How I Research for Baseball Prospects To Buy Sports Cards Using Fangraph.Com

When I started to get back into collecting I couldn’t believe how much cards of players who haven’t played an inning of Major League Baseball were going for. Hundreds to Thousands of dollars on players all on the potential or hope that they will be great. What’s worse, is when they get the call to be in the majors it’s sometimes brings that value of a card down because the hope is gone, it’s just reality now. Who wants to deal with that.

With all that said; I do find it fun buying players no one has heard of and making a profit. This is flipping at it’s dorkiest. This is what I do and what makes sense to me. I don’t have any data to show that this actually works or that their is a special stat or formula to follow that will correlate to card value rising. I’m strictly trying to predict will they continue to play well. Are their cards undervauled based off the stats I use when I compare them to cards with higher value? Let’s start….

But before we start you can also listen to my podcast where I talk about doing your research.

I suggest to follow minor league players of the team you follow. As I write this I pause because if you are looking to flip it may make it more difficult to sell because you’ll want to keep him for your personal collection (pc). But let’s continue, how about we start by position.

Go to fangraphs.com and check out the 100 top prospects. The link I provided will send you to where you need to go. You can also go to the main page of fangraphs.com, scroll down, and on the bottom right hand side you can pick a team to take a look at their top prospects.

baseball card prospects

My thought process is simple. I like players who walk a lot, don’t strike out, and get on base. Plate discipline is important.

These are the stats I am looking for BB%, K%, OBP, HR, and Doubles.

BB% – this is just the percentage that a batter walks per plate appearance. I look for 10% or higher.

K% – this is the percentage that a batter strikes out per plate appearance. I am looking for 25%-20%. If it’s closer to 25% then I am expecting more HR’s.

Above Average16.0%10.0%
Below Average22.0%7.0%

OBP – measures a batter’s ability to not make an out. .350 is what I am looking for.

HR – Home run – you should know what a home run is! Double digits or on pace to get double digits for the year.

Doubles – When a player is standing on 2b after they hit the ball. 15-20 is what I’m looking for. If it’s a younger player I am looking for a higher number for doubles. This would indicate that as he get older he will get stronger and these doubles will turn into home run. If it’s an older prospect I am looking for home runs.

Age is also important. If they are 23-25 years old they better be mashing the ball. Prices for their cards tend to not due well for older players.

Last but not least is who is playing their position in the majors? If your a shortstop and Franciso Lindor is blocking your way up, you may have a problem. Unless they are traded you may be stuck with a great prospect with no where to play.

I think BB% and K% are really important and can tell a lot about a player. But like I say chicks and middle aged men dig the long ball. If a player is hitting a lot of homeruns, his card value will be much higher than a good all around player.

Here are some examples:

Nick Solak – BB% – 12.4%, K% – 23.6%, OBP – .371, HR – 10, 2B – 9

Wow! Hits all of my criteria. I’m going to buy his card immediately. When you check to see his Bowman Card we see that it’s relatively cheap compared to other prospects with similar stats. Time to buy! I’m going to be rich! Their are a couple of problems that you have to research before you buy. He is 24 and Brandon Lowe who is also 24 is blocking his way up to the majors. Ohhh…. see you need the full picture before you can proceed. If the card is cheap enough he has solid stats. But just know he may need to be traded or moved to a different position for him to get into the majors.

Johnathan India – BB% – 10.2%, K% – 24.2%, OBP – .343, HR-7, 2B – 8

This is a solid prospect and their is a reason he is in the top 100. He pretty much meets all of my criteria. He is 22, was just drafted last year, and has some time before he hits the majors. He’s in A+ ball now and should be in AA by the end of the year. Time to buy! Come on, let me buy a damn card already! Hold on! Before we do that, we have to check one last thing. How does the price of his card compare to other 3rd basemen? Is their card value lower or higher? I’m getting annoying I know.

My next article will dive into how I evaluate if a prospect’s card is a good buy or not. I shared with you how I evaluate a prospect I would like to invest in. But my next article we will research if their card is a good buy.

Click Here To Find out if a Prospect is a Good Deal

Want to know what all of the stats mean and learn more about sabermetrics? Here is Fangraph’s Page to get our geek on.

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