Hype & Prospecting

18 10 2009

When it comes to The Hobby, prospecting is one of the few areas where you can make some serious money. All it takes is knowledge of the market, the ability to see a young kid’s potential, and money to start picking up as many cards of the player for as little as possible.

One good season in the Minors and/or a good month in September and suddenly those worthless cards you were saving up could turn into a gold mine, albeit a temporary one. It seems like no matter how great a player turns out to be, unless he is on an elite level, his cards never sell for what they once did.

Of course, like all gambles, there is a huge risk involved. For every Albert Pujols and Tim Lincecum there is a Cameron Maybin and Jay Bruce, two ridiculously overhyped prospects that have gone nowhere so far in their careers.

When Bruce made the Reds team in early 2008, he got off to an unbelievable start. Before cooling down, there was a point when there were over 20 cards of him on eBay with an asking price of $1,000 dollars or more. The same goes for Cameron Maybin after his super-hot ’08 September call-up.

There are even prospectors who purposely try to manipulate the market to sell off their stash of cards. It’s fairly common to see members of card-related forums “pimp their player” by posting constant updates on every game the particular player has done well in. Thankfully, collectors have started to pick up on these acts of desperation.

When I came back to collecting in 2007 I just could not comprehend why so many collectors were spending thousands of dollars on players who might never even make it to “The Show”. Others even went as far as stalking High School kids for autographs.

The truth is, there is a lot of money to be made in prospecting if you know what you’re doing. You’re looking at a guy who spent $40 dollars on “El Duque’s” rookie card and once thought Jose Cruz Jr. was ten times better than Ken Griffey Jr. so obviously I am not one of those guys.

As for the prospect side of The Hobby, last year we had Bowman, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Sterling, Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, Tristar PROjections, Razor Signature, Razor Lettermen, Razor Metal, and Donruss Elite Extra Edition. It’s almost the end of the year and both Razor and Donruss/Panini have backed out of the prospect market.

If prospectors get really desperate, they could always buy Bowman Little League.

The Hype Machine


Actions

Information

14 responses

18 10 2009
Gellman

The truth is, there is a lot of money to be made in prospecting if you know what you’re doing.

Exactly. Thats why people do it. If you dont know what you are doing in anything, bad things will happen.

To say that they shouldnt do it because its a risk, is ridiculous. Of course the players arent tested, thats the point. There is no reason at all to hate on them for trying to make money on something they are good at. They do their thing, the high enders do their thing, set collectors do their thing. There is tons of room for every type of collector in this hobby.

18 10 2009
Thomas

A temporary gold mine is all a prospector needs. Just long enough to sell.

I don’t know who the people are who buy when hype is at its highest, but that’s who prospectors (like myself) sell to. And hey, if the buyer is happy, that’s all that matters.

18 10 2009
Kris

The people buying when hype’s at it’s highest never seem to understand that hype’s at it’s highest, or why they should be waiting.

People read their baseball america, and see a prospect ranked 23rd overall. They do a little research, and find out he’s got the skills to be a 10-year allstar type player.

They feel that because they’ve done so much extra work, to unearth such a diamond, that the value of the card must be lower than it should be. Furthermore, it has to be much lower than it’ll grow to once Player X does well.

They literally can’t get past their ego. It’s the american dream at it’s finest: Hard Work = Good Things.

The same thing happens when a seller misspells a player’s name. This is one of the better ways to make money on mediocre cards. You’ll find the value for random cards like “Travis Snyder” rather than “Travis Snider” will take a jump because the people that found the card feel as though they MUST be getting a deal.

18 10 2009
Ken

The cool thing also is the second wave. As you note, Jay Bruce was incredibly hyped and expensive early in his rookie season, but now it is swinging the other way. The early high hype makes for an unreasonable backlash when he doesn’t hit .350 with 30 hr.

Now may be the best time to buy his cards, because if he can stay healthy he should rebound and his cards will never be this low again. He isn’t a .223 hitter that’s for sure. 2009 should end up being one of his worst seasons in a long career.

His minor league numbers were great, his power and walks increased (per at-bat) considerably last season and he is very young. He already has 43 career HR at age 22; well ahead of the curve of many players we call greats. A lot of players aren’t even in the majors at his age.

18 10 2009
The Mojo Hand

Bruce is only 24, and still has time to reach his potential. He still managed to smash 22 HR in 345 AB’s which isn’t bad by todays standards. Its not uncommon for a player to struggle in their second season.

He also plays for one of the worst teams in baseball, and alongside some very untalented players.

18 10 2009
mfw13

Just remember….for every happy prospector who bought low, sold high, and made a killing, there are probably three or four unhappy people who bought high and are now faced with the choice of either selling low or holding on to a card they overpaid for in the desperate hope that it’s value will increase in the future.

Since nobody can predict the future, prospecting is in essence just another form of gambling, only in this case with sports cards. And while prospecting has always been a part of the hobby in some way shape or form, the extent to which it has now come to dominate the hobby, with 5-10 high-priced sets each year focused specifically on rookies, and other sets bloated by the inclusion of too many rookies, is not, in my opinion, a positive development for the long-term economic health of the hobby.

Given that most prospectors are in it primarily to make money and are not long-term collectors, the fact that manufacturers are spending so much time, energy, and dollars catering to people who probably will not even be buying cards in five years is rather disheartening.

The focus needs to be on the people who will still be collecting twenty or thirty years from now, not on people who will only stay in the hobby until they realize that there are easier and better ways to make money than by gambling on unproven prospects.

18 10 2009
Tim

I prospected Brien Taylor in 1992, and I was only 11. So after that burnout, I decided to focus on player that was already proven, if he won’t make it into the HOF or even break any records.

