2011 Great American Baseball Card Tour: AL West

2011 Great American Baseball Card Tour: AL West

Tour Stop #3: American League West

Welcome to stop #3 on our massive 30 team, 600 card tour of the best veteran and prospect baseball cards on the planet. During the first two stops, we looked at the best cards from the American League Central and American League East. Our next stop takes us to the best cards from American League West!

Each team was assigned two grades, one based on the strength of their veteran cards and one based on the strength of their prospect cards (any player who qualifies as a rookie in 2011 and beyond). Those two grades were then combined to come up with a single grade for each team. Grades were based on the following factors:SAMPLE TICKET2 Image

  • Star Power (veteran cards) - How many hobby superstars does the team have? Having a top 25 hobby force (Mauer, Pujols, etc.) can carry a team's veteran grade.
  • Star Potential (prospect cards) - How many potential future hobby superstars does a team have? Like Star Power, a top 25 hobby prospect can carry a team's prospect card grade (Trout, Harper, etc.).
  • Depth - How deep is a team's checklist in terms of collectible players?
  • Cardboard Coverage- This one is completely based on how well a team's players have been covered on cardboard. It also takes into account card quality, brand, autographs, print run, year and numerous other factors pertaining to the cards themselves. This one had less impact on overall grade than Star Power and Depth.

Enjoy the tour and remember to refractor up when at all possible or in the case of Donruss Elite, die-cut up whenever possible (Status, Aspirations)!

1. Seattle Mariners: B+

MARINERS TICKET GREATAMERICAN ImageAnd here it is, the first shocker of our baseball card tour, the Seattle Mariners have the best cards in the American League West despite being the worst team in the American League West!

This upset comes courtesy way of the dual checklist threat known simply as Ichiro. Not only does he offer collectors some of the best cards of the 2000's with his 2001 rookie card checklist, he also has an intriguing array of 1993 Japanese first year cards. In addition, Ichiro has a dual fan base that includes both American and Japanese collectors.

Due to supreme cardboard coverage, Ichiro might have the most collectible cardboard in all of baseball. Collectors are also drawn to unique players with unique stories, which describes him to a tee.

Felix Hernandez fills out the last few slots of the Mariners veteran checklist nicely. King Felix is arguably the best pitcher in the game and has a quality 2004 Bowman Chrome Auto to boot. If a big market team acquired Felix or should the M's turn things around, his cards could see a boombastic book boost.

The strength of the M's farm system is up the middle, with 2B Dustin Ackley and SS Nick Franklin forming a solid hobby double play combo. Although Ackley has yet to put up the type of numbers that made him the #2 pick in the 2009 draft, he did start to turn the corner toward the tail end of 2010. He also possesses what scouts call a "can't miss bat".

Two other Mariners farm hands worth keeping an eye on are SP Michael Pineda, who is overdue for a Bowman auto and hot corner prospect Alex Liddi, who had a Bowman Chrome auto in 2010. If and when the 22 year old Liddi makes the majors, he will become just the 8th Italian born player in MLB history and the first since 1963 (Reno Bertoia).

Top 10 Veteran Cards:

  1. 2001 Ultimate Collection #120 Ichiro Suzuki T3 AU RC Image ($2,200)
  2. 2001 SPx #150 Ichiro JSY AU RC Image ($900)
  3. 1993 Takara Japan #BW51 Ichiro Suzuki Image ($400-$600)
  4. 1993 Tomy ID Japan #102 Ichiro Suzuki Image (NA)
  5. *2001 SP Authentic #91 Ichiro Suzuki FW RC Image($120)
  6. 1993 BBM Japan #239 Ichiro Suzuki Image ($60-$100)
  7. 1993 Hawaii Winter League Ichiro Suzuki Cards Image (varies)
  8. 2004 Bowman Chrome #345 Felix Hernandez AU RC Image ($120)
  9. 2001 Bowman Chrome #351A/B Ichiro Suzuki RC Image ($120)
  10. 2004 Bowman's Best #FH Felix Hernandez FY AU RC Image ($50)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP89B Dustin Ackley AU Image ($60)
  2. 2010 Bowman Chrome Wrapper Redemption Autographs #WR5 Dustin Ackley Image ($175)
  3. 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #51 Dustin Ackley AU/899 Image ($50)
  4. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP103B Nick Franklin AU Image ($30)
  5. 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #91 Nick Franklin AU/724 Image ($30)
  6. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP182B Alex Liddi AU Image ($20)
  7. 2009 Bowman Chrome Michael Pineda Refractors Image (varies)
  8. 2008 Donruss Threads Johermyn Chavez Auto Image (NA)
  9. 2010 Bowman Sterling Prospect Autographs #TWA Taijuan Walker Image ($8)
  10. 2010 Bowman Chrome 18U USA Baseball Autographs #ML Marcus Littlewood Image ($15)

