Antoine Walker (WALK) $4.00 68.0% Shohei Ohtani (OHSH) $1.00 59.0% Christian Yelich (CYEL) $14.00 -46.0% Derek Jeter (JETR) $6.00 36.0% Odell Beckham (BECO) $1.00 95.0% Yordan Alvarez (ALVY) $5.00 Mookie Betts (BETM) $5.00 -43.0% Kirk Cousins (COUK) $2.00 62.0% Gerrit Cole (GCOL) $51.00 Tiger Woods (TIGR) $13.00 -20.0% Frank Thomas (HURT) $29.00 -7.0% Cal Ripken Jr. (RIPK) $44.00 Willie Mays (MAYS) $245.00 44.0% Mickey Mantle (MICK) $425.00 -19.0% Ken Griffey Jr. (GRIF) $53.00 10.0% Alex Bregman (BREG) $7.00 14.0% Barry Bonds (BOND) $16.00 Cody Bellinger (BELC) $1.00 Greg Maddux (MDDX) $8.00 3.0% Brandon Ingram (INGB) $41.00 3.0% Joey Gallo (JOEG) $2.00 -60.0% Russell Wilson (RUSW) $644.00 205.0% Madison Bumgarner (BUMG) $1.00 11.0%

League Championship Series: The Investing Collector's Perspective

By Richard Rowell, ThePit.com Contributor

The MLB League Championships are underway as the Washington Nationals have taken Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Nationals are in the second round of baseball playoffs after a surprise comeback win by the Washington Nationals over the Dodgers set up the National League Championship against the St. Louis Cardinals. 
Today, we take a look at three of the key players on the Cardinals and Nationals. We’ll take a look at their key rookie cards and how their prices have fared since the end of the season through the end of the Division Series. We’ll give you the info, and you can decide on the best investments for the remainder of the MLB playoffs.

First up, the St. Louis Cardinals!

After a historic 10-run first inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, the Cardinals are set to take on the Nationals. 

Paul Goldschmidt got off to somewhat of an uneven start in his Cardinals career during the regular season. “Goldy” started off hot in April, but cooled off in May and didn’t really turn things back on until late July. Now, after a great Division Series in which he hit .429 with two home runs, the star first baseman is going to his first career League Championship Series. 
Goldschmidt’s key rookie card is his 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor Auto graded BGS 9.5. Right now, $334 shipped seems to be the going rate on eBay. That may sound low for a star like Goldschmidt, but the last two that sold were in September for around $200 and $225. The last non-refractor was sold in late September for around $140. That card is about $250 buy-it-now on eBay.

Obviously, the Division Series helped Goldschmidt’s card prices. Considering Goldy’s prices were greatly depressed during his mid-season slump, there’s plenty of room for them to grow.  Check out the latest buy and sell prices of Goldschmidt’s 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor Auto at thePit.com:

https://thepit.com/card/GLDS-11-RAR-B9.5 

Marcell Ozuna batted only .243 during the regular season, but his on-base percentage of .330 and slugging percentage of .474 allowed him to have a 108 OPS+, hardly anything to sneeze at. StatCast fanatics will point out that Marcell Ozuna was a better hitter in 2019 than his overall statistics would suggest.Marcell Ozuna’s key rookie card is his 2012 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Auto, especially graded BGS 9.5. Because of his underwhelming numbers on the surface, only a couple have moved on eBay - the others were all raw copies. Both that sold were best offers, so it’s hard to nail down a price. But, it’s important to note that one of those was on October 7th, the day Ozuna hit two home runs to help the Cardinals beat the Braves in Game 4 of the Division Series.The cheapest copy of that card right now is about $54 shipped on eBay, but there are two others posted with much higher prices, although they don’t seem to be getting much interest. A big League Championship series should help out Ozuna, and with him being a free agent at season’s end, it’s likely his cards will be a hot commodity depending on the team he signs with.Check out the latest Buy and Sell prices on Marcell Ozuna rookie cards at thePit.com!

https://thepit.com/card/OZNA-12-CPA-B9.5 

23-year-old Jack Flaherty has established himself as the St. Louis Cardinals ace. After an inconsistent rookie debut in 2017, he was excellent in 2018, and downright dominant in 2019. His postseason debut wasn’t bad against the Braves, but the 3 runs he surrendered in Game 1 of the Division Series were all the Braves needed to win that game. But, he turned things around in Game 5, giving up only a single run in 6 innings - of course, the 10-run 1st inning helped his cause.

