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Saturday, May 03, 2008

MLB Stars Having a Horrible '08

Some of the stars who have really shined in the past are off to horrible starts in '08. This list would include guys like C.C. Sabathia (1-5 & 7.51 ERA in '08 - 3x All-Star & '07 Cy Young award winner), Justin Verlander (1-5 & 6.28 ERA in '08 - '06 AL ROY & 35-15 with 3.65 ERA over last 2 seasons), Vladimir Guerrero (.257, 3 HR & 11 RBI in '08 - career .323, 36 HR & 118 RBI per 162 game season) and Troy Tulowitzki (.152, 1 HR & 11 RBI in '08 before going on DL for 6 weeks - '07 NL ROY runner-up with .291, 24 HR & 99 RBI).

Sabathia had a great regular season in '07, with his 99 Topps Traded Auto peaking at around $54 in September. After winning the AL Cy Young, collectors expected him to continue his hot pitching in '08, driving his TT Auto up to the $63-65 level in the months leading up to opening day. I haven't seen any listed since (except for fixed-price auctions). After allowing 27 ER in his first 18 IP (4 starts), he had two good back-to-back outings in which he only allowed 1 ER in 14 IP with 19 K's. I thought that it was a sign that the ace was back, but then on Saturday he picked up his 5th loss, giving up 4 earned off of 10 hits to KC. I expect to see his TT Auto drop to the $35-45 TAC range soon, creating a potential buying opportunity.

Verlander seemed like the most consistent young pitcher in the majors over the past two seasons. The Tigers as a whole were off to a rough '08 start, losing their first 7 games of the season. They've since started to recover (now 14-17), and I expect that Verlander will do the same. You can't keep a talented pitcher like him down for long. His 05 Bowman Chrome Auto RC peaked last season at an average of $81.30 TAC in July. Last month, it was selling in the $45-55 range. His 05 Bowman Sterling Auto RC peaked in the high $40's range last June, and has since dropped to the $30's range in recent. I'd keep my eye out for some major buying opportunites, until Verlander starts to turn things around (which he definitely will).

Guerrero has been a major offensive force over the past decade, hitting 30+ HR 8 times & 100+ RBI 9 times, with a career 368 HR & 1191 RBI. His 95 Bowman's Best RC has had monthly averages of around $30-45 over the past year, most recently averaging $33.86 TAC in April. They can be found in the mid-high $20's range if you look hard enough. His 95 Bowman RC averaged $26.22 last month, but can be found for around $12-15 if you're lucky. Guerrero has already experienced the peak of his career, but don't think that he's ready for retirement just yet. At 32 years of age, I'm thinking that he could have another 6 to 9 productive years left, which would make him a lock to reach the 500 HR career milestone (he only needs 132 more). Did I mention that he also has 2,001 hits? 3,000 is definitely not out of the question.

Tulowitzki was an all-around standout last season, a strong contributor with the bat and a great fielder with the glove (.987 FPCT). Before he got injured in late April, he was still fielding well (.986 FPCT), but just wasn't getting it done at the plate. His 05 Topps Rookie Cup Auto RC (his only base Auto rookie) was a steal through last September for around $30-40 TAC (probably because all of the hobby attention was on Ryan Braun, the guy that beat him out for the NL ROY). It then jumped to around $70 in October when the Rockies made their Cinderella-run to the World Series, and peaked out in the $80's range in November. Through this March & April, it's been a solid seller for around $70, but don't expect it to stay at that level. While he's out for the next several weeks, we'll probably see two things happen: 1) these cards will become very scarce on the auctions, and 2) those that are listed will be available on fixed-price auctions, or will sell well below it's most recent $70-level. It's hard to say whether or not Tulowitzki will be a good investment. I'm thinking that it will all depend on the price-point at which you buy at. (Note: The card pictured is his parallel #'d 399, not his base rookie card).

1 comment:

Triple Play said...

Alot of players are struggling right now. Its hard to judge from the first 100 ABs how a player's season will end up. Some guys get it going in May, while others start it up in June.

Pence and Tulowitzki were rookies last year and I recall that Tulo really struggled the first couple of months. Pence started hot out of the gate, but cooled down due to injury.

Verlander is a surprise to me. He's been pitching 6-8 innings per game, but the run support isn't there and he seems off target on locations. The month of May is very important for Detroit. If this team fails to make the playoffs then its the biggest disappointment in baseball.

Brandon Webb is finally breaking out and I hope he continues winning. That would be sweet if he could win 25 games this year. We shall see...