1997 Fleer Ultra David Ortiz
Not a big Ortiz fan personally, but there is little doubt that he is the best player on the most successful team of the last decade. With that success the popularity of David Ortiz has risen dramatically over the past decade as well. Ortiz actually started off his career with the Minnesota Twins and was David Arias on his rookie cards. I happen to own his 1997 Fleer Ultra rookie, but he is also David Arias in the 1997 Fleer base too. After those two cards, he was David Ortiz. I don't know the story behind the last name change on his cards, but I am sure it is riveting. Both of his Fleer produced rookie cards, the Ultra and base set, are popular cards and really good sellers. His Fleer rookie card normally sells for around $15 and his Ultra is usually closer to $20 which in my opinion makes them two of the better rookie cards from the late 90s.
Red Sox fans are really good card collectors and Big Papi is one of their favorite players to collect. I have a pretty good run of early Papi cards in my collection, but rarely show them off to anyone, so let's change that a little bit today. First, David Ortiz has always been a terrific signer. There are a ton of his autograph cards out on the market from all sort of different points in his career. My favorites are the early on-card autographs with the Twins, but there are plenty of Red Sox 'graphs out there for fans of Ortiz in a Boston jersey.
1999 SP Signature David Ortiz Autograph
Ortiz has always had a really nice and consistent autograph. I am not sure how that says David Ortiz, but it looks nice and he's signed it the same way for years. Of course, there are other great Ortiz cards to collect besides his rookie cards and autograph cards. Ortiz also has a ton of relic cards. Plenty of premium pieces floating around out there for collectors.
2005 Fleer Classic Clippings David Ortiz Patch
Most of the relic and patch pieces are reasonably priced if you are patient. In fact, one of the best things about collecting Ortiz cards is the fact that he's the best player on a really popular team, with a heavily involved fan base, and his cards are still reasonable and reachable for the average fan. The fact that you can find his base autographs for $20 and nice relics for less says a lot about the value collectors can receive by putting a few Papi cards in their collections. Plus, if you ever feel the need to move Red Sox cards there is always someone willing to take them off of your hands at a decent price.
On the Field-
The fact that Papi has helped the Red Sox win three World Series titles during the past decade should speak volumes about his impact. Ortiz was an important kog on all three World Series winners, but his importance to the Red Sox was clearest this fall during their third World Series title. Ortiz won the World Series MVP and batted an incredible .688 during the Series. It was almost a one man show out on the field at times and one could make a strong argument that without the offense from Oritz the Red Sox probably would have come up short this fall. I'd actually take it a step further and say that the Red Sox would have been eliminated by the Tigers in the ALCS without Papi.
Papi's career is probably winding down and people have started debating his Hall of Fame merits. While I acknowledge the three World Series titles as being impressive, I do not think that team bling alone will get him into the Hall of Fame. In fact, at this point I would say he is still short of being in that class of player. Before I delve into the numbers, this has nothing to do with whatever steroid accusations have been leveled against Ortiz in the past. I would put Mark McGwire in the Hall, so if Ortiz was that good I would have no problem doing the same for him too.
JAWS puts Papi as the 36th best first baseman in MLB history. There is no doubt that is a crowded position for Hall of Fame players and big offensive numbers, but 36th puts him in the neighborhood of Mark Grace and Carlos Delgado. Not Hall of Famers. Looking at his WAR he is behind players like John Olerud and Jason Giambi amongst his modern peers. Again, not Hall of Famers. Ranking him by his OPS+ doesn't really help his argument much either. He still ranks in the thirties, which is again in the neighborhood of Carlos Delgado, and still behind Jason Giambi.
Mind you I am also not taking into account the fact that Oritz rarely plays in the field either. His career dWAR is -17.7 which is horrendous.
This was a tough one for Ortiz, but I went with the 2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces. Great set and great Papi card. Love the art work with his swing and follow through and the green walls of Fenway in the background. Cool card.
2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces David Ortiz