25 Most Valuable 2005 Topps Baseball Cards

Most Valuable 2005 Topps Baseball Cards


If one thing makes 2005 Topps baseball cards memorable, it's their design.

The big, bold lettering across the top, multi-color inner borders and fantastic imagery give them a home run eye-appeal...

Design aside, there's plenty more to like about this set.

Led by Justin Verlander, the rookie card class is solid and there are plenty of other big-name stars to help round out the 733-card checklist.

The large number of inserts, parallels and printing plates placed into packs also marked a notable effort from Topps to boost collector interest.

It's probably not one of the most popular sets of all time, but the 2005 Topps baseball set is certainly good for its era.

And in this guide, we'll take a look at the 25 most valuable.

Let's jump right in!

Ross Uitts

Ross Uitts - Owner

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Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 2005 Bowman, Donruss and Upper Deck sets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.

So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:

2005 Topps #677 Justin Verlander Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $200

Justin Verlander ripped through the Minors in 2005 with a purpose, finishing with an 11-2 record and posting a microscopic 1.29 ERA in 118.2 innings between High-A and Double-A.

The Detroit Tigers organization was very pleased with their second overall in the 2004 MLB Draft, to say the least.

Verlander utterly exposed Minor League competition with his high-octane fastball and wicked, developing secondary arsenal.

The 22-year-old righty was a star on the cusp, and his dominance was convincing enough to earn him a mid-season call-up to the Detroit Tigers' big-league club in early July.

However, it was a little bit too much, too soon for the 2005 Futures Game participant.

Verlander made just two starts with the Tigers in '05, surrendering 15 hits and five walks in just 11.1 innings pitched for an inflated 1.765 WHIP.

He also gave up nine earned runs in those two outings, finishing his cup of coffee with an unseemly 7.15 ERA.

Verlander returned to the Minors in mid-July for seasoning and continued where he left off, dropping Double-A hitters like flies.

Come 2006, he was ready for the game's biggest stage.

2005 Topps #677 Justin Verlander Rookie Card

2005 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH206 Nelson Cruz Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $75

Nelson Cruz's journey to The Show was a long, twisting story of perseverance and promise.

Initially signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1998, Cruz was traded to the Oakland A's in August of 2000.

From there, he spent the better part of four years bouncing around the Athletics' organization before he was traded again, this time to the Brewers in late 2004.

The A's sold high on Cruz after he broke out for three of their affiliates in '04.

He continued his momentum for Milwaukee's Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .289/.385/.537 with 27 home runs, 81 RBIs, 78 runs scored, 19 stolen bases, and 61 walks in 456 at-bats.

Cruz's head-turning '05 Minor League showcase earned him his first taste of Major League Baseball in mid-September.

He tallied just seven plate appearances for the 81-win Brewers as they played out the string, going 1-for-5 with a double and two walks.

And he never played another game in a Brewers uniform.

Cruz returned to the Minors in '06 and was dealt to the Texas Rangers by July.

And that's when the story really got good.

His rookie card is technically part of the 2005 Topps Traded set, but I decided to include it here anyway.

2005 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH206 Nelson Cruz Rookie Card

2005 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH239 Andrew McCutchen Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $75

One of the most heralded multi-sport athletes to come out of the state of Florida in recent years, Andrew McCutchen had plenty of options to consider after his high school graduation.

He was part of a state title-winning track team.

He was a top wide receiver recruit in football.

And, oh yeah, he hit .474 during his varsity baseball career in Fort Meade.

McCutchen excelled at everything he did athletically.

And it was this seemingly limitless potential that landed him a scholarship offer from the University of Florida.

Cutch committed to the Gators, with every intention of heading to The Swamp.

However, he soon pulled back after he was picked 11th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2005 MLB Draft.

McCutchen de-committed from U of F, inking a deal with the Buccos, which included a hefty $1.9 million signing bonus.

Baseball was his passion, and now he was getting paid handsomely to pursue it professionally.

