Ranking Each MLB Team's Greatest Rookie Ever
While baseball fans love the established stars of the game, there's something about a hot-shot rookie that just grabs us in a way that even the most successful superstar can't contend with.
It doesn't matter whether it's a highly-touted prospect or someone who comes out of nowhere (actually, I believe that we prefer the latter of the two), but when a new face starts producing for our favorite team on the mound or at the plate, it's exciting and fills us with hope—both for the present and for the future.
As we've come to begrudgingly accept, success can be fleeting—and yesterday's stars can become today's goats seemingly overnight.
But we aren't concerning ourselves with what became of these hot-shot youngsters—only with what they were able to do in their rookie seasons on the field.
With that said, let's take a look at the greatest rookie season put forth for each franchise in baseball—and see where they stack up against one another.
There have been plenty of outstanding performances by first-year players throughout the game's history, with many teams having multiple candidates for the top spot.
But, as we can only choose one player to represent each team, deserving candidates are inevitably going to be left out. Yet these players deserve mention for their efforts. In alphabetical order, here were some of the toughest cuts that I had to make when putting this list together.
Vince Coleman, St. Louis Cardinals (1985)
Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees (1936)
Carlton Fisk, Boston Red Sox (1972)
Nomar Garciaparra, Boston Red Sox (1997)
Fred Lynn, Boston Red Sox (1975)*
Lloyd Waner, Pittsburgh Pirates (1927)
Hideo Nomo, Los Angeles Dodgers (1995)
Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers (1993)
Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers (1947)
Hal Trosky, Cleveland Indians (1934)
*Lynn was, by far, the most difficult player on this list to leave off as he won both the AL Rookie of the Year Award and MVP Award in 1975.
30. Texas Rangers: Mike Hargrove (1974)
Stats: 131 G, .323/.395/.424, 28 XBH (4 HR), 66 RBI
Mike Hargrove may be best known today as a major league manager, but in 1974, a 24-year-old Hargrove was a hot-shot rookie first baseman for the Texas Rangers.
He didn't offer much in the way of power, but his .323 batting average was enough to earn him American League Rookie of the Year honors—and shortly thereafter, land him on the back of RC Cola cans around the country.
29. Baltimore Orioles: Wally Bunker (1964)
Stats: 29 GS, 19-5, 2.69 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 96/62 K/BB
What a difference a year makes.
Baltimore signed 18-year-old right-handed starter Wally Bunker out of high school in 1963 and gave the youngster his first taste of big league action later that year, a start that saw him surrender six earned runs and 10 hits in only four innings of work.
When the 1964 season began, a 19-year-old Bunker was a different pitcher; he'd win each of his first six starts of the season, the first three were complete games—including a one-hit shutout of the Washington Senators in his season debut.
By the time the season had come to an end, Bunker ranked among the league leaders in nearly every pitching category. He finished 12th in the AL MVP voting while being one of two players to receive support for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He finished a distant second to Minnesota's Tony Oliva.
Arm issues would hamper Bunker's efforts to replicate his success in subsequent seasons—though he did throw a complete game shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series—and Baltimore left him unprotected in the 1968 expansion draft, where Kansas City selected him.
After three years with the Royals, he was released, and Bunker's professional career was over at the age of 26. He retired with a record of 60-52, a 3.51 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
28. Houston Astros/Colt .45's: Joe Morgan (1965)
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Stats: 157 G, .271/.373/.418, 48 XBH (14 HR), 40 RBI
For all of his success as a key member of the Big Red Machine in the 1970's, it's easy to forget that Joe Morgan's career began in Houston.
While Houston was terrible in 1965, finishing 65-97, 32 games out of the pennant race, Morgan was not. His 97 walks led the National League, and he ranked among the league leaders in on-base percentage, stolen bases (20), triples (12) and runs scored (100).
He would finish second to Los Angeles' Jim Lefebvre in the Rookie of the Year voting and 31st in the MVP race, picking up a single vote.
27. Chicago White Sox: Tommie Agee (1966)
Stats: 160 G, .273/.326/.447, 57 XBH (22 HR), 86 RBI
While Tommie Agee may be best remembered as a key member of the "Miracle Mets" team of 1969, his rookie season with the Chicago White Sox in 1966 was probably the best baseball that the speedy center fielder ever played.
Agee, who had spent parts of four previous seasons with Cleveland and Chicago, won the starting center field job in spring training and made White Sox manager Eddie Stanky look like a genius for handing the job to a 23-year-old in the team's first game of the season.
With the White Sox trailing the California Angels by a score of 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Agee would hit a two-run, two-out home run off of Dean Chance to tie the game. Seven innings later, Chicago scored the winning run in an extra-inning affair.
