Just a quick note to say thanks to all of you out there who have read this blog over the last few months!
Since its inception back in September the readership and following of ‘The Wax Fantastic’ has gone beyond my somewhat limited expectations. I wasn’t really sure what what to expect when I originally conceived the notion of a UK-based Baseball Card blog, but it didn’t stop me anyway, and I’m glad I did it!
For a start it’s put me in contact with a load of new people, from all corners of the globe, who all love the Hobby in the same way that I do! Which, as far as I’m concerned, can only be a good thing!
All I can say is roll on 2013 when it will be (like it or not) much of the same!! The same irreverence; the same tongue-in-cheek humour and the same bad syntax!!!!
Hey – why mess with perfection, eh guys? 🙂
Take care each and every one of you, and have an awesome and safe end to 2012!!
Topps’ inclusion of Prospect cards in their Bowman branded products over the last several years has added a whole new dimension to player collecting!
Although not true Rookie cards, Topps have placed the ‘1st Bowman Card’ stamp somewhere on each card to let us all know exactly what we’re getting, and in a lot of instances collectors are taking to these Prospect cards as a player’s first official Baseball card release, overshadowing their ‘true’ Rookie card which is released after a player makes their MLB debut.
On a personal level I don’t have anything against Prospect cards, although I do wish they were assigned to their own product rather than being mixed into the Bowman products as an insert. I just feel that it makes things a lot neater that way 🙂
But given the emerging popularity and status of the Prospect card over a players Rookie card, the notion of collecting Prospects has intrigued me more and more over the last couple of years.
The thing is… Where do you start? Do you try and collect as many prospect cards as possible? Do you go for a selection of players to concentrate on, possibly from your favourite team(s)? Do you choose one particular player and try and collect all the variations and parallels that exist for said player?
And that’s before we even start looking at the autographed parallels, which are usually valued infinitely higher than their standard, non-autographed counterparts!!
There are easily over 200 Prospect cards released across the Bowman brands each year and it’s worth bearing in mind that only a limited number of these will go on to have successful MLB careers. Even the promise of a highly touted Prospect does not always guarantee that college or Minor League success will carry over into success in the Big Leagues.
I came across this article by Tim McCullough, in a St Louis Cardinals community forum, Viva El Birdos, earlier this morning and it’s well worth a read as it uses a couple of recent player examples to highlight the need to keep things in perspective when setting expectations for Baseball Prospects. It a really short piece and Tim makes some good points.
So this prompted me to don my research hat and do some more digging around to see just how successful Prospects are when they reach the Majors, and to see if this success might have an effect on the way that collectors chase after Prospect cards.
Well, it didn’t take me too long to find the following article written by Scott McKinney back in February 2011. Scott, a resident of NYC, is a columnist for Beyond the Box Score and a regular contributor to the Royals Review. You can also find him on Twitter @ScottMcKinney1
In his article Success and Failure Rates of Top MLB Prospects Scott recognises that the failure of top Prospects is extremely commonplace and looks at historical precedent to ascertain what can be expected from “various kinds of highly regarded prospects”. He attempts to answer his question by looking at the Top 100 Prospects from previous years and looked at how well they performed in the Majors, rating by rank, position, time period and organization. For his population sample Scott used the lists published by Baseball America for the Top 100 Prospects from 1990 to 2003, and looks at each player’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) rating to gauge how ‘successful’ a player has been.
Now, I can’t even begin to fathom the amount of work that Scott put into this, and I feel like a bit of a cheat for piggy-backing all the detailed and meticulous research that he did, but his findings make for some really interesting and surprising reading. Please click on the link to the article itself to explore Scott’s methodology further, but he’s a quick summary of his conclusions…
About 70% of Baseball America top 100 prospects fail
Position player prospects succeed much more often than pitching prospects
About 60% of position players ranked in Baseball America’s top 20 succeed in the majors
About 40% of pitchers ranked in the top 20 succeed in the majors
About 30% of position players ranked 21-100 succeed in the majors (with the success rate declining over that ranking range from about 36% to about 25%)
About 20% of pitchers ranked 21-100 succeed in the majors (with the success rate declining over that ranking range from about 22% to about 15%)
The success rate of prospects (both position player and pitchers) is nearly flat and relatively undifferentiated for players ranked 41-100, and especially those ranked 61-100.
