Toronto Blue Jays rookie third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has only been in the majors for three games, but he has already accomplished something no other Major League Baseball player ever has.
According to Topps, the official trading card of MLB and the MLBPA, a Guerrero Jr. card has set a record. Topps has a direct-to-consumer product called Topps Now that it uses to sell physical trading cards that memorialize significant moments in sports like MLB. Topps’ staff decides which moments in MLB games are worthy of the Topps Now treatment, designs and makes the card available for purchase on the website. Potential collectors then have 24 hours from the time it is posted for sale to place their orders. After the 24-hour period has passed, Topps produces only the number of cards it got orders for.
The Topps Now card that commemorated Guerrero Jr.’s major-league debut on Friday, April 26 not only set a new record for the number of orders placed but did so by a huge margin. The new record for a Topps Now print run is 19,396 copies. That’s over 2,000 more copies than the previous record-holder, which was the card commemorating designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani signing his current contract with the Los Angeles Angels. That card sold 17,323 copies.
In 12 at-bats so far for the Blue Jays, the 20-year-old Guerrero Jr. has three hits, a walk and has struck out three times. One of his three hits was a double but he has yet to drive a run in. Despite the less than impressive numbers in the extremely small sample size, collectors are paying up for Guerrero Jr. cards on the secondary market.
A 2016 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor autographed by Guerrero Jr., certified and graded a 9.5 by Beckett Grading Services, is currently listed on eBay at a Buy It Now price of $39,999.99. A similar Gold refractor is currently listed at $35,000. If Guerrero Jr. can crank up his productivity at the plate going forward this season, most importantly begin hitting home runs, it’s likely prices for those rare autographed cards will skyrocket even further.
Besides having the pedigree, being the son of former major-league slugger Vladimir Guerrero, Guerrero Jr. has definitely shown the potential skills in the minor leagues. He did wear his father’s Montreal Expos jersey to the Rogers Centre before making his big-league debut, but Guerrero Jr. has a chance to make a legacy of his own.
The 2018 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Guerrero Jr. was hitting .333 with a .978 slugging percentage at Triple-A Buffalo before Toronto called him up. He has drawn the respect of fellow major-league players and teammates as well. Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman stated that having Guerrero Jr. on the team was like an NBA team getting Zion Williamson, who is the odds-on favorite to be the first overall selection in this summer’s NBA Draft.
Regardless of how far Guerrero Jr. goes from here, he will have bragging rights that his father can never touch. He has become an instant trading card hobby phenomenon.