Tag Archive | "Tiers"

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – SGC Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – SGC Grading Service Review

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Tim Danielson

I have already discussed the reasons to have your cards graded and cited some examples from different companies.  This week I will provide an in-depth look at the card grading service offered by Sportscard Guaranty, SGC.

SGC has long been a popular choice for card grading with collectors, especially for vintage cards.  One of the most popular features SGC offers is their detailed grading scale.  Their 1-100 scale offers accurate and consistent grading of all cards.  For collectors more comfortable with a 1-10 scale, they also offer the equivalent grade.  Other popular features SGC offers are their guarantee and unique holder.

SGC does offer several different tiers of grading fees, based on the type of card and desired turnaround time.  SGC also offers many different monthly and themed grading specials.  SGC allowed me to send in four cards under the ‘EXPRESS’ tier (10 day turnaround time) for purposes of review.  My cards were returned in six days.

When starting the on-line submission form, the first thing I noticed was that the form was buried and required lots of clicking to get to.  I did have to create an account and sign-in, but even with expecting that, the from was not right there.  The form itself is very easy to use and complete.  The form has fields to input very detailed information about the cards you are submitting and charts to calculate the service fees, return postage and insurance required to send your cards back.  There were a couple of broken links and fields that did not allow me to complete the on-line submission form though.  In the defense of SGC, at the time  of my submission, I do know that they were in the process of creating and up-loading new monthly specials which may have created the broken fields.  Collectors can hand write an invoice for cards they are submitting or request a submission form/kit.

Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – SGC Grade 84 – NM

Topps Henderson

This card came back graded pretty much exactly what I thought it would.  The card is just a touch off center, has one rough spot on an edge and a very small amount of fraying on one corner.  For cards from 1980 and earlier, the industry standard expects them to be in Near Mint condition.  Price guides have their high book price meant to be for cards that are Near Mint.  Vintage cards with a higher grade than Near Mint can easily command prices several times that of the high book price.

1979 TCMA Rickey Henderson Minor League card – SGC Grade 20 – Fair

TCMA Henderson

I was a little surprised at the grade assigned to this card.  The centering is comparable to the Henderson Topps RC but the edges and corners or much cleaner and in better shape.  I will admit that there is a small blue ink mark on a back corner of the card.  I thought based on the physical condition of the card, especially the front, that this would have graded in the 50′s or 60′s.  After reviewing SGC’s grading scale though this grade is accurate and consistent with the descriptions of a 20 grade.

2003 Magic the Gathering Lone Wolf Foil – SGC Grade 88 – NM/MT

Lone Wolf

One of my geeky pleasures, Magic is a collectable card game in the genre of  Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and other non-sports cards.  Magic players often put more weight on the playability of their cards rather than the collect-ability of them.  The super rare and valuable cards are usually put in a case never to see the light of day and  a “proxy” card is used to represent them in a deck.  If you actually want to play with your cards, people may just put every card of a deck into a penny sleeve and use them that way.  All this in mind though I sent in a foil version of a card in my signature deck to illustrate that SGC also grades non-sport cards.  I was pleased with the grade of this card knowing that it had been shuffled and played out of my deck a couple of times.

2008-09 Upper Deck Champs C373 Gray Wolf Mini – SGC Grade 96 – MINT

Gray Wolf

This is another non-sport card even though it was packed out in a Hockey card product.  The illustration here is that SGC grades and has holders for 206, Tobacco, and Allen & Ginter sized cards.  I selected this specific card as it was recently pulled form a pack and presumably in Mint condition.  I was correct in my assumption of a grade as this came back graded as an almost perfect example of the card.

I highly recommend SGC’s grading service for a few reasons.  SGC’s prices for both the per card grading and return postage are much more reasonable compared to other similar grading services.  I really enjoy the 100 point grading scale.  I feel this gives you a more accurate description of the condition of your cards.  Many other companies only use a 10 point scale or only use half grades like 8.5.  I absolutely love the black frame SGC puts around the card.  It really highlights your card and makes it stand out.  The very quick turn around time was a nice surprise and the customer service is top notch.  Keep an eye out for SGC’s monthly specials for submission.  Depending on the amount and type of cards you want graded, these specials can save you a few dollars.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.


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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Beckett Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Beckett Grading Service Review

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

We have already discussed reasons for having your cards professionally graded. Today we will look at the services provided by Beckett Grading.


