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Monday, July 30, 2007

Who's the toughest pitcher to HR off of?

In the past I've compared & ranked pitchers based on W's, ERA, K's/9IP, and BB/9IP, but there's another stat that tells how tough a pitcher is: Innings Pitched/HR allowed (IP/HRA). The top 5 starters so far this season are:
  1. Tim Hudson (ATL) - 37.92 IP/HRA
  2. Jake Peavy (SD) - 34.50 IP/HRA
  3. Brad Penny (LAD) - 34.00 IP/HRA
  4. Chris Young (SD) - 29.67 IP/HRA
  5. Chien-Ming Wang (NYY) - 21.61 IP/HRA
I don't know what the heck this has to do with the hobby, since runs can be scored in a lot of other ways, but just thought it was kind of interesting to see (especially in this day & age of so many big HR hitters). Of course those other stats mentioned above are much more key in driving the value of a pitcher's cards.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

MLB Briefs: Weekly Market Movement

Here are some of the players' cards that experience market movements in the last week. The first figure is the average TAC for last week, and the second is the average for this week (through 7/28)
  • 99 Topps Traded Alfonso Soriano Auto - $109.58 -> $129.25 (+17.9%)
  • 01 Bowman Chrome Ref Jake Peavy - $43.87 -> $37.60 (-14.3%)
  • 02 Bowman Chrome Draft Cole Hamels - $24.48 -> $20.12 (-17.8%)
  • 04 Bowman Sterling Scott Kazmir Auto/Jsy - $11.39 -> $15.91 (+39.7%)
  • 02 UD Prospect Premiers Prince Fielder Auto - $178.63 -> $167.92 (-6%)
  • 01 UD Prospect Premiers Ryan Howard - $31.94 -> $26.74 (-16.3%)
  • 04 Donruss Elite EE Hunter Pence Auto - $142.87 -> $113.90 (-20.3%)
  • 04 Bowman Chrome Felix Hernandez Auto - $111.81 -> $95.30 (-14.8%)
  • 05 Bowman Sterling Ryan Braun Auto - $52.93 -> $85.11 (+60.8%)
  • 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Ryan Braun Auto - $145.66 -> $158.13 (+8.6%)
  • 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Ryan Braun Ref Auto - $196.35 -> $218.78 (+11.4%)
No surprise about Ryan Braun's Auto RC's jumping in price this week (and almost every other week recently!). He has emerged as the Brewers' star hitter, batting .350 with 11 HR & 24 RBI so far this month, just as pre-break star Prince Fielder has cooled off, hitting just .282 with 3 HR & 9 RBI during the same period.

Scott Kazmir, my #1 pick for pitcher investments (age 23-25) is starting to attract hobby interest, although his Auto RC's are still great deals are current TAC price levels. Did you see his ace performance against Matsuzaka & the Red Sox today? He went 6 innings & allowed 6 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB with 8 K's. Too bad his offense didn't kick in till the 7th, giving him a no decision.

Now is a good time to buy Jake Peavy & Felix Hernandez cards. Both have been falling in value due to inconsistent performances, but both remain solid long term investments. Get them now before they start moving up again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Two More Stars on the Verge of Reaching HR Milestones

With two stars already reaching their HR milestones this season (Sammy Sosa - 600 HR & Frank Thomas - 500 HR), we now have two of the highest profile milestones closely approaching: Alex Rodriguez becoming the youngest ever to reach 500 HR & Barry Bonds breaking the all-time record of 755 HR. Both will probably do it in the next week or so, but will the hobby really care? Unfortunately, when other players in the past have reached certain career milestones, they didn't make too many waves in the hobby.

So far from what I've seen, there hasn't been any increased market activity (meaning higher sales prices) for Bonds' RC cards. His unpopularity outside of SF, combined with his steroids scandal will probably keep his cards from seeing any significant spikes in interest.

As I've mentioned about ARod, he's still leading the majors in HR & RBI, but his key 94 SP RC cards seem to be selling at very inconsistent levels, with their average TAC values dropping recently. ARod's cards probably have the better chance to rise because, in addition to his milestone, he's also having a very good season.

The next two players who will reach their HR milestones after Bonds & ARod are Ken Griffey Jr. & Manny Ramirez (Jim Thome is close too, but doesn't have any hobby love). Griffey's 89 UD RC has been selling in the $21 to $45 TAC range, depending on card condition (as stated by seller), time of day auction ends (not always consistent) and how many are up for sale at the same time. Manny's 92 Bowman RC has been slowly creeping up in price this month, with an average TAC of $14.72 the 1st week of July, $17.92 the 3rd week, and now $18.00 this week (I didn't see any raw versions for sale in the 2nd week). This card has potential to return to it's previous glory, and will probably continue to rise as long as Manny keeps on performing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Youngest to Reach 500 HR

Alex Rodriguez, now sitting on 499 career HR, is about to make history. As of today, Alex is 31 yrs & 364 day old. That gives him 338 days to hit his 500th, and become the youngest ever to reach that mark (Jimmie Foxx is the current youngest, at 32 yrs & 337 days, hit back on 9/24/40). I think it's pretty safe to say he has more than an outside chance to doing it!

