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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Hate's a Strong Word, But...

What's the most challenging part of your collection? I've accepted that there are certain things I want that either don't exist or are out of my price range. I talked about some pipe dream bucket list items a few days ago, but specifically, I don't see myself every owning a complete 1952 Topps set. There are thousands of players who have no baseball card; there are plenty of Hall of Famers with no easily obtainable card.

And I know there is no chance of ever having a complete type collection.
The MLB type collection currently sits at 46,992 cards. I have more than 26% of those. From 1980 through 2000, I have over 50% for each year. My most complete year is 1995 - I have 84.60% of cards issued that year, which gives me 390 unique cards. It's not the year I have the most cards for, though. That goes to 2005.

The 1995 season saw 461 individual sets reach the market, including parallels and inserts. Ten years later, a total of 3463 unique sets were distributed.

This wasn't a steady increase, either. in 2003, there were 1549 sets. In 2004, it jumped to 2474, and in 2005 we reached 3463 sets. In two years, the number of sets issued in a single year more than doubled!
I've talked about this before - somewhere in this blog's archives is a post about this phenomenon. There are many reasons, but one major cause of the glut of sets at this time is Donruss/Playoff's loss of their MLB license. In 2005 in particular, they issued tons of forgettable releases to unload their stock of relic pieces and autographed stickers. Given what they did in 2004 as well, perhaps they knew the end was nearing.

Looking at the types of releases in 2005, there are 92 major release sets, 350 parallels, 258 insert sets, 545 parallels to those insert sets, 359 relic and autograph sets, and 1802 relic and autograph parallel sets. The remaining cards are oddballs. With 2161 hits, it's the third biggest year for those types of cards. (2019 is up to 2217 hits so far, and 2018 saw 2312 hits.)

And, well, I hate that.

The 2005 card season in particular made me rethink my realistic goals for my type collection. Instead of hoping for 50% or even 33%, I've now set 25% as my goal for any particular year. and beyond that, I've been refocusing from the total percentage to percentages in each category of card. And, well, I hate that.
There are more cards to collect, but hits - and parallel hits especially - don't offer much overall to my collection, and instead weigh it down. I have 250 hits total from the 2005 season, which is a bit over 10%, but these often parallel the base set or other inserts in a particular release.

The answer, of course, is to do as I've mentioned above, and to collect the more relevant cards - non-parallel base and insert cards.

But I still hate that.

This post was inspired by Corky's question: What year bothers you? His question was in regards to PCs, but I haven't run into any big snags for any of my player collections.

Until next time...


  1. 3463 sets in a single year? I had no idea things had gotten so bonkers out of control. That post you did back in 2011 with the graph was interesting, has the number of sets continued to drop since then?

    1. I'm planning to revisit that data. The short answer: no.

  2. I think this is a great example of why the manufacturers drove a bunch of people out of the hobby in the early 1990s.

    1. We are in a "bull market" now with trading cards, with lots of people returning to collecting, or more accurately investing in, trading cards. But if the rookie crop from the past couple of years go bust, I have a feeling we're going to see some serious problems. Lots of people busting lots of packs means more cheap scraps for me to pick up! But on the other hand, there are 3500 scraps from this year alone.

  3. I sure do miss the simpler times when there were four of five flagship sets, a few traded/update/rookie sets, and maybe 20 to 50 oddball issues each year.

    1. It would make collecting easier... but then nobody could have one of the 50,000 1/1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. autographed cards issued this year alone.