Atlanta Braves 2023 Baseball Card Preview: February

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

One area that we are going to delve into a bit more here at House That Hank Built is baseball card collecting and, obviously, Atlanta Braves baseball card collecting. Growing up, I loved collecting baseball cards and that was very much in the midst of the "junk wax" era where cards were horrendously overprinted and not worth anything.

Upon getting back into collecting them a few years ago, well...a lot has changed. Cards are significantly more expensive these days (there are some products that have price tags that look more like mortgage payments on a nice house) and there have been some changes. However, there is still a space for collectors of all kinds and price points. This is going to just be a preview of what to look for to start with when it comes to 2023 baseball card products that are set to roll out soon, but if there are any topics (budget Acuna cards, buy-low guys, etc.) that folks are uniquely interested in, I am all ears and will do my best to oblige.

2023 Topps Series 1 and the Atlanta Braves you need to care about in it

So if you are removed from the hobby like I was, things will look a little different than they did years ago. In terms of the base Topps set (not Chrome...thats for a different day), Topps puts out three releases a year: Series 1, Series 2, and Update. They also put out a ton of other products that are not the base set and we will cover some of those, but for the moment we will focus on the base set as that is the most pressing release.

2023 Topps Series 1 is set to release on February 15th, 2023. The base set releases are, generally speaking, among the most affordable and available cards you can buy as big box stores carry them, although that does mean if there are valuable cards in them you can bet that folks are going to be camping out waiting for those shelves to get stocked so they can clean them out and flip them on eBay.

The biggest draw for Atlanta Braves fans in Series 1 is without question going to be Michael Harris rookie cards. As of this writing, the checklist for Series 1 isn't out yet, but Harris was held out of 2022 products so that Topps could get a full year of being able to put that RC on his cards as he is going to be one of the players folks chase after this year (along with Adley Rutschman and a few others). Not only will Harris' base rookie cards be fun for kids and casual collectors to nab up, but he is all but certain to have rookie autographs in a bunch of 2023 products including Series 1. Those are going to be pricey and hard to come by, but if you are looking for a long-term goal or have a good bit of disposal income, Money Mike rookie autos are a good place to start. Vaughn Grissom should also have rookie cards (and probably autos) in 2023 Series 1 as well, although his cards won't be as expensive (at least to start with) as Harris'.

There will also be short print photo variations in this set that are going to be among the most expensive cards they print in Series 1. Again, we don't have the checklist yet, but at least Michael Harris having short print (SP) and super short print (SSP) photo variations in Series 1 seems like all but a certainty. If Topps holds to previous patterns, if you get a SP or SSP (or anything "special" really), the card will be flipped in the pack and be in the middle of the back.

To find out exactly what you have, you will have to use the Google machine to search the fine print code on the back of the card, but as a general rule...if you have a card that is flipped in a pack that isn't numbered or autographed, you should probably check and see if you have a photo variation as these can be incredibly valuable especially if they are rookies. Ronald Acuna Jr. is also highly likely to have at least an SP photo variation as both Topps and collectors love Ronnie.

There may be other Braves' rookies that appear in Series 1, although who gets printed will be hard to predict. Both Harris and Grissom played for long stretches last year, so they seem like safe bets to be in 2023 Series 1 as Topps has had a long time to get them printed, but there is also some guesswork that Topps does. They will often print guys' rookie cards before they have debuted to sort of anticipate promotions, but that is imperfect (plus Topps likes to sandbag a bit to make sure there are rookies of note in other releases).

Other 2023 Releases to keep an eye on

With Fanatics purchasing Topps back in 2022, things have changed in how release dates are announced. Before, Topps would have like a six month schedule that was known and while releases would get delayed at times (this happened a lot during COVID lockdowns), there was at least an initial plan that was known. Now, release dates are only known a few weeks in advance which, if you are planning on how to spend your piggy bank, makes things trickier.

However, we do have some information that exists (I highly recommend bookmarking Blowout Cards release calendar to reference over the course of the year as it is updated VERY quickly). Aside from Series 1 coming out on 2/15, there are some straggler 2022 products coming out in February including 2022 Leaf Metal Draft (nice reasonably inexpensive product for prospect chasers that is loaded with autos although they typically aren't super valuable), 2022 Panini Elite Extra Edition (similar to Leaf Metal Draft but includes an impossibly long autograph pool including international guys that haven't even signed yet), 2022 Bowman Inception (another prospect set that uses graphic art instead of actual pictures so the design will matter if you like it or not), and 2022 Topps Chrome Sonic Lite (brand new product that appears to be a budget Chrome set...this one does NOT contain Spencer Strider rookies, though, so probably not worth going crazy to get).

2022 Topps Gold Label is SUPPOSED to release in February and is a mid-level product (in terms of price) that has a bunch of parallels in it as well as one framed autograph per box. Notably, this checklist IS available and has both Matt Olson autographs with him in a Braves uniform as well as Spencer Strider rookie autographs and Braves legends' autos as well, so this is a release to keep an eye on.

That is all I have for this baseball card collecting installment. There is a lot to parse with card collecting these days including parallels, short prints, figuring out which products do and don't have value, etc. I am going to be continuing to delve into those topics as we move forward, but again...if there are any questions/topics you want to talk about, feel them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them there and, if it requires a lengthy explanation, will put together an article for them.