LA Angel’s center fielder Mike Trout (08/07/91) is undeniably one of the best players in the history of baseball, and he still has a lot left in the tank. Having finished first or second in American League MVP voting seven times in his first eight seasons, he signed what was at the time the largest contract in professional sports history in March 2019, worth $426.5 million.
It was later surpassed by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in June 2020, but it’s still some indication of Trout’s status as the undisputed star of the sport. A leader in a number of AL stats over the years, he ended the 2019 season with a career-high 45 home runs and led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Trout’s rookie cards are some of the most desirable for obvious reasons, and with a recently confirmed sale of $922,500, they’re clearly some of the most expensive baseball rookie cards of all-time.
But which are the best overall, and what makes them so popular in the first place? Here’s a rundown with everything you need to know about five of the most valuable Mike Trout rookie cards that money can buy.
The Most Valuable Mike Trout Rookie Cards
While Trout’s official line of RCs was released in 2011, he also has a couple of prospect options from 2009, including the coveted Bowman Chrome Prospects Autograph. Given his profile, talents, and recent achievements, it’s easy to see why the majority of Trout’s RCs are highly rated by collectors.
PSA 10 grades will often sell for five figures depending on the parallel, while prices continue to increase year on year. Various investors and collectors are interested in owning a piece of history as he begins to edge ever so slowly towards his retirement, although it’s clearly not on the agenda anytime soon.
Popular: Ronald Acuna Jr. Rookie Cards
His cards have picked up in price rapidly since their release, with each new achievement helping to add another zero onto the asking price. He was seen as a hot prospect heading into the 2011 season, but few suspected that he’d be in contention for the MVP award in almost every season since he started.
Seen as a legend in the game already, be prepared for some truly eye-watering prices, as we kick off this list of the most valuable Trout RCs with the undisputed king of them all.
2009 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Refractor Auto RC #BDPP89
We’ll begin with Trout’s 2009 Bowman Chrome rookie card. It’s currently the most valuable Trout RC by a significant margin, especially if you’re looking at the rare parallels. For example, a copy of the Red Refractor sold for $922,500 in a May 2020 auction, while an Orange card sold for $144,000 in February of the same year. It’s no wonder that it features heavily in the list of the 10 most valuable Trout RCs ever.
The card features the Los Angeles Angels outfielder’s first autograph in an MLB uniform, and the Red version is one of only five in existence. Understandably, it made national news when the Red parallel sold for almost $1m, although that’s obviously going to be out of reach for the average investor.
Must Read: Best Baseball Cards to Buy Now
It has an action shot of the player with a bat held ready, while the Angels logo at the bottom is clearly visible. The parallels have an outer border that matches the respective color, making them easy to identify when compared to the base version.
Parallels: Refractor (/500), X-Fractor (/250), Blue (/150), Gold (/50), Orange (/25), Red (/5), Superfractor (/1)
2011 Mike Trout Topps Update RC #US175 (buy on eBay)
The 2011 Topps Update is the second card to make the list. The base is a simple rookie card, featuring an action shot of Trout after a successful hit. There are an RC logo and a white border, and it’s a typical card for all intents and purposes. So, why is it one of the more expensive options overall?
You could grab a copy of the base for roughly $10 in 2012, while you’d be lucky to get a 2018 reprint for twice that amount as of 2020. Prices simply continued to rise despite a large print run, and there’s no sign that they’re going to slow down. It’s seen as his flagship rookie card, while there are a variety of popular parallels.
Trout cards from this set can come in four layouts: standard, Cognac, Diamond Anniversary, and Blue Border. With 15 versions of the card altogether, some are ultra-rare, and they’ve also contributed to helping prices to increase over the past decade.
It’s clearly a step down compared to the 2009 options like the one listed above, but it’s still an important Trout RC in the grand scheme of things.
Parallels: Gold (/2011), Black (/60), Silk Collection (/50), Printing Plates, Platinum (/1).
Diamond Parallels: Platinum Diamond (1:4), Cognac Diamond (/60), Hope Diamond (/60), Canary Diamond (/1)
2011 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Refractor RC #175 (buy on eBay)
If the astronomical prices of the 2009 Bowman Chrome rookie card have put you off, the 2011 version could potentially be the answer. It features an action shot of Trout in the process of swinging a bat, with one foot raised slightly off the ground due to the momentum. There’s an RC logo in the top left corner, and it has a simple design that is instantly recognizable as a Bowman Chrome.