*Watch out for Ichiro's 2001 non-rookie SP Authentic card. The two cards look nearly identical. Card #91 is the real deal.

2. Texas Rangers: B

TEXASRANGERS TICKET GREATAMERICANTOUR ImageThe loss of Vladimir Guerrero subtracted a future first ball hall-of-famer from the Rangers checklist. Thankfully the Rangers have a top 10 hobby force in Josh Hamilton. When physically and mentally healthy Hamilton is without question one of the 5 best players in the league.

After that the veteran checklist gets a bit dicey thanks to the poor cardboard coverage Ian Kinsler received during his early years as a pro. That being said, his cards should never-the-less see a bounce-back in value should he return to his 30-30 form from 2009.

Like Kinsler, Adrian Beltre also received extremely poor cardboard coverage during in his younger years. In Beltre's case the culprit was the 90's.

The Rangers prospect checklist is an un-shuffled deck at the moment. Martin Perez is the team's top prospect though I'm not sure if he's ace material. He doesn't strike me as the type of work horse Nolan Ryan is looking for.

Remember the name Jurickson Profar when 2011 Bowman releases. The 18-year-old Short Stop is one the key names on the early prospect auto checklist.

Last year, the Rangers added a trio of solid prospects via the 2010 MLB Draft - OF Jake Skole, 3B Mike Olt and C Kellin Deglan.

The 19-year-old Skole has the highest hobby upside of three, yet he's also the least polished. There's a decent chance Mike Olt could transition to 1st base due to the Beltre signing. Olt is a quick study and has played multiple positions on the diamond throughout high school and college, so there's no reason to believe he couldn't make the transition.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 1999 Topps Traded Autographs #T66 Josh Hamilton Image ($250)
  2. 2007 Exquisite Collection Rookie Signatures #170 Josh Hamilton Jsy AU/199 Image (RC) ($50)
  3. 2000 Topps Autographs #TA30 Josh Hamilton E Image ($60)
  4. 2007 Bowman Sterling #JH Josh Hamilton AU (RC) Image ($30)
  5. 2006 Topps Chrome #340 Ian Kinsler AU (RC) Image ($20)
  6. 2006 Bowman Sterling #IK Ian Kinsler AU (RC) Image ($25)
  7. 1999 Bowman Chrome #431 Josh Hamilton RC Image ($20)
  8. 1998 Bowman's Best Autographs #120 Adrian Beltre Image ($15)
  9. 2005 SPx #147 Nelson Cruz AU RC Image ($60)
  10. 2009 Ultimate Collection #108 Neftali Feliz AU/135 RC Image ($50)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP119B Martin Perez AU Image ($25)
  2. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP91 Jake Skole Image ($20)
  3. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #90 Jurickson Profar Image ($20)
  4. 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP260 Engel Beltre AU Image ($25)
  5. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP65 Mike Olt Image ($15)
  6. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #145 Martin Perez AU/494 Image ($20)
  7. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP219B Robbie Erlin AU Image ($12)
  8. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP66 Kellin Deglan Image ($10)
  9. 2010 Bowman Sterling Prospect Autographs #JS Jake Skole Image ($10)
  10. 2010 Bowman Sterling Prospect Autographs #MO Mike Olt Image ($10)

3. Los Angeles Angels: C+

ANGELS TICKET GREATAMERICAN ImageAs long as Mike Scioscia resides in the Angels dugout, this team will compete. Unfortunately the Angels have one baseball's worst veteran checklists. It's filled with guys who are above-average players, but not hobby stars.

