Monday, December 17, 2018

2018 BBM Fusion

BBM's final baseball set of 2018 (well that has a cover date of 2018 anyway) is the Fusion set which was released about three weeks ago.  This is the third edition of this set and it's similar to the two previous ones - which is pretty much what you'd expect from BBM lately.

The 144 card Fusion set basically operates as a season summary set.  The players who are included in the "regular" cards are selected due to them achieving some notable feat during the 2018 season - I'll touch on this more in a moment.  There's also a 24 card subset highlighting the statistical leaders for the 2018 season.  There's also a 10 cards "1st Version Update" subset and a 14 card "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset.

There are 96 "regular" cards in the set.  Half of these (48 cards) highlight an achievement by a player this season.  The other 48 cards feature a player that has a relationship with those achievements.  Confused?  Let me attempt to explain with an example.  Kenta Uehara of the Fighters hit a home run on June 18 of last season. Uehara thus became the seventh pitcher to hit a home run in the 14 seasons of interleague play.  Uehara is card #037 in the set.  Card #038 is Tsutomu Iwamoto, a Fighters pitcher who homered during interleague play back in 2005.


Now normally I'd refer to the "other" 48 players as OB players but this time around BBM included players who are still active in these cards.  For example on June 29th of this year Hitoshi Masui of the Buffaloes notched a save against the Fighters, his old team.  He therefore became just the fourth pitcher in NPB history to record saves against all 12 teams.  The third player to have done that was Dennis Sarfate, who got the last save he needed (against the Carp) in 2014.  Despite missing much of this season with a hip injury, Sarfate is still an active player.  Other players active in 2018 who appear in these cards include Daisuke Matsuzaka, Takuya Asao, Hitoki Iwase, Yohei Ohshima and Tetsuya Yamaguchi.

As with the two previous sets it's not always entirely obvious to English speakers what the achievement being celebrated on each card is (although I know that Shun Yamaguchi's no-hitter is one of them).  One thing I need to point out is that the obvious milestones like Seiichi Uchikawa's 2000 hits are not covered here but rather in the "Great Record" insert set.  These cards only cover the regular season so Tomoyuki Sugano's no-hitter against the Swallows in the Climax Series is not included.  The cards are not evenly distributed per team - there's six cards each for the Tigers and Lions but only one Eagle.  Most of the big names are included - Yuki Yanagita, Shogo Akiyama, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, Hayato Sakamoto, Yoshihiro Maru and Tetsuto Yamada.  The biggest omissions are Sugano, Takahiro Norimoto and Seiya Suzuki (although Sugano and Norimoto both show up in the Leader subset).  Norichika Aoki has two cards - one for something he did on May 3rd and the other for something on June 14th.  The sole Eagle is Kazuki Tanaka who was named PL Rookie Of The Year - Tanaka did not appear in either the 1st or 2nd Version set this year.

It seems that for the Fusion sets BBM departs a little more than normal from their standard "pitchers pitching, batters batting" photos so a lot of these cards have great photos.  Here's some good ones:





The "other" 48 cards include a number of NPB greats including Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima, Koji Akiyama, Keishi Suzuki, Nobuhiro Matsunaka, Manabu Kittabeppu, Michihro Ogasawara, Joe Stanka, Makoto Matsubara, Kihachi Enomoto Kazuhiro Sasaki, Tatsunori Hara and Hideki Matsui.  I'm always surprised when BBM pulls out a photo of Nagashima that I haven't seen them use before (considering that I have something like 200 different Nagashima cards) but this one is really nice, showing him (I think) as a 22 or 23 year old in his first or second season.  The Suzuki picture is pretty good as well and again one that I hadn't seen before considering Suzuki's been in about a billion OB sets over the past 15 years or so.  On the other hand the photo used for Oh's card is a pretty generic batting shot that's in black and white to boot.  Here's a couple of the better cards:




The "regular" player cards are numbered from #001 to #096.  Nine of the cards (all for the "2018" players) have "secret" versions.

The "Leader" subset features the 2018 statistical leaders for 12 categories for each league - Batting Average, Home Runs, RBIs, Hits, OBP, Stolen Bases, ERA, Winning Percentage, Wins, Saves, Hold Points and Strikeouts.  If a player led the league in multiple categories then he has multiple cards - for example Tomoyuki Sugano led the Central League in both ERA and Strikeouts and therefore has two cards in the subset.  However he tied for the league lead in victories with Daichi Ohsera of the Carp and so the two share a card.  The Leader cards are numbered #097 to #120.


The biggest change in this year's Fusion set compared to the previous two year's sets is that they reduced the number of "regular" player cards from 102 to 96 and increased the final two subsets ("1st Version Update" and "Ceremonial First Pitch") from 9 to 10 and 9 to 14 cards respectively. 

The numbers for the "1st Version Update" cards pick up where this year's 2nd Version set left off - they're numbered #601 to #610.  The cards use this year's 1st Version design.  The players include three players who were traded this season - Hiromi Oka who was traded from the Fighters to the Marines, Hikaru Itoh who was traded from the Buffaloes to the Baystars and Hiroyuki Shirasaki who was traded from the Baystars to the Buffaloes (for Itoh).  Itoh is the only one of the three who had a 1st Version card with his original team.  Two of the other players were foreign players who signed in July - Ariel Miranda of the Hawks and Kyle Martin of the Lions.  Four of the players were ikusei players who were registered to the 70-man roster and played for their ichi-gun team - Kotaro Ohtake of the Hawks, Geronimo Franzua of the Carp and Samuel Adames and CC Mercedes of the Giants.  That's nine of the ten players.  The tenth player I'm actually very annoyed at BBM for including.  It's Duente Heath of the Lions and the reason I'm annoyed about it is that BBM included a "1st Version Update" card for Heath in the 2nd Version set.  They could have included any number of other players - there was a large number (for NPB) of mid-season trades as well as a bunch of guys moving from the ikusei squad to the 70-man roster of various teams.  Hell they could have actually had a "1st Version Update" card of Kazuki Tanaka.  But for some reason they choose a second card of Heath.  Nothing against Heath - just don't know why they'd do an extra card for him.


The final subset is the 14 card continuation of the "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset from this year's 2nd Version set.  The cards are numbered #FP19 to #FP32 (since the 2nd Version ones were #FP01 to #FP18).  As always these cards feature a number of Japanese celebrities.  There are several Idols - Akari Suda (from SKE48), Yumiko Takino (from STU48), Ao Ueshita, Ruriko Kojima and all four of the current members of Momoiro Clover Z - Kanako Momota, Shiori Tamai, Ayaka Sasaki and Reni Takagi.  Five of the remaining celebrities are either actresses or models - honestly they may be considered Idols as well - Nao Matsushita, Rika Izumi, Asuka Hanamura, Misato Tsuboi and the ubiquitous Ami Inamura.  The final celebrity is professional darts player Mayuko Morita who will be included in BBM's upcoming Shining Venus set, their annual set dedicated to female athletes.  Kojima, Momota and (of course) Inamura have appeared on "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards before - this is the second time for Momota, the fourth time for Kojima and the fifth BBM set Inamura appears in although since she had a "secret" version in last year's 2nd Version set and six SCM bonus cards plus cards in the two Epoch JWBL sets this is her 14th card showing her throwing out a first pitch:

As usual you can see all the cards over at Jambalaya.


SumoMenkoMan said...

Nice, great rundown! You going to pick up the Shinging Venus set this year?

NPB Card Guy said...

I'll be getting the baseball player cards. I think there's two of them - Nami Okumura and Minami Takatsuka.