Can’t Miss Clutch Cards: Mid-Season Set

What a difference a few months can make. Who could have predicted the April that Eric Thames would have? Or like we talked about earlier, the turnaround that Starlin Castro and Ryan Zimmerman have both made? Obviously we were all eager to see Andrew Benintendi earlier this year, but he just didn’t have enough at-bats to create what we thought was an accurate card (spoiler alert: I’m glad we waited). I was eager to have an Aaron Judge card (Yankee fan here), but last year his 80 plate appearances (with 40 strikeouts) would have been one of the worst cards in the set! Personally, I would have been ecstatic if Judge had a .260 30+ hr, 80+ RBI season. I only could have dreamt of him becoming our mid-set cover athlete. Judge-mania aside, there are plenty of other stud cards in our mid-season set. Let’s do a quick run down on some facts about this set:

  1. There is a new AS icon.
  2. Alex Wood’s salary is a whopping 575.
  3. Gary Sanchez got better, after some internal debates earlier this year if his base set card was “too good” given his limited at-bats in the big leagues.
  4. The highest salary legend in this set was traded for the highest salary reliever in the set 10 years ago (D-Train for Andrew Miller).
  5. Marcell Ozuna (sent back to AAA two years ago this July) now has as much power as Giancarlo Stanton (richest contract in sports history).
  6. Jason Vargas is a certifiable ace.
  7. Salvador Perez’s card became even cheaper.
  8. Corey Seager became the highest salary Clutch card without a natural home run.
  9. Joey Votto has a 1-2 out chart.
  10. Aaron Judge’s card is the 5th highest batter’s salary (670) behind both of Trout’s cards (800/760), David Ortiz 2007 (745), and Ken Griffey Jr [1997] (715).

And then there’s the Albert Pujols six-hundred homerun club card. Based off of his career statistics, The Machine carries an impressive on-base 13, 19+ homer, 1-4 out, and +2 clutch. This card should bring back fond memories with the St. Louis backdrop where Albert brought home 2 World Series Titles, 3 MVP’s, 6 Silver Sluggers, and 2 Gold Gloves in his 11 years spent there.  How’s this for a factoid – more people have walked on the moon than hit 600 MLB homeruns.

Now let’s get to the good stuff. The first thing I always look for in a brand new set are all the best “deals”. We’ve already had some speculation about which new cards are going to be “must-use” on your team. Here are my top 7 recommendations:

#7: Salvador Perez
Somehow, Salvo’s card became an even better bargain in the mid-season set. His chart is slightly weaker, and he did lose the GG icon. Yet he makes up for it with the AS icon and a +2 clutch. The only other thing he’s useful for is his defense. If you thought he was a bargain with a 230 salary in the base set, I’m sure this card will be nearly impossible to resist with a 185 salary. That is… unless there is a better bargain catcher in this set?

#6: Chase Anderson
A starting pitcher with a 355 salary is about average. But let me sell you on Chase Anderson. 1. 4 L+1. Now, I know what you’re going to say: “There are 4 other SP with a 4+1 for the same salary, or CHEAPER!” This is true. But none of them possess these next qualities. 2. A 1-X mistake zone. This is EVERYTHING to me. I’d rather have a command 4 with an 1-X mistake zone, than a command 5 with a 1-3 mistake zone. 3. Top it all off with a +4 defense, and solid chart. If you have a deep bargain bullpen like me, the 5 innings limit shouldn’t scare you. 

#5: Eric Thames
There’s something that draws me to the idea of an on-base 13 with a 19+ homer against a right-handed pitcher for 350 points. I would love to supplement him as a 1B/DH with another high on-base 1B (300 salary or less). Essentially he’s the rich man’s Chris Carter. Except I have a feeling that 1-7 out is going to be frustrating like our old pal Chris’s 1-8 out chart.  

#4: Andrew Benintendi
This guy is the whole package. You won’t find many (potentially) on-base 13 guys for an affordable 365 salary. Obviously I say potentially because of the 12 R+1 on-base, but most pitchers are right-handed anyway. Additionally, he has that smooth 1-5 on his chart with the 15 (B) speed. Actually, this card will probably be an understatement at some point in the near future. This dude is batting title material. I think one day we will see on-base 13 R+1 from Benintendi.

#3: Alex Avila
I absolutely love this card. If you can live with a -3 clutch, this card is a steal. Avila rocks the high affordable on-base (12), 1-5 out, and solid +6 defense. The only catchers with a higher on-base than Avila are Buster Posey and Gary Sanchez. Unless you have hometown bias to one of these stars, save yourself the 200+ points and slot Avila in your lineup.

#2: Ben Gamel
This guy is a speed 20(A) away from giving a manager no option but to place him into their lineup. As a Yankee fan, this card infuriates me. Ben Gamel hasn’t exactly “appeared from nowhere”. In 2016, Gamel played for the SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) and won the International League MVP. He was also the International League Rookie of the Year in 2015. In 2016, the Yankees traded him to Seattle for 2 minor league pitchers. Now, in his debut card, Gamel is a Billy Beane prodigy with an on-base 12, 1-3 out, speed 15 (B), and +1 clutch for 295 salary. If Gamel can turn on a few (ding-dongs) this second half, his card may be extremely intriguing come 2018.

#1: Chris Devenski
This is the ultimate set up man. Honestly, he may even be better than your closer. Chris Devenski is the perfect example of how baseball is adapting and changing. Devenski has developed into a closer-esque relief man that goes multiple innings, much like Mariano did while setting up for Wetteland in ’96. Recently, Devenski just got tagged for 4 runs in 1 IP against Toronto, which sent his ERA up a bit. Yet, Devenski still has a sub 3.00 ERA pitching for an average of 2 innings per appearance. He has a devastating 6/R+1 Command, and a dominating 1-X mistake zone. Then you can top it all off with a 1-18 out chart, and +3 defense. Think of it as two 155 salary RP pitchers with a +6/R+1. Everyone would use them. The 2 IP secures this card’s spot at #1 on my list.

Check out the Card Database and click on “last name” to sort the players. You can find the Mid-Season Set cards starting with ASG17 (followed by their name). Tell us which stars you think we missed, or which players are already penciled in on your lineup card! Don’t forget to switch tabs to check out new Pitchers, stadium cards, strategy cards that have all been added to the database.

The Mid-Season Set cards were updated within less than 1-week of the All-Star game, and have already been sent to print.  The Mid-Season packs are LIMITED, and won’t be available for long.
Go snag a 4-pack or 9-pack bundle before these all-stars, legends, and STUDS are gone!

Sean Norberg

Co-Creator of Clutch Baseball. Grew up on Long Island, NY. Life-long Yankee fan, teacher, and coach.
Created his own cards as a kid using index cards and aluminum foil for holographic cards.