If you are like me in regards to dates and times, things have a tendency to creep up on you. For instance, right now I may not fully realize that it is 2012, the last 3 bands on my playlist have been Sunny Day Real Estate, STP and Creed. It is also a bit stunning that this Hot List, is the first one for June, yes June my friends. 2 months of the MLB season have passed us by, the NBA and NHL playoffs keep going and going and going, I’m seeing ever more instances of NFL Live on ESPN and somewhere in a basement full of props, Lee Corso is picking out his head gear for the upcoming college football season while Gilmore stands behind him and yells “ROLL TIDE.”
One common theme among all the major sports currently going seems to be that “old” isn’t so bad after all. Your AL batting average and Hot List nominee, Paul Konerko (1994 Topps Traded) is 36, Neanderthalish by some standards. Your NL homerun leader is Carlos Beltran (1995 Topps Traded) and he’s 35 and drove a car similar to the Flinstones when he turned 16. Martin Brodeur starred in the NHL playoffs as a goalie at 40, Tim Duncan at 36 looks unbeatable with the Spurs, Thursday night aside. The Celtics are practically a geriatric team and there they are in the Eastern Conference finals (likely without a prayer). Manny Ramirez’s 40th is tomorrow and he may return to the big leagues (if he can ever get a hit in AAA), there is the well documented story of Jamie Moyer getting a win and a hit at 49. People will talk obsessively about Peyton Manning’s age prior to his first game this year and so on and so on.
What’s really interesting from a cultural perspective is that human beings are generally doing more than ever at the ages of 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80. It’s remarkable and a testament to modern medicine, health knowledge and a host of other things. At the same time we are probably more obsessed about age as it relates to sports than ever. Hours are spent discussing Brandon Weeden the 28 year old octogenarian and his proper place in the draft. Running backs are used goods at 27, we start hearing about prospects in all sports at the age of 16 and by the time they hit 30, they are old news. Heck, Kobe Bryant has been in the press for seemingly two decades, isn’t he retired by now?
All this to say, outlets like this Hot List often get very youth centered, simply because it is the youth’s cards who make the most dramatic moves the most often and that’s what gets you on this list. However, it was a lot of fun to see nominations this week that included guys like Paul Konerko. I mean seriously, who really thought the 1994 Topps Traded set was in play, be honest now.
All that said, this week’s Hot List is a fun mix of very young guys and some others that you may not have seen for a while.
1. Melky Cabrera 2005 Rookie Autos
Comments: If you visit any baseball leader board page, you’ll see an M. Cabrera at the top of the batting average list, no surprise there, with Prince hitting behind him in Detroit, we expected that might happen. Wait a second, it’s the NL list, it’s the Melk Man! Melky sounds like some sort of candy bar that you could buy for $7.50 at any big league ball game. Melky had several successful years with the Yankees and then spent a little time moving around before landing with the Giants this year. Suffice to say no one expect him to be leading the league in avearge two months in and his 2005 rookie autos are moving again. The Topps Finest Xfractor /150 pictured above sold for $15 last week and $56 this week.
2. Chris Sale 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Autos
Comments: Chris Sale was called up to the big leagues as a reliever, as hard throwers often are. However, names like Joba Chamberlain come to mind and often this spells death (of a Salesman?) for said players cards. Chris seems to be liking the conversion from reliever to starter though and recently had a 15K game. This honestly started pushing back 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft cards back to where they were around release, Refractors are now over $30 after selling for more like $10 last week.
3. Stephen Pryor 2010 Elite Autos
Comments: Speaking of hard throwing guys likely to be promoted to the big leagues as relievers. Stephen Pryor is likely in line for a promotion to the big leagues and possibly as the Mariners closer. It is fairly rare that we see relievers getting hobby love, however, when your cards sell for diddly last week, they don’t exactly have to sell for $100 this week to make the list. Pryor is the 845,689,234th example of why people love and hate Elite Auto sets. They include everyone – therefore when guys like Pryor surface, people love them. However, they include everyone and therefore when people open Elite sets and pull guys like Pryor as their auto hit, they say unkind words on youtube. Pryor’s autos are selling for $12 now, markedly up from the 4 George Washingtons they would have ran you last week.
4. Andrelton Simmons 2012 Bowman Chrome Autos
Comments: I have gone on at some length over the years about the eradication of anything worthwhile within Bowman Chrome base sets due to the almighty power of the Chrome Auto. I found this out first hand when I opened 20 cases of 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft. One of the few bright spots however was Andrelton Simmons who only had a base card. However, lo and behold 2012 Bowman Chrome arrived on the scene and tomorrow, Andrelton is set to arrive on the scene in Atlanta. The call up is happening and that’s right, the autographs start popping and the guys who patiently held for 1.5 years, well you’ll get nothing and like it. Even if you do put “must have” in the title. Autos were selling for $6 last week and are at $16 this week.
