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One of the most anticipated rookie cards to look for in 2023 baseball card sets will undoubtedly be Tampa Bay Rays shortstop and #1 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, Jackson Holliday. Holliday had a phenomenal debut minor league season in 2022 where he slashed .317/.392/.596 with 15 home runs and 77 RBI in just 82 games split between rookie ball and Low-A. His pedigree as the #1 pick and son of former MLB All-Star Matt Holliday makes Holliday one of the most hyped prospects in baseball. His rooking cards in 2023 sets like Bowman Chrome, Topps Series 1/2, and Topps Chrome are virtually guaranteed to be hot items.

Another highly sought after rookie card in 2023 will be Baltimore Orioles catcher and #1 overall prospect in baseball Adley Rutschman. After making his MLB debut in 2022, Rutschman put together an impressive rookie campaign where he slashed .254/.362/.430 with 7 home runs in 264 at-bats. Rutschman solidified himself as a future star and will be one of, if not the most desirable Orioles cards in upcoming sets. Cards from his true rookie season like Topps Series 1/2, Chrome, Bowman, etc. will all have value.

2023 could also be a breakout year for Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez. After tearing things up in his first full season in Triple-A in 2021, Rodriguez debuted with the Mariners in late 2022 and showed why there is so much excitement around his potential. He slashed .267/.329/.483 with 6 home runs in 53 games. Assuming he builds on that in 2023 and establishes himself as a star, his 2023 rookie cards have the potential to gain tremendous value, especially if he wins awards or makes the All-Star team.

Some other top prospects who could debut in 2023 and havetheir rookie cards increase in value include catcher Gabriel Moreno (Blue Jays), shortstop Gunnar Henderson (Orioles), outfielder Estevan Florial (Yankees), and pitcher Grayson Rodriguez (Orioles). All four had outstanding seasons in the minors in 2022 and appear on the cusp of MLB stardom. Their rookie cards would be ones to watch out for from sets like Topps, Bowman, and Chrome.

Looking at active players instead of rookies, some veterans who could rebound in 2023 and see their cards rise include Giancarlo Stanton, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Trea Turner. Stanton, Jimenez and Robert all dealt with injuries that limited their production in 2022, so a clean bill of health and return to All-Star form would increase interest in their cards. Meanwhile, Trea Turner remains one of the best pure hitters in baseball and continuing to rake as the new face of the Phillies could drive collectors towards his 2023 issues.

Mike Trout remains the undisputed king as one of the best and most desirable active players. Even in down seasons due to injury, his cards hold tremendous value. A return to AL MVP-caliber production in 2023 could see renewed interest, especially for flagship cards from Topps like base, short prints, autographs, and relics. Fellow superstars Ronald Acuña Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. are also two to watch as they continue their comeback trails from injury next season. Strong performances from them could elevate their cardboard.

On the pitching side, cards of Jacob deGrom, Shane Bieber, Luke Weaver and Lance McCullers Jr. are ones to watch. All are aces when healthy, but injuries have hampered their production in recent years. Roaring back as All-Stars could translate to collectors pursuing their 2023 issued cards at higher rates. Meanwhile, young hurlers like MacKenzie Gore, Hunter Greene and George Kirby could all be primed for their own breakouts that drive card markets.

In terms of sets themselves, Topps Series 1 and Topps Chrome are usually the hottest releases that move the needle most in the hobby during their release windows. But Bowman 1st Edition and Bowman Draft are two sets in particular to watch in the first half, as they will feature the debut rookie cards of top prospects drafted and signed from the 2022 class like Jackson Holliday and Druw Jones. Those cards often gain value quickly based on prospect performance over the summer. And Topps Finest and Ultra are two high-end showcases that typically feature big hits collectors chase after in the second half.

Factors like player performance, award races, milestones such as 300 wins or 600 home runs, playoff performances and more will all influence how individual player cards trend. But this overview highlights some of the core names and sets to keep an eye on in 2023 that could present collectors opportunities. There figures to be no shortage of exciting new rookies, as well veteran risers and superstar performers over the coming year.


