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Shohei Ohtani may be putting on the greatest show baseball has ever seen so far in 2021, making huge returns for pre-2021 Ohtani rookie card investors.
It has been a perfect couple of years for Mr. Ohtani, and he has shown zero signs of slowing down.
This is unreal, and did we mention he is on pace to break Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record? And in a season when hitting was not in vogue (until a recent rule change).
Shohei Ohtani (7/5/1995) made his Major League debut for the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day 2018, March 29th.
Ohtani agreed to sign with the Angels in December 2017 after the Japanese phenom wrapped up his career with the Nippon-Ham Fighters.
Ohtani immediately became the rare pitcher-hitter that reminds baseball fans of Babe Ruth. His power as a hitter has proven immense.
Collectors are scrambling to get their hands on a piece of Ohtani. Here are the cards commanding the most attention.
#1. 2018 Bowman Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card #49
The 2018 Shohei Ohtani Bowman RC #49 exhibits Ohtani the pitches, clad in a white Angels uniform having just finished his delivery.
The card contains the same boilerplate Bowman nameplate, with the jumbo LA Angles logo, aquatic flare, and “P/DH” designation (which is admittedly rare for any player card).
Ohtani sports a scrunched facial expression indicating his anticipation of the batter’s response.
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The Bowman “B” logo within a baseball emblem is in the upper-left corner. A small “RC” emblem is placed just above the Angels logo.
It’s not the flashiest card, but Bowman baseball rookie cards rarely let the collector down.
Notable parallels include Printing Plates Black (/1), Printing Plates Cyan (/1), Printing Plates Magenta (/1), and Printing Plates Yellow (/1).
#1A. 2014 Shohei Ohtani BBM 1st Version Art Of Auto RC #WB1
It would be outright disrespectful not to include the most valuable Shohei Ohtani Japanese Rookie Card.
His 2014 BBM 1st Version Art of Auto rookie card is a gem and ultra-rare to see up on auctions in the states.
This card could be tops in 20 years when it comes to Ohtani rookie cards ROI.
#2. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Dynasty Auto Patch RC #AP-SO1 to AP-SO7 (/10)
With its 2018 Dynasty set, Topps decided to produce multiple rookie card versions for the same player.
There are a few different images used for Shohei Ohtani’s 2018 Topps Dynasty Auto Patch RCs. This provides great in-set variety while enhancing the rarity of each card.
One card shows Ohtani in his Angels greys, having just released a pitch with his red glove flexed upward.
Another shows Ohtani in the same uniform but reared back to pitch with the ball still in hand.
Each card has a horizontal orientation. A blue signature is written at the chest level of Ohtani’s photograph on the card’s left side. A vertical, dog-tag-shaped player patch counterbalances Ohtani’s photo on the card’s right side.
A black stripe serves as the card’s top border. Different parallels incorporate different color schemes, but the base card has a cream background.
Notable parallels include Blue (/5) and Gold (/1).
#3. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps RC #700
Topps rookie cards generally generate high demand and industry-wide respect. That’s why we’ve included the 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps RC #700 among his most important rookie cards.
The card’s centerpiece is the photograph of Ohtani, leg raised in a statuesque pitching motion.
The nameplate is the standard 2018 Topps design, with an enlarged Angels “A” logo engulfed in a water-like graphic. A Topps logo and rookie card “RC” emblem complete the front design.
Though it’s a highly traditional card format, it works. Collectors know what to expect from Topps rookie cards, and that consistency makes this a card worth owning.
#4. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Clearly Authentic Auto RC #CAA-SO
Here’s a rule of thumb for collecting sports cards: any rookie card with an autograph will rank at, or near, the top of a player’s rookie card catalog.
Hence why the 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Clearly Authentic Auto RC #CAA-SO ranks fourth on this list.
Autograph aside, it’s a pretty standard Ohtani Topps card. It features an image of the elbow pad-clad lefty at the plate (or in the batter’s box). He completes a one-handed swing in red-on-red Angels gear that can only be described as fresh.
The bottom of the card features Topps’ ultra-modern nameplate, with a jumbo Angels logo and a tidal wave graphic leading into Shohei’s name and position.
Between the nameplate and Ohtani’s torso is a barely noticeable white plate, upon which Ohtani’s signature is written in blue ink.
Notable parallels include Blue (/25), Purple (/10), Orange (/5), and Gold (/1).
#5. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Donruss Optic RC #56
In what is one of the more appealing cards on this list, the 2018 Shohei Ohtani Donruss Optic RC #56 has a few different variation designs that would fit into any card era from the mid-90s until today.
