22 May 2017

2014 Topps Finest 51-60

Way back in August of 2014 I started posting about the 2014 Topps Finest baseball set, working through the checklist in groups of ten. I got four posts done between August and October 2014, then skipped over a year and posted about cards 41-50 in early 2016. I still have the scans in my folder, but I just never make the time to get them cropped and loaded into the blog. At this point, a base set from 2014 is maybe not the most exciting thing in the world. It feels weird to leave it incomplete, though, so I've got another couple of posts queued up. Today, I talk about cards 51-60. Today's post is pretty heavy on the AL East and recently-retired greats.

Taijuan Walker spent a couple of years being touted as a breakout candidate in Seattle, but never really got going there. He showed flashes, but they traded him to Arizona this year in a deal that included Jean Segura going the other way. He was doing pretty well for them, with an ERA about a run lower than he'd produced the last two years in Seattle, but recently landed on the DL with a blister.

Christian Bethancourt's story has become kind of interesting recently. He hadn't found much success with his bat over a couple of seasons with the Braves and Padres, so he is currently working on converting himself into a bullpen pitcher. He has struggled so far in the role, but I guess that's to be expected.

Here is a guy with plenty of controversy lately, as he continues to flip his bat and jaw with other teams. After a down 2016, Jose Bautista started off pretty slowly for 2017. He's turned things up a bit lately, though, so maybe he hasn't fallen all the way off the cliff in his age-36 season.

Although he retired at the end of 2014, Jeter still appears in the news so much that it's like he never left. The Yankees just recently retired his number, blocking any future Yankees from wearing any single-digit numbers on their jerseys. He'll probably waltz into the Hall of Fame when he's eligible, so he should remain prominent in the news cycle for a while still.

David Ortiz is another recently-retired player in the Hall of Fame discussion. If he does struggle to get in, it will probably be due to PED issues and the amount of time he spent playing at DH rather than in the field. I think he's popular enough that he gets in at some point.

Manny Machado is a guy I targeted in most of my fantasy baseball drafts this year. I didn't land him in any leagues, though. He's struggled (by first-round fantasy draft standards) this year so far, but he's still no slouch. His 162-game pace according to Baseball Reference is still 87 runs, 40 home runs, 95 RBI, and 8 stolen bases.

Felix Hernandez has been the ace for the Mariners for about as long as I can remember, but last year he started to regress a bit in his age-30 season. This year he made five starts, with his last start on April 25th ending after two innings with a shoulder injury and a DL stint. He might be back in June. I wonder if he'll return to his 'King Felix' form?

Adam Jones has been his usual consistent self this season, doing a little bit of everything. I used to pick him up in fantasy baseball nearly every year, but I didn't get him on any of my four teams this season. He has a reputation as being underrated, and it's come full circle so that now he's so underrated that he's overrated.

I picked up Schoop in a couple of my leagues, hoping for some power out of my 2B slot. He delivered in April, with 5 home runs and a good average. That has all disappeared in May, as he hasn't hit a home run this month and has only generated 2 RBI. Hopefully he can get back on track going into June.

Joe Mauer has been okay this year, although you definitely want some more production out of your 1B spot. When it comes to 1B-eligible players in fantasy, he barely cracks the top 50. His glory days are well behind him.

And that's another 10 cards knocked off the checklist of 2014 Topps Finest. It's still a cool-looking set, with all those crazy colors, but I'll be happy when I post the last ten cards and close out this series. At my current pace, I should be able to finish it in 2021. I'm going to dig deep and try to get it done by the end of this year, though.

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