The future face of the Pirates franchise started rookie ball on fire, hitting .310 with a .852 OPS and 17 stolen bases in 58 games for Pittsburgh's rookie-level and low-A affiliates.

Like Cruz's rookie card, McCutchen's is also part of the 2005 Topps Traded set, but I'll give him a pass and include him on this list.

2005 Topps Updates & Highlights #UH329 Andrew McCutchen Rookie Card

2005 Topps #100 Albert Pujols

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

From 2001 to 2004, Barry Bonds’ reign of terror made the National League MVP race a one-player show.

In 2005, Bonds’ absence due to injury opened things up for another top hitter to take home Senior Circuit honors.

Enter Albert Pujols.

In his first four years with the St. Louis Cardinals, the hulking outfielder/first baseman finished second in the league’s MVP race twice and never finished worse than fourth.

In ‘05, he finally got recognized for his Hall-of-Fame caliber work.

The most beloved Cardinals player since Stan “The Man” Musial, Pujols led the Majors in runs scored (129) for the third consecutive year and also paced baseball in intentional walks (27).

That wasn’t all.

“The Machine” was all over the game’s leaderboards in ‘05, finishing second in the NL in batting average (.330), tied for second in RBIs (117), third in home runs (41), and fourth in hits (195).

He also topped the 1.000 OPS mark (1.039) for the fourth time in five seasons and added 38 doubles and 16 stolen bases.

It wasn’t even his best season thus far.

But it was enough for the 25-year-old to edge Atlanta’s Andruw Jones for his first NL MVP award, 18 first-place votes to 13.

2005 Topps #100 Albert Pujols Baseball Card

2005 Topps #400 Ichiro

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

In retrospect, it's pretty disappointing that some of Ichiro Suzuki's prime years came during the darkest times of the Seattle Mariners franchise.

The Mariners made the playoffs just once in Ichiro's time with the team, which came in his 2001 debut.

For the next 11 years, Ichiro crafted a Hall-of-Fame resume as the M's cycled through managers, awful seasons, and near postseason misses.

Take 2005, for example.

The M's cut ties with manager Bob Melvin before the season, bringing in former Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles manager Mike Hargrove.

The hope was that Hargrove would push the Mariners back to respectability.

Instead, the M's sputtered to a second consecutive 90-loss season at 69-93.

Ichiro, to his credit, continued to show his mettle.

Named to his fifth straight All-Star team, the 31-year-old outfielder hit .303 with career highs in homers (15) and triples (12).

He also played in all 162 regular-season games, providing everyday dependability that gave M's fans something to lean on during lean times.

2005 Topps #400 Ichiro Baseball Card

2005 Topps #632 Yadier Molina

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $45

Limited to just 114 games due to injury in ‘05, Yadier Molina wasn’t quite the offensive force he was during his rookie season a year prior.

However, the St. Louis Cardinals’ young backstop more than made up for it with his work behind the dish.

Even after suffering a hairline fracture that cost him 33 games from mid-July through mid-August, Molina was an essential weapon and deterrent at catcher for the eventual 100-win NL Central champions.

The 22-year-old Puerto Rico native threw out 25 of 39 attempted base thieves for a robust 64.1% caught-stealing percentage.

It was the highest percentage for a qualified catcher since Mike LaValliere in 1993 and the second-highest mark in the Majors since 1957.

Molina also picked off a career-best nine base-runners, showcasing uncanny instincts and a cannon arm that would make him a St. Louis mainstay for nearly two decades.

In the box, Molina hit .252 with an iffy .654 OPS, eight home runs, 15 doubles, and 49 RBIs in 421 plate appearances (385 at-bats).

However, he did pick things up in the Cardinals’ six-game NLCS loss to the Houston Astros, hitting .318 with three doubles and a run scored in the team’s last gasp of the 2005 season.

2005 Topps #632 Yadier Molina Baseball Card

2005 Topps #240 Miguel Cabrera

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Just two-and-a-half seasons into his big-league career, Miguel Cabrera was doing things that had never been done in the 13-year history of the Florida Marlins.

