How to Buy Raw Sports Cards To Get Graded for Profit

I thought I was the first one with this great idea. I would buy raw cards on ebay, get them graded, and they will all be PSA 10’s. Then I will sit back and reap the profits. Well, that didn’t happened. After losing a couple of bucks, maybe a hundred or so, I came come up with a strategy that has worked for me. Again, I don’t get PSA 10’s 100% of the time, but I give myself a better shot at them. So what are some of the things I look for when buying raw cards?

The first thing I look for is centering. It’s the one thing that you can really look at online and know if it’s good or not. To make it easier on yourself make sure when you start out you find a card that has borders. You can take a look at the PSA 10 encased card and then compare it to the raw cards. The more you look, the better you will become at this. You will make mistakes in the beginning but just keep researching. If the price is much cheaper than that rest of the raw cards take a look at the centering! 9 times out of 10 that is why.

If you take the 1st picture you will see that left border is bigger than the right border. Also the top border is bigger than the bottom border. This would get a PSA 9. It’s not a card I would buy.

In this next card, the left to right is much better, ever so slightly off, but the top is slightly bigger the bottom. It’s not terrible. If all other factors are good then the biggest factor in buying this card would be the price. If a psa 10 graded card goes for $125-150 range and this raw card can be had for $40, I would take the chance. If this card is $75 I would look for a different card.

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The next thing to look for is the corners. Darker corners sometimes blend into the picture, but also if the corner is white on the front of the card it would indicate that the corner is nicked or not 100% sharp meaning it’s not getting a 10. Most cards on Ebay you can zoom into the card, this is where you can get the best idea of the corners of a card. You looking for white or somewhat rounded looking corners. If you don’t see that then the card should be acceptable. With scans or pictures online you can’t always see 100% everything. Again, we are trying to increase your odds for getting a 10.

The picture below shows the bottom right hand corner of a card. It is sharp and really nice looking. This is a PSA 10 corner.

The top left corner is where we have a question. It doesn’t look as sharp as the bottom right hand corner. This is why it’s important to slow and look at all 4 corners. Looking at the full view all corners look great. But up close you can see there is an issue with this corner.

The edges and surface are the most difficult to determine thru pictures online. The edges may look jagged or fuzzy but it’s not a true indicator of problems. Surface issues may be the top loader or penny sleeve. If they aren’t in either it could just be fuzz on it. Chrome card scratches can be seen but you really have to zoom in to see anything. If your cards does have some issues on it and it’s a bowman chrome take a look at the video I created on How to clean bowman chrome cards.

So this is what I do when looking to buy raw sports cards to get graded for profit. Now I have decided to find a card for you all that I feel will get a PSA 10. You may see a white spot by the black part on the bottom right hand. I believe that it’s just bad lighting. The centering and corners are on point. It is 2018 Bowman Chrome Draft Grant Lavigne. Last sold PSA 10 $128.77, yes I see the one after that at $58.27, but did you see the one before that at $187.50? Buy Some Cards and Go Broke!

Click Here to Bid for this Card and Good Luck!

My Top 3 Autograph Patch Baseball Cards to PC

I started looking at some autograph patch baseball cards and I really liked them. I would look through them on ebay and always liked the really expensive ones. There had to be other cards that looked good and were relatively inexpensive.

There are 3 things to focus on. If the patch is game worn or player worn. Game worn is exactly what it says the player played in an actual game with the jersey and then it was cut up. Player worn means they were given a jersey, they put it on and then they took it right off and it was cut up. The next thing to focus on is if the card has a logo on it or not. Some people will just not buy a card without a logo. I used to be in this camp, but looking now at these non logo cards, I feel that they are better looking then the Topps counterparts. The last thing to focus on is price. Some of these cards can go for crazy amounts of money ranging from $500-$1,000.00 at the high end. But there are a ton of affordable options, less than $100, even less that $50.00, that look great and would be perfect for your PC.

I spoke about this on my 11/19/19 Podcast – Click Here to listen to the rest of the autograph patch cards I recommend.

