Though just at the start of his career, Ronald Acuña Jr. is already considered a top ten player in baseball. The scariest part is that Ronald is still a few years from his peak. There is a good chance he will soon overtake the Mike Trout and Mookie Betts generation at the top of the proverbial heap.
Therefore, many baseball collectors already have an extensive Acuña Jr. collection. Should you jump in and get a Ronald Acuna Jr. Rookie Card PSA 10? And what cards are worth the investment?
Find out in our guide to the best Ronald Acuña Jr rookie card.
Ronald is a highly talented outfielder who has spent his entire career playing for the Atlanta Braves. He primarily plays in right or center field, but the Braves sometimes use Acuña Jr.. as a designated hitter. He was born in Venezuela and therefore came into the MLB as an international free agent.
He has already racked up a significant record of achievement. In 2018, Ronald Acuña Jr. was named the National League Rookie of the Year. First chosen for the All-Star team in 2019, he has received that honor every year since.
Acuña Jr was signed for $100,000 as an international free agent. He showed plenty of promise from day one and outmatched pitching at every level of minor league play.
Non-pitcher players are judged by their strength in the traditional five tools. These are power, hitting, fielding, arm, and speed. Acuña Jr. is a unique specimen because he is considered elite in all five. The scale scouts use to measure performance on each metric is 20-80. Here are the grades baseball America gave Ronald:
Every scout dreams of finding that ultimate five-tool player, and here he was. By 2018, Ronald was universally considered the best prospect in baseball. But has this tremendous talent come to the fore in his MLB career?
Let’s take a look at how well Acuña has done so far.
The numbers he put up are excellent. But he is not among the league leaders in most categories. The exception is stolen bases, where he did lead the league in 2019.
Indeed, 2019 was his best year. And that remains his only full season as a non-rookie. 2020 was that weird, shortened season, and in 2021 and 2022, Ronald Acuña Jr. suffered from injuries.
Nevertheless, 2019 showed us a glimpse of the player Acuña can become in the long term. He almost had a 40/40 season. But it wasn’t a perfect season, either. Ronald had a modest .365 OBP. Therefore, he was not among the league leaders in offensive performance, at least not by advanced stat yardsticks.
In 2020 and 2021, he improved his better on-base percentage, especially in the former when he got an impressive .406. But he has been unable to notch a truly excellent OBP in an entire season. At least yet.
What can we learn from Ronald’s limited tenure in the MLB so far?
One of the reasons fans and scouts love Acuña Jr. is his combination of speed and power. His ability to notch a 40/40 season is very rare. In the past, anyone doing that was considered a superstar. However, by reaching 50 home runs and 50 stolen 50 bases by age 21, Acuña Jr. joins some elite company: Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Trout. So we know he is crazy good.
But how valuable is his stealing ability? Advanced analytics tell us that while noteworthy, they are not as effective as we used to think. Baseball fans are increasingly savvy and know that getting on base is FAR more important than stealing. After all, you can’t steal first base.
Probably the best equivalent for Acuña Jr. at his best is Ken Griffey Jr. They have comparable power. It took Griffey several years to hit 40 homers. But eventually, he reached 50. Will he be able to reach the same levels of power as “The Kid”?
The folks at FanGraphs don’t think so. They see him staying around the 30-40 homer mark over the next three years. He is also projected to remain around .380 in on-base percentage. Respectable, but not spectacular.
Still, even these more conservative estimates show that the outfielder has a better than even chance of making the Hall of Fame.
Acuña Jr. has had his share of injuries. But they have been all over his body. Here is a partial list:
The knee and back problems have been recurring. But there probably isn’t too much to worry about in terms of existing wear and tear on his body.
Instead, the issue is his style of play involves aggressive base running and fielding. As I am writing this, Acuña Jr. slid into home using his entire body in the 10th inning against the Red Sox. He is a man of action. As Braves manager Brian Snitker explained, “he plays with his hair on fire. He plays the thing hard.”
Ronald has also said he does not intend to change his game. Instead, he told the Athletic, “I think the best thing I can do is to keep playing the way I play the game.”
You can easily see how this goes either way. So, a bit like we said in our article about investing in Fernando Tatis Jr. rookie cards, it is a bit risky. A lot of players get injuries after a lot of mileage. Acuña Jr. is already there in terms of injuries. It may get worse.
If you do decide to go for some of the Ronald Acuna Jr rookie cards, which are the ones to get? Here are our top ten investments
The Bowman Chrome is now most players’ most sought-after primary rookie card. For Acuña Jr., it is probably second only to the previously mentioned “Bat Down” variation. The picture is a very appealing hitting action snap, and that helps give the card an iconic look.
But the real attraction, as always with Bowman Chrome, is the wide rainbow. If you like to complete those, the Acuña Jr. colorful explosion is a significant investment.
