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What’s The Best Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card? The Top 5 Cards Ranked

The Shohei Ohtani rookie card has become one of the most sought-after rookie cards of the last few years.

After an exciting rookie season, he has continued to improve and impress his two-position skillset at a very high level.

This article will look at the best Shohei Ohtani rookie cards and rank the top 5.

Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards Table Of Contents

What Year Was Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card Released?

best shohei ohtani rookie card
Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards

In 2018, we saw the Shohei Ohtani rookie cards selection for the first time.

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Which Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards Are The Best Rookie Card?

Nearly every card manufacturer in 2018 had a Shohei Ohtani card, whether a base card, parallel, or rookie autograph.

However, a few specific stand-out cards that most people consider when considering Shohei Ohtani rookie cards.

1. 2018 Topps Update Shohei Ohtani #US1 BASE RC ROOKIE CARD

When it comes to knowing which Shohei Ohtani rookie card is considered “the” rookie card, you have to pick the 2018 Topps Update Shohei Ohtani rookie card.

While the Shohei Ohtani Topps rookie card may not demand much money, collectors and investors view the card as the primary Shohei Ohtani rookie card.

The 2018 Topps Update also had several parallels and autograph inserts, highly demanding for an Ohtani RC.

One of the more common and popular parallels of Shohei Ohtani cards is the 1983 Topps parallel, a classic card design and collector favorite.

The card also was one of the first times that baseball card collectors saw two positions listed on a baseball card, increasing the demand and interest for these Shohei Ohtani rookie cards.

For all these reasons, I picked this as the best Shohei Ohtani rookie card.

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2. 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card RC

While the 2018 Bowman Chrome base Shohei Ohtani rookie card is very popular and affordable, there is something special about the PSA 10 Shohei Ohtani RC.

Part of the high interest and demand for this card is because it was one of the few Shohei Ohtani rookie cards that showed him in a batting photo.

Most of the 2018 Shohei Ohtani rookie cards show him pitching since that was his primary role on the team then.

But the other reason this Shohei Ohtani RC in PSA 10 is so sought after is that it’s a beautiful card. It is easily one of his most valuable baseball cards.

The red of the jersey, matched with the Chrome gloss against the red border of the PSA case, makes these encased Shohei Ohtani cards a perfect color blend.

This card is also one of the only Ohtani rookie cards that is the first card of a set, number #1.

This shows how important Shohei Ohtani was perceived to be at the time to the baseball bard collectors collecting baseball cards, as card companies knew this would make the card even more collectible.

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3. 2018 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani 1983 Refractor Rookie Card RC #83T-6

In the 2018 sets, Topps really brought the 1983 Topps design back in a big way, and the Shohei Ohtani card version of this is one of the most, if not the most popular of the best Ohtani rookie cards.

Similar to the 2018 Topps Update version above, these Shohei Ohtani cards show the 35th anniversary stamp, the RC logo, and the 1983 design.

But Topps Chrome takes this card to the next level. This is an absolutely awesome Shohei Ohtani rookie card with its trademark shine and refractor look.

Shohei Ohtani rookie cards are not easy to find in PSA 10, but you can find PSA 9 from time to time on eBay.

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4. 2018 Bowman’s Best SHOHEI OHTANI #1 Rookie Card PSA 10

There are several reasons we like these Shohei Ohtani rookie cards so much.

First off, the value of the card. You can get this PSA 10 base card for a couple of hundred bucks, much cheaper than some of the other Shohei Ohtani rookie cards we have seen.

Second, these are just good-looking Shohei Ohtani rookie cards. The design of the Bowman Best sets backgrounds is fantastic and makes the set stand out overall.

It’s another of the few batting pictures on a Shohei Ohtani rookie card, whereas most pictures on his rookie cards are pitching.

Something worth mentioning here as well is that refactor parallels of this Shohei Ohtani baseball card can demand a much higher price tag.

Certainly, those are much rarer on the sports card market, and the price tag reflects the Shohei Ohtani cards scarcity.

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5. 2018 Shohei Ohtani On-Card Auto Optic Rated Rookie RC #SO

The Rated Rookie series from Donruss Optic is a classic to many who have been collectors for a long time.

And similar to the 1983 variations we saw above, seeing today’s starts on throwback card designs makes for a great collectible.

The Shohei Ohtani Optic Rated Rookie on card Autograph is the highest and rare form of the rated rookie, especially considering several parallels and variations.

The Optic Rated Rookie Shohei Ohtani rookie card with an on-card autograph is not easy to find, and when you can find it, this Shohei rookie card will demand a high price.

But it might be well worth it, one of the game’s biggest stars and on one of the industry’s best-looking and most respected cards.

And the on-card signature doesn’t hurt, either.

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The Most Valuable Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card


When considering the value of Shohei Ohtani’s rookie cards, it’s crucial to understand that the market can be as unpredictable as a baseball game in the late innings. The value of any card, including Ohtani’s, will fluctuate due to various factors, such as a player’s performance, the overall economy, and the supply and demand of the cards.

The top tier in the world of Ohtani cards tends to be dominated by autographed editions from Topps and Bowman Chrome. For instance, the 2018 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani Red Refractor Auto BGS 9.5 TrueGem+ Error Card frequently tops lists due to its rarity and the added allure of the “error” label.

Ohtani’s Japanese rookie cards also garner significant interest from collectors, such as the 2013 SHOHEI OHTANI 35mm FILM Premium F19 BBM Japan Rookie Card. This card, featuring Ohtani before his move to the MLB, offers fans a unique piece of history.

The 2018 TOPPS TRANSCENDENT SHOHEI OHTANI Limited to 3 Autographed Rookie Card is another rare find. Its exclusivity, with only three in existence, coupled with Ohtani’s autograph, sets it apart.

