Best of the Best: Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant Win ROY

I want to say this is one of the best rookie classes that we have had in MLB for many many years. Hobby wise, there might not be a comparable year, with so many players coming up and making an impact. Now that the ROY has been announced as Correa and Bryant, the hobby’s love affair can continue with these two young superstars. As we are seeing, that love is justified and then some.

Carlos Correa – AL Rookie of the Year

Although Bryant started off the year as the top guy in the hobby, I have to believe that Correa finished it atop the mountain. His Chrome autos surged to gargantuan prices, and with a playoff run ALMOST getting past the eventual world champions, the sky was the limit.

Check out his prices now, heading up again after the award:

2013 Bowman Chrome Carlos Correa Auto RC BGS 9.5

2013 Bowman Chrome Carlos Correa Blue Wave Auto RC BGS 9.5

2013 Bowman Inception Carlos Correa Silver Signings /25

2015 Topps Heritage High Number Carlos Correa Red Ink Auto /66

Every so often a rookie comes along that people will expect to define the generation. I dont think Correa is that guy, but man is he going to be fun to watch. We dont have an indication of his progress yet, with only one season under his belt. As for that generational player, he is going to have to unseat Mike Trout, who put up MVP type numbers again for the 4th season in a row.

The hobby loves Correa because he plays a position where options are thin, plays with a vigor that inspires others, and has the power to match his wonderful personality. Its a recipe for hobby success. Houston isnt the greatest team to help his value further, but it almost doesnt matter. He is amazing.

Kris Bryant – NL ROY

In 2013 Puig set the world on fire with a run that was historic. Bryant had that kind of hype coming into 2015, and for the most part, he lived up to it. Although he had some original competition from Joc Pederson, he stayed much hotter through the final weeks of the season when the Cubs were primed for a playoff run. His prices soared again, and tailed off when Chicago was knocked off.

Here are his prices after the award:

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Auto RC BGS 9.5

2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant Blue Wave Auto RC

2015 Topps Chrome Kris Bryant Purple Refractor Auto

It should be abundantly clear that Bryant is going to have the eye of collectors for years to come, even if the production doesnt continue to match the hype. Although his hype predecessor in Puig has cooled off significantly, his cards still sell incredibly well. Its hard to shake the love from the hobby when you were hotter than the sun in your rookie year, and still young enough to recover.

Bryant is part of a Cubs battery that has years of productivity ahead of them, including Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell. Even though they didnt make it to the World Series this year, there easily could be one in the future.

Again, I dont see Mike Trout in either guy, as that just doesnt happen the way it did with him. That being said, these guys will be hobby ambassadors regardless. Both are great faces to put forth for baseball, and as they develop its going to be fun to watch them become true household names.

Go Live Report: 2015 Prizm Football

I have ALWAYS hated Prizm. Hated the design and look, hated the fact it was a chrome rip off, and hated that they really went bonkers with a bunch of different elements. It was never a product I would ever rip, and never a product I would buy singles of. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked how much I liked the way 2015 Prizm looked, enough to buy a few boxes myself.

Here are some of the nice stuff up so far:

2015 Prizm Todd Gurley Purple Mosaic Auto RC /35

2015 Prizm Marcus Mariota Red Tire Tracks Auto RC /50

2015 Prizm Antonio Brown Pulsar Finite Auto 1/1

2015 Prizm Jameis Winston Red Refractor Auto /99

I think that Panini is finally starting to understand what makes a Chrome style product appealing. Its not stupid backgrounds or gimmicky presentations. Its about simplicity in look, with the Borders being the place where things can get a bit nuts. This year, they reigned back on MOST of the horrible practices from 2012-14, and came out the other end with a simple looking presentation and good looking cards.