His 94 SP RC hasn't reflected the magnitude this impending achievement though, in recent weeks. Over the last two weeks, it's averaged around $101 TAC; a pretty big drop from the previous week of around $128. ARod has been hot, so I'm a little confused about this drop in price. Like I said before, guess it may just be over saturation, since there ARE so many up for sale. Anyway, this is still his best base RC, and a must have for any baseball card collection. So far this week, the TAC low that I've seen was $80.02, and the high was $147.50 (quite a large range). If you can find one at the low end, I would say it's a great buy. After he hits his 500th, I expect the average to raise up to the $120's range again.
Player Focus: Ryan Raburn

Ryan Raburn was called up to Detroit earlier this month, after Neifi Perez was suspended for amphetamine use (source: wikipedia). The last (and first) time Raburn was called up was in '04, when he played 12 games and hit a dismal .138 with 0 HR, 1 RBI and 15 SO's in only 29 AB (he struck out more than 50% of his at-bats!). This time things are much different. After tearing up triple-A ball with Toledo (.292, 17 HR, 64 RBI), he got the call and joined the Tigers on 7/6. Through his first 10 big league games this season, he's hitting .500 with 3 HR & 10 RBI. Last night against the White Sox he really broke out, going 4 for 5 with 2 HR & 7 RBI!

Expect Raburn's two key RC's from 02 to really start to catch fire; his Bowman Chrome Auto & Bowman's Best Auto. There are a few of these on auction ending this week. I'll post their TAC prices up when they end. Whatever they sell for, you can expect them to go up from there (as long as he continues to play well).
Great Pitching Match-Ups

We've seen two great pitching match-ups in the BOS vs. CLE series these past two nights. On Tues Daisuke Matsuzaka (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K's) prevailed over C.C. Sabathia (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K's), and yesterday Fausto Carmona (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K's) beat Josh Beckett (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K's). Unfortunately the two pitchers out of these four that I listed in my "best pitcher investments" both lost! It's ok though, because they both pitched very well, despite the losses. As for the two pitchers that were not on my list, Matsuzaka's key RC's are already very expensive (an auction for his 07 SPx Auto Redemption card ends in about 4 hrs and it's at $200+), and Carmona was a candidate to be included, but I was skeptical because 1) this is his 1st season as a full-time starter, and 2) although he's 13-4 with a 3.31 ERA this year, last season he was 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA. Hopefully this really is a breakout season for Carmona (and not a fluke) and he'll have a lot of years of solid pitching ahead of him.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

In the News: Big Unit's Future Uncertain

Randy Johnson, one of the best pitchers ever, has spent a lot of time on the DL this year, after having back surgery in the off season. His latest stint on the DL was due to a herniated disc. After about a month without pitching, he threw an equivalent of around 3 innings yesterday, and said that he didn't feel pain, but was tired. It sounds like Johnson is uncertain about his condition, and whether or not he could continue to pitch.

It would be great to see him come back to earn his 300th W (he has 284), but even if he doesn't, he's still on his way to the Hall, and will go down in history as one of the most dominant strike-out pitchers in the game. In the 10 games that he pitched this season, he still averaged 11.43 K's/9 IP (Clemens, who has also pitched 10 games this year, is only averaging 5.74 K's/9 IP)!

I remember hearing on the news several years ago about how a lot of left-handed hitters were scared to face Johnson, because when he was delivering his pitch, the ball would actually be released behind the hitter, and be brought back to the plate in front of them (guess when you're 6'10", you have pretty long arms!).

Anyway, I wish the Big Unit luck in his rehab, and hope that he does return to continue making history.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Potential Investment: Jake Peavy Having a Rough July

Jake Peavy was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the NL (if not the entire MLB) during the April through June period, going 9-2 with a 2.09 ERA & 9.56 K's/9 IP. During that time, his 01 Bowman Chrome Ref RC shot up to a high of $60+ by late June.

July hasn't been so kind to Peavy. He's posted a slumping 0-3 record, with a 4.74 ERA & 8.05 K's/9 IP (in 3 starts). His Chrome RC card has also been falling, averaging a TAC of $50.82 the week of 7/8, then down to $43.87 the week of 7/15, and now $38.47 so far this week (one sold yesterday for $36.50 TAC).