As Chicago's lone representative at the mid-summer classic, Agee finished the season among the league leaders in multiple categories, including hits (172), total bases (281), doubles (27), triples (eight) and stolen bases (44).
He would go on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award in convincing fashion, picking up 16 of the 20 available votes. He also finished eighth in the American League MVP race and won the first Gold Glove of his career.
26. Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton (1998)
Stats: 152 G, .315/.380/.530, 63 XBH (25 HR), 97 RBI
Little did we know that when Todd Helton got on base three times in five plate appearances during his major league debut that he was setting the tone for a career that would span nearly two decades.
Helton, owner of the second-highest active career on-base percentage—his.417 mark barely trails Albert Pujols at .418—would put together a solid campaign, finishing second on the team in home runs, third in RBI and OPS.
His .911 OPS remains a team record for rookies who appeared in at least 100 games.
25. San Diego Padres: Benito Santiago (1987)
Stats: 146 G, .300/.324/.467, 53 XBH (18 HR), 79 RBI
Benito Santiago's rookie season was, shall we say, unusual.
Santiago was awful behind the plate in San Diego, leading the league in errors and passed balls—but he was fantastic when he was standing upright at the plate.
He put together a 34-game hitting streak, hit .300 despite striking out 112 times and drew only 12 walks. His 21 stolen bases were a major league record for rookie catchers, a mark that was matched two years later by Houston's Craig Biggio.
Despite his inadequacies behind the plate, Santiago won the National League Rookie of the Year Award easily, beating Pittsburgh's Mike Dunne by 54 votes while picking up every available first-place vote on submitted ballots.
24. Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun (2007)
Stats: 113 G, .324/.370/.634, 34 HR, 97 RBI
Some will say that Ryan Braun doesn't belong on this list because of the PED cloud that hangs over his head, but there hasn't been as much as a whisper that those allegations go back to his rookie season in 2007.
Braun led the National League in slugging percentage and was among the league leaders in home runs and OPS. Those numbers were good enough for Braun to beat out Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki for the National League Rookie of the Year Award and landing him 24th in the MVP race.
23. Toronto Blue Jays: Mark Eichorn (1986)
Photo courtesy of ebay.com.
Stats: 69 G, 14-6, 1.72 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 166/45 K/BB, 10 SV
The only reliever to make the list, Mark Eichhorn made his major league debut as a 21-year-old starting pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982. A severe shoulder injury would sideline him for the better part of three seasons before he made his triumphant return in 1986.
What a return it was.
The injury had robbed Eichhorn of his velocity, so to compensate he had changed his mechanics and become a sidearm pitcher, with his release point being below his belt. Despite having no oomph on his pitches, Eichhorn used his unconventional delivery and command to his advantage.
He set Blue Jay records for rookie relievers in ERA, wins and strikeouts. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the race for the Cy Young Award.
Injuries would continue to plague him throughout his 11-year-career, but he retired with respectable numbers: a 48-43 record, 3.00 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
22. Miami/Florida Marlins: Livan Hernandez (1997)
Stats: 17 GS, 9-3, 3.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 72/38 K/BB
Livan Hernandez's regular season stats may not jump off the page as incredibly impressive—though they did earn him a second-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting—but it was his postseason success that made the 22-year-old Cuban defector's rookie campaign so impressive.
Hernandez defeated the Atlanta Braves twice in the NLCS, including a dominant complete-game effort in Game 5. He scattered three hits while allowing only one run and striking out 15.
He would take the mound twice for Florida in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, and while his numbers weren't pretty—a 5.27 ERA and 1.83 WHIP—he won both games.
Hernandez remains the only rookie in baseball history to be named the MVP of both the NLCS and World Series.
21. Kansas City Royals: Kevin Seitzer (1987)
Stats: 161 G, .323/.399/.470, 56 XBH (15 HR), 83 RBI
Kevin Seitzer started the 1987 season as Kansas City's starting first baseman but finished it on the other side of the diamond. He was moved to the hot corner in an attempt to keep his aging Hall of Fame teammate, George Brett, out of harm's way and in the lineup.
It didn't matter where Seitzer played, as his bat remained productive throughout the season. He was selected as a reserve on the American League All-Star team, and he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Oakland's Mark McGwire and 20th in the MVP race.
He would finish the season tied with Minnesota's Kirby Puckett for the league lead in hits and ranked among the league leaders in batting average, on base percentage, triples (eight) and runs scored (105).
