Wednesday, April 17, 2024

2024 BBM Rookie Edition

You know, I make fun of Calbee for issuing pretty much the same flagship set year after year.  I should probably make fun of BBM more for doing essentially the same thing with the Rookie Edition set every year.

Rookie Edition is BBM's annual draft pick set, featuring all the players who were taken in the NPB draft last fall.  Or to be more accurate - all the players who were taken in the draft and came to terms.  It should probably go without saying that if the player didn't sign with the team that drafted him, he's not in the set.  It's a lot less common for an NPB draftee to not agree to join the team that drafted him but it does happen - and in fact in happened last fall when Shosei Takahashi, the first pick for the Swallows in the ikusei portion of the draft, ended up not signing with the team.  As a result, there's only 121 cards for draftees in the set - 72 from the regular phase and 49 from the ikusei portion - instead of 122.

The Rookie Edition set itself contains 135 cards in the base set.  Beyond the aforementioned 121 draftee cards, there are two "2023 Draft Pick" cards which act as a kind of checklist for the draftee portion of the set (but really just exist to make the number of cards divisible by three) and a twelve card "New Face" subset which features one young player from each team so that BBM can include autographed cards for the players with the set.

As usual the photos for the cards were all taken at the press conferences that each team holds to introduce their draftees to the fans and the press so they are generally boring poses showing a player swinging a bat, making a pitching motion or just adopting a "guts" pose.  (For the seventh year in a row BBM has included "secret" versions of the 12 first round picks which are short printed photo variants showing the player in a different boring pose.)  As usual I will make my annual plea that BBM please start using photos of the players with their college, high school, corporate league or indy league teams.

This is the first card for most of the players in the set.  The exceptions would be anyone who appeared in any of the JABA corporate league sets between 2021-23 (Giants 2nd round pick Shunya Morita is the only one that I know for sure) or if any of the indy league teams that players were drafted from had cards.  Epoch also issued Epoch One cards for the "regular" phase draft picks for all the teams except the Buffaloes and Carp although it's difficult to determine if those cards came out before the set hit the stores.

Here's some sample cards:






Here's what one of the "2023 Draft Pick" cards looks like:


I'm kind of amused that the back actually lists Shosei Takahashi, the player who didn't sign with the Swallows, but instead of a head shot of him, there's just a note saying "No Photo".  And notice there's no card number for him either:


By the way, I'm totally serious that the reason these cards are in the set is to make sure the number of cards in the set is divisible by three which is driven by the number of draft pick cards.  Last year there were 126 draft pick cards which is evenly divisible by three.  As a result, there was no "Draft Pick" card in the set.  In 2022 there were 128 draft picks so there was only one "Draft Pick" card needed to get to a number divisible by three.  You can look at my retrospective post on 20 years of Rookie Edition sets form a couple years ago to see that this has been going on since 2012.

The "New Face" subset features a young players from each team who hasn't really established himself yet.  Most of the players were drafted in the past few years.


I had gotten the base set off of Yahoo! Japan Auctions through ZenMarket but I also bought a handful of insert cards for the set from my friend Jason.  I've been intrigued by the "Close Relationship" cards that BBM has added in recent year that highlight connections between some of the draftees.  There's a total of eight of these cards this year and I was able to get six of them from Jason.  The connection on six of the cards (four of the ones I got from Jason) was that they all went to the same college.  The other connections were three players who had all been drafted from the Tokushima Indigo Socks of the Shikoku Island League (there were actually six players drafted from that team but the other three were ikusei picks) and a father-son card for Hirobumi and Ryuki Watarai.  Here's the Tokushima Indigo Socks card:


I also got a "Starting Point" insert card from Jason.  "Starting Point" has been a standard insert card for the Rookie Edition set for a few years now too.  It features one established player from each of the 12 NPB teams.  I picked up the card for Tsuyoshi Wada who I think is the last active player who was in the first Rookie Edition set in 2003:


I'll finish this post with my annual final comments - it's easy to mock it because of the remarkably dull photographs of the draftees posing but I do feel like this is an essential set to get every year and you can see all the cards over at Jambalaya.

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