Peavy is one of the best young pitchers in the league, and this month might just be a good opportunity to buy his cards (I ranked him #2 on my "Top Pitcher Investments: Age 26 to 27"). I'm predicting that he'll bounce back within his next few starts, so better to buy now before they quickly jump back up to the $50+ range (which, as we've seen, can happen very quickly!).
Breaking News: Hunter Pence Out 4-6 Weeks

It was reported yesterday that Astros' rookie Hunter Pence broke a bone in his right wrist, and will probably be out 4-6 weeks. Pence was having a great season, batting .330 with 12 HR & 45 RBI. His RC cards have been on fire, with July TAC averages of $140.27 for his 04 Donruss Elite EE Auto #'d 672, $315.71 for his 04 SP Prospects Auto #'d 600, and $139.52 for his 04 Hot Prospects Auto #'d 299.

We'll see if the market holds for these key RC cards while Pence is recovering. At least it looks like he'll be back before the end of the season.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Underrated: Scott Olsen

23-year-old Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen has had a long string of incidents during his short MLB career, including fights with teammates, making obscene gestures to fans, DUI, resisting arrest and fleeing & eluding police. Despite all that, he's a very decent pitcher. Last season, as a rookie, he went 12-10 with a 4.04 ERA, 8.27 K's/9 IP & 3.74 BB/9 IP. His 166 K's that year gave him the Marlins' record for most K's by a rookie. This season though, he's been pitching below his potential, going 8-7 with a 4.99 ERA so far.

As a result of his drop in performance, Olsen hasn't received much hobby interest this season, so his RC cards are pretty affordable. You can find his 04 Bowman Sterling Auto/Jsy (the only Auto RC of his that I've seen) for around $10-15 TAC.

Just like Scott Kazmir & Dontrelle Willis, I believe that this young pitcher is just temporarily off his game, and should rebound sooner or later. Did I also mention that he's also a decent hitter (.242 BA through 7/22)? As for his behavioral concerns, hopefully he'll just outgrow them with time.
Underrated: Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson went from touted Dodgers prospect to forgotten D-Rays common over the past few years. I said it before and still believe that this guy has talent. He's having another challenging season overall, with a 2-9 record & 6.69 ERA. In his last outing vs. the Yankees though, he showed signs of his potential, pitching 6 innings & allowing 4 hits, 0 runs, 4 BB & striking out 4.

Many collectors have already written him off because of his mostly-bad performances, but let's remember a few things about him: 1) he's only 23 years old, 2) he's averaging 7.79 K's/9 IP, and 3) he's still here in the majors (the D-Rays management must see something in this guy to keep him around). I think that there are some collectors out there still holding on to the hope that he blossoms one day (since there aren't that many of his cards up on auction - either that or they don't think the money they'll make is worth their time to list them!).

I think that with a little more experience, he'll be able to become more confident & consistent, reduce his BB/9 IP (4.98), and help fellow D-Rays rotation youngster Scott Kazmir bring some legitimacy to the organization. I already wrote a post in the past about their high potential line-up (hopefully Elijah Dukes will be able to return soon). I still think that the D-Rays are one of the teams of the future, and Jackson could very well be a big part of it.

Jackson has some nice Auto RC's from '03, like his Leaf Limited & Donruss Elite EE TOTC. It might not hurt to buy & hold these cards, since you can probably find them for very low prices.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

MLB Deals: Alfonso Soriano

Alfonso Soriano started the season slow in April (.270, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 SB), then started picking up momentum in May (.302, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 6 SB), and really got hot in June (.336, 11 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB). So far in July though, he seems to have cooled off again, batting .275, 1 HR, 7 RBI & 3 SB (through 7/20).

His 99 Topps Traded Auto seems to be following his performance, with one selling for $157.50 TAC on 7/5, then one selling on 7/15 for $129.50, and then with two selling on 7/19 for $111.45 and $87.78. This is the first time in months that I've seen this card drop below the $100 TAC mark. Collectors are so finicky, not remembering that Soriano is a proven player who's one of a select few that has a chance at reaching a career 400 HR & 400 SB (he's currently at 224 HR & 223 SB). This is his only RC year Auto, and by far his most coveted card from '99. There aren't too many for sale on auction, but if you can find one in the $80's range, I think that it's a good deal. Potentially, that person who bought that card for $87.78 could turn around in a month (if Soriano heats up again) and sell it for around a $60-70 profit (looking at the sale just 2 weeks earlier on 7/5)! Whether its for an investment or your collection, I think that Soriano is a good buy right now.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Player Focus: Yovani Gallardo

Rookie Yovani Gallardo, who replaced Ben Sheets (DL) in the Brewers rotation, had a great outing last night, pitching 6 strong innings & allowing just 3 hits, 0 runs, 2 BB & had 4 K's, to help his team pummel the D-Backs 10-1. In 7 games (4 starts & 3 reliefs) this year, he has a 2-1 record with a 2.34 ERA, 8.05 K's/9 IP & 2.85 BB/9 IP (very low for a 21 year old!).

