Best Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card Guide 2023

Best Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card
Table of Contents

Baseball fan or not, you’ve probably heard the name Shohei Ohtani. People are touting him as the modern day Babe Ruth and rightfully so. He’s dominating the stat boards, took MVP in Japan’s win of the World Baseball Classic and became the world’s first two-time unanimous MVP in MLB History. He also won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2018.

That’s far from all, though. Headlines are everywhere after Shohei topped Mahomes and signed the biggest contract in sports history with his move to the LA Dodgers. 

The entire world is expecting a momentous season in blue from the Japanese slugger, though unfortunately, Ohtani fans won’t be seeing his two-way pitching play until at least 2025.

I’m a fan – how can you not be? It’s like watching a legend being born. Though, with all that hype and expectation, it’s hard to predict where his market will go this season. What do Ohtani and the Dodgers need to achieve to move the charts?

Reasons To Buy

  • Shohei is dominant across important stats and seems to get better each season.
  • Hailing from Japan, Shohei has a huge international following both inside and outside of America.
  • Ohtani’s media attention is massive.

Concerns

  • Expectations are high for Ohtani. There is a lot of downside vs upside.
  • Shohei required more surgery, which has stopped him from pitching until 2025.
  • Ohtani’s cards are priced high, reducing the potential upside.

Shohei Ohtani Stats For 2022

In 2023, Shohei Ohtani won his second MVP award and his second Silver Slugger award.

In the 2023 Regular Season, he had a batting average of .304 with 151 hits, 44 homers, 95 RBIs and 102 runs scored in 135 games.

ESPN ranked Shohei Ohtani 6th by WAR with a value of 6.0. 

At the time of this writing, ESPN’s fantasy projections placed Shohei Ohtani at rank 24th overall and 1st by position.

Shohei Ohtani Social Metrics

While social metrics have little to do with a player’s on-field performance, they are an indicator as to the popularity of a player within the wider world. As you would expect, cards for popular players often have increased demand versus less marketed players.

Shohei Ohtani Instagram – @shoheiohtani: 6.5M Followers

LA Dodgers Instagram – @dodgers: 3.4M Followers

Top Shohei Ohtani Plays and Highlights 2022

Shohei Ohtani Odds

  • MLB MVP: +650 – 6.5/1 – Implied Probability: 13.3%
  • Winning the World Series: +450 – 4.5/1 – Implied Probability: 18.2%
  • Winning Division: -235 – 0.43/1 – Implied Probability: 70.1%

Updated: December 2023

The Best Shohei Ohtani Cards

The term “best” is subjective. What’s best for me may not be best for you. Instead, I prefer to use data and trends to map out the landscape. Rather than just tell you the cards I think are best for me, this allows you to see what I see and determine the best plays for you.

How Many Shohei Ohtani Cards Are There?

According to Trading Card Database, Shohei Ohtani has 15,207 cards, of which 2,820 are rookie cards from 2018.

However, according to the database, only 79 cards are officially classified as RCs from 2013 and 2018.

When is the best time to buy Shohei Ohtani Cards?

As with any player, you want to buy cards when supply is plentiful and potential demand is foreseeable.

Let’s break that down further.

For supply to be plentiful, the player needs to be flying under the radar. You’re looking for times when people are not thinking about them; for example: it’s out of season for the sport, or because the player is underperforming against expectations, or they’re injured, or any other reason that would detract from the player being hyped up.

The second part of the equation is buying a player whose future demand has the potential to increase significantly, which would form your planned sell window. Good examples of potential demand spikes are players performing above expectations, winning notable awards, making deep playoff runs, being drafted or called up, being traded, or any other reason that would make people look at and get excited for a player.

The best time to buy Shohei Ohtani was while he was at the Angels, especially when he was out with his Tommy John surgery. 

Following his record breaking signing with the Dodgers, his cards are in massive demand and inflated. There may be a few opportunities to get in during the offseason as media hype quietens. This is certainly not a card I would rush out to buy, though. If the right deal comes up, then I would certainly jump at it as I have a lot of faith in Shohei having a great first season in blue. However, if the season starts out worse than expected, that lull is precisely where I would look to get in.

Shohei Ohtani Card Market Overview

To gauge the overall performance of a player’s card market, I use two indicators as an index. The first is the strength of the player’s Bowman Chrome. As this is a staple card for every player, it gives a reliable indication of the health of the player’s market.

The second factor I look at is the highest sale price of the player’s Bowman Chrome Rookie Auto Gold Refractor /50, as again, almost every player has one of these, which allows it to act as a top-end marker for the market.

Shohei Ohtani Bowman 1st Overview

A player’s Bowman 1st is often the one of the most desirable cards for a player because, unlike most other cards or monikers, there is only one, and there will only ever be one. It’s their 1st card in the product. 

