Tonight is a big night for baseball, as rookie pitcher Michael Wacha takes the mound with the hopes of sending the series to a deciding seventh game. The reason I am focusing on Wacha, is mainly because it is so rare that a baseball rookie has this type of role in a situation of this magnitude.
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Wacha’s hobby value has increased significantly ever since he took hold in the Cardinals rotation, and now that he has the opportunity to save the season for a beloved team, makes him that much more valuable.
In 2010, Madison Bumgarner played a decisive role in his rookie year, winning game 4 for the Giants on their way to beating the Texas Rangers. Although Bumgarner hasn’t necessarily caught on with collectors as much, his performance catapulted his card values into the stratosphere that year.
Back in 2007, Jacoby Ellsbury also enjoyed some major popularity after his play helped Boston win a championship. I remember thread after thread commenting about how Ellsbury would be the future of the Red Sox, but like Bumgardner, he still hasn’t quite caught on. Even though Ellsbury played well on the biggest stage, collectors still want to see sustained above average performance in all aspects of the game to assign above average value. That’s where Ellsbury still runs as a middle of the road type of guy in terms of value.
Other players like David Freese and Allen Craig from the last time the Cardinals won the series are on a similar plane. Thanks to their play in the World Series, they have more value than their on field play would normally dictate, but its nothing like it was during the days after game 6 and game 7. Lets be honest, you cant make purchases or investments when everyone else wants in. You have to be patient!
Even though I don’t have a dog in the fight this year, or any other year, I always hope that players like Wacha perform exceptionally. Because it happens so infrequently, you have to cheer for the sake of the hobby. Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig had similar hopes coming into the NLCS, but couldn’t make it work. In fact, his poor play may have contributed to a significant drop in value. He is still worth a ton because of his future potential and extreme popularity, but it could have been ridiculous if the Dodgers ended up in the series this year.
The playoffs in any sport lead to dynamic fluctuations across the board, and I am one that hopes those fluctuations are positive more than they are negative.