Rookie Card Year: 2005
Investment Rating: 6.0
It has been something of an up and down run for Nelson Cruz cards. While they have never been scorching, he has gotten into the habit of doing two things a lot of collectors love, hit home runs and make clutch postseason hits. But a lot of the initial goodwill Cruz built in the hobby was halted when he was caught up in the Biogenesis scandal and suspended for 50 games in 2013 as a result. A strong 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles has carried over into a torrid start to 2015 in Seattle. While there might not be a ton of long-term potential for the slugger at this point, Nelson Cruz rookie cards might be worth another look.
Cruz's career has been somewhat nomadic. Before he made his MLB debut with the Brewers in 2005, the outfielder had already been part of the Mets and Athletics organizations. In 2006, Cruz was sent to the Rangers where he went on to make a major impact. He was a two-time All-Star with the team and, more importantly, the 2011 ALCS MVP.
Cruz drew little interest as a free agent heading into the 2014 season before finally signing with the Orioles. Baltimore looked savvy with the move as the slugger went on to lead the American League in home runs for the first time.
As a result, the Dominican-born star was one of the most coveted free agents following the season. Cruz ended up landing with the Mariners, his sixth MLB franchise. In his first dozen games with Seattle, he hit eight home runs and drove in 14 runs.
Collectors have 15 Nelson Cruz rookie cards to choose from. They range from the cheap and readily available to a handful of autographed rarities. Autographed and serial numbered to 185, his 2005 SP Authentic is generally considered the most valuable. Other popular Nelson Cruz rookies include 2005 SPx and 2005 Upper Deck Ultimate Signature. Both are signed. For those on a tighter budget, his 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft and 2005 Topps Chrome Traded cards are two of the better ones. In addition to the base rookie cards, most have rarer parallel inserts.
Given his age, it's unlikely that Nelson Cruz rookie cards will ever reach huge numbers, at least over the long-term. By the time his deal with the Mariners runs out after the 2018 season, it's very unlikely that he'll hit major milestones. Even if he averages 40 home runs a season, he still won't have 400 for his career. And even if he does reach that mark, many are going to look at his connection with performance-enhancing drugs. That being said, it makes for a much smaller risk for those who are fans. And should Cruz continue to dominate with the Mariners and bring them into the post-season, it could make for some short-term gains.