As with the majority of the others on this list, the host of Refractors helps to set this one apart in terms of pricing. Each of the colored parallels is also serial numbered, so there’s lots of interest if a high graded version manages to make its way onto the market.
For example, despite being a non-auto RC, a PSA 10 version of the Gold refractor recently went for a five-figure fee, so there is clear progression in terms of prices. After all, a gold refractor in PSA 10 condition sold at auction for just $4,250 in 2017. It’s another example of how the market for Trout rookie cards has exploded in the last few years, as he further establishes himself as one of the greats.
Parallels: Refractors, Blue Refractors (/150), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Red (/5), Super-Fractors (/1)
2009 Mike Trout Bowman Sterling Refractor Autograph RC #BSPMT (buy on eBay)
Another attractive option is Trout’s 2009 Bowman Sterling RC. The refractor is limited to just 199 copies, while additional rare parallels help to make it one of the more valuable Millville Meteor rookie cards on the market. The overall design makes it stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re looking at the Black or Gold parallels. It features an action shot of the player preparing to take a swing, with a silver AL logo for the background.
It has a stickered autograph which is a slight dampener, while it’s obviously the lesser of the two 2009 options to make the list. Regardless, it’s still extremely valuable in comparison to the average Trout RC, although you will have to look out for issues relating to centering.
If you can look past the lack of an on-card autograph, it’s a valuable option with a strong look, and it’s part of a 2009 set which makes it more interesting for some collectors. In terms of recent sales, PSA 10’s have been especially strong.
Parallels: Refractor (/199), Gold (/50), Black (/25), Printing Plates, Red (/1)
2011 Mike Trout Bowman Sterling Refractor Auto RC #19 (buy on eBay)
Fast forward two years and you’ll find another Bowman Sterling card which is the final option on the list. It’s part of a unique release that features a 50-card base set made up entirely of rookies, including Trout. Rather than the base card, (numbered #22) we’re focusing on the Prospect Autographs version.
As with the 2009 Bowman Sterling card mentioned above, it features an action shot of the player, although this time he’s preparing to make a catch with his eyes pointed to the sky and a mitt raised in anticipation. The image is contained in a circle, with a clear vinyl stickered autograph placed on the card. The signature blends in well with the white background, but it is pretty noticeable on close inspection.
Surprisingly, Trout wasn’t the most valued rookie from the set when it first released, with the likes of Trevor Bauer and Dante Bichette Jr. more likely to be seen as a good pack pull. The situation has changed drastically in the here and now, with PSA 10 grades of the Gold and Black parallels regularly selling for a five-figure fee. You’ll be able to tell the difference instantly, as parallels correspond with the color of the border around the circle.
There were only six base cards released per box in the 2011 set, so supply has continued to exceed demand despite a lack of scarcity.
Parallels: Refractor (/199), Gold Refractors (/50), Black Refractors (/25), Purple Refractors (/10), Printing Plates, Red Refractors (/1), Canary Diamond (/1), Printing Plates (4 Colors) (/1)
The Most Valuable Mike Trout Rookie Cards: Summary
As you can see, Trout’s RCs range from reasonably valuable, to exceptionally valuable. It’s likely that one of his 2009 Prospect Auto parallels will eventually pass the $1m mark, making it one of the most expensive baseball cards of all-time if and when it does so. The others appear to be following a similar trend.
His rookie cards were always popular, proving to be an instant hit with collectors who were willing to take a chance on a five-tool talent that looked like he had a real shot at greatness. Of course, hardly anyone had any idea of just how good he would be, while he’s already spent almost a decade at the pinnacle of the sport. The scary thing is, he still has a number of years to go before looking forward to retirement, a Hall of Fame spot, and the inevitable RC price rises that come when a GOAT contender finally calls time on a career at the top.
Some experts still favor either Willie Mays or Barry Bonds as the true MLB GOAT, but Trout has the ability to add more MVP awards in the following years, and he hit career highs in 2019.
Trout’s best RCs are likely to be a great long term investment if you have the patience needed to hold onto them for a while, and it’s not like there are any better options when looking at valuable modern-day baseball cards