Our Picks For The Top Aaron Judge Rookie Cards

Aaron Judge has officially broken the American League all-time home run record while putting up an absolute monster season for a New York Yankees team that is bound for the playoffs. He’s likely the American League MVP and is close to a Triple Crown.

But who is Judge? What about his baseball cards? And his rookie cards? And are these cards good investments?

Check out the huge selection of Aaron Judge rookie cards on eBay

Who is Aaron Judge?

Aaron Judge is a 6-7, 282-pound, 30-year-old outfielder for the New York Yankees. He burst onto the scene in 2017, breaking the rookie home run record with 52 round trippers. In addition to winning the Rookie of the Year award that year, he finished 2nd in the MVP voting.

A few highly productive but injury-plagued years followed, but a strong and healthy 2021 saw him finish 4th in the MVP race. Then 2022 arrived, and Judge upped his game to another level.

As of this writing, Judge is not only challenging for the Triple Crown, but also on the cusp of breaking the Yankees’ and American League home run record of 61.

Say what you want about the importance of that particular home run record…I for one find it a bit silly to call it the “real home run record” and ignore 30 years of the game’s history…but it’s a monster season regardless.

Judge has 218 career home runs and 494 career RBI as of this writing to go with a .284/.393/.584 line, good for a .977 OPS and 162 OPS+. He has been worth 36.3 WAR in his career, which is already leading to some early Hall of Fame chatter.

Aaron Judge

Judge and McGwire

While writing this article, I was struck by the similarity between Judge and another former oversize slugger, Mark McGwire. McGwire was 6’5” and 215 pounds, while Judge is 6’7” and 282 pounds.

Both had a taste of major leagues the year before their full rookie year, hitting under .200. They followed that with monster rookie seasons which saw them win the Rookie of the Year award, place among the top 6 in the MVP, and capture the imagination of baseball fans everywhere. These happened 30 years apart, in 1987 and 2017, respectively

Both had injury issues before eventually getting healthy and making a run at the single-season home run record. Of course, McGwire has admitted to steroids use, which explains why his home run chase came at a more advanced age than Judge’s.

McGwire was a hobby star both early and late in his career, although PED use has tarnished his legacy and complicated his Hall of Fame candidacy. So, it feels to me that calling Judge a “once-in-a-generation talent” is probably accurate.

2017 Topps on Demand Then & Now Aaron Judge & Mark McGwire

Check the latest prices of the Mark Mcgwire and Aaron Judge 2017 Topps “Then and Now” card

The 20-teens: A weird era for rookie cards

Back in the olden days, like before the year 2000, it was pretty easy to figure out which card was a player’s rookie card. It was his first card. End of story.

Sure, there were some who’d argue about Extended Rookie Cards (XRC) vs. Rookie Card (RC)*, but the card to chase was typically the first one released.

Later, a player’s first card, even if it was a Draft Pick or Prospect card, was considered the rookie card.

In 2006, MLB mandated that a card would not be a true rookie card unless the player had appeared on their team’s 25 (now 26) man major league roster. While this has brought clarity in some ways, companies like Bowman, Panini, and Donruss still print pre-rookie cards of many players, muddying the waters.

Judge is an example of this muddiness. His first card appears in 2013. He got a taste of the big leagues in 2016. His rookie cards are technically in 2017.

* – XRC referred to a player’s first card in a Traded or Update set, while a RC was in a set released in packs. An example would be Barry Bonds 1987 RCs, and 1986 XRCs.

Aaron Judge Signed Baseball

The Aaron Judge baseball card catalog

According to the Trading Card Database, Aaron Judge has appeared on 12,877 cards over his career.

As mentioned, Judge made his first appearance on a card in 2013. His rookie cards are in 2017. In total, Judge had 725 cards from 2013-2016, meaning he had a LOT of cards before his official rookie card. Crazy! As of this writing, Judge has already appeared on 1,160 cards in 2022, with more sets still to be released.

Top Aaron Judge rookie cards (and pre-rookie cards)

Judge had 1,953 cards produced in 2017, his official rookie year. Any attempt to whittle that list down to a handful of cards is going to be a challenge. Instead of listing Judge’s most expensive rookie cards, I’m going to present a mix of the ultra-rare and expensive along with some more affordable cards.

Your list of top Judge Rookie cards may differ. If you have a favorite Aaron Judge rookie card, Topps or Bowman, let us know at card_lines on Twitter.

2017 Topps Heritage Real One Auto Red Ink Aaron Judge

Let’s start things off with a real gem and an incredibly difficult pull. The 2017 Topps Heritage Real One Auto Red Ink is limited to 68 copies and recent sales include PSA 10 copies for $20,000.

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2017 Topps Heritage Real One Auto Red Ink Aaron Judge16PSA 10 = 13PSA 10 = $20,000

Find 2017 Topps Heritage Red Ink autos on eBay

2017 Topps Heritage Real One Auto Red Ink Aaron Judge

2017 Topps Chrome Red Refractor Auto Aaron Judge

68 autographed copies just too much for you? The 2017 Topps Chrome Red Refractor Auto Aaron Judge has only five total copies, with two copies graded by PSA (both PSA 10s). This is a sweet, hard-to-find Aaron Judge Topps rookie card and likely a highlight of any collection.

