I just happened to listen to a U2 song and it reminded me of another U2 song (there are hundreds after all) the title of the song is “Even Better Than the Real Thing.” I’m not sure if it is what Bono had in mind but if you were asked the question “What is even better than the real thing?” I think you could probably answer “expectations.” There are likely entire psychological theses done on the effect that anticipation and expectation has on people’s minds but for now lets just confine it to sports, you didn’t come here for Psych 101 did you?
Expectation certainly plays a huge part in the sports card market in which we live. Whether it’s the expectation of a big rookie season, a break out season, induction into the Hall of Fame, a certain product becoming epic, or a host of other things expectation means that cash registers are ringing.
Now here’s the strange thing, expectation is kind of like golf is often described, “you are going to be frustrated almost the entirety of the game that you play but you’ll hit a couple shots that will make you come back again in hopes of more of that.” This absolutely applies for sports, whether it’s baseball, football, hockey, basketball there are a huge chunk of players that sell for peak prices right at release and never see those prices again, primarily because the performance never materialized. However, there are also a group of athletes that perform really well and still don’t see those initial release prices, the Olympics reminded us of that.
What do I mean by the Olympics reminded us of that? Well first, lets back up and note the fact that due to Topps great 2012 USA Olympics release we now have something to collect around the games. So naturally in my Hot List research I looked up “Allyson Felix” the 200m USA womens runner who had just broke through with her first gold. Her autos, after receiving the gold medal she so desired, were down from last week. I guess she didn’t set a world record – sometimes the anticipation exceeds the actual elation when the result is achieved.
Of course, with the NFL season coming upon us, two names that come to mind in this regard are Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, their cards are already selling for more than most established stars and they have yet to throw a pass or heck, even walk onto the field in a regular season game. There have not been two more hyped prospects since Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf (can we think of two more divergent stories?) and it will be interesting to see how it pans out but I can tell you this, unless these two are perennial All-Pros, the prices you see now are going to be the highest ever.
Speaking of high prices…
1. John Skelton 2010 Topps Chrome Auto
Comments: I have my fantasy football draft this weekend so I have been reading a fair amount of material leading into that and one of the names I came across in the “avoid” list was Felix Jones with the caption after “Fool me once shame on you, fool me every year….” If you know the saying it’s fool me twice shame on me…and as a Felix Jones owner when you’ve been fooled 4 times, well I don’t know what to tell you. This matters to this spot the list because Kevin Kolb is entering the fool me twice zone and there’s a pretty good case to be made for John Skelton as the starting QB of the Cardinals. One of the main reasons is durability and so when K^2 got a minor injury early in the pre-season collectors flocked to John Skelton’s rookie autos as evidenced by Chromes moving from $10 to over $20.
2. William Abreu 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft USA Autos
Comments: Even though it’s been some time since Topps printed USA autos and will be some time (the musical chairs of contracts is now in Panini’s lap) I bet you could still make a S’more off of the heat of the presses from Topps cranking so many USA autos out. That said, this year’s draft brought some movement to some of the USA autos, so collectors are more keenly watching USA Autos for potential great prospects. William Abreu who graduated H.S. in 2013 had autos that moved from $10 to over $20 this week for the refractor version.
3. Daniel Vogelbach 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Autos
Comments: When you compare the picture on the front of the card, it’s hard for Dan Vogelbach to stack up to the rest of the 2011 draft class. It’s just not the most flattering picture and in an era when collectors thirst for 5 tool players the chubby first basemen doesn’t attract a lot of attention. But that reminds me of the lady who called out John Kruk on smoking while shagging balls in the outfield, fan: you shouldn’t be smoking, you’re an athlete Kruk: lady, I’m a baseball player. Everything you read on Vogelbach is that appearances deceive, he has mammoth power and better than expected agility and thus far he’s proving it in his debut. Home Runs keep getting hit and Vogelbach’s Autos have moved from $10 to $20.
4. Dorial Green-Beckham 2012 Leaf Army Autos
Comments: Nicknames get developed as stars as established. So the fact that DGB has a moniker before playing one college snap is notable. The guy stands out no matter how you slice it and if he puts up huge numbers in the SEC this year playing against the best college has to offer, the sky is the limit for these Leaf autos (which come from my favorite product ever by the way). As practices have begun and his name has begun to be bantered about more in the media, prices are already seeing an increase, Tour Autos as pictured above have nearly doubled.
5. Misty May-Treanor 2012 Topps USA Autos
Comments: It’s honestly hard to put into words how good Misty and Kerri are. I know lots of folks watch for the bikini clad volleyball players but these girls are absolutely fantastic. Whether it’s speed, power, precision, strategy, knowledge, consistency or anything else, Misty and Kerri are absolutely the best. One of the comments that Kerri made in the post-match interview was “I wish we could play again because I played terrible.” Honestly, she didn’t play that great but I don’t think Misty made one miss hit the ENTIRE match, yes you read that right. Opponents must be breathing a sigh of relief to see her retire. Olympic Autos bumped up by about 33% as a result of a third straight gold medal. Sidenote: Anyone else have an issue with the fact that as far as the medal count goes that counts the same as ping pong? This guy right here does.
6. Josh Rutledge 2010 Donruss Elite Autos
Comments: Injuries create opportunities and such was the case with Rutledge and Tulos injury. Not only did Rutledge get the chance to start but he’s embracing it with things like a 4 hit game the other night. Rutledge’s Elite Autos moved from $10-$15 last week to into the $20-$25 range this week.
7. Aly Raisman 2012 Topps USA Olympic Autos
Comments: I like the second week of the Olympics better than the first week because I like track and field a whole lot better than I like gymnastics but that said, watching Aly Raisman’s floor routine was incredible, “wow” the words she mouthed after landing the last tumbling routine is the right kind of description. Sure you heard plenty about Jordyn Wieber and “Air” Maroney but Aly’s the girl who brought home the individual gold (and bronze for good measures) and her autographs moved up 25% this week in response.
8. Jered Weaver 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft Autos
Comments: Most wins in the MLB, lowest ERA in the MLB and as I pointed out a few weeks ago, this isn’t a one time flash in the pan. OH and he’s playing in a huge market on a team of players who are receiving a lot of notoriety (this Trout guy, you may have heard of him also plays on the team). Jered continues to put up stunning stats and that continues to drive up the price of his 2005 Base Chrome Autos, this week to over $60.
9. Xander Bogaerts 2012 Bowman Chrome Autos
Comments: Xander’s 2012 season was going along rather well in Hi-A and then the Red Sox went and promoted him to AA and what did he do there last night? Oh, go yard in his first game. The guy drips with potential and this year has put up the stats to match. This has cards like Refractor Autos moving from $45 up to over $60
10. Zack Wheeler 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Autos
Comments: Speaking of guys who are pairing results with potential – that has been the story of Zack Wheeler the last couple years. If you recall, his first cards showed up alongside Tyler Matzeks, Mike Leakes and some other pitchers in 2009 Draft products. Of those three, it was Matzek, Wheeler and Leake in that order. If you bought and sold Leake stuff before he tried to go all 5 fingered discount on a store. You made great money. Matzek stuff started hot but has since cooled quite a bit. Wheeler on the other hand scuffled along for a while but has put it together now. Mets fans are hoping they have a future ace in their midst and Refractor Auto 9.5s like the one pictured are now over $100.