The top 10 outfielders by consensus of 24 experts, ranked by FantasyPros
- Ronald Acuna (1.6 AVG)
- Mike Trout (1.7 AVG)
- Christian Yelich (2.8 AVG)
- Mookie Betts (4.3 AVG)
- Cody Bellinger (4.7 AVG)
- Juan Soto (6.2 AVG)
- J.D. Martinez (7.1 AVG)
- Bryce Harper (9.1 AVG)
- Aaron Judge (9.1 AVG)
- Yordan Alvarez (11.2 AVG)
Starling Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks just missed this list at #11. We’ll be talking about him in a separate article.
You could argue that a couple of these guys aren’t true outfielders, J.D. Martinez and Yordan Akvarez. But, not only are they eligible outfielders in fantasy, but they are also prime rookie card targets in the hobby - or are they?
We will use the 1st Bowman Chrome auto refractor as a comparison since they are numbered to 500, using an equivalent card when necessary. This gives us an idea who is being overvalued or undervalued in the hobby when compared to their fantasy baseball rankings. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it gives us insight to how players are valued in the hobby VS fantasy.
2020 Steamer Projection: .282/.363/.527, 37 HR, 93 RBI, 107 RBI, 29 SB
Standard Deviation Expert Consensus: 0.7
Rookie Card: Ronald Acuna Jr. 2017 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 243)
Estimated Value: $2,800 (Feb. 2, 2020)
Acuna Jr. is getting a slight edge this year in fantasy, although you could essentially flip-flop him and Trout as a consensus first fantasy draft pick in 2020. Obviously, his rookie cards aren’t at the height of Trout’s, who is already a lock for the Hall of Fame. But, if he keeps up a 40-30 pace for the next couple of seasons, he will be the best player in the game. Right now, he’s certainly not overvalued, but not many of these are selling right now; people are holding them. The ones up for sale are $3,200 and higher and a strong start to 2020 will probably see them approaching that price point easily..
Of course, Acuna is far greater of a risk than Trout. He’s played just two Major League seasons, after all. But, is he one-quarter as valuable as Trout? Certainly not. Acuna just needs to keep up this level of play for a few more seasons and this car will be pushing Trout’s in the five digit range. There are only so many of these to go around after all.
2020 Steamer Projection: .297/.439/.611, 44 HR, 112 RBI, 124 R, 14 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 0.6
Rookie Card: Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 204)
Estimated Value: $12,000+ (Feb. 2, 2020)
When Mike Trout plays in his first game of 2020, he will instantly be a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame. That appearance will give him the required 10 seasons for eligibility. Trout already has more career WAR than 2020 inductee Derek Jeter. Of course, Trout is far from done. But, how much higher can this card go? Right now, you can buy 4 Acuna Jr. refractor autos for the price of one of these.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Trout begins to show his mortality. As Mark Humphries of thePit pointed out in his 2020 Forecast for Top Bowman Chrome Autos, age 28 is when players begin to decline from their peak. 2020 may be an awesome season for Trout, but one injury could wipe out a big chunk of it. Also, it’s only a matter of time before Trout moves to an outfield corner to preserve his legs Moving away from center field, one of the premier positions in baseball, will certainly hurt his value in the hobby.
But, in fantasy, Trout should be a force for years to come, barring serious injury. With the peak of these cards seeming to be around $15,000 (after a December sale with a BGS 9.5 with 2 10 subgrades). There are some listed from $14,000 to $15,000 that haven’t moved - so we’re already seeing price resistance. We’re probably seeing the ceiling outside of a massive tear to begin 2020.
2020 Steamer Projection: .304/.400/.568, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 112 R, 22 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 0.5
Rookie Card: Christian Yelich 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 72)
Estimated Value: $1,000 (Feb. 2, 2020)
Yelich would’ve likely had his second MVP season in a row if not for two things: a broken kneecap and Cody Bellinger’s nutty breakout (which may not be nearly as fluky as people think!) In any case, Yelich is still just 28 years old and at his peak. Like with Trout, though, he pretty much has nowhere to go but down going forward. Still, Yelich is still a potential future Hall of Famer, although he’s still got a lot of work to do to get there. Like Trout, Yelich is both extremely popular and has skills that age well. In fact, his contact tool is probably even better than Trout’s.
Relatively speaking, his 2010 Bowman Chrome Refractor Auto is underpriced. It’s even more so when you consider how relatively few there are - less than 75! There are 63 BGS 9, as well, which are quite a bit cheaper, but still worth it since the population is so low for Gem Mint..