Unfortunately, not every play has a 1st Bowman card, due to how they were drafted or if they transferred to the MLB from another country. In these circumstances, I use the Bowman Chrome Rookie Card in its place. Bowman Chrome is undoubtedly one of the most popular sets for sports card investors and the base chrome is often one of the most transacted versions of the cards. This level of demand and transaction volume provides a firm foundation for assessing the player’s market, which typically guides the player’s other cards from a macro perspective.

Shohei Ohtani Bowman Chrome Rookie Auto Gold Refractor Value

The Bowman Chrome Rookie Auto Gold Refractor is a stunning MLB card for any player. A numbered rookie out of 50, the card comes in a vertical orientation, sports a regal gold holo refractor and is a adorned with the MLB RC stamp. The card includes an on-card autograph and is typically one of the most desired cards for a player.

Best Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – Raw (Rookie Year 2022)

This section will look at the data surrounding the player’s raw card market to help you understand which cards could be right for you.

We’ll examine the best Shohei Ohtani rookie cards based on:

  • Most Graded in terms of submission quantity
  • Most Liquid in terms of sales volume
  • Highest Value with moderate sales volume
  • Most Expensive with any sales history

Most Graded Raw Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards

According to Gemrate, the following cards are the most graded:

YearSetCard #NameParallelGemsTotalGem Rate
2018Bowman49Shohei OhtaniBase10,00121,60846%
2018Topps UpdateUS1Shohei OhtaniPitching in Red Jersey12,15119,68462%
2018Topps700Shohei OhtaniPitching7,46613,33756%
2018Topps Chrome150Shohei OhtaniPitching10,83712,15689%
2018Topps UpdateUS285Shohei OhtaniBase7,31710,88867%

Most Liquid Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – Raw

The number of cards printed nowadays is overwhelming and most of them are binder fillers. Make sure you understand this because it is paramount. For investors specifically, a card’s liquidity is extremely important to allow moving in and out of investments at will.

The last thing you want to do is make a perfect prediction on a player’s future, invest in a vast number of their cards, only to find out when you go to sell them, that the cards you purchased are not the ones people chase and collect.

We’ve all done it before, but hopefully, this section will help you avoid this pitfall.

According to Market Movers, which references eBay and other auction house data, the most liquid Shohei Ohtani cards in terms of sales volume over a 12-month period are: 

2018 Bowman #49 Base

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Bowman #49 Base:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Blue /150
  • Most sales volume: Purple /250
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Blue /150

2018 Topps Update #US285 Rookie Debut

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Update #US285 Rookie Debut:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Independence Day /76
  • Most sales volume: Gold /2018
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Gold /2018

2018 Topps #700 Pitching

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps #700 Pitching:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Black /67
  • Most sales volume: Gold /2018
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Gold /2018

2018 Topps Update #US1

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Update #US1:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Memorial Day Camo /25
  • Most sales volume: SP Variation (Warm-Up Shirt)
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Gold /2018

Highest Value Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – Raw

At the highest end, Shohei Ohtani has some incredible cards, which have sold for enormous amounts. Pulling one of these is akin to a lottery ticket. However, as these cards are unobtainable for most investors, I will not focus on those in this section. Instead, this section will focus on cards that have at least 50 sales over the past 12 months. This makes them high end, yet still liquid.

According to Market Movers, the highest value Shohei Ohtani cards with over 50 sales in a 12-month period are:

2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani #1 Batting

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani #1 Batting:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Blue Refractor /150
  • Most sales volume: Refractor /499
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Refractor /499

2018 Topps Chrome #150 Refractor Pitching

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Chrome #150 Refractor Pitching:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Gold Wave Refractor /50 
  • Most sales volume: Refractor
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Refractor

2018 Topps Chrome #150 Pink Refractor

Parallel statistics for the 2018 Topps Chrome #150 Pink Refractor are similar to the above.

2018 Topps Silver Pack #145 1983 Chrome Promo

The 2018 Topps Silver Pack #145 1983 Chrome Promo has no parallels with raw sales recorded yet.

Most Expensive Shohei Ohtani baseball Cards – Raw

Below are the four most expensive cards sold in the last 12 months, according to Market Movers. 

The Top Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card For Me – Raw

I’m fairly surprised to see all of Ohtani’s base rookie cards still trading so well in the raw market. For the amount of interest in Shohei Ohtani, I would have expected most of his pristine base RCs to have been graded by now. For that reason, if I was going to invest in a raw card, I would look for something a little less prominent, but graded is likely where I would stick without being able to see the cards in person.

Of the cards listed, the standout to me is the #150 Pitching, which appears all over the data in more forms than one. However, what makes this card interesting to me is that Ohtani won’t be pitching next year. It’s possible these could be an intelligent play for 2025, though that is certainly a long time and a lot of risk.