While he would continue to be a productive player, Seitzer was never able to match the success of his rookie season. He retired following the 1997 season with a career .295 batting average.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks: Brandon Webb (2003)
Stats: 29 G (28 GS), 10-9, 2.84 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 172/68 K/BB
Joining a rotation that included Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, who was coming off of winning his fourth consecutive National League Cy Young Award, Brandon Webb wasn't supposed to become the ace of Arizona's staff.
But that's exactly what happened.
In his first big league start, Webb threw seven scoreless innings against the New York Mets, scattering three hits while walking one and striking out 10. It would be the first of four starts in 2003 where Webb racked up double-digit strikeout totals.
Despite leading rookie starters in nearly every statistical category, including ERA and WHIP, Webb finished a disappointing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He finished behind Milwaukee's Scott Podsednik and Florida's Dontrelle Willis, who took home the award.
Webb's mediocre win-loss record certainly played a part in the results (as did the baseball world's infatuation with Willis' high leg kick and affable personality), as he was deserving of the honor.
He'd go on to become one of baseball's elite starting pitchers, winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2006 and finishing second in the voting in both 2007 and 2008. An injured rotator cuff in his right shoulder would limit him to one start in 2009—and it would end up being his last.
After failed comeback attempts from a pair of surgeries on the shoulder, Webb announced his retirement from the game this past February.
19. Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria (2008)
Stats: 122 G, .272/.343/.531, 60 XBH (27 HR), 88 RBI
Is it a coincidence that Evan Longoria's arrival in Tampa Bay coincided with the first winning season and playoff appearance in team history?
I think not.
Longoria emerged as the impact bat in the middle of the lineup that Tampa Bay sorely needed to pair with first baseman Carlos Pena. He finished second on the team in nearly every offensive category while playing outstanding defense at the hot corner.
He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award with relative ease over Chicago's Alexei Ramirez, appeared in his first All-Star Game and finished 11th in the MVP voting.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: Paul Waner (1926)
Photo courtesy of pirateswfc.blogspot.com.
Stats: 144 G, .336/.413/.528, 65 XBH (8 HR), 79 RBI
Paul Waner broke into the major leagues one year before his brother, Lloyd*, and became an instant success with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Waner would lead the league in triples (22) while ranking among the league leaders in multiple categories including hits (180) and total bases (283). He'd finish 12th in the MVP voting in 1926 but won the award in 1927, when he took home the first of three National League batting titles.
*Lloyd Waner's 223 hits as a rookie in 1927 are the third-most by a rookie in baseball history, trailing Ichiro Suzuki and Shoeless Joe Jackson.
17. Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood (1998)
Stats: 26 GS, 13-6, 3.40 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 233/85 K/BB
I suppose we can chalk the first month of Kerry Wood's rookie season up to nerves, because it looked nothing like the four months that followed it. Over his first four major league starts, a 21-year-old Wood went 2-2 with a 5.89 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
Over his next 22 starts, he'd go 11-4 with a 3.09 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but it was the fifth start of his career that really set his dramatic turnaround in motion.
Against the Houston Astros on May 6, Wood would throw a complete game, one-hit shutout, a performance that was notable for multiple reasons.
First, the one hit that Wood allowed was questionable at best, as Ricky Gutierrez's ground ball hit off the glove of Cubs' third baseman Kevin Orie and easily could have been scored an error, a point of contention with the Wrigley Field faithful to this day.
More notable, of course, was Wood's record-setting 20-strikeouts, breaking Bill Gullickson's rookie record of 18 K's in a game. He also tied Roger Clemens' major league record for most strikeouts in a game.
It would be the first of nine starts in which Wood recorded at least 10 strikeouts, and his 233 K's on the season rank fourth all-time for a rookie, behind Dwight Gooden (276), Herb Score (245) and Hideo Nomo (236).
Wood would narrowly beat out Colorado's Todd Helton for the NL Rookie of the Year award, and while he'd go on to record at least 200 strikeouts in four of his first five seasons, injuries derailed what looked to be an incredible career, forcing Wood to the bullpen and eventually into retirement at the age of 35.
16. New York Yankees: Russ Ford (1910)
Stats: 36 G (33 GS), 26-6, 1.65 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 209/70 K/BB
The first player born in the Canadian province of Manitoba to reach the major leagues, Russ Ford broke onto the scene for the New York Yankees in 1910 and quickly became known as the father of the "scuff ball."
Russ Ford cheated—he had a piece of emery board hidden in his glove that would make the ball do all sorts of crazy things when he threw it, but that he doctored the ball doesn't change the fact that he was wildly successful doing so.
