Topps Giants – 20 cards (1 topper per hobby box)
The next comparison for Topps Lineage is still in 1964. This time, I’ll take a quick look at the Topps Giants set. The larger cards were issued as a 60-card set in their own packs in 1964, while cards from the 2011 20-card set were included as box toppers in Lineage. All 20 cards in the 2011 set are current players.
From 2 boxes of Lineage, I of course pulled 2 of these cards – Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols. Braun is in his 5th year in the majors and is one of the rising stars in the league. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2007 in a close battle over Troy Tulowitzki, leading the league in slugging. He’s made the All-Star team every year since, and is again leading the NL in slugging. I thought the best comparison from the 1964 set was Carl Yastrzemski. In 1964, Yaz was in his 4th season in the majors. He didn’t win the Rookie of the Year in 1961, but did start off well with over 150 hits. He had a great 1963 season – winning the batting title and leading the AL in hits, doubles, walks and OBP – impressive to lead in both walks and hits is impressive. Yaz is the last player to win the triple crown – winning it in 1967, and Braun would be right up there as one of the most likely players to win a triple crown in the future.
Pujols deserves another all-time great comparison – I’ll go with Willie Mays here. Pujols is in his 11th year, and his first 10 were quite possibly the best first 10 of any hitter in history. If you compare the wins-above-replacement stat for a player’s first 10 years, he’s second behind Ted Williams and ahead of the likes of Mantle, Cobb. Mays ranks 4th on that list, just behind Mantle, and he’d be 3rd if not for the fact that the Korean War forced him into playing only 34 games in his sophomore season. Pujols hit over .300-30-100 in all of those first 10 seasons – the only player to do so. He won the ROY in 2001 garnered MVP votes every single year, winning the award 3 times, and incredibly has had 8 years in the top 3. Like Mays, Pujols has won all three triple crown statistics, and he’s working on his 3rd straight home run crown. Though he’s in danger of his first sub-.300 season this year, Pujols has turned it around in the second half and could end up there. Mays was in his 13th season in 1964 and had won the ROY, won 1 of his 2 MVPs, and had earned MVP votes every year since he came back from the Korean War. The Mays card is actually an SP in the ’64 set.