So, do you take your Shohei Ohtani rookie cards on the mound, or in the batter’s box?
The good news is, you don’t have to choose!
The “bad” news, if you can call it that, is that Ohtani rookie cards are among the hottest in the entire hobby, so they won’t come cheaply.
But, what else would you expect from the most unusual (and likely unique) baseball talent that any of us have ever encountered … right?
Almost from the time “Shotime” was selected by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters with their first pick of the 2012 NPB Draft, the hurler/slugger/brain-bender has turned heads and had fans everywhere wondering what was coming next.
In Japan, what was next was a successful run as a starting pitcher and star hitter, an All-Star, and an MVP.
And then, in 2017, “what’s next” became whispers that the Fighters might post him for bidding by Major League Baseball teams … and then it happened.
The Los Angeles Angels won that bidding war, signing Ohtani for a $2.315 million bonus, in addition to the $20 million posting fee they paid to the Fighters.
That was in December of 2017, which set off a frenzy of speculation about what Ohtani would do in the majors — pitch or hit … or *gulp* could he continue to do both?
While we all tried to fathom the possibilities, the hobby turned to the avalanche of Japanese issues featuring Ohtani, jumpstarting prices and building excitement for what still lay ahead.
That question had a pretty quick answer, as Ohtani broke camp with the Halos in 2018, started at designated hitter on Opening Day, and then took the mound for the first time in the bigs on April 1, drawing the start and going six innings.
By then — or soon after — Topps and Panini had fired up their rookie-card machinery for the young righthander (and left-handed batter), with several Topps, Panini, and Bowman Ohtani “official” rookie cards hitting the market by the end of the calendar year.
Despite an elbow injury suffered during that season that eventually required Tommy John surgery, Ohtani still managed to crank 22 home runs and drive in 61 runs while batting .285 … and while going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA on the mound!
Amazing stuff, and enough to cop the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year award.
His cards were flying off dealer shelves (real and virtual), and, again, we all waited for what came next.
Ohtani didn’t pitch at all in 2019 while his elbow recovered, but he did take the box in 106 games, smacking another 18 dingers.
Then, after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Ohtani entered 2021 more or less fully healthy and in his prime, and it showed.
In 155 games, he tagged 46 home runs and drove in an even 100 runs, tacking on 26 stolen bases and 103 runs scored for good measure.
Oh yeah — he also made 23 starts, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA while striking out 156 batters in 130 1/3 innings.
It was a bonkers combined performance that added up to more than nine WAR (Baseball Reference version), an All-Star berth as both a hitter and a pitcher, and the A.L. Most Valuable Player award.
As you might imagine, and as you’ve no doubt experienced, all of that ridiculous play has continued to do wonders for Ohtani’s RCs.
As evidence of that, take a look at the list below of the hottest, most watched Shohei Ohtani rookie cards on eBay right now — and come back soon, because we update these goodies often.