Commissioner Rob Manfred’s letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I’d just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish — now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.

The mission before us is clear: To honor the game’s history while welcoming new people to our great sport — people who will one day pass their love of baseball down through the generations. That is what our parents and grandparents did for us, and it is what we are doing for our own children. Baseball is a game firmly rooted in childhood experiences, and its vitality and growth rely heavily on giving young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to play and watch baseball.

This notion that baseball is the game of children is central to my core goals as Commissioner. Maybe that is because my own Little League experience in upstate Rome, New York was such an important part of my childhood. I will never forget my intense dedication to that club and to my teammates — each of whom I can still name to this day — and being part of a perfect game.

My top priority is to bring more people into our game — at all levels and from all communities. Specifically, I plan to make the game more accessible to those in underserved areas, especially in the urban areas where fields and infrastructure are harder to find. Giving more kids the opportunity to play will inspire a new generation to fall in love with baseball just as we did when we were kids. Expanding Little League, RBI and other youth baseball programs will also help sustain a steady and wide talent pool from which our clubs can draw great players and create lifelong fans.

As Commissioner, I will draw closer connections between youth baseball and MLB.  I want to inspire children’s interest in baseball and help parents and coaches foster that passion. In the coming years, MLB will work with college, high school, amateur and youth baseball programs to help grow our game and to ensure that the best players and talent have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. I call it “One Baseball” — a partnership between all professional and amateur groups involved in our game.

Our children can look at MLB today and find a wave of new stars worthy of emulating both on and off the field. Players like Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout and aces Madison Bumgarner,Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw have powerful stories to tell — and MLB will tell them across every platform. We will continue to internationalize our game and to celebrate the fact that we have the most diverse rosters in the world. Our mission is to build upon this recent success by creating opportunities for the next wave of baseball talent. We also must continue to nurture inclusive environments for all the contributors to our game and our loyal fans.

Another priority for me is to continue to modernize the game without interfering with its history and traditions. Last season’s expanded instant replay improved the game’s quality and addressed concerns shared by fans and players. We made a dramatic change without altering the game’s fundamentals. I look forward to tapping into the power of technology to consider additional advancements that will continue to heighten the excitement of the game, improve the pace of play and attract more young people to the game.

The Major League Clubs have bestowed an extraordinary opportunity upon me.  My pledge is to work every single day to honor their faith in me and your love of this game.

Sincerely,
Robert D. Manfred, Jr.
Commissioner of Baseball

It’s a Shame You Are Not There: Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Every few ballots a player of great talent finally makes it into the Hall of Fame after a decade of close votes.  It took Jim Rice 15-years and a final close call of 76% to become forever enshrined.  Jim Rice was only 25% his first year, in my opinion you are either a Hall of Famer or you are not, I do believe Rice deserved the honor, but why the drastic change in their opinion of his worthy nature?

  • Did new writers come in?
  • Did Rice have a difficult relationship with the voters that caused them to shun him?
  • Was it that when Rice came into voting maturity in 1995 that steroids and PEDs were rampant?  The ideal hitter was now a .330 45HR 130RBI player and during Rice’s prime he was not even close to such consistent production.

My money is on PEDs in Rice’s case (or lack of), this is not always the case for votees.  This is my little honor to players who did not make the BWAA cut into the Hall.  *Note player must have no BBWAA eligibility due to 15 years or 5%.

Don Mattingly: For 6 Seasons Donnie Baseball was the best first baseman in baseball, he averaged about .330 batting average and averaged about 25-30 home runs while knocking in a consistent 110 RBI and topping out in 1985 at 145 the year he won the AL MVP.  Mattingly had Hall of Fame written on the back of more than one Topps baseball card, he was finishing in the top 5 in MVP regularly and winning the Gold Glove yearly.

His ability to produce was not hampered by a struggling Yankees team, it ultimately was not pitching or a better hitter that put an end to Mattingly’s reign, it was a back injury.  After hurting his back he only once hit .300 and that was just barely and his HR numbers dipped to the teens, while his RBIs were a two digit tally.  His defense never lingered continuing to annually have his name etched onto the Rawlings trophy.

