Mariano Rivera – The Undisputed King of Closing

Posted on October 8th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Players

It is rare in sports that a player achieves such status that no one will argue their place in history. Sure, most people think that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, but it is not unanimous. Some might say Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Bill Russell or others. Likewise in football, various different players such as Jerry Rice or Joe Montana can lay claim to being the best at what they did, but there will always be debate. Those debates is what makes Mariano Rivera so amazing. No right-minded person would even consider another closer as being in the same league as Rivera – he is, by far, the best to ever do the job. Mariano-Rivera-Baseball-Card

Owner of the Record Book

There is no need to list all of Mo’s accomplishments here – there are well known by now. With five rings, the most saves of all time, and one of the most devastating pitches ever delivered, Mariano will never be forgotten. That pitch, of course, is the famous cutter that Mo developed early in his career and made him what he is. It would slide across the plate from right to left, running away from right handed batters and sawing off the hands of lefties. Rivera was the rare reliever who was effective against both right and left handed hitters, so he was reliable no matter who was due up for the opposition. Since closers are penciled in for the ninth inning each time that a team has a lead, much of his success can be attributed to the fact that he was platoon-proof.

While Mariano Rivera has not been his usual bullet-proof self for the Yankees in 2013, he will still ride out as one of the most-loved Yankees ever and a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer. The Yankees will likely miss the playoffs in 2013, and Mo will ride off into the sunset with his various gifts from teams around the league and a legacy unlike any other.

When it comes to Mariano Rivera memorability, you really can’t go wrong. Autographed balls, photos, cards, and more are all likely to gain in value as the years go by. Getting your hands on early Rivera products from the 1994-1996 time frame would be ideal, but any item will make a nice addition to a collection. Rivera began his career as a starting pitcher, so getting any collectibles that identify him in that way will make a special addition to your case. For baseball historians, collecting all of the ‘Core Four’ Yankee players (Rivera, Posada, Jeter, Pettitte) will make sure that a major portion of baseball history is represented in your collection.

Once in a Lifetime

Consider yourself lucky that you had the opportunity to see Mariano Rivera weave his magic against so many opponents through the years. Mo wasn’t perfect, including blowing the save in game seven of the 2001 World Series, but he was as close as any closer has ever been. The only thing more rare than a major league pitcher succeeding with just one pitch, as Mariano did for his entire career, is a player being a fully-accepted as the greatest of all time at what he did. Mariano Rivera did both of those things, and will be a part of baseball history forever.


Ted Williams, Barry Bonds….Raul Ibanez?

Posted on October 4th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Baseball Cards, Players

Raul Ibanez has had an impressive major league career, all things considered. While never a star player, Ibanez recently hit his 300th career home run during his third stint with the Seattle Mariners. With that homer, Ibanez becomes just the 137th player in baseball history to reach that total. No matter what the category, adding your name to a baseball list that has less than 150 members is impressive to say the least. When Ibanez retires, whether after this season or next, no one will be calling for him to enter the Hall of Fame – however, it will be able to walk away knowing he got the absolute most possible out of his ability. Raul-Ibanez-Baseball-Card

Saving His Best for Last

This 2013 season has been of particular note because of the home runs that he has racked up. Playing in 119 games for the Mariners, Ibanez has hit 29 home runs with a week left to play in the season. No player aged 41 or older (Ibanez is currently 41) has ever hit 30 home runs in a major league season. If he is to reach that mark in one of the last six games, it will be an incredible achievement if only for the names he has passed on the list. The top single-season home run leaders 41 years or older include Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Dave Winfield, Stan Musial, Carlton Fisk, and more. Raul Ibanez is not a name that fits in with the rest – but there he is none the less.

Due to a consistently low on base percentage and downright terrible defense, the value Ibanez brings to a team has always been limited. He has had his moments in the spotlight, though, most notably in the 2012 playoffs when he came up clutch for the Yankees in several key situations. More than just a home run hitter on the field, Ibanez has long been noted for his leadership, community service, and overall positive influence on the game of baseball.

