Shohei Ohtani came to MLB in 2018, with huge hype and attention, after some very successful early years of his career in Japan.
Baseball card collectors in Japan were very familiar with Ohtani cards before he’d played in the majors, and there was no shortage of demand in the hobby for his MLB rookie cards.
Demand only increased following a great first season in 2018, which led to him winning the AL Rookie of the Year award, and subsequent seasons, where values and interest in his sports cards again surged following his 2021 AL MVP win.
He began his pro baseball career in the Japan leagues, with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, and his earliest cards go back as early as 2013, from popular brands in Japan. Some of his key cards from that time are hard to come across, and command big values.
By the time his first MLB season came to a close, there were plenty of different Shohei Ohtani MLB rookie card options for collectors, with variety in price-entry points, and scarcity.
So, what are the top Shohei Ohtani rookie cards? The guide below details some of his key rookie cards and autographs, released during the 2018 season, with different options for all budgets – They’re listed in no particular order.
Table of Contents
The Best Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards
In a hurry? Here’s the best Shohei Ohtani rookie card options, at a glance:
The Best Low-Budget Ohtani Rookie Cards:
- 2018 Bowman’s Best Shohei Ohtani #1
- 2018 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani #150
- 2018 Donruss Optic Shohei Ohtani #56
The Most Valuable Ohtani Rookie Cards:
- 2018 Topps Dynasty Shohei Ohtani Auto Patch #AP-SO1 – #AP-SO7
- 2018 Panini National Treasures Shohei Ohtani Auto Patch #48
- 2018 Bowman Rookie Autographs Chrome Shohei Ohtani #SO
The Most Valuable Unsigned Ohtani Rookie Cards:
- 2018 Topps Shohei Ohtani #700 (Hand on helmet version)
- 2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani #1 (Carrying bag version)
- 2018 Panini Flawless Shohei Ohtani #3
The Top Pick:
- 2018 Bowman Rookie Autographs Chrome Shohei Ohtani #SO
Now let’s take a look in more detail:
2018 Bowman Shohei Ohtani #49
The 2018 Bowman Shohei Ohtani base rookie card is a mainstream and affordable option.
The selection of parallels adds some value and scarcity, as well as some color to the card, for collectors seeking a tougher chase.
The big hit from the set is the autograph card, which I’ll mention again further down this list.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $100-$120
2018 Bowman Chrome Shohei Ohtani #1
There are two versions of the Shohei Ohtani rc from the 2018 Bowman Chrome set, one featuring an image of him batting, and the other is a short print card which shows him carrying an equipment bag.
Bowman Chrome is always a popular baseball card release, with the added premium appeal of the glossy finish to the cards, so card values are higher than the regular Bowman cards.
Both versions of the Ohtani rookies from the Bowman Chrome hold a much higher price tag than his regular Bowman rookie, but it’s the SP variation version which holds the highest value – It’s worth about 5-times more than the regular batting image version, because of its scarcity.
The regular batting image card comes with an array of popular Refractor parallels, which add even more pop and value.
The variation card has a super-valuable hard-signed autograph version, which is numbered to just 25 copies.
Base version (batting) average price in PSA 10: $540-$560
Base version (carrying bag) average price in PSA 10: $2,500-$3,500
2018 Bowman’s Best Shohei Ohtani #1
An alternative chrome Ohtani rookie card to Bowman Chrome, which also has a bit more going on with the design and is much cheaper, comes from 2018 Bowman’s Best.
Bowman’s best generally closes out the baseball card season, and focuses on the top prospects, rookies and veterans, with unique designs to earlier chrome releases.
The base Ohtani rc from 2018 Bowman’s Best is an affordable option for collectors, but again, there are multiple Refractor parallels, for collectors who want more value and scarcity.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $100-$150
2018 Panini Flawless Shohei Ohtani #3
Switching to the high-end and premium end of the scale, the 2018 Panini Flawless set is another that features two base rookie cards with unique designs.
There is the ‘full body’ image version, and the ‘waist up’ image version, and both are limited to just 20 numbered copies; There isn’t much difference in value between the two.
Both rookie card versions are embedded with a small diamond gem, which I think is the coolest thing about these, and it offers something unique.
They have 2 very low-numbered parallels, which takes the total number to 24 for each version, so they’re really not easy to come across.
Base version (full body) average price in PSA 10: N/A (estimate: $800-$1,000)
Base version (waist up) average price in PSA 10: N/A (estimate: $800-$1,000)
2018 Donruss Optic Shohei Ohtani #56
The 2018 Donruss Optic rookie card gives a chromium spin to the regular base Donruss Shohei Ohtani rookie card.
It’s another set which offers collectors image variations of the Ohtani rookie, with a version that features an image of him batting, and another of him running – The batting version is more expensive to buy.
There’s also a third base card, which has a different card number in the set (#176) and has an image of Ohtani pitching.
The popular Rated Rookie design has pedigree in the hobby, but the base cards are mainstream and affordable options – However, there are numerous parallels, which add value and scarcity.
Base version (batting) average price in PSA 10: N/A (estimate: $200-$250)
Base version (running) average price in PSA 10: N/A (estimate: $100-$120)
2018 Topps Shohei Ohtani #700
Shohei Ohtani made an appearance in the flagship Topps Baseball product in 2018 Series 2 packs.
It’s another set which offers collectors short print image variation versions. The regular mainstream base card shows an image of Shohei Ohtani pitching, and then there’s the additional ‘with bat’ and ‘hand of helmet’ short print versions, which are much rarer and hold a lot more value.
The regular card is a popular go-to for a mainstream Ohtani rookie card, because of the brand name – It’s readily available and affordable for collectors, despite the slightly smaller print run than Series 1 cards.
