Few pitchers can command a game like Justin Verlander. The Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher has also been popular with collectors throughout his career. This list looks at the best Justin Verlander cards to find for your collection.
It only took Justin Verlander a short time to go from the Detroit Tigers' first-round draft pick in 2004, to the anchor of the franchise's rotation on the 2006 American League Championship team. Verlander has been one of the game's most dominant modern pitchers since then, hurling multiple no-hitters, winning awards like the Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young, and leading both the Tigers and Houston Astros to postseason success.
As a high draft pick, he immediately appeared on the radar with baseball collectors who were eager to chase down the many Justin Verlander rookie cards. His initial MLB cards started appearing across multiple brands during the summer of 2005. Many of these are noted as "First Year" cards. While the 2006 cards for Verlander are listed on the card as being a rookie, most collectors recognize the 2005 cards as his true rookie options.
From base cards that can be readily found for a few dollars to low-print autographs that sell for hundreds of dollars, there is something for every type of collector when discussing Verlander's cards. The following guide looks at some of the best Justin Verlander cards available. This list mainly focuses on cards from early in his career, highlighting many notable cards that are essential to building a great collection.
Top 10 Justin Verlander Baseball Cards
Bolded sets go directly to detailed product profiles and checklists when available.
10. 2005 Topps Updates and Highlights Justin Verlander #UH220
The Justin Verlander card in 2005 Topps Updates and Highlights is one of his most affordable and easiest to find from his rookie year. The Futures Game started in 2001 and Topps produced and housed cards of the games' participants in Bowman. However, this is the one year the card giant produced a subset in their annual Update product. Verlander was featured alongside high draft picks Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun to form a solid checklist. Collectors with a little more money and time can also look for Verlander's Signature Moves autograph from this set.
9. 2005 Bowman Justin Verlander RC #174
The first Justin Verlander Bowman card is another popular and generally affordable option for Verlander collectors. Topps included Verlander across the board in many of their Bowman products during the 2005 season, but his base Bowman card is a must-have. The black border has also made it a popular choice with the graded crowd. Topps did not offer as many parallels in their Bowman sets as they do today, but if you are looking for a challenge, there is an "Uncirculated" parallel with white borders that is numbered to just 240 copies.
8. 2005 Bowman Heritage Justin Verlander RC #220
While it seems like Verlander appeared in every Topps product during the summer of 2005, there were a few places where he was absent. 2005 Topps Heritage was the biggest product without a Verlander card, but luckily collectors can find a solid Verlander rookie with some classic style in 2005 Bowman Heritage. This Justin Verlander rookie card is based on the stylings on the 1951 Bowman set. Beyond the great aesthetics, the Bowman Heritage rookie card also offers collectors a few more parallels to track down compared to the base Bowman card. Joining the one-of- ones are miniature and mahogany parallels that do not carry much of a premium beyond the base card, but are both visually appealing.
7. 2005 Bowman's Best Justin Verlander RC #102 Autograph #/974
2005 Bowman's Best had a simple format with 100 veteran base and rookie cards along with 40 First Year autographed cards. The rookie autographs came in several different color parallels, but most had generous print runs pushing near 1,000 copies. All of this means the 2005 Bowman's Best autograph for Verlander one of the steals amongst his rookie cards. Considering the limited number of Verlander autographs signed outside of his first few years, Bowman's Best offers one of the top overall values when looking for Justin Verlander cards.
6. 2003 Upper Deck USA Baseball Justin Verlander Autographs
During the summer of 2003, Justin Verlander played for the USA Baseball College National Team as a sophomore at Old Dominion. At the time, Upper Deck held the license for USA Baseball products and put out several Verlander cards, including autograph and relic cards. Some versions of this card have larger print runs, such as the red ink autographs, which make it one of the more affordable Verlander autographs out there. The blue ink cards have print runs of either 250 or 150 copies, depending on whether the card also contains a jersey swatch. Verlander also has a pair of relic cards in Upper Deck's 2004 USA Baseball line.
5. 2006 Topps 52 Justin Verlander #52S-JV Autograph
The 2006 Topps 52 set offered a great design and numerous autographs of Major League Baseball's best prospects and young players. Not many of the prospects in this set panned out, so it has flown under the radar for many years. However, it has slowly gained traction as Verlander's career has continued to look worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. What's not to love? This Verlander autograph borrows its design from the classic 1952 Topps set, and features an on-card signature. There is also a red parallel numbered to 52 copies. While this is not his most popular autographed card, it has started to slowly approach them in terms of price.
4. 2005 Topps Justin Verlander RC #677
Verlander also made an appearance at the tail end of 2005 Topps Baseball in a subset for "2005 First Year" players who were predominately high selections in the 2004 MLB Draft. The flagship Topps card of Verlander is just as readily available as the previous three base cards on the list, but this card is in a different category in terms of price and popularity. Whether you buy this card raw or graded, it has long carried a premium. If you are going to add one base card of Justin Verlander to your collection, this has to be the one.
3. 2005 SP Authentic Justin Verlander RC #137 Autograph #/185
SP Authentic was an annual set put out by Upper Deck that was usually filled with past and present MLB signers. In 2005, Upper Deck included an extra 76 prospect autographs in their Update set. This includes a young Justin Verlander. Limited to a print run of just 185 copies, it is not the scarcest Justin Verlander rookie autograph, but it is his most sought-after rookie card that has a limited production. Both raw and graded copies of this autograph carry a premium above the normal Verlander autograph.
2. 2005 Topps Chrome Justin Verlander RC #242 Autograph #/1,770
The 2005 Topps Chrome autograph of Justin Verlander has a fairly large print run at 1,770 copies, but that has not stopped it from being one of his most desirable cards. High-grade copies are amongst his priciest cards, with several different parallels for collectors to try to track down. In addition to the regular base autograph, collectors can chase the main Refractor parallel, which has 500 copies, or the Black Refractor with a print run of 200. There is also the Red X-Fractor version, but those are limited to just 25 copies and most have taken residence in collections already.
1. 2005 Bowman Chrome Justin Verlander RC #331 Autograph
Bowman Chrome autographs have become the gold standard for modern rookie and prospect cards. Topps began inserting rookie autographs in their Bowman Chrome product in 2001 with a group of first years that included Albert Pujols. Since that point, there have been dozens of star players with Hall of Fame careers that have been featured as signers.
Justin Verlander's appearance in 2005 Bowman Chrome is his most popular card. Like all Bowman Chrome autographs, there are different color parallels that become more difficult to find based on the limitations of the print runs. The serial-numbered editions range from 500 copies for his Chrome Refractor, all the way down to his one-of-one SuperFractor. Looking at the big picture, this card is not very old, but it has quickly established itself as a modern classic.