It’s October and that can only mean one thing: the MLB postseason is in full swing! This week, in fact, the games began with the National League Wild Card game batting leadoff yesterday between the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. In a rare pitchers’ duel, the Rockies outlasted the Cubbies in 12 innings, 2-1. Tonight’s American League W.C. battle between the host New York Yankees and the visiting Oakland A’s should probably include a home run…or two…or three. The Yankees did just set the new MLB record for most home runs (267) in a single season.
With the playoffs starting off with a cliff-hanger, let’s look at some of the most sought-after autographs from the teams competing. For purposes of brevity, this entry will focus on one player from each of the five participating A.L. clubs. We’ll investigate the N.L.’s top postseason signatures next week.
Easily one of the best surfaces upon which to obtain an autograph is a baseball. It’s classy, clean, fits nicely on a shelf, and presents beautifully inside a ball cube. And best of all, an official MLB game ball – complete with its machine-stamped, facsimile signature of MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. gracing one side – can be had for less than $10 at any local sporting goods store. Just remember to have it signed in blue ink on the sweet spot by your favorite player. And once you do, get it authenticated by PSA/DNA. Independent, third-party verification is critical if you ever hope to sell your prized signature down the road or in the event you gift it to your next of kin.
BOSTON RED SOX
The 2018 campaign was a monumental one on many levels for the Red Sox. Not only did the Alex Cora-managed Bosox establish a new franchise record for wins in a regular season (108), but they had a host of different players lighting up the scoreboard night after night. With apologies to J.D. Martinez and his 43 round-trippers, no player did more to help this team achieve success than right fielder Mookie Betts. He led the league with a .346 batting average, belted 32 home runs, drove in 80 runs and collected 30 stolen bases. The front-runner for this year’s A.L. MVP Award, he’ll likely secure his third straight Gold Glove award as well. His 30/30 effort this year was only the second one ever recorded in Red Sox history.
To get a single-signed baseball from this talented superstar would be monumental. His signature is in demand, his consistency at the plate is uncanny, and his defensive prowess is second to none.
The Tribe quietly and convincingly won the A.L. Central Division title (its third straight) with a 91-71 record, 13 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins. With Manager Terry Francona calling the shots, the Indians hope to battle back to their second World Series in three years and no pitcher on Cleveland’s roster had more impact on opponents this season than right-hander Corey Kluber. He posted a team-high 20 victories to go with 222 strikeouts, his fifth consecutive season of striking out 200 or more batters. When it comes to dominance on the mound, Kluber is your man.
A single-signed baseball from this king of the hill would add clout to any collector’s collection, especially one based in Cleveland. The signature of the 2014 A.L. Cy Young Award winner is sought-after because his control is incredible and his fastball is blistering.
Once again, the Houston Astros turned in a stellar regular season. The defending World Series champs recorded 103 victories to win the A.L. West by six games over Oakland. It marked the second straight season the ‘Stros surpassed the century mark in wins. Like The Little Engine That Could, Houston’s pint-sized (5’ 6” tall) second baseman Jose Altuve continues to keep the Astros flourishing. The reigning A.L. MVP led the team in batting (.315) and stolen bases (17) this season to maintain his status as the club’s undisputed spark plug.
Demand for his signature multiplied tenfold last season based on his incredible performances throughout the regular and post seasons. His consistency at the plate over the past five seasons (.341, .313, .338, .346 and .315, respectively) has made collectors believe that good things really do come in small packages.
NEW YORK YANKEES
When it comes to the long ball, the Bronx Bombers are now MLB’s undeniable leader. They set the new single-season, round-tripper record this year, besting the old mark of 264 set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. The fact that they won 100 games this season only adds to the mystique of the newly christened “Baby Bombers.” Contributing to the Yankees’ home run barrage in 2018 was last year’s A.L. Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge. The 6’ 7” right fielder followed up his 52-homer season of a year ago with 27 bombs this year, despite missing 50 games due to injury.
Judge’s signature was a popular commodity last year and has only gained momentum in 2018. His presence in the Yankees’ lineup strikes fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers while it fills seats in Yankee Stadium. In fact, Judge has his own cheering section at the ballpark, complete with adoring fans donning judge robes and gray wigs.
“Those pesky A’s.” That’s what MLB pundits, analysts and fans have been saying all season long about Oakland’s resurgence by the Bay. Winning 22 more games (97-65) compared to last season’s anemic, cellar-dwelling finish, the A’s now find themselves in a one-game Wild-Card battle tonight with the Yankees in the Bronx. Tonight’s winner travels to Beantown on Friday. One of the biggest reasons behind Oakland’s rejuvenation is slugger extraordinaire Khris Davis. The 30-year-old left fielder crushed a league-leading 48 home runs this season to go along with a team-high 123 runs batted in.
Davis’s power at the plate is nothing new. He belted 43 round-trippers last year and 42 the year before. What is gaining in popularity, however, is his John Hancock. Like one of his moon shots taking off from home plate, the value of Khris Davis’s signature is on the rise.