The 2018 Topps Acuña Jr. rookie card flaunts an action picture of the Atlanta Braves star with his bat up. But the card everyone wants is the SSP which shows him with the bat down. Both images come from the same at-bat but depict the action at different swing phases.
The bat-down version is rare. Nonetheless, it comes in several formats, including the Holiday release and the Sapphire version. The latter is even more exclusive than the regular, while the Holiday variant is always the most affordable.
Rookie patch autos haven’t caught on in baseball yet, but it’s likely just a matter of time. Baseball collectors are traditionalists, but they do ultimately adapt. Look at how they now embrace Chrome cards over paper. So, getting in now on a young superstar’s RPA is likely a good idea. To my mind, this is the pick of the litter, with its iconic design.
Heritage is the best place to look for affordable autos. It is a recognizable brand that collectors like, and their autos tend to have better and more attractive ink than other releases. The classic design also appeals to the more conservative sensibilities of baseball fans.
Although the base cards aren’t what they used to be, The 2018 Topps Ronald Acuna Jr rookie card is still the first card most people reach for. We are also talking about 2018, before the massive printing numbers of the last few years. So, it will hold value better than a Wander Franco rookie card.
As always, look to invest in a parallel or auto.
For many, the Bowman Chrome has replaced the Topps flagship rookie as the go-to base card. Bowman has more cache and rarity, and the 1st logo has more verve than the Topps RC. So, I get it. The prospects card of Ronald is particularly desirable because it appeared in 2017, a full year before most of his basic Bowman rookies.
Nonetheless, it is not a particularly hard card to get. But because it is a standard base card, it is well worth seeking out a parallel.
This is a sound card if you want a very bold design but without breaking the bank for a Bowman refractor. For many, Bowman’s Best is an acquired taste. The abstract art backgrounds either really do it for you or alienate collectors. However, Best has a classy reputation, and the print numbers are not as high as other Bowman releases.
Having said that, the value of the base cards is particularly low. But the good news is that the refractors are also very low priced, and I doubt they will remain cheap in the long term. So, I would snap one of them up.
If you want a cool off-the-beaten-path rookie card, this beauty from the Update series might scratch your itch. The card shows Acuña Jr. about to take batting practice at a Braves game. There aren’t too many players worth showing up early for, but Ronald has such beautiful form it is well worth the wait in the sun.
The quizzical look on the outfielder’s face and the rare red and blue jersey he is wearing make for an interesting aesthetic. It’s one of my personal favorites. The SP variation is getting really strong value and likely has considerable room to grow.
Another less common Update version is the Chrome line. It was sold only at Target and had a relatively low print run for a mass-produced flagship card. It also has a substantial list of particularly rare parallels.
There is also no getting around it. Ronald is a very photogenic guy, and so many of these pictures look iconic. His smile here while holding the helmet is just peak baseball imagery. And the auto refractor is competitively priced and an excellent investment.
If you have a larger than average budget, you know that high-end baseball cards usually don’t do as well as their basketball and football equivalents. But this /25 auto is very popular and tends to do well on eBay. But if you believe in Acuña Jr., hold this one.
I can only imagine how much it will fetch when Ronald is inducted into Cooperstown. There are also more limited parallels to up your investment.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is an absolute superstar and will likely be a legend in the game. That is not a question. The only question is: are the prices for Ronald Acuna rookie cards inflated? The best way to estimate that is to compare his cards to those of his rivals for young player supremacy. All cards are PSA 10.
|Bowman Chrome Auto||Topps Flagship Rookie|
|Ronald Acuña Jr.||$2,550||$90|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||$4,000||$110|
The results are clear, Acuña Jr. has the least expensive cards of the bunch. By quite a margin as well. The reason is, most likely, understanding that he is not statistically as valuable as the other players.
But there is another way of looking at it. In terms of risk, the Braves outfielder is a more solid investment than the others, aside from Soto. Ohtani is doing things no player has done before. We do not know if his body can handle it. Meanwhile, Tatis Jr. seems to be genuinely injury-prone. Therefore, Acuña Jr. offers a solid expected return on investment.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is one of the most talented players in baseball. Unfortunately, he happened to show up at a time when there was an abundance of massive talent in the MLB. While Acuña would have been the marquee talent in many other eras, he is overshadowed by others.
He has also shown up at a time when sabermetrics approaches have cast doubt on his base stealing abilities. As a result, we are no longer as impressed by 40/40 seasons as we were twenty years ago.
But all of these elements and Ronald’s recent injury woes have depressed his prices. Considering that he is a very likely Hall of Famer, Ronald Acuña Jr. Rookie Cards are probably undervalued right now. And because he is more likely to enjoy longevity than some of the other young stars, he is a strong investment.