At the tender age of 22, Cabrera became the first Marlins player to record consecutive 100-RBI seasons, driving in a new career-high of 116 in 2005.

He also set a new MLB record, becoming the youngest player in baseball history to record back-to-back 30-homer seasons.

(He broke Albert Pujols' record by just 80 days.)

However, the 83-win Marlins underachieved once again in '05, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year after their 2003 World Series championship.

Yet, it had nothing to do with Cabrera, who gave his all in an MVP-caliber season on South Beach.

Cabrera finished fifth in the league's MVP race, slashing .323/.385/.561 with 33 home runs, 106 runs scored, 198 hits, 43 doubles, and 64 walks in 685 plate appearances (613 at-bats).

He also captured his first Silver Slugger and was named to his second straight All-Star team.

2005 Topps #240 Miguel Cabrera Baseball Card

2005 Topps #440 Ken Griffey Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

There are no mincing words.

The final decade of Ken Griffey Jr.'s Hall-of-Fame career was snake-bitten by injury and unfortunate circumstances.

But, that's what made the 2005 season so special for the former "Kid."

Coming off a hamstring tear in August of 2004, Griffey went into throwback mode and gave Cincinnati Reds fans a welcome thrill.

In his best individual season since returning to his hometown in 2000, Griffey looked like an older, wiser version of the young Seattle Mariners superstar that captivated the baseball world years before.

The 35-year-old center fielder cracked the .300 mark (.301) for the first time since 1997 and posted the best OPS (.946) of his eight-plus year stint with the Reds.

He hammered 35 home runs and posted 30 doubles, 85 runs scored, 54 walks, and 92 RBIs in 555 plate appearances (491 at-bats).

Unfortunately, Griffey's season ended abruptly in September due to an ankle injury.

But, he was still the toast of the town for a 72-win Reds squad with little else going for it.

Named the National League Comeback Player of the Year and earning a smattering of down-ballot MVP votes, it was the best year of a rough decade for one of the most talented and beloved players of his era.

2005 Topps #440 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card

2005 Topps #510 Joe Mauer

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Joe Mauer dealt with the expected array of inconsistencies and growing pains in his first full season as the Minnesota Twins' starting catcher.

However, the 22-year-old backstop still put together a fine season for the 83-win Twins, with flashes of his MVP-level brilliance to come.

In 131 games, Mauer hit to a .294/.372/.411 slash line with nine home runs, 26 doubles, 13 stolen bases, 61 runs scored, 61 walks, and 55 RBIs in 554 plate appearances (489 at-bats).

It was a decent full-season debut at the plate, but it was Mauer's work with the Twins' pitching staff that emphasized his true value.

Mauer's unflappable, veteran demeanor provided stability and direction for the seventh-best staff by ERA in the Majors.

He also continued to develop as the season progressed, decreasing his pop time and molding himself into the Gold Glove catcher he'd later become.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that Mauer's 2005 season laid the foundation for his breakout season in '06.

As it was, it was a fine full-season debut for the Twins' new franchise catcher.

2005 Topps #510 Joe Mauer Baseball Card

2005 Topps #600 Derek Jeter

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

No matter how good Derek Jeter was from 2001-2008, the frustrations mounted with every near miss and playoff exit.

After winning four World Series titles in his first five years with the big-league club, Jeter ran into a double-edged sword sharpened by his early successes.

Nothing would satisfy the New York media, the fans, or owner George Steinbrenner save for a trophy or three.

And the same went for Jeter himself.

2005 was no different.

The Yankees captain was in fine form all regular season long, crossing the 200-hit threshold (202) for the first time since 2000 while leading the Major Leagues in plate appearances (752).

The 31-year-old shortstop finished the regular season with a .309/.389/.450 slash line, 19 home runs, 122 runs scored, 25 doubles, 14 stolen bases, 77 walks, and 70 RBIs.

Coupled with his second consecutive Gold Glove season, it was no surprise that Jeter cracked the top ten of the AL MVP voting.

That was all well and good.

Then the playoffs came.

