What baseball cards are worth money ? Let’s say you did some baseball card collecting during the 2000s, and now you’re revisiting your old collection and wondering if anything you have is valuable. We’ve got you covered!
Ahead, we’ve taken a closer look at the 10 most valuable rookie cards of the 2000s, by which we mean the decade running from 2000 through 2009.
A few important parameters for our list before we get started:
Bowman and Topps releases only: The Bowman and Topps brands have become the go-to for rookie card collectors, so we narrowed our focus solely to the Bowman, Bowman Draft, Topps, Topps Traded and Topps update sets, along with their respective chrome parallel sets.
No numbered or autographed cards: The goal here was to identify cards that are valued because of the player on them, not because of their scarcity or an accompanying autograph. As such, cards like the 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols rookie autograph which is numbered to 499 won’t be found on the following list.
One card per player: In an effort to provide some variety to the list, each player only appears once. Otherwise, this would have just been a countdown of the best rookie cards of Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Miguel Cabrera.
10. 2005 Topps #677 Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander was selected No. 2 overall in the 2004 draft out of Old Dominion University, and he was one of 20 “Draft Picks” cards included in Series 2 of the 2005 Topps flagship set.
While the Topps Chrome rookie option is generally the more appealing target for collectors, Verlander’s 2005 Topps Chrome card is autographed with a limited print run of only 1,770. The cost and rarity of that card has helped prop up the appeal of his Topps base rookie card.
A two-time Cy Young winner and 2011 AL MVP with a 3.33 ERA and 3,013 strikeouts in 2,988 innings, Verlander appears to be on his way to the Hall of Fame. His 72.2 career WAR ranks 30th all-time among pitchers, and Roger Clemens is the only player above him on that list who is not currently enshrined.
9. 2005 Topps Chrome Update #210 Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz was traded three times before his MLB career finally took off, going from the Mets to the A’s to the Brewers before he was flipped to Texas in the blockbuster deal that sent Carlos Lee to the Rangers in 2006.
His rookie cards show him as a member of the Milwaukee organization, and aside from a trio of short-printed autographs from other companies, his Topps Chrome Traded rookie is far and away the top target for collectors. While his base Topps Update card shows him playing in the Futures Game, his Topps Chrome Update is a great posed shot of him swinging the bat in his Brewers uniform.
A mere 27 of the card have been graded by PSA, with only six PSA 10 in circulation right now, making it an attractive low-pop rookie of one of the premier home run hitters of his era.
8. 2008 Topps Update #UH280 Max Scherzer
The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Max Scherzer with the No. 11 pick in the 2006 draft, and he made his MLB debut less than two years later on April 29, 2008. That earned him a spot in the 2008 Bowman Draft and 2008 Topps Update sets, and his Topps rookie is the headliner in his rookie card lineup.
The Chrome version of this card was actually a one-per-box insert card rather than it’s own product line, so it’s not considered a true rookie. The black border (/57) and gold border (/2008) are other parallel versions with limited print runs that command a steep price.
With Cooperstown in his future, Scherzer’s rookie cards will continue to be in-demand, but some of the other brands remain extremely affordable. His 2008 Stadium Club rookie, in particular, is a great-looking card with recent sales hovering in the $10-15 range.
7. 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft #6 Zack Greinke
Collectors looking to add a Zack Greinke rookie card only have two options—2002 Bowman Draft or 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft—and that has helped keep the value strong on both of them over the years.
While the base version of the card regularly sells for $10-20, the chrome version is much harder to find in clean condition, making high-grade copies a hot commodity.
Only 23 of the 231 that have been graded by PSA have come back with a 10 grade, and there are no eBay sales of a PSA 10 in the past 90 days to provide an accurate price range. Four figures is not out of the question the next time one surfaces on the secondary market.
6. 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft #44 Joey Votto
While 2008 cards of Joey Votto received the “RC” logo and sell for decent money, his true rookie cards are actually in a trio of 2002 products. He joins Zack Greinke in the 2002 Bowman Draft and 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft sets, while he was also included in the 2002 Topps 206 throwback release that was a nod to old tobacco cards.
The Bowman Draft ($20-25) and Topps 206 ($45-50) cards hold solid value, but it’s the Bowman Chrome Draft that is hands down the most sought after of the trio.
