Matt at Diamond Jesters started a Bat-A-Round early in December about 9 cards in a standard page in tribute to the year that was 2019. He set parameters for each slot. Trevor from Bump And Run also took a shot at it.
Slot #1 - Base Topps card
Topps Adam Jones
How our heroes in Baltimore have fallen. Jones went from fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love, to the media wasteland of Arizona (at least as [not] seen from Maryland), to now all the way over in Japan playing for the Onix Buffaloes.
Slots #2 thru 5 - Base cards from other 2019 sets
Big League Scherzer
Yeah, some of these are gonna be about the Nationals...I mean the WORLD CHAMPIONS. Though I hate it how special cards like the Highlight look so much like the base cards - and this one's "maxed" it out by using such similar pictures. Guess I'd have to double bag these in the page. I went after the Big League set in a big way. I'm not finished though, and like the flagship and Allen & Ginter sets, I have big piles of singles and inserts to sort and integrate into my set builds. They sit in a three row box waiting their turn, in line behind all the stuff on the desk and part of the monster box hoard.
Side note - Where in the hell can I buy one of those blue jerseys??? If you go to any of the sale sites and look up World Seres jerseys, all you get is the red ones or the white ones with patches on the sleeves. None of which they ACTUALLY WORE IN THE SERIES. What's the freakin' deal?
Stadium Club Mattingly
This one is significant to me on two fronts. The first is that like most collectors, I once again appreciated the Stadium Club set again this year. Still finishing up everything from base (four cards including Tatis of course), and I haven't sorted out the inserts on any of my 2019 sets far enough this year to know what I have left.
The second thing this card represents is that I have a coworker whose husband was a Matty collector before and I'm trying to get him to start back up.
Allen & Ginter Emily Jaenson
My pattern has typically been that I like the even years of A&G, but this year was an exception in that I did the set back to back. Ms. Jaenson is actually the last base card I still lack for the non-short printed set. I'm only down to five SP's and a bunch of inserts. More on those to come.
Panini Diamond Kings Heirs To The Throne Soto/Harper
This card is something I haven't actually seen in real life, but it jumped out to me when I was browsing 2019 Bryce Harper cards for the best choice to sum up the year after he left the Nationals. It's fitting that Soto is paired with Bryce, in that the role of clutch cleanup hitter has been passed to young Juan. It's unfortunate that Harper never got the chance to do it in any postseason games past the first round or so. I have no animosity for the guy. I liked him when he was here.
At this point, I'm going to have to go off script, because there really aren't any other 2019 sets that I got into. As is the case with the Diamond Kings above, I didn't build anything else. If you go through the remaining major releases for the year, here's what I would say about them.
Bowman - I don't do prospects. Bowman's Best looked OK, but just not that into it.
Donruss - Didn't really remember seeing much about this year's effort. No logos and rehashed classic designs. Try again.
Finest - Not bad looking, but too expensive to try to build. At some point I'll do Finest. Maybe.
Panini Chronicles - Too complicated. And the design tributes are a bit outside my wheelhouse. There is a recent Chronicles set I may go back and do if I can find them cheap.
Flawless, Immaculate, Nat. Treasures, etc. - Don't do high end either.
Prizm - I'm pretty "Meh" on shiny too. See Topps Chrome.
Topps Archives - Have only done a couple Archives sets over the years. Too much overlap with Heritage and flagship tributes. If the right combination of years comes along I may jump on, but I doubt it.
Chrome - Every year I look at Chrome to see if it's really a lot cooler than the plain flagship. Hasn't been enough to be worth the cost so far.
Definitive, Diamond Icons, Dynasty, Five Star, Museum, Luminaries, Tier One, etc. - I only seek certain singles for my player collections. Could have splurged on 2016 Museum, but as with any high end product I'm afraid of pulling all mediocre guys from the Rays, Padres, and Rockies. (No offense to those teams).
Fire - Yuck.
Gallery - Interesting concept, but would really have to step it up to wow me graphically.
Gold Label & High Tek - Not bad, but too many parallels. Hard to build.
Gypsy Queen - I'm sorry, GQ designs have jumped the shark. This years are the ugliest yet. Mostly the horrible color combinations. Some of the inserts are kinda cool, but not worth building on their own.
And that's it. Nobody left.
So instead of a summation of cards produced in 2019, let me momentarily divert this into a story of the most significant cards for me in 2019. The last base card slot goes to one of the most elusive cards I've ever pursued.
1987 Hygrade Dizzy Dean
It resided on my top wants list for most of 2019 until my buddy Stuart finally knocked it out. Not a flashy set, and not a mainstream release, really. These generally populate your average quarter or dollar box. But Dizzy seems to be in the Twilight Zone between the initial series and the additional HOF'ers that were added later. He doesn't even appear on all the checklists for this set, and I can understand why.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program...
Slot 7 & 8 - Inserts
Allen & Ginter Collectible Canines minis
A&G knocks insert topics out of the park year after year. I've said before that there must be a whole separate committee that comes up with these ideas apart from whoever makes up the flagship inserts.
I've wanted to collect a set or sets of dog cards for a long time. Most of the ones that have a nice selection of breeds are tobacco cards from the 30's to the 50's or from overseas. They're not really expensive, but you almost have to buy them all at once. Finding singles would be almost impossible. I'd be looking for those that include pitbulls, which A&G left out too, but I was really excited when I saw these.
Allen & Ginter History Of Flight
The art department in the A&G division usually goes all out with some landform topic in a given year. Waterfalls, landmarks, or historic places that lend themselves to epic images. This time they did it for aircraft. These are some of the brightest and most distinctive cards they've come out with. The images would be suitable for framing if they were bigger.
I've got to remember to pick up some second copies of the Shuttle ones for my space binder.
And finally, the "wild card" slot on my 9 pocket page. You know what it's going to be.
Slot 9 - Any 2019 card
Topps NOW! World Series set
Gotta be the capper to the year. My hometown Nationals winning the Wild Card playoff game, the Division Series against the Dodgers, the NL Championship against the Cardinals, and the World Series against the Astros. Nobody saw them coming.
This will most likely be as close to an overall review of 2019 as I'll get. I didn't actually set any particular goals for 2019. And as you can see from the list above, there wasn't a lot that I can hand out awards for either. I also find that I care less and less about current players that don't play for the local teams. For modern cards, it's more about design and content than the actual players.
I've been impressed with A&G for three of the last four years, and Heritage will be doing '71 this time, so I'm almost committed to that. And who knows about Stadium Club? Consequently, I'll be into 2020 products more than this year for sure. I'm really waiting to determine if I give up on Topps flagship after the next one, since it's a nice even year, or at least devote even more resources to knocking out more of the older stuff on my lists. 2019 was mostly a reinforcement to that theory. Flagship was decent, but the same themes have been running through new stuff for a while now. I see changes in my collecting habits after 2020....Happy collecting to you!