2019 Bowman's Best Box Break

Taking a break from a particularly grueling holiday shopping weekend, I opted for a stop at the local card store. Maybe too conveniently located a couple blocks north of the grocery store I shop at every Sunday morning. The Targets were sold out of any 2019 baseball I'd be interested in (not buying Topps Fire), so I figured I'd see what was interesting here.


2019 Bowman's Best had just came out. It was priced a little bit higher than I'd like to pay for new boxes. But for the entire time I was there, it sat on the shelf tempting me...

Bowman's Best is a set that I have fond memories of, dating back to it's early years of 1994 and 1995. As the tagline states: "Featuring the year's top performing prospects & veterans!" Recently, that has included many of that year's First Round Draft Picks. Topps put together a really nice -but small- set under the Bowman brand, with flashy colors and multiple refractors printed on the "Finest" stock.

In recent years, the set became a Hobby Only product, at a price point that I usually avoid. When boxes of cards top the $100 mark, and the number of cards that nets you is well under 100, that tends to be a bit more of a lottery ticket than I like buying into. So I haven't picked up nearly as much Bowman's Best as I did in the mid-90's. As much as I liked the product, it evolved too far away from how I collected. The only time I would buy stuff like this was plucking singles off the secondary market.


But we're up to now including 4 autographs per box! 

Twisting my arm Topps... 

Juggling in my mind the hypothetical mathematical equation of price I pay vs likely expected value I'd receive in cards contained within. Plus the added factor of warm and fuzzies that Bowman's Best brings, dating back now 25 years. Divided by disappointment if I pull 4 dud autographs and all Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Dodgers. With occasional Cleveland Indians showing up for diversity. This could be a risky gamble...

Does that price now make sense?


Man, when you put it THAT way...

Okay... Take my money Topps...


Unlike what I did with my series of 2019 Topps Hobby Jumbo box breaks (Series One, Two and Update), where I just highlighted a few cards from each pack. The amount of cards in this box is reasonably small, so I'll scan everything and show the box break card by card.

It's more fun that way!

Starting with the box on the left. The one with the bad light reflection blotting out the art. 

It's...

Box One


And the ripped apart first pack wrapper, being scanned as I flipped through the first 5 cards in the box.

Pack One


Khris Davis

The first card would be Oakland's star slugger coming off a down year.

How do you feel about Khris Davis's 2019 season, Rob?


Stand by your team!


Wander Franco

I wander what kind of career Franco will end up having... Still very young and very highly regarded, yet still years away from making an impact in Tampa. The hobby is filled with collections of failed top prospects over the years, so possible phenoms like Franco are great to follow as they go.

And that right there is how Bowman hooks me in. Since I started following baseball, the drafting and minor league development side of the game has always been a key angle to me. Over time, you get to see what happens to these prospects. Do they work out? Do they flop?


Taylor Trammell

When the Padres traded for Trammell, my thoughts were the trade didn't make sense. An overpay for a prospect at a position that isn't their most pressing need? Did they really just not trust Franmil Reyes in right field. It will be interesting to look back on this trade in a few years.


Hunter Greene - Future Foundations

Hopefully Hunter's recent Tommy John Surgery doesn't prevent him from becoming a foundation in Cincinnati's future...


Casey Mize - Refractor

Speaking of shaky foundations, for the first part of 2019, Mize looked like he was well on his way to becoming Detroit's next big pitching hope. But he was shut down mid-season due to arm issues. While not regarded as serious, it's an immediate red flag. The Tigers really need Mize to become their next Verlander. Not their next Greisinger...


Pack Two


Austin Riley

Braves prospect that can single-handedly air condition Sun Trust Park with all his strikeouts. 


Mitch Keller

The second pack isn't starting out as exciting as the first. A Brave and then a Pirate will do that...

I do really like the design of this set. The loud flashy color is contained within the barricades at just the right amount. The color is very sharp. Even the hockey stick name plate doesn't bother me too much.