Here are 3 of my favorite autograph patch baseball cards to PC

3. Topps Dynasty – The top rookies of the year and Mike Trout go for a lot of money from $500.00 to $1,000.00. But you can get great looking stars and hall of famers for much less. Here is an example – Rickey Henderson Autograph Patch sold for $113.00. Most cards are less than $100 and a lot are less than $50, making this an excellent way to into collecting autograph patch cards. Click Topps Dynasty above to get a card similar to this.

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2. Leaf Trinity – These player worn, non logo cards are typically less desirable than it’s logo counterpart. However, these cards and patches are beautiful. It’s seems like most of the cards have at least two colors in them. The top rookies still command $300.00-$400.00, but most cards can be bought for under $50.00. The card below is of Travis Swaggerty, one of the top prospects in the Pirate’s minor league system. The card looks amazing and can be bought for $25.00! Click Here to Buy this Card!

1. Topps Inception These are player worn jersey’s but they do have the logo’s on the uniform’s since it is a Topps product. Sticker autograph’s for most so that might turn people off as well. But cards look stunning. They are also relatively cheaper than other Topps products. You can get top rookie prospects from $200.00 and less. Most cards are under $50.00. The Manny Machado sold for $30.00. Click Here to Buy this Card with slightly different patch!

My Top 5 Shohei Ohtani Baseball Rookie Cards to Invest In

I have always been a big fan of Shohei Ohtani. A two way player who pitched great and hit for power and average. On top of it he had some speed as well. He has everything. But it seems the injury bug continues to plague his career so far. I still feel he is a great investment. If he can stay healthy and that’s a big if, then I can see a lot of his cards on the rise.

Looking through his entire rookie card catalogue, I felt that these cards have the best potential to increase in value. I didn’t pick autograph cards, I stuck with cards that had low population, looked great, and were what collectors were looking for. Also cards that were affordable. I spoke about these and other Ohtani rookie cards on my 11/18/19 Podcast. If you want to listen to the entire show Click Here and Enjoy!

If not, just scroll down and find out my best picks. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to buy the cards click on the link by each card.

5 – 2018 Topps Fire – Average Ebay sold $10-15.00 – PSA 10 population- 21

This card is a really nice looking base card, with low pop, and the red design matches the uniform really well.

4 – 2018 Topps Chrome Update Refractor– Ebay Sold Average $75.00 – PSA 10 Population – 25

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3- 2018 Topps Chrome Xfractor – Ebay Sold average – $45.00 – PSA 10 Population 89

2 – 2018 Topps Heritage High Number – Action Variation – $85.00 – PSA 10 population 161

This is a nice looking card, with some scarcity. Heritage is also very collectible.

1 –2018 Topps Update Gold – Average Ebay sold $120.00 – PSA 10 population – 17

Comparing this card to other gold cards from 2018 ie. Gleyber Torres, Soto, and Acuna it has the potential to be a great deal.

The Golden Ticket during the Junk Wax Era: 1993 Upper Deck Gold Hologram Derek Jeter #449

There is one year in the prime Junk Wax Era that sticks out compared to any other in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s: 1993.  The year contains at least 13 high-value Derek Jeter cards taken from the PWCC 2500 Market Index ( shown below.

TitleMarket Value
1993 Bowman Derek Jeter #511 PSA 10$466.66 
1993 Classic Best Derek Jeter #1 PSA 10$809.00 
1993 Classic Best Greensboro Hornets Derek Jeter #1 PSA 10$970.74 
1993 Classic C3 Derek Jeter #4 PSA 10$478.33 
1993 Fleer Procards South Atlantic League All-Star Derek Jeter #21 PSA 10$526.67 
1993 Pinnacle Derek Jeter #457 PSA 10$469.00 
1993 SP Derek Jeter (FOIL) #279 PSA 10$82,835.00 
1993 Staduim Club Murphy Derek Jeter #117 PSA 10$661.35 
1993 Topps Colorado Rockies Inaugural Year Derek Jeter #98 PSA 10$1,311.67 
1993 Topps Florida Marlins Inaugural Year Derek Jeter #98 PSA 10$1,057.51 
1993 Topps Gold Derek Jeter #98 PSA 10$852.03 
1993 Topps Micro Derek Jeter #98 PSA 10$1,680.56 
1993 Upper Deck Gold Hologram Derek Jeter #449 PSA 10$2,115.15 

