For over a decade, there hasn’t been a brighter star in baseball and the world of baseball cards than Mike Trout. While others have flourished in recent years such as Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, and Vladimir Guererro Jr., none have carried the entire sport and card industry on his back further and longer than Trout. A parallel of his rookie card sold last year for an unheard of $3.84 million and made mainstream media news because of it. Meanwhile, his Topps and Bowman rookies have consistently demanded thousands of dollars for nearly a decade and his autographs are the cornerstone of every box break on the planet.
Mike Trout is a once in a lifetime player and an amazing human being to boot, this cannot be denied but it is becoming crystal clear that he has become injury prone, which has already likely cost him a shot at the home run crown. In what is usually prime year territories for sluggers (ages 25-29), Trout has missed 27% or just over 300 games for the Los Angeles Angels. As for most career home runs by age 29, Mike Trout is listed at 14th place, behind fellow “hobby legend” Adam Dunn. Last time I checked, Dunn’s rookie cards have never sold for even a small fraction of what Trout’s cards bring in even to this day.
It didn’t help matters that Trout’s 2020 season was ruined by Covid-19 and a shortned schedule but add this current MLB work stoppage and his momentum could forever be destroyed if he is unable to play a full season. Even if a baseball strike is prevented, if Trout has any injuries in 2022, you can expect thousands upon thousands of collectors/investors to start unloading Trout’s best cards on the secondary market. Mike doesn’t just need to remain healthy; he needs to put up Trout-like numbers in 2022 to keep from getting dethroned from his Hobby Legend status.
I witnessed this first hand with Jose Canseco. In 1990, I walked into a card shop and for the first time in my life saw the iconic 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie card with a $165 price tag, which as a 10 year old kid, seemed like a fortune. The next time I ran into the card was 1995 after Jose had burnt out of Oakland and Texas and found himself on the Boston Red Sox. The price tag was now $35, which again, was more than I had. By 1999, I finally added the card to my collection for $23 dollars. You see, once the shine was off that apple, in this case Canseco, he was never able to regain that hobby legend status.
I’m not suggesting Mike Trout will face a similar fate but I will predict that another lost season will finally bring those rookie card prices down to reality. For starters, 2011 Topps Update is not that rare and already there are over 5,500+ Gem Mint copies of Trout’s rookie card. Now add another 4,000 of 9 & 8 grades. That’s not even counting other grading services such as BGS and HGA, which likely has numbers close to PSA. The point being that there are just way too many rookie cards out there to keep prices where they are and another injury-filled season will finally open the floodgates on -$500 Trout graded rookies.
I personally do not want anything bad to happen to Trout. I hope he finishes his career out with more monster seasons and even more MVP trophies. If anything, I hope he gets to experience a World Series win before it’s all said and done. I just think that injuries and lost playing time has done irreparable damage to his legacy and will cause him to fall short on many important offensive milestones. It may just be his time to step down for one of today’s “once in a lifetime” talents to take over such as Vlad Jr. or even Juan Soto. What goes up eventually must come down and in 2022, it may be Mike Trout.