Jeter put in his work for the 95-win AL East champs, hitting .333 with a .967 OPS, two homers, five RBIs, and four runs scored against the Angels.

However, the Yankees couldn't close things out and fell to the Angels in the deciding ALDS Game 5, 5-3.

And thus, the headaches continued.

2005 Topps #600 Derek Jeter Baseball Card

2005 Topps #335 Ken Griffey Jr. 500th Home Run

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $35

2005 Topps #335 Ken Griffey Jr. 500th Home Run Baseball Card

2005 Topps #689 Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels Prospects

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $35

2005 Topps #689 Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels Prospects Baseball Card

2005 Topps #49 David Ortiz

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

The closest that iconic Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz came to an AL MVP season was in 2005.

As you might expect, it was a Yankee that thwarted his bid for the Junior Circuit's top individual honor.

Regardless, the Boston DH/first baseman spent countless hours analyzing and altering his approach at the dish going into 2005.

And that hard work was apparent to both his teammates and his fiercest rivals.

"He used to have holes on the inside," Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. "You'd go outside. Holes? Now they're not there anymore."

Ortiz busted his tail to become a complete hitter.

And it paid off handsomely for the AL Wild Card entrants in '05.

The 29-year-old slugger led all of baseball with 148 RBIs, slashing .300/.397/.604 with 47 home runs, 40 doubles, 119 runs scored, and 102 walks in 713 plate appearances (601 at-bats).

It was an easy recipe for a second consecutive All-Star nod and Silver Slugger.

Yet, it wasn't enough to outlast Yankees star Alex Rodriguez in the league MVP race.

Ortiz received 11 first-place votes to Rodriguez's sixteen and finished just 24 points behind A-Rod in second place.

2005 Topps #49 David Ortiz Baseball Card

2005 Topps #75 Frank Thomas

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

In one of the most unfair twists of fate of recent baseball history, the man that was the Chicago White Sox for 15 years was unable to play a significant role in the team's curse-breaking 2005 title season.

After offseason ankle surgery, superstar Chicago first baseman Frank Thomas missed the campaign's first two months as he finished his rehab process.

He returned on May 30th, but it was clear something wasn't right.

In 34 games, Thomas hit just .219 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

Yes, the power numbers were there.

But, it was clear Thomas was still bothered by problems with his left foot.

Come early July, Thomas re-aggravated his foot and was diagnosed with a season-ending fracture.

Just like that, he was the odd man out as a streaking Sox squad pushed its way to the franchise's first World Series championship in 88 years.

In a heartwarming moment, Thomas threw out the first pitch of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, one of his "proudest moments in the game."

A ring would come soon thereafter.

By then, though, Thomas would be gone, and the "Big Hurt" era of White Sox baseball was no more.

2005 Topps #75 Frank Thomas Baseball Card

2005 Topps #530 Chipper Jones

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

The 2005 Braves looked dead in the water as late as June 15th in their pursuit of a 14th consecutive division title.

At that point, Atlanta was just a game over .500 and looked nothing like a true World Series contender.

And then, the "Baby Braves" turned on the jets.

Led by a youth influx that included Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann, Atlanta flipped the switch and ultimately outlasted the Philadelphia Phillies in a tightly-contested NL East race.

As for the heart and soul of the Braves' previous division title runs, Chipper Jones had yet another Hall-of-Fame-worthy year for Atlanta.

That is when he could stay on the field.

Jones missed over 50 games with a ligament tear in his left foot.

Yet, he was still an impact bat when in the lineup, hitting .296 with a beefy .968 OPS, 21 home runs, 30 doubles, and 72 RBIs in just 432 plate appearances (358 at-bats).

That ground to a halt, though, in a four-game NLDS loss to the Houston Astros.

Jones went just 3-for-17 with a homer and two RBIs as the Braves bowed out of the postseason early yet again.

