Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2013 Jose Fernandez 2013/2014 Oscar Taveras

Welcome back to the the 16th profile on A Very Simple Idea!  I got some feedback that the “themed” post was a good idea, so this week I will give it another try.  Unfortunately, the theme this time around is much less enjoyable, even if the players on the profile were a joy to read about.  
I knew that at some point I would need to write about Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, but I really wasn’t sure how to approach each of their profiles.  After thinking on it for the last few weeks, it seemed only appropriate to write about them together, as the tragedy of their early departures and the resulting sentiments were all too similar. 
Before looking into the data on these guys, I admit that I did not have enough appreciation for what Fernandez was doing in terms of strikeouts and just how highly touted Taveras was.  I am sad that we will never get to watch them play baseball again, but am glad to be able to capture a piece of history for my collection with these three Bowman Inception autographed cards.
The goal of this post is to celebrate the players as they were on the field, not get into any discussion about their deaths or the circumstances surrounding them.  

Player History:

Some times I wish that I had stuck with Statistics as one of my college majors, because as I have gotten older I have really wanted to understand baseball analytics and the way players are scouted.  The debate on who to draft and why will always be a back-and-forth between statistics and “the eye test,” but sometimes it should just be obvious.  Now that I have a better sense of where Fernandez came from, I believe that his rise should have been seen from a mile away.

Without going into the significant story of how Fernandez ended up in America, I will start with the fact that he was a two time state championship winning pitcher from Tampa, Florida.  His senior year he was 13-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 16 starts.  This was good enough to be drafted 14th overall by the Marlins in 2011.

Here is a composite scouting report from regarding Fernandez:

When looking at Fernandez, it’s hard not to be impressed by the mature physicality of the body.  He’s 6-foot-2 and 240 sturdy pounds.  he carries himself very well on the mound, projecting that ever so elusive mound presence.  What exactly is that?…An attitude and look that he is in charge and belongs.  Fernandez has it and more…[his] arsenal is elite and he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter with an ace ceiling.  

Ironically, the scouting report continues (this part was written just as Fernandez was being called up to the majors):

Do I believe he’ll be as dominating in the Majors?  No, but I also believe that he will hold his own with a chance to be very effective over his first few outings.  However, Major League hitters will quickly expose his deficiencies and this is when his inexperience could play a factor.  Will he be able to react to the adjustments?  The Marlins must think he can and I for one, can’t wait to find out.

And how did that turn out? Fernandez made his Major League debut on April 7th of 2013 against the Mets, allowing only one run on three hits (and of course eight strikeouts).  From there he became an All-Star and National League Rookie of the Year. Despite battling injuries over the course of 2014 and 2015, Fernandez compiled a career record of 28-17.  Over his 471 innings pitched, Fernandez amassed 589 strikeouts, giving him an astounding 11.25 strikeouts-per-nine rate. For perspective, Nolan Ryan’s k/9 rate was 9.54.  

Oscar Taveras was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1992.  Sixteen years later, the Cardinals signed him as an international free agent.  From 2009-2013 he was consistently one of the best hitters in the Minor Leagues.  He garnered enough acclaim and attention that he was declared the batting champion of the MidWest League (A level ball) with a .386 average even though he was 31 plate appearances shy of actually qualifying!

In 2012 alone, Taveras lead all Cardinals minor league players in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and on base percentage.  He was also in the top five of batting average and runs scored.  He was the MVP of the Texas League All-Star Game and was a starting outfielder in the 2012 Future’s Game, batting third for the World team.  

2013 saw Taveras injure his ankle only 46 games into the season, but by this time, he was already one of the top ranked prospects in all of baseball.  Taveras was still able to make his MLB debut in May of 2014, going 1-3 with a home run.  Statistically, that season would not be amazing for Taveras, but it was assumed it was only a matter of time before he would have the same success in the Majors as he did in the Minors.  

The comments from the baseball world about each player were very similar in the days following their deaths.  Marlins President David Samson said that “Jose is a member of this family for all time, his story is representative of a story of hope, and love and of faith, and no one will ever let that story die.”  MLB Commissioner at the time, Bud Selig, said of Taveras: “Oscar, a young member of the Baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago.”  Selig was referring to the second to last hit of Taveras’ career, a pinch-hit game-tying home run in the National League Division Series that the Cardinals won with a walk-off home run in the ninth. 

Without a doubt, both Fernandez and Taveras will be continue to be missed by the baseball world  for a very long time.  I am thankful to have gotten to know them a little better though this blog and will always enjoy holding their Inception cards in my collection.

Look of the Card:

Long before I came close to finishing this set, I felt like the Fernandez Inception was one of the best looking cards in the set.  The colors of the Marlins black jersey combined with the detailed coloring of the logos on the jersey just really stand out on the cobalt background of the 2013 card.  The signature leaves a little to be desired - I have not compared it to other types of cards or years to see if he ever got better with this - but I do love the addition of his jersey number 16 at the end.  Love that move.  

All that really can be said about this card is that it does seem to embody the mound presence that Fernandez captured so perfectly.  There is nothing tight or tense about him in this moment before unleashing a pitch that was mostly likely about to be swung at and missed.  His face is relaxed, yet focused.  His body coiled but not tightly wound.  It absolutely projects self-confidence and the belief that this is the perfect pitch for the moment.  

The 2013 Taveras card contains much of the same feel to it.  In the photo, he has obviously just followed through on a ball that he connected with, as evident by his eyes tracking the flight of the ball.  This may sound sacrilegious to some, but it has a very Ken Griffey Jr. feel to the follow through.  Just smooth and complete. 

The mechanics of the 2013 card is fairly basic, though, as nothing else really stands out about the coloring, positioning or the signature.  Definitely not one of the best signatures I have seen; looks like the pen came up off the card as he finished the auto.  

Everything about the 2014 Taveras Inception is a little more intense.  The look on his face is not nearly as relaxed, and there is a spark in his eyes that is not present in the 2013 card.  The fact that the shot is from the opposite angle as the 2013 card show he is about to take off for first base, giving a greater sense of his athleticism. Even the signature seems a little more intense, as if he was paying more attention or pushing down on the marker a little harder as he scribbled his name.  I am also a fan of the flourish of the line through the name at the end!  For whatever reason, it gives an aura of completeness to the whole thing.

Card Value:

This is the first time that I have looked at three cards in one post, so I am hoping that the chart does not get too convoluted.  Here is a quick guide to the chart:

BIN - Buy It Now (to keep it simple I am not including auctions in the chart)
eBay Sales: eBay data is only available for the previous three months
COMC Sales: this covers the amount of times a card was purchased and changed hands, not necessarily that that number of individual cards were purchased

(Sorry for the formatting of the chart. I am still trying to figure out the best way to get this part down)

eBay Listings
eBay Sales
COMC Listings
COMC Sales
Jose Fernandez 2013
BIN listings: $21.99-$59.99
16 sold: $10.49-$44
1 listed for $50.25
80 total sold
There is an /25 parallel listed for $125 but a /10 parallel sold for $37 recently.
Oscar Taveras 2013
BIN listings: $7.95-$75.95
5 sold: $3.99-$15.50
8 listed: $7.75-$30.24
46 total sold
There is an /25 parallel listed for $59.99 but a /10 parallel sold for $17.88  recently.
Oscar Taveras 2014
BIN listings: $7.99-$50
4 sold: $2.25-$14.99
2 listed: $20.25-$24.50
43 total sold
An /99 Gold parallel sold for $10 recently.

I really wish I had data going back to when each of them passed away.  I remember shortly after Fernandez died that it was hard to get his Inception for less than $60 for a couple of months.  It was not too long before prices started coming back down into the $20s and then some even dipped down into the teens.  It really is an interesting phenomenon, the way prices surge when a player dies; probably worth looking into for someone with more time on their hands than I do!  

Thanks for hanging with me this week!  Next week, my plan is to look at the only player that I currently have cards for that span 2013-2015…Miguel Sano! 

Thanks again to Gibson Sports Memorabilia for their continued sponsorship! Please check out their inventory at:

Check out their inventory on eBay here

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