Bo Bichette

Bichette looks to be an incredible hitter. Looking forward to what he can do over a full MLB season.


Adley Rutschman - Franchise Favorites

Two insert sets with the initials "FF"? Seems a little uncreative. As does (poorly) ripping off an insert set from 1999 Bowman's Best. Either way, this is my first card of the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. So that's cool...


Cristian Pache - Refractor

Another Braves outfield prospect... Yay...

Pack Three


Andrew Vaughn

And here's my first card of the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. The White Sox have had an interesting offseason, making some acquisitions that should definitely mark an improvement in 2020. Yet, the Twins have done not a whole lot... Will Vaughn show up and mash mid-season like Frank Thomas circa 1990?


Eugenio Suarez

The Reds have been another intriguing team this offseason. With Milwaukee seemingly tearing down and the Cubs losing their checkbook, Cincinnati has a small window, and they are taking advantage. So far the moves they've made make sense, although I wonder how productive Moustakis will be towards the end of his deal,


Walker Buehler

Sick of the Dodgers...


Seth Beer - Future Foundations Gold Autograph 43/50

Houston sent Beer to Arizona, as part of the Zack Greinke trade last July. This card likely had to have been produced months back to allow for the printing and subsequent autographing. My first of four autographs from this box would probably be the highlight. Hard to top a Gold Refractor numbered to 50. Even in an outdated uniform.


Deivi Garcia Refractor

Yankees top prospect... Hooray...

Since this pack had a fairly rare insert, let's take a look at the odds in pulling such a hit....


The Future Foundations Gold Autographs fall at 1 in every 395 packs. Or 1 in every 33 boxes. 

So I did pretty well with this!

Pack Four


Brett Baty

Why do I feel like one of the T's in Brett's first name really should be in his last name.

Bret Btaty!

Okay, it's just me.


Gerrit Cole

Oh, and the Yankees are going to absolutely hate paying Cole during years 7 through 9 of his ridiculous contract...


Corbin Carroll - Purple Refractor 61/250

Purple Refractors fall one in every 21 packs. Not too rare, but a very nice card. D-Bags notwithstanding...


Justus Sheffield - Atomic Refractor

Atomic Refractors fall one in every 12 packs. Strange to get these back to back in the same pack. I've pulled a lot of Sheffield cards this year, including an autograph out of Archives. I'm thinking he may become a player I collect.


Hyun-Jin Ryu - Refractor

The Blue Jays? 

Really?

As in Toronto?

This move was a shocker...

Pack Five


Jo Adell

Trout needs a buddy...


Nolan Arenado

One of the happiest baseball moments of 2019 to me, was the Rockies signing Arenado to a 7 year contract. Hopefully ensuring his entire career would be in Colorado. Not even one full year into the deal, Rockies management is letting other teams know that he is available. Of course $230 million left on a contract, a full no-trade clause and an opt-out in three years have a lot to say about Arenado actually leaving Colorado...

As a Rockies fan, it really bothers me that Colorado's biggest star and most talented player could be moved because their long inept management gave too much money to players providing far less production. Wade Davis... Ian Desmond... Jake McGee... Bryan Shaw... And to a lesser -but possibly more damaging extent, Charlie Blackmon....

Pains me to say that.


Aaron Judge

Just a thought, with the near half a trillion dollars owed to Giancarlo Stanton and now Garret Cole, would that make any difference in the coming years when Judge needs to be paid?


C.J. Abrams - Franchise Favorites

The 6th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.  Looks like San Diego may have gotten a very good prospect with this pick. The 19 year old hit .401/.442/.662 over 152 plate appearances, in the Arizona Rookie League. He only drew 10 walks, but only struck out 14 times. Granted he's batting against Rookie League pitching, but it looks like he has a clue at the plate.


Brendan Rodgers - Refractor

If the Rockies trade Arenado, they will (unfairly) need Rodgers to step up big time around the infield. 

