The Beckett Blog

Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez is red hot … but are his baseball cards? by Chris Olds

There’s an adage that performance on the field means performance on cardboard.

There are times when it happens and times when it doesn’t.

Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez is in the midst of a season for the ages, sporting a 13-1 record with a 1.15 ERA for the year — made all the more impressive when you consider that he pitches in Denver’s Coors Field, the launching pad of all launching pads in MLB.

But has it translated into cardboard sales?

Yes and no, which is a surprising answer as his pace for victories is the best since Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986. And even more surprising since he could be in contention for winning 30 games — not done since Denny McLain in 1968 — and he could challenge Bob Gibson‘s record for the lowest ERA in a season (1.12) also set in, yep, 1968.

Earlier this month, Jimenez’s 2005 Leaf Certified Materials Mirror Autograph Black card, a 1/1, sold for $2,247 on eBay — a buy that pales in comparison to the record-setting (on cardboard) $16,403 arrival of Stephen Strasburg.

Of course, Jimenez also became a bit higher-profile pitcher earlier this season when he pitched the first no-hitter in Rockies history, but not many would have expected the kind of season he has had so far — especially with the Coors Field albatross around his neck. (Colorado isn’t exactly considered a hobby hotbed, either, unless there’s some blue and orange as well as a guy named Elway or Tebow running around… )

But now he’s chasing history — but it’s a long haul from here to the end of the season and ERAs can change faster than the weather in Colorado.

And you can bet that’s in the back of many a collector’s minds, where a completed auctions search shows many more unsold Ubaldos with high price tags than those that have sold.

Or are sellers seeking too much for his cards since he’s been on a torrid pace, resulting in non-sales?

That’s not to say there hasn’t been an increase on some cards, either.

Jimenez’s most expensive Rookie Cards  (not an insert like the 1/1) are his 2005 SP Authentic autograph (No. 177), a card that presently books for $250 but was just $50 back in December, and his 2005 Ultimate Signature autograph (No. 186), a card that was $40 last winter.

At the time of his no-hitter in April, his most-expensive RC was his 2005 Donruss Signature set (No. 159), a $100 quad autograph card likely priced there because he shares it with Jeff Niemann, Tony (Ramon) Pena and Justin Verlander.

In all, just from Jimenez’s Rookie Cards alone, there are six cards that regularly fetch more than $100 — and that doesn’t include any of his “rookie cards” from 2007 that bear the RC logo. (Perhaps dollars are being spent there moreso than on his 2005 rookies from before the MLBPA’s RC logo program was launched? His 2007 SuperFractor (unsigned) is presently on eBay for $6,000 or best offer… )

Jimenez (88 Ks) isn’t a strikeout machine like Strasburg (22 in two games) — and we all know that chicks dig the longball … but maybe strikeouts now? — so perhaps that’s also holding back some of his hobby appeal.

One thing is for certain, though, with Jimenez … we haven’t seen the ceiling just yet and we probably won’t until the wheels fall off or until the season is over.

Is it worth the gamble? Let us know…

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

He plays for the Rockies. I can’t give his stuff away

Comment by Eric the Midget

This goes back to the old question about 25 years ago. Why are Mickey Mantle cards worth more than Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. I think we all knew the reasons back then. Though times have changed there is still a little truth to that argument today.

Comment by John Bateman

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