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What are baseball card printing plates, and why aren’t they worth a lot of money? 

What are the best printing plates in the market? 

In this comprehensive guide, we will answer these questions, and more, so buckle up!

What is a baseball card printing plate?

A printing plate is a thin metal sheet used in the printing of cards. Therefore, a baseball card printing plate is one that specifically prints baseball cards.

The process works by burning the desired card image on a metal plate using a high-intensity light. When exposed to light, an image is transferred to cardstock using ink and will only reflect the image on the plate.

This is the process used to produce pretty much all sports cards out there.

So, is it possible to pull a printing plate from a set? Absolutely! You will know right away if you’ve found one because the pack will feel heavier than usual. Also, the metal plate is likely to slide out anyway when you first unpack your set.

Typically, the back of the plate will have text like “Congratulations! You have received an authentic printing plate from (name of manufacturer).” You might also see “1/1”, which highlights it as a one-of-a-kind collectible.

So, if they are 1/1 collectibles, they have got to be super valuable, right? Well, you’ll be disappointed to know that they aren’t really worth much! After all, it’s not exactly a card, so it lacks all the colors and design elements that catch our attention.

Plus, metal isn’t a great collectible material because it scratches easily.

As a result, printing plates are nowhere near as attractive as the cards they produce, hence the low demand for them!

Oh, and one more thing: they aren’t truly one-of-one because you need four plates to produce a single card. This brings us to the next section…

What colors are sports card printing plates?

Sports card printing plates are available in four different colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Therefore, they aren’t as unique as true one-of-one collectibles because you have four of them in existence, albeit in different colors!

Also, it is worth noting that printing plates have a different visual look depending on their color. For instance, in my opinion, yellow plates are the worst because the text is hard to make out. Plus, it just looks plain ugly, as this Jacob Wilson example shows!

On the other hand, black is far more palatable, and it just looks better in a pack of colorful cards.

Top Baseball Card Printing Plates

Now that we understand baseball card printing plates, let’s look at the top ten options. The list features a few established superstars but also some exciting rookies, so keep reading!

2019 Corbin Carroll Bowman Chrome 1st Auto Printing Plate RC #CDACC

Corbin Carroll Bowman Chrome Printing Plate

This autographed printing plate features Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is mid-run, progressing between bases with a determined look on his face. 

The Bowman Chrome logo is prominently displayed at the top right, indicating the card brand and finish. The player’s autograph is across the plate’s center, with a “1st Bowman” badge at the top left, signifying his first appearance in a Bowman card series. 

Below the player is his name, “Corbin Carroll,” and the position “OF” (outfielder) is visible at the bottom. The Arizona Diamondbacks team logo is at the bottom left, adding to the card’s official team affiliation. The plate’s design conveys action and athleticism, capturing a dynamic moment on the field.

Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Carroll quickly became one of the organization’s top prospects. Despite an injury that cut his 2021 season short, he has been recognized for his quick bat, strong defensive skills, and base-stealing prowess. 

Carroll averaged .281 runs with 29 home runs in the 2023 season.

2023 Paul Skenes Bowman Draft Cyan Printing Plate Auto RC #CDAPS

2023 Paul Skenes Bowman Draft Cyan Printing Plate Auto

This autographed printing plate is the first one on this list in cyan color. It depicts Paul Skenes, a pitcher, in mid-throwing motion. His focused gaze follows the direction of his pitch, capturing the intensity of a game moment.

He is wearing the Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, with the distinctive “P” logo on the cap and a detailed patch on the sleeve. 

The “1st Bowman” badge at the top left signifies his first appearance in a Bowman card series. The Bowman Chrome logo is positioned at the top right, indicating the card’s brand and the premium chrome finish. 

The name “PAUL SKENES” is on display at the bottom, with the position “pitcher” visible underneath, identifying his role on the team.

Skenes has drawn attention for his fastball and presence on the mound. Entering the 2023 draft with enormous potential, he was the first overall pick by the Pirates.

