MLB Playoffs: Hobby Winners and Losers

This post season has been a lot of fun, which includes quite a few surprises from teams that you never knew could perform the way they did. The playoffs always have a big effect on card values, so its only fitting that we discuss a few of the winners and losers.

Lorenzo Cain – WINNER

There might not be a team that has had a better post season than the Royals have so far. Maybe ever. Coming in as a Wild Card team, they have done nothing but win and win some more. Lorenzo Cain was recently named ALCS MVP and that has a big impact on the few cards he has available. The guy played like a maniac, and deserves all the credit he gets. One of those guys like David Freese and Allen Craig that goes from the common box to the big time overnight.

2011 Topps Lorenzo Cain 60th Anniversary Auto

2006 Bowman Lorenzo Cain RC Orange Refractor /25

2008 Elite Extra Edition Lorenzo Cain Auto Status /5

Clayton Kershaw – LOSER

Hard to apply this tag to Kershaw, because he is a clear cut leader for MVP in the National League after a historic season. However, his record in the playoffs this year curtailed a lot of the hobby success he was enjoying, as collectors never like to see someone bottom out after playing so well.

2006 Bowman Chrome Clayton Kershaw Blue Refractor Auto BGS 9.5

2008 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Clayton Kershaw Jumbo Relic Auto

2014 Museum Collection Clayton Kershaw Framed Auto

Madison Bumgarner – WINNER

After a nice season with the Giants, Mad Bum is well on his way to a potential World Series berth. If they can finish off the Cardinals and have a nice performance in the Series, the big bump he has gotten could go further.

2008 Bowman Chrome Madison Bumgarner Auto Xfractor RC

2013 Topps Madison Bumgarner World Series Auto Relic

Mike Trout – PUSH

I cant say Trout has lost value in the Hobby after losing to the Royals, but he definitely didnt gain any more momentum after an MVP caliber season this year. He remains the face of the hobby, and after an exclusive deal signed with Topps today, will be the face for a long time.

2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Auto BGS 9.5

2014 Immaculate Mike Trout Auto Relic

Mike Moustakas – WINNER

I could really write about the entire Royals team as a winner, but Moose was relatively considered to be a bust after being drafted high with a lot of hype behind him. His stats have been average, but he turned it on late in the season and hit some big bombs in the playoffs to elevate his status.

2008 Bowman Chrome Mike Moustakas Auto RC

2013 Topps Tribute Mike Moustakas Auto

Yasiel Puig – LOSER

There was no hotter player in baseball last year, and though he had a nice season in LA after a rough start, he was benched in the playoffs. His immaturity is well documented, and it might start to seep into his hobby potential if the confidence in his skills continues to falter.

2013 Bowman Chrome Yasiel Puig Auto RC

2013 Bowman Inception Yasiel Puig Orange Auto /50

I am ready for the World Series to start, and I cannot wait to see how it works out. Even though I am oddly shocked by the Royals making it as far as they have, I kind of want them to win despite their presence in the AL central against my Twins. Its just too good a story.

What are the Coolest 2014 Card Sets Released So Far?

Most of the time, I will not buy a card unless I think it is really cool looking. I have a lot of pet peeves that will prevent me from buying a card, but for the most part, the cool factor is a subjective look at what I would like to display on my shelf. Here are some of the coolest card sets of the year so far.

Topps Inception Inscription Autos

Everyone knows how much I love inscriptions by this point, and it should come as no surprise that this set of cards is one that I love. There are three versions of the card, which include a nickname /10, a saying 1/1, and sometimes a drawn play 1/1. All of them are awesome. This was first done last year, and I am glad it was brought back.

2014 Topps Inception Teddy Bridgewater Inscription Auto 1/1

2014 Topps Inception Derek Carr Auto Inscription

2014 Inception Sammy Watkins Inscription Auto 1/1

Topps Finest Jumbo Patch Auto Superfractors

One of my pet peeves is when a company makes 1/1 cards and they arent special other than the numbering on the card. These superfractors all feature team logo chest patches, which are some of my favorite patches to chase. You really need to check out some of these examples.

2014 Topps Finest Blake Bortles Jumbo Logo Patch Auto Superfractor

2014 Topps Finest Johnny Manziel Jumbo Logo Patch Auto Superfractor

2014 Topps Finest Jimmy Garoppolo Jumbo Logo Patch Auto Superfractor

Exquisite XRC Autos

Adding cards from the upcoming rookie class has been a part of Exquisite since 2010, and I think it is a tremendous idea. Adding autographs this year is an even better idea considering how nice the design is. I am a huge fan of these cards and it should not be surprising that they sell for a ton.

2013 Exquisite Kelvin Benjamin XRC Auto

2013 Exquisite Blake Bortles XRC Auto

Topps 1985 Throwback Rookie Autos

Although the cards were hampered by chipping, they picked the perfect retro design to use for this set. The on card autos look amazing, and with the work done on the retouched photos, you can enjoy NFL uniform autographs of your favorite rookie without waiting for November. Nice.