Flaherty’s key rookie card is from 2014 Bowman Chrome Draft, which also comes in an autograph version. That autograph card has been a hot commodity so far in the postseason. One graded BGS 9.5 example sold for $150 on October 9th. A raw copy sold for about $50 shipped on October 10th, and another BGS 9.5 example sold for an unknown amount with best offer. In any case, it’s a hot card, raw or graded. Even the base card (and the Chrome) is consistently selling for over $2 a copy.  Check out the latest buy and sell prices on Jack Flaherty rookie cards at ThePit.com:

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=jack+flaherty 


Washington Nationals

In Game 5 of their National League Division Series, the Nationals stunned the Dodgers with a go ahead 10th inning grand slam by Howie Kendrick. This was the decisive blow that knocked L.A. out of the playoffs. But, the real story of the game is Clayton Kershaw and his epic choke in the 8th inning. A Hall of Fame pitcher in the regular season, Kershaw just can't seem to pull through in the playoffs. That phenomenon deserves an article all in itself, so for now let’s instead focus on the positives here with the victors. Of course, Kendrick deserves some love for his postseason heroics. Despite his postseason heroics, however, it’s unlikely that we will see major rallying in his card prices - despite Kendrick having an excellent regular season, as well. The key players to watch going into the NLCS, as far as the hobby goes, are Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and Max Scherzer.
Anthony Rendon had an MVP caliber season for the Nationals, and he and Soto were the key hitters all season long. With his impending free agency, Rendon is one of the key players to watch not only in the playoffs, but in the postseason, as well. However, Rendon has continually been overshadowed in the hobby by his flashier teammates. In the past that was Bryce Harper, and now it’s Soto and Scherzer.

It may be a surprise that even with Rendon’s big Game 5 home run off of Clayton Kershaw that his cards haven’t moved much on eBay. In fact, the only sale of his key rookie auto, the 2012 Bowman Chrome Prospects card, since the regular season was a raw sale for $88.49 shipped on October 9th. There actually aren’t many of his autographs graded as compared to his other star contemporaries -- and this appears to be largely the result of under-production by Topps. Currently, Rendon may be one of the most underappreciated stars in Major League Baseball when it comes to rookie cards.  Check out the latest buy and sell prices for Anthony Rendon 2012 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor Autograph BGS 9.5 at thePit.com!  

https://thepit.com/card/AREN-12-RAR-B9.5 

Juan Soto was one of the hottest rookies in baseball last year. But, in his sophomore season, his card prices slumped in 2019 because of all of the hype surrounding Wander Franco and other rookies. While there are a decent amount of his top rookie card - the 2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor - graded BGS 9.5 out there, they don’t sell all that often. One sold as cheaply as $665 shipped in mid July. But, right before the season ended, one sold for about $1130 shipped. After the series was over, a copy sold for $1250 shipped. That’s not a surprise, as Soto hit home runs in Game 3 and Game 5. The best price you’ll find on eBay going into the NLCS is $1569. (ThePit handily beats this price at $1395.)

As one of the bright stars in baseball, it’s likely Soto’s cards could climb even higher. His non-refractor of the same card is about $700 currently on eBay. Like the refractor, it hasn’t sold nearly as often as you’d expect for a young star. If this card gets hot, like the refractor, it could rival the comparable cards of hobby darling Ronald Acuna.Check out the latest buy and sell prices for Juan Soto 2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor Autograph BGS 9.5 at thePit.com.

https://thepit.com/card/SOTO-16-RAR-B9.5 


Max Scherzer is not only the ace of the Nationals, he’s likely a future Hall of Fame starting pitcher. He was merely OK in his Wild Card Game start against the Brewers, but outstanding in his relief appearance in Game 2 of the Division Series, and excellent in his Game 4 Division series start. Understandably, his cards are sought after right now going into the League Championship Series. 

Scherzer is also one of the few of today’s stars without a Bowman Chrome Auto. His key first rookie card is his 2005 Upper Deck USA rookie card.  His key Bowman Chrome card is 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft, and it’s a non-auto. However, the refractor is well sought after, with a raw copy selling for $150 on October 8th.

