Sweet 16: MLB midseason surprises include unknowns & obvious

Adam-Duvall-2016-ToppsThe MLB All-Star Game is nearly upon us and that gives us all a chance to take a break and assess the season so far and watch the home runs fly in tonight’s Home Run Derby.

One of those sluggers is Cincinnati’s Adam Duvall, who has 23 homers out of absolute nowhere and nearly no cardboard to show for it. As previously noted here on The Buzz, Duvall’s first Rookie Card arrived in 2016 Topps Series 2. And to show how off the radar he’s been he’s a third-year big-leaguer with just one past Bowman card appearance — no autographs — and this Rookie Card is one that doesn’t even have an RC logo. That probably hasn’t helped sales, but some rarities are sellers.

There are other big names in the hobby this season who have played well — in fact there are a lot of decent showings — but here are 15 who have impressed on the field and should be noticed when it comes to cardboard.

Trevor Story, SS Rockies
His arrival came with the controversy of Jose Reyes‘ suspension, but this Story has impressed with 21 homers in Colorado — a start that helped launch Topps Now, a program of real-time cardboard that can capture the moments as they happen for guys just like this.

2016-donruss-optic-1987-Rated-Rookie-Auto-SeagerCorey Seager, SS Dodgers
Entering this season there was one rookie to watch in the National League — and he’s delivered so far. Although he trails Story with just 17 homers, he leads all MLB rookies in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and walks. He might trump Story when it comes to the Rookie of the Year race, too, since Story has cooled off since his hot start.

Murphy

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals
Last year’s World Series hero has kept it up with an MLB-leading .348 average and a respectable 17 homers for his new team. Will the former Met will be scorching in online auctions at season’s end? Probably not but there’s something to be said for continuing to deliver. Get the basics on his cards here.

OrtizDavid Ortiz, DH Red Sox
Is it his final season? He’s still saying yes, but “Big Papi” hasn’t slowed down with a .332 average and 22 homers so far for a team that’s in the hunt in the American League East. He’s currently at 525 homers, 19th on the career list, having passed Ted Williams earlier this summer. He has a shot at finishing 17th as up next are Jimmie Foxx (534) and Mickey Mantle (536).

MARK TRUMBO - 2016 TOPPS NOW CARD 23 - PRINT RUN: 285 CARDS
Mark Trumbo, OF Orioles
If you’d expected a Baltimore Oriole to have 28 homers and lead the majors at the break, it probably would have been Chris Davis. Instead, it’s this guy who has already topped his mark of last season spent with Arizona and Seattle. You can find his first autos way back in 2004 products.

2016-topps-stadium-club-gallery-1SC-bryantKris Bryant, 3B-OF Cubs
The Cubs are on a massive losing skid of late, but you wouldn’t know it from the standings where they’re still tops in the NL Central. A big part of that is due to Bryant and his NL-leading 25 homers and it seems like 37 of those (or something) have come against the Cincinnati Reds, a team that the Cubs close the season against. He also leads the league in runs and ranks third in RBI while hitting .286. He’s an established commodity after his big rookie campaign last year so if (when) the Cubs win it all, his cardboard will reap the benefits.

2016-topps-heritage-frazier

Todd Frazier, 3B White Sox
Last year’s Home Run Derby champ changed teams but he has delivered with a pace that puts him on a career high in homers. He’s got 25 so far off his his career-high 35 last year. He’s a bargain whose first autos can be found in USA Baseball releases from a decade ago.

2016-topps-stadium-club-SP-variation-MadBumMadison Bumgarner, SP Giants
We all know he can bat, but last night’s start should remind us all what he’s around for with a one-hitter against the Diamondbacks. That upped his record to 10-4 with a 1.94 ERA this season. Look for his earliest autos in 2007 and 2008 releases.

2016-Topps-Heritage-High-Number-baseball-CuetoJohnny Cueto, SP Giants
He’s on his third team in two seasons but he’s playing like a guy who’ll never change teams again. He’s 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 131.1 innings, trailing only MadBum and the next guy on the NL ERA list and trailing only Chris Sale on the major-league wins list. His Rookie Card autos can be found in 2008 releases.

Topps-TBT-KershawClayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers
Kershaw’s dominance is no surprise. He’s leading the majors with a 1.79 ERA and has an 11-2 record with 145 strikeouts in 121 innings. His most surprising stat? He has just nine walks this season. His first autos can be found in the 2005 USA Baseball release, while his first prospect autos arrived a year later. Another surprise with this guy this year? He’s got some health issues at the moment — that’s not something we’ve seen lately. (Could go either way — but it’s easy to say that he’s established on cardboard.)

Chris-Sale-2010-Bowman-Chrome-Draft-autoChris Sale, SP White Sox
Sale’s impressive start is one that has gotten him on the radar of more collectors and right now he’s topping all big-leaguers with 14 wins and is third in the American League in strikeouts. He’s still somewhat overlooked, making some key cards good buys.

2010-bowman-Stephen-StrasburgStephen Strasburg, SP Nationals
Remember when this guy was the player to watch in all of MLB and his 2010 Rookie Cards and autos drove the hobby? He’s back at that kind of pace but without the hype. What he does have is a 12-0 record and a 2.62 ERA to go with 132 Ks in 106 innings. With success of his first-place team in the postseason, he and Bryce Harper will be the ones whose cardboard matters most. Be ready.

Kenta-MaedaKenta Maeda, SP Dodgers
This year’s international import started off impressively but has struggled, too. His dominating win on Monday — 13 strikeouts in seven two-hit innings against San Diego — show that he’s still one to watch the rest of this year. He’ll be found in pretty much everything on the way from Topps this year, so watch. There could be bargains to be found — especially if he regains the dominating form he had while a pro in Japan.

Nomar-mazara-superfractorNomar Mazara, OF Rangers
This Rangers outfielder has delivered pretty well for his age — 11 homers and 36 RBI in 81 games as a 21-year-old rookie — and there’s a good amount of cardboard for collectors to dabble with since his arrival there in 2012.

FulmerMichael Fulmer, SP Tigers
Want a darkhorse pick for a rookie to watch the rest of this season? Try this Detroit pitcher who is 9-2 with a 2.11 ERA this season. He’s a former first-round pick of the Mets back in 2011 and that’s the year where he made his cardboard debut. He’s got just 180 cards since then with 47 of those being autographs from Topps in its Bowman brands and Panini. You won’t recognize him now compared to that first Bowman auto. His first Rookie Card is still to come.

Should someone else have made the list? Tell Buzz in a comment or on Twitter.

Follow Buzz on Twitter @BlowoutBuzz or send email to BlowoutBuzz@blowoutcards.com. 

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