Gallardo's 04 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Auto RC #'d 803 has been a solid seller this month, averaging around $50 TAC (*down from close to $60 in June). Seemingly his top base RC is his 04 SP Prospects Auto #'d 400, which is much harder to find on auction, and much more expensive. The last one I saw sold on 7/16 for $171.95 TAC. There's also his Donruss Elite EE Status Auto #'d 95, which sells for around $100 TAC.

Now is probably a good time to invest in Gallardo. He has a lot of potential, and he's playing for one of the hottest young teams in the majors.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coming Soon (probably within the next week): "Top Pitcher Investments: Age 23 to 25" on

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MLB Briefs: Market Movement

Here are some examples of changes in the market so far this week, for some of the players that I've been watching. The first figure is the average TAC for last week, and the second is the average for this week (through 7/17).
  • 93 SP Derek Jeter - $48.11 -> $52.88 (+9.9%)
  • 94 SP Alex Rodriguez - $128.47 -> $96.82 (-24.6%)
  • 95 Bowman's Best Andruw Jones - $21.30 -> $25.50 (+19.7%)
  • 00 Bowman Draft Grady Sizemore Auto - $285.23 -> $263.88 (-7.5%)
  • 02 UD Prospect Premiers Prince Fielder Auto - $198.31 -> $178.63 (-9.9%)
  • 01 UD Prospect Premiers Ryan Howard - $26.85 -> $33.39 (+26.6%)
  • 05 Bowman Sterling Ryan Braun Auto - $66.79 - > $75.78 (+13.5%)
I don't understand the drop in ARod's SP RC, since he's been hitting well, is closing in on 500 HR, and leads the majors in HR & RBI. My guess would be over saturation of the market.

Andruw Jones is finally heating up, hitting 6 HR & 16 RBI in his last 13 games. His top RC, Bowman's Best, is finally starting to inch up as a result.

While Ryan Braun's other Auto RC's have been pretty flat compared to last week (they've already jumped tremendously), his Bowman Sterling Auto is now starting to receive increased interest, jumping 13.5% so far this week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Player Focus: Jose Guillen

Since his rookie year in '97, Jose Guillen is has changed teams 8 times, playing for teams in every part of the country. He's had his ups & downs throughout his journey, but it would seem that he's finally found home in Seattle. In his first season with the team, Guillen has been a strong contributor to the Mariners' success thus far, with their 51-38 record (they haven't had a winning season since '03). He's batting .285 (4th on team), with 12 HR (3rd), 55 RBI (T1st) and a .357 OBP (2nd). This month (thru 7/15), he's hitting .426 with 3 HR, 12 RBI and only 5 SO's!

Unfortunately, Guillen has zero hobby love. His top rookie card is his 96 Bowman's Best RC, which can be found for a couple of bucks on auction (one is currently listed at $1.50 BIN, plus $2.50 s&h). If the Mariners can give the Angels a run at the AL West title, or at least catch the wild card, Guillen MIGHT have a chance at getting more exposure (if he continues to play well), but chances are he'll remain in hobby obscurity, just because there are so many good players out there, who are younger & more hyped than him.
Player Updates
  • Oliver Perez (NYM, P) - Perez returned from the DL yesterday and was looking pretty good, allowing 2 ER in 6-1/3 IP, with 6 K's. Perez is an underrated strikeout pitcher, averaging 9.43 K's/9 IP through his career. Overall he's having a good season, with 8 W's and a 3.13 ERA. His 02 Ultimate Collection Auto RC #'d 550 & SPx Auto RC #'d 825 are his cards to get. Unfortunately for buyers, there haven't been many up for sale since he was on the DL. Now that he's back, they should start to pop back up. His Ultimate Coll sold for an average TAC of $27.53 in June, and would probably sell for around that much now. You can find his SPx RC for around $20-25.
  • Felix Hernandez (SEA, P) - It looks like Hernandez's recovery is coming along well, since being sidelined back in April. He was still inconsistent through May & June, but seems to be getting back into the groove in July, going 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA & 5.25 K's/9 IP (a little low for him) in his first 3 starts this month. His 04 Bowman Chrome Auto & Bowman's Best Auto RC's are also starting to reappear & rebound. You can find his Chrome for around $130-140 TAC, and his Bowman's Best for $60-65. I think that at these price levels, there's definitely still more room for growth (as we saw back in April).
  • Grady Sizemore (CLE, CF) - Sizemore has been one of the most hyped-up young players in the league, and his 00 Bowman Draft Picks Auto has been one of the hottest cards in the hobby. Through April, May & June, he was pretty consistently decent in BA, HR, RBI & SB. So far in July, he's pretty much on pace in all those stat areas except for BA, which has dropped to .234, from a previous 3-month average of .285. He's striking out less, but just not getting hits. His OBP is a season low .321 this month, and being a lead-off hitter, this is a very important stat. Collectors seem to have picked up on this drop in performance, with the average TAC for his Bowman Auto falling from $301.23 in June to $288.14 so far in July. You can find them for around $250-270 on auction currently; a far cry from his April levels of $400-500!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hot / Not - Weekly Briefs