3. 2022 Bobby Witt Jr. Topps Chrome Printing Plate RC #RABW

This Topps Chrome printing plate captures Bobby Witt Jr. in a dynamic fielding pose, dressed in a vibrant blue Kansas City Royals uniform. The shot features the player during a throwing action, with the ball about to leave his left hand.

His autograph is prominently featured across the front in blue ink, adding a personal touch. Furthermore, the plate includes the Topps Chrome logo on the top right with the “RC” symbol right beneath it.

The bottom of the card proudly displays his name, “BOBBY WITT JR.,” with the Royals’ emblem to the left.

Bobby Witt Jr. stands out as a top prospect in baseball. The Kansas City Royals drafted him second overall in 2019. He quickly made a name for himself with his all-around skills, reaching the 30-30 club in 2023.

4. 2023 Juan Soto Topps Chrome Printing Plate Auto UVA-JS

The printing plate features a stylized illustration of Juan Soto with a backdrop that looks cosmic-like on the printed card. Soto’s signature gleams in blue ink, running across the plate’s lower half. 

Additionally, his name “Juan Soto” appears in a speech bubble at the top right, adding a playful touch. The Topps Chrome logo is visible at the bottom left, indicating the card’s brand and quality. 

Juan Soto is an undeniably talented outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB). The Washington Nationals signed him as an international free agent in 2015. He debuted in 2018 and quickly became one of baseball’s best hitters. Famous for his discipline at the plate, he won the batting title in 2020 with a .351 average.

5. 2022 Jordan Walker Bowman Chrome Printing Plate RC #BCP20

Adding to the number of Bowman Chrome printing plates is the Jordan Walker RC #BCP20 variant. It depicts Jordan Walker, a third baseman, in a poised batting stance. He is wearing the St. Louis Cardinals uniform with the number 23 visible. His focus is intent as he readies to swing at an incoming pitch. 

The Bowman Chrome logo at the top left indicates the card’s premium series. The Cardinals logo anchors the design at the bottom.

Additionally, his name, “JORDAN WALKER,” is prominently displayed at the bottom, ensuring immediate recognition.

Jordan Walker is a rising star within the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Drafted straight from high school in 2020, he quickly impressed with his hitting prowess. He averaged .261 runs with 16 home runs in the 2023 season, which certainly makes him one to watch in the coming years.

6. 2021 Altuve Bregman Alvarez Patch Auto Triple Threads #ARCSBA

The “Triple Threads” features a trio of exciting Houston Astros players: Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, and Jose Altuve.

Starting at the top, Correa’s signature sits next to his image, where he’s seemingly running between bases. Below, Alvarez’s autograph accompanies his depicted moment of action after taking a swing with his bat. Meanwhile, Altuve’s signature is right next to his focused batting image. 

To the extreme left of each player is a hexagonal design. Meanwhile, the “Topps Certified Autograph Issue” stamp at the bottom assures the authenticity of the signatures.

Capturing the essence of three dynamic Astros players, this triple autograph card is a valuable find for collectors.

7. 2023 Max Clark Bowman Draft Printing Plate Auto RC #CDA-MC

2023 Max Clark Bowman Draft Printing Plate

This printing plate showcases Max Clark, an outfielder, captured during a powerful swing. His focused gaze follows the ball and his blue autograph sweeps across the plate’s lower section. 

The “1st Bowman” Chrome designation at the top right signifies his premier appearance in the Bowman series. The Topps Certified Autograph Issue stamp below the signature guarantees authenticity. Meanwhile, the Bowman Chrome logo is present at the top left.

Additionally, the Detroit Tigers logo rests just above his name, anchoring him to his team. 

The Detroit Tigers selected Max Clark in the first round with the third overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft. He first made waves globally in 2021 when he led the national team to gold in the WBSC U-18 World Cup.

8. 2021 Topps Series 2 Pete Alonso AUTO printing plate RC #171

This printing plate from Topps Series 2 features Pete Alonso of the New York Mets in a candid pose. Clad in the team’s classic pinstripe uniform, he is wearing the #20. Alonso appears to be communicating either with a teammate or the umpire. 