2014 Topps Jadeveon Clowney 1985 Throwback Auto

2014 Topps Carlos Hyde 1985 Throwback Auto

Elite Rookie Premiere Autographs

In my opinion, Elite has been Panini’s best set released so far, but the rest of their calendar has been exceptionally weak. These cards were EXTREMELY rare, but look absolutely great. These combined with the on card rookie signature cards added a lot to a product that everyone already chases, and I was glad to see that be the case.

2014 Elite Johnny Manziel On Card Rookie Premiere Auto BGS 9.5

2014 Elite Jordan Matthews Rookie Premiere Auto

The best part about this list is that we havent even hit the sweet spot yet this year. Even though Topps has had a bang up year so far, they still have a long way to go with the rest of the calendar. We have yet to see top products like National Treasures and Five Star hit the market, and with the addition of Flawless, its clear we are in for some nice sets this year.

On the Radar: 2014 Panini Totally Certified and 2014 Panini Limited

Panini has finally come around to providing previews for new sets, including two that I have a very troubled relationship with. In looking at 2014 Limited and 2014 Totally Certified, I think it has become PAINFULLY obvious that Panini is struggling to brand their sets with interesting material.

So much of the same stuff over and over again makes the cards boring, and in the case of TC, completely disgusting looking. Its sad because there are a lot of products that collectors used to love, but have left for dead because of poor design quality and content.

2014 Limited Football

When I first started collecting football back in 2003, Limited was an interesting set. I think that the 2007 and 2008 sets were relatively nice, but were overshadowed by the other on card sets that Upper Deck was releasing.

Here are some of the examples from previous years, its been a long run:

2011 Limited Tom Brady Limitless Auto /5

2011 Limited Aaron Rodgers Monikers Auto Patch /20

2012 Limited Andrew Luck On Card Phenoms Auto Patch

2010 Limited Calvin Johnson / Matthew Stafford Dual Auto

Since that time, Limited has gone from good to awful, and this year looks like its at least on an upgraded path. However, there are still some HORRENDOUS looking cards in the bunch. Par for the course, as Limited is responsible for some of the worst sets in recent memory. Panini’s top brands of the year have become Certified, Contenders and Treasures, and in the past Limited was in that group. Now its clearly an afterthought.

Although I think the bow tie shaped box is better than the awful giant rectangular square from 2013, its still not all that good looking. Its better, no doubt, but there has to be something that can be done instead of just adding a long giant swatch. These cards may come out of the gate with some value, but in the end, they will tank faster than Certified did. Panini has lost the ability to sustain value in their middle end cards, and Limited is a casualty.

Here are the previews, man that Watkins is a disaster:

2014 Totally Certified

If you think Bowman Sterling is a worthless piggyback set from Topps, you havent seen Totally Certified. Because Panini had such a hard on for the awful looking micro etched look, they needlessly brought this set back from the dead. Someone needs to pull the plug on the life support, because it should have stayed buried.

Take a look at the joke this product has been since 2011:

2011 Totally Certified AJ Green Auto Rookie Relic

2012 Totally Certified Nick Foles Auto Rookie Relic

2013 Totally Certified Cordarrelle Patterson Auto Rookie Relic

Aside from the laughable name, this product offers nothing to the general calendar that needs to be there. It has been garbage for a very long time, including some of the most poorly conceived and designed sets that I continue to make fun of to this day.

For 2014, Not only is the giant white space on the card, and the compartmentalized design a vomit inducing combination, but its clear that making this product again is like producing another year of Prominence. Card shops are still sitting on Totally certified boxes from 2012 that they cant move, not to mention 2013, so WHY ARE THEY INSISTING ON TORMENTING US AGAIN WITH THIS GARBAGE?

The funniest part of this is that it was originally on card, which gave it a slight reason with collectors to actually exist. Now that it is back to all stickers, you are asking for people to send it to closeout immediately. Dont even try the MAPP shit with this, just put it out at 50% off and hope people are dumb enough to buy a box. Cant wait to get my Connor Shaw sticker auto patch.

Even the base design looks beyond stupid, and the last thing this hobby needs is another November based sticker auto set. To think that they are going to have to build like four dozen new products to support the overpayment on their NFL exclusive, I get more and more frightened by the day.

Here is the preview:

They have consistently shown that they do not know how to build good looking cards, and yet here we are. I cant fucking wait for 2016. Happy day! Totally Certified trash all day every day. Good for us. GOOD FOR US.

2014 QB Class Still Looking to Get Their Footing With Collectors

When we came into the 2014 season, there were a number of top QB prospects that everyone was quite excited about. Aside from the top guy in Manziel, there was potential in a few other players that would potentially get a shot to be the best in the class. So far, none of them have really had the success we expected, and Manziel is going to be on the bench for the foreseeable future.