Here is a sampling of RC cards that were either hot or not this past week, compared to the previous week, based on actual average TAC (Total Acquisition Cost) sales. The first amount is last week's average, and the second is this week's, with the %chg in ( ).
  • Hot List
    • 94 SP Alex Rodriguez - $104.06 -> $128.47 (+23.5%)
    • 94 SP Alex Rodriguez D/C - $107.88 -> $123.27 (+14.7%)
    • 99 Bowman Chrome Matt Holliday - $7.42 -> $19.00 (+156%)
    • 02 Bowman Chrome Draft Cole Hamels - $23.82 -> $32.31 (+35.6%)
    • 01 UD Prospect Premiers Ryan Howard - $22.92 -> $26.85 (+17.1%)
    • 04 SP Prospects Hunter Pence Auto #'d 600 - $267.77 -> $324.08 (+21%)
    • 05 Bowman Sterling Ryan Braun Auto/Jsy - $56.53 -> $66.79 (+18.1%)
    • 05 Bowman Chrome Ryan Braun Auto - $120.96 -> $149.73 (+23.8%)
  • Not List
    • 89 UD Ken Griffey Jr. - $47.98 -> $31.38 (-34.6%)
    • 93 SP Derek Jeter - $54.21 -> $41.11 (-24.2%)
    • 00 Bowman Draft Grady Sizemore Auto - $300.75 -> $285.23 (-5.2%)
    • 03 Bowman's Best Dan Haren Auto - $40.75 -> $32.58 (-20%)
    • 05 Topps RC Cup Troy Tulowitzki Auto #'d 399 - $34.75 -> $27.91 (-19.7%)
    • 07 Bowman Elijah Dukes Auto - $11.09 -> $9.41 (-15.1%)
    • 07 Bowman Blue Elijah Dukes Auto - $11.92 -> $10.25 (-14%)
ARod's SP RC & all of Ryan Braun's RC's are currently selling for more than this past week's averages. They continue to be 2 of the hottest players in the hobby.

I don't understand why Griffey's UD RC dropped so much. My only guess is that supply has surpassed demand. Elijah Dukes' RC's continue to drop as expected, since he's pretty much out indefinitely (although there are a few buyers out there paying more than they should be, keeping the average TAC higher than it should be).

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Year of Milestone HR's; Who's the Biggest Threat at the Plate?

