Three teams were eliminated yesterday. We have this weekend to narrow the field down by 11 more to reach the Sweet 16. Let's see what the cards hold for today.
Round 1: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres
2017 Topps #325 Chris Hatcher vs. 2015 Topps #99 Yonder Alonso
This is the third 2015 Topps flagship we’ve seen in Round 1. I’ll just say right now—I have a lot of sets in my collection, but the randomizer seemed to love 2015 flagship. There will be more. To the cards at hand, Yonder Alonso was an All-Star last year and he won me over with his Indians FanFest prank. He wins hands-down in the player category. For the design, Hatcher has one of the dreaded horizontals of 2017, which cuts a large chunk of the picture away. The 2015 flagship has already been established as good. The photos are both good action shots, but I might give the edge here to Hatcher because Yonder’s is too closely cropped. It doesn’t matter, though. Alonso has already won it.
Round 1: Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
1996 Ultra #420 Daryl Hamilton vs. 2015 Topps #16 David DeJesus
First, the players. Hamilton was a solid hitter, ending his career with a .291 average and .360 OBP over 5177 plate appearances. That’s not too shabby. DeJesus was also a solid player, posting a 23.2 WAR over his career. Neither player made an All-Star team. This is pretty even, player-wise, though I might have a soft spot for Hamilton due to his tragic death a few years back. As far as design goes, 2015 Topps wins again in the battle of two sets that keep popping up. For the photo, I like action shots like DeJesus’, but a well-posed Spring Training photo is good too. I think I’ll go with Hamilton because I like the arm on the bat and the fact that you don’t see too many like this in modern sets.
Round 1: Cincinnati Reds vs. Washington Nationals
2015 Topps #375 Johnny Cueto vs. 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen #56 Vladimir Guererro
This may be the best matchup so far: a Hall of Fame hitter against a legitimate staff ace. I’m not sure I favor either player more than the other. I never became as big of a fan of Vlad as many other bloggers out there, but there is no denying his credentials. I’m not a huge Cueto fan, either, but he can be dominant. And I don’t know that I like his little wiggle wind-up, but it is interesting to watch. I think I’ll give the edge to Vlad here. I like both of these card designs, too. I think I might give the slight edge to Gypsy Queen in a head-to-head. Neither photo is especially great, and they both feature a blowfish face. 2015 Topps has a superior back with actual stats, whereas GQ only has about a sentence of writing. In, the end, I’ll call the . . .
Winner: Nationals (via the Expos)
Round 1: Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland A’s
1996 Ultra #591 Mo Vaughn vs. 2017 Topps Negative #146 Chad Pinder
Here we have subset versus parallel. Mo Vaughn wins the player category. He has more All-Star seasons than Pinder has seasons. An AL MVP doesn’t hurt either. I like the design of Mo’s Ultra Stars subset, too. It looks like it would have made a decent insert set. The Negative is kind of cool, and it’s the only one I own, but it’s also kind of weird. Mo also gets the edge in the photo because of his signature shades and the fact that the negative parallel obscures details on the other card.
Winner: Red Sox