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Topps Chrome NPB is a rare set that didn’t have a long life span.

While baseball is known as “America’s Game,” it’s also popular in many countries around the globe, specifically Japan. It’s the most popular spectator sport in the country, and professional baseball competitions have taken place in Japan for around a century. The highest level of baseball in Japan today is Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

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Japanese baseball cards have been around for decades in some capacity, but it wasn’t until 2021 that Topps joined the party and created its first NPB set ever. First was the 2021 Topps NPB set, followed closely by the 2021 Topps Chrome NPB set.

This guide will go back in time and take a closer look at the 2021 Topps Chrome NPB set. We will go over the set itself, popular players in the set, cards to look for, the most valuable pulls, and more.

What’s in the Box?

Each 2021 Topps Chrome NPB box has 24 packs per box, each containing 4 cards.

History of the Set

As mentioned in the intro, baseball cards in Japan date back decades, with offerings from companies like Calbee, Epoch, and BBM. While Topps briefly entered the market in 2002 to release MLB cards with Japanese backs, it wasn’t until 2021 that the company created its first-ever NPB set.

It started with the 2021 Topps NPB set and was followed up a few months later by the 2021 Topps Chrome NPB set. At the time of release, the 2021 Topps Chrome NPB set was only available in Japan, but now you can easily find it on eBay and other destinations.

Since the successful 2021 release of the Topps/Topps Chrome NPB sets, Topps has continued with an annual release each year, which bodes well for the future of this product line.

Set Overview

While there are no autographed cards to chase in this set, several popular and rare cards are still to seek out.

Base Set

The base set consists of 216 cards, and all 12 NPB teams are featured. The list includes young players with great potential, superstars, champions, and many of the league’s most popular players.

Parallels

In addition to the standard base set, there are several parallels to search for. Each card has 8 different parallels, some of which are very easy to find in each box and others much harder to locate.

The parallels include Purple Refractors (numbered to 299), Gold Refractors (numbered to 50), Red Refractors (numbered to 5), and others. Incredibly lucky collectors and investors can also obtain 1/1 SuperFractors.

In addition to different rarities, each refractor has a different design, shine, and color.

Inserts

The set includes three different inserts: Stadium Sluggers, Prismic Power, and 1986 Topps Baseball. Because there are only three insert sets and only 48 cards between them, these are rarer to find than the inserts in many other sports card sets.

Each of these inserts also comes in a few different parallels including: Gold Refractor (numbered to /50), Orange Refractor (numbered to /25), Red Refractor (numbered to /5), and SuperFractor (1/1).

Popular Players in the Set

While there are several popular and outstanding players in this set, there are a few that it’s essential to know about if you decide to collect and/or invest in 2021 Topps Chrome NPB.

Roki Sasaki

Roki Sasaki is a 22-year old pitcher for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He was able to throw at over 100 mph in high school, and was taken first overall in the 2019 NPB draft. After making his debut in 2021, he quickly became one of the better pitchers in the NPB.

However, his biggest moment occurred on April 10th, 2022. On that day, he not only pitched a perfect game (the first in the NPB since 1994), but he also tied the NPB record for strikeouts in a game with 19.

He’s not eligible to go to the MLB yet, but once he is, nearly every team would love to have him on their roster.

Seiya Suzuki

Seiya Suzuk is a 29-year old outfielder who currently plays for the Chicago Cubs. He signed with the team in 2022 on a massive 5-year $85 million contract, and has impressed thus far in his MLB career. In fact, he began his career in the majors with an 8-game hitting streak, becoming only the 3rd Cubs player to do this in 100 years.

In addition to hitting, he’s also a great fielder. As a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the NPB, Suzuki was a multi-time batting champion, all-star, and Golden Glove award winner.

Masataka Yoshida

Masataka Yoshida is a 30-year old outfielder/designated hitter who signed with the Boston Red Sox in late-2022 on a contract worth a reported $90 million. He has a great mix of contact and power, and this has translated to the MLB, where he sees lots of playing time as the designated hitter for the Red Sox.

In the NPB, he was a member of the Orix Buffaloes and maintained a .327 batting average throughout his career, and had numerous accolades including a championship in 2022.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yamamoto is a 25-year-old pitcher who’s one of the biggest stars to come out of Japan in years. His accolades in NPB are nearly unmatched, as he won multiple MVP awards and the pitching Triple Crown three years in a row.

