Injuries And Sports Card Value

Big stars get injured. Sometimes quite severely. As investors and collectors, we should treat injuries as an opportunity. Here is the full guide to injuries and sports card value.

When a player we collect or invested in is injured, our first instinct may be to offload the cards we have before the crash. Meanwhile, others will jump in the “buy the dip” on the injured player.

Obviously, every case is very different. Some players will never truly recover from a bad injury. Meanwhile, others will just bounce back to their old form a few months later.

Mike Trout is considered the best player of his generation, but is he injury-prone? (get Mike Trout posters on Amazon).

Mike Trout Cards 

So what should we do when a high-profile player is injured? Here at Cardlines, we decided to look at the recent injury of Mike Trout and see what it did to his card values.

Mike was riding high this year. He has a ridiculous .333/.466/.624 line, with an OPS+ of 191 (100 represents the league average). So his cards were doing very well this year. PSA 10 copies of his rookie card were selling for well over $4,000.

On May 17th, Trout was injured during a game against the Indians (the future Guardians). The next day, the Angels announced that the outfielder would be out for 6-8 weeks. However, that has turned out to be an optimistic assessment.

In the meantime, some young players have overshadowed Mike in terms of visibility. Fernando Tatis Jr., Vlad Guerrero Jr., and in particular, teammate Shohei Ohtani have gotten more media attention of late.

The Mike Trout rookie card is iconic, but it is not injury-proof (look for Mike Trout rookie cards on eBay).

Mike Trout Injuries And Sports Card Value

So what did that do to the value of his cards? The effects were evident. Within a few days, Trout rookies were selling for well under $4,000. The numbers kept getting lower as Mike was out of the limelight. By mid-June, you could get one for under $3,500. By the end of the month, you could get the coveted Topps Update cards for under $3,000.

All told, the value of Trout’s cards dropped dramatically as a result of his injury. The difference between the value of his RC before the injury and at its lowest was $1,745.

In July, talk of Trout’s imminent return altered the narrative. Mike’s Twitter account began alerting fans of his rehab trips. However, the card prices have only partially rebounded.

Here is a chart with some representative PSA 10 sales:

May 13 Pre-injury $4,451
May 18 Angels put Trout on the IL $3,900
May 31 Trout injury out of the headlines $3,550
June 29 Lowest point for Trout cards $2,706
July 27 Talk of Trout Return $3,050
Often touted as the future of the game, are shoulder problems dimming his prospects? (look for Tatis Jr. posters on Amazon).

Fernando Tatis Jr. Cards 

Fernando Tatis Jr. is mighty young. But it seems like he has been an exciting baseball prospect for quite a long time. His Bowman 1sts caused a stir back in 2016.

Tatis is having a fantastic season, slashing .289/.371/.645 with a commendable 180 OPS+. With a league-leading 30 dingers and 23 steals, he made the All-Star team for the first time.

Therefore, it is easy to forget how badly 2021 started for the young star. First, Tatis made a series of errors and then injured his shoulder on April 6th. Since this was not his first bought with injury problems, some observers believed he would prove an injury-prone liability for the Padres.

Fernando Tatis Jr. Injuries And Sports Card Value

Tatis had quite the saga with his shoulder this year. However, he decided to avoid surgery and play through it. A decision he is happy with right now but may regret in the long term. And now he is injured again. So, what can we expect from his card value now?

What is the long-term value of the Fernando Tatis Jr. #BCP17? (look for Tatis Jr. Bowman 1st cards on eBay).

We used the beautiful and highly sought-after Tatis Jr. Bowman Chrome 1st as our benchmark. All cards are PSA 10’s:

March 31 Before Opening Day $1,325
April 7 The day after the injury is announced $985
April 16 Tatis returns to lineup $1,025
May 17 Tatis tests positive for COVID-19 $810
May 24 Tatis returns to the lineup and finds form $1,150

 

Tatis cards dropped $515 from before the injury to their lowest point. Some of that is related to the market, but a %15-20 loss is probably a direct result of the injury. As you can see, the Tatis Jr. cards keep bouncing back because collectors believe these are short-term setbacks. However, if he does not get his shoulder fixed, they may change their minds, and value will dip more sharply.

