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Don’t forget about Houston Astros outfielder George Springer

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Remember George Springer? Houston’s former top prospect who was touted by scouts as a future MVP candidate?
Springer was regularly hyped as a true five-tool player who could do everything imaginable on a baseball diamond. He powered through pitchers at each level of the minor leagues, showcased the range and ability to play solid outfield defense, and demonstrated a rare power/speed combo, which led some to believe that he might have 40/40 potential in him.
screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-12-38-34-amThat sure sounds like quite a player that investors would want to buy in on! So how come the average selling price over the past two months of his 2011 Bowman Chrome 1st base auto (BGS Graded 9.5) is only $73?
When I first looked through the data I was stunned that this card could be had for under $100, let alone less than $75. What’s truly shocking is this card actually sold for as low as $46. What is going on here?
After a bit of thought, my conclusion is that there isn’t one factor that can singled out for depressing Springer’s card value, but rather the cumulative effect of a multiple factors that created a perfect storm. The factors are:

  1. Underwhelming production – Since debuting with the Astros, Springer’s production has been underwhelming and at times slightly disappointing. He suffered a couple of injuries in his first two years in the majors, has a high mid-twenties strikeout percentage, his raw speed hasn’t translate into stolen bases, and in his first injury-free season, he sported a good, but not great 261/359/457 triple slash with 29 HR. This is certainly a contributing factor as collectors had to re-evaluate just how good of a player Springer could be.
  2. Overshadowed by younger prospects – This point is mainly in reference to Carlos Correa and to a lesser extent Alex Bregman. Correa stormed onto the scene, with superb hitting and defense in 2015 to win AL Rookie of the Year and lead the Astros into the playoffs. Because Correa was only 20 years old (Springer by contrast is much older at 26), he became the face of the franchise due to a belief that he has a higher ceiling. Bregman, arrived into the majors last year with solid results, and at only 22 years old is four years younger than Springer. His status as the number 2 overall draft pick in the 2015 amateur draft helps boost his profile a bit above Springer’s as well.
  3. Houston’s disappointing 2016 – Springer did shed the injury labels in 2016, and overall had a nice season by advanced metrics (5.0 WAR per baseball-reference). The problem is that it went unnoticed due to Houston’s disappointing year. With that came less attention, and therefore less interest by card collectors.

While there are some unknowns about what Springer’s true potential is (can he still become that 40/40 MVP candidate?) the value is simply too good to ignore. If Springer shows even moderate improvement (he is entering his prime), and Houston’s young talent takes a step forward to re-enter the playoffs, it’s hard not to imagine his value increasing.
George Springer should easily be valued above $125, and it is not too much to expect that with a good season, his card could reach the $150 mark. If you are buying in at $75 then that is great value and the very definition of a buy low window.

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