2005 Topps #530 Chipper Jones Baseball Card

2005 Topps #700 Derek Jeter Gold Glove Award

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

2005 Topps #700 Derek Jeter Gold Glove Baseball Card

2005 Topps #500 Barry Bonds

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $25

Surrounded by a storm of controversy and a steroid scandal that has since tainted his accomplishments, Barry Bonds was at his breaking point in 2005, both mentally and physically.

The San Francisco Giants megastar underwent arthroscopic knee surgery just two weeks before the start of the season, effectively ending his campaign before it began.

At 40 years old, there was no telling how his body would recover.

Would he miss the entire 2005 campaign?

Would he be able to return and make a legitimate run at Hank Aaron's home run record, some 55 homers away?

The weight of the injury, coupled with the negative media blowback for his steroid dealings left Bonds in a sour mood and led to him snapping back during a testy Spring Training media session.

"I'm tired of my kids crying. You wanted me to jump off a bridge, I finally did," Bonds said to reporters. "You finally brought me and my family down. So now go pick a different person."

As it turned out, Bonds pushed the rehab process forward quickly and was able to return to the Giants in mid-September.

He hit five home runs in 52 plate appearances, finishing the year with 708 career dingers, six behind Babe Ruth and 47 shy of Aaron's hallowed mark.

The noise wouldn't stop. Yet, Bonds' pursuit of baseball immortality was still back on track.

2005 Topps #500 Barry Bonds Baseball Card

2005 Topps #1 Alex Rodriguez

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

In his second MVP season in three years, New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez rewrote the record books for the franchise and the American League as a whole.

Rodriguez broke Joe DiMaggio's 68-year-old franchise record for homers by a right-handed hitter with 48.

That also set a new AL record for home runs by a third baseman, bypassing Troy Glaus' previous mark of 46 set back in 2000.

That was just the tip of the iceberg for Rodriguez's stellar second season in the Bronx.

Rodriguez played in all 162 regular-season games for the Yankees and led the AL in multiple offensive categories, including runs scored (124), slugging percentage (.610), OPS (1.031), and OPS+ (173).

Now a nine-time All-Star and eight-time Silver Slugger, Rodriguez edged Boston's David Ortiz to win his second MVP and first in a Yankees uniform.

It was an earth-shaking performance, through and through.

However, come playoff time, it faded away with a disappointing October finish.

The Angels pitched Rodriguez brilliantly in the teams' ALDS matchup, holding him to just two hits in 15 at-bats (with six walks).

With A-Rod neutralized, the Angels edged the Yankees out of the playoffs, increasing the temperature at Yankee Stadium yet another notch or two.

2005 Topps #1 Alex Rodriguez Baseball Card

2005 Topps #19 Roy Halladay

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

Two years removed from his first Cy Young Award, Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay was in a good position for trophy number two after a sizzling first half in '05.

Halladay followed up his award-winning season with a clunker in '04, pitching to a 4.20 ERA while fighting off a throwing-shoulder injury.

But early in '05, the 28-year righty was back in excellent health, and it showed.

Halladay mowed through the American League from April through June, posting a 12-4 record with an AL-best five complete games and 141.2 innings pitched.

Named to the All-Star Game for the third time in four seasons, Halladay and his sparkling 2.41 ERA were on the shortlist for Cy Young consideration heading into the dog days of summer.

On July 8th, though, it all stopped in a single, scary moment.

In the third inning of a game with the Texas Rangers, Halladay took a Kevin Mench line drive off his left shin, forcing him to leave the game.

X-rays later revealed a nondisplaced fracture.

And just like that, Halladay's bounce-back season was over. 

2005 Topps #19 Roy Halladay Baseball Card

2005 Topps #118 Mariano Rivera

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

Yankees fans often get the short end of the reputation stick for being fickle and ruthless to opposing players and pinstriped heroes alike.

Perhaps that reputation is misguided in some instances.

However, it was well-earned early in the 2005 season.

Well on his way to Cooperstown a decade in, New York closer Mariano Rivera entered the 2005 season on the heels of both a top-three Cy Young and a top-ten MVP finish.

However, a nine-day absence in Spring Training due to elbow bursitis threw him off his groove early in 2005, leading Rivera to blow two save opportunities against the hated Red Sox out of the gates.

