Exploring Shohei Ohtani’s unprecedented popularity through his Topps Now cards

Shohei Ohtani has dominated the MLB news with his incredible pitching and hitting. Now with his torn UCL, he might need a second Tommy John surgery on his elbow. No more pitching for Ohtani this year. And perhaps no more hitting? We’ll see.

This year, Topps produced an amazing quantity of 25 different Topps Now cards for Ohtani. Nobody comes even close to that many. Bobby Witt, Jr. is the closest with 14, then Anthony Volpe with 12.

PlayerNumber of Topps Now 2023 cards (as of 8/17/2023)
Shohei Ohtani25
Bobby Witt Jr.14
Anthony Volpe12
Elly De La Cruz11
Pete Alonso10
Aaron Judge10
Ronald Acuña Jr.9
Miguel Cabrera9
Freddie Freeman9
Mookie Betts8
Masataka Yoshida8
Julio Rodriguez8
Jordan Walker8

Topps Now is a great gauge of a player’s popularity. Every day, Topps takes the top player and team achievements and makes a select number of cards. People pre-order the card for a certain time period. Then sales are closed, and cards are produced according to the number of orders. Topps announces the print run for each card so you can see how popular a certain achievement is by a player.

Shohei’s most popular card is “MLB Doubleheader First: 1st SHO of Career in Game 1, 2 HR Encore in Game 2” with a print run of 33,887 cards. It makes sense this card would be popular. It captures both his pitching and hitting in one card. It almost looks like two different players because of the uniform change between the double-header.

MLB Doubleheader First: 1st SHO of Career in Game 1, 2 HR Encore in Game 2

All of Shohei Ohtani’s 2023 Topps Now cards

With so many Ohtani Topps Now cards for Ohtani, you’d think people would start to burn out, and his quantities would drop. Instead, it’s the opposite. Let’s chart his cards over the year.

DateCard #PlayerTitlePrint run
3/31/202311Shohei Ohtani4th Pitcher in Team History w/ 10-Plus Ks in Opener4,152
4/2/202336Mike Trout / Shohei OhtaniDuo Hammers 1st HRs of 2023 Season on Back-to-Back Pitches4,235
4/3/202345Shohei Ohtani / IchiroJapanese Baseball Legends Meet-Up Before Game4,802
4/11/2023106Shohei OhtaniSets Angels Record for Runs Allowed Streak3,484
4/17/2023140Masataka Yoshida / Shohei OhtaniTeam Japan Teammates Square Off for First Time in MLB4,030
4/18/2023143Shohei Ohtani / Babe RuthLegends Homer at Yankee Stadium 100 Years Apart to the Day8,336
4/21/2023161Shohei OhtaniMasterful on the Mound w/Seven Scoreless IP & 11 Ks2,976
4/27/2023194Shohei OhtaniStar Comes Within Feet of One-of-a-Kind Performance2,660
5/3/2023233Shohei Ohtani / Babe RuthJoins Legend as Only Other Player with 500-K/100-HR in History9,034
5/9/2023262Shohei OhtaniPasses Babe Ruth for Most Career Strikeouts by Two-Way Player8,916
5/15/2023294Shohei OhtaniSuperstar Does It All in Historic Four-Hit Game5,206
6/9/2023419Shohei Ohtani4th Three-Hit Game While Pitching, Most Since 19583,258
6/12/2023433Shohei OhtaniTwo Homer Nights Saves the Angels in Extras5,590
6/14/2023441Shohei OhtaniHardest Oppo. HR in Statcast History3,668
6/15/2023445Shohei OhtaniFirst Since 1900 to Lead MLB in HRs and BAA Simultaneously7,620
6/17/2023455Shohei OhtaniOvertakes MLB Homer Lead with 150th Career Blast7,279
6/27/2023505Shohei Ohtani6th Ever in Modern Era with 10 Ks, 2 HRs in Single Game17,031
6/29/2023511Shohei Ohtani14th HR in June Breaks Single-Month Angels Record4,528
6/30/2023517Shohei OhtaniLeague-Leading 30th HR Is Longest of MLB Career7,066
7/8/2023542Shohei OhtaniJoins Ruth & Mays with Historic 1st Half Numbers5,564
7/17/2023579Shohei Ohtani35th HR Passes 2022 Total and Ties Game with One Flip of the Bat13,499
7/27/2023625Shohei OhtaniMLB Doubleheader First: 1st SHO of Career in Game 1, 2 HR Encore in Game 233,887
8/3/2023647Shohei Ohtani1st MLB Player This Season to Reach 40 HRs5,468
8/7/2023672Shohei OhtaniFastest to Reach 40 HRs & 15 SBs in a Season6,649
8/9/2023683Shohei Ohtani1st Player in MLB History with 40 HRs and 10 Wins13,445

There are so many numbers to look at in this chart. What happens when we add up all the print runs of Ohtani’s cards? How would that compare to other player’s total print runs?

Topps Now 2023 print run totals for each player

Player nameNumber of cardsTotal print run of all cards
Shohei Ohtani25192,383
Elly De La Cruz11141,690
Anthony Volpe1272,172
Victor Wembanyama148,654
Jordan Walker837,002
Adley Rutschman630,000
Masataka Yoshida827,423
Gunnar Henderson622,930
Aaron Judge1019,456
Julio Rodriguez818,830

The sheer number of Ohtani cards made ensures his print run is the top. But look at #2, Elly De La Cruz. He has half the cards of Ohtani, but his total print run is pretty close. This demonstrates Elly De La Cruz’s popularity this year.

Recently the Angles played the Reds, so Elly met Shohei in the middle of the field for this great video. I like to imagine the dialogue went like this:

Elly: The print run of all my 2023 Topps Now cards is 141,690.
Shohei: Nice! My print run total is 192,383.
Elly: Wow! But I got 11 cards featuring me.
Shohei: 25 for me.

The total sum of all 2023 Topps Now cards printed is 1,116,288. Shohei and Elly together account for 30% of all Topps Now cards produced in 2023.

Final thoughts

This injury is such an important milestone in Ohtani’s 2023 season it makes you wonder if Topps will produce a Topps Now card for it. It sounds silly to make a card about an injury. But this injury truly changes his 2023 season.

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1 thought on “Exploring Shohei Ohtani’s unprecedented popularity through his Topps Now cards”

  1. Fun facts:
    So far, the median print run for the cards is 689.

    The total sum of all 2023 Topps Now cards printed is 1,116,288. Shohei and Elly together account for 30% of all 2023 Topps Now cards produced.

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