Ask any New Yorker to name his top 5 Yankees and you will often hear Donnie Baseball above the likes of the immortals.  That is what you can do in New York in only 6 years.

Dale Murphy: While voters actually have a valid argument against Mattingly, as long as they consistently vote against short career peeks, there is no excuse for Murphy to not have a place in Cooperstown.

Winning 2 MVPs, finishing top 10 4 times, 2 home run titles, 2 RBI titles is just the awards he won on paper, but his career stats are filled with consistent production, 12 of his 18 year playing career was over 150 games played, and keep in mind his final 2 seasons were limited to 20 games.  During his prime he missed very few games, and very few balls hit in his direction, winning 6 gold gloves after moving from catcher to the outfield.

Aside from being a great player Murphy was a player that every fan respected and few if any rooted against, find me a person who doesn’t like Dale Murphy and I will introduce you to a person with a heart of coal.  Being liked doesn’t make you a Hall of Famer or Rob Deer would have a plaque, but it certainly does not hurt.

So why doesn’t Dale Murphy have a plaque?  The same reason Rickey Henderson, Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Hank Aaron were not elected with 100%, the BBWAA has members that do not vote based on any rhyme or reason.  Those are probably 4 of the most accomplished players of modern time and in each case 25 of 500 baseball writers did not feel they should be honored among the greatest players.  If that is not an injustice I don’t know what is.

Dom DiMaggio: Most people would call a man like Dom lucky.  He shared a dinner table with one of the greatest legends of the sport and shared a clubhouse with that players greatest rival and every bit as talented.  Brother to Joe Dimaggio and teammate of Ted Williams, connected eternally to two of the immortals, but also playing in both of their shadows, never getting more than 11% of the needed ballot votes.

DiMaggio gave 3 of his best years to the Country he called home, joining the Navy from 1943 to 1945 with many other players of the time to serve their Country in World War II.  Upon returning from service continued to hit well above .300 and race around the bases for triple after triple.

While the BBWAA did not feel DiMaggio left enough of a mark, each year he made the All-Star team and in two of those years actually started in center field over brother Joe who moved to right field.

Dwight Gooden: Pedro Martinez is widely considered on of the greatest pitchers of his generation, he was dominant for 6 years (over 7 seasons, one lost to injury) where no one in baseball could hit him.  Doc was also dominant and unhittable for 6 season over 7 years, the one shining difference is that Doc was dominant from seasons 1-7 of a 16 year career and Pedro placed his dominance right in the prime of his career and had a nice bell shape to his assent and decline; Doc unfortunately had a peak from day one and slowly declined never pitching as well as he did those first two seasons.

I understand it is harder to look at a player who struggled for nearly a decade of dominance and call him a great, but when you compare the numbers in their top seasons the numbers don’t lie, Doc has as much claim to the HoF as Pedro.

Dave Parker: One of the most feared hitters of the 1970s, unfortunately I can only remember his waning years as an aging but still clutch hitter primarily for the Oakland A’s.  But Dave Parker and Willie Stargell were every bit the dynamic duo as Canseco and McGwire and Mantle and Maris while the Pirates dominated those final years of 1970, imagine the mess they would have made if their careers peaked at the same time not 6 years apart.

I wanted to keep this list to 5, here are a few that I really struggled with Steve Garvey, Luis Tiant, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, and Harold Baines.

Sometimes the Best Move is the Move You Don’t Make

We are about halfway between crowing the San Francisco Giants World Series Champions and beginning the quest all over again on Opening Day.  While the we only have about 3 weeks before Spring Training reports, the majority of movements between teams are done, save for Cole Hamels potentially putting on a new cap.  But truly Max Scherzer was the last big dog in my humble opinion.