With Chrome due out (supposedly) this week, they will need to compete with the final installment of the product Panini ripped off to build Prizm. Its not a fair fight, never has been, and its clear that Prizm is already struggling to get off the ground, much like previous years. Lower prices, even on low parallels of big name guys , are already becoming common for week 1, and its going to be interesting to see if Chrome is the same way. Panini has never been able to climb out from under the shadow of the original, and now that Chrome football is over, this might be a time to figure out the best way to capitalize on its future absence. So far, I think the 2015 edition is the first in the entire run to make that a partial reality.

It still has a ton of problems, but they are far less egregious than previous runs. The photo variations are inexplicably still included, despite looking fucking terrible with goofy ass player pictures. The crazy eye burning patterned cards are back from Spectra, of which I cannot understand the popularity or their appeal to collectors. The autographs are all sticker, and that is a big bummer. Chrome has been mostly on card since 2011, and Panini is years behind there.

In 2014, if you asked me whether or not Panini would ever pull their heads out of their asses with Prizm, I would have laughed in your face. Loudly. The set, as it had existed prior to 2015 would never be something that could function in place of the top set of the year in Chrome. There is a reason why Chrome 1/1 superfractor autos are the top chase cards of the year. Even over Flawless and National Treasures. Collectors are loyal to the brand that has consistently delivered year after year for over 2 decades. Prizm hadnt even managed to escape from the toilet bowl, and that should have scared everyone.

Now that we are seeing that someone at Panini seems to understand the situation at hand, we get a set that I can get behind a little. Im not going to fall all over myself chasing down singles yet, but I like it enough to buy in more than I would have ever thought.

The issue is that Collectors dont seem to be matching that same interest. With Finest on shelves next to Prizm, and Chrome on the way, the release schedule isnt in anyone’s favor. I might not be able to see the sales numbers, but ebay isnt showing the volume of singles for sale that I would have expected.

Similarly, players like Cooper, Mariota and Winston seem to have very few autos listed, with Cooper only having one or two that I found. Because I dont think these cards are super hard to find, im wondering if maybe the product just isnt being ripped as much. In the 8 boxes I watched, I pulled a Mariota, someone else pulled Gurley, and a third person pulled a nice insert auto. Better than the 2 cases of Finest, where the only nice pull was a 1/1 Green-Beckham patch auto I was lucky enough to pull. Every other box was a relative dud.

Prizm is worth a look, it really is. I would at least try a Hobby box and see what you end up with, as you would be surprised at what you might end up with. I literally cannot believe I am saying that.

SCU Go-Live Report: 2015 Topps Finest Football

When Finest changed their format in 2010 to what it is now, the product went from a completely dead brand, to one that was worth everyone's attention year after year. This year’s product continues that tradition, but for the first time in a long time, the design has lagged significantly.

Here are some of the bigger hits up so far:

2015 Topps Finest Todd Gurley Pink Refractor Jumbo Patch /10

2015 Topps Finest Amari Cooper Auto 1995 Retro RC

2015 Topps Finest Jameis Winston Camo Patch Auto /15

2015 Topps Finest Marcus Mariota Atomic Auto On Card /30

My biggest complaint about Finest this year is that the designs are so incredibly busy that it takes away from the card's visual appeal. Although the base box hits are all pretty simple and not as cluttered with background patterns, the parallels hit on all of my pet peeves. Separation of the stickers from the main design, and big ugly white boxes behind the stickers.

The patch auto parallels are the worst of the bunch with concentric circles filled in with the parallel colors. It is extra distracting when you see that part of the background is obscured by the box behind the stickers. I think that a different design with a less “hypnotic” type approach would have worked significantly better. Similarly, the boxy corner piece elements on the patch auto backgrounds add further reason to hate the look.

I am a fan of the on card rookie autos and on card atomic refractor autos, and the 1995 retro cards bring back a nostalgia that I am pretty fond of. I remember opening boxes of the cards looking for Drew Bledsoe and Marshall Faulk, and to this day, both of their 1995 Finest cards remain in my collection.

