Analyzing The Best Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Cards
Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the most exciting young players in baseball. He is known for his phenomenal hitting and flashy play.
Tatis Jr. also has a reputation for breaking the “unwritten rules” of the game. All this leads to a high profile. But how good of investment are Fernando Tatis Jr. rookie cards?
Who is Fernando Tatis Jr?
Fernando Tatis Jr. is baseball royalty. That is partly down to his pedigree. His father, Fernando Tatis, was a solid big league third baseman who played for the Mets and Cardinals, among others. The father is perhaps best known for setting an MLB record with 8 runs in one inning when he crushed two grand slams against the Dodgers in 1999.
Therefore, the younger Tatis spent a good deal of time in clubhouses. He also received personal training from Robinson Cano, who hails from the same Dominican town as the Tatis family.
Partly because of his pedigree and exceptional talent, Tatis Jr. was signed by the White Sox as an international free agent from the Dominican Prospect League at age 15. But the Sox soon traded him to the Padres for Erik Johnson and James Shields. Not the finest moment for the Sox front office.
By 2018, Tatis Jr. had won the league’s respect of scouts and managers. He was now one of the top prospects in baseball. So no one was surprised when the promising shortstop was included in the Padres 2019 Opening Day roster. He had an excellent rookie season, coming in 3rd in the National League Rookie of the Year sweepstakes. However, a back injury ended his season. Nevertheless, it was a sign of things to come.
Tatis Jr. has become a genuine Major League superstar in the years since. He is a two-time All-MLB First Team selection and the 2021 National League home run leader. But injuries have continued to plague his development.
How good is Fernando Tatis Jr.?
Scouts knew Tatis Jr. had talent, but his capabilities didn’t bowl them over. The earliest Baseball America report on the player ranked him as the #10 prospect in the Arizona League. They noted, “Tatis has an advanced feel for hitting with power to all fields, and the ball jumps off his bat, but he’s a free swinger who sometimes chases balls out of the zone. “
But he had ironed out many of the kinks by 2019. At that time, Baseball America rated the youngster as the #2 prospect in baseball. They noted that Fernando had “a unique blend of power, speed, and athleticism.” In addition, he had the talent to be “a perennial all-star shortstop and the personality to be the face of the Padres franchise.”
Indeed, after a good start, by 2021, Tatis Jr. had become one of the most effective hitters in the sport. The advanced stats show that clearly. He was fourth overall in OPS+ (normalized on-base plus slugging percentage) and led baseball in offensive WAR (wins above replacement).
Here are his stats so far:
What is the career trajectory of Fernando Tatis Jr.?
In 2020, Fangraphs wrote that “I love Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto, but if I got to pick one player to start a new franchise, I’m taking Tatis.” It’s easy to see why. He may not be the most powerful hitter or the absolute best at getting on base. But he does EVERYTHING well and is remarkably consistent at driving in runs.
But the reality has been less impressive than the Tatis Jr. projections. If we look at the Fangraphs projections, they expected him to hit over 120 RBIs every season from 2021 to 2028. However, he hit 97 last year and hasn’t a single one in 2022 due to injury. Indeed, he has yet to top 100 RBIs. Meanwhile, both Soto and Acuna have.
The unanswered question remains, will injuries continue to bedevil Fernando, or can he overcome them? That will be the difference between a good career and a historical one.
Another recent problem comes from news he has been suspended for 80 games due to PED use. Could this be a permanent issue with his card values?
Fernando Tatis injury woes
So how serious are the Tatis injury problems, and should collectors be worried? Honestly, I would be concerned.
His injury tendencies can be divided into two. The first is an above-average propensity for unavoidable injury. The second is a certain amount of self-inflicted injuries and notable carelessness.
As far as avoidable injuries are concerned, here is a list of the big ones:
- Season-ending thumb surgery as a prospect in 2018.
- Season-ending back injury in his rookie season of 2019.
- Two shoulder injuries in 2021.
I am also concerned about his 2022 motorcycle injury. As a result of this mishap, Tatis Jr. has yet to swing a bat during the 2022 season. When a reporter asked him about the motorcycle injury, the shortstop replied, “which one?” To me, this shows a lack of seriousness and concern for his health.
What is the best Fernando Tatis Jr rookie card?
If his injuries continue to be a problem, buying into Tatis Jr. is a high-risk and high-reward proposition. So, where should you start if you want to get in on the action? We have a list of the best Fernando Tatis rookie cards to get you started.
2019 Topps Series 2 RC #410
This is the biggie. Not in terms of price but as far as iconic rookie cards are concerned the Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Card Topps release is where it’s at. Because of his talent, personality and lineage, there was an immense buzz around Fernando when he was called up. Topps responded with a highly attractive and distinctive action card, which has attained iconic status. It shows the top prospect casually tossing a ball over to first in a pre-game warmup.
The base version of this is highly popular and enjoys relatively high prices. However, the canny investor knows that a parallel will hold far greater value in the long term. Because the Tatis rookie was such a massive deal at the time, there are countless variations on this card.
The Fernando Tatis Jr. Topps Chrome Rookie Card is also a favorite among collectors.