18 10 2009
Ricky

I prospected Brien Taylor in 1992,

I was just gonna post about Brien, lol.. IMO, Brien was the 1st real prospector’s goldmine, or however you wanna word it.. I remember looking at a Beckett, and his card was by far the most expensive in 92 Topps.. I think it was almost $10.. I had been loving the “#1 Draft Picks” since ’89, but I’d never seen them valued like that when they first came out – even #1 picks like Andy Benes or Chipper Jones.. Sure, there was Ben McDonald and Todd Van Poppel in the previous couple years, but their cards were only going for a buck or so.. The hype was nowhere near Brien Taylor hype, with Topps going as far as having him autograph a card as well for ’92 Topps Gold sets..

18 10 2009
Doris Waldhelm

He will end up being one of the best players who ever played the game because he loves baseball, will put out all he has (which is fabulous talent and skills), and is a truly down-to-earth modest kid. Watch him.

19 10 2009
jswaykos

I tried prospecting once, didn’t work out!! I can only laugh at it: http://pricelesspursuit.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/prospecting-101/

19 10 2009
Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

I’m often dumbfounded when people just give up on a prospect after barely playing in the majors for 2 full years or less.

It’s very common to find collectors who are not very savvy people when it comes to the actual sport of baseball. Thus, they give up on “overhyped” prospects like Bruce or Justin Upton only to later discover they should have just had more patience.

Case in point: if you do a little browsing through the archives on this website you may come across a post on this website from less than two years ago regarding “overhyped” prospect Felix Hernandez and the blogger’s shock that the value of his cards were still very high. This year Felix posted a 19-5 record with a 2.49 era and 217 k’s in the AL and will probably finish 2nd in voting for the Cy Young.

Basically, we (as collectors AND fans) should probably give the “overhyped” guys 2-3 years in the majors to adjust before we expect them to dominate. In fact, I don’t know why people expect 20-22 year old kids to succeed instantly against guys who have been playing the game professionally for years. This isn’t the NBA, people…

19 10 2009
Thomas

mfw,

People who buy when a player’s hype is at its highest aren’t the kind of people who are looking to sell the card in the first place. And if they are, who cares? Someone dumb enough to buy when a card is at its high point is not someone who is good with money in the first place. It’s either a prospect’s cards or magic beans – they’re going to blow their money on something. It’s better for the hobby as a whole if they spend their money on cards, because that money gets recycled through the hobby.

Prospecting is gambling, but it’s not chance. The better a prospector is, the less of a gamble it is. I’m right around a 75% success rate as far as picking prospects that make the majors. The guys I buy are low risk-high reward, and I make an absolute killing at it. It’s not a gamble for me, I know that for every four prospects I buy, I will make money on three of them, and break even on the fourth. Other prospectors may not get the numbers I do, but there are some who do quite well for themselves. It’s not a coin flip, and it’s not rocket science. It’s pretty damn easy to tell who is going to make the majors.

I don’t know what gives you the impression that prospectors are just in it for the short-term. When I go to the forums or look at the new eBay listings, I’m seeing the same prospectors shilling their players and selling their stashes that I was seeing five years ago, and they’re not slowing down. Quite the contrary. It’s the player collectors who are folding up the tent and moving on.

Prospecting is a rock-solid money maker, and it’s a lot more predictable than the stock market. It’s also a lot of fun. There’s no reason for anyone to stop.

What DOES need to stop is you (and people like you) looking down your nose at people who collect or participate in the hobby in a different way than you do. I don’t get your incessant urge to judge and put down others. What makes your way of collecting any more legitimate than anyone else’s?

Prospectors bring a TON of money into the hobby. The card companies would be FOOLISH to neglect them in favor of the cheapskate set collectors.

21 10 2009
Eric E

I love your Bowman Little league😄😄.

But in my opinion, I think the team he is drafted by can make or break a prospect. Look at LV’s Bryce Harper, if he get’s drafted into pinstripes, he will have a good reputation for playing with the Yanks, however look at Curtis Granderson. A good player who got picked up by the Tigers. Same with Steven Strasburg, the Nats? He won’t have a good career with them at all.

Matt Weiters also, the Orioles aren’t gonna give him anything, to bad the so called “next Joe Mauer” got drafted by some no name team.

Now I am just name dropping, and blathering on and on, but I believe Jay Bruce will make a name for himself. He has wonderful power along with an arm and a great glove, he will do good for himself along with what Doris Waldhelm said ^

23 10 2009
Ricky

I’m right around a 75% success rate as far as picking prospects that make the majors. The guys I buy are low risk-high reward, and I make an absolute killing at it. It’s not a gamble for me, I know that for every four prospects I buy, I will make money on three of them, and break even on the fourth. Other prospectors may not get the numbers I do, but there are some who do quite well for themselves. It’s not a coin flip, and it’s not rocket science. It’s pretty damn easy to tell who is going to make the majors.

Prospecting is a rock-solid money maker, and it’s a lot more predictable than the stock market. It’s also a lot of fun. There’s no reason for anyone to stop.

You’re such a pipe-dreamer dude.. There’s no need to try and impress people on an internet forum, about how you “make an absolute killing prospecting 75% of the time”, and “how it’s a rock solid money maker”.. What you said sounds so insanely ridiculous it’s actually really funny.. So I can’t say that you’re not at least entertaining..

OK how bout this – give us your 4 picks for 2010.. If what you’re claiming is true, then with 3 of them, someone should be able to buy now, and increase their money at least 5-fold, which is what I’d classify as “making a killing”.. Oh yea, but you can’t give away any secrets I bet, LOL!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: