18 October 2014

2014 Topps Finest 31-40

I have kind of slowed down on the set review posts for 2014 Finest and 2013 SEGA Card-Gen. Each post takes a lot of time to write and it seems like I don't make the time for long-form posts much anymore. Here are the next ten cards in the Finest base set, starting with Marcus Semien, a 2B prospect with the White Sox. I don't know much about this guy aside from what I learned doing a quick Google search on him a few minutes ago. It looks like he is one of three guys expected to compete for the White Sox' starting second base spot next year. He's also the guy who shows up in card packs and disappoints you, as you see the White Sox logo and think, "Yes! Jose Abreu!" and then the card turns out to be this Semien guy. He is probably a pretty good player, but his cards aren't instant money like Abreu's are (at the moment). Time will tell if Abreu's cards keep their value, but I would be selling now if I had any spare Abreu cards that were worth a darn.

Here's another guy who I don't know much about, John Ryan 'Don't Call Me J.R.' Murphy. He's had a couple of stretches with the Yankees and apparently projects to be a decent backup catcher somewhere. Judging by this picture, his bat flip skills need some work.

Kinsler was acquired by the Tigers in exchange for Prince Fielder, and had a much better year than Fielder, who was ineffective or out altogether for most of the season with a neck injury. Kinsler made the All-Star team, keeping his every-other-year pattern going.

Romero pitched one game for the Rays in 2013. He is apparently a highly-rated prospect who can throw the ball really hard but has difficulty controlling where exactly it goes. Maybe he will make it back up to the big club and maybe he will be traded away.

Now this is a bat flip you can appreciate. It's got the height and the rotation you're looking for if you really want to make the pitcher and catcher mad at you. Myers went to Tampa Bay in the trade that brought James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals. He had a pretty good 2013, winning the Rookie of the Year award, but his 2014 kind of stunk. He's got plenty of time to get back on track, though, after his sophomore slump. But right now Kansas City has got to feel pretty good about the trade, as Shields and Davis are key component on that team. Davis was a big help in fantasy baseball this season, too. I had him in a few leagues, and his huge strikeout numbers and awesome ratios really boosted my pitching. 

This rookie-heavy post is killing me. I barely know most of the veterans, and while most of the rookie and prospect names are familiar, I don't know their stories or own them on any fantasy teams. I know just about nothing about C.J. Cron.

Normally I wouldn't have anything to say about Braun, but I'll make an exception this one time. I've been playing through a GM career in Out of the Park 15. I have the game set up so that it chooses random players from MLB history to include in each draft, and they have somewhat random careers, although it does seem like the bigger stars from real baseball history wind up being the big stars in the fake game. Maybe I have a box checked somewhere that causes this to happen instead of completely random results.

Anyway, Braun was a key component in my Houston Astros MLB Championship teams in 2018 and 2022, with only Rogers Hornsby outclassing him as a batter. The 2018 Championship really came on the back of a solid pitching staff, but Braun played in 129 games, batting .310 and netting 88 runs, 30 home runs, 96 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases.

The 2022 Championship overcame average pitching with plenty of offense, with Braun playing in 156 games with a .280 batting average, netting 106 runs, 45 home runs, 119 runs batted in, and 22 steals. Then all of my veterans got old and their contracts all ballooned and my team went back to being somewhat mediocre for a couple of years. Then I got fired, even though I had assembled the consensus #1 minor league system in baseball. Now I am GM of the pretend Oakland Athletics, trying to overcome a team that was in a similar situation to the one I left, without the benefit of a stable full of decent prospects. I guess in the end all I am doing is entertaining myself with a colorful spreadsheet, but I can't help getting optimistic each season and hoping that my trades and draft picks pan out.

Yu Darvish started out pretty well in 2014, but shut down in August about 10 games short of a full complement due to an arm injury. The rumor is that he might be able to start throwing again in December.

George Springer is one of the Astros' hot young players. He played about a half-season's worth of games for them in 2014, shutting it down early due to a quad strain incurred in July that never really went away. He still managed to hit 20 home runs during the games he was able to play, and hopefully will be able to come back in 2015 ready to do some damage.

Closing things out for this post is another young player I don't know much about. He played a good portion of 2014 with the Rangers and put up pretty average stats. He's still young, though, so there is time for him to improve.

And that's it for this post. I like the Finest set, although I think that Topps could have zoomed out some of the photos or cropped in on dugout shots or something for some close-ups. As the pictures stand, it seems like the players are a bit crowded inside the border of the card. I guess you can give points for consistency across the set, as all the cards seem to fit a certain photographic style, but I wish the players had a little more breathing room at the edges of the photos.

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