The 10 Worst MLB Rookie of the Year Seasons of All Time

Ben StepanskyCorrespondent INovember 2, 2012

The 10 Worst MLB Rookie of the Year Seasons of All Time

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    The Rookie of the Year award not only bestows an honor upon a young baseball star, it also brings added potential to a rising talent.

    However, every baseball season cannot bring the best of the crop, and, from time to time, the baseball writers of America are left to vote for rookies who just aren't up to par with the rest of their RoY predecessors.

    With the 2012 Rookie of the Year awards looming in the not-so-distant future, we can take a look at some of the worst seasons for a rookie who took home this trophy.

    Searching for a particularly weak statistical category (or two or three in some cases), Jim Lefebvre (1965) and Walt Weiss (1988) more than stand on their own as having two of the poorest Rookie of the Year campaigns.

    Recognizing the other RoY candidates in each given season was also noted to determine whether the winner was truly deserving of the title.

10. Kazuhiro Sasaki (SEA): 2000

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    62.2 IP, 2-5, 3.16 ERA, 37 SV

    It is debatable whether Kazuhiro Sasaki even deserves to be on this list.

    Sasaki made it due to his 3.16 ERA, which for a closer is relatively high. He converted on 37 of 39 save opportunities in 2000 and recorded 78 strikeouts in 66.2 innings.

    However, he was also susceptible to giving up base on balls (31) and would allow the occasional moon shot, giving up 10 home runs.

    Sasaki only spent four seasons in the majors but registered 129 saves for the Seattle Mariners during that time.

9. Carl Morton (MON): 1970

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    284.2 IP, 18-11, 3.60 ERA, 125 BB

    Carl Morton started 37 games for the Montreal Expos in 1970 and won nearly half of them on his way to the Rookie of the Year award. He also finished ninth in the Cy Young Award voting and 27th in MVP voting. 

    There are reasons he only claimed the RoY award.

    Sure, winning 18 games in a season is impressive, and his 3.60 ERA is a smidgen above average, but there is no hiding his league leading 125 walks.

    Some may argue that when a pitcher throws close to 300 innings he is bound to walk a few guys. They may be right. Morton never exceeded 89 walks in any other season.

    However, in 1970, Morton was among the league leaders in hits allowed (281), which was a trend in his career of being a very hittable pitcher. He led the league with the most hits allowed in 1974 and 1975.

    Somehow he beat out Bernie Carbo, who hit .310 with 21 home runs, for the RoY award in 1970.


8. Bobby Crosby (OAK): 2004

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    .239/.319/.426, 22 HR, 64 RBI

    Bobby Crosby had a strange rookie year in terms of power numbers.

    His 22 home runs were more than double his total in 2008, his only other full season. Crosby never reached a double-digit home run total in any of the seven following seasons.

    Another astonishing attribute to Crosby's RoY award in 2004 was his extremely poor .239 batting average. Very few starting major league players can scrape through a full season with an average that low, and it may be part of the reason he was reduced to playing in just 84 games in 2005.

    Nonetheless, Crosby's 22 dingers outshined the rest of the talent in the AL rookie class that year, as he collected all but one first-place vote.

7. Jason Jennings (COL): 2002

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    185.1 IP, 16-8, 4.52 ERA, 127 SO

    On his way to 16 wins and a Rookie of the Year award, Jason Jennings never had overpowering stuff. On many occasions, he couldn't strike out more than five batters a game, and he allowed his fair share of home runs. 

    The breaking point of his acceptance onto this list was his 4.52 ERA, which is far from impressive, as is his career ERA of 4.95.

    However, Jennings received 27 of 32 first place votes to easily take the RoY award in 2002. Brad Wilkerson, who hit 20 home runs, and Austin Kearns, who hit .315, were both good options for the trophy, but 16 wins in his rookie season was the selling point for Jennings.

6. Chris Chambliss (CLE): 1971

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    .275/.341/.407, 9 HR, 48 RBI

    Chris Chambliss was the first pick of the 1970 amateur baseball draft by the Cleveland Indians and made his MLB debut in 1971.

