Top 15 Bowman Chrome Baseball Cards of All-Time

Top 15 Bowman Chrome Baseball Cards of All-Time

Bowman Chrome is a name that is very well-known among baseball collectors and the rookie and prospect cards are the main attraction. The brand got its start in 1997 and quickly became a top option for collecting young stars. Bowman Chrome cards have been some of the most popular recent cards in all of collecting and it is a safe bet that the next big rookie in baseball will find his Bowman Chrome cards to be hotly pursued.

While there may be some confusion regarding what constitutes a true rookie card in many modern sets, Bowman Chrome's popularity allows it to rise above that. As a simple rule, all first-year players found in the 2005 Bowman Chrome base set and before are given the RC designation. The cards are part of the main base set. Beginning in 2006 is where it gets tricky, when base cards and prospect cards split off into separate categories.

Prospect cards are released at the beginning of a player's career and the rookie card designation is issued during the season that the player officially joins a Major League roster. Bowman Chrome prospect cards are inserts and not part of the main set, even though they look that way. Ultimately, collectors dictate the value of cards. Many now prefer the first cards for a player versus his "true" rookie card, which may not come until a season or two later.

The following list attempts to cover all the glorious years that are encapsulated in Bowman Chrome. The result is the top 15 rookie and prospect cards that are found under the Bowman Chrome name.

Top Bowman Chrome Baseball Cards

15. 2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro RC #351 - Japanese/English Versions

Ichiro's Bowman Chrome card does not feature his autograph, which is why it checks in at 15, but it is still in high demand. Two versions of the card exist, with one being in English and the other in Japanese. They were both produced in equal numbers, so it really just boils down to preference. Collectors have also shown considerable interest in the X-Fractor and Gold Refractor (#/99) parallels. Topps made throwback reprints of these in 2011, so make sure you're picking the correct card.

2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro Suzuki - Japanese

14. 2002 Bowman Chrome Joe Mauer RC #391 Autograph

Joe Mauer is the face (and hair) of the Minnesota Twins and his autographed rookie card once ruled the hobby landscape. A combination of the Minnesota market, limited postseason success and decreased production have slightly diminished the interest, but Joe Mauer's Bowman Chrome card still remains a popular collectible. Now looking back to form, demand is increasing once again for this top Bowman Chrome rookie card. Top parallels include Refractor (#/500), X-Fractor (#/250), Gold Refractor (#/50), and Uncirculated (#/10).

13. 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Evan Longoria #66 Autograph

Evan Longoria was not called up to the Tampa Bay Rays until 2008, which is when his true rookie cards were released, but he had long been on the collecting radar. His 2006 Bowman Chrome card is easily the top card for collectors. Although injuries have slowed his development, Longoria remains a good investment because of his potential for greatness. Popular Evan Longoria autographed parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5).

12. 2002 Bowman Chrome David Wright RC #385 Autograph

David Wright's Bowman Chrome card is another inclusion in the 2002 edition. The past few seasons have not been kind to Mets fans but with some new young talent and the veteran leadership of David Wright, the team appears to be moving in the right direction. His rookie card values are following suit and David Wright edges out Joe Mauer as the top Bowman Rookie card of 2002. Popular parallels include Refractor (#/500), X-Fractor (#/250), Gold Refractor (#/50), and Uncirculated (#/10).

11. 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Clayton Kershaw #84 Autograph

While his official rookie cards were not released until 2008, when he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster, Clayton Kershaw's 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks has proven to be one of his top cards. Now that Kershaw has established himself as an elite pitcher, it is safe to assume that this card will continue its upward trajectory. Autographed parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5).

10. 2012 Bowman Chrome Yu Darvish #209 Autograph

Although Yu Darvish cards were first featured in 2009 Bowman Chrome as a WBC insert, for once, collectors appear to prefer the true rookie year release from Bowman Chrome. The Japanese pitcher was somewhat overshadowed by the terrific rookie seasons put forth by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but still made an impressive showing for the Texas Rangers. Autographed parallels include Blue Refractors (#/250), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5). The true rookie option (this card was an insert in 2012 Bowman Baseball), 2012 Bowman Chrome Yu Darvish RC #84, has emerged as a favorite low-end option for collections.

2012 Bowman Chrome Yu Darvish Autograph

9. 2005 Bowman Chrome Justin Verlander RC #331 Autograph

The Detroit Tigers ace joins Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw as one of just a few pitchers listed among the top Bowman Chrome cards. Justin Verlander has proven to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB and his name is regularly mentioned in the yearly Cy Young Award discussions. Popular autographed parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50) and Red Refractors (#/5).

8. 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft Ryan Braun RC #168 Autograph

While he continues to fight PED rumors off the field, it is hard to question Ryan Braun's performance on the field. Braun continues to put up great numbers for the Milwaukee Brewers and his 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft rookie card has seen strong sales. Top autographed parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/250), Blue Refractors (#/150), and Gold Refractors (#/50).

7. 2005 Bowman Chrome Matt Kemp #349 Autograph

Matt Kemp is another hobby favorite from 2005 Bowman Chrome. It took him a few seasons to settle in but he saw great success in 2011 and his Bowman Chrome rookie card values moved up significantly.  After a terrific 2011, Matt Kemp entered the 2012 season at an elite level. However injuries plagued the young star and he was unable to duplicate his previous success. Collectors are now hoping that Kemp will get back in to an elite level and push his rookie card values up even further. Popular parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), and Gold Refractors (#/50).

2005 Bowman Chrome Matt Kemp Autograph Rookie Card

6. 2004 Bowman Chrome Draft AFLAC Autographed Refractor Justin Upton #JU #/125

Justin Upton has shown All-Star ability throughout his career and collectors were just waiting for him to put it all together on a good team. He might have finally found his home after joining his brother, BJ Upton, with the Atlanta Braves. The only thing that could hold him back is the injury bug that has plagued his career. If Justin Upton can stay healthy, his Bowman Chrome card should see considerable increases in value and interest. This autographed Refractor card is limited to 125 and was only available as a redemption. Be aware that there are a lot of 2006 Bowman Originals buyback versions of this card on the market. They are hand numbered to 1000 and are not the same card. Some are stamped "For Promotional Use Only" and some say "Player Issue."

5. 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Buster Posey #BDPP128 Autograph

Buster Posey's true rookie cards were not issued until 2010 but his most popular Bowman Chrome card was released in 2008. After helping lead the San Francisco Giants to the MLB title in 2010, Posey suffered a devastating injury in 2011. Despite worries about lasting effects of the injury, especially as a catcher, Buster Posey returned in 2012 and absolutely dominated. Once again, he helped lead the Giants to the title and his 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Propsects autograph card saw significant increases in value. Top autographed parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5).

4. 2010 Bowman Chrome Autograph Stephen Strasburg RC #205

The struggling Washington Nationals needed a player to help turn around their franchise and Stephen Strasburg did not disappoint. The fire-throwing right-hander made a short stint in the minors before joining the Nats rotation. Although most of his 2011 season was derailed by Tommy John Surgery for a torn UCL, Strasburg came back strong in 2012 and helped lead the Nationals to their first playoff appearance since the franchise moved from Montreal. Strasburg's 2010 Bowman Chrome card #205 features a base and an autographed version. Autographed parallels include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5). Collectors looking for a lower-priced option will want to check out Strasburg's first Bowman Chrome card, 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects Stephen Strasburg #BCP1. There are several levels of parallels to chase, inlcuding a Superfractor parallel (1/1) that made huge waves in the hobby when it was pulled and sold.

3. 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autograph Mike Trout #BDPP89

Mike Trout came into the league with great expectations. However, due to his young age, it was assumed that he would take a few years to reach his potential. 2012 marked Trout's first full season in the MLB and he produced one of the greatest individual seasons in league history. Mike Trout's card values exploded and they were led by his 2009 Bowman Chrome card. Top autographed parallels again include Refractors (#/500), X-Fractors (#/225), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5).

2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Autographs Mike Trout

2. 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autograph Bryce Harper #BCP111

There are few, if any, players who came into the league with more hype than Bryce Harper. Despite these lofty expectations, Harper quickly made his way through the minor leagues and joined the Nationals roster not long after the start of 2012 season. Although he experienced some ups and downs during his rookie year, Bryce Harper finished strong, helping lead the team to the NLDS. Refusing to accept the sophomore slump, Harper started the 2013 season where he left off and his card prices are skyrocketing. The 2011 Bowman Chrome card has a base version and an autographed version. Both are very popular with collectors. These top Bowman Chrome cards are not true rookies, but most collectors do not seem to mind. Top parallels for the base version include Green X-Fractors (retail only), Purple Refractors (#/799), Refractors (#/500), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5). Popular parallels for the autographed version include Refractors (#/500), Blue Refractors (#/150), Gold Refractors (#/50), Orange Refractors (#/25) and Red Refractors (#/5).

Top 15 Bowman Chrome Rookie Cards of All-Time

1. 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols RC #340 Autograph #/500

The Bowman Chrome rookie card for Albert Pujols is arguably the top Bowman Chrome card of all-time. Even with a print run of 500, these cards still command huge amounts. Collectors should note that these popular cards originally came as redemption, so don't waste your time with boxes if you are hoping to pull one. Also, beware of reprints and throwbacks.

2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols RC Autograph #/500

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Trey Treutel

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Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. In more recent years, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute or Google+.

User Comments

  1. Id Take out the Justin Upton auto and replace it with the Andrew McCutchen AFLAC auto.

  2. How could you have Matt Kemp ahead of Clayton Kershaw? One is a future first ballot Hall of Famer, the other is, well, Matt Kemp.

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