Becket Media has long been the premier resource for collectors of sports cards.  Starting with their monthly price guide magazines, Beckett Media now offers on-line price guides, collecting forums, a safe on-line trading environment, monthly, quarterly, and yearly publications.  Beckett also offers pricing guidelines for cards, autographs, figurines and more for all sports, non-sport and entertainment cards.

Two very popular features offered by Beckett Grading are the simple but detailed grading scale and sub-grade report card.  In addition to just giving a card a grade of 8.5, Becket assigns grades to the four different attributes the card is graded on.  This way you can see that a card graded 8.5 has sub-grades of 10 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 9 for edges, and 8.5 for surface condition.  Beckett also offers the industry’s first on-time money back guarantee.  Either your cards are returned to you on time or you get a refund on the grading services.  Other features offered by Beckett grading can be viewed here.

When staring a submission to Beckett grading collectors have several different options to chose form.  They offer standard grading and encapsulation, vintage card grading for pre-1981 cards, an economical Collector’s Club Grading and a raw card review.  Details and pricing of each can be viewed here.  Both the on-line and printable submission form are very easy to use and understand.  As with other companies, Beckett offers several different tiers of turn around time at varying costs and monthly specials.  Beckett allowed me to send in four cards at the 5-day service level.  My cards were returned in exactly five business days from the date Beckett received them.

Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – Beckett Vintage Grading  7.5 Near Mint+

Beckett wolf 1

This card came back pretty much what I expected it would.  I was hoping for an 8 based on my comparison to other graded Henderson RC cards I have seen.  After reviewing Beckett’s grading scale, the grade this card received is very consistent with the guidelines they have established.  I was a little disappointed that the vintage grading did not include the sub-grades for the different card attributes.  These are not included on any vintage graded cards, but it still would have been nice to know these sub-grades.

2009 Americana Stars Material Gold Proofs #1 Jackie Chan #/25 – Beckett Grading 8.5 NM-MT+

Beckett wolf 2

This card has sub-grades of 10 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 9 for edges, and 8.5 for surface.  This card received the grade that I thought it would.  I submitted this card to show that Beckett also grades memorabilia cards.  I was very pleased to see that the thicker memorabilia card was placed into the same thickness holders as the rest of the cards.  The recessed area inside the holder is just deeper to allow for the thicker card without adding thickness to the holder itself.  From the side though you can see where the inner sleeve is separating on the edges.

1997 Magic the Gathering 5th Edition Wyluli Wolf  (Rare)- Beckett Grading 8 NM-MT

Beckett Chan

One of my geeky pleasures, Magic is a collectable card game in the genre of  Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and other non-sports cards.  Magic players often put more weight on the playability of their cards rather than the collect-ability of them.  The super rare and valuable cards are usually put in a case never to see the light of day and  a “proxy” card is used to represent them in a deck.  If you actually want to play with your cards, people may just put every card of a deck into a penny sleeve and use them that way.  All this in mind though I submitted this card to illustrate that Beckett also grades non-sport cards.  This card received sub-grades of 9.5, 7.5, 9, and 8.5.  I was impressed that Beckett was able to identify not only the edition this card is, but also the rarity.

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini National Animals #NA26 Gray Wolf – Beckett Grading 9.5 Gem Mint

Beckett Henderson

Receiving sub-grades of 10, 9.5, 9.5, and 9.5, this is practically a prefect example of this card.  I was very pleased as this came back graded a little higher than I thought it would.  For collectors and dealers looking to flip and make money off their graded cards, grades of 9, 9.5, and 10 often command higher premiums.  The illustration here is that Beckett grades and has holders for 206, Tobacco, and Allen & Ginter sized cards.

Beckett has many strong points for collectors to consider when shopping for a grading service.  From the very beginning both the on-line and printable submission forms are among the easiest I have used.  I was able to track the status of my submission with e-mail updates of when Beckett received, graded and shipped my cards.  I was actually able to log in and view the grades before they were shipped.  In my opinion the two best features of Beckett grading services are the sub-grades and color coded labels.  The sub-grades printed on the front of the label sticker give much more detailed information about your card.  The highest graded cards, 9.5 and 10 receive a gold colored label and 8.5 and 9 grades receive a silver label.  All other grades have a white label.  This makes for easy identification of the highest graded cards.  Compared to other services, Beckett’s holders appear to me to be a little less secure.  The holders are nested and stack-able.  Thicker memorabilia cards do not require thicker holders which is nice.  Three of my four cards all had damage to the bottom left corner of the holders though.  This damage is visible in the pictures above.  The Allen and Ginter card which received the highest grade suffered the most damage, compromising the seal of the holder itself.  I assume that this damage occurred in shipping  as the damage is all on the same corner.  Dealers who pay for insurance will not want to receive a Gem Mint card in a cracked holder.  For collectors who plan to keep their cards will enjoy the ease of use, service and features offered by Beckett Grading services.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.


