What Factors Go Into A Player’s Value?

We all know that production is the forefront of where value is determined in this hobby. If you produce, your cards will be valuable, so much so that if you producED at some point, they will still hold some value even if you are not producing now. However, there are a few things that can add to that value, most of which don’t necessarily stem from long term production, and some of them are pretty nuts.

Aside from sustained production, the main contributing value add on is dominance. If a player is good to the point where they are dominating the league, value jumps into the stratosphere. Look at Jordan, LeBron, Peterson, Tiger, Pujols, they are all incredible players that dominate the games they play, and are all the highest value in their sports. These guys have added that wow factor to their production, and they have achieved more in the hobby than the guys who just have that long period of sustained production.

Piggybacking on dominance, setting records has a lot to do with value. Look at what happened to Favre’s cards when he set the TD record, it was very similar to what happened to Tom Brady’s cards when he set the single season record. Peterson set the NFL single game rushing record in his ROOKIE season, and his cards almost became un-buyable because of the cost at that point. Its very comparable to things like the 500 home run/3000 hit club in baseball, as those “records” usually put you in a higher value class.

Another more interesting factor in value is attitude, both good and bad. The more flamboyant you are, the more your cards are worth, with a few exceptions. Its why people like Chad Ochocinco are worth more than people like Reggie Wayne – he is always in the news cycle at the beginning of the week, and the end of the week. This drives him to the forefront of people’s mind when they buy, thus putting him in a higher tier. In fact, I believe his TD dances alone have raised his value 5-10% minimum. That’s the kind of effect a certain attitude can have on someone’s cards.

It does work both ways, however, as people like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have definitely gone completely the other direction. For both, their attitudes have been so poor in the past that card companies have pretty much stopped approaching them for autographs. Not because they don’t want them in the sets, but because the cost of dealing with them and the opportunity cost of maintaining a relationship with someone like that is very high. It goes to show that having fun will always net you more than complaining in any sport.

If you have production, dominance, attitude and you do it for a long time, you are going to end up in the HOF. Being in the hall adds that much more on top of everything, more importantly if the player is older and playing baseball. Even some of the least well known hall of fame baseball players are regularly sought by collectors, and this actually drives more of the business than most of the other factors. The HOF is like a stamp on your permanent record, and unless you kill someone or get arrested (or both in OJ’s case), value will always be had.

In football and baseball, the position a player has on the team can also be a factor. In football, unless they play running back, quarterback or wide receiver, a guy is rarely going to be worth anything. In baseball, the corners, the OF, and the shortstops carry more value than a second baseman for instance, even many dominating pitchers don’t achieve much.

Lastly, and sometimes most importantly, production in your rookie year can do more for you than anything else. Players like LeBron, Derek Rose, Peterson, Matt Ryan, Rick Porcello, and others all had amazing rookie seasons, and therefore ignited a lot of people prospecting their futures. If you can get the prospectors on board, and you deliver for a few years after, things can get crazy. Its like a compounding of the different x factors, all of which are then exponentially exacerbated by a great rookie campaign. If a guy doesn’t perform as a rookie, it can take years before people in the hobby notice his production or even dominance. Because the hobby’s success usually depends on rookie cards, rookie performance is that much more important.

In most cases, value is never going to be a formula, and that’s why it is so dynamic. Guides try to capture a fraction of that, and it’s the biggest reason they fail miserably. For something that changes as much as hobby prices do, there is little any static number can show. This is mainly because of how many of the above factors can change week to week, and this is only a short list. Because each collector values certain characteristics over others, prices can go every which way. In the end, its up to us to determine what we are willing to pay, and its up to the companies to provide the products that we love. It can be a vicious cycle, but ill take it.

Book Value Idiots: Message Board Edition

Thanks to Bad Wax for this idea.

For the record, I do not trade on message boards anymore, its just too frustrating. I encourage you to do the same. The number of douchebags and idiots vastly outnumber the nice people who actually want to trade. Of those nice people many of them still idiotically trade by book value rather than actual value, so that leaves me with such a miniscule amount of people trade with, I just don’t do it anymore. Despite my rules, sometimes I get random PMs from people who have found old cards or lists on sites and figure I am worth a chance. Not often do I respond, but when I do, sometimes its just to have some fun with people who are stupid beyond belief. This is one of those stories.

Two days ago I get a PM from someone who was interested in card I posted a long time ago on a message board I never go to anymore. It was one I still had, and he actually had some stuff I was somewhat interested in. I PM him back and say that I was interested, and then it starts:

Book Value Idiot: So, what does your card book?

Me: Considering that I havent bought a Beckett in years, I have no idea.

BVI: Well, ill see if I can find out and let you know.

(at this point I know I am just going to continue the conversation to fuck with this guy)

Me: Okay, let me know when you find out.

BVI: It books at 155 or something like that, mine books at 250, do you have anything else to trade?

Me: Here is the link to my photobucket, help yourself

BVI:
I found some other stuff, but the combined BV comes to 230, can you throw in 20 bucks to get this done?

Me: What other stuff did you find?