Corner infield prospects and catchers are the most likely to succeed in the majors, but outfielders, third basemen and shortstops are the most likely to become stars. Second basemen and pitchers are the least likely prospects to succeed in the majors or to become stars
Prospect success rates have not improved much over time and there is little data to support the contention that prospects are more likely to succeed now than they have in the past
As with most statistical analysis these findings should be looked at with several caveats in mind, as Scott himself points out in his article. For instance, Scott has used a specific criteria for what he considers to be a ‘success’, a ‘failure’ or a ‘bust’, and this may well be open to interpretation when compiling a case-study like this.
That said, the conclusions that he arrived at are pretty amazing, and you can make of them what you will!!
So, how do these findings help us in determining whether it’s worthwhile collecting Prospects or not? I guess if you look at things on the surface your gut reaction might be ‘why bother?’.
Over here in the UK the majority of us have no real ties to college players or Minor League Baseball. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it isn’t usually until a player begins his MLB career that he even appears on the radar at all. Naturally there are exceptions to this rule, with names like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper standing out as recent examples of pre-MLB hype transferring over into MLB success. However for someone in the US there might be several different reasons that a collector might follow a certain specific prospect – for instance, they might have gone to the same high school/college; they might come from the same home town; they might play for their nearby Minor League team, and so on…
There’s also another aspect to Prospect collecting that I’ve not even touched on yet, and that’s the financial element! Prospecting in Prospect cards can quite a lucrative business, whether you’re in it for the short term by buying a shed-load of new product and ‘flipping’ the current ‘hot’ Prospects to invest in more boxes/cases or to build your own PC, or whether you buy up lots of cheaper Prospect cards and store them away in the hope that they will eventually go on to become major stars. All it takes is for a player to have one break out season and the value of his cards can rocket, turning a once humble collection into a relative gold mine!
For example, over three years ago scouts were predicting that a 6’2″, 190lbs 17-year old out of Millville High School, NJ, had the skills to become the Angels’ CF of the future when he was drafted with the 25th pick in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft, but none could have anticipated that, in 2012, Mike Trout would go on to have one of the best Rookie seasons in Baseball history! And I can imagine that there are some collectors out there that are sitting on his 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect card, giggling inanely to themselves right now… That’s if they haven’t sold it already for a quick buck!
But perhaps there’s a much more simpler aspect to collecting Prospect cards – fun! Surely there’s a great feeling of satisfaction of picking out one or two Prospects and simply following their career through Baseball cards, irrespective of whether they go on to have great success or not.
I suppose what it all boils down to is why you’d want to collect Prospects in the first place and what you would want to get out of it! If it’s for the quick turnaround then it’s worth bearing in mind that you can spend an awful amount of money and end up with no return whatsoever on your investment if you don’t get the big ‘hit’ or ‘hits’. However if you’re collecting with a long-term strategy in mind then just be mindful of Scott’s figures and embrace the fact that the majority of Prospects will never have a successful MLB career.
So from a personal point of view, would I ever collect Prospects to make money from it? Hell no!! Too much risk outweighs any kind of potential reward!
But if you eye up a top Prospect as a player you might want to consider collecting, as you may have decided that his potential to succeed is higher than most, then go for it. But bear in mind that the chances are he’s already been spotted by other collectors and you’ll be paying a premium for his cards even at this early stage in his career!
I recently pulled a Corey Seager autographed Prospect card from a box of 2012 Bowman Draft! A very nice card of a popular 2012 first round draft pick! I may even consider picking up a few more Seager cards over the coming months… because, you never know do you?
He just might be the one!!
So, are there any other Prospect collectors out there? If there are I’d love to hear from you and get your thoughts on how you approach Prospect collecting and what you get out of it!
