Newcomer of the Year
Last year I gave this award to Byron Buxton and we all know how that turned out this year. Hopefully this year's winner will fair a little bit better next year, if not I am going to have to scrap this award next year. The 2014 baseball card products had two clear rookie favorites: Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu. There were other sets with popular rookie cards or anticipated debuts, but no two players had a bigger impact on the baseball card industry than these two players. Both players saw their cards fade a little bit during the second half of the year, but the market and demand for both players is still pretty strong.
I did not pull anything out of the ordinary in the way of Tanaka cards, but I did have a really great pull from of Abreu's from the 2014 Topps Archives set:
Besides the printing plate, Abreu managed to stay on the field for the entire season and post one of the strongest rookie campaigns ever closing out the year with a .317/.383/.581 line with 36 home runs, 35 doubles, and 107 RBIs. Tanaka was strong too, but only made 20 starts for the Yankees. It's a close call, but I am going to have to give the nod to Abreu for this award. Really, I am not sure you can go wrong with either, but I felt like he had a little bit better season and also a better showing in around the hobby.
As mentioned before, both Tanaka and Abreu have fallen off a little bit in price, but still remain fairly strong sales wise. I recently bought a Jose Abreu from the Topps Tek set, dabbling with the idea of putting this set together, and found that bidding on the card was competitive and very aggressive. I was actually surprised to walk away with the card. I tried to bid at the last second, but sat nervously though the last five seconds as about three or four other bids come in at the very last second.
Just to give you an idea of Abreu's strength in the hobby right now, take this into consideration: While common patterns of Abreu cards might only sell for a few dollars, the short printed copies are easily pushing up over $10 with some landing as high as $20. One Abreu short print numbered out of 50 went as high as $35 dollars, which is in the same neighborhood that the Topps Tek cards of Mike Trout are currently selling at. His autographs from the set are also regularly pushing north of $50 and are pricing at comparable levels to players like Frank Thomas and Clayton Kershaw.
Clearly Abreu has enjoyed a strong year on the field and within the baseball card industry. He is clearly the best overall new player to the hobby and a deserving winner of the Newcomer of the Year Award. Jose was not available for comment. Maybe next year.