10 Great Joey Votto Rookie & Early Career Cards Of Reds Legend
Joey Votto, a lifelong Cincinnati Red, has long been a franchise icon. At age 40 and wrapping up his contract, he was contemplating retirement but now says he plans to play in 2024.
When Votto hangs up his cleats, it’ll be the end of a storied career spent with one franchise.
But who is Joey Votto? What is his Hall of Fame outlook? And what are his rookie and other early career cards worth chasing?
Who is Joey Votto?
Joey Votto has played his entire 17-year career to date with the Cincinnati Reds. After being drafted by the team in 2nd round of the 2002 draft, he rose through the minors and broke in as a September call-up with the team in 2007.
In 2008 he played his first full season and finished 2nd in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
Over his career, Votto would go on to make six All-Star teams. He won the 2010 NL MVP and a Gold Glove award in 2011. He finished in the top 7 in the MVP voting six times in total.
For his career, Votto put up a line of .294/.409/.511, good for an OPS of .920 and an OPS+ of 144. He also crushed 356 home runs and 459 doubles in his career.
While being a .290+ hitter with 350 career home runs is impressive in its own right, where Votto really excelled was in getting on base. Votto led his league in OBP 7 times.
For his career, Votto was worth 64.4 WAR in his career. In addition, he has been a Cincinnati Reds franchise icon and fan favorite.
Votto has exhibited a good sense of humor and an appreciation of the game of baseball and baseball fans that has endeared him to many.
Joey Votto and the Hall of Fame
To a pre-Moneyball eye, Votto’s career may look like a “close but no” Hall of Fame case. 350 home runs is good but not historic for a 1st baseman. Same with a .290 batting average and fairly low counting numbers like 2,135 hits and 1,144 RBI.
But when you bring Votto’s epic ability to get on base, plus strong defense, the argument becomes much easier to make.
Votto’s 64.4 career WAR ranks 15th all-time among first basemen. Of those above him on the list, the only player who isn’t already in the Hall of Fame or will be soon is Rafael Palmeiro. Raffy had the numbers, but unfortunately got associated with PEDs.
The average WAR of a Hall of Fame first baseman is 65.0. When you consider that that number is skewed by a couple of 100+ WAR players (Lou Gehrig and Albert Pujols), Votto clearly belongs.
Even though we’re in a bit of a mini golden age for first baseman, I think that Votto makes the Hall of Fame. Perhaps he’s not a sure-thing first-ballot inductee, but I think the odds are good he gets in via the BBWAA vote during his eligibility, which will begin 5 years after his eventual retirement.
Joey Votto’s best rookie cards
Votto made his first cardboard appearances in 2002, the year he was drafted in the 2nd round out of High School. That means his rookie cards appeared a full five years before he made his major league debut.
This has certainly caused some confusion, and under current rookie logo rules, these would not be considered rookie cards.
While those 2002 cards are considered rookie cards by collectors, the rules on rookie cards changed while Votto was climbing the minor league ladder.
Starting in 2006, players could not have an RC logo on their cards unless they were on the team’s 40-man roster. This was meant to avoid situations like Votto’s where a player’s rookie card appeared years before they made their major league debut.
Votto actually got an RC logo on his cards…in 2008, a full six years after his initial cardboard appearance.
2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Joey Votto #BDP44
Despite being the “paper” version of the Bowman rookie card, the 2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Votto has a shockingly low PSA population for the rookie card of such a prominent player.
Only 108 copies have been graded, with just 21 PSA 9s. There are no PSA 10s. There are no recent sales of a PSA 9 on eBay, so comps are tough to come by.
I paid $192 for a freshly graded PSA 9 two years ago this month, when prices were still at pandemic levels. That may not have been an overpay based on how hard to find these are.
2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Joey Votto #BDP44
The premium Chrome version of the Votto Bowman rookie card has actually been graded almost six times as often as the paper version.
The total is still south of 650 total copies graded by PSA, however, so it’s far from plentiful. 379 of those graded by PSA are in PSA 9 slabs, with 169 in PSA 10 slabs.
Recent sales of PSA 9s have been in the $115-165 range. The last few PSA 10 sales have been in the $500-550 range.
2002 Topps 206 Joey Votto #429
Beyond the Bowman, Votto’s only 2002 rookie card is in the 2002 Topps 206 set.
The retro-themed card has been graded a scant 38 times by PSA, with 21 PSA 9s and only 6 PSA 10s. Recent PSA 9 sales have been in the $75-125 range.
At that print point, it feels like it could have some upside if you can find a graded copy to buy with that low population.
Even tougher are a variety of rare card back variations, a homage to the original T206 cards of the early 20th century. These are even rarer, downright hard to find graded, and obviously sell for a premium on the rare occasions they do come available.
2008 Bowman Chrome Joey Votto #194
By the time this card was released in 2008, it was by the new rules, his “official” rookie card, complete with an official logo.