With the fun and frolics of the Yule-tide period firmly behind us I’m happy to report that it’s back to business as usual for ‘The Wax Fantastic’. And in this first post-Christmas post I just wanted to revisit some comments I made a couple of weeks ago in my Open Letter To Topps Cards.
The idea of my ‘open letter’ was to (humbly) suggest some possible alternatives to the current Bowman Baseball releases in order to simplify the process of Rookie card collecting. One of those suggestions was to remove the Bowman Chrome release from the end of year Baseball products (which seemed to me like a good idea at the time) until I read this article by Paul Lesko from ‘The Cardboard Connection’.
In fairness to Topps, they’re some pretty impressive numbers!!
So, while I was busy waiting for a letter from Topps along the lines of…
Thanks for your ideas regarding our Bowman Baseball brand. In light of your insightful suggestions we’ve decided to go ahead and implement your proposals with immediate effect.
Love and hugs,
p.s. Please find enclosed a complete set of 2012 Bowman Chrome 1/1 Super-Fractors, all hand-signed specially for you
… I can now appreciate that it might not be arriving on my doorstep any time soon.
So, what have I gleaned from all of this information?
1. Topps makes a shed-load of cash from selling Chrome products
2. I know next-to-nothing about the business of branding and manufacturing sports cards
Yep, I think that’s just about it!
At the end of the day Bowman has a very loyal fan-base and is obviously a very profitable product for Topps. My quest for the simplification of the Baseball Rookie card appears to have hit a stumbling block, so back to the drawing board on this one I’m afraid!!
And after all is said and done, this years Chrome cards do look awfully nice!
Apologies but this one completely slipped under my radar. I think it’s been out for a good few weeks now but I’ve only just chanced upon it!
I always get the impression that Topps MLB Opening Day is one of those releases that a lot of collectors tend to let slide by. It’s a low price point, scaled back copy of the main 2013 Topps set, with an ‘Opening Day’ logo slapped onto the front of the card.
Due to it’s lower price per pack you don’t get as much content in terms of flashy inserts (at least not as much as other sets, anyways) but Topps does make the effort to include autographs in the product, which is a nice touch, particularly when they include David Wright and Will Middlebrooks alongside several team mascots!! Fredbird of the St Louis Cardinals is already on my radar!!
Click here to see the MLB Opening Day sell sheet for next year!
As a Christmas treat a couple of weeks ago I bought a sealed box of 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects off eBay from seller – 1958chicagofan!
24 packs per box and 7 cards per pack!!
The box was a great price with pretty decent shipping to the UK, and although it wasn’t sent as part of the Global Postage Program it arrived here safe and sound without any extra duty or charges!!
I was initially going to break this down into two separate posts because of its size, but then I got on a bit of a roll so here’s the review of the contents of the whole box, pack by pack, pull by pull.
Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of this years Bowman releases! Topps’ decision to release these as a white bordered card, as opposed to the black borders of the last decade and a bit, really works, and we end up with some sharp and clean cards. The photography is nice and sharp as well and the colours are really vibrant!
So I had pretty high expectations going into this purchase, and boy was I not disappointed!!
Here’s a breakdown of the packs in the order that I opened them in…
Note – The 4th and 5th cards in each pack are Chrome while the rest are standard, non-Chrome
Jonathan Murphy (MIN) – 1st Bowman
Matt Adams (STL) – RC
Jeter/Almora – Top Picks Insert
Peter O’Brien (NYY) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Kyle Zimmer (KC) – 1st Bowman Chrome
Mitch Gueller (PHI) – 1st Bowman
Victor Roache (MIL) – 1st Bowman
So… there you have it!!
I don’t know if any of you are big fans of prospecting or of younger ball players just on the cusp of their careers, but there’s plenty on offer in Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, as is to be expected. In the UK we don’t learn a great deal about prospects. College players and Minor Leaguers are pretty much an unknown quantity (unless there’s a great deal of hype surrounding them a la Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper) until they arrive in the Bigs!
In this box I got one of the Harper RCs that I’d been after, along with a host of other bigger names such as Yu Darvish, Will Middlebrooks, Matt Moore and Trevor Bauer.