In response, the Yankee Stadium crowd rained a vicious and surprising chorus of boos on the former World Series MVP.

To Rivera's credit, it didn't shake him.

Rivera locked in for the remainder of the season, pitching to a new career-best 1.38 ERA in 78.1 innings.

He saved 43 of 47 opportunities for the division winners, giving up just 50 hits and 18 walks en route to a second-place finish in the AL Cy Young race.

Once again an All-Star and top-ten MVP finisher, Rivera was at the peak of his considerable powers in '05, early-season jeers notwithstanding.

2005 Topps #118 Mariano Rivera Baseball Card

2005 Topps #150 Vladimir Guerrero

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

It's always tricky to follow up on an MVP season, considering the added pressures and expectations that come part and parcel with the award.

Nobody told Los Angeles Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero.

One of the best bad-ball hitters to ever step in the box, Guerrero followed up his 2004 AL MVP season with another elite performance in 2005.

He slashed .317/.394/.565 for the 95-win AL West champs with 32 homers, 29 doubles, 13 stolen bases, 95 runs scored, 61 walks, and 108 RBIs in 594 plate appearances (520 at-bats).

The production was slightly down, yes, but it was still plenty for a third-place MVP finish, a sixth All-Star appearance, and a fifth Silver Slugger for the Dominican Republic's favorite son.

Guerrero continued to swing a hot bat in the first round of the playoffs, going 6-for-18 with five runs scored in a five-game ALDS win over the Yankees.

However, the fun stopped there.

The Chicago White Sox's pitching staff put the clamps on Guerrero in the ALCS, holding him to just one hit in 20 at-bats.

The White Sox dispatched the Angels in five games, denying Guerrero of his first World Series appearance.

2005 Topps #150 Vladimir Guerrero Baseball Card

2005 Topps #155 Greg Maddux

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

A half-decade or so after his Cy Young-caliber peak, Greg Maddux was still a dependable innings-eater able to keep his team in games with both his wits and his sensational glove work.

In the second year of his second go-around with the Chicago Cubs, the 39-year-old righty couldn't rely on late movement to deceive opposing hitters.

Instead, he pitched to contact and hoped his long-traveled savvy would do the rest.

It provided mixed results.

In an MLB-best 35 starts for the 79-win Cubs, Maddux finished with a 13-15 record and an uncharacteristic 4.24 ERA, over a full run higher than his career ERA of 3.16.

He surrendered 239 hits in 225 innings pitched and gave up 29 home runs along the way.

On the plus side, Maddux was still elite in the control department, holding opposing hitters to an NL-best 1.4 walks per nine.

He also impressed with the leather, earning his second consecutive Gold Glove and fourth in five seasons.

Adding it all up, the 20-year veteran made the best of a limited arsenal in 2005, using his moxie to stay relevant as his forties approached.

2005 Topps #155 Greg Maddux Baseball Card

2005 Topps #302 Ian Kinsler Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

As a 17th-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2003, Ian Kinsler received both a chip and a chair to make something happen in the Minors.

Kinsler immediately made good on the opportunity, quickly earning his reputation as the "best 17th-round pick of all time."

Vaulting to #1 on Baseball America's Hot Sheet by early 2004, the Tuscon, AZ native entered the 2005 season as an essential piece of the Rangers' plans.

However, those plans came with a caveat.

After impressing everyone in his first Spring Training with a .312 batting average and an OPS over 1.000, Kinsler returned to Triple-A feeling confident that he was the franchise's shortstop of the future.

The Rangers had other plans, as the writing was on the wall inside the organization for Alfonso Soriano's time with the club.

His eventual departure via trade or free agency was bound to leave a gaping hole at second base.

Kinsler was moved to second base in '05 for his season-long stint at Triple-A Oklahoma to counter this.

Initially bummed out by the move, Kinsler grew to embrace it and even made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

Ending the year ranked #98 on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, Kinsler slashed .274/.348/.464 with 23 home runs, 102 runs scored, 28 doubles, 19 stolen bases, 53 walks, and 94 RBIs in 530 at-bats.