After this success, he made the jump to the MLB in late-2023, where he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers for an astonishing $325 million over 12 years. He’s only played a few games in the MLB so far, but he’s impressed with a 4-1 record at the time of writing this guide.

Shota Imanaga

Another player worth knowing is Shota Imanaga, a 30-year old pitcher. He played for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in the NPB, where he was a two-time all star and led the league in strikeouts in 2023.

In 2024, he signed a four-year $53 million deal with the Chicago Cubs to join the MLB. So far in his career, Imanaga is lighting it up. As of writing this guide, he currently has a 5-0 record, 43 strikeouts, and a 1.08 ERA.

Munetaka Murakami

Munetaka Murakami is a 24-year old third baseman who plays for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the NPB. He’s won multiple MVP awards, the batting Triple Crown in 2022, and holds the record for the most home runs in a season by a Japanese player in the NPB at 56.

Like Roki Sasaki, Murakami isn’t eligible to go to the MLB yet, but you can be sure that once he’s available, several teams will be interested in bringing him on for his outstanding power.

Best Hits and Cards to Watch For

Some of the best hits to watch for in this set are low-numbered parallels, especially those numbered to /50, /25, /5, and 1/1.

Inserts are also good hits, as there are so few compared to many other sports card sets. Specifically, the refractor versions of the inserts are some of the best pulls you can find. These are very rare and may only show up every few hundred or thousand packs.

Also, as you could imagine, cards from the popular players we mentioned in the last section are some of the most desirable in the entire set. While their parallels and inserts are most valuable, even base set versions can sell.

Pricing

When it was released in Japan back in 2021, you could buy a box for the equivalent of around $140 USD. Today, you’ll generally need to pay between $200 to $250 USD for a hobby box on eBay. As you can see, the price of a sealed box of this product has climbed quite a bit, and this growth could continue.

Most Valuable Cards

The most valuable cards in the set right now are Yoshinobu Yamamoto cards, as he recently made a major move to the MLB and signed a mammoth contract. Some of his most valuable sales so far include:

  • $725 for a PSA 10 1986 Topps Baseball insert
  • $515.01 for a Red Refractor 1986 Topps Baseball insert /5
  • $499.99 for a PSA 8 Purple Refractor /299

But the single most valuable card of his that we could find from this set was a PSA 8 1986 Topps Baseball SuperFractor 1/1 insert that recently sold for $4,880.

However, outside of Yamamoto, there are also many other cards from the set that have sold for a fair amount, including:

 

  • $513.33 for a PSA 10 Shunpeita Yamashita Gold Refractor /50
  • $402 for a Hiroto Takahashi Red Refractor /5
  • $295 for a Roki Sasaki Aqua Refractor /199
  • $250 for a Shota Imanaga Orange Refractor /25

Investment Outlook

The investment outlook and potential for this set is strong. As more players featured in this set make the move to the MLB (such as Roki Sasaki and Munetaka Murakami), some potential hidden gems could be worth a fortune once they sign with an MLB club.

While they may not reach the height of other former NPB players like Shohei Ohtani or Ichiro, there’s a chance they do, and their cards could be worth thousands (or more) if that’s the case. This set provides an interesting opportunity to invest in players that many MLB fans don’t know about, but soon will.

In addition to their singles growing in price as they become more well-known in the Western market, sealed boxes should continue to rise.

With Topps only releasing the set in Japan, it also has some built-in scarcity for American customers. It also seems that Topps is committed to the NPB set in general, as it has released it every year since this debut, which is reassuring for the future.

The set is still relatively new, but if it continues to impress and players keep making the move to the big leagues, it could be a precious set to collect or invest in going forward.

Final Thoughts

The 2021 Topps Chrome NPB set is full of outstanding players who have either already made the trip to the MLB, or could in the coming years.

While it’s not as well-known as many MLB sets, it has a lot of potential and is relatively budget-friendly, though prices could climb higher as the set gets more attention.

We hope this guide helped you learn more about the players in the set, the value of its cards, the types of cards you can find, and more.

2024 Topps Chrome NPB Baseball Checklist

About the Author

Cardboard Vice

I'm always buying: 2011 Mike Trout Topps Update, Ty Cobb T206, and 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Star Rookie. PSA 10 only. I also enjoy no limit poker and horse racing.

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