Collectors of Football and Hockey cards look forward to the release of Playoff Contenders. These boxes provide great autographs and a strong base set of the veterans of the sport. Now comes along 2011 Panini Playoff Contenders Baseball. While Football and Hockey versions concentrate on first year rookies, the baseball version concentrates more on the MLB draft selections making it more of a deep draft prospecting product.
Playoff Contenders Baseball falls into our premium cards category. Each box contains 24 packs with 5 cards each with a promise of 6 autographs, 2 of which will be on-card.
Here are some of the cards we pulled.
Base Set - Draft Ticket
Sean Gilmartin, front and back, Travis Harrison
Dwight Smith Jr., Hudson Boyd, Kes Carter
Base Set - Season Ticket
Ichiro, Ryan Howard, Justin Verlander
Mariano Rivera, Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder
Trevor Bauer, Danny Hultzen, Francisco Lindor
Cory Spangenberg, Javier Baez, Taylor Jungmann
Gerrit Cole, Luke Hochevar
Dustin Pedroia, Chris Coghlan
Curtis Granderson, Andrew Bailey
Neftali Feliz, Tim Hudson
Matt Barnes, Jason Esposito, Dante Bichette Jr.
Abel Baker & Tyler Collins, Anderson Feliz & Cristhain Adames
Andrew Chafin & Travis Shaw, Evan Marshall & Jason King
Josh Hamilton & Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton & Ian Kennedy
Micahel Goodnight #/299, Lenny Linsky #/299, Josh Hamliton #/299
Larry Greene #/299, Logan Verrett #/99
Cameron Gallagher Artist's Proof #/49, Nick Ahmed Artist's Proof #/49
The Hits - Autographs
Shawon Dunston Jr. Sweet Signs #/99
The design of these cards kind of grows on you over time. While Panini has secured a license with the Players Association, they won’t be able to even try to obtain a license with the MLB for some time due to the League’s previous agreements. This translates into no team logos for the established Major League players. That presents challenges from a design level. While the non-logoed studio portraits work really well on the Season Ticket cards because of the added stadium background the appeal of these photos decrease without background in the various inserts. It should also be noted that our very apparent straight scratches on both sides of the Draft Ticket card fronts, both base and paralleled numbered cards, most likely due to machine damage. I have no idea if this is a release wide problem or if we just got stuck with an isolated issue.
Quality and Variety of Players
It is important that you know that Contenders Baseball is a draft prospect product, not a rookie prospect product like other Contenders releases. But it is a nicely rounded mix of players.
Do the Hits satisfy?
The on-card autos of early draft picks and the sweet signs cards are great. Pulling some of the Draft Ticket autos of late round picks (Lee Orr went in the 13th round of the draft) is a shot in the dark as far as determining value.
Will you keep coming back for more?
Probably not with the enthusiasm of other Contenders products, but if the look feels right to you and you want to take a chance on some future players, you could easily buy multiple boxes.
3 1/2 out of 5
2011 Panini Playoff Contenders Baseball will be good for draft pick prospectors. If future releases start to include actually rookie autographs, the customer base for this product will increase and be more inline with expectations for a Contenders product.
Review box provided by Topps
Review box provided by Topps