5. Domingo Santana 2011 Bowman Autos
Comments: Due to some large fans and prospectors on our boards, Phillies prospects have historically gotten as much play on FCB as any other team. So, more people will recognize Domingo Santana’s name in FCB land than if you walked up to a random person on the street and asked them “who is Domingo Santana?” Yes, this is your opportunity to create your own version of “jaywalking” prospect style. That being said, up until recently aside from being a Phillies prospect (until he was traded to the Astros) Domingo hadn’t done much to get noticed by the prospecting community. This year, Domingo in High-A is putting together a very solid season for a 19 year old and as a result the Bowman Autos that sold for $5 last week are selling for $12 this week.
6. Tony Parker 2001-02 Topps Chrome
Comments: Honestly, do more people know Tony Parker because of his connection to Eva Longoria or because he’s a darn good basketball player? Answer that question if you will but prepare to be disappointed in society for some time after coming to your conclusions. The Spurs have had an incredible year and one of the questions that kept popping into my mind after seeing them win game after game was “who do they have?” The Thunder have Durant & Westbrook, the Lakers have Kobe, the Heat have Dwayne and Lebron, the Celtics have the aforementioned nursing home team and Rondo and the Spurs have??? Come again? Some French guy, an Argentinian and an old center from Wake Forest, oh ok, they’re the favorites right? Parker has been particularly stellar during the Spurs 20 game win streak and his 2001-02 rookie cards, including the Topps Chrome have certainly been the targets of more eBay searches here recently. Base Chromes went from $5 to $10 this week.
7. Jordan Pacheco 2010 Bowman Platinum Autos
Comments: Jordan Pacheco is one of those guys who just stays under the radar. 26 year old getting his first real taste of the big leagues. However, he’s been hot recently, hitting in 12 of his last 13 games and some of those hits rather timely too. As with Pryor above, it doesn’t take an auto a lot to move of the $4 mark and Pacheco’s platinums certainly did that moving up to $8 this week.
8. Rajan Rondo 2005-06 Topps Finest Refractor Autos
Comments: Forget all the other stars, last night Rajan Rondo had the best game of the playoffs trying to will the Celtics to victory and amazingly enough, it still fell short. In spite of all the publicity around him and his team Rondo’s rookie autos have remained remarkably affordable, although that may change with a few more games like last night. Rondo’s Finest Autos moved from $30 to $56 on the strength of his 44 point performance.
9. Travis D’Arnaud 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Autos
Comments: Speaking of patience in prospecting, the 9th entry on the Hot List hales from the Bush presidency era. Travis’ ascent through the minors has not been a quick one but his performance and accolades garnered at every level certainly have been quite high. This year, in his final stop in the minors at triple A his OPS is .988 through 45 games. It’s just a matter of time before Travis makes an appearance in the bigs and I can guarantee you that these refractors won’t be available for $15 like they were last week, nor $27 like they were this week when that happens.
10. 2009 Bowman Chrome Dayan Viciedo Autos
Comments: Speaking of league leaders, although Dayan is still very young. You will find him both at the top of the AL Home Run list and at the back of the prospect stack, his stuff is a couple years old. Old cards aside, Dayan is hitting big time in the big leagues and his chrome autos moved from $20 to $30 this week as a result of his hot bat.
Prospecting Success Stories: Two nominees for this weeks Hot List, that didn’t make it, have been here many times before due to their success in the minors. Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton are prime examples of when patience pays off. Mike Trout Refractor Autos from 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft could be had all day long for $30 at release, now 9.5s sell for $300. Stanton Refractors could be had for $50 and now sell for $200+ It’s truly fun to watch these ascend through the minors and then have this kind of success in the big leagues.
Oldies but Goodies: To my earlier comments, the Topps Traded sets are alive again due to the performances of Beltran and Konerko. Whose next? Jason Giambi? Jeff Bagwell? Nomar Garciaparra?
The Good and the not so good: Two recently released Topps products are Bowman Signature and Topps Archives. Although the amount of dead wood from an autograph perspective in the archives project is enough to fuel any fire for years, people love the design. Seeing all of the Topps designs from 20 years ago makes one smile and of course the autograph doesn’t hurt either. On the flipside, Bowman Signature Football is one of the first to include a team name on the rookie card…outside of doing this the rookies are cloaked in these strange pastel type colored uniforms that look like they are made out of clay. Until an NFL uni can at least be airbrushed on, I for one vote for the college uniform.
Random Fact: Yu Darvish is your A.L. leader in wins but his WHIP doesn’t even sniff the top 50 for starters in the MLB.