2019 High Heat – NL Central

2019 High Heat – NL Central

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

National League Central

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

September 16th, 2019

The National League’s Central Division might just be, for me at least, the most interesting of them all. I’m as AL-sided as could be, I just can’t see the interest in watching pitcher bat, but this Central division is actually pretty fun to watch. With three teams all within two games of each other heading into the final stretch, you couldn’t ask for a better end to the regular season. All the teams have at least a couple interesting players and if it weren’t for the Dodgers, well, existing, I’d have put money on the NL champs coming from the Central this year.

So… let’s do this thing. Here’s the cards for the National League Central.

St. Louis Cardinals

Red birds are up first since (as of this post) they’re currently in first. They’ve only got a two game lead in the division so next week, technically, they could be in third if they hit a cold streak. I can’t say I’d actively root for the Cardinals, not that they ever did anything to the Red Sox except give us a fairly interesting World Series win, but I’m channeling a little Astros’ favoritism today and they always beat up on the Astros in their more recent down years before joining the AL. So, yeah, not really in the top half of my list of teams to cheer for. A couple interesting players though, and Goldschmidt always seemed like a nice person, so, yeah.

Chicago Cubs

Is it wrong to call the Cubs the “Red Sox of the NL”? The Dodgers are clearly the Yankees, just in terms of TV money and influence, but the Cubs were, until recently, the perennial underdogs without a big WS win. They’re only two back of the Cardinals but are looking to make a late run. Even though I think he’s been on the Cubs for longer than he was with Boston at this point, I still can’t help but root for Jon “I can’t throw to 1st base” Lester. It might have been a bit of a homer pick, but he’s my third card for the Cubs set.

Milwaukee Brewers

Here’s where it gets interesting. The Brewers are 3 back of the Cardinals and just 1 back of the Cubs, and Chicago and St. Louis have TWO series against each other to finish the season out while the Brewers get to beat up on the Reds, Pirates and Rockies. If they can sweep those, and the Cardinals and Cubs trade wins, it could get really close, really quick and all come down to the last week of the season.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds, 13.5 back of the pack and the Pirates (18.5 GB) get to play potential spoiler this year to the Brewers. The Reds have enough games left in their division to really hurt the Brewers if they can pull off some wins. The Reds also have my favorite National League player, Joey Votto. I just always felt he was a continuously under-rated player and often over looked. 6-time All Star, NL MVP, Gold Glove, and everyone seems to forget he’s even still playing. On top of that, the Reds also have Eugenio Suarez, who just hits bombs all day.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Lastly, the Pirates who, on paper, are actually better than their record would suggest. They do have a serious pitching problem, as do most teams in the MLB. If you don’t have an effective rotation, its just really impossible to put wins together against offenses that are hitting more and more home runs. I don’t really believe that the baseballs have anything to do with it, but there’s seemingly less guys who have 3+ pitches and can keep hitters guessing. If all you have is a mid-90’s fastball and a change-up/sinker, you’re going to get hammered these days. My one regret in these cards was not including Bryan Reynolds who’s been quietly putting together a great rookie season for the Pirates.

And that’s the NL Central. Stay tuned for later this week when we finish this whole thing off with the NL West!

Thanks for reading!

2019 High Heat – NL EAST

2019 High Heat – NL EAST

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

National League East

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

September 9th, 2019

We’ve reached September and it’s time to wrap this set up. Can’t have teams going into the playoffs before I call this thing finished. I wish I could say we took a well deserved vacation or that relaxing and having fun just got the better of my time this summer, but honestly I’ve been extremely busy. A few client sites here, a few work projects there, and poof, summer is gone before it really even settled in.

I decided to design the entire National League side all at once but that meant finishing up templates for teams that don’t really even cross my radar. I had to search for the right color yellow for the Pirates, I had to google who exactly actually plays for the Marlins, and I had to remind myself that Jon Lester didn’t retire after leaving the Red Sox, etc. I have most of it ready to go so I figured I’d start the posting off in the same way I did the American League.

We’re starting in the East! Let’s go!

Atlanta Braves

Sitting at number one in the NL East, by a healthy 9 games, the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta has a ton of young, solid talent and they’re going to be a force in the NL East for the next couple years. Acuna, Albies and “veteran” Freddie Freeman were my early picks for their team set, and I included a Mike Soroka RC since he seems to be having a great rookie season.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are currently 9 back of the Braves for the number 2 spot in the NL East. Juan Soto is have a ridiculous year and is definitely that star the Nats were looking for to fill the Harper void.