I'm really not liking the future of this team. While it's not what it was in the late 1990's, with the Blake Street Bombers leading the Colorado Suckies to some of the worst .500 baseball you could ever see. Killer offense, terrible everything else...

Now I'm bummed out.

Last pack of the first mini box!

Pack Six


Joey Bart

Buster Posey's replacement! Bart looks like he could be another great catcher for the Giants. I don't want them to have a great anything. The Rockies could sure use Bart...

See if the Giants want Ian Desmond!


Pete Alonso

At least he plays in Queens instead of the Bronx...

As I pulled this next card from the pack, MLB Network aired a highlight package of the Yankees Gio Urshella. The audio was that irritating play-by-play guy doing his lame personalized home run calls:

"Giovanni Urshella!! Such a HAPPY FELLA!!!"

I loathe Yankees highlights airing on MLB Network, just because I have to hear his stupid home run rhyming or punny calls, or the always especially obnoxious:

"THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA YANKEES WIIIIINNNN!!!"

It made this little poem pop into my head...


J.J. Bleday - Power Producers

The name J.J. Bleday is really fun to say.

I could listen to sportscasters say it all day.

Shouting his praise for a dramatic play.

Unless that announcer was the Yankees Michael Kay! 

Shoo-bop shoo-bop yendypootypotter yay!

Speaking of the Yankees...


Luis Gil - Autograph

Luis Gil was once a prospect in the very low minors of the Twins organization. He was traded as a 19 year old, to the New York Yankees for OF Jake Cave, during 2018 Spring Training. Cave has played well as a backup outfielder over the past couple of seasons for Minnesota, but Gil remains an intriguing arm. Despite it being a Yankee autograph, I like this one more than most of the Yankee prospect autographs I pull.


Whit Merrifield - Refractor

Where will Whit wind up? Boston? The Cubs? Pittsburgh? Kansas? Lotsa teams want him, the Royals don't seem too interested in trading him. He's a good player on a team-friendly contract, but is on the wrong side of 30 for a team like the Royals to build around. They could get something pretty useful for him...

And that wraps up the first mini-box of this break. Before we move on to the second one, let’s take a quick look at the still shrink wrapped overall package.


That's so attractive, I should keep it unopened!

Yeah right...


Side view of the shrinkwrapped box of two shrinkwrapped boxes...

Let's look at the one on the right. Fort the sake of this story, that one will be known as...

Box Two

Pack One


Jon Duplantier

When the Arizona D-Bags switched up their uniforms to include that weird gradient pattern on the shoulders of the jerseys, along with dark grey road uniforms, I wondered if it was going to start a trend in Major League Baseball. For a little while I thought it was catching on, as Team USA’s road uniforms in the 2016 World Baseball Classic were that same dark grey color. I guess not. A couple of weeks ago, the D-Bags revealed their new 2020 uniforms, which were basically tweaks of the current ones. All they did was remove that ugly gradient pattern and lighten the dark grey to the socially acceptable baseball road grey that all teams use.

So much for being trendsetters... After a couple of seasons of trying to stand out, they’re going right back to baseball norms.

Not very snake-like…


Sixto Sanchez

The last time I bought packs of Bowman’s Best, was a mini-box in 2017. Back then, you were only guaranteed one autograph per mini-box. That box yielded a Sixto Sanchez autograph. Which made Sanchez a player that I was now following. Which also meant I was a big fan of him going to the Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto trade, thinking he’d get a better chance to succeed in the anonymity of Miami, than the pressure of Philadelphia. Maybe next season he’ll make his Major League debut?


Eloy Jimenez - Power Producers

I’m not writing a poem about Eloy…


Brennan Malone - Autograph Refractor

My third autograph in the box came in the first pack of mini-box number two. It’s a D-Bag too. Sure seems to be an abundance of snakes in this box. I’m not a fan of that…


Rhys Hoskins - Refractor

The Refractors are sure nice and colorful this year. My scanner does not do them justice.