2020 Steamer Projection: .297/.390/.543, 32 HR, 95 RBI, 119 R, 18 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 0.5
Rookie Card: Mookie Betts 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 152)
Estimated Value: $800+ (Feb. 5, 2020)
When this article was originally written on February 2nd, non-refractors of his 1st Bowman Chrome auto were selling around $450 to $500. This is about as crazy a low price as you could expect for one of the top five players in bast. You would expect this card to sell in the $850 to $1000 range, which they have been listed for in early February 2020. Part of the hold-up seems to have been the trade rumors swirling around Betts. Now that Betts is officially a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it seems the market is already correcting.
Betts is just 27 and won’t be 28 until October 2020. That makes him a year younger than Trout and Yelich. If Betts lives up to projections and expectations, this card should be an easy 30 to 50 percent gain early in the season. I do wonder how much Alex Cora’s involvement in the sign stealing scandal and Betts’ massive MVP season of 2018 is looking in the rear view mirror. Is that affecting prices? Was Betts helped by stolen signs that year? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
Note that there are 92 more BGS 9 copies out there. While not as sought after, obviously, they actually sell for about $350 to $400 currently. It may not be as big of a gainer, but it’s still worth a look. Remember how rare these cards are!
2020 Steamer Projection: .287/.385/.583, 42 HR, 115 RBI, 99 R, 12 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 0.5
Rookie Card: Cody Bellinger 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 179)
Expected Value: $1,100 (Feb. 2, 2020)
Considering that Bellinger majorly cut his strikeout rate, was hitting .400 or more for a good chunk of the season, AND was chasing 50 home runs, his rookie refractor auto feels too cheap. Interestingly, his purple refractor numbered to just 250 is selling for only $200 to $300 more. There’s already listings for $1,200 to $1,300 just sitting for the refractor, because the purple has been such a good value. As the base Chrome auto rises, though, the sea should rise this closer to $1,300 to $1,400 you’d think. That should happen if Bellinger goes on a decent tear to begin the year.
As has typically been the case, the BGS 9 refractor is tracking about the same as the BGS 9.5 base Chrome auto. There are 99 BGS 9 copies out there, too, so if you want the nicer and rarer card at the same price point as a BGS 9.5 base auto, it’s appearing to be a good buy. Bellinger cards have been hot, especially after winning 2019 NL MVP. There may still be some room to grow here.
Bellinger also has youth on his side. He won’t be 25 until July 2020. So, he’s younger than a lot of his peers, meaning he has more long-term upside. Even if he regresses somewhat, he’s still looking like a solid hold.
2020 Steamer Projection: .292/.406/.555, 34 HR, 106 RBI, 97 R, 9 SB
Standard Deviation Expert Consensus: 0.5
Rookie Card: Juan Soto 2016 Bowman Chrome Refractor Auto (Graded Population 204)
Estimated Value: $1,500 (Feb. 2, 2020)
Soto seems pretty locked in at the #6 spot on this list. But, he’s also a great candidate to slug 40 HR and hit .300, which would certainly boost his hobby value. This card could be $2,000 in a hurry. He doesn’t offer the speed of Acuna, which gives his Atlanta counterpart an edge in both fantasy and the hobby. But, he’s pretty close.
There are more listed around the $1,500 price point than I would expect, but I think those will disappear soon enough. Coming off a World Series win, the 21-year-old has an extremely bright future ahead of him. There is a bit more pressure on him to be the Nationals’ best hitter in 2020, but I’m sure he’ll live up to that task. No one seems to have more fun playing baseball than Soto and he seems like Trout in how he’s constantly refining his game. The hobby is still slightly undervaluing him, I think.
2020 Steamer Projection: .301/.378/.576, 39 HR, 119 RBI, 102 R, 3 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 0.7
Rookie Card: J.D. Martinez 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 64)
Estimated Value: $130 (Feb. 2, 2020)
I highly doubt Alex Cora’s sign stealing scandal involvement had anything to do with J.D. Martinez’s huge 2018. He actually underperformed his StatCast batted ball profile in 2019, so his bat is still for real. At 32, his bat should still be potent. The projections see something between 2018 and 2019 for 2020.
His refractor auto is extremely cheap. Part of that is currently he’s not on a Hall of Fame pace. The first six players on this list have a significant chance. Is J.D. underpriced? Based purely on fantasy projections, he would be. But, serious investors like players who have a serious shot at the Hall of Fame. At the moment, J.D. is considerably off the pace and will likely have to play well into his 40’s to have an outside shot.