Best Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – Graded PSA 10

Raw cards have the upside of being gradable, which is a play a lot of investors are interested in making. Finding raw gems and grading them can add a tremendous level of profit to a play. However, with that upside comes additional risk, as cards that grade below a 10 rarely command a profit.

For many investors, grading cards is a risk they are not willing to take. For them, their preference is to purchase slabs and make plays based on the value of the card without having to account for the grading variable.

Personally, I like to make grading plays for newer cards, though for older rookies, I generally stick to graded slabs as finding a perfect raw copy gets exceedingly more difficult as time goes by.

PSA, Beckett, SGC and CGC are the most reputable grading companies and are the only ones trusted by most investors. Smaller grading companies with different specialities are appearing, though they have yet to make a significant impact. For now, the PSA 10 is by far the most desired grade for a card, except for the incredibly rare BGS Black Label.

The debate over the best grading company is highly contentious, but while PSA commands the largest premium, investors will be most interested in PSA 10 slabs. 

Most Liquid Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – PSA 10

According to Market Movers, which references eBay and other auction house data, the most liquid PSA 10 Shohei Ohtani cards in terms of sales volume over a 12-month period are: 

2018 Topps Chrome Rookie Card #150 Base

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Chrome Rookie Card #150 Base:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Gold Refractor /50
  • Most sales volume: Refractor
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Refractor

2018 Topps Update #US1

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Update #US1:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Mother’s Day Hot Pink /50
  • Most sales volume: Rainbow Foil
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Gold /2018

2018 Bowman #49

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Bowman #49:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Press Proof Silver Die-Cut /75
  • Most sales volume: Press Proof Green
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Press Proof Green

2018 Topps Update Rookie #US285

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Update Rookie #US285:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Independence Day /76
  • Most sales volume: Rainbow Foil
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Gold /2018

Highest Value Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – PSA 10

To account for the lower population of PSA 10 cards compared to raw cards, I have reduced the criteria for this section to 20 sales from 50.

According to Market Movers, the highest value PSA 10 Shohei Ohtani cards with over 20 sales in a 12-month period are:

2018 Bowman Chrome #1 SP Variation (Carrying Bag)

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Bowman Chrome #1 SP Variation (Carrying Bag):

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Red Refractor /5
  • Most sales volume: SP Variation (Carrying Bag)
  • Highest monetary sales volume: SP Variation (Carrying Bag)

2018 Bowman Chrome Rookie #1 Refractor /499

Parallel statistics for the 2018 Bowman Chrome Rookie #1 are similar to the above.

2018 Topps Chrome #150 Negative Refractor

The following is a breakdown of the parallels for the 2018 Topps Chrome #150 Negative Refractor:

  • Most expensive (with sales history): Gold /50
  • Most sales volume: Refractor /150
  • Highest monetary sales volume: Refractor /150

2018 Topps Update #285 Gold /2018

Parallel statistics for the 2018 Topps Chrome #285 are similar to the above.

Most Expensive Shohei Ohtani baseball Cards – PSA 10

Below are the four most expensive PSA 10 cards sold in the last 12 months, according to Market Movers. 

My Thoughts On The Top Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards – PSA 10

This list looks as I would expect, with Ohtani’s rookie cards from 2018 Topps and Bowman dominating. The negative refractor immediately catches my eye out of this list and, for that reason alone, I would be interested in it. It’s a parallel that truly stands out. At the top end, though, signed Shohei Ohtani Bowman Chrome autos are still the way to go. However, based on the trading volume and the demand for his rookie cards continuing to climb, finding one of these that someone will sell early may be impossible. 

Best Shohei Ohtani Non-Rookie or Prospect Cards 

For many MLB sports card investors, all that matters are the RCs and this is typically what I stick to as well. MLB rookie cards and prospect cards are often the most popular cards for a player and act as a baseline for collectors and investors in the ever-expanding world of cards. However, for some investors, the price of a Shohei Ohtani RC may not be workable.

Personally, if I’m going to invest in a non-rookie card for a player, I look for either, the first card where they are in a new team’s jersey after a transfer, or I lean towards popular inserts like the Kaboom!, Color Blast, Stained Glass or some of the newer released inserts.

The following is a list of the top four non-rookie cards in terms of monetary sales volume within the last 12-months according to Market Movers.

The Top 10 Shohei Ohtani Rookie Trading Cards

The following list is a breakdown of the top 10 Shohei Ohtani rookie cards and prospect cards, in terms of monetary sales volume within the last 12-months.