Pack Two


Kyle Wright

A Brave. We don’t like them around these parts…


Keston Huira

A Brewer. We tolerate them around these parts…


Will Wilson

A Giant… In Angels clothing… We don't like either of them...

San Francisco decided to “buy” a prospect earlier this offseason, trading a minor leaguer to the Angels for what's left of Zack Cozart’s hefty contract. Since the Angels would be relieved of Cozart’s salary, they had to include Wilson, a very good prospect. These types of trades don’t happen very often, but perhaps they should. A rebuilding crappy team with a low payroll, should try to make trades like this to build up prospect capital.


Eloy Jimenez - Franchise Favorites

This Eloy guy seems to have a buncha cards in this product…

Still not writing a poem about him.


Javier Baez - Refractor

When it comes to clubs that seem to be spinning their wheels, you have to look at the Cubs. Sure they finally won a World Series a few years ago, but they’ve since been falling way short of achieving the same sort of success. Very Cubs like…

Pack Three


Mookie Betts

Besides Cleveland's All Star shortstop, no one else is in on trade rumors more than Betts. I loved that Boston didn't make the playoffs last year. I love even more that a financial crunch has them casting off their best players.

Hey, if the Rockies have to do this...


Gleyber Torres

Ask Cubs fans if they'd like to have Torres back, instead of the Chapman run that brought them a World Series? Now they both play with Gerrit Cole...

Yup, I'm already sick of the 2020 Yankees...


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - Neophyte Sensations

I'd hoped to pull Guerrero's base card, but this one is fine. 

Although, Neophyte Sensastions?!?! 


Bo Bichette - Future Foundations

From what he showed in his half-season debut, Topps may be on the mark with that branding. Bichette looks to develop into an all around star. Dante's kid will be a player I follow, since I followed his dad's career, both in Colorado and elsewhere.


Bryce Harper - Refractor

Kinda odd seeing Harper the Phillie after so much of Harper the Nat. He should have signed with the Pirates so it would be truly shocking to see him on cards in the future. Maybe the Rays?

Pack Four


Xander Bogaerts

Whatever...


Griffin Canning

Since when do the Angels wear blue pants?


Michael Kopech

Kopech has become a player I'm collecting. The potential in his right arm could lead him to being a dominant ace down the road. Earlier this year, I picked this card up because I think this guy is going to have a great career. (After recovering from Tommy John Surgery...)


Stiff price, but the low serial number could make this a potential steal down the road.


Jarred Kelenic - Autograph

Same idea makes me pleased that Kelenic was autograph number four in my box of boxes of 2019 Bowman's Best. There's buying prospects, and there's outright stealing prospects, as the Mariners pretty much did in the Robinson Cano trade.


Shohei Ohtani - Refractor

Not sold on Ohtani making the difference the Angels pitching staff so badly needs. 

Can Anthony Rendon pitch?

Pack Five


Jose Altuve

Cheater!!


Manny Machado

It will be interesting to see how Machado produces, as the young Padres develop into something that could maybe overtake the Dodgers in a few years. After the Rockies, the Padres lead the list of other NL West teams I least hate. If I have to watch the Rockies suck from a distance, I'd like a break from the Dodgers, Giants and D-Bags triumvirate.


Keoni Cavaco

The box is officially great! Going in, I really wanted to get a card of Keoni Cavaco, the Twins First Round Draft Pick (13th overall) in 2019. I struck out on attempts to pull his card from the recently released Bowman Draft, so I was really wanting to hit on Bowman's Best.

Up to this point, I haven't mentioned the backs on 2019 Bowman's Best. So let's Keoni over!


Instead of going with a line -or more- of statistics, 2019 Bowman's Best opts to tell that player's "best" moment. That card mentions a game that sounded very good, instead of his overall 2019 stat line. Which wasn't very good. Cavaco only played in 25 games of Rookie League baseball, in Fort Myers of the Gulf Coast League, after signing in late June, 2019. Over 92 plate appearances, he managed only a .172/.217/.253 slash line.

