A new index for highlighting valuation trends of active players and tracking the health of the overall modern baseball card market makes its debut with “ThePit Baseball 25”.
The index ranks the 25 most valuable cards of active baseball players, based on their value in individual grades. Each card’s Total Value is calculated by card price (as represented by thePit’s guaranteed bid posted online) multiplied by the card’s population in that particular grade (as provided by the current PSA or Beckett population reports). Cards are then ranked from one to 25 by total market value. The overall value of the index is determined by adding the combined value of all 25 cards.
The index value stood at $5.2 million at August 11, up 2.4% from $5.1 million just before last month’s National Sports Collectors Convention. Because the index is naturally composed of the most popular “blue chip” modern baseball cards, its value will reflect the overall performance of card collectors’ favorite players as well as the general interest in high-end trading cards as collectibles or as speculative investments.
Albert Pujols’ famous 2001 Bowman Chrome Autographed card tops the list in BGS 9 Mint condition with a combined value of $442,400 based on population of 158 (total number graded by Beckett as mint) multiplied by Pit “Sell Now” value of $2,800 (the guaranteed price at which any Pujols 2001 chrome Auto BGS 9 can be sold via The Pit.com).
Mike Trout’s dominance of the modern high-end market is demonstrated by the fact that he holds seven of the top 13 positions, with a total combined population value of $1.85 million. Pujols is second with five cards on the list and a total population value of $1.36 million. No other player value reaches the million-dollar mark.
The list is dominated by Bowman Chrome Autographed cards (19 of the 25 cards) and by Beckett-graded cards (22 of 25), which will not surprise anyone familiar with the modern high-end market for baseball cards. Only one card produced before 2000 makes the list: Alex Rodriguez’ still-iconic 1994 Upper Deck “SP” card (in PSA 8), which has enjoyed a mild renaissance this year due to A-Rod’s shockingly strong performance (24 HRs, .898 OPS) even as he turns 40 years old. The population of A-Rod’s card, at 11,300 in PSA 8, marks it as a card from another era of the hobby; the second-largest population on the list belongs to Bryce Harper’s 2011 Bowman Chrome Auto BGS 9.5 with a mere 604.
Who’s Hot (Who’s Not?)
ThePit Baseball 25 provides an easy way to monitor how on-field performance affects card values. Between July 25 and August 11, the biggest gainer on the list was the Astros’ Carlos Correa. The benchmark card for the 20-year-old power-hitting shortstop — his 2013 Bowman Chrome Autograph, in BGS 9.5 — rose to $325 from $250 two weeks earlier, despite supply (according to the Beckett population report) rising to 431 as an additional 53 cards were encapsulated in the Gem Mint 9.5 grade. The “regular” Correa Chrome Auto now occupies the #16 spot on the list (up from #19 on 7/25) while the Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 debuts in the #19 spot.
With Correa appearing to have locked up the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award and the Astros leading the Western Division, collectors and speculators have made his cards the hottest in the hobby since the All-Star Break, during which Correa has posted an impressive slash line (Batting Average / On-Base Percentage / Slugging Percentage) of .291 / .382 / .593.
But what if your favorite player has instead posted a slash line of just .184 / .305 / .368 since the All-Star Break? Ask collectors of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who has seen his two entries on ThePit Baseball 25 — his Bowman Chrome Autographed cards for 2013 and 2014 — fall from #18 and #20 on the list in late July to #20 and #21, respectively, on the current list. With a population increase of 12% since the last report for the 2014 card in BGS 9.5, further declines are likely unless the young slugger soon recovers the power stroke he displayed in spring training.
ThePit Baseball 25 will be regularly updated to reflect current market prices, and a more comprehensive list showing an additional 15 cards is available at the “Breaking News” link at www.thePit.com. Because ThePit wants the index to be accurate and comprehensive, it is offering a $25 site credit to anyone who can identify a missing card which should be on the list (see details online). The company plans to publish similar indices later this year for the football and basketball card markets.