The ‘with bat’ short print version is much rarer, and is worth around 7-times the value of the regular base rookie, but the ‘hand on helmet’ is the rarest and by far the most valuable.
Each Ohtani rookie card from 2018 Topps comes with some parallels, which hold even higher value.
Base version (pitching) average price in PSA 10: $700-$750
Base version (with bat) average price in PSA 10: $100-$150
Base version (hand on helmet) average price in PSA 10: $3,000-$3,500
2018 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani #150
One of the most popular low-budget options from Ohtani’s first year offerings, the 2018 Topps Chrome is a go-to flagship release.
Adding chrome to the key regular Topps release, it’s a nice option for collectors and doesn’t require a huge investment to buy.
There is no shortage of Refractor parallels for this one, which add additional color, plus scarcity and value.
Unlike the regular Topps release, there are no short print image variations for the Topps Chrome Shohei rc.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $120-$170
2018 Topps Chrome Update Shohei Ohtani #HMT1
Another Shohei Ohtani rookie card with the popular Topps design comes from the target-only 2018 Chrome Update set.
It adds an alternative to the Topps Chrome rookie card from the main set, and is similar in value; There’s not much difference between this one and the regular Topps Chrome rookie card, so it allows collectors to go with the preference of image.
There are numerous Refractor parallels for this one as well, although not as many as the card from the main set has – As always, they’re popular and add rarity and value.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $120-$170
The Top Autographed Shohei Ohtani Rookie Cards
2018 Bowman Rookie Autographs Chrome Shohei Ohtani #SO
I’ve already mentioned the base Ohtani 2018 Bowman rookie card, but the big hit from the product is this autograph, although it’s technically an insert and not a traditional rookie card.
In my opinion, this is the best Shohei Ohtani rookie card, but it isn’t cheap to buy. The on-card autograph has big appeal, and makes this one a valuable option.
Even more value is found in the multiple Refractor parallels, with some of the rarest Refractors selling for huge money.
The elusive 1-of-1 Superfractor parallel fuelled a huge buzz in the sports card hobby among collectors and investors, before it was pulled – It’s one of the most significant modern baseball cards.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $9,000-$10,000
2018 Bowman’s Best Best Of 2018 Autographs Shohei Ohtani #B18SO
The top Shohei Ohtani rookie card from 2018 Bowman’s Best is this Best of 2018 Autographs card.
It features all the same characteristics as the regular base card, but adds the premium appeal of the hard-signed autograph, and it’s one of the more valuable Ohtani rookie cards; However, it does represent a cheaper alternative autograph option to the Bowman rookie signatures chrome autograph card.
There are a handful of more valuable low-numbered parallel versions of this one.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $4,000-$5,000
2018 Topps Clearly Authentic Shohei Ohtani Auto #SO
A Shohei Ohtani rookie with the flagship card design, and added on-card signature – It makes this a premium option, and another good alternative autograph to the Bowman rookie signatures card, at around half the price.
Printed on acetate instead of traditional stock, it was issued as a redemption.
There are a few limited parallels to look out for as well.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $3,000-$4,000
2018 Topps Diamond Icons Shohei Ohtani Auto #AC-SO
A premium autographed Ohtani rookie card, that’s also super-rare – The 2018 Diamond Icons auto card has just 25 numbered copies.
With Diamond Icons being a high-end and expensive product, this hard-signed auto card will cost a decent amount, if you can find one.
There are also a few low-numbered parallels, for an even harder chase.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $2,000-$3,000
2018 Immaculate Collection Shohei Ohtani Auto Patch #37
The 2018 Immaculate RPA Shohei Ohtani is a high-end option with some impressive attributes – The hard-signed autograph and patch piece.
It’s limited to 99 numbered copies, with numerous parallels – It’s not quite on the level of some of the ultra-premium RPA products, so it makes it a slightly more affordable option for collectors seeking a high-premium card, although it still holds big value.
Base version average price in PSA 10: N/A (no data, PSA 9 average price: $2,000-$2,500)
2018 Panini National Treasures Shohei Ohtani Auto Patch #48
National Treasures has become established as arguably Panini’s biggest brand for super-premium sports cards, across multiple sports.
In the modern hobby, National Treasures is often the home of the top autograph patch cards for rookies.
The 2018 National Treasures set contains a few key Shohei Ohtani cards, but the stand-out is the Rookie Materials Autograph card, which is limited to 99 numbered copies.
The high-quality and classy looking card features a jumbo material patch, and on-card signature – It’s something for collectors with the biggest budgets.
There are also numerous parallel options for this one.
Base version average price in PSA 10: N/A (no data, PSA 8 average price: $4,000-$5,000)
2018 Topps Dynasty Shohei Ohtani Auto Patch #AP-SO1 - #AP-SO7
2018 Topps Dynasty offers seven different Shohei Ohtani autograph patch cards, all numbered to just 10 copies.
The layout of all seven cards is the same, but they feature different images – It allows for very low-numbered, and super-premium auto patch cards, which are very valuable.
Even when combined, there’s only a total of 70 rookie cards, so they’re very rare. They do also have a couple of extremely low-numbered parallels each.
Base version average price in PSA 10: $10k-$12k
When Was Shohei Ohtani’s Rookie Season?
Shohei Ohtani’s Rookie Season was the 2013 NPB season, with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. His first season in MLB was in 2018, with the Los Angeles Angels.
What Is The Top Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card To Buy?
The best and most popular Ohtani rookie card is the 2018 Bowman Rookie Signatures Chrome card. It’s one of the most sought-after modern baseball cards, from the superstar name.