To be fair, Cavaco only turned 18 just days before the Draft. So his first game came when he was pretty young. While I'd like to have seen better numbers, I'm not going to call him a bust at this point.

Which is good because the very next card in the pack was...


Keoni Cavaco - Franchise Favorites

Wow! After just hoping to pull his base card at some point this December, I stumble into a virtual Keoni Cavaco Hot Pack! I really like this card.

Too bad I wasn't going to see a 5th autograph from this box. I want the Keoni Cavaco Superfractor!


Flipping this card over, you can read about how the Twins feel about Cavaco. Somehow this means a little more from the Falvine regime than it would have coming from the previous Terry Ryan run scouting department... After you're done reading that, go take a second look at that terrible Photoshoppery on Cavaco's hat and jersey. Some of your worst work there Topps...

Good luck in 2020, Keoni! I'll be reading the minor league recaps!


Francisco Lindor - Refractor

And as a Twins fan, who watched Lindor play too many games against us, I really want him traded to the National League. Even if it has to build up the Dodgers, to once again run away with the division, and choke in the post season.

Please, just reduce the number of games he plays against Minnesota.

Pack Six


DJ LeMahieu

Do I really need more reminders from Topps that he should still be a Colorado Rockie. And that list of all those dead salaries I mentioned earlier, shouldn't be?


Brandon Lowe

Earlier this year, I pulled a really nice Lowe autograph from a retail pack of Prizm. For whatever reason, I pulled a lot of Rays hits in 2019. Like a really nice Blake Snell autograph from one of Topps Hobby Store Day packs, and another Snell jersey chunk from Topps Series 3. Rays and Yankees probably led the list of hits by team this year.


Royce Lewis

I was so happy with the Duelling Cavaco's of the previous pack that I completely dismissed the possibility of more Twins in the box. Glad to have the 2017 First Overall Draft Pick on board.

Unfortunately, Lewis had a down year between high A ball in Fort Myers, FL and AA ball with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Over 566 plate appearances with both teams, Royce had a .236/.290/.371 slash line. He will only turn 21 in June of next year, so there's still plenty of time for him to put it together. His numbers in 2017 and 2018 looked like he was on his way to becoming a superstar. A full season of AA ball in 2020 will provide more insight to his future than this year's numbers.

And again, I'll be following those minor league recaps!


Carter Kieboom - Future Foundations

Will he be? The World Champs have an obvious opening. Make a Spring Training Kieboom and win the open third base job!

And the last card from the box of 2019 Bowman's Best...


Kris Bryant - Refractor

With one time hobby darling currently holding up the trade market with his pending service time grievance, the Cubs don't know what they could even get for him. He could be a free agent after 2020 or 2021. That's not certain yet. Either way, I start wondering what cards will look like with Bryant in another uniform.

How about the Tigers!

******

So that wraps up my box of 2019 Bowman's Best.


As I said, this is not a price range I want to swim in often. Once in a while is okay, exceptions are always made. You just hope to get some nice cards of players/teams you collect. I know the odds of coming away with "book value" are remote, but if you feel good about what you got, that's all that matters. Sometimes you get a nice hit, sometimes you don't. I'm not in this hobby to be concerned with only "hits".

And to me, this box of 2019 Bowman's Best was fun.

I enjoyed opening it. I liked what I got.

My only complaint would be that I'd like to see a few more base cards included in a box. I know this is basically a lottery ticket, with the promised four hits being the selling point. But I feel it wouldn't hurt Topps to add even 2 or 3 more base cards per pack. Only placing 5 cards in each pack, with 2-3 of those being inserts, is kind of a disappointment. I'd love to see a 7 or 8 card pack for this price. With the same ratio of inserts.

Yes it would cheapen the value of the base set, because Topps would have to print more of them. Is anyone collecting Bowman's Best for the base set? I highly doubt it... But it would sure attract the (few) collectors like myself.


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