a 20-card set.
A hobby box will yield six of these cards, and that's what I found.
Stepping Up is another 20-card set that focuses on clutch performances. Some are devoted to one game or series — Hunter Pence’s effort in the 2014 World Series and Johnny Podres’ heroics in the 1955 Series are two such highlights.
Other cards pay tribute to a player’s body of work, like Mariano Rivera’s postseason excellence.
Typically, a collector also can find six of these cards in a hobby box, and that's the number I pulled from the box I opened.
The 15-card set (a collector should pull four from a hobby box) features David Ortiz’s late heroics in the 2004 ALCS, David Freese’s “one-pitch-away” triple in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, and Evan Longoria’s 12th-inning home run that capped the Rays’ Game 162 comeback that catapulted Tampa Bay into the 2011 playoffs.
I wish Topps had included Bill Mazeroski’s homer that won Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, or even Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World” that put the Giants into the 1951 Series. Both homers capped amazing comebacks.
Another holdover from Series One is First Pitch. This 10-card set features celebrities like Kelsey Grammer, Stan Lee and Melissa McCarthy. I pulled five of these cards.
Topps’ flagship product is ideal for set builders, and it is one I eagerly anticipate each year. The design this year is a good one, and the collation is decent. If I were making the set, I would have included fewer gold parallels and added more base cards in packs — but that’s because I am a big set builder. Still, another solid set.