Seemingly, sportswriters must always wonder if anyone enjoys, or even reads, their work. If a book is published, sales can be tracked but for newspapers, magazines and this new-fangled Internet thingy, the level of interest can remain a mystery.
This humble column, however, doesn’t seem to have that problem. Every weekend, readers send comments about Friday’s article and most are complimentary. Then there are others who take issue with an opinion or position, but that means they’re interested enough to take the time to disagree. Beyond those two categories, however, there is another group known as the “literary agents”. The lead character wants to know when all of these stories will turn into a book because he thinks it would be a best seller. Another reader, who is only a casual baseball fan, regularly asks “non-expert” questions that suggest general topics for future pieces. One other fan only sends comments less than a sentence like “Didn’t know that” and “Willie Mays was better”. If he was Native American, he would be called “Man Who Speaks Without Punctuation”. Seven years ago, a young Rotisserie player ramped up the discussion by requesting a specific topic. After reading a previous offering about baseball card values of that year’s hot prospects, he suggested looking at the cards of the top prospects from 10 years ago because he would “be intrigued to see how the value holds up as players reach the majors and either succeed or fail”.
The answer, of course, was “ask and you shall receive”. We reviewed the 2004 top prospect list and found “hits” (Joe Mauer, Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke & David Wright) and “misses” (Delmon Young, Greg Miller, Andy Marte & Dustin McGowan). Now it’s time to re-visit the topic and see how the youngsters from the 2011 list have done…and if their baseball cards were a good investment.
1) Mike Trout, OF Angels – A generational player. If he retired tomorrow at age 30, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. Three MVP’s and a lifetime WAR of 76, he’s also the only active player with an OPS over 1.000. His 2011 Bowman Chrome Rookie Card books for $300+.
2) Jeremy Hellickson, P Rays – Never lived up to the hype with a 76-75 lifetime record. He retired in 2019.
3) Bryce Harper, OF Nationals – His 2nd MVP season has put him on a Hall of Fame career path. At age 29, he’s already accumulated 1,200+ Hits, 267 HR’s and a WAR of 40. Some of his 2011 Bowman cards are still reasonable but an autographed version will set you back $250.
4) Domonic Brown, OF Phillies – Card collectors and Fantasy Baseball players know all about the failures of this “can’t miss” prospect. In six big league campaigns, he hit only .246 with a .710 OPS.
5) Dustin Ackley, 2B Mariners – Another complete bust, his six seasons produced a .241 BA and .671 OPS. Last played in the majors in 2016.
6) Aroldis Chapman, P Reds – Has been a highly-rated Closer for the last decade compiling over 300 Saves. Even now at age 33, he still averages 99 mph on the radar gun. His rookie cards are very inexpensive, as collectors don’t gravitate to one-inning players.
7) Mike Moustakas, 3B Royals – Has a World Series Ring but a very average career. Three All-Star appearances and 196 HR’s are on the stat sheet.
8) Eric Hosmer, 1B Royals – Another member of the ’15 World Series winners, his big free agent contract hasn’t panned out. In the first four years of an eight-year deal, he’s totaled 61 HR’s.
9) Jesus Montero, C Yankees –The poster boy for collectors who speculate and lose. One of the hottest cards in the hobby and now you can use them to wallpaper your man cave. Played 18 games with the Bombers and four seasons on the Mariners with no success.
10) Julio Teheran, P Braves – Was a decent Pitcher for Atlanta over a half-dozen seasons but never a star. His lifetime record sits at 78-77.
Reviewing the next ten prospects on our 2010 list gives you get a clear insight into just how difficult it is to scout young players. Only #17 qualifies as a real star…
11) Desmond Jennings
12) Kyle Drabek
13) Michael Pineda
14) Mike Montgomery
15) Jacob Turner
16) Wil Myers
17) Freddie Freeman
18) Jameson Taillon
19) Zach Britton
20) Shelby Miller
You might wonder if there were any big misses by the well-informed baseball experts that put this list together. Let’s allow you to decide, as we look at prospects inside the top 50.
24) Manny Machado
25) Chris Sale
26) Brandon Belt
If you play Fantasy Baseball, you might look a little deeper and find these six players who didn’t make the top 50…
- Anthony Rizzo
- Zack Wheeler
- Craig Kimbrel
- Nick Castellanos
- Kenley Jansen
- Christian Yelich
And, of course, how about those in the top 50 whose names are barely recognizable…
- Casey Kelly
- Jarrod Parker
- Jon Singleton
- John Lamb
- Manny Banuelos
- Tanner Scheppers
- Brett Jackson
- Christian Friedrich
The good news is that Montgomery will never have to buy his own drink in Chicago, Singleton made $3.5 Million to hit .171 and Kelly has won 42 games during the last three seasons in Korea.
As for baseball cards, collect but don’t speculate.