By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
What sophomore slump?
Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish opened his second season as a big-league pitcher on Tuesday night by nearly no-hitting his new AL West rival Astros in just his 30th career start.
He lost the chance at a perfect game with two out in the ninth when Marwin Gonzalez, who hit .234 last season, singled up the middle. It would have been just the 24th perfect game in MLB history and sixth no-no for the franchise, but will instead go down as just a 7-0 win for Darvish in Houston. He struck out a career-high 14 in the game, which was closed out by Michael Kirkman.
Darvish appears on a total of 659 baseball cards valued at $16,977.75 not including those too rare to price. (Click here for a full checklist and Online Price Guide.) His earliest Japanese cards arrived in 2005 when he played for the Nippon Ham Fighters, while he has 21 MLB Rookie Cards produced last season. Gonzalez, meanwhile, appears on just three total cards as a big-leaguer (checklist and OPG here).
His priciest RC is his 2012 Topps Triple Threads card, No. 139, which was issued as a redemption but features an autograph as well as a game-used jersey piece. It sells for as much as $200 and is limited to just 99 serial-numbered copies. His cheapest RC is from 2012 Bowman Draft, which sells for $3 or less. (Click here to see how they’re performing on eBay.) His newest RC, from 2012 Panini National Treasures, features a game-used patch and is limited to 99 copies and sells for about $40.
Despite his newcomer status to MLB, Darvish already appears on 171 certified autograph cards and 133 game-used memorabilia cards. A whopping 437 of his 659 cards are serial-numbered.
In March, what is perhaps Darvish’s most in-demand autograph, his 2012 Bowman Chrome Superfractor, sold on eBay for $6,906 after 41 bids.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here. Follow Beckett Media on Facebook.