Aaron Judge Most Valuable Rookie Cards & Buying Guide
In 2022, Aaron Judge reclaimed his position as a top hobby investment thanks to a Roger Maris homerun chase deep into the season and an AL MVP award awaiting at season’s end.
Judge approached this rarefied air his rookie season, after hitting 52 HRs and winning the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year while finishing as runner-up to Jose Altuve for MVP. Injuries have cost Judge time on the field and reduced his numbers across all categories, including card values. Yet he’s on pace to finish with better numbers than 2017 and his cards are on the hot list once again.
The 6-foot-7 outfielder who wears #99 and roams the Yankees Stadium outfield in front of the Bleacher Creatures and the “Judge’s chambers” has achieved mythological status (whether he returns in pinstripes in 2023 or not) . At 282 pounds, he’s officially the largest player to take centerfield not only Yankee Stadium but any outfield. Judge is also the second fastest player to hit 200 HRs, doing it in 671 games.
Since there are more than three dozen cards that can be considered rookies, some of Judge’s cards are still attainable for many collectors. It’s safe to say Judge’s cards are going to experience another big boost when (not if) he wins the 2022 AL MVP. And an even bigger boost if he hits 61+ HRs or wins a World Series ring. All of this adds up to a player whose cards are a wise long-term investment.
- Avg. – .280
- HR – 206 (and counting)
- RBI – 471 (and counting)
- 2013 1st round draft pick
- 2017 AL Rookie of the Year
- 2017 Homerun Derby Winner
- 4x All-Star
- 2019 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year
Most Valuable Aaron Judge Rookie Card
- 2013 Bowman Chrome Superfractor BCA-AJ (1 /1)
- 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Pick Auto – Orange Refractor BCA-AJ
- 2017 Topps Heritage Real One #AJ Auto Red Ink ( /68)
- 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks and Prospects BDPP19
- 2017 Topps #287 (Bat Under Arm)
2013 Bowman Chrome Superfractor BCA-AJ (1 /1)
- Value: $324,000 (Auction Sale, May 2022)
It’s essential to include Judge’s most expensive card, even though it’s near impossible for any of us to own. There’s only one. It did sell recently, at a May 2022 auction for $324,000, for more than double its sale price in a 2020 auction ($161,300). Bowman Chrome’s first baseball set was released in 1997 and the brand’s popularity has only increased.
Some of this card’s value could be attributed to a legendary origin story. It starts with the printing in 2013, three years before Judge ever saw the majors. Apparently, Topps made the card as a promotional item and sent the card to Judge as a gift. It was never supposed to hit the market. The generous player autographed it and eventually the card made its way into a collector’s hands.
The back of the card shows the serial number 1/1 in the left-hand corner, and is chock full of fun facts about Judge–including that he stood 6-foot-3 by eighth grade and “Won’t be outworked.” It also shows his 2013 stats at Fresno State, in which he batted .369 and was a first-team WAC player for the third year in a row.
This card is graded by Beckett Grading Services (BGS) as a 9.5 overall. The edges have a subgrade of 9.5 and the corners are graded at 9. The autograph’s grade is a 10.
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Pick Auto – Orange Refractor BCA-AJ
- Value: $31,200 (Auction Sale, May 2022)
After Judge’s hot 2022 start, this BGS 10 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor also sold in May 2022 for $31,200. Although it’s the same photo as the Bowman Chrome Superfractor going for six figures, this one is slightly less rare. There are 25 of the Orange Refractor parallels.
Four of these Orange parallels received an overall BGS 10, each with a 9.5 in one of the four grading subcategories. PSA has graded three of these cards with two receiving a Gem-Mint 10.
In addition to the 25 Orange Refractors that exist, there are several other parallels of this card, from Blue Refractors to Purple Ice. This number of variations allows for a range of cards at different prices. A Blue refractor PSA 10 sold twice in 2017, the year Judge hit 52 HRs and won Rookie of the Year. The first time it sold for $6,000. Three months later, though, it sold for $1,975.
2017 Topps Heritage Real One #AJ Auto Red Ink ( /68)
- Value: $4,950 (Auction Sale, August 2020)
There are only 68 copies of this card, as illustrated right next to Judge’s autograph in red marker. This one comes from Judge’s first full year on the Yankees. The most recent sale was in early August 2020 for $4,950. BGS has graded 19 of these cards with two receiving a 10. PSA has graded 16 of them with 13 scoring a Gem-Mint 10.
There are several variations of Judge’s Topps Heritage rookie card, including one in which Judge is pictured side-by-side with Yankee teammate Tyler Austin. Fun fact: Austin and Judge hit back-to-back home runs in their first Major League at-bats, the only teammates to ever do this in the same game. That rookie card’s value doesn’t match the rarity of that feat, though, as it’s not autographed and can be bought for less than $100.
PSA Auction prices
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks and Prospects BDPP19
- Value: $678 (Auction Sale, August 2022)
No, it’s not deja vu again and again. This is the third time you’ve seen this pic of Judge, which is another indication of Bowman Chrome’s popularity. What’s the difference? No autograph here. Also, this card has a much bigger print run. Both make a big difference when it comes to a price tag far below the other Bowman Chromes.Still, it’s a highly desirable card for collectors. The clean lines give it a nice aesthetic and the white borders help prevent concerns about chipping. This is card #1 in Bowman’s set, indicating the company recognizes Judge’s importance.
PSA has graded more than 2,000 of this card and has awarded a Gem-Mint 10 to more than 1,100. The most recent sale of a PSA 10 was in early August 2022 for $678. As for BGS, 810 have been graded with two receiving the Black 10, which is awarded when a card receives a 10 in all four of the grading subcategories BGS uses.
2017 Topps #287 (Bat Under Arm)
- Value: $1,035 (Auction Sale, April 2019)
Topps issued rookie cards with several different photos of Judge, but this is among the hardest to find. PSA has graded 16 of these cards with eight receiving a Gem-Mint 10. The most recent card with the Judge dugout picture sold for $1,035 in April 2019.
Another photo variation shows Judge catching the ball near the outfield wall. More than 3,000 of that version have received a PSA 10 grade and it can be bought for less than $200. However, a Chrome Sapphire version of that card has gone for nearly $1,000.
There’s also a version of this card that has Judge’s autograph and a serial number error. Eight of these cards have been graded, with four of them receiving a Gem-Mint 10 from PSA 10. One sold for $1,300 in January 2021.
Other valuable Aaron Judge card
- 2018 Topps Living Set #1
- 2018 National Treasures Dual Patch Game Gear
- 2021 Project 70 #110 (Jeff Staple – Artist Proof)
2018 Topps Living #1
- Value: $82.72 – Average Auction Price
Aaron Judge is Card #1 in the Topps Living set that began March 2018. A living set is one that keeps going with an endless checklist, mostly featuring active players. This will be Judge’s only Living Set card as a Yankee, though. A player gets one card unless he switches to a new team, so that could happen with Judge’s pending free agency. Retired players only get one card. The design adapts the Topps 1953 style with a photo-realistic drawing by artist Mayumi Seto on the front, and a facsimile autograph on the back. On its website, Topps releases a new group of cards that remain available for one week before hitting the secondary market. Topps printed 13,256 Judge cards. As of August 2022, you could get a PSA 10 for less than $100.