The great thing about this year’s set is that there are no redemptions product wide, something that had been an issue with finest in previous editions. I would say that there are some notable omissions from the on card stuff, mainly Gurley and Stefon Diggs, but it could just be that Topps doesnt want to deal with problem signers prior to the end of their license. Considering that Gurley is in just about every other set that has rookie signers, its not that big of a deal. The one big miss is that he wont have a base superfractor auto, which will need to wait for Chrome coming next week possibly.

UPDATE: Gurley does have on card autos, despite not being on the checklist.
Overall, in a class where there are some big names and lots of rookies that could be on pace for record years, Finest falls flat to me. Its unfortunate, as this is the last year. This was one of my favorite sets growing up and Im sad to see it go.

On the Radar: 2015 Black Gold Football

The funny thing about Black Gold is that I believe that Panini really had a lot of good technology at their disposal, and wanted to invest a lot of money into making it work. The problem with 2014’s set was that the design was terrible, the execution was terrible, and the set turned from having potential into a complete disaster, save two subsets. The use of lenticular concepts has legs in this hobby, but 2014 Black Gold was a horrible example.

There were two cards in 2014 that were awesome, the sizeable signature rookies and the veteran subset that took on a similar approach. Check these out:

2014 Black Gold Blake Bortles Nike Logo Auto Sizeable Signatures /2

2014 Black Gold Teddy Bridgewater NFL Logo Auto Sizeable Signatures 1/1

2014 Black Gold Terrance Williams Sizeable Signatures Veteran Patch Auto

2014 Black Gold Giovani Bernard Sizeable Signatures Veteran Patch Auto

The base cards were also amazing looking, and deserved more attention, but the rest of the set was so bad most of the good things I would have said got lost in the screaming fits of insanity I had regarding the other cards.

The non-hard signed parts of the set consisted of hideous signed scraps of black paper, stickers on acetate, and some of the most laughable player photos I have ever seen. Stickers on acetate look to be a running Panini joke as of late.

This year’s set has done away with the signed scraps of paper. YES! Most of the cards look to be hard signed. Many of the designs do look really cool. That being said, they ruined the one card set that I love.

As you can see, instead of the cool use of the acetate overlay to house the player's autograph, its now a white colored thing. Im not sure if its white acetate or something else, and frankly I dont care. It looks fucking terrible, and I am PISSED. Considering how much I absolutely LOVED these cards last year, this is a raging embarrassment.


The Gold Strike autos look great, and there are other cards in the preview that look really good. The joke worthy hood ornament cards are back for some stupid reason, but hopefully the amazing looking base will overshadow them this year. God those metal logo cards make me want to barf.

As a whole, I went from complete hatred of this set last year, to reasonable tolerance this year, but I will say that the changes to the Sizeable Signatures makes me beyond upset.

Halfway Home: Will 2015 Be The Best NFL Rookie Class This Decade?

Right now, things are looking very good for the 2015 rookie class. There are two QBs that look to have the goods to be long term superstars in the NFL, as well as a deep class of supporting positions like WR and RB that also look to be QUITE the beastly group. Todd Gurley is putting up numbers usually reserved for people named Tomlinson and Peterson, and Amari Cooper is playing out of his mind. Its rare that you have 4 rookies with that kind of talent, and it might end up being the best class this decade when all is said and done. Yes, that includes 2012.

Jameis Winston

Position: QB
Draft Pick: 1st overall
Team: Bucs (3-5)
Stat line: 10TD, 7INT, 1897 yards, 84 QB rating

The Bucs had the choice between the two big names, and went with Winston because he played a game that was more likely to translate to the NFL. The issue was that the Bucs were terrible, and it impacted his ability to play well from the lack of a supporting cast. Doug Martin has had a renaissance, and Mike Evans has come around since being hurt. The hobby loves number one picks and everyone wanted Winston to kick ass this year. So far, he has played pretty damn well, including some nice wins. Lets just hope he continues to develop over the next few years, and doesnt turn out like other Superstars turned busts like Kaepernick and RGIII.

