Good: 20 hits per box, Deepest prospect and rookie auto checklist of 2010, Bonus dual relic box topper, Chance of pulling Bryce Harper 60th Anniversary Auto (1st one sold for $1,200), Last product to feature 2010 MLB rookie class, USA Baseball integrated well, First ever Danny Valencia autographed cards
Bad: Disappointing level of craftsmanship, Steep box price, Overprinting concerns, Release date to close to 2011 MLB Season
The Bottom Line: 4/5
This is undoubtedly one of the hardest products to review in recent memory. The craftsmanship is completely lacking at times, with cards featuring smudges, soft bottom corners and other random imperfections. But at the same time, they throw every big name rookie and prospect auto at you, including the first ever Topps autographs of Domonic Brown, Danny Valencia, Tim Beckham and several others.
Granted, the print run has to be pretty high on Bowman Sterling's non-refractor autos, but as much as I want to complain, it's too hard to when you can pull a Strasburg, Heyward, Domonic Brown, Aroldis Chapman, Jameson Taillon, Delino DeShields Jr and a variety of other big name autos out of a single box. This is also the last product to feature the 2010 rookie class, which could go down as the greatest of all-time.
Each box of 2010 Bowman Sterling carries a price tag of around $250-$300, so be sure to give it some thought before jumping on a box. Most prospectors should really enjoy this product, but it's still important that you ask yourself a few questions, several of which I listed below.
- Can I afford to buy this product without putting myself in a tough financial position?
- What cards am I hoping to get and might it be cheaper if I just purchased that card or cards instead?
- Do I like the design of the product from the pictures I've seen so far?
- Am I willing to sit on the cards I pull until that prospect either reaches his peak value or makes the majors (if necessary)?
- How many players on the checklist inrigue me?
The card design was extremely hit or miss for a variety of reasons. For one, the out of pack condition of the cards was sub par for a high-end offering, it felt like it was rushed in order to release prior to the first 2011 products. Outside of that, the card design is best described as "serviceable", as it won't wow you, yet it won't detract from the excitement of pulling a big card.
The checklist features an absolutely insane amount of big name rookie, prospect and USA baseball autographs and relics. From Strasburg to Heyward to Dom Brown to George Springer to the first Topps prospect autos featuring Domonic Brown, Tim Beckham and Danny Valencia (1st ever autographed card ever), the checklist is clearly the star of Sterling.
An additional wild card addition to Sterling's checklist is the first Topps 60th Anniversary Auto featuring Bryce Harper. If you're a fan of veterans and legends, this product definitely isn't for you, as the only veterans to appear in the product come way of the bonus dual relic box topper.
The singles out of Sterling are selling extremely well early on, which means the interest level is extremely high, which in turn means the product is valuable as a whole. The box price is steep to say the least, coming in at around $250-$300, but at the same time there's the potential to pull some big time hits and at worst end up with a sizeable stack of rookie, prospect and USA baseball relics and autos. According to dealers, the box price of Sterling is increasing in value, which is always a good sign, as this hasn't happened with a 2010 baseball product since mid-summer.
There are two primary concerns I have when it pertains to Sterling's value. First, the print run seems to be insanely high on the majority of the non-numbered autographs. The amount of Strasburg Auto redemptions on eBay is astonishing, which isn't a good thing. Second, the out of pack condition of some of the cards is disappointing, thankfully the best cards in my box were also some of the best conditioned cards, which obviously won't be the case with every box.
From time to time, I like to use something called the "top loader ratio" to gauge the value of a box. "Top loader ratio" is essentially the percentage of cards from a box that I felt compelled to immediately sleeve and put in a top loader. After the box break, I was compelled to top loader 22/32 total cards, which is a 68.75% top loader ratio. Even for a high end product, that is an extremely solid ratio in my book. Also, the breakdown value is higher than most high-end products, as it spreads the risk out over 6 packs rather than a single boom or bust pack.
Fun Factor: 4.5/5
Opening a box of Sterling is about as fun as it gets if you're a prospect junky. Just when you think you've gotten your box hit (best card in box), you open a pack that delivers something even crazier. The bonus dual box topper was also a nice touch. If you have the money and are a prospector, I would recommend giving a box of Sterling a shot, just be advised that it isn't a perfect product, it just features the perfect checklist.
For fun, I listed my Top 10 box hits in the order I value them:
- Domonic Brown Refractor Auto /199
- Jason Heyward Base Auto RC
- Stephen Strasburg Base Auto RC Redemption
- Wil Myers Gold Refractor /50
- Albert Almora USA Patch Auto Black Refractor /25
- Sonny Gray/George Springer USA Dual Auto
- Jameson Taillon Auto
- Aroldis Chapman Auto
- Delino Deshields Jr Auto (one of the favorite prospects from the 2010 draft class)
- Jose Tabata Auto RC (Watch out for this guy in 2011, he could be one of the biggest breakout stories of 2011)