Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Set Building Progress Report - Baseball

The 2022 baseball season is about to begin! Why not celebrate the occasion with an update on my baseball set builds? 

I'm not attempting a 2022 Topps set build, but I've picked up some singles in TCDB trades. I had to bite the bullet and buy a small binder at Staples for Red Sox overflow; Dime Box Nick filled up the last of my five full-sized Boston binders!

Some more flagship singles I recently acquired. Three of these four aces have World Series rings; the other has pitched for the Astros and Yankees 😜

I'm still chipping away at inserts from two sets nearly a quarter-century apart: 1993 Fleer Ultra and 2017 Topps Heritage. And I need Nolan Ryan in each of them!

His Strike Out Kings card would complete that six-card set. I also need two Home Run Kings inserts - Joe Carter and Barry Bonds. (No plans to finish other '93 Ultra insert sets at the moment.)  This Flashback insert of a young Ryan is the only 2017 Topps Heritage insert I need that isn't a Topps Game card. Just yesterday I picked up a Jake Arrieta single from the 'main' Topps Game insert set on COMC. That means Anthony Rizzo is the only other card I need - unless I decide to pursue the tough Rookie 'Game' insert sets.

2013 Topps Update is nearly complete, thanks to these recent acquisitions from COMC:

Puig my friend. The rest of these guys... not so much. Although I've got nothing against Gattis or Didi. I was lucky to snag the Cole RC (the one on the left) for $4.25; they're usually at least $6 on the site. However I passed on a chance to procure the Mike Trout All-Star card (#300) for $3.00 and now the cheapest copy is over $5. You win some, you lose some.

Aside from that Trout I only need the Nolan Arenado RC.. and maybe a Grant Green upgrade.

It's a similar story for my 2014 Topps set build: I need a Mike Trout, a star third baseman's rookie card, and an upgrade of a common card. Four more cards - including a Trout checklist and Marcus Semien's RC - are waiting in my COMC inventory, leaving me with the 'base' Trout (#1), a Logan Morrison upgrade, and a rookie card of recently-extended Guardians slugger Jose Ramirez to finish off '14 Flagship.

And then there's 2018 Topps Chrome. I've been chipping away at this one as much as I can, through trades:

I traded a PWE full of 2014 Topps blue parallels for these

COMC purchases:

And Sportlots. I found a seller who had three rookies I need and charged just 95 cents shipping for up to four cards. Once those arrive - and the four COMC is holding for me now - I'll have just six cards left to acquire:

  • #12 Tyler Mahle RC
  • #25 Rafael Devers RC
  • #66 Max Fried RC
  • #72 Ozzie Albies RC
  • #150 Shohei Ohtani RC
  • #193 Ronald Acuna Jr. RC

Eeek! I can see myself giving up on this set build six cards away from completion, like I did with the 2014-15 Panini Prizm basketball set. Not to get too off-topic but I needed the Joel Embiid and, rather than pay $150+ for that card during the pandemic, I broke up the set and earned about $150 for the lots I sold. Embiid is having an MVP-caliber season and that Prizm RC has actually gone... down. Huh?!?

Not ready to throw in the towel on the 2018 Chrome set yet.

Future Projects

Aside from a few 1993 inserts (Score Franchise, Donruss Diamond Kings) the only other baseball sets I'd consider building are 2010 Topps and 2012 Topps. That would give me a complete ten-year run of flagship - which is certainly tempting. I already have the 2012 Topps Trout, so that will save me $10-20.

However I'm nowhere close to completing either issue. I've actually got a higher percentage of 2010 Topps Chrome(20.9%) and Update(17.9%) than the main set (15.6%). I'm barely at 10% of the error-filled 2012 "surfboard" set, and I'd need the Bryce Harper RC to complete that one.

How many Topps flagship sets have you completed by hand? Do you own any Topps factory sets? Have you spent $25 (or more) on a single card to complete a recent set?


Thanks for reading!



  1. The only flagship set I've completed is 1980. Obviously not a factory set.

    I'm not sure I've ever spent $25 on a card, period. If I do, it will be on an autograph or vintage, not a recent base card. That's not to say that there aren't some recent rookies which are worth that, just that it's not what I'd spend that money on, because I'm cheap.

  2. I just completed the 72 completely by hand and a few more vintage at 10 or less. For modern, I did the '18 set by hand, but everything else was either from the factory (and cracked open) or hand collated by someone else. I will NOT spend $25 on a modern base card; not gonna happen. The money would go to a vintage high number or star before anything else. There's so much out there I can focus on other things and come back later when the bubble has burst.

  3. Nice, keep working at them! Those Nolan Ryans are cool. I believe I've done hand-built sets of Topps from 1997-2010 (with a traded set or two in there). And for factory sets I think I have two or three. Don't think I've paid that $25 to finish any recent sets but that's mostly because I haven't worked on any recent sets with the RC prices leaving reality as quickly as they do!

  4. 3 of the 6 18' Chrome are Braves. I have a few boxes of Braves dupes here, I'll see if any of those are in there this weekend.

  5. Love to see the dedicated set-building!

    I have completed by hand: '71 through '83 Topps, '86 through '89 (and probably '90, although someone dumped two-thirds of the set on me) and '91 Topps. 2006, 2009-10 and 2015 Topps.

    Factory set completions: 1984 and 1985 Topps, 2021 Topps

    I have not spent more than 20 bucks to complete any recent set tries. Throwing 10-15 bucks at '80s Gwynns to finish sets hurt enough.

  6. Yes and yes to all questions.

    Hand collated: 1987, 1990, 1996, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2021
    Factory Sets or sets bought outright: 1981, 2010, 2015, 2019, 2020

    Guess I don't have that many Topps sets.

    I have spent a lot on singles to complete the 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup set. That was expensive. Not for Topps sets though.

  7. I've completed Topps sets for 1981, 1987, 1988, and 1990, and am close to completing 1978. I have an unopened factory set of 1989. I haven't spent $25 on a card since I returned to collecting in 2015.

  8. Most of my set completions were by hand, though a few amount were done by purchasing whole sets. Depends how far along I was. For '80 when I was down to just Rickey I bought one for about $10. Usually I won't do that though.

    If you ever want to do the '10 set I've got almost all of it available for trade. Would just want enough cards back to cover the postage. '12 I've got most but not as close to all of it.

  9. I've built a few Topps flagship sets over the years: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 2015. I've bought a few factory sets too, but 2017 is the only one that stands out in my mind. Most of the sets in my collection were purchased hand collated sets from eBay or the flea market.

    I'm sure I've spent $25+ on a card to complete a set... but I'm drawing a blank right now.

  10. I have a complete run from '69 to 2020. Not doing any more after that unless they blow me away with style and creativity - neither of which has been in any great amount in several years.
    May have bought factory sets of the first few in the early 80's, but I generally would build Topps and buy one of the other two.
    Also finishing '64, '68 and just getting heavy into '57. Have starters of '61, '62, and '63. Have made good progress on '50 Bowman as well.

    Haven't had to spend much to finish modern sets, though I'll probably have to shell out $10 or more for Tatis RC in '18 Stadium Club. I avoid paying premiums for new singles, esp rookies, whenever possible. I'll skip the SSPs quite often and call it done.