Its refractive nature draws the eye, giving the image of a batting Ohtani, ready to unload on an incoming pitch, a superhero-like quality.
The image of opposing players in the dugout behind Ohtani is a rare feature of cards but is an interesting flair. The red nameplate and top border gel with Ohtani’s logoless red uniform.
The Rated Rookie emblem (often associated with Donruss’ basketball sets) and a Donruss Optic signifier round out the design.
Classic, timeless, graceful. You want this card, don’t you?
Shohei Ohtani 2018 Donruss Optic Baseball Parallel Cards: Holo, Bronze, Pink, Purple, Red/Yellow, Shock, White Sparkles, Aqua #299, Orange /199, Blue /149, Red /99, Carolina Blue /50, Black /25, Gold /10, Cracked Ice /7, Green /5, Gold Vinyl 1/1.
Shohei Ohtani Base Variations Parallel Cards: Holo, Bronze, Pink, Purple, Red/Yellow, Shock, White Sparkles, Aqua /299, Orange /199, Blue /149, Red /99, Carolina Blue /50, Black /25, Gold /10, Cracked Ice /7 (FOTL), Green /5, Gold Vinyl 1/1.
#6. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Five Star Auto RC #FSA-SO
The 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Five Star Auto RC #FSA-SO has (you already know) the coveted rookie card autograph. And so, we include it.
From a design perspective, this one is definitely out there. It has a sort of Game of Thrones vibe with the marble backdrop and metallic, medieval graphics.
Ohtani stands with his arms behind his back and a smirk on his face, not unlike a prince observing the court jester or latest hanging.
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Just below Ohtani’s beltline is a blue signature. Behind his red cap sits an obstructed “Five Star” banner in white font atop a black backdrop.
The card’s outer border varies in color depending on the parallel. Notable parallels include Green (/15), Gold (/10), Orange (/5), and Red (/1).
#7. 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Shohei Ohtani RC #100
Allen & Ginter cards are known for their highly artistic appearances. The 2018 Shohei Ohtani RC #100 from A&G is no exception.
Designed as it portrait, it shows Ohtani staring dead-on at the camera (or artist). His red hat is striking amidst a background (and overall color scheme) heavy on white and beige.
Behind Ohtani’s head is a mild cloud of colors, including blues, pinks, and purples.
The card’s old-timey drawn border transitions into a peeling wallpaper effect down low. Beneath the peeling border reads “2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Brooklyn, NY”.
Above Ohtanit’s red hat reads, simply, “Ohtani”. It’s easy to miss. As always, this Allen & Ginter card stands out from the competition thanks to its superior design.
#8. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Bowman Chrome RC #1 (Base & SP)
When you have as many notable rookie cards as Shohei Ohtani, the classics like the Bowman Chrome rookie card fall down the list a bit.
Pro-Tip: When possible, opt for the SP version of a player’s Topps rookie card as they are much rarer than the base card and therefore provide a juicer ROI.
It features Shotime Ohtani in his compact left-hand stance (bombs away!), hands extend far behind his body in a way that Ichiro brought en vogue.
The classic reflective Bowman Chrome backdrop gives the card some pop. A white border with one folded corner leads into a base-shaped Angels logo and nameplate in the card’s lower portion.
It’s a Bowman Chrome rookie card featuring an absolute stud, and this alone makes it worth your attention. If you can find this card with an on-card auto, even better.
#9. 2018 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card #150
We rarely produce a baseball rookie card list without featuring Topps Chrome. The set is simply too timeless to ignore.
Ohtani’s 2018 Topps Chrome RC #150 feels similar to the Bowman Chrome, with a simple image, a modern nameplate, and relatively few eye-catching features.
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The image of Ohtani, leg raised in perfect pitching posture and a laundromat-clean white jersey, does the talking here.
Aim for one of the notable parallels, including Orange Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/5), Red Wave Refractors (/5), and Printing Plates Black (/1).
#10. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Heritage Real One Auto RC #SO
The 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Heritage Real One Auto RC #SO has a dated look, and this is intentional. Some would even argue it’s quite cool.
The card features graphics that you might find in the Junk Wax Era (or even before). A round, violet nameplate in the upper-right corner reads “Shohei Ohtani Pitcher/DH”.
Parallel to the bottom border is “Angels” in bold yellow font common to an era when cards were mass-produced.
The image of Ohtani is fitting of the card’s casual design, as he smiles, casually holding the ball with his head turned just over his shoulder. He sports the white Angels home uniform.
