In our newest Better Than a Box series, we pit Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. up against a box of 2023 Donruss Baseball hobby.
Acuña Jr. is one of the brightest stars in all of baseball. When healthy, he is a legitimate 40/40 threat (dare I say he’s a 50/50 threat? Well, I just did).
The true five tool right fielder is at or near the top of the league leader board in multiple categories. At only 25 years old, he’s stacked some great early career numbers already with a future that makes general managers envious.
Donruss features 24 packs of eight card packs and three autographs or memorabilia cards per box, on average. What it won’t offer are any logos, insignias, or officially licensed images because Panini doesn’t have an MLB license–just one with the MLBPA. And let’s be honest, you’re not probably going to find three autographs in the box. Current pricing on 2023 Donruss Hobby is in the $100-$115 range.
Here are four Acuna Jr. cards as an alternative for pretty close to the same amount. As always, our selections include a rookie, autograph, memorabilia card and serial numbered card.
The Rookie Card
First up is our rookie card of choice. We are going to take advantage of a down market and pick up the once super hot 2018 Topps Update rookie card of Acuña in a PSA 10 slab. This is arguably his most iconic and notable rookie card. Although not his most valuable, this is the one RC you see when you close your eyes. We’re taking the highest quality example you can own for the long haul.
For the going rate of right around 50 bucks, this will take up half of our budget, but it will be well worth it.
The Autograph Card
Topps autos of Acuña are getting mega expensive but fear not. There are still some lower cost options.
The autograph for this lineup comes from 2020 Leaf Ultimate Draft, a design that pays homage to the 1991 Leaf Gold Rookies Baseball insert set card design (the Mike Mussina card from that set is permanently etched in my mind). This is a product without an official license, of course, so it’s short on logos and trademarks like the Donruss box that we are pitting it against. I’m sure you’d be excited if you pulled the Acuna auto out of the Donruss box, so here’s a guaranteed auto of the Atlanta Braves superstar and despite the sticker auto, it’s a very sharp looking card with a bit of nostalgia thrown in for good measure.
Collectors have been known to snare these for right around $50, which makes it a great fit in our tightening budget.
The Serial Numbered Card
Our serial numbered card comes from the 2021 Topps Big League set. A very reasonably priced product, this is a hit with fans each season and we pick up a beautiful black and white Acuña parallel numbered to only 50 copies. The shot from a pregame warmup as the stadium lights give off a really spectacular glow in the background is really great and one you can add to the collection for around $5-10.
The Game Used Card
Our game used card of choice comes from the Major League Material set in 2023 Topps Series 1. Acuña is featured doing one of the things he does best- sprinting around the bases. Found on the right hand side of the card in a small circle is a piece of game used memorabilia, as per Topps’ wording on the card. This is a great, really, really cheap example of a game used memorabilia that can be had for right around 7 bucks, which also rounds out our budget.
There you have it. You can have four guaranteed home runs from one of the brightest young players in baseball or take your chances on an unlicensed box of new cards. As always, the choice is yours.