O-Pee-Chee was a Canadian producer of bubble gum and collectibles like trading cards and candy that was very popular in the mid 20th century. Their baseball cards from the 1950s-1970s in particular have retained significant collector value over the decades. Some of the most valuable and sought after O-Pee-Chee baseball cards to look out for if you have an old collection or come across a box of them somewhere include:

1952 O-Pee-Chee Willie Mays: Considered one of the key vintage rookie cards in the hobby, the ’52 O-Pee-Chee Mays is the first major league card issued of arguably the greatest player ever. High grades in this vintage rookie card can fetch tens of thousands of dollars or more depending on condition. Even well-worn lower grade examples still trade hands for thousands.

1956 O-Pee-Chee Sandy Koufax: Koufax’s rookie card marked the emergence of one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history. His career was relatively short but brilliant. PSA 9s have sold for over $30,000 and mint PSA 10 examples can surpass $100,000. Condition is critical as usual for vintage but even lower grades hold four-figure value.

1952 O-Pee-Chee Mickey Mantle: Widely considered the finest switch hitter of all time, Mantle’s rookie card is iconic. High graded ’52 O-Pee-Chee Mantles can rival or exceed the prices seen for the ’52 Topps variation depending on circumstances, with PSA/SGC 9s bringing five figures and perfect gems escalating above that.

1957 O-Pee-Chee Hank Aaron: A key vintage card that pays homage to “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron who became the home run king and one of the game’s all-time great hitters. Higher graded ’57 O-Pee-Chee Aarons can reach the $10,000 price point or more and offer a more affordable way to own an early card of this legend compared to his debut ’54 Topps issue.

1959 O-Pee-Chee Roberto Clemente: Not truly a rookie since Clemente played parts of 1955-1958 prior, but his ’59 O-Pee-Chee was the first card depicting Clemente in a Pirates uniform. Considered an icon both on and off the field, high grade Clementes command mid-five figures. Even worn copies still trade in the four-figure range.

1955 O-Pee-Chee Orlando Cepeda: Cepeda’s impressive career got off to a fast start winning Rookie of the Year in 1958. His ’55 O-Pee-Chee is one of the more important cards from the mid-’50s period showing promise before his superstar peak. High graded examples push the $10,000 territory.

1969 O-Pee-Chee Tom Seaver: Seaver burst out of the gates as a star pitcher winning Rookie of the Year and the NL Cy Young in his first season. While the 1969 Topps Seaver is far more extensively produced, the Canadian O-Pee-Chee variant holds tremendous value graded tight at SGC/PSA 9-10 frequently eclipsing $5,000-$10,000.

1968 O-Pee-Chee Nolan Ryan: Ryan made his major league debut at age 19 in 1966 but entered superstardom later on. His ’68 O-Pee-Chee remains a notable first card from his early Angels period. Tightly graded copies in the PSA 9-10 range currently bring up to $3,000-$5,000 depending on auction activity and available supply.

1971 O-Pee-Chee George Brett: Brett burst out of the gates as a star third baseman for the Royals and eventually made his way to Cooperstown. Compared to his more common ’74 Topps rookie, high grade copies of his ’71 O-Pee-Chee debut are prized by vintage collectors willing to pay over $1,000.

1956 O-Pee-Chee Roberto Alomar: Not truly a rookie since Alomar broke in briefly in 1988-1989, but his ’56 O-Pee-Chee was issued during his early peak years anchoring second base for the Blue Jays dynasty clubs of the early ’90s. Considered one of the best fielding second basemen ever, PSA/SGC 9s trade for $1,000-3,000 currently.

Those represent some of the highest valued O-Pee-Chee baseball cards based on long-term sales data and recent auction performance. As with any vintage collecting area, condition is paramount. Lowest graded examples of even the above mentioned star rookies may only yield a couple hundred dollars. But for collectors looking to invest in affordable yet historically significant pieces of cardboard from the 1950s-70s baseball card boom era on a budget, keeping an eye out for O-Pee-Chee issues of all-time greats makes plenty of sense. Armed with this detail, one could potentially recognize a hidden gem and valuable O-Pee-Chee card worth money if seen in the wild or an old collection.