This season the Yankees have foregone something they have not done in a long, long time… Making a splash in the free agent market.  The Yankees are typically setting the tempo for the off season making a pitch or signing the biggest name but you heard little more than rumors about the Yankees pursuing Pablo Sandovol, Hanley Ramirez, Scherzer, Jon Lester, Ervin Santana and the other big names of the winter.

Sure the Yanks avoided arbitration with Michael Pineda and gave him a nice payday, personally I would have taken the chance and signed him longer than a year, but I understand the arm concern and his recent seasons of missed time, but the guy is potentially a dark horse Cy Young candidate if he can stay healthy all of 2015.  They tossed some pocket change at Chris Capuano and Stephen Drew, but they will probably (sadly) let Ichiro walk and Hiroki Kuroda has already made his return to his homeland for a farewell tour.

But this year the Yankees did something else, they let their experienced arm in David Robertson sign for 46 million (4 years at 11.5 average) in Chicago.

The Yankees let a star walk for 12 million?  Yes they did.

Was it the right move? Yes it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to bad mouth Robertson, he had some struggles, his ERA went up a full run per 9 and his hits and HRs increased, but the team was distracted and struggling and he still raised his strikeout rate from 10/9 to 13/9 which is significant and a bigger plus than his ERA increasing when you consider raw stats.

In exchange for Robertson moving west to Chicago the Yankees will anchor their bullpen with a combination of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.  Betances spent 2014 as Robertson’s set up man and preformed far above anyone’s expectations finishing 3rd in the AL Rookie voting and earning an All-Star nod from rival coach John Farrell.  Betances shut down unsuspecting hitters with a triple digit fastball and a devastating slider combo to the tune of 135 Ks in 90 innings and a 1.40 ERA.

The Yankees best and only free agent signing of 2015 was former Red Sox bullpen tool, Andrew Miller who split 2014 with the Orioles and Sox.  Miller has impressively spent the last 3 seasons north of 13 strikeouts over 9 innings and averaged a staggering 2 home runs a season.  The Yankees gave Miller, an unproven closer 9 million over the next for years.

Which together makes this decision to allow Robertson walk very out of character for a team who is synonymous with favoring proven experience over projected talent.

While experience is the Yankees standard operating procedure this move was right for 3 reasons.

  • In baseball money Miller and Robertson make the same pay and in all honesty Robertson is the smart choice of around 10 million if you sign one. But signing Miller allows the Yankees to have a clean slate. Betances and Miller can compete for the closer role, or share the role and there is not controversy, they both are in a position to have to earn the role they play.
  • Proving they can and will let talent walk will cut down on agents and players pitting the Yankees against themselves and overpaying a player to keep them in pinstripes.
  • The last time the Yankees let a veteran closer walk and went with a quality second year set up man in their closer role some guy named Mariano Rivera owned the mound for nearly 2 decades in the Bronx.  History loves to follow the Yankees.

Will Dellin Betances become the next Mo? No. One thing the Yankees are great at creating is individual legends. Gehrig was not the next Ruth, Mantle was never the next DiMaggio, and Jeter was not the next Andy Stankiewicz, each player took the mantle (no pun intended) and made a space in Yankee legacy all for themselves.

To Be or Not to Be: Mike Piazza in the Hall

The biggest push for Mike Piazza as a Hall of Fame candidate is the statement, “Mike Piazza is top offensive catcher in the history of baseball.”  This is true, his numbers are far and above beyond the typical catcher in baseball at the plate.  If you are going to recognize Piazza as a great offensive catcher you must weigh those numbers with his production behind the plate.  Putting Piazza defense on the weight block should count for something if you are going to call his numbers against other catchers in baseball history.

Piazza was the worst defensive catcher in 3 of his 16 major league seasons.  He was also 2nd worst twice, third once and forth another two more times.  That make half of Piazza’s seasons in baseball as top 4 worst catcher behind the plate for the big leagues.  How can you at that point justify Piazza numbers against his peers (Fisk, Rodriguez, Molina) who have some of the best defensive numbers in history.

