Contributor: John Dudley
Normally this is the week where I preview the upcoming month’s releases. I started writing that and realized the bulk of what I’m excited about in the months ahead are baseball products. A large part of that stems from the uncertainty around football releases with the NFLPA ditching Panini and instructing them to stop manufacturing and distributing product. Really though, the main reason is because baseball is just having a great season with a great rookie class.
In honor of the MLB season, I thought it’d be more fun to figure out the top ten upcoming baseball releases to watch out for. In doing so, I came up with two lists. The first list is based on how big of an impact each set will have on the baseball market. The second is based strictly on my own excitement levels for my personal collecting enjoyment. It should be noted that Topps Chrome Logofractor and Cosmic Chrome are both live now and not eligible for these lists.
The Hobby’s Top 10
1. Bowman Draft- Bowman is one of the most ripped and graded products every year and the Draft version is normally the most loaded and most sought-after. This year looks to follow that trend and adds in the possibility of hitting Tom Brady Bowman 1st autos. Even without those, this would be the biggest product left on the calendar. With them, there is no room for debate as to what had to top this list. No other product will cause the baseball grading volume to spike 20%-30%. This is the easy winner.
2. Stadium Club- I was surprised to put this second, but I’ve seen more questions about Stadium Club’s release than any other. For many, this is the best set of the year. With a deep rookie class, this set should be better than ever. It’s also bolstered by the fact that it always delivers a great-looking quality product. There are no sure things in sports cards, but Stadium Club looking great is as close as you’ll get to one. The other is that I’ll pull horrible autos from this product. It won’t stop me from snagging some though.
3. Topps Update- This is lacking a singular chase rookie to drive hype, but it will have nice secondary rookies, Rookie Debut cards, and a few solid underlooked rookies getting their first Flagship cards. The big hope here is that Topps uses some great photography to make a few of those secondary rookies must-have cards. At the end of the day though, Flagship releases are always a big deal in the hobby and there will be plenty to chase here.
4. Topps Gilded- Along with Cosmic, Gilded was one of the bright new additions to Topps’ stables last year. I’d argue that the Gilded autograph cards were the nicest produced last season. Fans caught on quickly last year and wax prices quickly soared. I don’t think fans will be caught by surprise again though. The big question is if Topps can recreate the magic or if Gilded is a one-hit wonder. I’m betting on the former.
5. Topps Chrome Update- See Topps Update but add the word shiny in here and there.
6. Bowman Chrome- Chrome is more hit or miss than Bowman Draft, but it’s one folks shouldn’t sleep on. Expect SGC to offer the $9-a-card grading special with this one which should help drive attention. This could be a great product to bargain hunt as collectors will be looking forward to Draft. There will be some steals to be had here.
7. Allen & Ginter- Ginter is a love It or hate it type product with more collectors falling into the love it camp each year. For the record, I’m in the love camp. Ginter drives discussion each year and pushes the boundaries of what a card can be while simultaneously paying homage to some of the very first trading cards ever made. It’s a neat trick that only Ginter can pull off.
8. Topps Brooklyn- This will be the favorite for a lot of folks who bother to open it. Its smaller print run keeps the quality up, but also keeps it from ranking higher on this list. The cards are ultra-high quality and the set consistently has the top auto checklist each year IMO. It also features only on-card autos adding to the value. Throw in reasonable prices, and you’ve got a winner every year.
9. Topps Holiday- This set causes buzz every December and then gets forgotten about. I expect this year to be even more sought-after than normal with what should be a strong rookie checklist and the fact that Topps upped their game on the design for last year’s product. Autos from Santa are always big sellers, but the real gems are the Holiday SPs with fun holiday-themed variations.
10. Finest Flashbacks- I think Flashbacks has been better than regular Finest every year it has been issued. This year has the chance to be great as it uses the intriguing 1996 Finest set for its inspiration. Like Brooklyn, the smaller print run and lower visibility keeps it from ranking higher, but the smaller print run keeps boxes loaded and the cards desirable.
1. Topps T206 High Series- My favorite set to collect.
2. Topps Holiday- I’m a sucker for the Holiday Sps.
3. Bowman Draft- I tend to only buy Bowman singles,
4. Topps Brooklyn- Great autos every year.
5. Leaf Trinity- The loan unlicensed product on these lists is an absolute gem each year.
6. Topps 3D- I think this is one of the coolest sets each year. I’m in the minority though.
7. Topps Mini- The low print run means packs of this are stuffed with parallels. Great odds for a 1/1.
8. Stadium Club- My bad luck keeps this ranked low.
9. Allen & Ginter- It’s always fun to get weird with Ginter.
10. Topps Sapphire- 2022 Topps Sapphire was abysmal, 2022 Update was strong. Inconsistency keeps this from ranking higher.
Those are my lists. What major product did I overlook (I’m sure there is a glaring one). What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you haven’t checked out the insanely useful Card Shop Live app, what are you waiting for? It’s great for breaks, personal rips, singles, and hobby info. The breakers are all heavily vetted so no shenanigans here.