A red signature is scrawled over Ohtani’s uniform’s “Angels” text. Its unique design makes this a quality card.
#11. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Chrome Update RC #HMT1
Topps Chrome is always a reliable set for baseball collectors, and so the 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Chrome Update RC #HMT1 deserves a spot on this list.
Sho-Time rears back in his red LA Angels uniform, signaling blood in the water as he delivers something filthy.
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The card’s design is standard 2018 Topps. It has the aqua-themed nameplate with a large Angels logo, and of course the “P/DH” positional designation that is so unique to Ohtani.
Ohtani’s face displays a level of concentration consistent with his impressive results as a pitcher. It’s a cool image on a card that embraces the modern baseball card look.
#12. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Update RC Variation #US1
This is virtually the same card as the 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Chrome Update #HMT1. However, it does not have the Chrome distinction.
The primary differences are the lack of a refractive background and no “Chrome” in the card’s Topps logo. Either card is worth your attention but the rare SSP should have the top ROI long-term.
#13. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Score RC #11
The 2018 Shohei Ohtani Score RC #11 is brought to you by 2018 Baseball Panini Chronicles.
It shows Ohtani in his rigid pre-swing stance. He wears grey pants, a red jersey, and a helmet without logos visible.
Shohei Ohtani Rookie Year Stats and Vitals: .285 avg, 22 homers, 61 RBIs, and 10 stolen bags. Two-way player | 2018 American League Rookie of the Year | Ascending star
A white border has various indentations, while a red sub-border frames Ohtani’s photo. A large, black, italicized “Score” logo occupies the card’s upper-right corner.
A multi-font, multi-sized nameplate stands along the bottom border. This is a modern card without too many frills.
#14. 2018 Shohei Ohtani Donruss RC #281
Another offering from Donruss, the 2018 Shohei Ohtani Donruss RC #281 features the Japanese sensation in his pitching form.
He displays the expert form, right elbow cocked at a 90-degree angle downward with the ball in hand. His face shows extreme exertion as he sports the full Angel greys and a red cap with the logo blurred.
A sail-shaped sub-border sports the Angels’ red-and-white color scheme, as does the outer border. A blue “Rated Rookie” emblem is in the upper-left corner. A vintage Donruss “d” logo is in the bottom-right corner, alongside Ohtani’s nameplate.
Donruss did Ohtani well with his batch of rookie cards.
#15. 2013 Shohei Ohtani BBM Hokkaido Nippom Rookie Card #F2A
We felt we had to include at least one more of Ohtani’s rookie cards from his days over in his native land of Japan.
The 2013 BBM Hokkaido Nippom Ohtani rookie card is a sleeper pick in regards to having a good to great ROI in the next 5 to 10 years as most of these Shohei Ohtani BBM cards are not known to collectors… YET.
#1. 2014 BBM 1st Version Art Of Auto RC #WB1
#2. 2013 Shohei Ohtani BBM Hokkaido Nippom Rookie Card #F2A
#3. 2013 Shoheo Ohtani BBM Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Gold FOIL RC #F2B
#4. 2013 Shohei Ohtani Yoshikawa BBM SP RC #90
#5. 2014 BBM Japan Facsimile Gold Shohei Ohtani ROOKIE RC /100 #137
The most valuable Shohei Ohtani RC is one of the ultra-rare 2018 Bowman Chrome Auto Refractor Rookie Card #BCRASO like the orange showed below.