To honestly weigh Piazzas candidacy you have to throw the status of catcher out the window and base his worthiness on his offensive numbers against other hitters.

Piazza’s stat line:
6911 AB, 2127 hits, 427 HR, 1335 RBIs, 1113 SO, 759 BB .308 BA, .377 OBP, .545 SLG, 229 GiDP

Here is a mystery hitter of Piazza era that was free of steroid allegations with very similar at bats.

7283 AB, 2030 hits, 473 HR, 1512 RBIs, 1745 SO, 1109 BB, .280 BA, .383 OBP, .546 SLG, 152 GiDP

As you can see their numbers are very close, Piazza has a slightly higher batting average, but mystery player has an edge on power and runs generated.  You could argue that these players balance their peaks and valleys against one another and their value at the plate is near equal.

Who is this mystery player?

Carlos Delgado who received 21 total HoF votes and 3% making him ineligible for future consideration on ballots.  Delgado was likely evaluated on offensive numbers alone as he was not considered a good fielder, in fact at firstbase he was considered one of the worst of his peers finishing with highs in errors in 3 seasons, twice as second highest, once as third and 3 times as fifth worst; another strong similarity with Piazza.

Let the numbers speak for themselves, Piazza is being over valued even at 60% of the HoF vote.

2015 Hall of BBWAA Shame

Having the BBWAA vote for players enshrinement is like asking British Parliament to vote for our next president.  The process does not work, some won’t vote for a qualified candidate because no one should get 100%, others don’t vote because they were snubbed once upon a time for an exclusive, some just flat out sell their vote and let someone else make the choices.

Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Ty Cobb, George Brett, Hank Aaron, Tony Gwynn, and Greg Maddux all received above 97% of the votes, none of them reached the 100% plateau.  Not voting for a player of such stature means one of two things: A. You know nothing about baseball and should not be voting. or B. You are voting with an agenda and do not deserve the honor to elect members to the Hall.

Being able to select the best of the best should have some give and take when you discuss a player like Ryne Sandberg, you can argue his offensive numbers were not there, he never won a title; but you can not deny his defense numbers were among the best at his position with 9 Gold Gloves and 9th best fielding percentage at his position over a 16 year career.  But legends are legends and should have little debate in 50 years of legends we have yet to see one unanimously selected.

Most BBWAA writers moonlight as judges in boxing, it is the only viable answer to the age old question, “why?”  I can’t write anymore on this topic.  Next up, Hall of Closest…  Recognition for those guys that were great, but just not great enough due to injury, length of greatness or just shunning.

MLB Post-Season Awards

Prior to the season I had a lot of things to say about how I thought the season would go, some were very spot on (Orioles being a power house and the Red Sox sinking) and some were very far from the truth (Yankees taking the Series) but that is baseball, a very strange character who can flip its attitude and emotions in one twist of fate… or an ankle.

Manager of the Year

Buck Showalter (Baltimore Orioles) This team winning hinged completely on the pitching core holding it together.  It was apparent this team would score a lot of runs with Andrew Jones, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado in the middle of a strong line up, but could the pitching staff hold the opposition to fewer runs.  Not only did they, but they did it 96-times, just two fewer wins than the best in all the major leagues and they did it in a traditionally difficult division where they were the one time whipping team.  Showalter’s management of his starters and bullpen was near perfect and wheter this is the beginning of something grand or a one time fluke the 2014 season belongs to the Baltimore Orioles.

Clint Hurdle (Pittsburg Pirates) The Pirates started the season 10-16 through April and 26-30 through May and were even still around .500 at the All Star Break; it was beginning to look like the haters were right that the Bucs just got lucky in 2013.  Then the second half started and the Pirates fought like their was no tomorrow and finished the season 14-games over .500 and nearly taking the Central Division.  It would be easy to argue that this is a good team and they should have won all along, but they weren’t and for a manager in this day in age, with prima donna players and big wallet players, to motivate winners where there had only been losers is a task whether the team was 90-73 last year or 65-97.