Another thing that I was really surprised and pleased about was the high number of Cardinals players that I pulled. I’ll need to go back to the checklist but I think I managed to get them all in either a base, Chrome or refractor form!!
Aside from the usual refractors there are other inserts in this product and I managed to get four of the ‘Bowman’s Top Picks’ set, showing a previous high numbered draft pick on the same card as a more recent pick! I was a bit Meh on these inserts as they did absolutely nothing for me.
But all this aside, the thing that stood out the most about this whole set was the Chrome cards. In recent years the Chrome cards in these types of products have been prone to bending but this years are very straight. I’m not sure what Topps has changed in the production process but this years Chrome cards are highly desirable and look absolutely amazing!!
Obviously I also got my one per box autograph, of the Dodgers 2012 1st Round Pick, Corey Seager… but more about that little beauty another time!!
So overall I’m really impressed and pleased with the look and quality of 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects!! A good question to ask about the quality of a card product is ‘Would you go and buy another box on the back of this one?’, and the answer is a resounding YES – although given the quality of the Chrome cards I may well be tempted to buy a box of 2012 Bowman Chrome instead!!
A excellent quality product and very happy with the pulls!
In summary –
Best Card – Corey Seager Chrome Autograph – Very nice card and a great prospect!!
Worst Card – Richard Bielski (Pack 7) – Not the most flattering of photos
Best Insert – Any of the Chrome refractors… The Chrome cards look awesome!!
Worst Insert – Not a big fan of the Bowman Top Picks!!
In my eternal quest to find something interesting and relevant to say about our great Hobby it’s often good to know that there are hundreds of other like-minded individuals who are trying to do the very same.
Keeping abreast of other blogs will often provide plenty of interesting food-for-thought, sometimes stirring up the imagination enough for you to put a comment in response to one of their pieces, or even provide enough of a reaction that you find it deserves a post of your own!!
This exact thing happened yesterday while I was reading a post written by Craig from Texas in his own blog entitled ‘My Baseball Card Blog‘!! Just click on the link to get to his site. I’m sure you could spend a few moments of your time and it makes a great read if you have any interest in Vintage Topps Baseball cards.
Craig’s goal is to complete ALL the Topps Baseball card sets from 1955 to the present in a solid EX condition or better!! No small feat I’ll grant you, but the scary thing is he’s not a million miles away from achieving it! He catalogues the trials and tribulations on pretty much a daily basis and it’s great to be a long for the ride as his collection grows to completion!
Craig has written a couple of posts recently that I wanted to bring to your attention and have linked below…
The first of those two posts is a great introduction to anyone who has an interest in Vintage Topps sets and is thinking about starting a collection of Vintage Baseball cards. He offers some sound advice, picked up from years of experience in pursuing his Hobby goal and I’m sure that there’s something in there for any budding Vintage collector!
The second post I found really interesting, not to mention VERY surprising!! In ‘To Stamp Or Not To Stamp…’ Craig looks at Topps’ policy of stamping the special Buy Back cards that they’ve inserted into boxes of Topps Heritage over the last few years.
Initially working on the proviso that the stamping was a bad thing, and would somehow devalue the cards, he actually found the opposite. Read the article itself as Craig goes into more detail about his findings.
I have to confess I don’t like the idea of the Topps stamps on Vintage cards… full stop! To me the whole process somehow cheapens the look of the card and turns a genuine historical treasure into something resembling a modern insert! The whole process just doesn’t work for me!
One of the examples he uses to illustrate the stamping process is on a 1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie card. Based upon his research a stamped version of this historical gem went for double the amount of an unstamped one in approximately the same condition?!?!? This just blows my mind!! That particular card is ridiculously highly sought after, and if I managed to pull one out of a small sealed pack hidden away in a box of Heritage Baseball, my initial feelings of elation would soon evaporate into the ether after seeing that Topps had put a bloody huge stamp in the corner…
Aside from the initial feeling of rage I think I’d weep a little on the inside!
Anyway, shoot on over to Craig’s blog (or follow him on Twitter @parker94ttu) for his thoughts on Vintage Baseball and enjoy (obviously remember to come back here when you’re finished :))