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Preparing for the draft

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Preparing for the draft

Posted on 24 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

If you’re like me, draft day is one of the most exciting and at the same time unnerving days of the year. You never feel like you are fully prepared and, like a college final exam, try to cram as much knowledge into your brain as possible. Here are some tips that I have found helpful in preparing for the draft which may help take some of the worry out of the process.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news
It is always important to stay on top of the latest news. Whether its a season-ending injury or a last minute trade, don’t be the guy who throws out a player’s name in the draft who is in the other league or hurt. I always make sure that I check out the latest news the night before the draft as well as the morning of the draft (if I have time).

Make a list and check it twice
Whether you are preparing for a straight draft or auction, it is important to have a draft list.

For a straight draft, this should be a ranking of the pool of players from 1 to 300 (or however deep your league goes into the player pool). There are various websites that put together lists like this and they can be a good starting point. But you should make sure you adjust these lists for injuries, changes in role, trades, etc.

You should also put together a list of players ranked by position, which helps you figure out when talent at a specific position is getting scarce and its time for you to draft that position. You don’t want to be stuck with a hole at any position.

For an auction league, you should have a list of available players sorted by highest value to lowest value. However, I have found that the best tool for an auction league is a listing by position, sorted by highest to lowest value. From there, you can identify “tiers” of players (i.e. $30-40, $20-30, $10-20, $1-10) and see where the depth of each position lies.

For example, if there is only one third baseman who falls in the $30-40 range, but 5 third baseman in the $20-30 range, then you would want to target the group in the $20-30 range, as the $30-40 player will probably be overbid due to scarcity. By targeting the 5 players in the $20-30 range, you can probably get one for at or below value, as the other owners will likely drop out of the bidding knowing that there are others available. However, don’t wait until the last player in that group is left or you will have to overbid to get him.

Mock Drafts and Mock Auctions
Another useful tool when preparing for the draft is to check out the various Mock Draft and Mock Auctions sites. One such site is mockdraftcentral.com. Also, fatasy sports sites, such as cbssports.com, have their own mock drafts that you can join and participate in.

These sites are useful in that they can give you an early indication as to which players might be over or undervalued. By comparing the Average Draft Position to your draft list or the Average Auction Value to your auction values, you can find potential bargains for your upcoming draft.

Depth Charts
Another important and sometimes overlooked tool is the depth chart. There are various websites that have depth charts for each team, including Rotoworld, CBSsports and Rototimes. Depth charts are important, especially in deep leagues, as it gives you insight into who the backups are in case of injury.

However, even with all these sites available, I find it more useful to put together my own depth chart. The main difference between my depth chart and theirs is that mine includes each players’ contract status (how long they are signed for or under team control) and minor leaguers who could replace them.

This last two points are important, for two reasons. First, if a player is in the last year of his contract with his team, there is a possibility that he could be traded in July, if that team is out of contention. This could mean a change in roll (for example, a closer who is traded to a team that already has a closer and therefore becomes the setup man) or a loss of stats (if you are in a NL or AL only league that doesn’t count stats from players traded to the other league). Second, if that player has been traded, it usually means that the team trading him is going to give the prospect a chance at that position and you want to be the team that has that prospect on its reserve roster.

Prospect Lists
Seems like everyone and their brother has a prospect list. I recently discovered a website that provides links to all the prospects lists on the web (Fantasy Rundown), which has proved invaluable to my draft preparation. I take the lists from the various sites and compile a composite list of prospects, which can be found at MLB Composite Index, that I use for my league’s reserve draft.

If you are in a keeper league or dynasty league, you already know the importance of scouting minor leaguers to find the next big star. Many times minor leaguers can be the difference between a successful season or a disappointing one. For example, one team in my league went into the 2010 draft with Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg and Michael Stanton, the consensus top 3 prospects at that time, on his reserve roster. He finished second (and would have won if Strasburg had not gotten hurt).

