Ranking the Greatest Single-Game Rookie Performances of the Last 25 World Series

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Ranking the Greatest Single-Game Rookie Performances of the Last 25 World Series
Harry How/Getty Images
Andruw Jones and John Smoltz: Only one of them looks like a hitter

With the World Series scheduled to begin on Wednesday night, I wanted to look at some of the more historic rookie performances before the start of Game 1.

Rather than offering a broad perspective covering the history of the Fall Classic, I wanted to keep the players relevant and therefore focused on only the last 25 years (1987-2012). Additionally, I’ve chosen to examine the impact made by a rookie in a single game as opposed to an entire series.

 

Hitters

For hitters, I narrowed my focus to players 25 years or younger, ranking them by RE24, or how many runs the batter/baserunner added in a specific game where zero is average.

 

Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves (1998)

Age: 19

1996 Regular Season: 0.1 WAR (31 G)

Game 1 vs. New York Yankees (12-1 W): 3-for-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI; 4.556 RE24

1996 World Series (L): .400/.500/.750, 3 XBH, 6 RBI, 6/3 K/BB (6 G)

 

David Seelig/Getty Images

Ricky Ledee, New York Yankees (1998)

Age: 24

1998 Regular Season: 0.2 WAR (42 G)

Game 1 vs. San Diego Padres (9-6 W): 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB; 2.771 RE24

1998 World Series (W): .600/.615/.900, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB (4 G)

 

Jim Lindeman, St. Louis Cardinals (1987)

Age: 25

1987 Regular Season: -0.8 WAR (75 G)

Game 4 (W 7-2): 2-for-4, 2 RBI, HBP; 2.290 RE24

1987 Postseason vs. Minnesota Twins (L): .333/.375/.400, 3 R, 2 RBI, 3 K (6 G)

 

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Chuck Knoblauch, Minnesota Twins (1991)

Age: 22

1991 Regular Season: 2.6 WAR (151 G); Rookie of the Year

Game 1 (5-2 W): 3-for-3, RBI, BB, 2 SB; 2.131 RE24

1991 World Series vs. Braves (W): .308/.387/.346, 3 R, 2 RBI, 4 SB, 4/2 K/BB (7 G)

 

Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers (2010)

Age: 25

2010 Regular Season: 0.8 WAR (47 G)

Game 3 (4-2 W): 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI; 2.095 RE24

2010 World Series vs. San Francisco Giants (L): .462/.533/.769, HR, 3 RBI, 4/2 K/BB (5 G)

 

 

Pitchers

For pitchers, I thought that I’d take a look at the best starts by a rookie in a World Series game over the last 25 years, as dictated by their game score. Since pitching prospects typically develop slower than position players due to arm injuries, I considered players as old as age 29 for this list.

 

Pool/Getty Images

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (2010)

Age: 21

2010 Regular Season: 131 ERA+

Game 4 vs. Texas Rangers (W 4-0): 8 IP, 3 H, ER, 10/2 K/BB

Game Score: 80

 

Anthony Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals (2006)

Age: 25

2006 Regular Season: 88 ERA+

Game 1 vs. Detroit Tigers (W 7-2): 8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4/1 K/BB

Game Score: 69

 

Jaret Wright, Cleveland Indians (1997)

Age: 21

1997 Regular Season: 107 ERA+

Game 7 vs. Florida Marlins (L 2-3): 6.1 IP, 2 H, ER, 7/5 K/BB

Game Score: 67

 

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels (2002)

Age: 24

2002 Regular Season: 121 ERA+

Game 7 vs. San Francisco Giants (W 4-1): 5 IP, 4 H, ER, 4/1 K/BB

Game Score: 58

 

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox (2007)

Age: 27

2007 Regular Season: 108 ERA+

Game 3 vs. Colorado Rockies (W 10-5): 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5/3 K/BB

Game Score: 56

 

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference's Play Index Tool.

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