By 2006, Kinsler's spot at the four was secured by a trade that sent Soriano packing for the nation's capital.

2005 Topps #302 Ian Kinsler Rookie Card

2005 Topps #313 Andre Ethier Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

In late 2005, the Oakland A's continued their "Moneyball" ways with a sell-high trade that ultimately helped them return to the playoffs in '06.

However, this sell-high deal would end up haunting them for years.

Andre Ethier's 2005 season for Oakland's Double-A affiliate was a statement of intent.

The young outfielder was named the Texas League's Most Valuable Player, slashing .319/.385/.497 with 18 home runs, 104 runs scored, 30 doubles, and 80 RBIs in 572 at-bats.

The plaudits poured in from there.

Ethier was named the Oakland A's Minor League Player of the Year and earned the Texas League's All-Star MVP award for his standout efforts.

Ethier's stock was sky-high.

You'd think it would earn him a spot in Oakland's future plans.

Instead, the A's front office parlayed his success into a valuable trade asset.

Ethier was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-December for outfielder Milton Bradley and infielder Antonio Perez.

Bradley was a big lineup boost for Oakland's run to an ALCS appearance in 2006.

However, the loss of Ethier compounded itself in later years as he emerged as an everyday star in Southern California.

2005 Topps #313 Andre Ethier Rookie Card

2005 Topps #370 Randy Johnson

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

Looking to cut costs and sensing an opportunity to sell high on their 40-year-old ace, the Arizona Diamondbacks dealt Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees in early 2005 for three players and $9 million in cash.

The Yankees hoped that Johnson's Cy Young runner-up in '04 was a sign of awards to come as he pitched into his forties.

Instead, they got a hard worker looking to compensate for his diminishing physical gifts.

Johnson's ERA ballooned from 2.60 in '04 to 3.79 in '05, and his K/9 dipped from his career mark of 10.6 to just 8.4.

He started 34 regular-season games for the AL East champions, posting a 17-8 record with 207 hits and 47 walks surrendered in 225.2 innings pitched.

In 2004, Johnson had a 176 ERA+.

In 2005, his ERA+ cratered towards league-average at just 112.

It was an underwhelming debut for Johnson in pinstripes.

And it only got worse in the ALDS.

Johnson made two appearances and one start against the Angels and looked nothing like the generation-defining ace of old.

He gave up 12 hits and a walk in 7.1 innings pitched, pitching to a troublesome 6.14 ERA in New York's five-game defeat.

2005 Topps #370 Randy Johnson Baseball Card

2005 Topps Baseball Cards In Review

I think the best thing about this set is its design.

Topps did a great job of giving these cards strong eye appeal without going over the top on any of the design elements.

The bold lettering across the top immediately jumps off the card surface and the multi-colored inner borders help offset the main images quite nicely.

Justin Verlander will be a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame once eligible, but he may be the only Hall of Fame rookie in this set.

Nelson Cruz and Andrew McCutchen have had fantastic careers, but they may not have done enough for Cooperstown.

Unopened Box of 2005 Topps Baseball Cards

And plenty more star power outside the rookie class makes things even more enjoyable.

Big names like Albert Pujols, Ichiro, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera and Ken Griffey Jr. help round out a solid checklist.

This set was loaded with subsets, including:

  • Managers (#267 - 296)
  • First Year Players (#297 - 326); (#668 - 687)
  • Future Stars (#327 - 331)
  • Season Highlights (#332 - 336)
  • League Leaders (#337 - 348)
  • Post-Season (#349 - 355)
  • All-Stars (AL #356 - 367); (NL #719 - 730)
  • Team Cards (#638 - 667)
  • Prospects (#688 - 694)
  • Award Winners (#695 - 718)
  • World Series (#731 - 734)

Like I said in the intro, this set may not be at the top of the list in any collector's all-time wishlist.

But, for its era, it has certainly held up pretty well.

Ross Uitts

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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