Cards from the 2018 Bowman Chrome and Panini collections, particularly those that are autographed or limited edition, often appear at the top of the list as well. Notably, the Panini Flawless Diamond/Patch cards depict Ohtani in dual roles, both pitching and batting, highlighting his unique position as a two-way player.

Although the value of Ohtani’s rookie cards can vary, the trend indicates that the most valuable ones tend to be those that are rare, autographed, and from recognized brands like Topps, Bowman Chrome, and Panini. As with any investment, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the market trends and, most importantly, to collect what brings you joy.

Who Is Shohei Ohtani, MLB Superstar?

Shohei Otani is a Japanese professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Shohei Ohtani was one of the most highly anticipated players in recent memory.

Hailing from Japan, he was billed as a “superstar” and a “once in a generation” type of player. Ohtani did not disappoint in his rookie season, winning AL Rookie of the Year and living up to the hype.

Shohei’s Baseball Background And Where He Comes From

On July 5, 1994, Otani was born in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.

He started playing baseball when he was in elementary school and continued to play throughout high school.

Otani’s high school team won the national championship in 2012; he was named MVP of the tournament. Otani then went on to play for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, where he quickly made a name for himself as one of the best players in Japan.

In 2013, at 19 years old, he became the youngest player to win NPB’s Rookie of the Year award. He helped lead the Fighters to a Japan Series championship the following year.

Shohei Ohtani And Japan League Baseball

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Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

He played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Pacific League.

Ohtani began his professional career with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2013, quickly establishing himself as one of the best players in Japan.

In 2015, he was named Pacific League MVP after hitting .322 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs. He also went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA on the mound.

The following year, he had another great season at the plate, hitting .332 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs.

But Shohei Ohtani broke out on the mound in 2016, going 16-5 with a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched.

He was named Pacific League Pitcher of the Year and led the Fighters to the Japan Series championship.

Otani was the NPB’s Pacific League Most Valuable Player and the Outstanding Pitcher in 2016.

He is nicknamed “the Japanese Babe Ruth” because he pitches and hits, much like Ruth did in his MLB career.

Getting Signed To The Angels And His Rookie Year

2017 Shohei Ohtani left Japan and pursued a Major League Baseball career.

He signed with the Los Angeles Angels and made his MLB debut that same year. This was the Shohei Ohtani rookie year.

Otani instantly became one of the most exciting players in baseball; he became just the third player to hit 20 home runs and pitch 100 innings in a season.

In 2019, Otani missed most of the season due to injury but came back strong in 2020, hitting .286 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs in 46 games. He also went 4-2 with a 3.25 ERA on the mound.

Shohei Ohtani Becomes A 2 Position Baseball Star

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Shohei Ohtani Autograph Patch Cards

Ohtani was primarily a pitcher in his rookie season and did not disappoint.

He amassed a record of 10-4 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9 over 123 2/3 innings pitched.

He also had 21 starts, which was tied for second among all AL rookies (behind only Rays’ ace Blake Snell).

Perhaps Ohtani did all this most impressively while also serving as the Angels’ designated hitter on days he didn’t pitch.

While Ohtani will ultimately be judged on his pitching prowess, ignoring his ability to swing the bat would be foolish. He slashed .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs in 367 plate appearances while serving as the DH on days he didn’t pitch.

That being said, there is some concern about his strikeout rate (29.9%), which was the highest among all AL hitters with at least 350 PA.

As a pitcher, Ohtani throws right-handed and is considered a rare talent, possessing a great fastball that has been clocked as high as 102 miles per hour (164 km/h) and an effective slider and split-fingered fastball.

As a hitter, he bats left-handed and is known for his power-hitting.

In 2013, Ohtani was voted the Pacific League’s Rookie of the Year after finishing the season with a .283 batting average, 10 home runs, and 31 RBIs in 65 games.

The following year, Shohei Ohtani became the first rookie pitcher in NPB history to win the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards in the same season.

What Does The Future Hold For Shohei Ohtani?

Ohtani has proved that he can pitch at a high level and hit for power and average when given a chance.

There is still room for improvement (particularly regarding cutting down on strikeouts), but Angels fans must be excited about what they saw from their young superstar, who seems destined for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

What Did Stephen A. Smith Say About Shohei Ohtani

Stephen A. Smith recently caused an uproar on ESPN’s First Take when he proposed that Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani, who speaks through an interpreter while playing in the United States, adversely affected Americans’ interest in Baseball by not being able to speak English fluently.

He argued that having American stars like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout should be enough of a draw for people instead of relying solely on players with language barriers.

Folks weren’t too pleased with his comments as they were deemed xenophobic and unfeeling towards those needing help mastering the English language.

Shohei Ohtani Career Accomplishments and Awards

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Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards On Card Signature

In 2018, Ohtani became only the third player in MLB baseball history to hit 15 home runs and pitch 50 innings pitched in the same season.

He was named American League Rookie of the Year, received the AL Committee Special Achievement Award, and finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting.

In 2019, he was selected to his first MLB All-Star Game.

Before joining MLB, Ohtani won multiple NPB pitching awards, including three Sawamura Awards and the Pacific League MVP award in 2016. He also led NPB in strikeouts four times.

Internationally, Ohtani has represented Japan at the 2013 World Baseball Classic and the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was named tournament MVP at the 2013 WBC after pitching Japan to a perfect 4–0 record with a 1.59 ERA while saving two games out of the bullpen.

At the 2017 WBC, he helped lead Japan to a second-place finish after throwing 10 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts en route to being named tournament MVP for a second time.

In 2018, Shohei Ohtani was named one of MLB’s 100 Greatest Players of All Time by The Sporting News and one of their 30 Under 30 for that year.

Forbes has honored him as one of their 30 Under 30 for 2019 and 2020.

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