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After spending four years hovering around the 55% mark in Hall of Fame (HOF) voting, Jeff Bagwell took a leap forward in 2017 to cross the 75% mark and secure his spot in Cooperstown.
Bagwell is considered one the best first basemen of his era, and according to some advanced metrics, perhaps a top 5 1B of the twentieth century. As reported on mlb.com his 79.6 career WAR is the fourth highest since 1900, thanks to his exceptional skill at the plate and on the base paths.
However, Bagwell had to overcome allegations of steroid use, which has held him back from passing the 75% threshold until this year. So now that Bagwell is in, how much are his cards worth?
At fivecardguys.com, we are tracking graded rookie cards for each of the 2017 HOF inductees. Bagwell’s most valued rookie cards are his Topps Tiffany #4T, and Stadium Club Members Only #11. Because these two cards are quite rare we tracked his Topps Traded and Stadium Club rookies (PSA GEM MT 10) instead. We also tracked his Upper Deck rookie #755. Here are the results:
All three cards saw an increase in value after the HOF announcement was made on Jan. 18, but the Topps Traded card seemed to see the biggest bounce of the three. The Stadium Club and Upper Deck rookies saw solid growth in average card values of 21% and 22% respectively, while the Topps Traded rookie valuation grew by a commanding 45%, going from an average value of $21 to $30.
It is positive to see that all three rookie cards grew in average selling price, validating our hypothesis that the Hall of Fame announcement would increase the value of cards of players who were inducted. However, the data brings up an interesting question, why did Bagwell’s Topps Traded rookie see the biggest increase?
The Topps Traded is not considered the most valued of the three (that distinction would fall to the Stadium Club card). Furthermore, the Upper Deck and Stadium Club cards grew at the same rate, which means the initial value isn’t the defining variable.
One hypothesis is that for general collectors, the Topps brand is the most recognized name and would therefore be the first brand a novice card collector would go after just hearing that Bagwell was voted into the Hall.
This is especially true if the buyer is younger in age because in today’s market Upper Deck is no longer producing baseball cards, and the Stadium Club brand is now retired by Topps. Combined with the fact that most transactions occurred on the 18th, or in the couple of days that followed, it might mean that many buyers did not have time to research the Stadium Club rookie card.
Perhaps the take away may be that if you are looking to invest in a card to sell after next year’s Hall of Fame announcement, the safest bet to see a price increase is Topps. But because this is one case example, take this hypothesis with a grain of salt. It may also just be that many buyers were more attracted to the lower price point of the Topps rookie.