Mint Musings: Why This Could be a Historic Year for Baseball Cards – The Major League Baseball All-Star teams were announced a few days ago. Rookies Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson were among those selected for the game. While rookies have been named to the team in the past, it’s typically a rare occurrence. No doubt that both are worthy inclusions to the team, but it helps highlight their importance to the game as a whole and how that translates to baseball cards.
Baseball has been fortunate in having several exciting rookies in the past few years, including Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig. The baseball card market has also benefitted greatly from the influx of these talented newcomers. Whether it’s Superfractors selling for thousands of dollars or even basic rookie cards flying off the shelves, these players have helped to keep baseball releases viable year after year.
2015’s rookie class may top any of these. Headlined by Bryant and Pederson, we’ve also seen several other players, including Carlos Correa and Miguel Sano, get the call to the big leagues. While some of them have had more notable MLB stints than others, it seems as if each of them has made a positive mark on the hobby so far.
If nothing else, it’s helped to keep the roster of viable players fresh and interesting. While fans certainly love their cards of Mike Trout and Hank Aaron, the card companies have to be able to give them new players to chase. As we’ve seen by the success of rookie sales over Hall of Famers in recent years, even the most accomplished players start to lose their luster in the hobby community once the market becomes flooded with their cards.
The folks over at Topps and Panini had to have been salivating as one hot-shot rookie after another entered the big leagues. Those call-ups mean more rookies and bankable players to include in this year’s releases. A product that may have had a decent opening this season suddenly gets a big shot in the arm if it’s announced that autographs of these rookie wonder kids are suddenly available for collectors. While some may argue that the excitement is tempered by the fact that many of these players already have several cards and autographs available from previous years, it doesn’t seem to negate the chase for their rarer and lower-numbered 2015 releases.
Baseball’s rookie rules are unfortunately a bit more convoluted than the other sports given previous prospect cards and
minor league releases. For the other sports, it’s a little more clear-cut as the top prospects and rookies tends to be on rosters right away, hence a simpler rookie year and clear designation for rookie cards. For baseball players, they may get their first professional cards releases one year, but not make their Major League debut for at least three years after that. This makes it understandably hard for people buying their cards to be clear on a player’s proper rookie card. Adding memorabilia and autograph cards into the mix unfortunately makes the waters a little murkier, especially for people who may be unfamiliar with some of the nuances in the hobby.
There’s still plenty of baseball to be played this season. One thing that is not in doubt is that the race for Rookie of the Year in both leagues will be quite interesting. Another certainty is that collectors will continue to get cards of all the rookies. Whether this ends up being one of the all-time great rookie classes in the hobby remains to be seen, but it’s certainly looking that way so far.
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan as the producer of ESPN’s Mint Condition has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on the hobby in Mint Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
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