Rookie Card Year: 1988
Investment Rating: 7.0
Whether as a starter or a closer, John Smoltz was one of baseball's best pitchers in the 1990s and the early part of the new millennium. Spending nearly all of his career with the Atlanta Braves, he was a part of one of the most imposing starting rotations in baseball history alongside Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. And yet, he somehow managed to avoid much of the hobby spotlight. John Smoltz cards are still, for the most part, very affordable, a notch behind Maddux and Glavine as well as some of his peers from the era like Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.
With the first John Smoltz cards coming at a time when print runs were highest, his rookies and other early issues are, for the most part, very cheap. And that's not going to change any time soon. For those looking for something a little rarer and more collectible, look to premium and regional issues from the time like Topps Tiffany sets or minor league cards.
Following his retirement, there has been an influx in autographed John Smoltz cards. Although some carry lofty values, others can be found for relatively reasonable amounts less than comparable cards of his teammates, Maddux and Glavine.
Smoltz's election to the Hall of Fame secures his spot in the hobby for the foreseeable future. Not only does his place in Cooperstown cap a stellar career, but it expands the market for his memorabilia, especially autographs.
John Smoltz Rookie Cards and Early Minor League Cards
The 1986 ProCards Lakeland Tigers John Smoltz is recognized as his first professional baseball card. Although not exceedingly rare, it's harder to find that virtually all of his early MLB cards. Minor league cards still carry a niche appeal, but values are solid, especially when you could trade one of his MLB rookies for a cup of Starbucks.
Smoltz's second minor league card might not have quite the same prestige as the 1986 issue, but it's still appealing in the sense that a ton aren't readily available.
The first card of John Smoltz in a MLB uniform can be found in the 1988 Fleer Update box set. Supply is plentiful so there's no shortage of supply. This has also kept prices low. It's great in the regard that anyone can buy one, but if you're looking for an investment, it's not going to amount to much.
There's also the 1988 Fleer Glossy John Smoltz, which looks identical but with a more slick look to it thanks to the glossy coating.
It is worth noting that many consider Smoltz's 1989 cards to be rookie cards as well given that 1988 Fleer Update was a box set. If that's your preference, options include cards from Bowman, Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps and Upper Deck.