2005 Bowman Chrome Justin Verlander Autograph
Like many of the chrome re-hashes of Bowman and Topps base sets, I did not initially collect this set when it was issued in 2005. Instead, I slowly picked up the cards over a few years. My first card that I went after was this Justin Verlander autographed rookie card. I did not follow the Tigers too much in 2006, Verlander's first full season, until the Tigers reached the playoffs. I was impressed by what I saw and decided that a nice Verlander rookie card would be a good addition to the collection.
2005 Bowman Chrome Ryan Braun Autograph
About a year later I added the Ryan Braun autograph when the Brewers called him up and I decided to just pick up the rest of the set. The set was really well thought of when it was released in 2005, but in the years since it's release the cards have really taken off in value and popularity. In my opinion, there are seven key rookie cards in the set: Ryan Braun, Justin Verlander, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, Jered Weaver, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
2005 Topps Chrome Matt Kemp Autograph
There are other good players in set and I've heard people argue the pros and cons of the Stephen Drew, Billy Butler, and Matt Garza cards too. However, I think that the three aforementioned players fall short of being included in my group of seven key rookies from this set. Spend a few minutes looking them up on Baseball Reference and there is clearly a line here between the elite players and good players.
2005 Bowman Chrome Jered Weaver Autograph
One of the best ways to rate a great set is to pick out the great cards in the set and then try to determine their effect on the rest of the set. If a set is not dynamic or spectacular the key cards will stand alone in spite of the rest of the set. With great sets, the key cards have heavy demand and value, but also drive the popularity, price, and demand on the rest of the cards.
2005 Bowman Chrome XFractor Jeff Niemann Autograph
For example, one of my first cards I picked up after the Verlander was this Jeff Niemann card. He was the third overall draft pick in the 2004 draft and was a highly thought of prospect in the lower minors. I watched him for a year in Durham playing for the Bulls and he seemed like a solid pitcher, but nothing spectacular. His rookie cards generally reflect Niemann's level of performance on the field. Most sell for less than $5 and are pretty easy to find. However, Niemann has an autograph in the 2005 Bowman Chrome set which regularly fetches over $10 and often has competitive bidding on Ebay. The only explanation for this specific card being twice as valuable as the other Niemann rookie cards is that it is valued more because of the set, rather than the player.
2005 Bowman Chrome Jacoby Ellsbury Autograph
This set can rarely be found for sale as a whole, but collectors can assemble the set card by card. All of the cards are still available on the secondary market and haven't really dried up. Most of the good rookie cards in the set sell north of $100 with paralleled serial numbered versions going much higher depending upon how limited the print run. I worry about the health of Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury, so I could see a slight slide with their cards in the future. However, players like Justin Verlander and Ryan Bruan are not going to get any cheaper and I think as the continue to compile good career numbers these cards will be harder to find and even more expensive.