On top of that, players like Torii Hunter received piss-poor cardboard coverage during their early years in the league. In the case of Hunter, the problem was the 1994 baseball card season.

The Angels veteran with the most hobby potential is Kendry Morales, who will start the season on the DL. He's a middle-of-the-order big bat, which collectors tend to gravitate toward. The most collected players in baseball fill out the 3-4-5 spots on a lineup card.

Jared Weaver is really good, but collectors prefer position players over pitchers. In order to break that unwritten rule you have to be in the "greatest pitchers of your generation" conversation, which Weaver is not.

Fear not Angels fans, there's an Angel in the outfield named Mike Trout on the way! He's twice as athletic as the last Angel with a fishing themed last name (Tim Salmon). Since being drafted in 2009, Trout has demonstrated that he knows how to play with five-tools, unlike 95% of five-tool players. His plate approach and advanced understanding of hitting remind me of a right handed version of Joe Mauer. At just 19-years-old, he is able to hit around a defense, has a plan each time he steps up to the plate and has excellent bat and body control.

Another Los Angeles farmhand worth mentioning is 2010 first-round pick 3B Kaleb Cowart. The 18-year-old switch hitter has big time upside at the plate. His one weakness is that he's not a plus defender at the moment, but he has a plus arm and is in good hands. Fellow 2010 first -rounder OF Chevez Clarke has intriguing athleticism and is a potential high upside guy to watch in 2011. Since drafting Trout, I'm a big believer in the Angels re-commitment to outfield scouting.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft #167 Jered Weaver AU A RC Image ($50)
  2. 2006 Ultimate Collection #127 Jered Weaver AU/150 (RC) Image ($50)
  3. 2005 Ultimate Signature #148 Kendry Morales AU RC Image ($100)
  4. 2005 SP Authentic #140 Kendry Morales AU RC Image ($80)
  5. 1995 SP Top Prospects Autographs #1 Bob Abreu Image ($40)
  6. 1994 Bowman #104 Torii Hunter RC Image ($5)
  7. 2006 Ultimate Collection #171 Howie Kendrick AU/180 (RC) Image ($40)
  8. 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC240 Kendry Morales AU Image ($25)
  9. 1999 Bowman Autographs #BA64 Vernon Wells B Image ($20)
  10. 1994 Pinnacle Museum Collection #267 Torii Hunter Image ($8)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP89 Mike Trout AU Image ($120)
  2. 2009 Bowman Sterling Prospects #MT Mike Trout AU Image ($80)
  3. 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #57 Mike Trout AU/495 Image ($80)
  4. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #5 Kaleb Cowart/230 Image ($50)
  5. 2006 Bowman Sterling Prospects #HC Hank Conger AU B Image ($25)
  6. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP89 Kaleb Cowart Image ($20)
  7. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #3 Chevez Clarke/35 Image ($150)
  8. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #131 Kaleb Cowart AU/750 Image ($20)
  9. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP72 Chevez Clarke Image ($12)
  10. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #146 Jean Segura AU/811 Image ($10)

4. Oakland A's: C

ATHLETICS TICKET GREATAMERICAN ImageThe A's are a mechanical entity, not a baseball team. As such, the A's have one of the weakest veteran checklists in the game. Like Ichiro, Japanese collectors have faithfully followed Hideki Matsui through the ups-and-downs of his career. Unfortunately for the A's veteran checklist, Matsui isn't Ichiro.

The A's strength is pitching, which is the weakest position in the baseball card world. For the most part collectors prefer to chase position players because they play everyday and are less likely to sustain career altering injury.

Trevor Cahill was the staff ace in 2010, but the most collectible pitcher on the staff is Brett Anderson due to his swing and miss stuff. Collectors like K's.

SS Grant Green and OF Michael Choice anchor an extremely solid prospect checklist. Green could be in an A's uniform sooner rather than later. While Choice could be a couple years away as many scouts feel his swing has kinks that could use some ironing out.

