In 2019, the baseball would was anxiously anticipating the arrival of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. He came into the game as the son of a fan favorite and Hall of Famer. Some scouts and experts went so far as to say he had more upside than his father.
Two years later, Guerrero Jr. is knocking on the door of joining Miguel Cabrera (2012) as the only other player to win a Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1967.
At the All-Star break, Guerrero Jr. led all of baseball with a .332 batting average. His 28 home runs trailed only Shohei Ohtani’s 33. He holds the RBI lead with 73. He also led the Majors in OPS and On Base Percentage (.430). His slugging percentage trailed only Ohtani.
Needless to say, Guerrero Jr. has been one of the hottest sellers in the hobby this season. From April 7 through July 7, over $4.6 million worth of Guerrero cards were sold on eBay. Leading the way is a rainbow of options inside 2016 Bowman Chrome Baseball, issued a year after he signed with Toronto as in international free agent at age 16.
The biggest seller so far? A 2016 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor autographed/25 with a BGS 9.5 grade that changed hands for $41,100. A PSA 10 Bowman Chrome Red Shimmer Refractor autograph, numbered to 10 sold for $36,100.
In fact, the six highest-selling Guerrero Jr. cards on eBay over the last month and 10 of the top 11 highest selling cards have all been 2016 Bowman Chrome autographed Refractors numbered to 50 or lower. The only other card in that group is a 2019 Bowman Sterling Superfractor autograph 1/1 dual card of Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. graded BGS 9 with the signatures getting a BGS grade of 10.
For investors, the 2016 Guerrero Jr. Bowman Chrome Refractors remain the cards that are most sought after. There are many serial-numbered parallel options including: Purple (#/250), Blue (#/150), Green (#/99), Gold (#/50), Orange (#/25), and Red (#/5). There are also Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow Printing Plates (1/1) and also a 1/1 Superfractor.
For the average collector who can’t drop thousands on a rookie card, there are, of course, more affordable options.
2019 Vladimir Guerrero Series 2 NNO
One of the most intriguing Guerrero Jr. issues is an unnumbered Topps Series 2 card that is shortprinted but far from rare. The card was a late addition to Topps Series 2 baseball packs and includes the Topps Rookie Card logo.
In the 2019 Topps Baseball factory set, Guerrero appears in the set as card number 700, with a different photo than the unnumbered card that appears in Series 2 packs. There’s also a photo variation of that #700 card. Both the Series 2 card and the factory set cards have been hot sellers but aren’t as pricey as the high-end Bowman Chrome from three years earlier.
2019 Topps Factory Set #700 Vladimir Geurrero Jr. RC
The Topps Chrome #201 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rookie card is another accessible card that’s been a strong seller in 2021. There are several Refractor and autographed parallels of that card with much higher price tags. It features the same photo that is on the unnumbered Topps Series 2 short print.
Another popular option for collectors wanting to get in on the Vlad Jr. rookie card action is his 2019 Bowman Chrome rookie card #73.
Father and Son
It was a no-brainer that both Guerreros would appear on a dual autographed card during Vlad Jr.’s rookie season. Topps obliged in their 2019 Topps Definitive baseball card release. Vlad Jr. has multiple variations of autographed cards in 2019 Topps Definitive, and all are serial-numbered to 50 or lower.
There are also, however, dual autographed cards featuring both Guerreros. Considering that the Guerreros have the potential to become the first father and son duo to go into the Baseball Hall or Fame – Vlad Jr. turned 22 just before the season began but had more than 50 career HRs heading into his first All-Star Game – dual autographed cards of the Guerreros, especially from 2019, would seem to have a huge upside. In June, a 2019 Topps Definitive Red Dual Autograph 1/1 which was graded BGS 8.5 sold for just over $3,000. Despite the lower grade, the card is still a 1/1 and should stand the test of time.
50 in 258
Speaking of Guerrero’s 50th career home run, it came on June 25 in Buffalo in his 258th career game. Through 258 career games with the Montreal Expos, Vlad Sr. also had 50 home runs. In Toronto Blue Jays history, the only player to reach 50 home runs in fewer games than Vlad Jr. is Fred McGriff.
One of the must-have cards for the Guerrero collector is the Topps Now card that Topps released in late June. The card is a split card featuring the father and son, noting their 50 home runs in 258 games.
Another factor in why the upside is about to move to another level is the fact that Guerrero Jr. has not played in front of a home crowd since his rookie year of 2019. Vlad Jr. was born in Montreal when Vlad Sr. was a member of the Expos, so he immediately becomes a fan favorite for all Canadian baseball fans and collectors, just as Larry Walker was a generation ago.
Since March 2020, however, there have been no live card shows in Montreal or Toronto. The real regional market hysteria that has only existed online has not really gripped Toronto yet. While the semi-annual Sport Card and Memorabilia Expo has become known primarily as a hockey show, the Blue Jays like Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio will be hot commodities. For veteran collectors who may have been at that show in its early days from 1989 through 1993, think of the popularity of the Blue Jays in that period of time and how the baseball card market was every bit as strong in Toronto, in Canada and at that show as the hockey card market was.
If there was ever any question about how Vlad Jr. is embraced by the fan base in Canada, think back to the pre-season of 2018. The Jays were playing the St. Louis Cardinals in their final spring training game. As they usually do, the Jays played their last pre-season series at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. With the score tied in the ninth inning, 19-year-old Vlad Jr. stepped up to the plate and smacked a walk-off home run to send the crowd into a frenzy. It was the same stadium where his dad was a hero to the same fan base, and the same stadium where he watched his dad play when he was a little boy.
Even though it was a pre-season game, that home run remains one of the most iconic moments of the young career of Vlad Jr. More will come, and as they do, those 2019 rookie cards will become more and more sought after.
About Jeff Morris
Jeff Morris is a hobby veteran who has been a collector for more than 50 years. Originally a hobby journalist, he became brand manager at Pinnacle, and then was an executive for Collector’s Edge and Shop at Home before joining Pacific Trading Cards as VP Marketing. He is the former editor and publisher of Canadian Sports Collector magazine, and he was also a columnist for ESPN.com.