At the beginning of the season, there were 7 players hoping to reach major HR milestones this season. At the AS break, 2 had already reached their goals, while the remaining 5 are almost there. I've compared each player's career stats, looking at Extra-Base Hit Batting Avg, AB/HR, AB/BB, AB/SO, OBP, Batting Avg, and Games/HR. Here is how they ranked:
  1. Barry Bonds (Goal: 756 HR, At Break: 751) - Bonds has been the biggest offensive threat out of these 7 players, leading the group in extra-base hit BA (.147), AB/HR (12.93), AB/BB (3.86), AB/SO (6.39) and OBP (.445). If he didn't have the steroids monkey on his back (and if he was more likable), he would probably be getting much more hobby love than he's getting now. Sure he'll break Aaron's record, but he'll never be universally respected as a player. I don't follow his RC cards, but when I've occasionally checked their auctions, they were selling for under BV.
  2. Manny Ramirez (Goal: 500 HR, At Break: 481 HR) - Ramirez, who has been one of my favorite hitters for a long time, was a close 2nd to Bonds, with an extra-base hit BA of .139, and a group-best career BA of .313. Yes, David Ortiz is a great clutch hitter, but Ramirez is, in my opinion, the better overall hitter. His 92 Bowman RC card (not the foil one) has fallen over the years from $40 down to it's current $25 BV. You can find raw versions on auction for around $15 TAC; a great deal for this future HOFer!
  3. Alex Rodriguez (Goal: 500 HR, At Break: 494 HR) - ARod, one of the hottest players in the hobby right now, led this group in games/HR. On average, he's hit a HR every 3.71 games throughout his career! What can I saw about ARod, other than he's gonna be the youngest player to reach the 500 HR mark, he'll probably (hopefully) be the one to break Bonds' career HR total (after Bonds breaks Aaron's 755), and he's a future HOFer. His 94 SP RC, which had an average TAC of $84 in June, can now be found on auction for around $120 to $140 TAC. Should have bought this one back in April, when it was selling for $50!
  4. Frank Thomas (Goal: 500 HR, At Break: 501 HR) - I really feel for the Big Hurt. Back in the mid 90's, he, along with Griffey Jr. & Ripken, were the hottest players in the hobby. Since then, injuries have plagued Thomas' career, often times making it seem questionable if he was even going to have a chance at the 500 mark. I'm glad to see him do it, even if it's in a Blue Jays uniform (which I'm still not used to seeing!). Thomas, who has a .303 career BA, ranked 2nd in this group in both OBP (.422) and AB/SO (5.93). His 90 Leaf RC has a BV of $20, and can be found for less on auction. It wouldn't hurt to have 1 or 2 of these in your collection (I personally have 2).
  5. Jim Thome (Goal: 500 HR, At Break: 486 HR) - Thome seems to get almost no hobby interest, even though he'll probably reach the 500 HR mark either this season, or early next season. A big part of that is because all of his RC cards (and everyone else from '91) are way overproduced. Thome ranked 2nd in AB/HR (13.58) and AB/BB (4.65). His stats downfalls were his poor AB/SO (3.82) and BA (.282). His best RC is his 91 Bowman, which books for a measly $5. Is it worth buying? Probably not. Even his 92 Bowman books for more ($8). Unfortunately due to circumstances, Thome isn't very collectible. There isn't even a Topps or Topps Traded Tiffany card to buy! Too bad, since he was and IS one of the biggest offensive threats out there.
  6. Ken Griffey Jr. (Goal: 600 HR, At Break: 586 HR) - Junior only ranked in the top 3 for AB/SO (5.54). I think that all of those injury-laden seasons that he's endured took its toll on his game. It's great to see him playing so well this season, now that he's finally healthy. Even though he's had his problems, he still averaged a HR every 3.95 games (he's averaging a HR every 3.56 games so far this season). His classic 89 UD RC is still a great addition to any collection. It had an average TAC of $31.68 in June, and $48 in the first week of July, but has since gone down and can be found for around $25 to $35 (a very good price!).
  7. Sammy Sosa (Goal: 600 HR, At Break: 602 HR) - Sosa, like Bonds, will be forever marred by the steroids scandal. He ranked 2nd in this group for games/HR (3.85), behind ARod. He ranked last in extra-base hit BA (.117), AB/BB (9.48), BA (.273) and OBP (.344). I give him credit for working his way back into the bigs this season, after not even playing in '06. He's always been a likable guy, and I respect him for coming back. Sosa has been kind of a feast or famine type of hitter; either going deep or not going anywhere too often (shown by his BA & how often he strikes out - once every 3.82 AB). His 90 Leaf RC was super hot back during his HR race with McGwire, but has since fallen to $20 BV. They can probably be found on auction for nearly half the BV. Unfortunately for Sosa, very few collectors even blinked when he reached #600 (kind of like when Rafael Palmeiro reached 500 HR & 3000 hits). I don't own any Sosa RC's, and I'm sad to say that I probably won't be buying any either. Guess I have a tendency to not buy those players that are plagued by the steroids controversy (I don't buy Bonds either).
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Best Pitcher Investments: Dan Haren vs Josh Beckett

In my post "Top Pitcher Investments: Age 26-27", which appeared on Sportslizard earlier this week, I included Josh Beckett in my list instead of Dan Haren. I spent a lot time going back & forth on this decision before finally picking Beckett. Ironically in the All-Star game yesterday, both of them pitched 2 innings apiece, back to back. Haren allowed 2 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB & had 2 K's. Beckett allowed 1 hit, 0 ER, 0 BB & had 2 K's. I know that in the scheme of things, it doesn't really mean that much, but Beckett's slightly superior performance over Haren's was kind of a confirmation that choosing Beckett to be in my list was the right decision (i guess in more of a symbolic way than anything).

I don't collect either player, but I think that both of them are very good pitchers with bright futures.
Ichiro MVP

The All-Star game just reminds us what a great player Ichiro is. For the past several years (or maybe since his RC year), Ichiro has fallen off the hobby radar, even though his play has remained top notch. In his 6-1/2 year MLB career, he's averaged a .333 BA, 230 hits and 40 SB (.811 SB success%) per 162 games. This season, at the break, he's batting .359 with 23 SB. In '01, he was the AL Rookie of the Year & MVP, and in '04 he set the single season hits record with 262 (and had a .372 BA). He has also won a Gold Glove & been selected as an All-Star every season since he's been in the majors.

Ichiro's most popular RC is his 01 SPx Auto/Jsy, which is stated to be 4 times harder to pull than other Auto/Jsy RC's from that set. Expect to pay $800+ for this one; a deal compared to his 01 Ultimate Collection Auto RC #' 250, which books for $1500, and is near impossible to find on auction.

