Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mike Trout

Photos: Fronts and backs of my 2011 Mike Trout Bowman rookie cards, from my collection.

So, as promised, here are the Mike Trout RCs I spoke of in my last post.  As I mentioned, I don't typically buy recent cards.  Like, ever; I mostly do T206s, 1933 Goudeys, the 1887-1890 Old Judges, and Topps and Bowman HOFers pre-1960.

I made an exception this year for these three Mike Trout RCs, plus the Bryce Harper RC shown recently, and a Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Altuve RC, because they were very cheap, in mint condition, and of undervalued, under-rated players I believe have a good chance to be stars for a very long time.  Goldschmidt's RC values will go up, especially when he hits free agency and plays for a team collectors care about.  I mean, nobody cares about the Arizona Diamondbacks these days.

Anyway, as I also mentioned, the Mike Trout / Bowman situation was confusing, and took me awhile to come to terms with.  In essence, there are rookie cards that are actually rookie cards, and rookie cards that Ebay sellers say are rookie cards but that aren't, and rookie cards that people believe are rookie cards because they were released during the same season as the player's actual rookie cards, and rookie cards that are not rookie cards because they're prospect cards.  A rookie card is not necessarily the first card released of that player by a major card company.  (Those are now prospect cards and minor league cards.  This is confusing for those of us old enough to remember when the prospect cards from the, say, 1980 and 1981 Topps sets were the actual rookie cards.  Now they aren't.)  A rookie card is the first card made of a player once MLB has decided that he has made enough at-bats, or has pitched in enough games, to qualify as a rookie player.  This can often be a few years after the player has been in the big leagues, and long after his cards have started to appear.

So...the Mike Trout cards shown here (in the first photo, starting at the top and going clockwise) are:

a) ungraded Bowman Draft #101
b) Bowman Chrome Draft #101, graded 9.5 Gem Mint by Beckett (I love that case, by the way, though I don't like the BCCG case, which is also Beckett, just to add to the confusion)
c) Bowman Chrome #175, graded 9 Mint by PSA.

Though the swinging photos of the drafts are the same, and though the number on the back, and the design on the back, are the same, these are different cards.  One's a Chrome, and one's not, and that's just the way it is.  Everything else about them is the same, except the Chrome's picture is maybe not as bright and clear.

The first card, the Bowman Draft, cost me $19.38, including shipping.  I'm frankly taking a chance on it, hoping it'll be graded a 9 or 10.  If it isn't, I've got the other two that are, and this one's a gift for one of two people I know will love to have it, regardless of condition.  They're not as serious about this as I am.  It'll cost me about $7 more to get it graded, shipped and insured, so the total I'd invested in it by then would be $26.38.  At that figure, this card needs to grade an 8.5 to break even.  These values have risen recently in the Beckett Graded guide, and I believe they'll continue to do so.  By the time the next issue comes out, it may only need to grade an 8 for me to break even.

The next one, the Bowman Chrome Draft #101, graded 9.5 Gem Mint by Beckett, has a book value (BV) of $100.  It cost me $50.50, which includes shipping.  This card has also increased in value recently, and I believe it will continue to do so.  You can never assume you can re-sell something for the BV, but I believe this card will come close.  Often you're lucky to get 50% of BV when re-selling, but I believe I can sell this at one of my summer yard sales for $75, which is 75% of the BV.  If I were a baseball card picker, which I suppose I am, I would make a profit from this card of at least $25, especially from baseball fans or card collectors who don't like to use the internet.  Lots of those come to my occasional yard sales.

The last one, the Bowman Chrome #175, graded 9 Mint by PSA, I paid a little more for: $58.51, including shipping. Its BV is $80, which has also gone up recently.  Only a $22 profit on this one, if I ever need to re-sell it, but I believe it'll be worth more by that time.

So why the exception for Mike Trout?  Why buy all three of his Bowman RCs?

Well, first, go to his baseball-reference page here, and take a look at these numbers.

In the only four full years of his career, he's finished 2nd in the MVP voting and has won it once.

He bats leadoff (a move I don't like, and it hasn't helped the Angels) and hits lots of homeruns and drives in a lot of runs, and steals bases and walks (and Ks) a lot, for silly high on-base percentages. As an example of how well he does these things, in his MVP year he led the league in runs scored and in runs batted in.  That's very, very rare, to do that in the same year.  That's a Ruth / Mantle / Williams / Mays thing to do.  Of those, only Mantle and Mays had the same combination of speed and power.  But Mantle ruined his knees and ankles and Mays only showed off his speed on defense after awhile.

Ah, yes--the defense.  He makes acrobatic catches normally.  He doesn't have a great throwing arm, but he can run and go get it as well as anybody.  His first two years he was a web gem about to happen.

Every season he's played, he's led the AL in WAR and in Offensive WAR.  He's been in the top-4 in Slugging % and in OBS.  Top-3 in Runs Scored, Homers, Triples and Walks.  Top-2 in Runs Created, Adjusted Batting Runs and Adjusted Batting Wins.  And Base-Out Runs Added and -Wins Added. And Top-3 in Putouts as an Outfielder, which means he can really go get 'em, and his pitching staff gives up lots of flyballs.

An average CF in the HOF will have 27 Black Ink statistics.  He's already got 20--in just four years. An average HOF CF will have 144 Grey Ink stats.  He's got 77--in just four years.  An average HOF CF will have a 100 HOF Monitor.  He's at 75 already.  The HOFer will score a 50 in HOF standards.  He's at 31 after four years.  He's already the 40th best CF to ever play, and is compared favorably to Mantle, Frank Robinson and Jimmie Foxx.  His 7-year peak is almost that of the average HOFer--in just four years.

And when next baseball season comes around on April 1st, he'll be 23 years old.

And he's the one the ballplayers themselves say is the best right now.  They talk about him like the real old-timers talked about Ruth and Honus Wagner.

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