2016 Bowman Chrome #BCP 17
Sure, the flagship cards are the traditional go-to rookie cards. But for years now, the Bowman Chrome 1st has been the go-to for serious collectors. In addition, that release has a penchant for getting iconic shots of up-and-coming stars.
The Tatis Jr. first is no exception. Again, it features the youngster in a White Sox uniform, preparing for an at-bat. But, again, this gorgeous card will probably end up being more important than the flagship rookie in the long run.
2019 Bowman Chrome Green X-Fractor Parallel #26
The Bowman Chrome rookies are pretty popular, and this one has real class. But of course, the base card isn’t worth all that much. But any parallel version of it is a good investment. The Green X-Fractor is an excellent choice because of its rarity and distinct look.
After all, you could only buy these boxes on StockX. However, the price is prohibitively high as a result. But the autos are also worth a look.
2019 Topps Brooklyn Collection Gold /50 #13
The Brooklyn Collection is a special release received by members of the Montgomery Club. Therefore, the cards are not as standard as major retail releases. However, they also look great, and this card is particularly delightful.
Not sure why I like it so much, but it just jumps out at you. The gold brings out the classic design very well. And the value is substantial as well.
2019 Bowman’s Best #58
The card has a bolder design than any other Tatis Jr. rookie card. The flares on the right side are particularly notable. It’s one of those cards you either love or hate.
It tends to go for lower prices than some of the others. Therefore, this could be the right one if you are in the market for a solid refractor at a reasonable price.
2019 Topps Finest Blue Refractor Auto #85
The design is original, with blocks and corners that are interesting and counterintuitive. It is also a well-made chrome card that should retain value as the product of a higher-end Topps release.
So, this is another card you can use to nab a refractor or auto at a relatively reasonable price. We recommend the blue auto refractor because the price seems very reasonable for such a quality rookie auto.
2019 Stadium Club Auto #88
Stadium Club is renowned for its photography, and the Tatis Jr. rookie card is no exception. It has a great photo. There is a problem, though. The picture is virtually identical to the one on the flagship card.
Though not taken at the same game (he doesn’t have sunglasses in one, and it’s a different glove), the pose and uniform are incredibly similar. Still, the card is quite attractive. And it looks even better with the very elegant signature of the shortstop.
2019 Topps Clearly Authentic Auto #CAA-FT
This may be the best auto Tatis Jr. rookie auto out there, aesthetically speaking. The signature is well placed, and it plays well off the acetate. However, nothing particularly earth-shaking about the design, and the product it comes from is not a favorite. But the card speaks for itself.
2019 National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto Card Gold /49
All the usual caveats about unlicensed baseball products apply here. No, baseball National Treasures is not on a par with its basketball and football equivalents. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful card with a reasonably strong resale value.
2019 Topps Dynasty Rookie Patch Auto /10 #DAPFTJ1-8
If you prefer your RPA’s license, this is the one to spring for. It is pretty similar to Panini’s Flawless cards. They include on-card autographs, jumbo patch swatches, and a limited print run. Another really cool element is that each card has a different photo. The card also comes in even more exclusive versions: 1/5 and 1/1.
Are Fernando Tatis Jr Rookie Cards Good Investments At Current Prices?
That question is a tough one. It really depends on how you evaluate his injury problems. So let’s look at some scenarios.
If he can maintain good health, Tatis Jr. will be a Hall-of-Famer. He has every tool you want from a baseball player and the charisma to turn it all into stardust. He can be Mike Trout with natural charm (sorry, Mike).
Tatis has a strong career, interrupted by injury quite often. He even loses a couple of peak years due to injury. He then becomes a borderline Hall-of-Famer with a “what could have been” aura or a good but unspectacular player in the David Wright mold.
Worst case scenario
Tatis ends his career early due to injuries. As a result, his cards retain some value for nostalgia but end up losing most of their value.
The problem is that I can easily see any of the three happening. I wouldn’t buy in with the high prices of Tatis Jr. cards. To me, Acuna and Soto seem like better investments.
Bottomline On Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Cards
Fernando Tatis Jr. is the most exciting baseball talent, with the exception of Shohei Ohtani. He is undoubtedly the flashiest of his age cohort. But he also seems less durable than many of his peers.
Moreover, with high prices on his cards, there is probably too much risk for the relatively small potential upside.
If you decide to invest in Tatis Jr.’s rookie cards, ensure not to get his base cards. Base cards are generally not a good investment anymore. Unfortunately, in the case of Tatis, he rose to fame before this was fully apparent, so people stocked up on his base cards, and they are worth less than usual.
Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Card frequently asked questions
What year is the Fernando Tatis Rookie Card?
2019 is Fernando Tatis’ official rookie year cards. Some his of pre-rookie cards date back to 2016, including his 1st Bowman card.
How much is a Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Card worth?
Fernando Tatis rookie cards range from just a few dollars, up to thousands of dollars. Check ebay completed listings for the latest Fernando Tatis rookie card values.
What is the best Fernando Tatis Jr. Rookie Card?
The most iconic is the 2019 Topps release, #410, which includes countless variations. Refer to our list above for some of the 10 best Fernando Tatis rookie cards?