That means he has a different rookie auto, which in this case is the 2005 USA Baseball National Team Signatures. Not only is it a nice looking card, but it’s actually fairly rare, with three variations based on the color of ink used.  It’s also rare enough that you don’t see many for sale on eBay, but thePit has copies of all three variations.  Check out the latest buy and sell prices for Max Scherzer rookie cards at ThePit.com

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=Max+Scherzer

*** ALCS ***

In the American League Division Series, the Houston Astros finished off a tough Tampa Bay Rays team behind one of their (two!) aces, Gerrit Cole. The Astros will take on the opponent that pretty much everyone expected, the New York Yankees. As we did with the Cardinals and Nationals already, we’ll take a look at their key rookie cards. We’ll see how their prices have fared since the end of the season through the end of the Division Series. Then, you decide which the best investments for the remainder of the MLB playoffs should be.

Onto the American League contenders. First up, the Yankees!

New York Yankees
Gleyber Torres enjoyed a phenomenal regular season, Gleyber Torres had a big Game 1 and Game 3 of the American League Division Series. Torres cards have been hot all season, but what’s interesting about Gleyber is that he has two Bowman Chrome Prospect autographs worth looking at. One is his actual 1st Bowman card with the Chicago Cubs organization, and the other is his 2017 Bowman Chrome Prospects auto with the Yankees.
Obviously, Gleyber’s 1st Bowman Chrome auto is the more valuable of the two.  The 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto graded BGS 9.5 is an interesting card, though, in that the price has fluctuated a bit. One copy sold for about $700 on September 10th and another sold on September 11th for $500. Then on September 20th it sold for around $600. There hasn’t been an eBay sale of this card during the playoffs.
However the 2017 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor auto in the same grade sells far more often. It’s tricky to nail down a price on this card, too, but for a different reason. That’s because many of the sales are for the card’s various refractors. Because the 2017 card depicts Gleyber in the Yankees uniform he’s most associated with, it seems like many collectors prefer it to his true first Bowman. Of course, it’s much less expensive than the 2015. The most recent eBay auction sale was a Blue Refractor (numbered to 150) for $222 shipped on October 3rd. 

Check out the latest Buy and Sell prices of Gleyber Torres Bowman Chrome rookie cards on thePit.com:

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=gleyber+torres+bowman+chrome
.
Aaron Judge missed a huge chunk of the 2019 season with an injury, but came back from injury in a big way.  He hit 27 home runs in just 102 games. In the postseason, Judge was 3 for 9 in the Division Series, with 4 walks. While that’s hardly a performance that will affect card prices, going into the League Championship series, his card prices have actually increased - at least as far as eBay buy-it-now prices.

His big card is the 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Draft Pick Autograph Refractor, in particular graded BGS 9.5. But, that refractor hasn’t sold since August 18th with a price of $1425 shipped. The non-refractor is a different story, with the last one selling on October 9th for about $645 shipped. That’s about the price of the recent three that have sold. Now, the non-refractor is listed for between $750 and $800. The refractor is listed for over $1570. Obviously, people expect Judge to have a big series against the Astros.

Check the latest Buy and Sell Prices of Aaron Judge rookie cards at thePit.com

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=aaron+judge 

Giancarlo Stanton also missed a bunch of the 2019 season to injury. He only had 59 regular season at-bats. But, Stanton made the most of them with 3 HR and a 138 OPS+. However, in the Division Series, Stanton didn’t do much, going just 1 for 6 in the three games, although he did have four walks, three of which came in Game 1.

Stanton’s key card is his 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Autographed Rookie BGS 9.5. Right now, that card is listed on eBay for $650 shipped. (ThePit currently beats that price.) But, because Stanton missed 90 percent of the 2019 season, his cards have been slow to sell. 
Obviously, a big League Championship Series would be good for Stanton, who still seems to be the same bat he always has been. If not, it’s likely his cards remain a bargain going into the offseason.

Check the latest Buy and Sell prices on Giancarlo Stanton rookie cards at ThePit.com

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=Giancarlo+Stanton 

Now, to the best regular season team in baseball, the Astros!

Houston Astros
The Tampa Bay Rays "shocked the world" when they beat Justin Verlander and the Astros for 3 first inning runs in game 4 of the 2019 American League Division Series. However, the Astros turned back to Gerrit Cole, who dominated the Rays in Game 2, to breeze to a victory in Game 5. It probably didn’t help that Tyler Glasnow was apparently tipping pitches. But, in any case, the best regular season team in baseball is clearly well on its way to a bid for another World Series appearance.

