2020 Bowman’s Best released, as usual, in late December is now in year 6 of this post-Bowman base release, “Best” is a call-back to the late-90’s release of the same name. Bowman’s Best first released as a stand-alone product in 2015 and by 2016, it had replaced Bowman Inception on the Bowman dais, when Topps converted Inception into a Topps release. We have seen a few Bowman products fall off in recent years, such as Inception (2013-2016) and High Tek (2015-2018). Is Bowman’s Best around for the long-haul, or might we see this product die a slow death, as Inception’s rollout to market did as a predecessor, never truly finding its market and hobby thumbprint.
Bowman’s Best has two things working against it, as a stand-alone release. First off, it’s released in late December, right on the heels of Bowman Draft, which features a slew of top prospects from the same-year draft. The other, is that it is released right up against Christmas, when budgets are tight, and collector’s focus are on anything but the hobby. So, it’s really easy for most collectors to gloss over the second Bowman release of the month.
For those paying attention, collecting and speculating on Bowman products, Bowman’s Best is a sneaky good way to acquire top prospects base cards, at a fraction of the cost. Best doesn’t typically hold the same interest as Bowman Base, Bowman Chrome and the aforementioned Bowman Draft. As a team/player collector Bowman’s Best offers a less expensive way to get top prospect base/autos vs their Chrome counterparts.
If you are a fan of Topps Finest, Bowman’s Best should be right in your wheelhouse. With the feel and overall look of a Finest one-off, it also has a bit of Topps Fire flair to it as well. It’s not a simple design, so those that prefer a cleaner look, might be put off by this product. With 8 additional refractors, per card, it has the usual plethora of chase cards for collectors to pursue.
Featuring a base checklist of 100 cards, the first 70 cards are Veteran/Rookies with the final 30 dedicated to “Top Prospects,” with a “TP 1-30” numbering system. Best is not as robust of a checklist as some of its Bowman counterparts. Outside of the base set, there are 6 different autographs sub-checklists and 4 inserts sets. The base CL does feature a nice blend of players however for set collectors, and is a nice reflection of the hobby in a snapshot (in 2020).
Whenever a Bowman product drops, the first things collectors and speculators are going to do is scour the checklist for which top prospects have base cards and autographs to chase. 2020 Bowman’s Best has plenty of great chase cards, although a lot of the big-name prospects are devoid of having autos included on this CL. This tends to happen each year with Bowman’s Best, as most of these subjects have already had autos featured in previous Bowman Base/Chrome/Draft releases earlier in the year. Some have also had Bowman’s Best autos in the 2019 product. Here is a small glance of some of the prospects appearing in Best and how many base, autographed and inserts cards each has featured:
- Wander Franco (Base, 1 insert)
- Casey Mize (Base, 1 insert)
- Jarred Kelenic (Base, 1 insert)
- Royce Lewis (Base, 1 insert)
- Adley Rutschman (Base, 3 autos, 1 insert)
- Joey Bart (Base, 1 insert)
- Bobby Witt Jr. (Base, 2 autos, 2 inserts)
- Julio Rodriguez (Base)
- Zachary Veen (Base, 1 auto, 2 inserts)
- Spencer Torkelson (Base, 3 autos, 2 inserts)
- Cristian Pache (Base, 1 insert)
- Asa Lacy (Base, 1 insert)
- Emerson Hancock (Base, 2 autos, 1 insert)
- Jasson Dominguez (No base, 1 auto)
Favorite Parallel/Insert Set:
The Franchise 2020 Die-Cut insert set is pretty sweet. With a chromium look, you can chase the base die-cut, along with gold /50 and atomic /25 refractors. There are 30 cards to collect, a blend of established major leaguers and prospects. The CL features young stars such as Bo Bichette, Fernando Tatis Jr. Luis Robert, Gavin Lux along with prospects like Bobby Witt Jr., JJ Bleday, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jasson Dominguez and more! This insert set also includes an auto subset as well, featuring just 16 subjects with an abbreviated version of the non-auto CL.
Additional Things to Look For:
The Power Producers and Franchise Favorites auto checklist(s) feature a lot of veteran and HOF autos to seek out, which are great for player and team collectors, who fall outside of the prospecting collector. It also offers itself to a different consumer segment that might not be a prospect oriented. Subjects who signed for Bowman’s Best include Cal Ripken Jr., Chipper Jones, Pedro Martinez, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Ken Griffey Jr. and plenty more!
With a MSRP of $200.00 (master box), Bowman’s Best is broken down into 2 mini boxes per master box. There are 12 packs per master, with 5 cards in each pack. Each master will feature 4 autos, 12 refractor parallels and 1 atomic refractor. The rate of return is going to be hit-or-miss on this one, unless you can hit a big auto. However, this should be a really fun rip, if you curb your expectations. Buyer beware though. Don’t buy a mini box for what some people on the secondary market post for close to the price of a master box. Best is a good, and affordable, alternative to those collectors who can’t find, or possibly afford to buy hobby-based Bowman products.