Honorable mentions:

  • Don Mattingly – He could win this award just for keeping Yasiel Puig out of trouble.
  • Ron Roenicki-What could have been.
  • Joe Girardi-A team that had so many injuries, a retiring superstar circus and a suspended distraction, 84-wins is pretty respectable.  They were one losing streak from the playoffs.
  • Mike Scioscia-Good option, but I wonder if this team could win just as many games without him, but then they go and have terrible seasons with all their talent.

Rookie of the Year

Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox) While I disagree that players like Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka should be able to win an award for rookies when they have played at a professional level, until that changes and they make a first year international player award the rules dictate it is the best first year player and Abreu was without question that player.  Not only does he win the AL R.O.Y but he should also be in conversations for AL MVP with his .317/36/107 a line respectable for the best player in the game some years.

Jacob DeGrom (New York Mets) The AL might be a clear-cut winner, but the NL, not so much. While DeGrom may be the winner, his own teammate could steal the trophy on award night, or even a guy that was so good at stealing down the stretch.  To hold a pitching line of 9-6 with a 2.44era and 144Ks in 140 innings in the “other” New York you have to really tip your hat to the composure of the Mullet Man.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Billy Hamilton-Had Billy started the year half as good as he finished it he would have won no question.
  • Joe Panick-Might be the best player in this bunch when their careers are done and finished, but having only 73 games as a rookie makes it very difficult to select.
  • Dellin Betances-Showcasing his arm on the Leagues biggest mound and never showing a sign of weakness. 135Ks in 90 innings.  Will most certainly take over closing duties for a long time in the Bronx.
  • Masahiro Tanaka-One of the best starting pitchers in baseball rookie or veteran, his only downfall was losing 60 games to injury.

Reliever of the Year

Dellin Betances (New York Yankees) This kid played great not just for a 24-year old, but all relievers considered and managed an All Star nod along the way.  When you consider it was his first year and he threw 90 innings and struck out 135 you don’t just forget it is only his first season.  Nearly unhittable with a .149 opponents BA, only allowing more than 1 run in a game once and never giving up more than 2 hits in a game for the entire season.  Those are numbers you may confuse with Mariano Rivera, not a kid from Washington Heights.

Jonathan Papplebon (Philadelphia Phillies) If Pap was still in  2007 Boston the media may be ranking his performance with the best ever, but when you play on a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since you arrived, you sort of get forgotten.  I won’t forget you, Jon.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Drew Storen-Really provided stability from starter-to-closer transition and a fill in spot closer.  His microscopic ERA will attract suitors for the 27-year old as a closer.
  • Craig Kimbrel-Much Like Pap, a great performance on a very bad team.  But the Braves will rebound once the pitching staff comes back from their Tommy John Retreat.
  • Greg Holland-Does he really deserve the award?  Possibly, but I have to go with who surprised me the most and where credit is due.  A lot of closers get undue credit for their stats, a save really means, “Horray you didn’t lose the game.”  Not to take away from their jobb, but to go in with a 2 or 3 run lead and your job is to let up less runs, I really have a hard time supporting the accolade sometimes.
  • Zach Britton-Filled in nicely after management almost blew the season spot with the Johnson/Balfour debacle.

Pitcher of the Year

Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians) Probably the biggest moment in his career will be looked upon as the year he upset Felix Hernandez.  7.3 WAR, 269Ks and a 2.44 ERA is about the only way you beat the Cy Young Favorite.

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) If you watched any baseball this season you don’t need any reasons that Kershaw wins the best pitcher in baseball.  The only pitcher that can unseat Kersh was injured to early to make a mark.  But if Jose Fernandez recovers fully he will be the player that one day takes the driver’s seat as the best.  Until then Kersh is the only vote.

