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”. Six 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 2010 list have done…and if their baseball cards were a good investment.
1) Jayson Heyward, OF Braves – If success was measured in dollars, this player would be on Mount Rushmore. His eight-year, $164 Million deal with the Cubs runs through the 2023 season. Collectors aren’t impressed as his five years with Chicago have only produced 7.4 WAR…Mike Trout has exceeded that total in a single season. Heyward’s RC Auto from 2008 Bowman Chrome is worth $15-$20.
2) Stephen Strasburg, P Nationals – The first player taken in the 2009 Draft, he has had great success but has also battled injuries. His lifetime mark is 112-59. The RC Auto is from 2010 Bowman Chrome and sells for $25.
3) Giancarlo Stanton, OF Marlins – Hold an additional spot on the financial mountainside, as his $325 Million deal goes through 2027. Another player with the mixed result of success and injuries, he has a MVP award but only four seasons where he played 125 games or more. His 2010 Topps Chrome RC Auto will cost you $100.
4) Buster Posey, C Giants – A bay area favorite, the rigors of playing behind the plate have taken their toll. With that being said, he was Rookie of the Year in 2010, MVP in 2012 and owns three World Series rings. A RC Auto from 2009 Bowman sells for about $75.
5) Brian Matusz, P Orioles – As with every year, some top ten prospects never make it. Had a lifetime record of 27-41 and retired in 2016. You can find his RC in the bargain bin.
6) Desmond Jennings, OF Rays – Even Tampa makes mistakes and this “sure-fire” prospect is a prime example. In seven seasons, he batted .245 and his last major league appearance was when he was only 29. More bargain bin cardboard.
7) Neftali Feliz, P Rangers – Blessed with an electric arm, he was the Rookie of the Year in 2010 when he posted 40 Saves. 2011 was another productive season but it was mostly downhill from there. His last year in the “show” was 2017.
8) Pedro Alvarez, 3B Pirates – Led the NL in both HR’s (36) and Strikeouts (186) in 2013 but that was the highlight of a mediocre career. A lifetime BA of .236 doesn’t impress the buyers of collectibles.
9) Justin Smoak, 1B Rangers – Aren’t you glad there wasn’t a mutual fund where you could have invested in the baseball cards of prospects 5-9? Never made it in Texas but had some productive seasons in Seattle & Toronto. His lifetime BA of .229 and OPS of .740 tells the tale. His RC has no real value.
10) Madison Bumgarner, P Giants – Finally, another name that has historical value. His World Series exploits are the thing of legend. Had 120 victories and four All-Star appearances with San Francisco, along with a post-season ERA of 2.11. His 2008 Bowman Chrome RC Auto is valued at $60.
Reviewing the next ten prospects on our 2010 list gives you a clear insight into just how difficult it is to scout young players. Only #11 qualifies as a real success…
11) Carlos Santana
12) Alcides Escobar
13) Wade Davis
14) Domonic Brown
15) Dustin Ackley
16) Brett Wallace
17) Kyle Drabek
18) Martin Perez
19) Jesus Montero
20) Jeremy Hellickson
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.
22) Starlin Castro
29) Aaron Hicks
32) Mike Moustakas
33) Wil Myers
46) Michael Brantley
If you play Fantasy Baseball, you might look a little deeper and find these three players who didn’t make the top 50…
What’s that you ask? The value of Autographed RC’s of these three? Rizzo is about $50. Freeman is $75-$100. As for Trout, refer to the old cliché…”if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. Let’s just say four figures.