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Shohei Ohtani is the Trading Card MVP

Last Updated: June 20, 2021
The two-way Angels superstar has seen his cards leap in value this year by nearly 800%, far and away the highest rate in all of sports.

In the world of trading cards, there’s nothing like a 1-of-1. Rarity is a fundamental force in determining the price of a collectible, after all. And Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is a living example of just how valuable a 1-of-1 can truly be.

There’s no one in baseball (or sports) like ShoTime. His two-way excellence has no peer in the modern era, period.

And according to recent data released by trading card portfolio platform Alt, the Halos phenom is likewise unrivaled with regards to the ever-exploding trading card market in the calendar year:

Over the course of 2021 so far, the value Ohtani’s cards have skyrocketed 781%, blowing away a field packed with superstars from every major sport.

Ohtani is No. 5 in the bigs with 17 home runs. He’s No. 7 overall with a .961 OPS.

And try to wrap your head around the fact that through June 18, he’s got a .270 batting average and a 2.70 ERA.


Per Baseball Reference, his 3.8 wins above replacement (WAR) place him fourth in all of baseball, but just 0.1 off the three-way tie for the lead. In terms of Win Probably Added (WPA), he’s tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at an MLB-best 2.7.

But Vlad Jr. can’t follow up a 450-foot bomb with a three-digit heater, can he?

And if you didn’t hear the news, folks, a certain Orange County-based pitcher will be participating in the 2021 Home Run Derby.

The card market for Ohtani is utterly unique — are you sensing a theme here? — due to the fact that several of his cards have separate hitter and pitcher versions. But before we dive into things on an individual basis, let’s take a look at the last 90 days of Ohtani’s overall card market, as recorded by Card Ladder:

Total value of daily sales of Shohei Ohtani cards (3/19/21 – 6/17/21, via Card Ladder)

On Opening Day (April1), Ohtani’s cards grossed for $1,883.44 at auctions. That number reached its 90-day peak on May 17 at an outstanding $11,400. If and when the Angel puts forth a giant performance at the Derby next month, don’t be surprised if his trendline reaches an all-new high.

But the big-picture view of the ShoTime card market only tells part of the story.

Let’s get to know his 2018 Topps Chrome Refractor — the pitching edition.

Total value of daily sales of Shohei Ohtani’s 2018 Topps Chrome Refractor – Pitching (3/20/21 – 6/15/21, via Card Ladder)

The overall Ohtani market may be down since late March, but Card Ladder notes that the Pitching Refractor is up a full 104.28% over the same period. Its highest sale price during this particular span was $650 on May 29, an impressive 152.918% increase over the $257 it went for 10 days ahead of Opening Day.

2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Chrome Refractor (Pitching)

The big takeaway here? The Ohtani card market has taken an astronomic leap over the course of 2021, but things have been generally manageable and affordable since Opening Day. If Alt’s eye-popping numbers made you feel like there was no way you could afford ShoTime wax, well, you can.

But given the Japanese sensation’s penchant for making the impossible a reality, “manageable and affordable” may be utterly outdated terms with regards to this 1-of-1 superstar’s card market sooner rather than later.

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About The Author
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is the Managing Editor of Boardroom. Before joining the team, he was an editor and multimedia talent for several sports and culture verticals at Minute Media and an editor, reporter, and site manager at SB Nation. A specialist in content strategy, copywriting, and SEO, he has additionally worked as a digital consultant in the corporate services, retail, and tech industries. He cannot be expected to be impartial on any matter regarding the Florida Gators or Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter @RealFakeSamDunn.