Ichiro became overshadowed by Albert Pujols in nearly all '01 releases. It's too bad they had to both be in the same RC year. I would hope that demand for his cards picks up after his MVP performance at the All-Star game (1st inside the park HR ever in an AS game!). I would love to pick up one of his Auto RC's, but just can't afford it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Prince Fielder Auto: Cheaper Alternative

With all of Prince Fielder's Auto's from 02 & 05 skyrocketing, one less expensive alternative (no, not his (RC) autos from 06!) is his 02 UD Minor League Signature Collection Auto. This card didn't start getting hobby attention till after most of the others. Last month it sold for an average TAC of around $75, making it probably his only Auto from either 02 or 05 under $100.

Because it's officially a minor league issue, and it's listed in the Beckett in the "Minor League Price Guide" section (unlike the 02 UD Prospect Premieres set), I'm not sure how high the value could go, but if you're a die hard Fielder or Brewers fan, this one might be the way to go. My rough prediction would be that it could reach the $100 level, especially with all of his other Autos from those two years approaching (and sometimes breaking) the $200 mark. It also depends on his continued success at the plate. If he can keep his BA around .300 & swat 50+ HR this season, I would definitely say the $100 level is achievable.

His UD Update Auto #'d 75 was a sleeper up until mid June. As recently as the 2nd week of June, you could pick one up for around $180 TAC. Then the hobby took notice of the obvious; it's only number to 75! Sales then jumped to the $290 range later that month. So far in July, it, along with all of Fielder's other cards, have softened a little, selling for an average TAC of $230. July has been a relatively quiet month so far for Fielder (only 2 HR), with teammate Ryan Braun taking most of the spotlight (*see previous post for Braun details).
Player Focus: Ryan Braun

Brewers' rookie 3B Ryan Braun is one of the hottest players in the hobby right now. Braun was called up to the bigs from AAA Nashville on 5/24. In his 7 May games, he hit .222 with 1 HR & 4 RBI. I guess that's all the warm-up he needed. In June he hit .382 with 6 HR & 21 RBI, and through his first 8 games of July, .353, 4 HR & 7 RBI. Braun & Prince Fielder are one of best (and youngest) #3 & #4 one-two punches in the majors.

Braun's 05 Bowman Sterling Auto RC had an average TAC of $41.73 in June. So far in July, its averaging $62.80 (+50%). His 05 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto averaged $78.89 in June. In July its averaging $133.76 (+69.5%). His 05 Bowman Heritage SOG Auto averaged $31.64 in June. In July its averaging $47.38 (+50%).

Expect to pay in the $60 to low $70's for his Bowman Sterling Auto, $140 to $160 for his Bowman Chrome Draft Auto, and $45 to $55 for his Bowman Heritage SOG Auto.

Note: On 7/9, one of his Bowman Chrome Draft Auto Ref #'d 500 sold for a TAC of $235.53!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Definition of TAC

For new readers, TAC stands for Total Acquisition Cost. In most cases it would mean sales price + shipping & handling cost. This is the true cost to acquire a card (or anything else bought on auction). I think that this is important to include, especially since sellers charge such varying amounts for s&h. I've seen it range from Free to $15 for one card, although most charge between $2 to $5 (for USPS First Class Mail in a padded envelope).

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Resurgence of Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard had a dismal start this season, batting .222 with 9 HR & 30 RBI through April & May. Then, Howard started to pick things up, hitting .280 with 10 HR & 27 RBI in June, and he's batting over .300 so far in July. His 01 UD Prospect Premieres XRC hit one of its lowest points last month, averaging around $20 TAC (they could be found for as low as $15 on some days). It's now starting to rebound, selling in the $20 to $25 range. His 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC was averaging around $375 TAC last month. I haven't seen any ungraded ones on auction yet in July, but I expect that they'll sell for around $400 (if not more) now. *Note: one 03 Bowman's Best Blue Auto sold on 6/10 for $870 TAC.

These two cards are my favs for Howard. I was tracking his 03 Bowman Chrome Draft RC also, but didn't think it was as unique or interesting as his XRC from 01. His 03 Donruss Elite TOTC Auto #'d 100 is just too scare (I've only seen a couple raw versions for sale this year).

I think that Howard's key RC's are still undervalued at current TAC levels, with quite a bit of upside potential. I'm holding on to the ones I have, and may even pick up a few more before he joins A Rod & Fielder in the HR race.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Top Pitcher Investments: Age 28 to 30