Despite being a great guy and racking up solid home run totals, no one is going to be clamoring for Raul Ibanez collectibles anytime soon. You could take a key from this list though and build a collection of cards and other items from the later seasons of the stars that have had big home run years late in their careers. Obviously anything Ted Williams is always attractive, but even Carlton Fisk, Stan Musial, and Barry Bonds could all comprise an exciting and valuable collection. Tracking down cards that represent the later years in these players’ careers would provide a fun challenge, but one that is more doable than finding rooking cards or other, more common targets.

A True Role Model

Raul Ibanez has had a unique career that all young players could learn from. He was cast off from team to team early on, and rarely got many at-bats. He continued to work, improved his swing and his fitness, and eventually made a lot of money and achieved great things in the game that he loves. That kind of persistence is what makes up a successful professional athlete, and Raul Ibanez will be able to retire feeling good about himself and his career.

Chris ‘Crush’ Davis – From Nobody to Record-Setter

Posted on September 29th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Players

Some of the most exciting finds in a baseball collection include those of players who were once an afterthought and suddenly burst onto the scene in a big way. This year Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, also known as ‘Crush’, has done just that. Davis appears to be a classic case of needing a change of scenery in order to get his career pointed in the right direction. After hitting a total of 6 home runs over the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined, Davis has swatted 51 long balls for the Orioles this year alone – and the season is not over. He has already passed Brady Anderson as Baltimore’s all-time single-season home run king, and he has almost single-handedly kept the Orioles alive in the playoff race. With very little offense to speak of around him, Davis’ OPS of over 1.000 is up in Miguel Cabrera territory.

Texas Could Use Him


Chris Davis coming on later in his career is a surprise because he was developed in the Texas system – and a ballpark that is very friendly to left-handed hitters. In fact, Texas was willing to part with prospect Justin Smoak in part because of what they thought they had in Davis. That didn’t work out, and he was shipped off to Baltimore in 2011. Two impressive seasons later, and Davis is one of the best sluggers in the game.

Any time a player changes teams and then starts to perform, the question in the collecting world is which items to go after. Should you pursue rookie year Texas memorabilia, or more current Baltimore pieces now that he is playing at an All-Star level? While there is no one right answer, it is always good to go after rookie cards, regardless of the team. However, with Davis setting Baltimore’s season home run mark this year, 2013 collectibles would also be a wise investment.

Will it Continue?

The question, of course, regarding Davis’ performance, is whether or not he can keep it going for many years to come. He is only 27 years old, so he could certainly have many more productive years before starting to decline due to age. Taking a closer look at his numbers, however, presents some cause for concern. So far in 2013, he has struck out a whopping 190 times, while walking just 68. That is a similar ratio to the 2012 season, during which he only posted 37 walks against 169 strikeouts. Those rates are hard to continue while being a productive hitter, even for someone with as much power as Davis possesses. If pitchers are able to make slight adjustments to take advantage of his aggressive nature, his .372 OBP could start to regress and he could settle in as a typical power hitter as opposed to an All-Star. Only time will tell, but he is certainly an interesting player to watch going forward.

For the Orioles of 2013, they need an impressive finish from Davis to scramble into the playoffs. If Baltimore falls short, they will likely be able to blame the failures of the rest of the lineup as the culprit. Look for more upgrades around Davis for 2014 if Baltimore is going to take the step up from contender to division champion.

Four 2013 MLB Rookies to Watch

Posted on September 4th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Players, Uncategorized

It is no secret that rookie card are among the most valuable collectibles in the baseball market. If you are able to secure a nice collection of rookie baseball cards from players who go on to be big stars, you can see that collection accumulate nicely in value over the years. The trick, of course, is identifying those rookies before they get famous and their cards become too expensive to bother investing in. You need to pay close attention all around the league and spot players with the tools and opportunity to make a big impact in the game. While guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper don’t come along very often, there are usually one or two rookies a year that will go on to have great careers.

Consider all of the following four players who are rookies in 2013 for your collections. Not all of them will go on to the Hall of Fame, but these players a good bet to have long and successful major league careers.

Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have certainly seen the exploits of this Dodger outfielder on a regular basis this summer. Driving the resurgence of the Dodgers, Puig has been hitting for average and power, playing great defense, and exciting the crowd. He has since cooled off after an incredible start, but is still playing at an All-Star level. If he is able to learn some plate discipline and make pitchers throw him strikes going forward, Puig could be a force for a long time to come. Yasiel Puig-Dodgers-Baseball Card

Wil Myers – Tampa Bay Rays

Many in baseball thought that the Royals made a mistake when giving up the young Wil Myers for James Shields last off season – and it is sure looking that way right now. Myers is killing the ball in Tampa Bay and has held them in the A.L. East race despite the struggles of Evan Longoria. With easy power and impressive plate discipline for such a young player, it is hard to imagine much that could go wrong with his game.

Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves

The fire balling rooking right hander for the Braves has really come on of late, amassing more than 120 strikeouts in just 22 starts. While the Braves continue to run away with the N.L. East, Teheran has steadied the rotation after the freak injury to veteran Tim Hudson. If Atlanta is to make their way into the Fall Classic this October, it is likely that Teheran will be a big part of the equation.

Yan Gomes – Cleveland Indians

Young catchers don’t tend to draw a lot of attention (unless they are named Joe Mauer). However, Gomes is starting to turn some heads by hitting over .300 in his rookie season. Gomes is 26 already, limiting his future to some degree, but if he keeps hitting like he has there is little in the way of an excellent career. Catcher is a position that is hard to fill with talented offensive players, so Jon Gomes will be a player to watch in the coming seasons.

Forgotten Award Winners

Posted on August 30th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Players

Often the most valuable collectibles are the ones that most other people never thought to pick up. The rarity makes them valuable, and if you are willing to think outside the box you just might end with with a piece that appreciates greatly in value as time goes by. One place to look for just such items is on the list of award winners over the last 30 years in baseball history. These are players that won either an MVP or Cy Young award despite not having the traditionally great career that goes along with those accomplishments. Consider the following four award winners from the last thirty years as good candidates to add to your collection.

1989 NL MVP – Kevin Mitchell – San Francisco Giants

The career of Kevin Mitchell is certainly nothing to sneeze at. He posted a total OPS of .880 from 1984 through 1998. He hit 234 home runs in the major leagues, and got on base at an impressive .360 clip. However, as far as MVP winners go, Mitchell is a step below what you might expect. He only made two all-star games in a 14 year career, those coming in 1989 and 1990. Kevin Mitchell-Giants-Baseball Card

2003 NL Cy Young – Eric Gagne – Los Angeles Dodgers

Closers are a notoriously fickle group – seemingly great one year and lousy the next. Eric Gagne had a longer run of performance than that, putting up three outstanding years as the Dodgers closer where he recorded 52, 55, and 45 saves respectively. However, he would only end up pitching 643 innings in his entire career and would be followed by steroid rumors after his physique dramatically changed from one season to the next. Those who win the Cy Young are often Hall of Fame contenders when they finish their careers, but such is not the case for Gagne who struggled to catch on anywhere around the league after his 2004 season with the Dodgers.

1990 AL Cy Young – Bob Welch – Oakland Athletics

Bob Welch only made two All-Star teams during a productive 17 year career, but one of those years was 1990 and he pulled down a Cy Young award to go with it. Welch had a career ERA of 3.47, which was good but not great in a time of lower scoring games. He was, however, a workhorse, posting a career total of more than 3,000 innings pitched. Considering other Cy Young winners from that time include Roger Clemens, Dennis Eckersley, Bret Saberhagen, and Greg Maddux, Welch doesn’t really fit in with his peers for this award.

2012 NL Cy Young – R.A. Dickey – New York Mets

There may be no more unlikely Cy Young candidate than Dickey, whose career was off track and saw him completely out of baseball in 2007. He resorted to the knuckle ball and found incredible success with the Mets, posting a 2.73 ERA in 2012 and being named the Cy Young award winner. This is his only All Star season to date, and he is currently suffering through the 2013 year with an ERA near 4.50. There is a high likelihood that 2012 will be the only great season in the career of R.A. Dickey, but it is one that many people will never forget.