Derek Jeter’s SP 1993 has become the quintessential 90’s card.  The PSA 10 has reached $99,000, before settling back at $76,105 most recently on 8/11/18.  Here is a line chart for the 6 sales going back to 2012 

Since the PSA 10 is so rare, a sample size of 6 makes it difficult to see the appreciation in price.  Therefore, if you take the PSA 9 and graph it, it will show a more liquid rise of value with 155 sales since 2012 on a quarterly basis.

Without going into the charts for packs and boxes of 1993 SP, current prices reach into around $100 a pack and $2,500 for a sealed box.  In other words, if you wanted a 93 Jeter Foil at a bargain price the train has left the station.  

So what are your other options?  You want a Jeter rookie that is scarce and at a reasonable price.  

Let’s look into the 2nd most valuable PSA 10 in the same year: 1993 Upper Deck Gold Hologram Derek Jeter #449 card.  The important part of this card is the “Gold” part of the description. Back in 1993 when the printing presses were working around the clock, Upper Deck was ahead of its time by creating scarcity with the gold hologram.  The gold hologram set was only available at the rate of 1 out of every 15-set case. The regular or silver hologram was available in packs and in the other 14 factory sets in a case.  

To put things into perspective, let’s compare the pop reports from PSA.

The most striking thing you will notice is that there is almost twice as many graded SP Foils versus the Upper Deck cards combined.  It does make sense when you think of the raw value of the SP Foil being at least $200 and the Upper Deck card raw value being less than $5. People are more likely to grade higher value cards.

The other striking observation is the gem mint rate:  SP Foil 0.14%, regular hologram 9.2%, and gold hologram 20.8%.  As the rate shows, the perfect foil card is extremely difficult to find.  However, the gold hologram has a relatively high rate of perfection. This may be due to the fact it was only released in factory sets.  While sealed and packed tightly with 800+ other cards, it may have been insulated from the handling and other pitfalls that conventional cards in packs were exposed to.

Let’s do a basic probability breakdown of how we can manually go about getting the perfect gold hologram, in other words what are the pack odds?  If the gold holograms are 1 in 15 sets, you would have a 6.667% chance. If you are lucky enough to find a gold hologram set, we can use the 20.8% gem mint rate to reach our final probability of 1.39% or 1 in every 72.1 sets.   

The other side of this bet is the cost. At what point does it cost too much to make it not worth a bet?  Taking the market value of $2,115, and carrying over the 1/72.1 odds, you can back into a cost of $29.33 as a fair bet.  Please note this does not include other results including a gold hologram PSA 9 or regular hologram PSA 10.  It’s not hard to find a sealed set under $30 on eBay excluding shipping.  Unfortunately, the shipping is usually high which will decrease the risk/reward.

Jeter comes up for Hall of Fame nomination in 2020.  There are many reasons why he should be there along with his former teammates Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina.  However, above all that, he was the captain of the team that brought 5 World Series Championships to the most popular team in the nation.  Therefore, there is a huge fan base that spans many decades that will always be Mr. November fans.

There are plenty of sealed sets available online, at local card shops, and probably at card shows.  It’s important to be patient and have a price in mind that you are willing to pay. Chances are the guy who is selling these sets does not distinguish this from any other junk wax era set.   

 By: Casey A.


A Gem Mint in the Rough: The 1985 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. #30 Card

The 1985 Topps Baseball Set is headlined by the Team USA Mark McGwire card #401, which in a PSA 10 fetches more $750 according to recent sales.  There is also a Hall of Fame rookie card of Kirby Puckett #536 and possible future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens #181. However, there is one card that is more valuable in a PSA 10 than every other except the McGwire: the Cal Ripken #30 card.