That being said he IS underpriced thanks to J.D.’s surface numbers looking much less impressive in 2019 and the Red Sox being such a massive disappointment. Also, while his time with the Astros greatly predates the sign-stealing scandal, just being associated with this Astros on this card has possibly hurt its market. These refractors were selling around $200 in may and June of 2019. So, there’s a chance this card goes to $200 ahead and maybe $225 to $250.
While I’ve always been a big fan of J.D. Martinez, it’s unlikely this card has anywhere near the long-term investment potential of any of the other nine names on this list. Still, he’s one of the most feared hitters in the game right now and a solid and consistent fantasy performer. With these BGS 9.5 refractors being so scarce, a hot streak by J.D. could lead to a short-term spike.
2020 Steamer Projection: .259/.383/.540, 41 HR, 102 RBI, 102 R, 11 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 1.3
Rookie Card: Bryce Harper 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 120)
Estimated Value: $1,000 (Feb. 2, 2020)
Bryce Harper is one of the harder card markets to measure going into the 2020 season. No refractors have sold since November 2019, and that was around $2150 for a PSA 10. The last BGS 9.5 refractor to sell was $910. Several have been listed for $2600 to $3000 and haven’t sold. As low as that 120 population sounds, it’s only because 138 of the 500 in existence were graded BGS 9. Those have sold for around $600.
Harper had some pretty unrealistic expectations put on him with Philly. He actually had a perfectly fine 2019 season, and the projections see him being even better. Just 27, like Betts, Harper is still on a Hall of Fame pace, too. But, the market for Bryce Harper has been rather cold, as there seemed to be a massive sell-off of Harper cards after the Nationals won the World Series - almost in spite.
To say this card feels underpriced would be an understatement. We see from the current listings people aren’t parting with these refractors cheaply. Nor should they. The only ones that have moved since Halloween 2019 are the Blue Refractors numbered to 150 for about $2,500. Harper himself is fine, but his relatively low batting averages hold him back a bit in fantasy. Apparently, the hobby needs to see a hot start from him to get reinvested. Keep in mind that the base refractors have sold for $2000 each as recently as May 2019. There’s likely to be a market correction sooner or later.
2020 Steamer Projection: .254/.372/.525, 41 HR, 101 RBI, 107 R, 6 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 2.3
Rookie Card: Aaron Judge 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 240)
Estimated Value: $1,200 (Feb. 2, 2020)
One of the most popular Yankee and one of the more likeable guys in baseball, Judge’s issue is staying on the field. There’s zero doubt about his bat. If he stays healthy,his refractor auto price seems about right. Of course, playing for the Yankees brings a healthy premium. The problem is that he simply has such a bad track record of health. So, is it worth buying?
As this is being written there’s one for about $1,300 just sitting there on over a dozen watch lists. Others are priced at $1,600. It looks like a great hold right now, and a potential 30 percent gain is nice. If he starts pacing another 50 HR season, though, there’s room for more. He’s still just 28 in April 2020. He’s just so far behind his peers because of a late start and injuries. He needs a very strong 2020 to keep serious investors interested to keep the price up.
2020 Steamer Projection: .276/.366/.556, 39 HR, 107 RBI, 93 R, 3 SB
Standard Deviation of Expert Consensus: 1.4
Rookie Card: Yordan Alvarez 2018 Bowman Chrome Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 (Graded Population: 129)
Estimated Value: $750 (Feb. 2, 2020)
The Astros aren’t too popular right now. But, there’s the feeling it seems that Yordan had nothing to do with the sign stealing mess. After all, he was destroying minor league pitching at a ridiculous pace already. So, his numbers don’t look fluky at all, although they may have been aided by banging on trash cans.
Despite how recent Yordan cards are, there are already 129 BGS 9.5 refractors out there, with 47 more graded BGS 9 and 4 graded BGS 10. So, a few more may end up graded going into 2020, although many collectors and investors will be looking ahead to the flagship 2020 Topps rookie card for Yordan Alvarez.
The good news is that the market suggests that the hobby isn’t punishing Yordan Alvarez the way they have for Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve. While they aren’t really selling at the $800+ listings, meaning a $700 to $750 price range is fair, there’s obviously a little room to grow. If there ends up being a chase for 50 HR again, which is likely, Yordan will be hotter than ever. I do expect this card’s market to be good if Yordan truly is for real. All indications suggest that he is.
Which of these 10 guys do you want most for your fantasy baseball team? Would you put Acuna or Trout first?
When it comes to collecting their rookie cards, Acuna still looks like a great relative value, as does Christian Yelich. No one appears overpriced at the moment, although you could argue another injury-riddled year from Aaron Judge could tank his card market. Which rookie cards of these ten have you bought or plan to buy?