By Joe Clemens, Tuff Stuff’s
Senior Pricing Analyst
It has been a wild season in sports with Brett Favre unretiring again and going to the Packers’ biggest rival, the Penguins wild ride to their Stanley Cup victory and another amazing season for baseball’s best hitter, Albert Pujols. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look back at some of the top performers and their impact in the sports card market.
No player had a bigger impact in the baseball card market during the past offseason than Stephen Strasburg. His first autographs to hit the market appeared in 2008 Upper Deck Sweet Spot, 2008 SP Authentic and 2009 Upper Deck USA. The hype surrounding the pitching phenom was unmistakable and when rumors swirled about him hitting 105 mph on the radar gun, the hype only grew. The young phenom didn’t disappoint during his last season at San Diego State, finishing 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts in only 109 innings. Some of his top autographed cards include his 2008 UD Sweet Spot USA Black Leather Autograph priced at $225, 2008 SP Authentic USA National Team By the Letter Autograph ($180) and his 2009 UD USA National Team Patriotic Patch Auto ($250).
There was some question as to whether Joe Mauer was going to even play in 2009 due to a lingering back injury. But Mauer quickly put those fears to rest by winning batting title and finishing the season hitting .365, with career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (96) and hits (191). His incredible season lit a fire under his top cards, with his 2002 Bowman Chrome rookie autograph #391 nearly doubling over the course of the season to its current price of $180. Some of his other cards experiencing price increases include: his 2002 Bowman’s Best #110, up from $60 to $150, his 2002 Bowman Heritage Autograph #JM moving up from $60 to $100; and his 2002 Topps206 Series 2 Autograph jumping from $75 to $125.
We can’t mention top performers from the 2009 season without mentioning Albert Pujols, who flirted with the Triple Crown for most of the season. In the end, he finished among NL leaders in batting average (3rd, .327), home runs (1st, 47), RBIs (3rd, 135), Runs (1st, 124). His 2001 rookie cards have been among the most sought-after cards in the market for quite some time and that certainly hasn’t changed after his amazing 2009 season. His 2001 Bowman Chrome rookie autograph is the “crown jewel” in the modern baseball market and has experienced a jump from its hefty $2,500 price at the start of the season to $3,000. Some of his top cards include his 2001 Upper Deck Rookie Update SPX rookie autograph #206, priced at $500, and his 2001 Bowman Autograph #AP, also priced at $500.
Some of the top rookie performances from 2009 include Garrett Jones, Gordon Beckham, Andrew McCutchen, Nolan Reimold, Casey McGehee, Chris Coghlan and Matt Wieters. There were also a few notable rookie pitchers that hit the market, including Tommy Hanson, Brett Anderson, Jeff Niemann and Rick Porcello, to name a few.
Beckham is a highly rated prospect and was the eighth overall pick by the White Sox in the 2008 Draft, so he was well known in collecting circles before his debut this season.He showed immense potential in his rookie season, as he finished with a .270 batting average, 14 home runs and 63 RBIs. His solid debut season propelled his 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Auto #110 from its debut at $40 to its current price of $60.
Some of his other cards experiencing similar activity include his 2008 Bowman Sterling Prospects Autograph #GB jumping from $40 to $50 and his 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Autograph #123 rose from $30 to $40.
McCutchen was another highly rated prospect that had a strong rookie season finishing with a .286 average with 54 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. Some of his top cards include his 2005 Bowman Sterling Autograph (#AM, $50) and 2005 Topps Chrome Update Autograph (#234, $50).
Hanson was the more impressive of the two pitchers in their rookie seasons, as he finished with an impressive 11-4 record with a 2.89 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 127 innings. His 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autograph #97 debuts this month in the price guide at $50, his 2009 Finest RC Redemption Autograph is priced at $70 and his 2009 Topps Chrome rookie autograph is priced at $50.
Darren McFadden was the top dog in the football card market before the season but as the season wore on it was slowly dominated by the stellar play of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton. It’s still early in the 2009 season, but there seems to be a similar trend, as Mark Sanchez is off to a fast start and has separated himself from Matt Stafford as far as rookie card values are concerned.
Some of Sanchez’s top cards released to date include his 2009 Topps Chrome Rookie Autograph (#220, $225), 2009 Bowman Rookie Autograph (#190, $125), 2009 Donruss Threads (#232, $180) and 2009 Upper Deck Signature Shots (#SA, $150).
In the hockey market, all eyes are on John Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick in the ’09 NHL Draft. Tavares has drawn comparisons to Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe, as well as Wayne Gretzky, especially after breaking Gretzky’s OHL scoring record for a 16-year-old. I think The fact he plays for the New York Islanders is a major factor in regards to his success. He should get ample ice time since the Islanders are a poor team and he will also get plenty of power-play opportunities.
Rookie goaltenders that are catching the early attention of collectors are Semyon Varlamov and Jonas Gustavsson. Collectors probably remember Varlamov from last season as his playoff heroics helped push the Washington Capitals into the second round of the playoffs. He’s back and ready to build on his playoff success from last season. Some of his top rookie cards released in 2008-09 include SP Authentic (#176, $35) and 2008-09 UD The Cup (#77, $125). Gustavsson starts off the season as the backup on the Toronto Maple Leafs to Vesa Toskala but many expect him to eventually supplant Toskala as the No. 1 goalie. Gustavsson and Tavares don’t have any rookie cards released at the time of this writing. SCM