Entering into his fifth full season, Ripken had already won the Rookie of the Year in ’82 and his first Most Valuable Player award in ’83.  He also won a World Series to cap off his 1983 MVP season. So he was well on his way to becoming a household name in baseball by 1985.

When looking at Ripken’s most valuable cards, he is not unlike most of his Hall of Fame counterparts where his rookie card in a PSA 10 is their most valuable card.  He actually has 2 different Topps rookie cards, #21 alongside Bobby Bonner & Jeff Schneider in the base and his own #98T in the topps traded set.

If you were to chart his Topps 1980’s cards, you see an odd bump in 1985:

1982$628 21
1982$1,286 98T
1983$79 163
1984$35 490
1985$515 30
1986$45 340
1987$17 784
1988$29 650
1989$16 250

What makes 1985 so special?  Why does the value go up 6 to 30 fold compared to his other non-rookie 80’s cards? Let’s pull the pop report:

First off there is not a whole lot of cards graded in total with it currently standing at 898.  However, that’s not uncommon for a 4th year star. Gwynn, Sandberg, and Boggs all have a lower total population. 

It becomes a little more clear, under 5% of Ripken’s total population is a gem mint, compared to Gwynn(25% / $43 average price) , Sandberg(22% / $35 average price), and Boggs(19% / $30 average price).  

While we are on Gem Mint PSA 10 percentages, let’s peak at the top rookies of the set:

The McGwire rookie is valuable for a reason, recent  sales show an average of more than $700 with 0.67% being a gem mint of the total population.  Roger Clemens, although not a Hall of Famer, has a 1.4% gem mint rate and $389 average price. Meanwhile Puckett is closer to Ripken with a 5% gem mint rate and $255 average price.  

Naturally you may think if the base set Ripken card is highly valued, the O-Pee-Chee and Tiffany equivalents would have a higher premium.  His O-Pee-Chee PSA 10 averages under $60 with a 16.8% gem mint rate:

While his Tiffany averages under $100 and has a 36.6% PSA 10 gem mint rate:

To make this more interesting, the raw card is extremely available and basically the cost of shipping ($3 or less) on eBay.  Would this attract the flippers or “card restoration specialist” to a possible 160x+ return? Or would the increased supply drive the market down to a more normal price?

What makes the base set #30 so valuable?

Most likely a combination of things, the Ironman streak was landmark in many childhoods across America.  In the current mindset where giving players a rest day is commonplace; it is difficult to see that record being broken any time soon. The card itself is a nice looking action shot with him looking into the distance after his follow through on the swing.  As with anything of value in the baseball card market, the price is driven by supply and demand factors. In this case, it appears the demand for the perfect 1985 Topps Ripken card is outpacing supply.

By: Casey A.


Which Cards Should I get Graded?

When you are getting back into cards you realize that getting your cards graded is more important than ever. Gone are the days where an ungraded card will get you top dollar. Collectors now like the comfort that PSA or Beckett graded card gives you.

Graded cards give you that warm and fuzzy feeling….

Now, yes, their has been turmoil recently in the hobby with regards to grading, but it hasn’t slowed people getting their cards graded. Yet…

But how do you figure out which cards to grade or not? Will it greatly increase the value of my card or am I just throwing money away? Also, there is no guarantee that you will get a top grade. PSA 10 or BGS 9.5 are tough to get. If you don’t carefully inspect a card you can get a lower grade which will make the card worth the same as a raw card. I would say 40% of the time you won’t get a PSA 10.

Want to see how I check my cards out to make sure you give yourself the best shot at a PSA 10? Check out this Video!

Make sure you check your corners, centering (front and back), surface issues, and edges. When buying online compare cards to PSA 10 and BGS 9.5 and 10’s. Centering is one of the easier things to check online compared to the other 3 modifiers. If autograph’s are not clean and a little smeared that will affect the grade as well.

Look at the centering left to right, not PSA 10 worthy.

Compare the top card to this and the centering is really good. However, corners, edges, and surface wear are much harder to detect buying cards online.

