Kimbrel is easily one of the best, if not the best, closing pitcher in baseball. Over 9 seasons (8 of those complete), Kimbrel has amassed 18.0 fWAR (FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement) and 20.1 WAR (Baseball-Reference WAR). That’s a far cry from Mariano Rivera’s 56.2 WAR, of course, but consider that Trevor Hoffman had a mere 27.9 WAR over 18 seasons. That’s a fine total for a closer, and Kimbrel is well on his way to potentially blowing past Hoffman in terms of WAR. He’s still only 31 years old.
Craig Kimbrel’s key rookie card is his 2011 Topps Chrome rookie auto. He has a few other good autograph cards as well, including the 2011 Topps Marquee Auto (numbered to 570), 2011 Topps Tier One On the Rise Auto (numbered to 699), and a 2011 Topps Finest Dual Relics Auto (numbered to 499). Budget options include the 2009 Tristar Pro Debut and 2010 Tristar Pursuit autographs. For base rookie cards, Kimbrel has 2011 Bowman Chrome, 2011 Topps Update, and 2011 Topps Finest. So, like many modern players, Kimbrel has a lot of cards to choose from. But for our purposes, we’ll focus on the 2011 Topps Chrome Rookie Auto and its various parallels and refractors.
Recent sales (Base Chrome Auto)
2019/06/04: Sepia Refractor (#12/99) - $76
2019/06/03: Base - $36
2019/04/22: Refractor (#/499) - $82.01
2019/04/22: Base - $45
2019/04/17: Base - $35
Additionally, in March 18, 2019, a Beckett Raw Card Review 9.5/10 Red Refractor sold for $405.
Obviously, the long layoff did mean that not a lot of cards sold in 2019. But, the good news is that the BGS graded examples are going to gain a lot of value! In general, BGS 9.5/10 Auto examples are worth about 70 percent more than the base version. That was the case when the last BGS 9.5/10 example sold on 6/3 ($21.50 vs $36 is a 67% difference). So, it’s reasonable to expect those BGS 9.5/10 examples to rise to about the $65 range, and higher if Kimbrel posts great results.
Steamer (RoS): 2.82 ERA, 34 IP, 34 G, 19 SV, 13.87 K/9, 3.97 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9
THE BAT (RoS): 3.46 ERA, 35 IP, 35 G, 12.8 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 1.28 HR/9
The Cubs will be very happy with either version of Kimbrel at this point with the bullpen woes they experienced during the first two months of the season. From an investment standpoint, you want to hope for closer to the Steamer projections. His rookie autos are a nice buy and hold at the moment.