Ronald Acuña Cards 

Another injury saga involves Ronald Acuña, the prodigiously talented Atlanta Braves outfielder. Acuña was having an even better season than his tremendous 2020 campaign and was selected for the All-Star team.

However, on July 11th Ronald tried to make a spectacular catch in a game against the Marlins and landed awkwardly. The results were dire. The outfielder suffered a complete ACL tear and would miss the rest of the season.

If you are going to buy the dip with Acuña, this is the card to get (look for Acuna bat-down cards on eBay).

Ronald Acuña Injuries And Sports Card Value 

What did the news do to his card value? Perhaps the most sought-after Acuña card is the iconic Topps Series 2 bat-down version of his rookie card. So we looked at how the injury influenced the value of PSA 10s of that card:

March 19th Before Opening Day $2,751
May 9th Peak Value During Season $3,101
June 28th The last Card Sold Before Injury $2,125
July 27th Two Weeks After Injury $1,725

Most of the bat down card value fluctuations are more related to the overall state of the market than anything the player did. However, the change around the injury is sharp and real. The value of the Acuña card went down by almost 20% after the injury. Therefore, if you believe in the long-term potential of this guy (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t), it is a great idea to buy the dip.

Trends In Injuries And Sports Card Value

So, what do you do next time a player you collect is injured? First, take a deep breath. The last thing you want is to make a regrettably emotional decision. Then, don’t start selling the player off or buying. At least not yet. Even if you are sure you want to ‘buy the dip,’ it can take a couple of days before the change registers in the markets anyway.

Next, assess what the injury is likely to do to the players’ career trajectory. Here is what you will want to look at:

In What Stage Of The Career Did The Injury Occur

Injuries have less of an effect on a player’s career when they come either early or late. Injuries are the least consequential for veterans towards the end of their careers. For, let’s say, an injury now, Albert Pujols will not significantly influence the long-term value of his cards.

Early in a career, a player has a lot of time to recover from the injury. However, keep in mind that injuries at this stage can be a severe cause for concern if they prove to be recurring. That is why, to me at least, the Tatis situation is more concerning than the Acuña injury.

Meanwhile, they can be most devastating in a player’s prime. When a player is in the 26-31 age zone, they need to be racking up career years to maintain status as a worthwhile investment. Missing a season or two in that period can be the difference between a promising career and a legendary one.

A reputation for being injury-prone has undercut Aaron Judge’s standing in the hobby (look for Aaron Judge rookie cards on Amazon).

What Kind of Injury Is It?

Sports injuries can be confusing, and most of us are not doctors. But it was worth looking up the severity of the injury and comparing how other athletes in similar stages of their career came back from the injury.

The amount of time needed to return to the field gives you an indication. However, keep in mind that some injuries are recurring, and some tend to be one-off interruptions. So a long time off and even surgery may be preferable to long-term niggling injuries that may bedevil an entire career.

Is The Player Injury Prone?

We all know that some players have a reputation as being injury-prone. For example, Aaron Judge has spent a lot of time injured and lost his status as the premier investment in baseball due to his long spells on the IL.

What we call injury proneness is what medical staff call chronic injury problems. Athletes’ bodies put up with a good deal of stress. Sometimes too much pressure is put on a weak point in the body, and athletic life’s stress doesn’t allow the body to recover fully. A chronic injury problem can seriously impede a career.

However, keep in mind that Mickey Mantle had chronic injury problems. Yet, last I heard, his cards held reasonably good value.

Don’t overthink things, Mantle was incredibly injury-prone (get Bowman Mickey Mantle rookies on eBay).

Bottomline On Injuries And Sports Card Value

Investors on Wall Street have long been conditioned to ‘buy the dip,’ which is good advice for sports card enthusiasts. That is why serious player injuries present an excellent opportunity for investors.

Consider if you still believe in the player or not. If you do, wait until the injury is no longer in the headlines but before a clear timetable for the players return. Then strike and buy the cards at the right time. If the player rebounds, you will make a solid long-term profit.

If you do not believe in the player anymore, don’t sell immediately either. Instead, wait until the player is about to return to the lineup before selling. In that case, the price will rebound somewhat. But sell before people can tell the player is never getting back to their old form.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is a former history and political science professor at UCLA. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary. Shai also worked as a diplomat and journalist on three continents.


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