Now getting your cards graded can be expensive and take more than 3 months to get back! During that time a player can get hurt, be in a slump, or do something stupid that will lower their card values. He can also get hot and perform amazingly well which will make his card become more valuable. Well duhh…. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to see if we should grade a card or not. We are going to figure $15 to get it graded by PSA and $25 for BGS auto card. I’m including shipping both ways. If it’s more for you just add to these numbers. Also eBay fees are 10% and pay pal fees are around 3%.

2019 Topps Series 2 Pete Alonso Rookie Card – Raw prices including shipping goes for $7.00 a card. We would submit this card for $15.00 so our total cost would be $22.00. Now a PSA 10 goes for $64.00 including shipping. Now take out any fees and that will be your profit. If you sell on eBay figure 13%. So in this example you would make a profit of $30.00. A PSA 9 has one sold at $15.00. You are pretty much breaking even. However, you would have had to wait a couple of months to get this card. In this example you would definitely grade this card.

2018 Topps Update Juan Soto Rookie Card – Raw prices including shipping are around $6-7 dollar so we will figure $6.50. A psa 10 goes for $35.00 shipped on average. Total profit would be $5.95. Now this is an average some cards sell for less. Would you wait a couple of months to make $6.00? You are still almost doubling your money so I would say you should grade this card. But if I were you I would get a lot of these cards because some will come back as a PSA 9 where you will lose money or break even around $15.00.

2013 Topps Update Manny Machado #172 – Raw Prices are around $5.00 including shipping. PSA 10 goes for $16.00 shipped. It would cost more to get this graded, then to actually just buy a PSA 10. I would say this is a good deal to just buy a PSA 10. PSA 9, well, it is a nice paper weight.

2018 Bowman Draft Chrome Casey Mize Auto – Raw Prices are around $75 including shipping. A bgs 9.5/auto 10 is around $180.00. I am not even going to do the math. You would definitely do this. But on prospects you should do a quicker turnaround because a couple of bad games may spell doom for a prospects chances. However, a bgs 9/10 will be harder to sell. I think you can still get $100 for this particular card, but their are no solds for it on ebay.

If you are fanatical about condition you may improve the 60% of your cards being graded PSA 10 or BGS 9.5. But always figure the worse case scenario, if I get a PSA 9 can I atleast get my money back? If not what tolerance do you have?

What about vintage cards? I believe you should grade them for two reasons. More often than not it will enhance it’s value and it will let you know if your cards have been altered or are authentic. Many of the alterations that happened to cards are vintage. Yes, it’s starting to creeping in big time for modern cards, but vintage cards is where cards can go from hundreds to thousands when graded a point or two higher. Again, take a look at ebay comps to gauge whether or not the condition of your card validates getting it graded.

Now, buy some cards and go broke!

How to know if a prospect is a good deal?

So you have your list of prospects and your ready to start buying cards. Don’t have your list? 1st read my previous article to analyze which prospects you should go for. So where were we? Ah yes, so you go to the bank and ask for a loan of $100,000.00 and now you are ready to buy some cards! But which cards do we buy? There is only one card manufacturer that people consider to be the true rookie. That is Bowman and it’s their 1st card that you are looking for. How do you know it’s their first card? They make it dummy proof for us. It says it!

So now that we know which manufacturer and which prospect we are looking for let’s see if it’s a good deal.

From the previous article we looked at Jonathan India. He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the 5th pick and he is a 3rd baseman. He played well in 2018 and is continuing to play well this year. So let’s take a look at the price of his cards.

2018 bowman chrome jonathan india
2018 bowman chrome jonathan

So we can say it’s roughly $41.00 for his base autograph. Now we need to take a look at other 3rd base prospects, who are not in the majors, and their sold raw card prices.