With 144 of the 500 graded versions coming away as PSA 10, there’s a more robust market than the Greinke card from the same set, but Votto’s appeal as a fan favorite and one of the premier offensive players of his generation helps drive up prices.
5. 2004 Topps Chrome #219 Yadier Molina
In a hobby dominated by young, rising stars and prolific home-run hitters, catcher Yadier Molina is a rare exception as a 39-year-old catcher whose hobby appeal stems from his status as a living legend and the face of the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a decade.
A fourth-round pick out of Puerto Rico in 2000, Molina made his MLB debut on June 3, 2004, and his rookie cards were featured across a wide variety of 2004 products. He was featured in the Bowman and Topps flagship sets, but it’s his Topps Chrome rookie that stands above the rest.
The 2004 Topps Chrome set featured autographed rookie cards for the first time, but they more or less whiffed on the rookies they decided to include, with Carlos Quentin checking in as the best of that 26-player portion of the set. Molina’s non-autographed rookie is the chase card in the set, and PSA 10 versions have broken the $1,000 barrier.
4. 2008 Topps Update #UH240 Clayton Kershaw
Left-hander Clayton Kershaw made his MLB debut as a 20-year-old on May 25, 2008, and that early arrival earned him a spot in several later release 2008 sets, along with the 2008 Bowman Draft and 2008 Topps Update products.
Just like Max Scherzer, his 2008 Topps Chrome Update card is actually an insert card, leaving his base Topps Update as the go-to true rookie for collectors. With three Cy Young Awards, an NL MVP, and an all-time great 2.49 ERA in 2,454.2 innings, Kershaw is a no-brainer first-ballot Hall of Famer. Thus, his cards figure to hold their value well in the coming years.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ homegrown superstar has 28 total rookie cards, but that number is a bit deceiving, with 11 of them included in the 2008 Upper Deck Documentary set and featuring the exact same image.
3. 2001 Topps Chrome Traded #T266 Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki was the first position player to make the jump from the Japanese League to Major League Baseball, signing a three-year, $14.1 million deal with the Seattle Mariners on Nov. 30, 2000. That gave card companies plenty of time to include the overseas phenom in their 2001 products, and he has 49 different rookie cards as a result across a wide variety of different products.
His Bowman Chrome rookie was only available as a short-printed refractor, and there’s an English and Japanese text version of the card. Those are also among the most valuable rookies of the decade, but it’s his Topps Chrome Traded card that is No. 1 on most collectors’ wish lists.
Due to a licensing issue, Ichiro was included in the 2001 Topps base set, but he was not eligible to appear in the 2001 Topps Chrome set. He was ultimately included in the Topps Chrome Traded set with the same image as his Topps base card, and all was right with the world, but it was a roundabout year for the hottest rookie card on the market.
2. 2000 Topps Chrome Traded #T40 Miguel Cabrera
A 17-year-old Miguel Cabrera had played in only 65 professional games—the bulk of which were in rookie ball—when Topps decided to include him on their 2001 Topps Traded checklist.
The only two true rookie cards in his database are in the 2001 Topps Traded and 2001 Topps Chrome Traded sets, and since both of those releases were sold exclusively in complete factory set form, there was no pulling a Cabrera rookie card from packs.
Both cards are readily available in PSA 10 form, with the base version (1,950) outnumbering a still plentiful Chrome (600) version, but that has done nothing to suppress prices on one of the iconic rookie cards of the 2000s.
1. 2001 Topps Chrome #596 Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols hit .314/.378/.543 with 19 home runs and 96 RBI in his pro debut in 2000, spending the bulk of the season at Single-A before closing out the year with brief stints at High-A and Triple-A.
That breakthrough performance from a guy who was taken in the 13th round of the 1999 draft earned him a spot in a wide variety of 2001 sets, though he was not part of the Topps flagship base set.
However, when Ichiro Suzuki was unable to be included in the Topps Chrome set, Pujols replaced him on the checklist. He then had a base card in the Topps Traded set, which has its own Chrome version, leading to some confusion over which cards are his true rookie cards. The answer is the Topps Chrome and the Topps Traded base, but all three cards sell for a premium.
Of course, the pinnacle of Pujols collecting is his 2001 Bowman Chrome autograph, which has a print run of just 499. The most recent sale of that card on eBay was an ungraded version that went for $12,000.
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