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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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).