While Gerrit Cole is likely an interesting target for card flippers, the three key players for the Astros are Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and George Springer.  Bregman is already a great player coming off a huge season. Yordan Alvarez is still a rookie, but already proving himself as a legitimate slugger. Springer also had a breakout year. All three of these guys could see a bump, whereas Cole is more of a target to watch going into the offseason as he hits the free agent market as easily the best starting pitcher available.

Alex Bregman
How high can Bregman go? After already winning a World Series in 2017 and breaking out in 2018, Bregman put up MVP-type numbers in 2019.  He hit .296 with a .423 OBP and 41 home runs. Also, he spent a good chunk of the season playing shortstop instead of third base. While he was slightly below average at shortstop, he was good enough for his bat to cancel out any shortcomings he had that position. He was also well above average with the glove at third base.

Picking up where he left off in the 2018 postseason, Bregman has had another great postseason in 2019. In fact, he’s been far better, hitting .353 in the Division Series, including a home run, two doubles, and three RBI, including two in the pivotal Game 5. So, how has his key rookie card, the  2016 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor Auto graded BGS 9.5 fared price-wise?

Indeed, a strong postseason is helping Bregman a lot with his card prices. His key rookie card sold for only $384 plus shipping on September 3 and for about $405 shipped on September 20. In the middle of the Division Series, on October 8th, copies of the same card sold for $715 shipped and $603 shipped. The next day another sold for $643 shipped. So when one sold for just $521 shipped on October 10th, someone got a bargain!

If Bregman continues to hit into the League Championship Series and gets to the World Series, it’s likely his cards will continue to be hot. Also, there’s a possibility that he will win the MVP over Mike Trout this year. A World Series win wouldn’t hurt his cause, either. 

Check out the latest Buy and Sell Prices on Alex Bregman rookie cards at ThePit.com:

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=alex+bregman .

Yordan Alvarez
Being a rookie is important when you’re headed into the playoffs as it’s a chance to get on a national stage and get more collectors interested in your cards. Of course, Yordan Alvarez has already been in the spotlight with his rapid ascent to the Major Leagues in 2019. He looks like he belongs, too. Yordan hit 27 HR with a .313 batting average in just 87 games. While Alvarez didn’t hit a home run in the Division Series, he did bat .313 with 3 doubles.

Yordan Alvarez’s key rookie card is the 2018 Bowman Chrome Prospects Rookie Refractor Auto. Because of the prospector hype surrounding him, his cards were greatly inflated. One sold for $1000 on July 15th. The hype has quieted a bit, and the last two BGS 9.5 copies sold during the series for $709 and $715.

Yordan Alvarez is an interesting player because although his prices are relatively high, he’s a young slugger who has a chance to make a big difference in the League Championship Series. He may become an intriguing big flip with a big game. Just be sure to watch his prices carefully, and consider that he may be a career DH.  The list of career DHs beloved by collectors is basically two: Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz.

Check out the latest Buy and Sell Prices on Yordan Alvarez rookie cards at ThePit.com

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=yordan+alvarez

George Springer is one of the Astros’ most established players, having been one of Houston’s key players since 2014. But 2019 was a breakout year for Springer, hitting a career high 39 home runs with a career high .292 batting average. It was an even better year than his excellent 2017 season that helped the Astros win their first World Series. Of course, there’s been a lot of interest in Springer’s cards this year, but perhaps not as much as you’d think.

Springer’s key rookie card is his 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Rookie Refractor Auto. With his nearly 40 HR campaign, you’d expect to see a graded BGS 9.5 copy be listed for more than $250. Yet, that’s where we are. The last one sold was $182 shipped on October 4th. Before that was a sale for $150 on September 3rd. For someone as established as Springer, this may seem surprising. 

Of course, Springer is well behind a Hall of Fame pace, despite being a strong starter for the Astros. That lagging in pace is actually because he got a late start in the majors due to playing in college ball. It also doesn’t help that Springer had a poor Division Series, batting just .143. So, if anyone on the Astros could see his card prices benefit from having a strong rest of the playoffs, it would likely be Springer.

Check out the latest Buy and Sell prices on George Springer rookie cards on thePit.com!

https://thepit.com/find?NameFilter=george+springer

How do you think the Championship Series will affect the collectability of the teams’ stars?  Join our Facebook Forum (if you haven’t already) and let’s discuss!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1528409450626079/

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