In the last two drafts, Billy Beane has surprised many with the amount of high schoolers he's drafted. OF Aaron Shipman, C Max Stassi and SS Yordy Cabrera are three such talents that could leap onto the hobby scene in 2011. Shipman is probably the most athletic player in the A's system.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 2003 SP Authentic #181 Hideki Matsui FW AU RC Image ($300)
  2. 2003 Ultimate Collection #169 Hideki Matsui AU RC Image ($350)
  3. 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP105 Brett Anderson AU Image ($25)
  4. 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC234 Trevor Cahill AU Image ($25)
  5. 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #95 Brett Anderson AU/549 Image ($50)
  6. 2009 Topps Chrome #226 Brett Anderson AU Image ($20)
  7. 2009 Topps Triple Threads #135 Brett Anderson Jsy AU RC Image ($20)
  8. 2009 Topps Triple Threads #128 Trevor Cahill Jsy AU RC Image ($20)
  9. 2009 Sweet Spot #102 Brett Anderson AU/650 RC Image ($12)
  10. 2009 Topps Chrome #242 Andrew Bailey AU Image ($12)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP106B Grant Green AU Image ($30)
  2. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP61 Michael Choice Image ($40)
  3. 2010 Bowman Chrome USA Baseball Buyback Autographs #BC4 Michael Choice Image ($120)
  4. 2009 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #67 Grant Green AU/444 Image ($15)
  5. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #101 Michael Choice AU/470 Image ($25)
  6. 2008 Donruss Threads Signatures Gold #52 Chris Carter/499 Image ($20)
  7. 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #148 Michael Taylor AU/720 Image ($50)
  8. 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP94 Max Stassi AU Image ($12)
  9. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #13 Ian Krol /127 Image ($30)
  10. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #181 Aaron Shipman AU/701 ($8)

Best of the American League West:

Best Overall Card: 2001 Ultimate Collection Ichiro Auto RC
Best High Minors Card: 2010 Bowman Chrome Dustin Ackley Auto
Best Low Minors Card: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Auto
Breakout Veteran Card: 2002 Ultimate Collection Ichiro Auto RC
Breakout Prospect Card: 2010 Bowman Chrome Jake Skole Auto
Sleeper Card: 2008 Bowman Chrome Engel Beltre Auto
Prospects in Need of a Bowman Chrome Auto: Michael Pineda, Aaron Shipman, Ian Krol, Yordy Cabrera, Jean Segura, Hank Conger, Guillermo Pimentel, Phillips Castillo, Esteilon Peguero, Marcus Littlewood, Taijuan Walker, Luis Sardinas
Best Veteran Cards: Seattle Mariners
Best Prospect Cards: Los Angeles Angels

Great American Tour Guide:

ebaysmalllogo Image

3214116557604040 1 Image
2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Draft Prospects Rookie Auto PSA 10 GEM MINT
1214335218994040 1 Image
3511498157194040 1 Image
2 x 2009 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Xfractor Auto RC BGS 9.5 and BGS 9. Auto 10.
2313306291154040 1 Image
2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Blue Refractor 113 150 BGS 9 AUTO 10
1413811325984040 1 Image
1312934997284040 1 Image
2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Blue Refractor Auto 150 BGS 9.5 10
2215495579524040 1 Image
Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome RC Xfractor W 10 Auto #BDPP89 BGS 9 Mint 124 225
1815272768144040 1 Image
BGS 9.5 10 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor Auto 150 *Should Be Next MVP!

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Brett is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

User Comments

  1. I’m surprised that the Mariners are #1. No surprise that the A’s are last.

  2. Love this series.

    Makes me laugh how few of these cards I’ve collected. I’m doing something very wrong here.

  3. Agreed very interesting read.
    I don’t agree with the Kinsler statement he actually has a very good selection of autos. Topps Chome, Sterling and SPA.

    The sucky part is that Neftali Feliz was totally screwed out of nice autos as a rookie no Bowman Chrome no Topps Chrome just 2 Upper Deck sets that most people didnt buy, same with Elvis Andrus(although upper deck covered him well in ballpark and sweet spot). Mitch Moreland and Tommy Hunter have 0 RC autos. But Bowman is giving alot of love to the Rangers as of 2010.

  4. True about Kinsler, really the main complaint I had was that he had a 2005 Bowman Chrome card but no Bowman Chrome Auto. I’m looking forward to that Profar auto in 2011 Bowman.

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