I decided to finally take the plunge in acquiring the fairly new APBA Hall of Fame Baseball Card Set, and overall... I love it!
The set features 345 players, most of them Hall-of-Fame Baseball players and the others being players that may or may not become Hall-of-Famers one day. The players in the set have been normalized, so that there can be some enjoyment in the set, if every pitcher is an A or a B, there would simply not be enough offense.
I love what they did with the normalization for the most part, 20 games into my current project using these cards, I think I would have loved to see more 'B' Starting Pitchers, the offense seems to kick, with no starting pitcher or lead being safe.
Regardless, I have been having tons of fun with this set, and I believe the $40 value for such a special set is a good reasonable price & well worth it. The APBA sets that I have more of a beef with (in being overpriced) would be the newer APBA Season sets, pricing at $70, those sets I believe would have a harder time selling, sure you got yearly APBA leagues that will purchase the yearly set, but I feel a $55 price tag would be more reasonable for that.
To get back on track, like I said, the HOF Set has 345 players, here is the number of players per primary position...
- Catchers - 27
- First Basemen - 31
- Second Basemen - 30
- Third Basemen - 25
- Shortstops - 31
- Left Fielders - 25
- Center Fielders - 30
- Right Fielders - 34
- Starting Pitchers - 100
- Closers - 12
When I broke the positions down, and did the math, I felt that 12 teams was the perfect number to play a league project for this. Each team having at least 2 catchers, 2 players at each of the infield positions, 2 left fielders, 2 center fielders & 2 right fielders, and about 8 starting pitchers (3 would play relief roles), with 1 closer; Each team gets one closer, no more, no less.
I will say this, there was a few cases with the starting pitchers that I did not agree with, both John Smoltz (C-XY) & Tom Glavine (C) were graded lower than pitchers like Orel Hershiser (B-Y)... Smoltz & Glavine were far superior starters, and if you take Orel's 1988 season out of the equation, the difference is night & day.
The only thing I can really think of as being a knock on Glavine, was his 1.314 career WHIP, which is one of the highest among the bunch; His career ERA (3.54) is only higher than Hershiser's due to the umpires shrinking the zone & not giving him or Maddux the corner any more. When the shrinking took effect (starting in 1999), Glavine's ERA from 1999-2008 was 3.81, a big difference.
There was a few batters as well, where I was thinking, why does he not have a 'S' (Slow) on his card? I can't recall who it was, but it was one of those players where he was primary slow throughout his career, so maybe not enough slow guys as well.
The Starting Pitcher Grade breakdown
- Grade A - 4
- Grade B - 29
- Grade C - 64
- Grade D - 3
Basically 33% of the starting pitchers have a Grade B or higher... Like I mentioned above, my one big beef with the starting pitchers, would have loved to see it be more like 40-45% Grade B or higher, I really have no problems with the very few A starting pitchers though... because in yearly season sets, you would not have more than 4 starting 'A' pitchers.
The offensive players cards, although normalized, seem to have some punch to them, there is plenty of dice rolls that result in a ball or wild pitch, that gives the batter another chance to tee off.
If you do love offense, you are really going to love this game!
Some Unique Features
I do love how each player has the career span they played on them, and if they were actual MLB Hall-of-Famers, they had the year that they were inducted into Cooperstown on them.
Another feature is the differential of the outfield positions, if a player played strictly center field, it would say 'Centerfield' on their cards, if a player played both LF & RF, then they would be placed on the cards, I believe another reason for this is the normalization factor, and the fact that this set is built to make 12 fantasy Hall-of-Fame teams... That is why I placed three separate piles for the LF, CF & RF positions, instead of throwing all of the primary outfielders into one pile; This helped with drafting, and making sure teams are varied, when I conducted a draft.
I think this helps give APBA rollers an option, and makes for a more balanced league to come out of this set, with players playing only at their available positions.
Pre-1900 ballplayers plus Negro Leaguers is a very nice touch to the set, there was a couple Negro Leaguers part of the set that were not featured in the Negro League APBA Set... Ray Dandridge's card comes to mind, while we got some pre-1900 ballplayers in Sam Thompson, Charles Commiskey, Buck Ewing, Cap Anson & Old Hoss Radbourn.... plus many others.
Low Injury Ratings
There is very few J-0's, while the set is almost completely J-1 ratings when it comes down to injuries. There is a couple J-2's, for example Bobby Cox (Hall of Famer for managing) and his brief career, I think Tony LaRussa may be a J-4.
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This concludes Part 1 of my APBA HOF Set article, stay tuned for the next part, where I explain what I did with this particular set & the league that I created with it.