One of the most coveted and valuable 1986 Topps baseball cards is the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. Griffey Jr. went on to have an incredible Hall of Fame career and is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. His 1986 Topps rookie card, which has the card number 116, regularly sells for thousands of dollars in near-mint to mint condition. In a PSA 10 Gem Mint grade, Griffey Jr.’s 1986 rookie card has sold for over $25,000 and the price continues climbing higher as his legend grows. The card holds exceptional value because it captures Griffey Jr. at the very start of his legendary career and rookie cards for iconic players will always be in high demand.

Another extremely valuable 1986 Topps card is the Roger Clemens rookie card. Clemens, like Griffey Jr., also went on to have an outstanding Hall of Fame career and his rookie card number is 281. In top grades of PSA 8 to PSA 10, the Clemens rookie card has sold for $4,000-$15,000 depending on condition. What makes it especially rare and sought after is that Topps only produced his rookie card in limited quantity in 1986 as Clemens didn’t make his MLB debut until midway through the 1984 season. It’s one of the most scarce Topps rookie cards from the 1980s as a result. Any mint condition example of the Clemens rookie would be a valuable find decades after the set was originally released.

In addition to rookie cards of future all-time greats, other 1986 Topps cards that have gained immense value include stars from that era who went on to have incredible careers. One of those is the Barry Bonds card numbered to 474. Bonds had already put together a few strong MLB seasons by 1986 but hadn’t yet entered his prime and reached that unprecedented level that would make him arguably the greatest hitter of all time. His card sells for $500-900+ in high grades today. Another 1986 Topps star who long appreciated in value is Don Mattingly. His card is numbered to 168 and has earned Mattingly notoriety as one of the most consistent hitters of the 1980s. In top condition, his 1986 Topps card can reach well over $1000.

Two other position player cards from the 1986 Topps set that often demand four-figure prices are Rickey Henderson’s (card #610) and Tim Raines’ (card #582) rookie cards. Both were already exciting speedsters and base stealers in 1986 and went on to Hall of Fame careers. Raines arguably never got his full due but he was an integral piece on Montreal’s teams. The scarcity and historical significance of their rookie cards maintain strong prices decades later. On the pitching side, Dwight Gooden’s card numbered 35 has also gained tremendous value in the ensuing years. His 1984 and 1985 seasons established him as one of the best young power pitchers in baseball before substance abuse problems derailed his career prematurely.

Some of the 1986 Topps cards that have appreciated most substantially over the past 35+ years and hold the highest values today are the rookies of future superstars Ken Griffey Jr. and Roger Clemens. High-grade samples of their iconic rookie cards can each sell for over $15,000-$25,000 now. Other enormously valuable 1986 Topps cards feature childhood heroes like Barry Bonds, positional legends like Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Don Mattingly, and young phenoms like Dwight Gooden. Their on-field accomplishments, Hall of Fame careers, and the simple rarity to pack such a valuable trading card in the 1980s all contribute to the substantial prices that top 1986 Topps cards can command in the present-day collecting market.


Baseball cards are assigned numerical grades by professional grading companies to indicate their condition and quality. The highest possible grade a card can receive is Gem Mint 10, while heavily worn or damaged cards will grade much lower. Grade 9 falls right in the middle as an above average grade.

To understand what a grade 9 baseball card represents, it’s important to know how the grading process works. Professional graders at companies like PSA, BGS, and SGC carefully examine each card under bright lighting against very strict standards. They analyze factors like centering, corners, edges, and surface quality with magnifying glasses to determine just how “mint” the card appears.

Cards that grade a 9 still look quite fresh and new, showing very minimal signs of wear. The corners will be sharp and the edges well-defined with no creasing or rubbing. There may be a faint production imperfection or two, but overall the card is bright, clean, and appealing to the naked eye. When it comes to centering, which measures how perfectly centered the photograph on the front of the card is within the border, a grade 9 card will likely be off just a few percentage points in one direction but not severely off-center.

On the surface of a grade 9 card, you shouldn’t see any scratches, blobs, indentations, or distractions under close inspection. At most there may be a light fingerprint or some very faint printing irregularities/dots that don’t detract from the card’s attractiveness. The colors will be brilliant and the card stock sturdy without bends, waves or soft corners bringing down the grade. Overall it presents as a excellent example that’s clearly not perfect mint but still maintains a very nice condition befitting its place as a solid mid-range grade.

