In many ways, Topps baseball series II is in the trickiest position of any of the company’s baseball releases. The set does not debut with the oomph of Topps 1 which signifies a new year has begun for the hobby and frankly is not always as well received as the Update series which has a preponderance of better players because of the All-Star game emphasis.
You can debate whether it is a good feeling to have all those All-Star cards but in many ways those cards are part of Topps’ long heritage. After all, Stan Musial made his very first appearance on a Topps card in the 1958 All-Star subset. And for whatever reason, those higher number 1958's are significantly easier than low numbers. Perhaps Topps went to the printing press to really get more of those superstar All-Star cards to the public and then throughout the 1960's and 70's there was a great deal of All-Star emphasis.
And that is part of the dichotomy of Series II in that unless there are some good rookies which begin the season in the majors there is no guarantee about what the set will offer. Fortunately, two solid American League Rookie of the Year candidates in Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka have both been better than advertised and having their rookie cards in this series really helps sales. Of course, there’s also the chance of puling some of their parallel cards. Anything with Abreu and Tanaka at this point is sellable and thus the hobby got a good fighting chance with these.
When I stopped in my local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) he mentioned he had sold almost all he had ordered at $64.75 and had done a controlled order so he would not have much extra product. He was very happy with his sales and did not mention any great pulls but said this fit in with how Topps has sold for him this year. Leading on-line hobby retailers are currently between $65-70 for a hobby box.
I could not find any of the sabrmetric or sparkle variations in this set. I love sabrmetrics and understand many of them but we do not discuss them in this column because let's face facts, most of our eyes will glaze with FIP, BABIP, and heck even WAR is not something everyone understands. I did not even find any of the Future Stars variations.
How did we do?
Base Cards: 312 of 330 or more than 90 percent of the set. I did not notice any duplicates. Topps base is a set builders’ product and you can’t argue with the results.
Red Foil Parallels: Heath Bell, Tommy Hanson, Ian Kennedy, Cameron Maybin, C.C. Sabathia, Michael Wacha
Gold Parallels (#s to 2014): Jake Arrieta, A.J. Burnett, Lorenzo Cain, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew, Jeurys Familia, Conor Gillaspie, J.A. Happ, Adam Lind, David Ortiz, Rob Wooten
Black: (#d to 64): Jordy Mercer
Power Players: (Parallel Front, Promo Back): Freddie Freeman, Cliff Lee, Shelby Miller
Future is Now: Xander Bogaerts, Dylan Bundy, Freddie Freeman (2 different); Kevin Gausman, Jarrod Parker, Michael Wacha, Taijuan Walker, Kolten Wong
Future Stars that Never Were: Don Mattingly, Willie Mays
Buy Backs; 1968 Topps Dan Schneider, (Nice shape but 95-5 O/C L/R); 1980 Greg Pryor
Saber Stats: Allen Craig. Chris Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto
This wasn’t really a standout box but at least in the early going, some of the inserts and parallels have been doing well in the secondary market (if that’s your intent). For Topps’ set-building loyalists (and there are a lot of them), trading or selling off some of those minor inserts to get the base cards you need is what it’s all about.
Click here to see 2014 Topps Series 2 on eBay.