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Future Hall-Of-Famer Cards: Sure Thing Hitters

Luxurious white hall with mirrors and openwork metal bench

We all want to invest in future Hall-Of-Famer cards. But which ones and at what price?

Here at Cardlines, we continue our series on future Hall-Of Famer cards. We have discussed undervalued cards of future Cooperstown denizens.

There are typically around 35-40 active players in any major league season who will make baseball’s Hall of Fame. Some of these are rookies getting their first taste of the majors. Some are young superstars in their prime. Finally, some players aren’t done yet but have already punched their ticket to Cooperstown when they retire.

We’ll explore these “Sure Things” today, specifically the hitters (we’ll examine pitchers in a future article). Then, we’ll talk about the key rookie cards of these players and their investment prospects.

WAR As A Measure Of Future Hall-Famers

Just a note on WAR. When WAR is referenced in this article, we use the Baseball-Reference version of WAR rather than the Fangraphs version.

A brief reminder: players are eligible for the Hall of Fame 5 years after they retire. They then remain eligible for 10 years or until they appear on fewer than 5% of ballots. The Hall of Fame voting results are announced in January, and the induction ceremony is in July.

A Word of Warning on “Sure Things”

The numbers a player puts up are a big part of their Hall of Fame case. But off the field factors come into play. A player who is a “sure thing” Hall-Of-Famer can knock themselves out of that position with bad off-field behavior.

A clear example is Robinson Cano. Cano’s 69.6 career WAR ranks 10th all-time among second basemen, ahead of hall-of-famers like Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar. But two positive steroid tests cost Cano consideration for the Hall of Fame, at least for the foreseeable future.

The rule-breaking also likely cost Ca

Robinson Cano had a great career, but is he headed to the Hall? (look for Cano autos on eBay)

no a chance to improve his career totals. He put up a .316/.352/.544 line in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and appeared to have more in the tank at age 37. However, Cano did not appear in the majors in 2021.

Unless you think the HOF voters will stop punishing the steroid users sometime soon, Cano’s 2003 Rookie Cards (Bowman Chrome Draft, Topps Chrome Traded) probably aren’t great investments. And, of course, new scandals can break for some of the players listed here. So watch out for that!

But enough of the dire, let’s get to the fire. Here are the best sure thing hitter future Hall-Of-Famer cards.

The List Of Future Hall-Of-Famer Cards

Here is an overview of active major league position players who would be sure-fire Hall of Fame inductees if they retired today.

Albert Pujols

Age: 41 Career WAR: 99.6 Key RC: 2001 Topps Chrome Traded #T247

What can be said about Pujols that hasn’t already been written? With 3,301 hits, 679 HR, and 2,150 RBI, and 3 MVP awards in his storied career, he truly is one of the all-time greats. He trails only Lou Gehrig in career WAR at first base.

A long, slow decline phase may have made some people forget how good Pujols was. Nonetheless, card collectors have not. Albert’s Topps Chrome Traded RC in PSA 10 has sold in the $2,500-$2,600 range of late. At that price, there isn’t a ton of upside. But many sure-thing players see a bump around their induction into the hall. So don’t wait for induction weekend to get your Pujols!

Interested in a Pujols Topps Traded RC? (look for one on eBay)

Mike Trout

Age: 30 Career WAR: 76.1 Key RC: 2011 Topps Update #US175

Trout has the 2nd highest career WAR among active position players. He is a former Rookie of the Year and three-time MVP, so everyone knows how good he is. What remains shocking is that the outfielder is only 30 years old.

Among the many reasons that Trout’s 2021 injury was unfortunate is that it stopped the regular occurrence of Trout passing Hall of Famers in career WAR, despite his relative youth.

Trout’s 2011 Topps Update card has been one of the hottest in the hobby for many years, but there is a chance that a combination of his lengthy injury and another non-competitive year by the Angels in 2021 may see the card soften a little this off-season. If that happens, it might be a good idea to jump on that. Recent sales have been in the $2,500-$3,000 price range.

Miguel Cabrera

Age: 38 Career WAR: 68.7 Key RC: 2000 Topps Chrome Traded #T40

Cabrera is another all-time great who’s had a long, slow decline phase. Nonetheless, he is back in the spotlight. Miguel’s 500th HR is coming in 2021, and his 3,000th career hit will likely arrive in 2022. And he deserves the attention. Miguel is a two-time MVP who ranks 12th all-time in WAR among first basemen.

A PSA 10 of is 2000 Topps Chrome Traded is selling in the $1,200 and $2,500 neighborhoods. That is quite a range. So, there may be some room for growth there.

Cabrera will have a lot of media attention on him next season (get his RC’s on eBay now)

Buster Posey

Age: 34 Career WAR: 44.9 Key RC: 2010 Topps #2

In 2019, it looked like Posey, a former ROY and MVP winner and 7X All-Star was slowing down. Instead, Posey sat out the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and his Hall of Fame case was starting to sound more “borderline” than “sure thing.” After all, many catchers decline in their early 30’s.

But a resurgent 2021 season puts the 34-year-old at 44.9 career WAR, good for 16th all-time among catchers. He now looks like someone with something left in the tank and may continue to climb the list.

Posey’s key RC is a regular issue card, making it more affordable than Traded/Update rookie cards. Therefore, it’s more affordable. A PSA 10 has been going in the $200-250 range of late. I see some room for growth as not everyone has caught on that Posey is back and a lock for Cooperstown.

Yadier Molina

Age: 39 Career WAR: 42.1 Key RC: 2004 Topps Chrome #219

Molina is 39 and just signed for another season with the Cardinals, although 2022 is expected to be his last. While his advanced numbers may not scream “Hall-Of-Famer,” Molina has been a sure-thing in the court of public opinion for some time.

The Topps Chrome rookie card in PSA 10 will set you back over $2,000. Therefore, I’m not sure there’s a lot of growth potential there. Maybe on some non-chrome varieties, but there may be an election bump when Molina goes in….especially if he happens to go in the same year as Pujols.

Are Yadier Molina cards a good investment now? (look for his RC’s on eBay)

The Final Word On Future Hall-Of-Famer Cards

The five-position players highlighted in this article would make the Hall of Fame if they retired today. Of course, there are other active future Hall of Famers, but they still have some resume-building to be the locks these players are.

When a player makes the Hall of Fame, their cards tend to get at least a temporary bump, although with “sure thing” players, this can be a bit smaller since their election is no surprise.

The players that really see a jump in card value on their election to the Hall of Fame tend to the “surprises.” Think Lee Smith, Harold Baines, or look at the jump in the value we’ve seen of Billy Wagner cards since he made a jump in the voting last year. This jump is due to lower pops, fewer people expecting them to be elected, and a general lack of supply to feed the newfound demand. More on future potential “surprise” candidates in a future article.

Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.
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