In terms of rarity and demand in the marketplace, a PSA/BGS/SGC 9 baseball card is quite common since most modern cards grade in the 8-9 range on average if taken care of properly. It still carries a notable premium compared to raw, ungraded cards or those receiving substantially lower sub-9 condition grades. Collectors want to ensure the cards in their collections are well preserved and at minimum a solid grade 9 allows for that. Top vintage cards that attain a true gem mint 9 can still fetch hundreds or thousands depending on the player and set year.

When slabbing (encapsulating) cards, grading companies also write detailed identifiers on the fronts of the holders to justify the grade and provide full transparency. A PSA 9 baseball card holder, for instance, will state “Very Fine-Mint: Sharply corners, no issues” or similar wording that aligns with the strict criteria expected of a solid mid-range grade. This lets buyers and sellers comprehend exactly what they are getting at a glance just from the published grade.

A grade 9 baseball card represents a true above average specimen that is clearly well-cared for and maintained its condition nicely without serious flaws. It certainly shows wear commensurate with its age but still maintains a crisp, untarnished appearance that is the mark of a carefully preserved and highly desirable classic or modern collectible card. While not pristine perfect mint, receiving a trusted 9 grade from the top authentication companies ensures a card will retain excellent eye appeal and hold strong value.


The 1974 Topps baseball set is considered one of the most iconic sets in the history of the hobby. It was a time of transition as many of the stars from the 1960s were finishing their careers while a new generation of talent was emerging. Some of the rookie cards in this set would go on to become hugely valuable. While there are a few factors that determine card value such as player performance, popularity, and card condition, here are some of the most valuable 1974 Topps cards based on PSA 10 Gem Mint prices:

Nolan Ryan (#205): As one of the most intimidating and dominant pitchers ever, it’s no surprise that Nolan Ryan’s rookie card is the most valuable from the 1974 set. His expressive deliveries and record-breaking strikeouts made him a fan favorite. In PSA 10 condition, his rookie card recently sold for over $100,000 making it one of the most expensive modern baseball cards period. What makes it even more sought after is that there was low production on his card within the set.

George Brett (#250): George Brett had a long and storied career with the Kansas City Royals highlighted by a .305 career batting average and winning the 1980 MLB batting title with a .390 average. That success has translated to a very strong demand for his rookie card. High grade PSA 10 versions regularly sell for $15,000-$20,000 due to his iconic status within the game.

Don Sutton (#157): “Shuttey” Don Sutton was one of the most durable and consistent pitchers across the 1970s and 1980s. He amassed over 300 career wins and had 6 All-Star appearances. While not quite as flashy as Nolan Ryan, his sustained excellence and playing career until 1988 keeps his rookie card highly valuable in the $8,000+ range for a PSA 10.

Bert Blyleven (#265): Similar to Sutton, Blyleven racked up impressive counting stats including over 3,700 strikeouts and 287 wins despite toiling on mostly bad teams. He’s since become a Hall of Famer which has given his rookie card a nice boost in demand. In top PSA 10 condition, it now sells for $6,000+ due to his wider recognition.

Mike Schmidt (#397): The “Snapman” went on to have a first ballot Hall of Fame career primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies that saw him win 10 Gold Gloves and 3 MVP awards. He’s considered one of the greatest third basemen ever. In high grades his 1974 rookie card has surpassed the $5,000 price tag.

Rollie Fingers (#322): While not a true rookie card, 1974 was Rollie Fingers’ first card with the Oakland A’s after previous issues as a San Diego Padre. He would help transform the closer role and win the 1981 AL MVP and Cy Young awards. In PSA 10 condition his first A’s card sells for $4,000+ now.

There are numerous other valuable and desirable rookie cards in the 1974 set such as Lou Brock, Gary Carter, Tom Seaver, and Dave Winfield. overall, strong prices are found across the board for stars and rookie talent from this iconic vintage Topps release. With the mix of established legends and players who were just starting their careers in 1974, this set holds an especially unique lens into that transitionary period in baseball which continues to drive collector and investor appeal for these classic cardboard keepsakes today. The players, designs, and the stories they tell ensure these 1974 Topps baseball cards will remain among the most widely collected issues in the hobby.


In 2023, there will be several excellent baseball card options to consider collecting across both modern and vintage sets. With new rookie stars continuing to emerge and historic legends appreciating in value, the hobby remains as strong as ever. Let’s take a look at some of the top baseball cards collectors should keep an eye on over the next year.

For modern cards, one of the most coveted rookie cards will undoubtedly be Grapefinch’s Tatis Jr. Prizm Orange Refractor rookie from 2018. As one of the game’s brightest young stars, Fernando Tatis Jr.’s on-field accomplishments have cemented this as one of the must-own cards in any collection. With a near-perfect 10 career WAR already at age 24, Tatis’ upside is limitless. As he continues producing All-Star caliber seasons, expect this card to climb well above its current $800+ price tag.

Speaking of young sluggers, Wander Franco’s Topps Chrome Refractory rookie from 2021 should also maintain strong collector interest. After a monster campaign that saw him hit .288 with 7 homers in just 70 games, Franco announced his arrival as a true five-tool talent. His rookie cards have already gained over 200% in the last year, and more gains appear likely as he establishes himself as a perennial MVP candidate for the rising Rays. Grading companies like PSA could drive additional interest and appreciation here as well.

Rookies aren’t the only modern cards worth watching either. Shohei Ohtani’s uniquely high-impact two-way skills have made virtually anything featuring the AL MVP equally as desirable. His 2021 Topps Fire Red Parallel /99 and Silver Pack Refractor /70 parallels especially stand out for their rarity and flashy design elements. As Ohtani cements his case as the best all-around player since Babe Ruth, these short-printed cards are sure to be in high demand.

Vintage collectors should monitor several iconic pieces as well. For starters, any high-grade copy of Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps rookie card should remain one of the priciest and most coveted vintage cards on the market. Graded examples have recently sold north of $2M, highlighting its legend and universal appeal. Mantle’s 1953 Bowman color or any of his pre-rookie cards from 1951-52 also hold incredible value recognized by collectors worldwide.

Another vintage legend poised for major appreciation is the T206 Honus Wagner. As one of the rarest and most desired cards ever printed over 100 years ago, any high-quality Wagner example will certainly attract serious bids from the hobby’s biggest spenders. Just one PSA NM-MT 8 copy sold for $3.25M in 2021, underscoring the card’s untouchable collectibility even at astronomical prices. With the hobby’s continued growth, new height’s seem attainable.

Shifting to other sports legends, collectors would be wise to keep an eye on Roberto Clemente’s 1966 Topps rookie and Willie Mays’ 1952 Bowman color. Both men transcended the game of baseball and still resonate with new generations of fans today. In a market that rewards iconic stars, condition-sensitive examples of these all-timers hold similar potential to the cards previously mentioned.

Newer star power like Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. all boast rookies that could explode over the next calendar year. Still early in their careers but with enormous upside, a big contract extension or MVP season could catapult interest dramatically. Especially for the 2018 Bowman Chrome refractory rookies, high grades will be critical to maximizing returns.

In summary, 2023 shapes up as another banner year for collecting legendary players, new faces of the franchise, and truly iconic vintage cardboard. With so many phenomenal talents shining on the diamond, their corresponding trading cards make for compelling long-term investments. By focusing on the game’s biggest names, highest graded copies, and most influential designs, collectors stand the best chance of selecting materials that maintain relevance for decades to come. The hobby’s bright future depends on preserving its rich history.


When it comes to finding valuable baseball cards, there are a few main things you’ll want to keep an eye out for. The first, and most obvious, is the player featured on the card. Cards featuring legendary players that had fantastic careers almost always hold significance value-wise. Players like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and more recent stars like Mike Trout, are always a safe bet in terms of finding cards that will appeal to collectors.

It’s not just the biggest name players that can yield valuable cards. You’ll also want to consider the player’s rookie card. A rookie card is generally considered a player’s first REAL sports card issued by a major manufacturer, featuring them as an active player in the major leagues. Rookie cards are highly sought after since they were the first card showing that player in the bigs. Some examples of extremely valuable rookie cards include the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card, the 1975 Topps Fred Lynn rookie card, and the 1990 Score Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

In addition to the player, the type and brand of card matters considerably. The biggest and most prestigious sports card manufacturer has always been Topps, who first started making baseball cards in the 1950s. Older Topps cards, especially from the 1950s and 1960s, tend to command the highest prices. Other major manufacturers like Fleer, Leaf, and Upper Deck have also produced valuable rookie and star player cards over the years. When scouting cards to look for, focus your attention on the bigger NFLPA brands that were prolific during the player’s era.

