2011 Bowman Bryce Harper
There is only one card that allowed this set to make my countdown and only one card worth posting in this space. The 2011 Bowman Bryce Harper base rookie card. There are the usual assortment of parallels and inserts that collectors also love in this set, but this card, the autograph too, were something very special for many people for one summer. For many, the summer of 2011 has also spilled over into 2012. Bryce Harper made people crazy for this set and the potential star in waiting has many people hoping that his card live up to the hype.
For me, this card is very reminiscent of the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card. I was in middle school when the 1989 Upper Deck set was released and remember the craziness surrounding that card. Collectors dropped three digits on a card that featured a twenty year old outfielder that had hardly played in the majors. Kids traded away whole collections of eighties wax for one copy. The card took a roller coaster ride as far as value goes over the course of Griffey's career and is much lower today than it was at it's peek. I think it's a part of the reason that I am skeptical about rookie cards retaining value.
A few times over the past couple months I'd run into a collector who were interested in trading for a Harper rookie (the autographed version) card and I'd ask them a question: You are trying to trade for the autograph of a young talented outfielder and are willing to pay a high price to obtain this card. What would make this card still worth this price in 20 years?
2011 Bowman Bryce Harper Autograph
The answers range anywhere from Hall of Famer on the first ballot to great everyday Major League outfielder. Now, think about Ken Griffey. He had a lot of injuries in the second half of his career, played on a non-contending small market team, but still reached tons of milestones. His cards have decreased greatly in value over the last decade. He's still a first ballot Hall of Famer and his cards don't touch Bryce Harper's in value. If Harper turns into a great everyday player, thinking Carlos Beltran, his cards won't touch there current level.
So, where does that leave us with this set? It clearly belongs on this countdown based on the hype and craze it caused last summer alone, but I am not sure it will hold it's value no matter the outcome of Bryce Harper's career. Don't get me wrong: I still have a set, or two, and a few Bryce Harper's stashed away just in case.