Yesterday, I noticed some odd prospects trending in FanGraphs’ player search bar and, as I often do, I Googled those players to see why that might be. It’s often due to a call-up, trade, or injury, but in this case I found that some young players like Luisangel Acuna were being searched on the site because their autographs are part of a new baseball card set that came out earlier in the week: Bowman Chrome 2020.
I don’t collect baseball cards anymore but I still frequent two local shops that sell board and trading card games (which I do play) in addition to sports cards. During a trip (with a scout, ironically) to one of them last year, I found the shop owner and a customer deep in discussion about the prospects in last year’s Bowman set, a conversation that included mention of how expensive Wander Franco’s cards had become, and how sought after Jasson Dominguez’s first card was likely to be in 2020. I asked, “What is it that’s driving card prices for some of the prospects who most people have never seen play and who a lot of casual fans have never heard of?” to which the customer responded, “Their stats.”
This probably isn’t true; it’s not as if Colin Poche had an in-demand signed rookie card or as though Dominguez has even played a game. More likely, the recipe is several parts hype to one part performance, with the hype created by media outlets that cover prospects. And so I’m organizing what I hope is at least well-informed hype by listing all the prospects with autographed cards in the set on The Board’s seasonal tab. I’m open to feedback from the card collecting community on how this can be more helpful. None of the players rankings nor reports have been altered; they’ve just been pulled from The Board to create a list comprised of the prospects in the set.
If you’re a hobbyist who has stumbled upon FanGraphs for the first time, The Board is where live prospect rankings and scouting reports exist on this site; this newly created and temporary tab is a ranking of the prospects with autographs in the Bowman Chrome set in the order I prefer them as baseball prospects. Some of the younger, higher-variance players are, perhaps, more likely to explode into the star-level types whose cards collectors seem to covet. For example, I’d sooner buy an Erick Pena card than an Isaac Paredes one, even though I have Paredes more highly rated from a baseball standpoint. I hope this is helpful to hobbyists and investors, and perhaps drives some readers to (re)try collecting cards. If it does, I ask that you support your local card shops in pursuit of these cards, rather than go to Target or buy online.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.
While this isn’t my thing, I think it’s cool how you’re adding value and bringing FG all sorts of new readers (and inspiring ppl like me to consider new perspectives, even if I’m not going to become a collector). Thanks (especially for the shoutout to local card shops, where so many of us hung/hang out) 🙂
Also, pls help Gavin Lux make some adjustments, ya know, when you’re free and whatnot.
Is it cool? Are you sure it is not a dying platform fishing for more readers. This site is so progressive that it feeds on itself as evidenced by its core constantly moving on – its heyday was quite a while ago now.
While I agree that this site hurts itself by being unable to resist inserting one-sided political commentary into its baseball content, this really isn’t the right article to bring it up, because it’s not happening here. This just looks like an unfair attack.
In these times, entities in all walks of life are looking to broaden their scope. To criticize FG for that seems pretty narrow-minded.
Maybe you haven’t been paying attention (you probably haven’t), but a variety of hobbies that can be pursued from the home have surged in popularity since March, from designer house plants to baseball cards. Card prices are insanely high and out of control compared to even a couple years ago and a ton of people are getting back into collecting because it’s a hobby they can pursue at home with the time they previously spent going out and socializing, which of course no one is doing.
You’re so right. Vintage video games have exploded as well.