  • Johnny Cueto- How does one have an ERA just north of 2 and strike our 142 batters and not win the Cy Young?  He pitches in the same division as Kershaw.  Proving a year filled with injuries was nothing more than a year Cueto asserted his dominance across the season taking down batters one after another.
  • Madison Bumgarner-The Giant are back in the post season because of their youngest superstar ace.
  • Jordan Zimmermann-Fitting that Zimmermann finished the season with a no hitter,  Fourth fiddle to some very big names in baseball, Zimm might be their best.
  • Jake Arrieta-Unfortunate for Arrieta he is stuck in Chicago… for now.
  • Felix Hernandez- It is unfortunate that sometimes an amazing pitcher has to come in second, but this year The King was the prince.
  • Chris Sale-Another name that could have upset the balance, his only red mark on his resume is the amount of starts he was able to accumulate due to injury.
  • Garrett Richards-Much like Sale injury derailed his quest, only difference is that Richards was injured on the other end of the season.
  • Phil Hughes-If this is Hughes improving his name will climb with each year.

Most Valuable Player

Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) – He was once considered the next big thing and compared to Miguel Cabrera as the best all-around player.  He is now the standard by which players are compared.

Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)-The unequivocal leader of the Pirates and far and way their best player.  He led them to the NLCS last year and this year he will do it again, both the NLCS and the MVP.  Hopefully the NLCS will have a more positive outcome for the man they call Clutch.  People may argue that Kershaw deserves the award, I find it hard to award a player that only appears in 20% of a team’s games as their most valuable player.

Honorable Mention:

  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Giancarlo Stanton
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Adrian Gonzalez
  • Carlos Gomez
  • Devin Mesoraco
  • Jayson Werth
  • Paul Goldschmidt
  • Denard Span
  • Victor Martinez
  • Jose Abreu
  • Jose Altuve
  • Jose Reyes
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Felix Hernandez
  • Jon Lester
  • Garrett Richards
  • Robinson Cano

Future Legends FTW

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Every few sets Topps really hits a Grand Slam with their presentation. This season the Tribute and the Tier One were phenomenal; and this set is likely as good if not better than the Tributes with a slight edge if you a rookie or future star fan.

The borderless, slightly distressed background look with the photography choice is top notch, Walter Iooss would be proud. The minimized close up while in browse mode and intensity of each shot actually may make the card just that much better.

Topps decision to dedicate such a great looking set solely to future stars in my opinion makes this the must have set of the year.

Jose Fernandez
Dellin Betances
Marcos Stroman
Will Myers
Oscar Tevares
Jose Abreu

Just a portion of 15-card main set to pull and a 16th Jorge Soler bonus award card for collecting them all.

Sixteen astounding players all sure to be big names for the next 15-years in our National Pastime.

Kudos.

Player of the Week: PotW Cards

 

wpid-wp-1410026735093.pngPlayer of the Week Cards are great options for both players and collectors.

For collectors they offer a short run limited insert that can be part of a bigger set or collected for teams or favorite players.

These are one of the only inserts that benefit points players also because during their one week active rune the cards collect points at 3-times the active base score. A hitter or pitcher can easily score you over 500-plus points on a solid outing.

Both players will also benefit from the one week active 1,000 coin award.  The cards are regularly released on Monday afternoon based on MLB’s selection of the Player of the Week announcement.

 

Bill Buckner #TBT

wpid-wp-1409861248114.pngEach week Topps releases a #TBT or for the webcronym challenged, a Throwback Thursday card that features a classic card most of us had so many years ago.  Aside from a great card, the release gets you an award of 1000 coins and belongs to a collection of 30 inserts that will collect for an even grander prize.

This weeks release was a 1980 Topps Bill Buckner Chicago Cubs card (#135).  The 1980’s series was a fairly minimal design simply with a rounded yellow boarder and a pair of flags featuring the club and position of the player.  This particular release was more than just a throwback great, it was a twisted humor by the guys in the logistics room.