One thing to keep in mind though is that it is not just talent, but also opportunity that plays a role here. A player like Yonder Alonso of the Reds has plenty of talent, but spent last year at AAA, as he was stuck behind Joey Vott. He had to be traded to San Diego to finally get his opportunity. If you’re choosing between two minor leaguers ranked about the same, select the player who has the better opportunity for playing time (here’s where that depth chart comes in handy).

On the other hand, don’t get too caught up on the opportunity aspect that you pass on a high ranked prospect for a lower one with better opportunity. If a player is good enough, the team will make room for him.

There are a lot of good resources on the web to help you prepare for your draft. Hopefully the tips above will help give you an edge over the competition and allow you to dominate your draft.

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Auction league hidden gems

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Auction league hidden gems

Posted on 15 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Hidden Gem

If you have spent much time playing auction draft fantasy baseball leagues, then you understand the value of finding an inexpensive hidden gem.  If you can stock your team with a few players on the cheap, then you can afford to overpay for a few guys at the top end of the pay scale.  The problem with finding that gem is that nearly everyone else in your league is looking for the same thing at the same time you are.  How do you start looking for value?

Well, I usually start by going through the various online draft kits and draft results to look for some players to keep in mind.  However, you probably will not get too far without some kind of process in mind to evaluate player costs in an unbiased manner.  To that end, here are some guidelines I use to assist me…

  • I rank players at each position, and then I choose a personal top 5 list at each position.  I then select 3 or 4 positions that I am willing to overpay to fill with a player or players from the aforementioned lists.
  • An “overpay” is defined as exceeding 120% of the player’s projected value.
  • If any of the players on the lists comes available at a price less than 120% of the projected value, then that player becomes an automatic target.  At anything less than 110% of projected value, that player definitely makes the “short list” of priorities.
  • Watch to see if any team affiliations are artificially pushes prices substantially higher than projected value.  An example here might be any San Francisco Giants pitcher expected to benefit from the return of Buster Posy or anybody on the Detroit Tigers who may spend significant time in a lineup projected to score a lot of runs.
  • Look for an obvious falling off point at which prices at a particular position drop substantially between tiers of players.
  • Keep a Word document or Post-It not handy to write down names of players that are going for close to projected value or even below it.

 Real Examples from the Yahoo Auction Leagues:

  1. Consider that the shortstop position has only 8 players projected to have double digit value.  Troy Tulowitzki is going for an average of $46.2 versus a projected value of $40.  While I do consider him the top guy at the position, I like Hanley Ramirez at an average of $34 ($29 projected) much more.  If you are looking for a value pick instead, then maybe $8.7 ($11 projected) for Dee Gordon is a better deal for you.  If you have faith that JJ Hardy can duplicate his 2011 season, then $6.5 ($7 projected) is quite appealing as well.  Hidden Gem:  Ian Desmond going for an average of $1.7 versus a projected value of $5.
  2. It should not surprise anyone that Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols are both hovering around the $50 mark on average.  What about Joey Votto at $44.1 ($39 projected)?  He seems like a pretty good deal compared to Prince Fielder who is averaging $37.2 with a projected value of $29.  Then again, the projected value seems a bit low, so he may be a good deal at around $12 cheaper than Miggy or Albert.  With all the depth at the position, you still may have to go down the list a ways to find the likes of Billy Butler at $7.9 ($9 projected) or Freddie Freeman at $6.5 ($8 projected).  Hidden Gem:  Mitch Moreland at $1.3 ($3 projected) as a backup 1B or utility guy.
  3. Due to injuries and variance in the number of plate appearances, catchers are often difficult to evaluate in the context of your roster dollars.  Getting a catcher that consistently hits is worth a bit of a premium, and that premium increases for catchers who also qualify at 1B.  Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Joe Mauer are probably worth every penny for their respective offensive output combined with the dual threat factor.  That does not mean it is a good idea to sleep on guys like JP Arencibia at $3.4 ($5 projected), although I would probably stay away from Geovany Soto, even if he is going for well below the anticipated market rate of $6.  Hidden Gem:  Nick Hundley at $1.3 or Russell Martin at $1.6.

It is one thing to know who is good at each position.  It is even better to know what other people think each player is worth at those positions.

If you enjoy the “Hidden Gems” work, then please check out the rest of the gems here at FullSpectrumBaseball!!!

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