Here are my picks for top investments for pitchers aged 28 to 30:
  1. Johan Santana (MIN, 00 RC year) - Santana has consistently been a high strikeout & low ERA pitcher throughout his career (9.47 K's/9 IP & 3.16 ERA). Since 2004 (his first full season as a starter), he has posted a 64-25 record (.719 win%), 873 K's (9.66 K's/9 IP) and a 2.76 ERA. He has several RC cards to choose from, with his best two being 00 Finest #'d 3000 & 00 Bowman's Best #'d 2999. There aren't many on auction, but those that are can usually be had for below BV. Overall, Santana has been undervalued by the hobby (except for the occasional spike here & there), and his #'d RC's could be potential gems, considering that he very well could be a 4000 K's & 300 W's career pitcher. There isn't a more dominant strike-out pitcher in this age group (Kerry Wood could've been, if he stayed healthy).
  2. Barry Zito (SF, 00 RC year) - I chose Zito as my #2 pick because of three main reasons: 1) He was one of the most well rounded pitchers in this group, with over 100 career W's, a mid 3.00's ERA and over 1500 K's, 2) He has a good chance at reaching 3000 K's & 300 W's by the end of his career, and 3) He's having a subpar year, with 6-8 record & 4.65 ERA (which could be the result of him switching to the NL). These three points spell investment opportunity. Because he's not playing well, most collectors will be focusing on other players, which should depress selling prices. I think that by next season he'll be able to adjust to playing in the NL (especially since the rest of his life has probably remained unchanged, being that he's playing across the bay from his old team). If you can find his 00 SPx Auto RC #'d 1500 at a good price, BUY IT! The two other cards to get would be his 00 Bowman Draft Picks Auto & Topps Traded Auto. Both can be found for under BV.
  3. Roy Oswalt (HOU, 00 RC year) - Oswalt has been one of the most consistent pitchers over the last several years, posting a career 3.09 ERA and 105-52 record (.669 Win% - better than the Astros .534 win% during his 6+ year tenure with the team). He would've been #1 or #2 on my list if his RC cards weren't so expensive already. He's been good, but not good enough to justify being so much more than Barry Zito & Ben Sheets (his SPx RC #'d 1600 (non-auto) is like double the price of Zito's SPx Auto RC #'d 1500!). It seems that the hobby has already built a lot of future value into his RC prices, so I don't think that his cards have as much upside potential compared to some of the other pitchers in this age group. I think that he'll reach the 3000 K's milestone, but will fall short of 300 W's (maybe reach 270).
  • Ben Sheets (MIL, 00 RC year) Sheets is my pick for honorable mention. He's got great skills, and is having a terrific season thus far, but his career win% was what kept him out; he's 71-72 (.496 win%). Zito and he are the same age, yet Zito has 108 W's (at least two seasons' worth of W's more). I do think that things are looking up for Sheets' future though, and that with this hot new Brewer's offense, he'll be able to get more W's than he has in the past. His 00 SPx Auto RC #'d 1500 could very well be a great investment, so keep your eye out for one that can be had at a good price!
Coming up: Pitcher Investments Age 26-27; this post will be on Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Record A Rod RC Card Sale!

I've been writing about how Alex Rodriguez's 94 SP RC has been increasing in TAC value each week, but this is just unconceivable. Today (7/1), one sold for a whopping $240 TAC! The seller smartly included everything but the kitchen sink in the title: "1994 94 SP ALEX RODRIGUEZ 'AROD' ROOKIE CARD RC #15 WOW", with "AMAZING CONDITION (LOOK) ! Should Be Graded BGS or PSA" in the subtitle. You notice that it doesn't mention that card should be graded any specific BGS or PSA grade. Yet, it was still able to garner 25 bids & 281 views.

My hat comes off to this seller. This exemplifies what the whole auction process is about. Supply & demand at it's finest! Without these types of sales, I think that I would grow very bored of watching the card market!

*Note: This same seller sold a 93 SP Derek Jeter RC today for a TAC of $110.49 (more than double the average TAC for the past month!).
Good Deals: Felix Hernandez Auto RC's

Felix Hernandez is 4-4 with a 4.33 ERA for the season; a drastic drop in performance from his 2-0, 0.00 ERA start in April. This is expected though, since he's been recovering from injury. When he returned in May, he went 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA (but still had 10.8 K's/9 IP). In June, he pitched a little better, going 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA (and 8.9 K's/9 IP). As we can obviously see, he's slowly getting his form back, and also, he never lost the ability to strike out batters.

I thought that demand for his 04 Bowman Chrome Auto RC & 04 Bowman's Best Auto RC would have already started to rebound, but surprisingly they haven't. There aren't that many out there listed on auction (people are waiting for the rebound to get top dollar), but those that are listed are selling at very reasonable price levels. I saw a BC Auto sell this past month for $113.75 TAC (was selling for around $200 in April). Also saw a BB Auto sell for $50.66 TAC (was selling for $100+ in April). You can expect to pay around $130 to $140 for his BC Ref Auto and $200 to $210 for his BC Xfractor Auto.

If you think about it, how many 21 year olds are at his level of play? You look at the other hot young pitchers, with around the same amount of major league experience, and most of them are in the 24 to 26 age range. He's 21, and already has the ability to dominate. Once he gains consistency & gets back to full health, he's gonna be unstoppable. I'm predicting that July will be the month that his cards start to climb again.