How Hot Will Yu Darvish Cards Be in 2012?
It has been about a week since Topps unveiled the first autographed Yu Darvish cards to the market as a part of the high-end 2012 Topps Tribute. In a move akin to Willy Wonka's fabled Golden Ticket promotion, the supply of these highly coveted gems are limited. Just 25 redemptions were produced, which that look like this:
I can only imagine how I'd react if I got one, "Wow. I just pulled a piece of white cardboard that promises me a Yu Darvish autograph." Note the lack of exclamation points.
It would have been nice if Topps exercised a little celebratory panache when advertising a card that creates a buzz of international proportions. Even Mr. Wonka had wherewithal to print his tickets on a shiny gold foil surface. I'm thinking a Refractor with the Rangers colors and logo on the card would have been a good start. Perhaps serial numbering the card would give the lucky owner a preview of which card he or she would be receiving. Granted, Darvish was literally a last-second addition, but still.
Rather, we have a bleach white background that doesn't do much to differentiate itself from any of the other inexcusably lame redemptions that any pack ripper has come across at some point.
But I digress. This article is not intended to be a diatribe against Topps or the infestation of redemption cards in our beloved hobby. Rather, it is an examination of just where the eBay market has gone for these cards in the past week and, perhaps, where they will go in the future. So far, four redemptions have sold on eBay for four-figure prices: $1999.99, $1,370, $1,200 and $1,000.
A four-figure price tag for an extremely limited card is by no means a paltry ransom. However, it comes in quite a bit less than I had anticipated for someone with Darvish's international appeal. Remember Ichiro's first autographs from 2001 SPx? Those topped out at $4,000-5,000 apiece with much of the market being fueled by overseas buyers. Naturally, we all remember "Linsanity." Even disregarding the infamous $21,580 auction, Lin's first autographs peaked at more than $4,000 during his 15 days of fame.
Maybe it is due to the fact that Darvish has yet to play in a regular season game. Furthermore, his two spring outings thus far have produced mixed results. Some are already questioning just how good he'll be. Perhaps the collecting marketplace is holding out for the more plentiful copies of his Bowman Chrome autographs due to be issued in mid-May with 2012 Bowman Baseball. These offerings should be much more affordable and the Bowman Chrome moniker has a well-established following in the collecting community. Or perhaps it may all come back to the finger-in-the-throat redemption card.
What does the future look like for Darvish's autos?
Much of that will be determined by the impact that he has with the Rangers. If he is dominant and puts up sexy numbers, his Bowman Chrome Gold and Orange Refractor Autographs could easily eclipse his first Topps Tribute redemptions. If he struggles, or heaven forbid, needs time in the minor leagues, demand for these cards could deflate like the late-2008 housing bubble.
A market bull by nature, I believe that Darvish's spring will be one of optimism. The 2012 debuting rookie class is much weaker than last year's flotsam of blue chippers. This means that all eyes will be focused on Darvish as the top prospect not named Bryce Harper. With a couple of dominating spring performances and the NCAA Tournament in the rear view mirror, Texas' $112 million man will be the belle of the media ball and the apple in the eye of collectors in the United States and abroad.
Related Topics: Baseball Cards: Prospecting