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3 Most Expensive Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards
- 2018 Shohei Ohtani Bowman Chrome Auto Refractor RC #BCRASO
- 2018 Shohei Ohtani Bowman Auto Refractor RC #SO
- 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs Refractor RC #RASO
- 2013 Shohei Ohtani BBM Hokkaido Nippom Rookie Card #F2A
- 2013 Shoheo Ohtani BBM Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Gold FOIL RC #F2B
- 2013 Shohei Ohtani Yoshikawa BBM SP RC #90
- 2014 BBM Japan Facsimile Gold Shohei Ohtani ROOKIE RC /100 #137
- 2014 BBM 1st Version Art Of Auto RC #WB1
- 2017 Leaf Trinity Signatures Shohei Ohtani RC #A-SO1
- 2017 Leaf Pearl Autographs Shohei Ohtani RC #AU-SO1 to SO5
- 2017 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani RC #OS-80
- 2017 Bowman Chrome Mega Box Shohei Ohtani RC #BCP31
- 2018 Topps Update Shohei Ohtani RC #US1
- 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani RC #1
- 2018 Bowman’s Best Shohei Ohtani RC #1
- 2018 Bowman Chrome National Convention Shohei Ohtani RC #BNR-SO
- 2018 Bowman Topps Holiday Shohei Ohtani RC #TH-SO
- 2018 Bowman Shohei Ohtani RC #49
- 2018 Bowman High Tek Shohei Ohtani RC #RHT-SO
- 2018 Bowman Platinum Shohei Ohtani RC #34
- 2018 Donruss Optic Rated Rookie Shohei Ohtani RC #56
- 2018 Diamond Kings Shohei Ohtani RC #73 Pitching, #76 Batting, #145 SP
- 2018 Immaculate Collection Autograph/Patch Shohei Ohtani RC #37
- 2018 National Treasures Rookie Signatures Shohei Ohtani RC #RS-SO
- 2018 Panini Chronicles Shohei Ohtani RC #1
- 2018 Panini Flawless Shohei Ohtani RC #3
- 2018 Topps Baseball Factory Team Set Shohei Ohtani RC #A-17
- 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter Shohei Ohtani RC #100
- 2018 Topps Allen & Ginter X (black auto) Shohei Ohtani RC #100
- 2018 Topps Archives Shohei Ohtani RC #31
- 2018 Topps Archives Snapshots Shohei Ohtani RC #AS-SO
- 2018 Topps Series 2 Shohei Ohtani RC #700
- 2018 Topps Update Series Shohei Ohtani RC #US1
- 2018 Shohei Ohtani Topps Update RC Variation #US1
- 2018 Topps Chrome Update Series Shohei Ohtani RC #HMT1
- 2018 Topps Baseball Silver Pack 1983 Shohei Ohtani RC #51 / #145
- 2018 Topps Big League Shohei Ohtani RC #141
- 2018 Topps Brooklyn Collection Autograph Shohei Ohtani RC #BC-SO
- 2018 Topps Clearly Authentic Auto Shohei Ohtani RC #CAA-SO
- 2018 Topps Definitive Collection Autographs
- 2018 Topps Diamond Icons Autographs Shohei Ohtani RC
- 2018 Topps Dynasty Auto Patch Shohei Ohtani RC #AP-SO
- 2018 Topps Finest Shohei Ohtani RC #100
- 2018 Topps Fire Shohei Ohtani RC #150
- 2018 Topps Five Star Autograph Shohei Ohtani RC #FSA-SO
- 2018 Topps Gallery Shohei Ohtani RC #116
- 2018 Topps Gold Label Shohei Ohtani RC #17
- 2018 Topps Gypsy Queen Shohei Ohtani RC #89
- 2018 Topps Heritage Rookie Variation Shohei Ohtani RC #17
- 2018 Topps Heritage High Number Shohei Ohtani RC #600
- 2018 Topps High Tek Shohei Ohtani RC #HT-SO
- 2018 Topps Holiday Shohei Ohtani RC #HMW17
- 2018 Topps Inception Autograph Patch Shohei Ohtani RC
- 2018 Topps Living Set Shohei Ohtani RC #7
- 2018 Topps Luminaries Autographs Shohei Ohtani RC
- 2018 Topps Museum Collection Shohei Ohtani RC #100
- 2018 Topps National Baseball Card Day Shohei Ohtani RC #10
- 2018 Topps New Era Shohei Ohtani RC #10
- 2018 Topps Now Shohei Ohtani RC #ST-4
- 2018 Topps Opening Day Shohei Ohtani RC #200
- 2018 Topps Stadium Club Shohei Ohtani RC #138
- 2018 Topps Tier One Autograph Shohei Ohtani RC #BA-SO Redemption
- 2018 Topps Transcendent Collection Shohei Ohtani RC #10 #/83
- 2018 Topps Tribute Autograph Shohei Ohtani RC #TA-SO Redemption
When it comes to ascending stars, it gets no brighter than Shohei Ohtani.
As the (extremely) rare two-way player, he would be a valuable target for collectors just on novelty alone. As it turns out, he’s really friggin good.
- Investment Rating: Strong Buy (4.5 out of 5)
- Risk/Return Analysis: Moderate Risk/Moderate to High Return
- Ownership Disclosure: None
With a plethora of valuable rookie cards to choose from, prices for Ohtani RCs should remain strong but not unreasonably high.
This is good news for investors of all classes. You may be able to get your hands on a desirable Ohtani rookie card without mortgaging the house or selling the car.
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