  1. 2018 Bowman Chrome #1 Base (Batting)
  2. 2018 Topps Chrome #150 Base (Pitching)
  3. 2018 Bowman #49 Base
  4. 2018 Topps Update #US1 Base
  5. 2018 Topps #700 Base (Pitching)
  6. 2018 Topps Chrome Update #HMT32 Rookie Debut
  7. 2018 Topps Update #US285 Rookie Debut
  8. 2018 Bowman Chrome #BCRA-SO Rookie Auto – Red Refractor /5 (Batting)
  9. 2018 Topps Chrome #83T-6 1983 Topps
  10. 2018 Topps Heritage #600 Base

Honorable Mentions

The data shows that the above listed cards are the best in the eyes of investors. However, for Shohei Ohtani collectors, there are a few other dazzling cards worth looking at. 

Shohei Ohtani’s 2017 Bowman Mega Box #BCP-31 Chrome Prospects was the first card to hit the American market and for that alone, it deserves a spot on this list. However, what makes this card stand out to me is the nameplate, where Shohei is titled Otani instead of Ohtani.

The 2013 BBM Rookie Edition #42 is very similar to the 2013 BBM SCM #206, a promo card provided with the 97th issue of the Japanese Sports Card Magazine, which is heralded as some as the first Shohei Ohtani rookie card. This version, the #42, is more widely available and attainable.

The 2018 Bowman’s Best #1 didn’t find its way into any of the lists above, yet this is still a popular card with a high transaction rate. If the cards listed throughout this article are not attainable, this could be a good option to look at.

This card is designed to look like the infamous 1969 Topps art style. These cards were only found in 2018 Topps Heritage High Number packs, making them slightly rarer. This is the perfect card for vintage collectors who want to add some Ohtani to their collection. 

The 2018 Bowman Platinum Shohei Ohtani #34 rounds out this list with the SP Variation, which depicts him in his Angels jersey carrying a bag on his shoulder. While this isn’t particularly a rare card, it was a Walmart exclusive. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much are the Shohei Ohtani rookie cards worth?

Shohei Ohtani cards are available on a spectrum of price points, though rookie cards are still attainable. Base cards typically go for under $50, a 2018 Bowman Chrome Rookie goes for around $750 and some cards have reached sales of over $180,000. 

What is Shohei Ohtani’s true rookie card?

Determining a True Rookie Card is always a topic of spirited debate, though these data points may help. According to TCDB, the first RC was the 2013 BBM #183 Shohei Ohtani. Furthermore, the rookie card with the highest sales volume was the 2018 Bowman #49 Base. 

For Shohei, some also refer to his true rookie card as the BBM Sports Card Magazine’s promo.

What is the rarest Shohei Ohtani card?

The rarest and most expensive Shohei Ohtani rookie cards will be his one of ones. Some of these high-end cards include the 2018 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autographs Superfractor 1/1 and the Shohei Ohtani 2018 Panini Rookie Auto 1/1. 

What is Shohei Ohtani’s First Dodgers Card?

Almost immediately after signing with the LA Dodgers, Topps released the MLB Topps Now OS21 depicting Shohei Ohtani in the LA Dodgers uniform. The card broke all Topps Now records, selling 107,541 copies. 

How many Shohei Ohtani rookie cards are there?

As Shohei Ohtani was playing in Japan before he made his MLB debut in 2018, he only has 79 cards with the RC moniker. However, he has 2,820 cards from his rookie year in 2018. There are also Ohtani signed and unsigned trading cards, which were released as part of a magazine promo. These BBM cards are extremely rare, though are considered by some baseball card collectors as the first authentic Shohei Ohtani rookie card.

What packs are Shohei Ohtani rookie cards in?

After earning the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year, the flagship rookie has cards in many sets from his rookie season. Sets featuring Shohei Ohtani include: 2018 Bowman and Chrome, 2018 Topps and Chrome, 2018 Topps Opening Day, 2018 Topps Big League, 2018 Topps High Tek and 2018 Topps Heritage. 

What is the best Shohei Ohtani rookie card?

From an extremely general perspective, many people believe the best place to start is with a player’s Bowman 1st, however, for Shohei, as he doesn’t have one with the badge, the Bowman Chrome often takes that spot. If you’re looking for an MLB Shohei Ohtani autograph, then a Bowman Chrome Rookie Auto is often considered the best. However, while both of the Shohei Ohtani signed and unsigned Bowman rookie cards are a sound starting point, there is a lot more to consider. It’s not a simple question to answer, though I hope the insights in this guide will help you. 

What is the most expensive Shohei Ohtani card sold?

As of this writing, the most expensive card sold is the 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Autograph #BCRA-SO – Red Refractor /5 (Batting), which sold for over $180,000. For a full list of the most expensive cards, please see the section listed.

Does Shohei Ohtani have a Team Japan Card?

Yes, the 2023 Topps Now World Baseball Classic #WBC-71 isn’t one of the rarest cards, though it is a brilliant photogenic shot featuring Shohei Ohtani in his Team Japan uniform, striking out Mike Trout. 

Does Shohei Ohtani have a rookie card?

Shohei Ohtani certainly has a rookie card and in this article we break down the best cards in terms of both demand and price.