BVI: I liked the Mauer, the Peterson RC, the Garnett RC and maybe one other card. Those BVs come to 230 total with the other card, so 20 bucks should cover the rest of it.

Me: Well, considering that your card books at 250, but sells at less than 100 on numerous occasions, here, here, and here, I think that we should ditch the book value conversation all together. The card you Pmed me about sells at About 90 give or take, and the other cards you want bring the actual price to about 70 bucks over what yours sells for. How about we just do a 2 for one, you pick which one of the cards you want from the others you picked

BVI: Sorry, I don’t go by sell value. eBay is too crazy when it comes to pricing. I would like to work this out via BV.

Me: Well, if you look back over the three month listings, your card hasn’t fluctuated THAT much. Maybe 5-10 bucks here or there.

BVI: Yeah, but the card has an up arrow in the new Beckett. And is on their hot list. I cant let this go unless I get a good deal or at least equal BV.

Me: Okay, so if we were to figure it out where things were even, minus five bucks on your end, you wouldn’t do it, even though you searched back 6 months on the forum to find me with this card?

BVI: Sorry, it needs to be exactly even, otherwise you get the better deal.

Me: I just showed you that in terms of actual value, you would be taking me to the cleaners. Is that fair?

BVI: Book value is the way we price on this board, it makes things even. So yes, its fair.

Me: I always say that something is only worth as much as someone else will pay for it. As crazy as you may think that sounds, no one will pay the prices you want for your card – as I showed you. It only shows how ridiculously arbitrary the prices are in your bible.

BVI: I have traded and collected for 20 years. You are an idiot if you think that BV doesn’t mean anything.

Me: 20 years ago it may have, but that was before the internet, before people could actually communicate at the drop of a hat. Now, we can find out how much something is actually worth for free. Its called eBay. The price guide is obsolete.

BVI: Well everyone else on here seems to think you are wrong.

Me: I see that, and that is why I havent posted here for a long, long, looooooooooooong time. This place is filled with people like you who think they know everything about value, when in reality they cant seem to fathom that a price guide makes no sense – IN ANY HOBBY. See, this trade should be like this. I have a card you desperately want. You have a card that I want. I want your card more than I want my card. They are similar in value. I will trade you.

BVI: People like you just try to rip people like me off. I see it all the time.

Me: YOU CONTACTED ME FROM A SIX MONTH OLD POST! Why would I try to rip you off? In fact, I showed you how I was NOT ripping you off via actual value. Its not my fault you want to use arbitrarily selected prices deemed “appropriate” by some harem of douchebags in texas who know nothing about cards.

BVI: F off, go somewhere that accept trolls like you for who you are – idiots.

Me: I love how you think I am the idiot. Have fun trying to find this card again, I havent seen it anywhere since I got it.

BVI: I will.

(end of PMs)

I loved every minute of this conversation, looking back, he said some of the craziest things I have ever seen. Up arrows? This guy was amazing! It really sucks that stupid people are EVERYWHERE and it is beyond frustrating to work with them when you need to. I swear to god, this hobby would be a better place without the price guide around. 20 years ago it was advertised as a tool to help people avoid getting ripped off by dealers who had the ability to set their own prices. In reality, it probably just furthered the façade they were displaying, because then they had widely accepted price justification to sell cards at what they wanted.

Now, since the advent of the internet and ebay, price has become a completely different ballgame now that people can communicate world wide. The privilege of information is no longer something you have to be on the inside to have. You can get it FOR FREE pretty much anywhere. Hell, most of the time you can get Beckett pricing without paying just by asking someone. Regardless, the line stands: “something is only worth as much as someone else will pay for it.” If you arent living by this in the hobby, you and I will never get to tradin’, because you are lighting fire with sticks and I am walking around with a lighter. Its that simple.

Book Value vs Actual Smart People: Take 1,000,000

Recently, there was an SPA auto RC card that was posted on eBay and sold for a ton. It is special because the card had not been posted before, and may have been a ridiculous short print due to a number of reasons. Not surprisingly, the card went for multiple times what Beckett said it was worth, and the argument was born:

How could Beckett price a card that had never been sold before?
Many people posted that Beckett does it all the time, and that they really have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to anything resembling true value. After a few people actually came out and legitimately questioned that book value could actually be a number drawn out of a hat, I jumped in and questioned the people who still went by book value. You know, just because I wanted to have some fun. Little did I know that I would get the most ignorant answer since my go around with Mr. Mojo Hand (yes, he has a blog now, and it is glorious) over at the Nennth Inning.
“[On rebuffing my challenge that book value sucks] Do you have something better ? Please do not say Tuff Stuff! 

Until there is a more proven source and/or method Beckett will remain a force in pricing and the hobby.


However I will agree Beckett is somewhat in the dark on real value as compared to Book Value. I use Beckett pricing for trading and a starting point in regards to selling.”

(THE BOLD IS MINE, OF COURSE)

Dont let any of that sink in at all – blood may shoot out your ears. After this, I think I may be done with the users at Freedom Card Board. All those people prove on a regular basis, is that there is a reason Beckett continues to have  a reader base:
Collectors are intrinsically stupid.