Wednesday, February 07, 2018

2018 Topps Inserts:

Several reviews of 2018 Topps, including my own, have commented that the majority of the inserts are just repetitious appearances of the same old major star guys.  I wanted to explore that further.

Before I get to that, I do want to point out that it seems like this year, the concepts behind the inserts really have gone vanilla.  In past years, we've seen some decent original ideas like First Pitch, Robbed, 100 Years At Wrigley, Pressed Into Service, etc.  These brought some variety to the mix.  This year, those original concepts seem to be missing.

But are they all just the same players?  I decided to find out exactly how bad the repetition is.  I culled lists of all the players in each of these six insert sets in 2018 Series 1.

Home Run Challenge
Legends In The Making
Opening Day 
SuperStar Sensations
Topps Salute

The Jeters and the Topps Now Top Ten don't count, and the MLB Awards are decided by writers and on-field performance, not Topps suits.

Of the six sets, these guys appear the most:

Kris Bryant 7
Aaron Judge 6
Bryce Harper 6
Cody Bellinger 6
Miguel Sano 6
Mike Trout 6
Nolan Arenado 6
Paul Goldschmidt 6
Andrew Benintendi 5
Andrew McCutchen 5
Anthony Rizzo 5
Carlos Correa 5
Eric Thames 5
Francisco Lindor 5
Freddie Freeman 5
Giancarlo Stanton 5
Joey Votto 5
Khris Davis 5
Manny Machado 5
Wil Myers 5
Adam Jones 4
Buster Posey 4
Chris Sale 4
Corey Seager 4
George Springer 4
Jose Altuve 4
Josh Donaldson 4
Miguel Cabrera 4
Noah Syndergaard 4
Robinson Cano 4
Yadier Molina 4
Yoan Moncada 4
Charlie Blackmon 3
Daniel Murphy 3
Gary Sanchez 3
Mookie Betts 3
Nelson Cruz 3
Yu Darvish 3

I counted Bryant as seven since he's in all six and his own set too.  Could say that Judge is in seven since he's 70% of the Topps Now Top 10 too, but those are nothing but hype ads for a separate 2017 product.

So what was left?  The rest of the spreadsheet is the remaining players from each insert that appear only once or twice. View spreadsheet here.  A few surprises left on there - guys you would expect to have more presence.  Kershaw, Bregman, Longoria, Gregorious, Hosmer.

This variety is what we're looking for.  If a set still has the major part of its roster intact after you remove the frequent flyers in the list above, then we could say it's a decent list.  If it's down to only a couple, then it's probably a star recycling bin.  The two 100 card inserts contain some retired players, so that helps.

1983 - 64 / 100  OK, not bad ratio, but retired players really help what really should be the Archives base set.
Home Run Challenge - 29 / 50  Over half are "other guys", so not bad.  But these are a scratch-off game.
Legends In The Making - 0 / 30  Ding ding ding we have a winner. 
Opening Day  - 4 / 30  Meh.  Kinda dumb to make an insert with the same name as another set anyway.
SuperStar Sensations  - 14 / 50  Not much left here.
Topps Salute - 79 / 100   Retired players really help this bloatfest.

So in conclusion, we find that half of this year's insert sets can be considered just another redundant bunch of cards of the same star guys.  And then the '83s and Salutes should either be independent sets by themselves or just reduced to a reasonable number.  That leaves the HR Challenges, which are a scratch-off fantasy game.  Unless you're a big fan of Jeter or Bryant, there's nothing worthwhile left to collect besides the base set this year.  But that's OK, because if you're like me, you're still way behind trying to get all the 50 and 100 card batches from the 2017 set!


  1. I'm not sure about other bloggers, but I'm not a big fan of those 100 card insert sets that turn into 200 cards after Series 2 and 300 after Update. Those are really LARGE insert sets... larger than most of Topps other products and nearly all of Panini's. Kind of ridiculous if you ask me.
    I think it would be interesting to take a look back at the Series 1 inserts after you add in another 100 cards of 1983s and Salutes.

  2. I really appreciate the research and time put into this post. Sadly the thing I'm walking away with is that Topps created 8 different insert sets (+ 1 Walmart exclusive) and it's only the 1st series. As a guy who gets giddy over 90's inserts sets... I'm seriously annoyed that Topps is flooding the hobby with unimaginative inserts.