    The Indians first baseman recorded quite a forgettable rookie season that featured no flashy numbers and nowhere close to league leading statistics. He more than doubled his home run total with doubles, smacking 20 of those, but otherwise he was not a huge threat at the plate.

    Chambliss was good for a strike out every five at bats, going down by the K 83 times in 415 at bats.

    His Indian squad lost over 100 games in 1971, so the RoY award was the lone "bright" spot on the season.

5. Ted Sizemore (LAD): 1969

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    .271/.328/.342, 4 HR, 46 RBI

    There's not much to say about Ted Sizemore's Rookie of the Year season. His numbers were extraordinarily average when it comes to RoY winners.

    What's more is that being the second Los Angeles Dodger to win the award in the past five seasons, he arguably did the same thing Jim Lefebvre would do in 1965, which was steal the award from a more deserving player.

    Following behind Sizemore were Coco Laboy, who hit 18 home runs and drove in 83 runs, and Al Oliver, who smacked 17 home runs and knocked in 70.

    Laboy had a poor batting average (.258) and OBP (.308), which likely deterred his chances at the award, but had Oliver played a full season (he only played in 129 games), his .285 average and .333 OBP could have won him the honor.

4. Tony Kubek (NYY): 1957

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    .297/.335/.381, 3 HR, 39 RBI

    Tony Kubek was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1954 and made his MLB debut in the spring of 1957. 

    Kubek spent most of his time at shortstop for the Yankees but could also play third base and venture to the outfield. He was a part of seven World Series teams, winning three of them.

    During his rookie campaign, Kubek hit just under that much sought after .300 batting average. However, his offensive production essentially ended there.

    He didn't hit for power and slapped only 21 extra base hits, collecting only 164 total bases on 128 regular season hits.

    Kubek never got close to a .300 season again in the next eight years, compiling a .266 career average and retiring when he was 29.

3. Albie Pearson (WSH): 1958

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    .275/.354/.358, 3 HR, 33 RBI

    Little Albie Pearson stood at 5'5'' and weighed 140 pounds when he made his debut for the Washington Senators in 1958.

    He didn't hit for much power, launching just 28 home runs during his 10-year career, yet a weak pool of rookie players in 1958 allowed him to take the honor with 58 percent of the first-place votes.

    Pearson's 25 doubles were good for 10th most in the majors that year. He truly shined through his disciplined plate approach, striking out just 31 times in 530 at bats for a 17.1 AB per SO ratio, fourth best in the league.

    Other than that, Pearson could not turn around a poor season for the Senators, who went 61-93 and finished eighth in the American League.

2. Jim Lefebvre (LAD): 1965

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    .250/.337/.369, 12 HR, 69 RBI

    In 1965 Jim Lefebvre stole the Rookie of the Year award away from future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.

    Of course, it helped that his Dodgers finished first in the National League and went on to beat the Minnesota Twins in the World Series, while Morgan's Astros finished at 65-97.

    Lefebvre, who spent his entire eight-year career with the Dodgers, put up mediocre numbers in his rookie season, especially his batting average (.250) and his on-base percentage (.337). He did bolster his OBP number with 71 base on balls.

    Morgan only received four first-place votes but finished the season with a .271 average, 14 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 100 runs scored, and a OBP more than 100 points higher than his average (.373).

    Did Morgan get shafted by Lefebvre? One could make a strong argument.

1. Walt Weiss (OAK): 1988

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    .250/.312/.321, 3 HR, 39 RBI

    The light-hitting shortstop Walt Weiss was drafted 11th overall by the Oakland Athletics in 1985 and spent 14 seasons in the MLB.

    His .250 batting average and 2.6 WAR were enough to earn him 17 of the 31 first place votes for Rookie of the Year in 1988, yet surprisingly, his .633 OPS was the lowest of the four offensive candidates in 1988.

    A weak pool of AL RoY contenders watered down the significance of Weiss' achievement. He didn't steal many bases (4), score many runs (44) or hit many extra-base hits (23).

    Still, Weiss collected the award given to the best rookie in each league and the dubious honor of the worst MLB Rookie of the Year season of all time.