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Kershaw’s Spectacular Season Lifts Rookie, Autograph Cards

In January, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Clayton Kershaw to a contract extension valued at $215 million over seven seasons. It’s beginning to look like a bargain and Kershaw’s best baseball cards purchased early in his pro career are too.

His 2014 statistics are mind boggling:  a 21-3 record, a 1.77 earned run average, 239 strikeouts –and one no-hitter.

Kershaw is already a two time Cy Young award winner (2011, ’13) and will certainly take home his fourth this winter.  He has won the ERA title four straight years.

Koufax-KershawFor Dodgers fans of past and present the inevitable comparison to Sandy Koufax has been made. Koufax, who between 1961-’66 was one of the best pitchers the game would ever see, only earned $35,000 in 1963 when he won both the NL Cy Young and MVP awards according to the Bill James Historical Abstract. Even adjusted for inflation, Koufax’ salary that year only amounted to $266,582.19 in 2013 dollars according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Kershaw will match Koufax’ three Cy Young awards, but it will be difficult to match Koufax’ MVP award. It has become extremely rare for a pitcher to win the MVP award with only Justin Verlander accomplishing the feat in 2011 in recent history.

Flickr photo by CultureSchlock (Creative Commons)

Flickr photo by CultureSchlock (Creative Commons)

In terms of an investment by the Dodgers – one of baseball’s richest franchises – the risk of signing a pitcher long term is always there. They need look no further than their great rival – the Giants – for pitching contracts gone awry. However, with the Dodgers needing to stay competitive to draw ratings to a new TV deal it was clear they needed to keep Kershaw in the mix for years to come.   Kershaw is well regarded for his charity – Kershaw’s Challenge – and was the recipient of the 2013 Branch Rickey Award.  He’s a public relations gift from the heavens.

In terms of the value of Clayton Kershaw baseball cards, it has always been difficult for pitchers to amass what some call ‘hobby love’. In fact, the back-to-back Cy Young awards by Tim Lincecum in 2008-’09 and the aforementioned Verlander’s masterful 2011 MVP winning campaign did not result in massive hobby gains.

Projecting pitcher statistics has become increasingly difficult as the prevalence of bullpens has resulted in fewer decisions awarded to starting pitchers over the past two decades. Kershaw has now won 98 games and is  only 26. If he pitches at least a dozen more seasons, stays healthy, and the Dodgers offense does their part – then Kershaw has a chance to reach the 300 win club. A World Series Clayton Kershaw Bowman Chrome 2006 autotitle, perfect game, and/or no hitter can also impact Kershaw’s value in positive manner. As with most pitchers, a perfect game or no-hitter would result an exponential spike in sales in the hours following the event – as it did with Verlander during his two no hit performances.

Kershaw first appeared on the 2005 Upper Deck USA Baseball set when he was a member of the national team and while his ‘official’ rookie cards are dated 2008 when he first appeared in the major leagues, the most desirable of all Kershaw cards is his 2006 Bowman Chrome issue.  Available in several parallel versions, an Orange refractor (#’d to 25) has more than doubled in price over the last nine months.  The latest sale for a BGS 9.5 was $5,600.  Blue refractors, numbered to 150, have pushed to the $4,000 level in the similar BGS 9.5 grade.

Kershaw now has an odd looking autograph that resembles hieroglyphics with dominant angular letters; one that is a little different than what you see on those early cards.

Of course, you don’t have to spend thousands on a Kershaw rookie card.  Non-autographed base cards can still be had for just a few bucks, but for the long haul, buying the best you can afford is usually good advice.  His ‘official’ rookie cards are actually from 2008 when he made his MLB debut and among those, the 2008 Bowman Sterling Kershaw and 2008 Bowman Sterling Kershaw are likely your best bets.  The Sterling card seems to be the most difficult to locate in high grade.

Like all popular players of the era, Kershaw has a large quantity and variety of memorabilia and autograph cards. With Sandy Koufax joining the roster of stars signing cards for Topps, Koufax and Kershaw have appeared on a few autograph cards together, that have become increasingly popular as the two careers have paralleled.  If Kershaw lives up to the big contract those dual autographs could be very valuable.

Below is a list of the hottest Kershaw cards currently on eBay.

2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Autograph Clayton Kershaw Dodgers Rookie RC AUTO
7 bids - Price: $132.50 - Watchers: 29
Item # 381034768848
CLAYTON KERSHAW 2006 BOWMAN CHROME RC ROOKIE AUTOGRAPH SP AUTO PSA 9 MINT $1000
17 bids - Price: $22.05 - Watchers: 28
Item # 351210190334
2014 TOPPS UPDATE CLAYTON KERSHAW YASIEL PUIG DUAL JERSEY 21/25 ALL STAR RELIC
10 bids - Price: $17.16 - Watchers: 26
Item # 121470206677
2014 TOPPS CHROME CLAYTON KERSHAW #/10 AUTO/JUMBO PATCH #100 NRMT/MT
8 bids - Price: $77.77 - Watchers: 26
Item # 361096709706
PSA 10 CLAYTON KERSHAW 2006 BOWMAN STERLING PROSPECT AUTO AUTOGRAPH ROOKIE RC
24 bids - Price: $91.00 - Watchers: 25
Item # 221584987475
PSA 10 CLAYTON KERSHAW 2006 BOWMAN CHROME DRAFT AUTO AUTOGRAPH ROOKIE #DP84
25 bids - Price: $295.00 - Watchers: 25
Item # 231368903204
2014 Topps Clayton Kershaw Postseason Performance 2 Color Patch Auto #/50
11 bids - Price: $56.55 - Watchers: 25
Item # 381037459237
CLAYTON KERSHAW 2006 BOWMAN CHROME DRAFT PICKS *AUTOGRAPH* ROOKIE DODGERS
7 bids - Price: $81.00 - Watchers: 24
Item # 281479099824
CLAYTON KERSHAW 1/1 $3000+ DODGER RED REFRACTOR AUTO LOGO PATCH RC TOPPS TRIBUTE
27 bids - Price: $365.00 - Watchers: 24
Item # 291279762648
2006 Bowman Chrome Draft CLAYTON KERSHAW Rookie Card Auto #85 Dodgers BGS 10
18 bids - Price: $365.00 - Watchers: 24
Item # 371177932183
About Chris Levy

Sports Collectors Daily contributing writer Chris Levy has been collecting sports cards for more than 20 years. Growing up in the suburbs of New York City provided him an early love for the legendary teams and athletes who dominated the headlines for most of the past century. His current focus is on the 1905 World Champion New York Giants. He can be reached at [email protected].

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