Buckner is a bit on the higher end of the count release at 1,986 copies. Why the odd release number you ask young fan?  For fans over 30 the answer is simple, poor Buckner booted a fairly routine grounder that happens every so often for a Major Leaguer, difference is Bill’s error came in Game 5 of the World Series with a 3-2 series lead over the Mets that may have cost them the title and an additional 24 years of waiting to raise their championship banner.

Thoughts on the new release?

Are you collecting the #TBTs?

 

 

What is TOPPS BUNT?

What is Topps BUNT?

Topps BUNT is part fantasy baseball, part card collecting put in a blender with the Amazon Kindle.  (Why Kindle and not Nook? Because I own a Kindle like 98% of eReaders).

Topps BUNT has the basic concept that you openly compete with all users for points based on a players on field performance.  What makes BUNT different from say ESPN Fantasy baseball is that in most fantasy concepts one person has Mike Trout, one person has Andrew McCutchen and some unlucky guy has B.J. Upton.  In BUNT everyone can have Mike Trout, they just have to pull him from a pack, which is pretty easy because he is the spokes man and everyone gets him… but we will get to packs in a little bit.

In fantasy baseball you set your team and once the game starts that is it, you are pretty locked in for the day. In BUNT you can change your players in real-time (save for a buffer time) and move from player-to-player until you reach your player limit which refreshes rather slowly. For the most part though you should not be exhausting this limit, if you are I suggest you take a small break from the webernets and go outside and see how the world has changed.

$_35The way to accumulate players is through packs, for your Average Joe Topps is very generous with free coins and unless you try chasing inserts from day 1, should have no problem amassing a respectable team in no time. You can also buy coins for additional packs to grow your team faster.

There is also the classic trading method as you did as a child, swap cards with fellow BUNTers for cards you need. Learn card values before beginning this strategy.

Each card has five base levels:

  • Common (White) scores at x1.00 base
  • Uncommon (Green) scores at x1.25 base
  • Rare (Red) scores at x1.50 base
  • Scarce (Silver) scores at x1.75 base
  • Super Rare (Gold) scores at x2.00 base

There are other boosts and tempory x3.00 base cards, but this is BUNT 101, save those for Junior year.

As you collect a team you will year that good player does not always mean good points scorer. Much like fantasy baseball it is about hitting the points categories, so focus on RBIs, HRs and low strikeout rates when looking into hitters. Unlike most fantasy games putouts and playing the field does add some points, but nothing that will every tip the scales for winning a trophy for you.

img_1693Besides the points aspect of the game Topps has also taken your card collection and virtualized it.  Much like your bookshelf in a Kindle you can take 3000 cards with you on your phone and browse 45 Derek Jeter cards with your pals without Clumbsy McDonttouch nicking the corner of your formerly Gem Mint 10.

Besides the cards you play in the fantasy side of the game Topps is growing their insert side of the app.

Topps regularly rotates sets for fans to chase for exclusive reward cards and coin prizes for collecting the cards within a set time span.  Most card chases last a week or two depending on the set size, usually 10 or so cards.  But some sets run for the entire season with a card selling out in usually a week until the next in the series is released.

This is where deciding to be a player or a collector. You can chase both, but for most of the games population you can not have a super insert collection and a top tier points collection. Reason being you have to pick packs to buy or trade your cards and to get one you need to give up the other.  Myself I collect, I like to play, but because I don’t have a thousand Gold cards my points put me somewhere around #2000 each week. This sounds low, but compared to 100,000 users this is respectable. On the other side of the argument, the points difference between 1st place (150,000 pts) and 2000th place (25,000 pts) you can see what an insert collection does to your chance to aim for first place.

Whatever you chose the game will be fun for your tastes.

Download on Android and iOS today and start collecting.

Android users, bear with it, there are several devices that are struggling with the app and desperately need an update to increase performance. It creates long wait times for trades to appear and load.  When the game is moving it is top tier full, and still is, but frustrating at time when you miss trades because the game refuses to load.

NEXT UP: Batters v Pitchers… What should I play?

Focusing on the Playoffs everyday of the year.

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