While still surprisingly low population, it lags behind the 2002 offerings in terms of both demand and value. Still, it’s a nice addition to any Votto collection.
The top Joey Votto rookie cards
|Card||Total PSA Pop||PSA Comp Pop||Recent Comp Price|
|2002 Topps 206 Joey Votto #429||38||PSA 9 = 21||PSA 9 = $75-125|
|2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Joey Votto #BDP44||108||PSA 9 = 21|
PSA 10 = 0
|PSA 9 = NA|
|2002 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Joey Votto #BDP44||638||PSA 9 = 379|
PSA 10 = 169
|PSA 9 = $115-165
PSA 10 = $500-550
|2008 Bowman Chrome Joey Votto #194||191||PSA 10 = 97||PSA 10 = $60-90|
Joey Votto Minor League and early career cards of note
As noted earlier, a full six years elapsed between Votto’s first rookie card and his “official” rookie card. He appeared on many cards during that time period. Here are a few of our favorites.
2003 Grandstand Billings Mustangs Joey Votto
We start off the list with two hard-to-find minor league offerings from Votto’s first full pro season.
The rarest is the 2003 Grandstand Billings Mustangs card, of which PSA has graded only 7 copies. All seven are in PSA 10 slabs, but there are no recent sales comps available.
A raw copy recently sold for $35, and sets seem nearly impossible to come by.
2003 MultiAd Dayton Dragons Joey Votto #26
The 2003 MultiAd Dayton Dragons card has twice the PSA population of the Grandstand card, but that still leaves it with a total PSA population under 15.
Add in the fact that there are only two PSA 10s, and this makes an appealing Votto to chase. A recent sale of a PSA 10 was for $145. Raw cards and sets appear very hard to come by.
2004 Bowman Signs of the Future Joey Votto #SOF-JV
One of the first Votto-certified autographs arrived with 2004 Bowman Signs of the Future. With only 123 copies graded by PSA, it’s tough enough to be a challenge to find, but not so difficult that you’ll never see one.
There are no recent comps of PSA 9 or 10 graded copies, but there is a PSA 10 copy available for sale on eBay right now for $5,450. Recent comp prices for raw copies have been in the $155-190 range.
2004 MultiAd Dayton Dragons Joey Votto #11
Votto was back with the Dayton Dragons to start the 2004 season, and appears on the team set produced by Multi-Ad. This is another tough one, with only 8 copies graded by PSA. Singles and sets again are hard to come by. Not surprisingly, no comps are available.
Another 2004 minor league card worth chasing is the 2004 Grandstand Midwest League Top Prospects. It’s been graded 11 times by PSA, with 9 of those in PSA 10 slabs.
I’ve gotten two of these graded myself, one a PSA 9 and the other a PSA 10. Sets and singles for this one are a bit easier to come by.
2006 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Futures Game Prospects Joey Votto #FG8
Votto’s appearance in the 2006 Futures Game (he also played in the game in 2007) led to him appearing in the 2006 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Futures Game Prospects set.
The card has been graded fewer than 100 times, with about half of them being in PSA 10 slabs. Yet, even in a PSA 10 slab they sell for a very affordable $25-60.
2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Joey Votto #BDPP98
The year he made his first big league appearance, Votto got a proper Bowman prospect card, found in 2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome.
With a PSA population under 140, this one is far from overgraded, but again can be purchased in a PSA 10 slab for between $30 and $60.
Other Early Career Joey Votto Cards of Note
|Card||Total PSA Pop||PSA Comp Pop||Recent Comp Price|
|2003 Grandstand Billings Mustangs Joey Votto||7||PSA 10 = 7||RAW = $35
PSA 10 = NA
|2003 MultiAd Dayton Dragons Joey Votto #26||14||PSA 9 = 9|
PSA 10 = 2
|PSA 9 = NA
PSA 10 = $145
|2004 Bowman Signs of the Future Joey Votto #SOF-JV||123||PSA 9 = 36|
PSA 10 = 35
|RAW = $155-190
PSA 10 = $5,000+
|2004 MultiAd Dayton Dragons Joey Votto #11||8||PSA 9 = 3 |
PSA 10 = 3
|2006 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Futures Game Prospects Joey Votto #FG8||94||PSA 10 = 45||PSA 10 = $25-60|
|2007 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Chrome Joey Votto #BDPP98||139||PSA 10 = 78||PSA 10 = $30-60|
Final thoughts on Joey Votto’s best rookie & early career cards
Joey Votto is a Cincinnati Reds legend, a fan favorite, and probable future Hall of Famer. Yet he has only a handful of rookie cards, and those are all relatively low-pop affairs. When Votto retires, there may be a small bump in interest in his cards.
If you can buy before that announcement, or wait a year or two until that interest dies down, there’s some potential here in his rookie cards.
What’s your take on Votto? What are your favorite Votto cards? And do you agree with my Hall of Fame prediction? Let us know what’s on your mind at card_lines on Twitter.
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