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 unbuyable 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.

A Comment On VOTC’s National Show Coverage

The National is nigh, and Rob from VOTC has posted a great guide to making it the card show experience of your life. I do have a few things to add, as I see it a little differently than most of the others out there. Obviously, I cant go due to having to work this weekend and being across the country, but I hope a lot of you do. It looks like a lot of fun, and you are really going to have to watch your wallet.

Before you go splurge on your future collection centerpieces, remember that eBay is still the best way to get cards, hands down. Even though this show will pretty much have everything you could ever need, its still a show. Also remember that when you go from table to table, the prices are still show prices, and that most of the regular cards wont be worth your time unless you are trading your stuff away. Even in that case, I would probably wait before handing your collection to a dealer booth, as they will only give you trade values based on them making money(we all know what that means).

What I would suggest is trying to find those cards that wont be available anywhere else. You know there are going to be some ridiculous cards, in a good way, and this may be your time to A) see what is out there B) window shop and C) secure some nice rarities and oddballs. Other than that, I would be very careful if you are going to buy mid to high end stuff at show prices.

Second, the manufacturers booths are the way to go as Rob said. They have awesome giveaways and ways to get free stuff. If you do one thing at the show, its go to these booths.

In terms of buying versus trading, this is a show that has thousands of collectors there for one reason. I would not hesitate to set up some trades with collectors instead of the dealers, as you know that they don’t have to pay overhead for booth space. I have heard so many amazing stories of trades that go down, and I assume that if you look, you should be able to find a lot of the action.

Another great thing is the case breaks that go down, because as you can imagine, collectors from all walks of life will be there. Last year I heard there were so many Cup and Exquisite breaks that they almost devoted a whole room to the people who spend 20K and break it all there. Keep your eyes out as you may see something that you will never be able to see again in that respect. Also, many of these people bust for stuff to sell at the show, so it’s a good chance that you would be able to work out a deal for any card they pull. Not always, but I got an email from a guy last year who said he purchased a Brady Quinn Exquisite Patch Rookie Auto for 20 bucks. The scan alone was worth that.

Of course, Beckett will be there, and they are going to be surrounded by everything that makes them the devil in this industry. They surely will grade your cards on the spot, and they will also have something called “Raw Card Review” like they do at every show. It is the biggest rip off ever created, don’t fall for it. RCR is basically them stealing your money, as they take a quick look at your unslabbed card and give it an “expected” grade. The problem is that these grades are NOT guaranteed to transfer to a slab and are not held with the same premium as the regular slabs. It will still cost you a long wait and some cash you could spend elsewhere. Also, there will be about 100,000 cards they will need to slab in three days, so the attention your card will get will be minimal compared to the regular process. This could work to your advantage, but it could also screw you out of getting a deserved higher grade. I don’t support grading at all, but if you have to do it, wait for better ways, or don’t request on the spot service.

With Beckett, they seem to think that the people at the National justify a lot of their horrible existence, but you will see why I have some of the problems I do with their practices, just from observing their booth. From what I have heard from my industry sources, there may be Panini reps AT the Beckett booth, and many of the Beckett giveaways will be Panini in nature. No surprise there. Either way, I am confident that Tracy Hackler will be sure to give his report of how much positive feedback they get at the show, but as an enlightened collector, I would stay far away from anything they have to offer. That is, unless you actually want to be surrounded by a bunch of price guide thumping idiots who want to suckle at the teat of the hobby’s number one source on douchebaggery. Really, I’m sure there will be enough price guide propaganda outside of the area around their station, as this show will probably be ripe with JCs who don’t know anything about the sheer stupidity of everything Beckett preaches.

Also, Blowout and DACardworld are going to be there and they always have some sweet deals on wax. If you are looking for older stuff, or stuff that has been out for a few years even, check out the booths, they will have some rock bottom prices.

Just be sure to remember that it may be the national, but its still a card show. It will be a blast even if you don’t buy anything, so don’t think you are wasting time and money if you just go there to see the gathering. I think that because so many of your contacts from the blogs and the message boards will be there, it would be a great way to put some faces and personalities to the names. Keep your eyes peeled for good deals, and avoid tables with price guides sitting in prominent places.

Most importantly, send me the pictures!!