Saturday's mailday consisted of three packages. And all three were highly anticipated.
Up first was the Topps Now Boston Red Sox Postseason Set. These were available as part of the Topps Now program online and were 15 card sets issued for each team in the postseason. You were supposed to get a bonus card for each postseason series win, unfortunately Boston did not make it past the first round, so I won't be getting any bonus cards. Damn. Included in this set were the primary player at each position, four starting pitchers, the closer, and two rookie call-ups.
In his final season, Ortiz led the league in doubles, slugging, RBIs, and OPS. It was one of the greatest final seasons in baseball history. He hit .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBIs.
Betts is an AL MVP contender as he exploded with a .318/.363/.534 line, 31 home runs, 26 stolen bases, 113 RBIs, and 214 hits. He was also one of the best defensive outfielders in the game.
The veteran second-baseman had his best season since 2013 by becoming Boston's second player this season with 200 hits. He hit .318/.376/.449 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs. He scored 101 runs and played his usual sparkling defense.
Bogaerts had another strong season for Boston in 2016, despite a second half slump that drove down his slash line to .294/.356/.336. He hit 21 home runs, drove in 89 runs, and even stole 13 bases.
2015's seventh overall draft pick had a strong partial season and looks like the starting left fielder for Boston next year. Benintendi hit .295/.359/.476 in 34 games and became Boston's youngest player to hit a home run in the postseason.
JACKIE BRADLEY JR.
Bradley finally looks like the player he was hyped to become for so long. He had the Majors' longest hitting streak with a 29 gamer early in the season and slugged 26 home runs while driving in 87. He led the team with seven triples.
After a very disappointing season in 2015, Hanley came back in a big way in 2016. For the last two months of the season, he was on fire as he hit 14 home runs down the stretch, including a walkoff three run shot off Dellin Bettances of the Yankees. He hit .286/.361/.505 and was one of three Red Sox with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
An afterthought at the beginning of the season, Leon was considered a defense-first backup catcher and did not start the season in Boston. But injuries and ineffectiveness of Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Ryan Hanigan led to him getting the call and he stunned with a .310/.369/.476 line with seven home runs and 35 RBIs.
Shaw struggled quite a bit in the second half, but none of the replacements quite worked out, so Shaw looks to be the third-baseman going into next season. He hit .242/.306/.421 on the year but did contribute 16 home runs, 34 doubles, and 71 RBIs.
Boston's top prospect had a terrific season in the minors but struggled after his debut in the Majors. Moncada struck out in nine consecutive at bats in the Majors and was put on the bench for the rest of the season. He start next season in the minors absent a very strong Spring Training.
Price was not quite the rotation savior Boston hoped they were getting when he was signed to a huge free agent contract. He did win 17 games and struck out 228 (a record for Red Sox southpaws), but had a rather ordinary 3.99 ERA and struggled in his last few starts, including his postseason start.
Wright was Boston's best pitcher in the early going. In his first full Major League season, he was named to the All Star team and was 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA and 127 strikeouts. Injuries unfortunately ended the knuckleballer's season early.
Like Ramirez, Porcello struggled in his first season with the Red Sox but came back in a big way. He looks like a Cy Young Award contender after leading the Majors with 22 wins and finishing with a 3.15 ERA and 189 strikeouts.
The Red Sox acquired the All Star starter from the Padres before the trading deadline but gave up top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza to get him. Pomeranz struggled as a starter down the stretch for Boston but found new life as a long reliever in the postseason. He was 3-5 with a 4.79 ERA for Boston.
Kimbrel was an All Star in his first season in Boston but struggled with his command. He finished 2-6 with a 3.40 ERA but did save 31 games and notched 83 strikeouts in just 53 innings.
Up next is a new addition to my Jason Varitek collection, my 890th card total of the great catcher.
I saw this and had to have it. Just a terrific looking card. Varitek is Boston's all-time leader in games caught. For his career, he hit .256/.341/.435 with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs. He was a three-time All Star and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger during his career.
I have mentioned before that the Jewish Major Leaguers ongoing set is one of my favorite oddball sets. This card is a very good reason why.