It’s been a year full of records for Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and his baseball card market is no exception. Much like the MLB teams that are set to bid for the impending free agent’s services this coming offseason, there has been a frenzy within the collectibles hobby for a piece of Judge as he puts the finishing touches on his historic season.
One of Judge’s most coveted cards, his 2013 Bowman Chrome Autograph, numbered to just five, sold for $180,000 via Goldin Auctions on Saturday, setting the record for any of the slugger’s cards. The card is graded a gem mint 9.5/10 by Beckett, matching the highest grade for the rare card according to Beckett’s census reporting.
The sale comes just over a month after Mariners rookie star Julio Rodriguez’s version of the same card fetched $276,000 at auction. The speculative market has continued to be a massive aspect of modern baseball card collecting as Wander Franco’s Bowman Chrome auto /5 sold for nearly $200,000 in May of 2021, prior to his MLB debut.
It is a wild concept that the cards of lesser-proven players could be worth more than the current MVP favorite, who is threatening to break Roger Maris Yankees single season home run record, but at a six-figure investment, collectors are hoping to scoop up baseball’s next multi-million dollar card.
No matter how good Judge has been this season, it is easier to dream on the endless outcomes of a 21-year-old Julio Rodriguez or Wander Franco, in the hope that they can ascend to heights similar to Mike Trout, whose 2009 Bowman Chrome Auto /5 sold for $922,000 in 2020 and 1 of 1 Superfractor auto set records when it sold for $3.94 million around the same time.
As someone who is more risk-averse, I’d stick with a 30-year-old Aaron Judge at a discount over the two promising youngsters because odds are, none of them will become Trout and where their cards are priced at in their first season leaves little room to run unless they become one of the all-time greats.
Regardless, Judge collectors have hit it big with his performance this year. Even if they didn’t have six figures to spare. His Topps Chrome Rookie card PSA 9 has jumped from around $20 before the season to more than $80 recently on eBay, while almost any Judge-related baseball card has multiplied in value.
Much like Judge betting on himself by turning down more than $200 million heading into his final season before hitting free agency, collectors who bet on a big 2022 from the Yankees slugger are reaping the rewards.