Here are what prices look like:

2015 Playbook Jameis Winston Auto Patch Booklet /99

2015 Topps Jameis Winston Auto Photo Variation SSP

2015 Topps Valor Jameis Winston Auto Patch /50

Marcus Mariota

Position: QB
Draft Pick: 2nd overall
Team: Titans (2-6)
Stat line: 13TD, 5INT, 1610 yards, 101.5 QB rating

I think the Titans are finally getting the point that pundits have tried to reinforce for many years. Build a system around a QB instead of asking the QB to fit the existing system. The Titans havent asked him to do something he cant do, and he has played very well as a result. The defense and other parts of the team is atrocious, which lead to the coach getting canned, but Mariota was one bright spot. He was extremely popular in college in the hobby, and arguably was more of a superstar caliber player thanks to a lack of off the field issues. His cards have been atop the cost spectrum all year.

Mariota’s prices climb with each good game he has:

2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Marcus Mariota Auto RC

2015 Topps Inception Marcus Mariota Silver Signings /50

2015 Prizm Draft Picks Marcus Mariota Gold Auto /10

Amari Cooper

Position: WR
Draft Pick: 4th overall
Team: Raiders (4-4)
Stat line: 45 Rec, 653 yards, 4 TDs, 14.5 ypc

Of all the prospects in the 2015 draft, Cooper was believed to be the most pro ready. Boy, they werent kidding. It helps that Derek Carr is having a pro-bowl season, and the running game is coming along to help take the edge off the defense. Coming out of Alabama, he already had a huge following in the hobby, and now that he is lighting it up in Oakland, people are clamoring for his stuff.

Cooper has been high in value since before the season started:

2015 Topps Amari Cooper Retro 1987 Super Rookie Auto /25

2015 Playbook Amari Cooper Inscription Auto Booklet /5

2015 Bowman Chrome Amari Cooper Gold Refractor Auto /50

Todd Gurley

Position: RB
Draft Pick: 10th overall
Team: Rams (4-4)
Stat line: 664 yards, 4 TD, 5.6 ypc

It has been a LOOOOOOOONG fucking time since the hobby has gotten excited about a Running back, and I could not be more excited. Considering that he missed the first few games of the year, the stats he has accumulated are of the same level of insanity that we saw with Beckham last year in a short year. Gurley looks incredible, and I hope that he can stay healthy and productive long term so the hobby realizes that not all running backs are disposable.

Gurley is the most recent RB to produce both on the field and in the hobby:

2015 Topps Valor Todd Gurley Auto Relic /75

2015 Topps Inception Todd Gurley Auto Red /50

2015 Donruss Elite Todd Gurley New Breed Auto Relic

Stefon Diggs (Sleeper of the Year?)

Position: WR
Draft Pick: 146th overall
Team: Vikings 6-2
Stat line: 28 Rec, 461 yards, 2 TDs, 16.5 ypc

Like Gurley, Diggs didnt get a shot until a few games after the season started. As a late round pick the amount of playing time expected for someone like him was minimal, but he has emerged as a potential #1 receiver much like Antonio Brown did from late rounds in 2010. Considering that the Vikings have infamously struck out on so many WR, its cool to see them seemingly hit a home run. Even though Diggs may not keep it up, a fifth round pick is already worth the production he has given them. The hobby is catching on quick, and if his auto was better and his cards more SP, his stuff would probably be worth even more. He is a tier 3 rookie in many products, so he has a lot of early content available.

Diggs is creeping up as he becomes more involved with the Vikings passing game:

2015 Playbook Stefon Diggs Auto Relic Patch Booklet /99

2015 Certified Stefon Diggs Freshman Fabric Jumbo Patch Auto Gold /25

2015 Topps Rookie Stefon Diggs Premiere Auto /150

With two big products in Finest and Prizm hitting this week, its going to be interesting how some of these players’ cards really shake out. We are entering the period where many of the rookies biggest releases of the year will start to hit, and its a fun time to be a collector if your target is a top guy.