Zach Grienke has steadily built a Cooperstown-worthy résumé with a Cy Young Award in tow, more than 200 games won, and several other Hall of Fame-benchmark numbers, like 3,000 total strikeouts, well within reach. This list offers a look back at some of the best Zack Greinke cards from the entirety of his career.
It only took Zack Greinke a year and a half to climb through the Royals minor league system and make his MLB debut in 2004. Although Greinke did not accumulate many wins during his time in Kansas City, he still managed to take home the 2009 American League Cy Young Award. Greinke also spent time pitching for the Brewers, Angels, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Astros. No matter where he has taken the mound, he has been good enough to pitch his teams into the MLB Postseason, and this has helped Greinke earn the reputation as one of the best hurlers in the game.
The Zack Greinke baseball cards started almost immediately after the Royals selected him in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Early in his career, Greinke was a highly regarded prospect and he appeared in a wide array of corresponding products geared towards prospects, frequently as an autograph signer. As his career progressed, Greinke arrived on fewer autograph checklists, but his popularity with collectors has increased over time. Card companies have also given him a more visible presence in the hobby with an increase in the number of inserts and chase cards produced in recent years.
Although Greinke has to wait until after his retirement to appear on Hall of Fame ballots, there is little doubt that his career numbers have catapulted him into the conversation. As a result, collectors will likely continue looking for his cards for the foreseeable future. This list features some of the best options for those looking to add some Zack Greinke cards to their rotation.
Top 10 Zack Greinke Baseball Cards
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10. 2016-17 Topps Now Off-Season Zack Greinke/Buster Posey #OS-15 (286 copies)
Topps Now started in 2016 with print-to-order cards throughout the baseball season. The product continued during the winter with the Off-Season set highlighting the Cubs World Series title, award winners, players who changed teams, and players elected to the Hall of Fame. Greinke is showcased on the Defensive Players of the Year card. He has won the award multiple times and has been recognized in other Topps Now sets. However, the 2016 card has a low print run and also features a little extra star power with Buster Posey.
If you like the Topps Now cards, Greinke has many others.
9. 2019 Topps Heritage Throwback Variation Zack Greinke #442 SSP
Topps added a throwback variation to the Heritage product starting in 2017. The odds for pulling one of these cards are long, and they are often highly sought after by player collectors. Topps does not make a Throwback Variation for every card in the set, usually focusing on big names. While Greinke's profile on the field has grown, it has taken a little longer to blossom in the hobby. This tough-to-pull Throwback variation is exactly the type of set that Greinke normally does not appear in, so it is nice to see him get his due in 2019 Heritage.
8. 2003 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Zack Greinke #BDP134
2003 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects offers Greinke's second appearance after getting a card in 2002. While popular, it is one of the more affordable early options on this list. The Chrome cards in this product came two per pack, so they are slightly more difficult to find than the regular base Draft cards. Providing eve more of a challenge, there are three different parallels: Refractor, X-Fractor and Gold Refractor, which is numbered to 165 copies. Many of the Greinke parallels in this product are difficult to find.
7. 2004 Topps Heritage Zack Greinke #398 SP
2004 Heritage borrowed its design from the popular 1955 Topps set. This Greinke card is not considered a rookie, but is still an important early card for collectors to search out. Greinke is part of the high-numbered short prints, which are slightly easier to pull (1:2 packs) than the more recent Heritage releases (1:3), but Topps also included variation cards in odds calculations for the 2004 packaging. Whatever the true odds might be, it is not an easy card to find, and it remains one of the more expensive base cards in this set. Greinke did not appear in the Chrome parallel, nor does he have a variation card in 2004 Heritage.
6. 2004 Just Minors Prospects Zack Greinke #35 Autograph #/100
Just Minors produced baseball cards featuring players in their MiLB uniforms for a little more than a decade, starting in 1999. The autographs are the real highlight as the company managed to offer the signatures of players like Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera on checklists before the major brands. While many of the autographed cards in Just Minors were mass-produced and sold in per-pack autograph products, this Greinke signature has very low production. The base white autograph is limited to just 100 copies. There are also Gold (#/50) and Black (#/25) parallels, as well as a Preview autograph with parallels.
5. 2004 Topps Blue Chips Autographs Zack Greinke #TT-ZG
The Topps Blue Chips autographs were a multi-year, cross-brand insert set. These cards appeared in four different 2003 Topps products, as well as another four sets in 2004. The series focuses on younger players. There are other solid Major Leaguers on the checklist, but Greinke is the star signer. The Blue Chips Zack Greinke autograph is not numbered, but it can be a difficult card to locate and it carries a premium with collectors above and beyond the standard Greinke signature.
4. 2003 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Signs of the Future Zack Greinke Autographs #SOF-ZG
2003 Bowman Draft has a mixture of draft picks, first-year players and prospects who appeared in that summer's Futures Game. Zack Greinke, Ryan Howard and Robinson Cano are the standout cards, but Greinke is the only notable player who appears on the Signs of the Future autograph checklist. Even though Greinke's autographs have grown in popularity and in price over the last several years, this is one of his more affordable autographs, if you can find one.
3. 2003 Bowman Signs of the Future Autographs Zack Greinke #SOF-ZG
Greinke’s debut appearance in a Bowman flagship set netted his certified first autograph. Although this is also part of the Signs of the Future insert, the designs are drastically different. Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels are the two key cards in this set. The base autograph, signed in blue ink, is not numbered, but it is still in high demand. Collectors can also try to track down the red ink version of this card. However, with just 25 copies in circulation, it is tough to find and quite pricey.
2. 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Zack Greinke Autograph #93
UD Prospect Premiers was intended to rival Bowman and Upper Deck managed to produce several important prospect autographs during its brief run. The highlights in the 2002 edition include Greinke, Prince Fielder and B.J. Upton. Even though this was a first-year Greinke card, it is not considered a true rookie card since the players in the set were all prospects at the time. Regardless, this is a highly coveted card amongst collectors and it has greatly increased in popularity as Greinke’s career path has started to align with other pitchers enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1. 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Zack Greinke RC #BDP6
Switching things up, Topps made some changes in 2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects. For the first time in its history, Bowman Draft was distributed in packs rather than being sold as a Hobby-exclusive set. Topps also included Chrome cards in the packs along with the usual assortment of parallels and autographs. While the Bowman Chrome autographs have become the gold standard for rookie cards in the industry, Greinke did not sign cards for this set. Rather, collectors looking for this rookie card have to search out the Chrome card and its parallels, including Refractors (print run of 300), X-Fractors (print run of 150), and Gold Refractors (print run of 50).
Collectors can also opt for the base paper edition, which is still a great-looking card that is both affordable and easy to find on the secondary market.