2018 Bowman Chrome Alec Bohm – Last Three sold Avg (6/12/19) – $63.33

2018 Bowman Chrome Nolan Gorman – Last Three sold Avg (6/12/19) -$188.67

2015 Bowman Chrome Ke’Bryan Hayes -Last Three sold Avg (6/12/19) – $28.00

2016 Bowman Chrome Nolan Jones – Last Three sold Avg (6/12/19) – $50.61

Now let’s compare them with the stats (for this year) I used as discussed in my previous article:

Name BB%, K%, HR, OBP, 2B

Jonathan India – 9.8%, 25.1%, 8, .349, 8

Alec Bohm – 9.4%,12.6%, 3, .371, 9

Nolan Gorman – 11.5%,27.7%, 10, .358, 13

Ke’Bryan Hayes – 10.8%,19.7%,3, .333, 20

Nolan Jones – 19.8%, 22.7%, 5, .438, 6

Taking a look at these numbers we can say that Jonathan India more than holds his own. This is just a small sample and you will have to take a look at his career to see if this is just a blip in the screen or is a upward/downward trend. But based off my analysis, he is undervalued and should be a definite buy at this price. In my opinion he should cost between $50-60.

The numbers that I use aren’t strictly adhered too, but will give me a good basis to make my decision. These are not absolutes. But have helped me in determining who I should invest in. Now it’s time to buy some cards and make money!

1985 Baseball Card Investment Analysis

I wanted to start buying cards that I didn’t have the money or never got in packs as a kid. I remember seeing these cards at shows and just wondering what it would be like to have these cards. Now I can. Unleash the crakken! 

But I don’t just want to buy willy nilly, which is what I typically do. Which cards are better than other with regards to investment.

My initial thoughts were Donruss would be harder and more expensive to get a PSA 10 because of their black borders. The Topps Tiffany are really really expensive and have a low PSA 10 population. I took a look at the main rookies Kirby Puckett, Roger Clemens, and Mark Mcgwire (only in 85 topps). I also took a look at Don Mattingly and Nolan Ryan since they both seem to be the next most expensive cards in a PSA 10. The chart below will show you their Population Report, Current Average Price, 5 year Avg price, and 10 year average price to show how the prices have trended up of down. 

This chart goes by brand and the thing that really popped out was the fact that there was less than 1% of a total of 44,404 cards submitted graded as a PSA 10 for the Topps Mark Mcgwire Rookie card! That is insane. Which is why the price is so high. But looking at all of this really didn’t give me any clear path as to what to buy. I sorted by % of total PSA 10 compared to the total amount of graded cards and it didn’t give me any information I could use. 

So, I then did the price percentage comparing the 5 year price to current price and 10 year price to current. The graph below is sorted by the high to low of the 5 year price to current pricing. 

On the 5 year graph the 2nd to last column on the right is what we are looking at. For some reason the 1985 Fleer Don Mattingly has gone up dramatically. Why? I don’t know. But everything that went up 50% or more had a PSA 10 pop % of 6.36 and lower. Scarcity is what is driving the prices to go up. Surprised that the Topps Mcgwire isn’t higher. I believe this indicates that it is slightly undervalued. But let’s look at the 10 year graph below to get a better idea of what is going on.

The 10 year %, the last column to the right, makes it more obvious what you should do. If you had bought all of these cards at the average price 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have lost money today. Outside of the Fleer Kirby Puckett the worst you would have done is around 23%. Not bad! What this is showing is that Topps and Topps Tiffany reign supreme. While scarcity is a factor it’s not the driving force. Brand is what drives these prices with Topps Tiffany holding the 3 out of 5 spots and out of the top 10 topps or topps tiffany are in 8 out of 10 spots. But again nothing is screaming buy me outside of the 1985 Topps Mark Mcgwire Card. His Tiffany cards has gone up 76%, but he regular Topps card has only gone up 42%. Not a terrible return.


So, what should you do? What I take out of this is that you should have bought them all. Yes, you heard me right. How would you be able to truly predict which card will be the most valuable? Not one of these cards lost value over the last 10 years. If you had bought one card of each at a total value of $3,375.25 and then sold them after 10 years at their average price, it would come out to $12,530.00. That would be a rate of return of 37%! This would be an amazing return on any investment, especially mid 80’s junk era cards. I am still a firm believer in scarcity in a card, but their are other factors involved which we can’t predict. But by buying a portfolio of cards you are reducing risk and minimizing your losses.