At the bottom, his name, “PETE ALONSO,” is clearly inscribed. A solid, thick border frames the picture.

Pete Alonso, known for his power-hitting, plays first base for the New York Mets. He burst onto the MLB scene in 2019, setting the rookie record for home runs with 53. Alonso won the Home Run Derby twice, in 2019 and 2021. He brings consistent offensive production to the Mets’ lineup.

9. 2011 Topps Chrome Freddie Freeman Auto printing plate #173

The autographed printing plate spotlights Freddie Freeman, depicted in a powerful batting stance. In the picture, he is playing for the Atlanta Braves, ready to swing with his eyes fixed on the approaching ball.

A bold “RC” symbol on the card signifies his rookie status. Freeman’s blue autograph is present right above a graceful arc featuring his full name. Also, the Topps Chrome logo is visible in the top left corner. In the bottom right corner, you can see a baseball graphic featuring the Braves logo and the Topps Certified Autograph Issue designation.

This rookie card captures a moment early in Freeman’s career, promising talent and future achievements.

Freddie Freeman is an accomplished first baseman. He started his MLB career with the Atlanta Braves, winning the National League MVP in 2020. Known for his consistent batting, he regularly hits more than 20 home runs per season. His performances particularly played a huge role in guiding the Braves to World Series glory in 2021.

10. 2023 Topps Update Adley Rutschman Printing Plate #BD1

Rounding off the list is a printing plate featuring an exciting up-and-comer in the world of baseball. This 2023 Topps Update depicts Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles, captured in an intense batting follow-through. Dressed in the team’s away uniform, he bears the number 35. 

In the bottom right corner, the “RC” symbol denotes his rookie status. His name, “ADLEY RUTSCHMAN,” is at the bottom. Furthermore, the Orioles team name is visible across the bottom, completing the plate’s look.

The Orioles selected Adley Rutschman as the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft. The dynamic catcher made his debut in 2022 and would go on to bag awards like the Golden Spikes and the Silver Slugger for his performances. He had an incredible 2023 season that saw him make it to the All-Star game and the All-MLB First Team.

3 Most Valuable Baseball Card Printing Plates

The three most valuable baseball card printing plates right now are each worth several thousand bucks. Given what we know about the collectible appeal of metal plates, this valuation is staggering.

Firstly, there is the Aaron Judge 2013 Bowman Chrome #BDPP19 Magenta Printing Plate #1/1 with a price tag of $30,000. This magenta printing plate features the Yankees outfielder in an action pose as he prepares to take a swing. His name and team name are at the bottom, while the Bowman Chrome logo is on the top right.

Next up is another Judge printing plate: the Aaron Judge Auto 2013 Bowman Sterling Black Printing Plate #1/1 Autograph RC, which costs a cool $25,000. It features the Silver Slugger winner posing in the New York Yankees uniform in a pair of shades. As the title suggests, his autograph is visible in blue ink right below his portrait.

Finally, we have the Luis Arraez 2016 Elite Auto 1st TRUE Rookie Card RC 1/1 Plate, for which you will cough up $12,000. The plate captures an action shot of the Venezuelan second baseman right after a swing. In the follow-through, he is looking up at the trajectory of the ball, undoubtedly headed out of the park.

Final Thoughts

Real talk? Unless there is a particular printing plate you have always wanted to own, either for personal reasons or to complete a set, there is no point chasing plates. As we discussed in the beginning, they don’t typically generate enough collector interest to be of value. 

In summary, from their lack of visual appeal to scratchable material, baseball card printing plates aren’t very sought-after.

Only the most unique printing plates, like the three we discussed above, will be worth major bucks. And honestly, you are better off spending your time investing in actual cards like the upcoming Topps Series 1!

However, if you do want your hands on a printing plate, be sure to track its price on eBay so that you buy it for the best value.

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