With the start of spring training came the first part of baseball card season, including the release of 2023 Topps Series 1. Among the 330-card set are 14 Dodgers-related cards.
This is essentially the first half of this year’s Topps set, though there is a third portion of the set later in the year, the Update Series that is roughly the equivalent of the old Topps Traded sets, featuring players who switched teams in the offseason, new rookies, and others.
Dodgers featured in Series 1 of the Topps set are a slew of their biggest stars, including all four of last year’s former MVP winners — Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and Freddie Freeman — plus ace Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin, among others.
What’s notable in the design of the 2023 Topps set is the inclusion of a headshot on the front of player cards in addition to the usual main player photo. As far as I can tell, this is the first regular Topps set to feature headshots on the front since the 2003 set. I wasn’t collecting cards then, but I was two decades prior, and the Topps sets in both 1983 and 1984 also featured headshots on the front.
I tried to find some comparable poses and players between then and now.
For players like Kershaw, with 15 seasons under his belt, and Freeman with 13 years, there isn’t much extra room for fun facts and trivia on the back of the cards. Betts has played nine major league seasons, but that still left space for some copy on the back of his baseball card.
Says Topps: “On July 23, he matched Mike Trout as the only active players to pair 200 home runs and 150 stolen bases before their age-30 season.”
Betts is one of only 12 players all-time with 200 homers and 150 steals through his age-29 season. The only other player to do so with any time on the Dodgers was Darryl Strawberry, who had 280 home runs and 201 stolen bases through 1991, his first year in Los Angeles and his age-29 season.
On the back of a few other cards, “The Dodgers feel there’s an even higher ceiling — especially in the power department” for Gavin Lux, who had a .124 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) last year and a .130 ISO in his career. Also, Miguel Vargas “was their first player in exactly 100 years (who happened to be the great Casey Stengel) with multiple hits, multiple RBI and a stolen base in an MLB debut (Fact check: true).
In addition to the nine standard Dodgers player cards, Series 1 also includes a Dodgers team card with team stats and a season recap on the back, plus another group shot that serves as one of 10 checklists throughout the set.
There are also Dodgers featured on three league leaders cards, a tri-panel card that includes the top three finishers in a particular statistic. Urías is on two of them, for leading the National League in ERA and finishing second in wins. Freeman is on one of these cards for finishing a close second to Jeff McNeil in batting average.
2023 Topps Series 1 checklist
- 15 — Michael Grove (rookie card)
- 22 — Clayton Kershaw
- 43 — Freddie Freeman/Jeff McNeil/Paul Goldschmidt (batting average leaders)
- 50 — Mookie Betts
- 113 — Dodgers combo card (checklist)
- 131 — Cody Bellinger
- 163 — Miguel Vargas (rookie card)
- 200 — Freddie Freeman
- 202 — Tony Gonsolin
- 211 — Julio Urías/Sandy Alcantara/Max Fried (ERA league leaders)
- 219 — Dodgers team card
- 247 — Gavin Lux
- 280 — Julio Urías
- 284 — Julio Urías/Yu Darvish/Kyle Wright (wins league leaders)