Ranking players is the single most important thing we can do as fans. If we don't know when players are better than other players, how can we properly argue about things? I certainly do not want to live in a world where rankings don't matter. However, the traditional measures - WAR, height, pants length, nicknames - are flawed. My solution: we agree to rank players based on the cost of their rookie card.
I'm just going to say this, and I know it makes me sound like I'm a million years old, but baseball cards are too dern complicated. I searched eBay for this exercise and I am more confused than I would have ever thought possible. There are cards, then there are cards with different colored borders, then there are cards called "refractors." I had to look up what that word means - "one that refracts." Super helpful, dictionary. To refract is to deflect light. Why do baseball cards need to deflect light? Are we secretly developing baseball card technology to assist with fixing tears in the space/time continuum? What is going on? I am more upset than confused and I am really confused.
I'm not that upset. If refractor technology exists, I suppose a baseball card is the best possible use for it. I was confused, but I've recovered. Anyway, since you know baseball cards are weird now, I present to you the ten best Twins, ranked by the cost of their most expensive rookie card. This is just simple science. I did an eBay search for each current Twin (including Aaron Hicks because I break all the rules) and made a dope spreadsheet. You can see it here.
Oh, and every player has like 5000 rookie cards now, so if I got anything wrong, just calm the H down. Click each description to view/purchase the card on eBay.
Point, Terry Ryan. Obviously, Ryan knew to look up Correia's rookie card. I love the way people label their cards on eBay. Basically, you have to do anything it takes to get people to happen to search for your card. In this case, the seller knows that no one will ever look for a Correia rookie card, so you have to litter your description with other words that people might like. 80 bucks seems like a lot for any card, but this one is GEM MINT! If you are anything like me, you remember that guy with the mustache selling baseball cards in the middle of the night. Everything was gem mint, which I think is a good thing. I'm guessing it isn't a flavor.
There's a lot going on here, so here are some translations for those who are not searching for baseball cards often. SP means short print, which I am assuming makes it more rare. /170 means there were only 170 of these cards made. RC is rookie card and also redundant when written right after the words "rookie card." The most baffling thing to me is that this card is $95.99. What kind of sociopath picks $95.99? I bet this seller tells people that he'll arrive at 7:13 and that he's about .37 miles away. Anyway, the card might be worth a little extra because Willingham is wearing one of those wrap-around ear flaps. Also, he was a first baseman, meaning he improved on the defensive spectrum as he aged. Value!
This card is worth more because it has been autographed. The autograph sits right on a little plate, which is cute! This particular one is 4/5, and it makes me wonder if number 1 or 5 would be worth a bit more. This one is a history card as well, stating that "Perkins shines in his first contest on the hill." I wonder if Exquisite made cards like these in later years. For instance, "Perkins files his first grievance against the Twins" and "Perkins fails as a starter." That last one was unkind. A hundred bucks is a lot to spend, but you could own all five of these cards for just $500. No info on if it is gem mint or not.
Plouffe wins the tie-breaker over Perkins because he had a second card also costing $100. This one is more fun than the other. Plouffe looks like he is 18 years old. He was. But, he also looks like James Franco. He wasn't. This one also contains a signature and is BGS 9.5/10. I looked that up and it means that Beckett has graded it for the seller. I grade papers all the time, maybe I should get Beckett to do them for me. There isn't much to this card. Plouffe is wearing a plain black hat and plain black shirt. I'm guessing SP did not have an MLB license, or Plouffe was trying to lose a few pounds of water weight.
That extra quarter is really making me reconsider. Here's some solid research for you: most "chrome" cards come with various colored parallels. In this case, red is rare. There are also blues, golds, greens, xfractors (which we'll talk about later) and purples (personal fave). A hundred bucks for a Brian Dozier card is borderline crazy. This is especially true when you take advantage of this offer: 1,500 Brian Dozier rookie cards for $199.99! If you've ever thought to yourself, "man, I wish I had like 1,500 Brian Dozier rookie cards so I can swim in them like in Ducktales" then this is the eBay item for you. I did the math, that's 13 cents per card. Savings!
5. Aaron Hicks - 2011 BOWMAN CHROME RC ROOKIE GOLD REFRACTOR 14/50 - $179.99
If you had one of the fifty Aaron Hicks gold refractor rookie cards, you'd be shouting too. This one has been written on by Hicks, which the seller fails to mention. You'd think if you were trying to draw attention to your item by shouting, you'd mention one of the qualities that makes it most valuable. Regardless, this card looks very shiny. I certainly did not have any cards from my childhood that were this shiny. I noticed that it says "Topps certified autograph issue" but it was a Bowman card. I thought this must have been a huge conspiracy or a photoshop or some other shenanigans, but Topps and Bowman are the same company. How disappointing.
You're probably thinking "280 bucks for a Chris Parmelee anything?" Well one, it's an investment and two, it's marked down from $350. That's a 20% savings that you can apply to your Brian Dozier rookie card orgy. The description says "JERSEY," which confused me. First, there are cards that have pieces of jerseys in them. This is not one of those. Second, I thought maybe Parmelee is from New Jersey. He's not. I read the description and it says jersey because 27 is his jersey number and that is the number printed on the card. Well then.
I searched for "Oswaldo Arcia Rookie Card" and eBay switched it to "Oswaldo Garcia Rookie Card" and proceeded to give me results for Arcia. I immediately assumed that #CC-MT3 was some sort of robot, but it's just the card number. Also disappointing. This is a mini-card, so it's smaller. It also looks like it was rained on. I get that there are mini-cards and refractors, but it completely blows my mind that we have the technology to create mini refractor cards. And yet, we can't get to Mars.
Morneau is listed as a catcher on this card. If you look closely though, he appears to be pitching while wearing catching gear. Safety first! According to the seller, "Card features very nice centering??" Not only is the seller not sure, he's double not sure. If you are purchasing this card for its centering, you might want to reconsider. "Xfractor" is not in the dictionary. I did look though. It appears that this technology makes the card look pixelated and might give you headaches. Perhaps this is the plan. If we can refract and xfract all at the same time, we could really do some damage.
Finally, some metric shows Mauer's true value. This card has Mauer's name all over it. Literally; he autographed it. In addition, it looks pretty cool. It has the "M" logo in the back and Mauer is laying a sweet swing. It is GEM MINT 10!!! However, the "o's" and "a's" look a bit similar, so his name kind of looks like Joe Mouer. Joe Mouer can't carry a 3500 card. As it is, I can't imagine spending that much money on a baseball card, even if he did write his name on it. If nothing else, this clearly shows that Mauer is at least seven times better than anyone else on the team and roughly 35 times better than Josh Willingham.
By the way, you can own Jamey Carroll's rookie card for the very affordable cost of 1 dollar with 1 dollar shipping. What a slap in the face. Perhaps if Carroll writes his name on the card, it could fetch five dollars.
At long last, we have settled the debate of who the ten best Twins players are. You can officially update your personal rankings now. Maybe this was a flawed exercise. If nothing else, we have all learned that baseball cards are needlessly complicated, refractor technology can only take us so far, and if a guy writes his name all over your card, it improves the value. Happy collecting!