Blake Bortles – Jaguars

I really like what I have seen from Bortles, but the team around him is so terrible that he is starving for talent to help him get wins on the board. Not only does he have no good receivers, but his running game is likely the worst in the NFL. Yet, he is still able put up some solid numbers despite his supporting cast. Jacksonville is a black hole of hobby value and for good reason. Bortles will likely battle issues for his entire career as long as the team continues to struggle in the draft and in FA.

2014 Topps Finest Blake Bortles Gold Refractor Jumbo Relic Auto

2014 Topps Blake Bortles 1985 Throwback Auto

2014 Certified Blake Bortles Freshman Fabric Auto Relic

Investment Potential: Below average
Play so far: B

Teddy Bridgewater – Vikings

Like Bortles, Teddy is really hurting from the talent of people around him. His offensive line is an absolute mess, and his running game went from the best in the league to one of the worst in a hot minute thanks to Peterson's stupidity and pending legal charges. The Vikings need help almost everywhere, but the fan base in Minnesota remains faithful to their players until it is abundantly clear that its time to move on. For that reason alone, Bridgewater remains worth a look despite a HORRIBLE performance today.

2014 Topps Finest Teddy Bridgewater Auto Jumbo Patch Xfractor

2014 Topps Prime Teddy Six Piece Booklet Auto /15

2014 Topps Inception Teddy Bridgewater Inscription Auto Glove Patch /10

Investment Potential: Average
Play so Far: C

Derek Carr – Raiders

Although I think Carr hasnt had a lot to work with in Oakland this year, and a head coaching change mid season will not do him any favors, he hasnt played awful. THe issue with Carr is that they will likely be drafting awfully high in the upcoming draft,which means that players like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston may be available. That doesnt bode well for the future of Carr as the top guy in Oakland, although his play could quiet the rumors all together.

2013 Exquisite Derek Carr Auto XRC

2013 Topps Finest Derek Carr Red Refractor Auto Patch

2013 Topps Prime Derek Carr Quad Patch Auto

Investment Potential: Risky
Play so Far: C+

Johnny Manziel

Yes, I am aware that Manziel hasnt played yet. After Hoyer's convincing win today vs the Steelers, it looks like that is getting further and further away by the day. Here is the thing. Hoyer is a bit older and no one is going to expect him to come back next year and be the starter unless something amazing happens. In fact nothing could be better for Manziel than to continue to sit and absorb the NFL style. Either way, he was a risk from the beginning and remains so to this day.

2014 Elite Johnny Manziel On Card Auto RC

2014 Upper Deck SPX Premier Johnny Manziel Quad Relic Auto

2014 Topps Johnny Manziel Variation Auto RC

Investment Potential: Risky
Play so Far: N/A

Its clear we do not have a lot to go off of with any of the guys I have mentioned in this post, as Carr is the only one with more than 3 starts. As the season moves on, we will get a clearer picture, but the only thing that can amke things better for 2014 is for one of these guys to start lighting it up. Doesnt look like that is going to happen with how many holes some of these teams have. We will see though.

On the Radar: 2014 Panini Contenders Football Sneak Peak

I rarely turn my head at a one card preview, but this is one of the biggest Panini sets of the year. Last year was a good looking product despite the horrid class, and 2012 was similarly nice for most of the main autographs. This year isnt looking like they were able to put together a three peat.

Let travel back, because this set does have QUITE the rich history:

2012 Contenders Andrew Luck Auto Rookie Ticket

1998 Contenders Peyton Manning Rookie Auto Ticket

2000 Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket Auto

2012 Contenders Russell Wilson Rookie Auto Ticket

Contenders has as loyal a collector base as Chrome, even though I dont feel that the set has consistently looked as good. There are some years of Contenders that are lost because of horrendous design work, and it makes me wonder how this set is still as popular as it is. Let us not forget the dumpster fire that was 2011 Contenders. If you think that is bad, check out 2009’s autographs. Some of the worst ever.

This year’s version has a number of issues with the design we are seeing in this preview, and most of them stem from the layout of the card and the massive amount of wasted space. A pretty common situation from past years as well. Even without seeing the base white version of the card, its already evident that the giant text and logo for the set take up as much of the layout as the player picture, which is the first strike. The separate but not defined auto space takes up more space, leaving a picture that needs to be cropped to the top 1/3rd of the card instead of being more of a focus. All of my pet peeves in one.

Personally, I really liked the ticket design for 2013, and 2012 was great, even though the latter was a copy of 1998. In fact, I cant even give them credit for 2012, because when the Panini design team had to alter the design for the stickers, it was the usual train wreck. Seriously, 2013 may have been their biggest success, and its sad that the class was as bad as it was.

Contenders is going to continue being Panini’s main squeeze, even more so than products like Flawless, Immaculate and Treasures, as it is their most accessible brand. The continued focus on delivering autos over relic content is a good formula if their design team could figure out how to avoid these terrible layout issues.

Here is the big reveal of the 2014 Ticket design: