What are the Best Baseball Cards to Buy?

Best cards to collect of top current and retired baseball players.

Getting started with collecting baseball cards can be a little overwhelming because there’s so many different boxes and sets but focusing on a few popular players is a good place to start. Rookie cards are some of the best baseball cards to buy because they retain value over time.

Continue reading below to learn more about the things to consider when buying baseball cards, or click here to skip to the players worth collecting.

What is the Best Baseball Card Brand?

There’s a variety of sports card brands, but Topps is the clear choice for modern baseball cards. Besides the licensing agreement that many other brands have with the MLB Player’s Association, Topps has an exclusive licensing agreement with the league itself. This makes Topps the only card company that can print the actual names and logos of MLB teams. Panini and Leaf also make baseball cards, but the lack of an MLB licensing agreement decreases their value.

Which Topps Sets Offer the Best Value?

Topps releases over 50 different sets each baseball season, but many aren’t worth your time based on the expected return on investment. The flagship Topps and Bowman releases are widely popular with collectors, and they’re often the first chance to collect players’ rookie and prospect cards. For Topps, these are the Series 1, Series 2, and Update releases. For Bowman, it’s Bowman and Bowman Draft.

You’ll generally find a better ROI on the Chrome versions of flagship releases, so investors should stay away from the overprinted paper products. This means that the best baseball cards to buy are found in the annual Topps Chrome, Topps Chrome Update, Bowman Chrome, and Bowman Draft releases. (Bowman Draft is the outlier here. That release carries both paper and Chrome cards.)

Investors should also prioritize low numbered parallels and autographs. The fewer copies of a card that are out there, the more valuable it will be. Base cards don’t have much value because the print run is seemingly endless.

Investing in Sealed Boxes vs. Singles

When trying to decide if you want to invest in sealed boxes or specific cards, think of it this way: sealed boxes are an investment in the overall rookie class, singles are a narrower investment in that one player.

Generally speaking, investing in sealed boxes offers a higher return on investment than ripping packs and hoping to hit a big card. As the supply of the product dwindles over time, many investors will pay a premium for sealed boxes on the secondary market.

Opening sealed baseball card boxes with the goal of selling the cards inside carry a great deal of risk because the cards inside usually have less value on their own than the sealed box itself. If you want to invest in specific players, you’re better off skipping the wax and buying singles themselves.

What Are the Best Baseball Cards to Buy in 2024?

Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are two of the most popular baseball players currently playing. For retired players, you can’t go wrong with Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter. These are players that will always be popular – Griffey and Jeter are already Hall of Famers, and Ohtani and Trout aren’t far away.

Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar from Japan, was PSA’s most graded player in 2023. There’s no shortage of Ohtani cards for any budget, including his 2018 rookie cards. The more affordable options include those found in 2018 Topps Living or one of the many 2018 Topps Now cards.

The two most highly coveted and valuable Mike Trout cards are his 2009 1st Bowman and 2011 Topps Update rookie card. While those cards can get expensive, there are more affordable Mike Trout rookie cards from 2011 sets like Bowman Draft, Bowman’s Best, and Topps Finest.

Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1989 rookie cards are firmly in the junk wax era, so ungraded rookie cards are available for just a few dollars and PSA 9s are still very affordable. Griffey’s most popular rookie card is the 1989 Upper Deck Star Rookie, but Topps Traded, Fleer, and Donruss are other good options.

Most of Derek Jeter’s rookie cards are easy to find at reasonable prices, but one card stands above the rest. The 1993 SP Derek Jeter was a premium offering from Upper Deck. Because the front of the card is made of foil, it’s incredibly rare to find Gem Mint graded copies of this card. This has pushed PSA 10 prices for the 1993 SP Derek Jeter into the six figures. If you’re looking for more affordable options, Jeter also has rookie cards in the 1993 releases from Topps, Bowman, and Score.

The Best Baseball Cards to Buy

If you want to invest in sealed boxes, the best products to buy are the Chrome versions of the flagship Topps and Bowman releases, as well as some other high-end Topps releases. If you’d rather invest in specific players, the best baseball cards to buy are those of Hall of Famers and current superstars.

Whatever you prefer, there are plenty of options for all budgets. Check out the AA Mint Cards online store to view our large selection of baseball cards.