Find a 2017 Topps Chrome auto refractor of Aaron Judge

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2017 Topps Chrome Red Refractor Auto Aaron Judge2PSA 10 = 2PSA 10 = $25,000
2017 Topps Chrome Red Refractor Auto Aaron Judge

2017 Bowman Chrome Aaron Judge “Batting”

Coming down in the range of the more affordable, the 2017 Bowman Chrome “Batting” is the base Chrome offering, and is more widely available and reasonably priced. With an Image Variation “In Dugout” and rainbow of Refractors, there are escalating options if you want something a bit harder to find.

Note that a pretty sizable percentage of all graded copies are PSA 10s. Something to keep in mind when considering a purchase.

Find a 2017 Bowman Chrome Aaron Judge “batting” rookie card

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2017 Bowman Chrome Aaron Judge “Batting”1,818PSA 10 = 1,524PSA 10 = $250-375
2017 Bowman Chrome Aaron Judge “Batting”

2017 Topps Chrome Aaron Judge “Catching”

Another premium base offering is the 2017 Topps Chrome Aaron Judge “Catching”. Like the Aarib Hydge Bowman Chrome rookie card, this has a rarer “Running” Image Variation and many Refractor variations to chase as well.

Like the Bowman Chrome, a high percentage of PSA-graded copies are PSA 10s. Also of note is that while this card has a much higher population than the Bowman Chrome, it sells within the same range, with a lower floor on recent sales.

Find the 2017 Topps Chrome Aaron Judge “catching” rookie card on eBay

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2017 Topps Chrome Aaron Judge “Catching”5,455PSA 10 = 4,576PSA 10 = $325-375
2017 Topps Chrome Aaron Judge “Catching”

2017 Bowman Aaron Judge rookie card

Despite being the paper offering, the 2017 Bowman offering has a similar PSA pop as the Chrome version, and actually sells within the same range in PSA 10 (although with a lower floor).

Find a 2017 Bowman Aaron Judge rookie card on eBay

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2017 Bowman Aaron Judge5,393PSA 10 = 2,984PSA 10 = $250-400
2017 Bowman Aaron Judge

2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge Auto

Getting into the way back machine, we’ll explore Judge’s early pre-rookie/prospect cards with the 2013 Bowman Chrome offerings, in this case the Autograph version.

As one of the very first Judge Certified Autographs, these see plenty of demand and are strong sellers.

Find 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Pick rookie cards of Aaron Judge

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge Auto257PSA 10 = 172PSA 10 = $3,500-7,000
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge Auto

2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge

If you’re looking for a more affordable (relatively speaking) Aaron Judge card from the year he was drafted by the New York Yankees, here’s a great option.

With a relatively low population for such a popular card, and close to half of PSA graded copies in PSA 10 holders, this one may still have room to grow between now and November.

As with the other Bowman offerings, a rainbow of Refractors are out there to give you lots of options and price points.

Find 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Aaron Judge rookie cards on eBay

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge2,389PSA 10 = 1,113PSA 10 = $800-1,000
2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge

2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge

The paper version of the 2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects has a higher population than the Chrome version, but is still a strong seller, especially in PSA 10. That Gem Mint version will set you back a lot less than the Chrome or Autographed versions, so it offers a bit more of an “entry-level” Judge card.

In PSA 9, these go for somewhere between $110 and $200, offering another price point for Judge fans.

Find Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge rookie cards on eBay

CardPSA PopPSA Comp PopRecent Comp Sale
2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge5,381PSA 10 = 3,878PSA 10 = $350
2013 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge rookie card investment outlook

As a general rule of thumb, it’s unwise to invest in a player’s cards during his best season, especially if that season is all-time level, and if it looks to include a playoff run. Judge’s cards are hot right now, so it might not be the best time to acquire them.

But what of any Judge cards you already have in your collection? Sell now? Hold? What’s the approach?

Really, it all depends on how you think the rest of Judge’s career plays out. When healthy Judge is one of the best sluggers.

But there are a few things going against his Hall of Fame chances. One is age. Judge was 25 during his Rookie of the Year season, a bit on the older side. He’s now 30, and will turn 31 in April of 2023. His career totals of 218 HR and 36.3 WAR is a good start to his career, but represent roughly halfway to likely Hall of Fame territory.

That raises the other big factor for Judge…health. Judge missed significant time in three different seasons during his late 20s. How will his massive frame age as he moves into his 30s? I expect it will be a challenge, although Judge is as capable as anyone to put up some 8-10 WAR seasons and pad his career numbers in a hurry.

Babe Ruth and Aaron Judge

The final word on the top Aaron Judge rookie cards

So, to maximize profit, this may be a good time to sell. That being said, if you think Judge is on the path to the Hall of Fame, or if you simply enjoy owning his cards, there’s an argument for hanging onto them.

After all, the cards of another non-Hall of Fame single-season home run record-holding New York Yankee continue to sell well over 60 years after he set the record (that’d be Roger Maris).

Regardless of whether you’re buying, selling, or holding Judge’s cards, Judge is driving an exciting time for the game and the hobby.

Aaron Judge

Check out the huge selection of Aaron Judge rookie cards on eBay

Mike D

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. He has long been fascinated by the Baseball Hall of Fame, and of course cards of Hall of Famers, present and future.


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