The MLB's Top 20 One-Hit Wonders

FRANKCorrespondent IIApril 25, 2009

What do Vanilla Ice, Icky Woods, and Pete Schourek have in common?

They are considered "one-hit wonders" in their respective profession. Vanilla Ice made a living rapping his hit song "Ice Ice Baby" and Icky Woods' Shuffle was the thing to do in 1988 after scoring a touchdown. As for Schourek, he would have a career year in 1995 helping the Reds win the NL Central division.

Below is my ranking of 20 players, since 1980, who I consider to be one-hit wonders. If you were to check the back of their baseball cards, one year would stand out like a sore thumb. 


20. Dale Sveum (.252, 86 runs, 25 home runs, and 95 RBI in 1987)

In 1987, balls were leaving the ballparks at a record pace and many players had a career year, including Sveum. His '88 numbers (41 runs, nine home runs, and 51 RBI) were a big drop and would represent his last year as a full time player.


19. Warren Morris (.288, 15 home runs, and 73 RBI in 1999)

In 1999, Morris finished third in the Rookie of the Year (ROY) ballot and the Pirates thought they found their best second baseman since Johnny Ray. Unfortunately, Morris would only hit 11 home runs the remaining four years of his career.


18. Eric Yelding (64 stolen bases in 1990)

Yelding only netted 25 stolen bases the other four years.

17. Jose Mercedes (14-7, 4.02 ERA in 2000)

After five years and a combine record of 11-22, Mercedes surprised the Orioles with 14 wins. The following year would be his last full season, which saw him lose 17 games.


16. Derrick Turnbow (7-1, 1.74 ERA, and 39 saves in 2005)

After toiling as a middle reliever for the Angels, the Brewers were fortunate to pick Derrick off waivers after the 2004 season. He would reward the team with a Rollie Fingeresque season. Though Turnbow saved 24 games the following year, his ERA rose to 6.87 and the Brewers traded for Francisco Cordero at the trade deadline to take over the closing job.  

15. Willie Blair (16-8, 4.17 ERA in 1997)

It would take seven seasons before Blair finished a year with double digit wins. He would accomplish the feat again in 2000, going 10-6 with an ERA close to five.


14. Jeffrey Hammonds (.335, 94 runs, 20 HR, 106 RBI in 2000)

Hammonds was drafted in the first round (fourth pick) in the 1992 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Therefore, they expected a lot more than his combined 46 dingers in five plus seasons. Hammonds would go on to be traded to the Reds and then the Rockies, which is where he would benefit from the thin air and provide statistics that were expected from him when drafted.

After putting up stats due to the benefits of the thin air, Hammonds was able to coax a contract for over $20 million to play for the Brewers. He would regress back and hit only 22 round trippers in his remaining four plus seasons.


13. Kelvin Elster (24 HR and 99 RBI in 1996)

After 10 years, Elster was portrayed as a solid shortstop whose career highs were 10 HR and 55 RBI. This is the reason everyone was taken back and skeptic about his '96 totals.


12. Todd Ritchie (15-9 and 3.49 ERA in 1999)

Ritchie pitched for a total of eight seasons and reached double digits in wins one other time.


11. Phil Plantier (34 HR and 100 in 1993)

In his first year with the Padres, Plantier finished seventh in the NL HR race. The problem wasn't power but his inability to hit for average.


10. Joe Mays (17-13, 3.16 ERA in 2001)

Mays did not win double digits in any other season.


9. Craig McMurtry (15-9 and 3.08 ERA in 1983)

The ROY runner up could not avoid the sophomore jinx. Craig's record was 9-17 in '84 and he won only four more games during his remaining six years.


8. Kent Bottenfield (18-7, 3.97 ERA in 1999)

The St. Louis Cardinals made out like bandits when they signed Bottenfield prior to the '98 season. Not only did they get the 18 wins in '99, they were able to trade him and Adam Kennedy to the Angels for Jim Edmonds. As for Bottenfield, '99 would be the only year that he won double digits.


7. Garret Stephenson (16-9 and 4.49 in 2000)

Garret was selected in the 18th round, so just making to the big leagues is a hit itself. His superb year in 2000 was probably translated due to health, as he was able to start 31 games.


6. Sidney Ponson (17-12 and 3.75 ERA in 2003)

Though Ponson won more than 10 games three times, 2003 stands out because his ERA was sub-4.00 and he was able to turn this walk year to a nice contract. After he signed the contract, Ponson became a headache on and off the field and was not in good shape. The Orioles actually released him in the middle of his contract.

5. Joe Charboneau (.289, 76 Runs, 23 HR, and 87 RBI in 1980)

After winning the ROY award for Cleveland, he would last for two more years, where he combined for six home runs and 27 RBI. "Super" Joe has the distinction of being the first ROY winner to be sent down to the minors the next season.


4. Mike Bielecki (18-7 and 3.14 ERA in 1989)

Bielecki was probably one of the main reasons the Chicago Cubs won the NL East division. Bielecki had only one other season in which he won more than 10 games.


3. Paul Abbott (19-7 and 4.25 ERA in 2001)

Abbott's record was probably a symbol of the Mariners' (116 wins) play in '01 rather than his talent.


2. Jeff Ballard (18-8 and 3.43 ERA in 1989)

After going a combined 10-20 in his first two seasons, Ballard went on to finish sixth in the Cy Young race. Afterwards, Jeff won only 13 more games in his remaining four seasons.

1. Pete Schourek (18-7, 3.22 ERA, and 160 K in 1995)

Schourek's record was 23-26 in first four seasons prior to his Cy Young type season. Everyone knew that Schourek was a solid back end of the rotation pitcher but you couldn't predict his '95 season. Most people, including myself, didn't expect a follow up and were correct. Pete finished his career winning 25 games during his last six seasons.

Similar to musicians, many baseball players succumb to sophomore slumps. For whatever reason, it's difficult to succeed and maintain that success.

It's curious to note that 13 out of the 20 players are pitchers. This may help assist the logic that pitching is volatile or at the very least appreciate pitchers who maintained their success over a long period of time.

To quote another one-hit wonder named EMF:

"You're unbelievable...OHHHHH"


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