Ten Terrific CGC-certified Cards of American League MVP Shohei Ohtani

Posted on 2/7/2024

Following his blockbuster move to the Los Angeles Dodgers after another MVP season in 2023, 10 of Shohei Ohtani's top CGC-certified cards are in the spotlight this month just in time for Spring Training.

Few players who have ever stepped on an MLB diamond have had the international impact that pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani has had on baseball. As a rare two-way player, the slugger burst onto the scene in 2018 when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels after several successful seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.

Making his MLB debut on March 29, 2018, Ohtani became a star overnight. He went on to record a .285 batting average for the season, 22 home runs, 61 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Plus, he had 10 starts as a pitcher, earning a 4-2 record, a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts on his way to an AL Rookie of the Year award. His talent on both sides of the baseball as an effective slugger and pitcher was so unique that it drew favorable comparisons to another legend of the game: Babe Ruth.

After an injury-plagued next two seasons, Ohtani returned in 2021 and arguably had one of the greatest single seasons ever. He hit 10+ home runs and stole 20+ bases as a hitter, while also having 10+ starts as a pitcher and throwing 100+ strikeouts, which was a first in MLB history. The historic season earned Ohtani his first AL MVP award.

Following up his MVP performance with another stellar season in 2022, he became the first modern player to qualify for both the pitching and hitting leaderboards in the same season, finishing the year with 166 innings pitched and 586 at-bats. In 2023, Ohtani had another historic season, becoming the first-ever MLB player with 10+ wins as a pitcher and 40+ home runs as a hitter. He is the first Japanese-born player to win a home run title, leading the AL with 44 homers. After another astounding season, Ohtani became the first MLB player to unanimously win MVP twice.

Although Ohtani continues to put up historic individual numbers, making the playoffs regularly and vying for a World Series title eluded him during his six seasons with the Angels. Following the 2023 season, his free agency was front page news. He would eventually decide to stay in Los Angeles but not with the Angels, opting for the richest contract in professional sports history when he inked a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 11, 2023. Ohtani now joins the perennial NL contenders, as he chases his first World Series ring and plies his trade in Dodger blue for what will likely be the remainder of his pro career.

Ten Terrific Shohei Ohtani Cards

2018 Topps Allen & Ginter #100 Shohei Ohtani

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Topps' annual Allen & Ginter set is a blast from the past, with card designs mimicking the old cigarette sports cards by the same name of the late 1800s. Topps resurrected the A&G set in 2006, creating a fan favorite as the rookie cards and mini cards turned into must-have additions for collectors. The same goes for any Shohei Ohtani collection, especially if the card is in such condition that it merits the coveted CGC Pristine 10 grade.

2018 Topps Archives #303 Mike Trout / Shohei Ohtani

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Topps Archives is another popular throwback series that connects the past and present, with cards featuring vintage designs from various Topps sets of yesteryear. The 2018 Archives #303 is a standout in the set, as it includes the Angels' superstar duo of Ohtani and Mike Trout. Utilizing a vintage design from the 1959 Topps set, the old series included combo cards that featured more than one player on the same card. The modern Halos Heroes issue perfectly captures the bright colorful design of the 1959 cards and includes two of the most prominent modern All-Stars on the same team of the last decade.

2018 Bowman Chrome #1 Shohei Ohtani

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There are certain card sets that are mandatory for any player collection, and Bowman rookie cards are one of them. That's why this 2018 Bowman Chrome #1 Shohei Ohtani card is highly sought after and surprisingly valuable for a base card. With a clean design and great action shot of Ohtani at-bat, this is another gem of a card from the Japanese slugger's debut MLB season.

2018 Topps Chrome Update #HMT1 Shohei Ohtani - Pink Refractor

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While Bowman Chrome is extremely popular, the flagship Topps Chrome sets are often one of the most-anticipated series of each season. As great as base rookie cards can be of MLB stars, a Refractor insert is even more welcomed when collectors are on the hunt. Between the chromium finish on the card and the colorful Pink Refractor background, the image of Ohtani pitching on the mound truly standouts among the crowd.

2018 Topps Heritage High Number "1969 Deckle Edge" #1 Shohei Ohtani

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This is one of the most unique cards on our list for several reasons. Stemming from another Topps set with a focus on vintage designs, the 2018 Topps Heritage set paid homage to the 1969 Topps series. However, this High Number insert doesn't follow the 1969 set's simple border with a colorful circle that includes the player's name and position, along with an orange back with each player's statistics. Instead, the "Deckle Edge" #1 Shohei Ohtani has an unfinished, deckled outer border that surrounds the card and a muted black-and-white image of the Japanese slugger posing mid-swing. To top it off, the back is almost entirely blank except Ohtani's name and the card number on the bottom.

2018 Donruss Whammy #W2 Shohei Ohtani

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Donruss Whammy inserts are fun and rare cards that feature some of the MLB's biggest stars in caricature form. The inserts include cartoon-like renderings that show each player with exaggerated features, including most often a smaller body and large head. The inserts are highly sought after for their artwork and rarity, and due to how valuable some of the cards can be, such as this 2018 Donruss Whammy #W2 Shohei Ohtani.

2018 Stadium Club Autographs #SCA-SO Shohei Ohtani

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The first autographed card on our list, this 2018 Stadium Club insert shows the introduction of the Angels' newest international signing in December 2017 at Ohtani's initial press conference. As Stadium Club is known for, the issue features a full-card image of Ohtani at the podium during his first public MLB appearance. Wearing an Angels jersey over his shirt and tie, the newly acquired slugger and pitcher is seen speaking to fans and reporters. There is a rookie card logo in the top right and a large signature in blue ink in the middle of the insert, making this a true collector's item that recalls the historic signing of the now-two-time AL MVP.

2018 Bowman's Best "Best of '18 Autographs" #B18-SO Shohei Ohtani

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Here's another autographed Ohtani rookie card, this time from the 2018 Bowman's Best set. Featuring an image of the Japanese pitcher on the mound and a modern designed background with colorful, angled shapes and borders, this is another gem of a rookie card. The back shares a short story about his "Best 2017 Game: October 4," which was during his last season with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, and also mentions MLB scouting reports on Ohtani before he made his MLB debut. Considering this particular card received the grade of CGC Pristine 10, it doesn't get any better if you're an Ohtani collector.

2021 Topps Project70 #19 Shohei Ohtani - Artist: Tyson Beck

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Another unique entry on our Top 10 list, this 2021 rarity comes from a special collaboration between Topps and select artists that the company called Project70, which was created to celebrate 70 years of Topps baseball card designs. Various artists were given the freedom to design a player's card, with the 2021 Topps Project70 #19 Shohei Ohtani being created by Tyson Beck. The graphic designer originally made a name for himself creating collage-like images of NBA players for social media, but he has since worked with every major US sports league, created numerous designs for Topps cards and even became the first artist to ever collaborate and license sports cards directly with athletes themselves.

2022 Bowman Sterling Signage Autographs #SSA-SO Shohei Ohtani - Rose Gold #'d/5

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The final card is also one of the rarest Shohei Ohtani cards on the list, with only five examples printed of this 2022 Bowman Sterling Signage Autographs #SSA-SO - Rose Gold parallel. The slugger is seen presumably jogging around the bases after a home run, as he smiles ear to ear. A large marquee billboard with "OHTANI" is lit up at the top of the card. A smaller marquee billboard text box is at the bottom with his full name and team name inside. The Bowman Sterling logo and player's signature in blue ink sits right above. Since only five were made, this is a truly rare collectible from Ohtani's days in an Angels uniform.

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