Here are my picks for top investments for pitchers aged 28 to 30:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!