Is it possible the stud first baseman, offensive catalyst, and leader of the World Series champions Chicago Cubs might be underrated?
On the field, and with conventional media, the answer is no way. But in the world of sports card collecting, that’s a different story.
Consider the following players based on their 2016 stats, and price of their 1st Bowman Chrome rookie prospect card (graded 9.5) and rank them in the order of best value moving forward.
Player A: 292/385/554, 39HR, 149OPS+, 7.7 WAR, Age 24, $405
Player B: 308/365/512, 26HR, 137OPS+, 6.1 WAR, Age 22, $412
Player C: 292/385/544, 32HR, 146OPS+, 5.7 WAR, Age 26, $168
Player D: 294/362/570, 41HR, 129OPS+, 6.5 WAR, Age 25, $248
Depending on your philosophy you may have chosen any of the players above as the most valuable to you, but my impression is that everyone at least strongly considered Player C due to the low price point.
The four players above are four of the top five 2016 NL MVP vote getters, and some of the best young players in the game today. Player A is NL MVP Kris Bryant, Player B is NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, Player C is Anthony Rizzo and Player D is Nolan Arenado.
Rizzo stats do not jump out that much above the others. His 5.7 WAR is (barely) the lowest among the players listed above, but his OPS+ is second, and his OBP is tied for first. Statistically he does belong with this group, even if he does not lead it. Then why is his card valued on average $80 below Arenado, and less than half the price of Seager or Bryant?
Age might be a reason why investors are less aggressive on Rizzo. He is the oldest of the four, but only one year older than Arenado, and two years older than Bryant. That is not too big of a deal, but what is notable is that Rizzo has played the most baseball of the four, first debuting in 2011.
Having played in the majors for six years, investors feel like they have a grasp on Rizzo’s ceiling. For the past three years he has hovered in the 5 to 6.5 WAR range, and finished fourth in MVP voting each year. If he keeps laying the way he does for a long time then he will have a great career and maybe even build a hall of fame resume (not so outrageous given that he already has a championship, a career WAR of 21.7 and 134 HR through his age 26 season).
While the other three players in the list do have potential to be a defining player in the NL, Rizzo’s card value should at least be above the $200 mark and closer to Arenado’s.
But for now, the combination of a proven track record, being a perennial MVP candidate and fair valuation make Anthony Rizzo undervalued by collectors and a buy recommendation from us.