Philadelphia Phillies

Right in the middle of the pack we’ve got the Phillies. At the start of the season, with how they had made some major upgrades in free agency, I would have said the Phillies would be running away with the East at the moment. Instead they find themselves in 3rd, 14 games back.

New York Mets

The Mets seemed to be having some internal problems this year, and are just barely over 500, which is sad considering soon-to-be National League Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso plays for them. On the other hand, it’s allowed his insane year to stand out and above the noise in Queens.

Miami Marlins

The last time the Marlins crossed my train of thought it was “hmmm, they traded Realmuto to the Phillies”, quickly followed by “who actually plays for the Marlins at this point?”. I didn’t know. I had to go visit Baseball Reference and figure it out. At least they weren’t the first team to 100 loses, so… you know… they’ve got that going for them.

There we go, there’s the NL East.

More to come when I wrap up the National League with the Central and the West. Thanks for checking them out!

2019 High Heat – AL West

2019 High Heat – AL West

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

American League West

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

July 24th, 2019

We finish up our march through the American League this week with the AL West. The Astros, at one point, seemed like they were 20+ games up on second place Oakland this year and I had to do a double take when I looked at the standing this afternoon and it was “only” 6.5 games. Oakland is doing fine in their own right with the ever pesky “statistical lineup” we’ve seen for a while now. The Angels have two of the most exciting players in the league but are limping into 3rd. The Rangers are just above .500 (.505 to be exact) and I don’t think they can even start to catch up with their fellow Texans. The Mariners are in full-blown “Rebuild” mode and it’s showing with their 41-63 record.

So, let’s dive in and take a look at the AL West!

Houston Astros

The Astros are red-hot… or, I suppose, Orange Hot. They look like they’re really enjoying themselves as a team this year and they’re consistently fun to watch. I’m literally watching them beat Oakland while I’m typing this (4-1 in the 6th). I don’t really feel like there’s a conflict of interest in rooting for them. September will sort it out, as it did in 2017 and 2018. They’re my #2, and I’m ok with that.

That said, I went with what I felt like were the 3 premiere players this year for the cards. I also did a card for Yordan Alvarez. I know he technically came up “too late” to have an official RC this year, but that is the MLB’s and Topps’ bullcrap rule, not mine. This is his rookie season, just try and change my mind.

Oakland Athletics

I’m going to be honest and say that with the exception of Matt Chapman, I can’t keep track of who is actually on the Athletics any more. It seems like they’re always near the top of the West, but have constant lineup turn over. They seems to be having a fine season, #2 in the West in a good spot for a Wild Card chase. I included Laureano simply because of the canon he has for an arm. I remember seeing him gun down JBJ from the outfield at the beginning of the season. That’s quite the feat.

LA Angels

No, I’m not calling them the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”, because that’s stupid. Pick one LA.

The Angels have the best player in baseball, and one of the most interesting “not really a rookie anymore” young players in Trout and Ohtani, but picking a 3rd was tough. Kole Calhoun has been quietly putting together a really solid season. Statistically, he’s our #3.

Texas Rangers

Here’s our second Texas team, the “essentially Dallas” Rangers. I can’t tell if they’ve given up already, or if they’re planning to shortly, but they’re hovering just above .500 with really no plans on doing anything to change that. I think they’re getting a new stadium… so… they’re playing mediocre to… ummm…. say thank you? I don’t really get it. They did give the Red Sox Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland in the past, so I don’t really dislike them. They also have Hunter Pence, and how can you not like that crazy dude?

Seattle Mariners

Man, what can we even say about the Mariners at this point? They started the year with a completely different roster. They’ve traded or released dozens of players and with the exception of the rookie Kikuchi, I haven’t heard anything good out of the Mariners. I don’t even know if the guys I picked for cards are still on the team (I picked them two months ago) and I don’t really feel like Googling it. Sadly it’s a lost year for the Northern Boat People.

And with that, we bring the entire American League to a close. The National League is up next, but I’m behind on making some of the cards. There might be a slight break before I can put out an entire division.

If you’re interested in checking out the other Divisions, here ya go:

American League East
American League Central
American League West (this post)

2019 High Heat – AL Central

2019 High Heat – AL Central

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

American League Central

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

July 9th, 2019

This week we’re continuing the series of posts for my 2019 card set “High Heat” with a look at the American League Central. I’ve been sitting on these for a while now as I trudge my way through a pile of work-related tasks. There just isn’t enough hours in the day for hobbies apparently. I have the American League 97% completed, and the National League about 40% sourced for player photos.