The card’s overall condition or state of preservation is also a major factor that contributes to value. Like any other collectible, the better condition a card is in, the more it will be worth to a serious card collector. When looking at cards, take note of any creases, edges that aren’t sharp anymore, or scratches that impact the surface. Heavy wear or damage can drastically reduce a card’s grade when professionally appraised and accredited, correspondingly lowering its price tag. That’s why mint condition or near mint vintage cards from the sport’s early days are exceedingly rare and valuable.

Card serial numbers, printing variations, and especially autographed or memorabilia cards can also provide value as well. Numbered parallels like refractor, jersey, or autograph cards inserted randomly in packs have lower print runs and thus greater scarcity. Autograph cards signed by the player pictured are particularly sought after by collectors. Exclusive 1/1 printing plates where the card image is etched into metal are other highly coveted serial numbered variations.

While individual player performance doesn’t necessarily affect card value in the same direct way, certain achievements and milestones that became part of baseball history tend to add significance long term. For example, cards from players’ record setting or championship seasons are often seen as more historically relevant by collectors. So cards featuring accomplishments like a rookie of the year season, MVP year, a perfect game, home run record breaking performance, or cards from a World Series victory are more desirable in the marketplace.

Keeping an eye on the auction prices realized for comparable cards on websites like eBay can give you a sense of what different variations and condition levels have sold for recently as well. This historical sales data provides a valuation guide for what qualifies as a high value baseball card to keep or sell based on player, issue year, and specific traits. Long term, the cards expected to continue growing in worth the most also tend to be those tied to the games’s most talented players who revolutionized or reshaped their positions forever with their prowess like Babe Ruth or more contemporary superstars Mike Trout or pitcher Jacob deGrom.

When browsing through card collections or variety packs, pay close attention to the biggest star players throughout history, their especially their rookie cards. Focus on older vintage issues from the sport’s prime manufacturers like Topps in pristine well-preserved condition without flaws. And look for serial numbered parallel versions, autographed cards, and those celebrating legendary performances, milestones, or championship seasons that hold greater historical significance within the game. Ignoring lesser known role players and keeping a value guide in mind can help you identify the baseball cards most suitable to become long-term keepsakes or potentially profitable investments.


The first year that Upper Deck baseball cards were produced was 1989. Prior to Upper Deck entering the baseball card market, Topps had essentially monopolized the production of new baseball cards each year since the 1950s. In the late 1980s two entrepreneurs named Richard McWilliam and David Beckett saw an opportunity to challenge Topps’ dominance by producing a new brand of higher quality baseball cards.

McWilliam and Beckett had both worked for a toy and game company in the past and recognized that while Topps dominated the baseball card market, they felt the company had become complacent and were no longer innovating or improving the quality of their card designs and production process. McWilliam and Beckett believed that a new company could come in and produce cards that were of a higher graphical standard using newer printing technologies. They also wanted to market the cards more towards older collectors rather than just children.

In 1986, McWilliam and Beckett started working on their plan to launch Upper Deck as a new brand of baseball cards. They scouted out printing plants around the world to find one capable of supporting their vision for a higher quality card product. They eventually settled on a plant in Finland that could produce photo-quality, glossy cards on thicker cardstock. McWilliam and Beckett also hired graphic designers to develop innovative card designs that showed more vibrant colors and captured action shots of players.

They knew raising start-up capital to launch a new baseball card company would be challenging given Topps domination of the market. However, McWilliam was successful in attracting early financial backing from his contacts in the toy and game industry. With roughly $1 million in initial funding, Upper Deck was incorporated in 1988 and began preparations for their highly anticipated first set of cards to be released in 1989.

For their debut 1989 set, Upper Deck signed multi-year exclusive contracts with several star players like Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, and Nolan Ryan to only appear in Upper Deck cards. This gave them huge marketing appeal and cache among collectors. Their cards featured state-of-the-art graphical designs printed on a high quality, thicker cardstock not seen before in the industry. Each pack contained only 12 cards yet cost $1, double the price of a Topps pack, but collectors didn’t seem to mind paying more for the upgraded product.

The 1989 Upper Deck release was a massive success, vastly exceeding even McWilliam and Beckett’s most optimistic projections. While Topps sold around 3.5 billion cards that year, Upper Deck produced only 110 million cards yet captured over 10% of the entire baseball card market. The brand attracted many lapsed adult collectors back to the hobby who were wowed by Upper Deck’s graphical innovations and premium feel. Star rookie cards like Ken Griffey Jr.’s skyrocketed in value, becoming some of the most coveted modern cards ever made.

This sudden success changed the landscape of the baseball card industry overnight. After decades of complacency, Topps was spurred to action to improve it’s own product to better compete. In subsequent years both companies engaged in intense bidding wars over player contracts. By the early 1990s, most star players had shifted to exclusive Upper Deck deals. Meanwhile, a slew of smaller competitors also jumped into the market trying to emulate Upper Deck’s formula.

While McWilliam had envisioned Upper Deck as a boutique brand operating on smaller sales volumes than Topps, their early dominance stunned even him. The company grew rapidly throughout the 1990s as demand remained high. Maintaining quality control on a vastly larger volume scale proved challenging. After a decade of leading innovation in the baseball card industry, Upper Deck’s market share began declining in the late 1990s and early 2000s amid quality and production issues.

Still, Upper Deck left an indelible mark. Their 1989 debut reignited collector passion and changed baseball card design, quality standards, and business practices forever. The brand attracted a whole generation of new collectors and keeps the hobby vibrant to this day. So while its glory years may have passed, Upper Deck deserves the distinction of revolutionizing the baseball card industry when it released its trailblazing inaugural set back in 1989, the first year Upper Deck baseball cards graced the collectibles market.


To accurately assess the value of a complete set of 1992 Topps baseball cards, it’s important to understand several factors that contribute to the set’s overall worth. Topps released 762 total cards as part of their flagship 1992 set, featuring all Major League players and managers as well as team cards and additional promotional inserts. This was one of the larger Topps sets of the 90s era in terms of total card count.

In terms of the condition and completeness of the set, this will obviously have a massive impact on the valuation. A complete base set in pristine near-mint to mint condition, where all cards grade at least an 8 out of 10, could realistically be valued anywhere between $800-$1200 depending on market variables. It’s highly unlikely for a 30 year old set to maintain that level of condition across all 700+ cards. More common grades of very good to near mint (6-8 range) across 90-95% of the set would decrease the value to around $500-800. Any cards graded below a 6 or significant missing/damaged cards would lessen the price tag accordingly.

In addition to condition, another major factor is the inclusion of any valuable key cards or chase cards within the set that are considered above average in demand or value by collectors. The 1992 Topps set does feature some notable rookie cards and stars that could substantially bump up the worth of a complete collection. For example, a mint condition Mike Piazza rookie would add $50-75 alone. Other top rookie and star cards like Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, and Tom Glavine that grade high would each potentially increase the value by $15-30 a piece depending on the specific player/card.

Short prints and error/variation cards that are considered scarce also hold significant value to collectors. The most notable such cards in the 1992 Topps set are the Steve Finley SP (#672) and John Kruk SP (#695), valued around $15-30 each in top condition. Discovering something more obscure and rare like an error/variation card could potentially be valued exponentially higher by the right collector. The presence of any highly valuable individual cards as I’ve outlined would lift the base set price up in reasonable proportion to their worth relative to the rest.

Naturally, the regional market and current demand/popularity for 1990s wax also contributes to the potential resale value long term. Covid-19 remarkably drove up interest and prices for vintage cards over the past couple years, though it has cooled off some recently. Still, 90s sets including 1992 Topps remain very popular with collectors and will likely continue to gain value long term as remaining unopened products disappear. The core fan base and nostalgia for stars of that era ensures steady collector interest in a set like 1992 Topps.

A complete 1992 Topps base set containing around 750 total cards in very good to near mint condition across the board could conservatively garner $500-800 on the current market. Any notable complete rares, stars, or rookies boosting that value up could push the total into the $1000-$1500 range for the right set depending on the player selection and item condition grades. With patience, a superior near-mint to mint quality collection maintained long term will only continue increasing in worth as the product runs dwindle supplying fewer available sets.


