Prospect hype is nothing new, but the massive interest in Shohei Ohtani rookie cards is indicative of the potential many see in the Japanese star. Dubbed the Babe Ruth of Japan, the two-way 2018 MLB rookie can pitch and hit at a high level. As a result, collecting demand has surged for the Los Angeles Angels' star signing.
Because his pro career began in the Japanese leagues with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, the earliest Shohei Ohtani cards can be somewhat elusive. Starting in 2013, options include popular brands from Japan, most notably BBM and Calbee. While there are quite a few choices, and even some autographs, most of the cards are pretty basic and not in huge supply. However, the rarest cards command huge sums when they surface.
As the likelihood of his move to an MLB team increased, more mainstream options began to trickle out. First came his 2017 Bowman Mega Box Chrome card. His earliest MLB card debuted through the Topps Now program near the end of 2017, setting records along the way.
If you are looking for more than Shohei Ohtani cards, Topps Authentics is the place to find autographed gear for Ohtani, including signed baseballs and jerseys.
2018 Shohei Ohtani Baseball Cards
Although Panini offers MLBPA cards for Ohtani, only Topps has his MLB cards. In addition, Topps confirmed a long-term autograph and trading card deal that starts with 2018 Topps Baseball products. Up first is 2018 Topps Heritage, featuring both a short-printed base variation card and an autograph.
Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards and Other Key Cards
Shop specific cards on eBay using the links below. Bolded sets go to complete product profiles or card guides.
2018 Donruss Shohei Ohtani Autographs
Although Ohtani has no base rookie cards in 2018 Donruss Baseball, he has several different autographs. This includes on-card Private Signings, Rated Prospect Signatures, and Signing Day Signatures versions, each numbered to 50 copies. He also signed for Signature Series and Promising Pros Materials Signatures. Those not looking for autographs can find Ohtani in most of the inserts, as well.
2018 Topps Heritage Shohei Ohtani Rookie Variation #17
The first pack-pulled Shohei Ohtani RC card is likely to remain a popular choice for collectors. Issued as a Hobby-only short print in 2018 Topps Heritage Baseball, Ohtani is part of the 25-card Action Image variation lineup which averages 1:35 packs. This may not sound all that rare, but it works out to around 1:3 cases for Ohtani.
He also has an on-card signature in the Real One Autographs checklist, including the red ink Special Edition that is hand-numbered to 69 copies.
2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani RC #ST-4 (PR=11,384)
The earliest RC card for Shohei Ohtani was issued via the Spring Training offshoot for 2018 Topps Now Baseball. It notes his pitching debut for the Angels on February 24, 2018. A hitting version came two days later, ultimately selling 6,842 cards.
2017 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani #OS-80 (PR=17,323)
The very first Shohei Ohtani MLB card documents his free agent signing with the Los Angeles Angels on December 14, 2017. Part of the 2017 Topps Now Off-Season release, the on-demand card set the record for the Now program by selling 17,323 cards in just 24 hours.
2017 Bowman Chrome Mega Box Shohei Ohtani #BCP31
Already the key Shohei Ohtani prospect card, many collectors view the 2017 Bowman Chrome Mega Box release as the Ohtani rookie to own. Spelled Otani on his WBC Team Japan card, the Target exclusive showcases a unique chainlink pattern commonly known as "mojo" in the hobby. There are also several limited Refractor parallels, including purple (#/250), green (#/99), orange (#/25) and black (1/1).
2013 BBM Rookie Edition Shohei Ohtani #42
While Ohtani actually has a fair amount of 2013 BBM cards issued in Japan, the Rookie Edition release is among his most popular. Ohtani has two different images for card #42, including a pitching version and a hitting edition. However, the most valuable of these are the facsimile signature parallels.