Wednesday, October 16, 2013

and the Gold Glove goes to....

I know that at the end of the 2012 card calendar, many collectors were high on Rockies third base prospect Nolan Arenado.  His cards were selling and seemed to offer good future value for collectors given his stats in the minors where he displayed the ability to hit for power and average while playing an elite level of defense.  The 2013 season rolled around and Arenado got a lot of time at the hot corner for the Rockies.  Arenado did not exactly set the world on fire at the plate this season and slowly collectors have slowly moved on past Arenado.  Not me.  I actually just went out and picked up my first copy of one of his autographs.

2012 Bowman Platinum Nolan Arenado Jersey/Autograph

The card is from last year's Bowman Platinum release and features a cool jumbo swatch of Arenado's road jersey with a nice purple pinstripe.  Good autograph too and a limited print of 199 all make this card a winner.  So, you might wonder why I have decided to run into the Arenado market after his disappointing 2013 campaign and collectors dumping his cards left and right.

First, I always felt that Arenado's cards were a little bit on the high side.  This card was selling in the high teens or low twenties last year.  I picked it up for a little bit more than $5 last week.  I am sure that Arenado will see a little bit of a bounce in pricing over the coming years, but I don't think he's going to be a player with really valuable cards.  Meaning high end.

Right now, Arenado is the best defensive third baseman in baseball.  He posted a dWAR of 3.2 last season which was tops amongst third baseman and also lead the National League in Range Factor.  If he doesn't win the Gold Glove I think he should probably feel slighted.  He finished in the top five in double plays, assists, putouts, and fielding percentage.  I know that card collectors are not out scouring for cards of Brendan Ryan, or other great defense first players, but I actually think that Arenado will be fine in the long run.

Now, I hate that rookie card issue of Beckett where they publish a picture of every player with a rookie card and compare them to a current Major League Player.  All of them are generally, according to Beckett, going to be productive Major Leaguers, and many of them have too lofty of comparisons.  Despite the fact that I hate that issue, I am going to do the same thing right now, but I will give a little bit more reasoning than our friends at Beckett give.

In my opinion, Arenado reminds me a lot of Adrian Beltre.  The same Adrian Beltre whom I consider to be a borderline Hall of Famer.  I am not saying Arenado is going to be a Hall of Famer, or a border line Hall of Famer.  That will take time and years of consistency.  However, flashback to the late 90s and look at some of the lines put up by Beltre.  He was always considered a plus to great defensive third baseman.  He reached the majors quickly and it took a few years for his offense to come around.  Beltre is now, not only one of the best defensive third baseman in the game, he is also an offensive force.

In many ways, I see Arenado as a similar player to Beltre.  He's already an elite defensive player.  Arenado is only 22 and I believe his offense will gradually come around.  For example, many critics of Arenado will point out the fact that his home run total of 10 was total unacceptable.  However, if you look at the big picture and add in all of his extra base hits, they accounted for roughly one-third of all his hits.  That's roughly the same ratio as David Wright, who was the National League's All-Star third baseman.  Give it time, and hopefully Arenado will take a few more walks, knock a few more over the walls at Coors, and opinion on the third baseman will quickly reverse course.

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