We are witnessing history, folks. Shohei Ohtani is not only widely recognized as the best player in baseball, but he may be one of the best of all-time. And it's not only the media who recognizes him as one of the best; his peers also view him as the best as well. In The Athletic's 2023 and 2024 MLB anonymous Players Polls, he received almost half of the votes for "best player in baseball" by other MLB players. As of today, Ohtani leads MLB in batting average (.321), third in home runs (23), and sixth in RBIs (57). While he's not pitching in 2024 due to Tommy John surgery, he has a career ERA of 3.01. He's really the only player in history who could potentially win the MVP and the Cy Young award in the same season. He's a true unicorn.

There are over 60 different Ohtani cards that could be described as "rookie" cards.

Identifying his best rookie cards can be a confusing exercise for casual collectors since there are so many of them. In 2018, Topps printed Ohtani rookie cards in Topps Series 2 and Topps Update that included a variety of short prints (SPs), super short prints (SSPs), and super super short prints (SSSPs). (And yes, for those that are new to collecting sports cards, investing in them is very complex and has a lot of acronyms). He also has Topps Chrome and Topps Chrome Update rookie cards that also include some SPs and autographs. Bowman (which is owned by Topps) also produced Bowman Chrome and Bowman Chrome autographs Ohtani rookie cards and many different variations of these cards. Ohtani also has other "first" cards such as the 2017 Bowman Chrome 2017 World Baseball Classic Ohtani card, but doesn't have an official MLB logo on the card.

At the end of the day, there are over 60 different cards that could be described as firsts or "rookie cards" for Ohtani.

Ohtani rookie cards range in value from $15 to nearly $200,000.

The range in values for these rookie cards ranges from $15 for raw base rookie cards (see, e.g., this 2018 ungraded Ohtani Bowman base card that sold for $18.50 on eBay on June 21st) to hundreds of thousands of dollars (see, e.g., this 2018 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph Red Refractor card that sold for $184,800 on Goldin Auctions last year). As another example, there's a 2018 Topps Chrome Sapphire Shohei Ohtani Autographed SSP PSA 10 currently on eBay that's listed for $29,999.

Among all of these rookie cards, it can be difficult to determine which ones are the best long-term investments and many of us don't have tens of thousands of dollars to invest. Thankfully, as mentioned above, many quality Topps and Bowman Ohtani rookie cards remain affordable to casual collectors. If you prefer cards with Ohtani appearing as a pitcher, some other affordable cards include his 2018 Bowman Platinum card #34 (with fielding glove). A PSA 10 recently sold on eBay for $112.50. A year ago, this card was selling for around $175, so you might be able to buy one "on the dip."

If you prefer more a classic look and pose, another affordable card is Ohtani's 2018 Topps Heritage Rookie Card #600. I actually prefer the "retro" look to this card along with Ohtani looking directly into the camera (and neither hitting nor pitching). A PSA 10 sold on June 24th for just over $100 after having received 14 bids. This card sold for an all-time high of $800 just over a year ago.

With so many to choose from, which Shohei Ohtani rookie cards are your favorites? Please let us know what your opinions are in the comments section below!