One of the most hotly anticipated rookie cards for 2023 is Tampa Bay Rays shortstop and top prospect Xavier Edwards. Edwards was ranked as the 10th best prospect in baseball heading into last season by MLB Pipeline and is expected to make his MLB debut in 2023. He has exceptional speed and contact skills that could make him a perennial all-star. Edwards’ rookie cards from Topps, Panini, and Bowman could hold significant long term value if he develops into the star many scouts envision. Even base rookie cards are commanding over $100 right now in PSA 10 condition from early releases as investors scoop them up.

Another rookie to watch is St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and 2020 first overall draft pick Jordan Walker. The massive third baseman turned pitcher has huge raw power potential and sits in the upper 90s with his fastball already in A-ball. Walker is considered one of the highest ceiling pitching prospects in baseball. If he continues advancing quickly through the minors, his Bowman Chrome and Topps Chrome refractors and autos could exponentially increase in value during a successful rookie campaign in 2023. Many analysts believe Walker has the talent to be a true ace and #1 starter for years which makes any of his rookie parallels from the major brands very intriguing long term holds.

Speaking of the Cardinals, look for the rookie cards of touted second baseman Masyn Winn to begin gaining traction as well. The former first round pick turned in an outstanding year in high A ball in 2022 and looks poised for a promotion to double A to start 2023. Winn has five-tool talent with impressive speed, defense, and developing power. If he starts hitting for average at the higher levels next season, his cards, especially autographed rookie cards, could spike in demand from collectors. Winn will still be eligible for Topps Chrome Update and Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects in 2023 which should give investors several chances to acquire his rookie issues.

Two young hitters who turned heads big time in 2022 and could build upon that success next season are Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez and Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris II. Rodriguez slammed 21 home runs after his promotion to the majors while batting .267 with impressive defense and stolen base abilities. He finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Harris batted .297 with 19 home runs and exceptional defense to help power Atlanta’s run to the NL East title at just 21 years old. Both players finished top five in Rookie of the Year voting and look like budding stars. With that in mind, their 2022 Topps Chrome Update, Bowman Chrome, and Topps Finest rookie refractors and autos seem poised to rise in value if they can build upon their debut seasons next year.

A player who may break out in the majors next season is Baltimore Orioles catching prospect Adley Rutschman. After being the top pick in the 2019 draft, Rutschman battled injuries but performed very well in 80 games for the Orioles after his promotion in 2022. He displayed all-around offensive and defensive skills and should solidify his place as Baltimore’s everyday catcher in 2023. If Rutschman develops into the perennial all-star caliber catcher that scouts foresaw, his highly coveted 2019 Bowman Draft Chrome autos and refractors will be in huge demand. Even his 2022 Topps Chrome Update RC could jump up nicely with a full stellar season under his belt. Collectors love standout players at the premium catching position.

Two power arms that could make their MLB debuts to acclaim next season are Milwaukee Brewers prospect Ethan Small and Cleveland Guardians hurler Daniel Espino. Small was one of the hardest throwers in the minors in 2022 with four above average pitches and sits in the high 90s with his heater. Espino similarly overmatches hitters with a 100mph fastball and nasty breaking stuff. Both were first rounders still on the brink of the bigs. If either makes the jump and finds success as a starter or bullpen arm next season, look for their 2020 Topps Chrome and Bowman Chrome autos to spike in demand among diehard collectors. Such cards may still be obtainable now in the $100-300 range but could multiply in value with sustained MLB dominance.

When scouting the top rookie cards to target for potential gains in 2023, focus on the eligible rookies who have star-caliber talents and a clear path to significant MLB playing time and impact next season. This includes players like Xavier Edwards, Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, Julio Rodriguez, Michael Harris, Adley Rutschman, Ethan Small, and Daniel Espino. If even a few of these names emerge as the real deals, their vintage rookie issues could prove to be very sound long term investments for savvy collectors. Always do thorough research on a player’s skill set and trajectory before wagering on any rookie card’s future value though. Injuries and other unforeseen factors can always impact card prices up or down.