Finest Braves

Single_-_teheran_mediumI’m having to call upon every ounce of self-control I have not to start a Julio Teheran collection. A few years ago, I started grabbing the early Bowman cards of top Braves prospects before they move close enough to the big leagues that the hype drives the prices way up. So, when Topps included a Julio Teheran auto in 2010 Bowman Chrome, I swooped in and got one right away. I’m glad I got it when I did because the cost of the card has been climbing steadily since it was released.

Topps has since, seemingly, included signed Teheran cards in every product they’ve released. You can even get his Topps Chrome or Topps 60 autograph cards for around 10 dollars. Not bad at all for a guy with ace potential. In fact, I’d argue the prices are way too low. Not because I think they should be worth more, but because if the prices were higher, it would be harder for me to buy up all of his cards. I suffer from poor impulse control and affordable cards are often my downfall.

I need to be asking myself a more important question. Do I really want to start a Julio Teheran collection? I don’t know. I know that I shouldn’t. As a collector, I’m continually spreading myself thin. I try and focus my collection on a few specific goals, like building the base Topps set each year and expanding my Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Jason Heyward player collections. This can be an expensive hobby. When I add to my collecting goals, and spend money towards these new, iffy goals, I end up accomplishing none of them. I have dozens of sets sitting around that I have never completed. I have hundreds upon hundreds of cards of various players, Braves and others, that sit around because I can't decide whether I want to use them to start a player collection or not.

Single_-_kimbrel_mediumWhat to do, what to do.

Of course, Topps doesn’t make it easy to resist my impulses. See that Julio Teheran card above? That’s what I pulled in the first box of 2011 Topps Finest I opened this year. Simply purchasing a box of Finest is already a waste of money. I don’t try and complete the set. Odds are that 95% of the cards in the box will be used as trade bait, which means the majority of the cards find their way into the giant morass of cards I have sitting in my hobby room that contribute nothing to my collection. Topps is clearly trying to convince me that I do need to collect Julio Teheran.

Worse yet, on those rare occasions that I pull an Atlanta Braves player as a hit, I get ridiculously excited. Almost giddy. Then, I run out and buy another box of the product (that I don’t really collect) figuring that I’ll pull another hit from the Braves. Of course, in the second box, I inevitably pull crap hits. If this were three years ago, I’d pull a Felix Pie. Now, I pull Hector Noesi. “Who?”, you ask. “Exactly”, I reply.

That said, I’m going to recommend 2011 Finest. It’s a fun break, the cards are attractive (especially the parallels) and as you’ll see below the break, there are a lot of great Braves cards to be had. For a box that you can get for around $80, it's not a bad deal at all.

As for starting a Julio Teheran collection, I remain undecided. (What do you think I should do?)


Base Set

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The lack of a real background on the photos means that the cards in Finest tend to look very similar to one another. That’s not to say the cards are unattractive. On the contrary. Topps Finest tends to be, year after year, the best looking of Topps premium brands. To provide for some variety between the cards, Topps changed to colors in the banner across the bottom of the card for each team. If someone were to collect the set, this small visual differentiation will break up the monotony. Still, this set will never be popular with the majority of set builders. It’s too expensive to complete and too focused on rookies.

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As for the checklist, Topps divides the cards for most teams into two sections. The first section is for veteran players and the second is for rookies. The focus tends to be on the rookies. As you can see in the checklist below, there are six Braves rookies compared to four veterans. If Topps were going to include six rookies from the 2011 Braves, it’s hard to argue with the six chosen. Additionally, Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla and Brian McCann are the obvious veteran offensive choices. Heyward remains popular within the hobby, so Topps will continue to include Heyward. The biggest veteran snub would be Tim Hudson, who was, again, the best starting pitcher on the Braves staff last season.

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Rainbow

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If you want to build a Finest Rainbow of your favorite Braves player, be prepared to track down a lot of cards. In addition to the base card, you can find each card in the following parallels:

  • Refractor (Numbered to 549)
  • X-Fractor (Numbered to 299)
  • Green Refractor (Numbered to 199)
  • Orange Refractor (Numbered to 99)
  • Gold Refractor (Numbered to 50)
  • Red Refractor (Numbered to 25)
  • Die-Cut Mosaic Refractor (Numbered to 10)
  • Purple Refractor (Numbered to 5)
  • Canary Diamond Refractor (1 of 1)
  • SuperFractor (1 of 1)
  • Printing Plates (4 for each player)

Inserts

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There are three main insert sets in this year’s Finest set that feature Braves players. Finest Freshmen are the players that are generally considered to be Rookie of the Year candidates. (It is, of course, no surprise that this set features the Braves two ROY candidates, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman.) The Finest Foundations insert set is for “Face of the Franchise” type players, into which we all hope Jason Heyward turns. Heyward also features in the Finest Moments insert set for the dramatic home run that started off his career.


Autographs

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Like the base cards, the rookie dual relic autographs can also be acquired in a number of colors across the rainbow. Five of the Braves six rookies featured in Finest have autographed dual relic cards available. The base relic is the Refractor autograph, and these are serial numbered to 499 which makes them one of the most inexpensive autographs that you can pick up of the rookie Braves.

2011 Topps Finest Braves Checklist

Base Set (Also available in the following parallels: Refractor, X-Fractor, Green Refractor, Orange Refractor, Gold Refractor, Red Refractor, Die-Cut Mosaic Refractor, Purple Refractor, Canary Diamond Refractor, SuperFractor, and Framed Printing Plates)

Finest Freshman

  • FFR1 Freddie Freeman
  • FFR15 Craig Kimbrel

Finest Foundations Inserts

  • FF10 Jason Heyward

Finest Moments Inserts

  • FM11 Jason Heyward

Autographed Rookie Refractors (Also available in the following parallels: Refractor, X-Fractor, Green Refractor, Orange Refractor, Gold Refractor, Red Refractor, Die-Cut Mosaic Refractor, Purple Refractor, SuperFractor, Framed Printing Plates)

  • 72 Freddie Freeman

Autographed Rookie Dual Relics (Also available in the following parallels: Refractor, Green Refractor, Gold Refractor, Red Refractor, Die-Cut Mosaic Refractor, Purple Refractor, SuperFractor, Framed Printing Plates)

  • 64 Julio Teheran
  • 68 Mike Minor
  • 72 Freddie Freeman
  • 77 Brandon Beachy
  • 85 Craig Kimbrel

Rookie Jumbo Patches (Also available in the following parallels: Orange Refractor, Green Refractor, SuperFractor)

  • 64 Julio Teheran
  • 68 Mike Minor
  • 72 Freddie Freeman
  • 77 Brandon Beachy
  • 85 Craig Kimbrel

Finest Moments Autographed Relics

  • FMA11 Jason Heyward
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