Admittedly, the AL Central is a little harder for me to pick players for. I’m simply not familiar enough with the teams to know who are real fan favorites, so I relied on current year statistics to narrow it down for each team. At the time of this writing, the Twins were in front by 5.5 games, followed by the Indians and then everyone else (by a considerable margin).

Might as well start at the top. Let’s take a look at the AL Central, starting with the Twins…

Minnesota Twins

The Twins are having an excellent year so far. Bolstered by an offense that has hit a staggering 160 home runs already this year, they look like a lock for the division unless the Indians go on a streak at some point.

Cleveland Indians

Next up, the Cleveland Indians. It looks like I was a bit prophetic with my picks as all three made it as All Star game selections. I picked the players for my lists about a month ago and it looks like Lindor and Santana show no signs of slowing down.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are in a tough spot. On one hand their rotation needs help and the bullpen isn’t much better. On the other hand, they’ve got a couple really bright spots in offensive positions and a rookie outfielder who’s having a great year. Third place in the division, but still under .500. Not a great place for the boys from the South Side.

Kansas City Royals

What can you say about the Royals other than: “Well, at least Merrifield is having a good year”. I remember watching the 2015 World Series and thinking “Man, these guys are young and talented and are going to be good for years”. It’s only 2019. What the heck happened?

Detroit Tigers

I have a personal friend who’s a Tigers fan. He’s looking forward to the draft picks for years to come. Let me put it another way: Last night Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit 91 homers in the Home Run Derby. As of this writing, the Tigers collectively have 77 this season. Sorry guys, this just isn’t your year.

There we go, there’s the AL Central. The AL West shouldn’t be too far behind and then we’ll be moving into the National League, where I really know next to nothing. That should be an interesting experiment.

Thanks for reading!

2019 High Heat – AL EAST

2019 High Heat – AL EAST

Customs | Cards | Baseball

2019 High Heat

American League East

Matt “Doc” Perry, Texas

June 20th, 2019

So, a couple posts back I had mentioned how I was putting together a custom set of cards this year, a major undertaking given the general lack of time I seem to have for creative projects these days. It was something I wanted to do, not for some blogging statistical goal, or to sell to people, or to show off, but to be able to flex the creative muscles a little bit and do something I actually enjoyed doing for a change.

I’ve been making head-way with the set and I’m about half done. I decided to do a 100 card set. That seemed like an obtainable goal. 300-700 was just going to be out of the question. With 30 teams, I can do 3 per team, and add 5 Rookies from each league, giving me an even 100.

I looked at the team statistics from Baseball Reference and the MLB.com stats pages and tried to pick what I thought were the most interesting and engaging players. Players who are having really good years (up to this point) and performing well could have gotten preference over the more established names you’d normally see on cards. For the rookies, I took a look at Baseball America’s list of most likely “Rookie of the Year” candidates. I also came up with my own variation of an “RC Logo” to distinguish them from the rest.

So, without further ado, let’s kick off the set with a look at the AL East!

Red Sox

I’m going to save the “complete” Red Sox cards for the very end of this series of posts, because I wanted to do an entire 25-man team set for myself. So, instead of those, we’re starting with a cut and paste of some of the Red Sox cards I already previewed in the previous post, because a) they were already done, and b) it’s easy in my WordPress builder plugin to clone sections of content. New to these previews however is the Michael Chavis RC. He’s had a pretty solid rookie season and can certainly hit for power.

New York Yankees

Next up, our storied rivals, the New York Yankees, who are putting together a frighteningly good season already, and that’s with half the team on the DL. The playoff race in the second half is going to get really interesting.

Tampa Bay Rays

I’m not going to lie, the Rays have been a real surprise this year. With a couple hot rookies and the pitching being surprisingly good they’re going to easily be in the race for a playoff spot. Brandon Lowe gets the 2nd AL Rookie Card treatment in our list.

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite having one of the most highly anticipated rookies on the team, the Blue Jays are racing against Baltimore to see just how many games they can lose this year. There have been a few flashes of life here and there, but it certainly seems like the Jays are in for a mediocre season at best.

Baltimore Orioles

Last but not… well, actually, no. Just last. Last up are the Baltimore Orioles. With Machado gone I can now honestly say I hate them less, but it’s still pretty fresh, so that wound will take a while to heal. It’s a race to the bottom in Baltimore. The only team, historically, worse than the 2019 Orioles? The 2018 Orioles. Ouch. These three seem to be playing well at least, so they get cards.

There we go, there’s the AL East. Well, at least in completely fictional cardboard anyway. I’ll be posting the rest of the divisions over the next couple weeks. If there’s any suggestions or requests for specific players on specific teams, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks for checking them out!