His rookie season saw Ford become only the third rookie pitcher in baseball history to win at least 20 games and strikeout at least 200 batters, joining Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Yet his success was fleeting, and by 1914, Ford was out of major league baseball. He'd spend two seasons with the Buffalo Buffeds of the Federal League before retiring from the game after the 1915 season at the age of 32.
15. Oakland Athletics: Mark McGwire (1987)
Stats: 151 G, .289/.370/.618, 81 XBH (49 HR), 118 RBI
Mark McGwire broke onto the scene in a big way in 1987, shattering the major league record for home runs in a season by a rookie, previously held by Wally Berger and Frank Robinson (38).
He would lead the majors in both home runs and slugging percentage and finish the season among the American League leaders in OPS (.987), total bases (344) and RBI, taking home Rookie of the Year honors while finishing sixth in the MVP race.
Alongside Jose Canseco, he and McGwire form a duo originally known as the Bash Brothers—more recently dubbed the 'Roid Boys—helping Oakland to become one of the most successful teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. They made three consecutive World Series appearances from 1988 to 1990.
14. Atlanta/Boston Braves: Wally Berger (1930)
Stats: 151 G, .310/.375/.614, 79 XBH (38 HR), 119 RBI
One of the more underrated hitters of all-time, Wally Berger set a new major league record for rookies when he clubbed 38 home runs for the Boston Braves in 1930; the mark would be matched 26 years later by Frank Robinson and ultimately fell to Oakland's Mark McGwire in 1987.
Berger's 1930 season wasn't just about the long ball—he was among the league leaders in multiple categories, including slugging percentage, triples (14) and total bases (341).
Injuries would force Berger into early retirement at the age of 34, but he managed to appear in four All-Star Games and garner support in the NL MVP race five times, finishing as high as third in 1933.
13. San Francisco/New York Giants: Christy Mathewson (1901)
Stats: 40 G (38 GS), 20-17, 2.41 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 221/97 K/BB
One of the legendary figures in the history of the game, a 20-year-old Christy Mathewson overcame a disappointing six-game debut in 1900 to break out the following season, establishing himself as one of the game's elite pitchers.
Despite leading baseball with 23 wild pitches—something he'd do three times during his career—Mathewson's rookie season marked the first of what would be 13 seasons with at least 20 wins and 14 seasons with an ERA below 3.00.
12. Cincinnati Reds: Frank Robinson (1956)
Stats: 152 G, .290/.379/.558, 71 XBH (38 HR), 83 RBI
Before a 20-year-old Frank Robinson arrived in Cincinnati in 1956, the Reds had become one of the least successful teams in baseball, finishing 11 consecutive seasons with a losing record and looking very much like a franchise that had lost its way.
Then Robinson showed up, immediately becoming an intimidating figure and powerful force in the middle of Cincinnati's lineup. He led Cincinnati to a 91-63 record and third place finish in the National League as they came within four games of clinching the team's first pennant since 1940.
He would tie Wally Berger's record of 38 home runs by a rookie and lead the National League in runs scored with 122 en route to becoming the first unanimous selection in either league for Rookie of the Year.
11. Minnesota Twins: Tony Oliva (1964)
Photo courtesy of about.com.
Stats: 161 G, .323/.359/.557, 84 XBH (32 HR), 94 RBI
Minnesota thought it was getting a special player when the team signed Cuban-born outfielder Tony Oliva as an international free agent in 1961.
There's no way they knew just how special Oliva was going to become.
As a 25-year-old rookie in 1964, Oliva was selected to his first All-Star Game and won his first American League batting crown. He led the league in doubles (43) and runs scored (109) while also leading all of baseball in hits (217) and total bases (376).
He would become the first player in baseball history to win both a batting crown and the Rookie of the Year award in the same season, a crown that the 10-time All-Star would wear two more times over his 15-year career, all spent in a Twins uniform.
10. Detroit Tigers: Mark Fidrych (1976)
Stats: 31 G (29 GS), 19-9, 2.34 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 97/53 K/BB
One of the more colorful characters that the game has ever seen, Mark Fidrych was a non-roster invitee to spring training for Detroit in 1976 and had faced only six batters before making his first start of the season on May 15 against the Cleveland Indians.
He'd throw a complete game for the victory, scattering two hits and one run in what would be the first of six consecutive complete games, something he'd accomplish 24 times over the course of the season.
Fidrych led the league with 24 complete games and a 2.34 ERA, being named the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game and winning Rookie of the Year honors convincingly over Minnesota's Butch Wynegar with 22 of 24 possible votes.
Fidrych would tear his rotator cuff in 1977, an injury from which he was never able to recover. He'd appear in only 16 more games from 1978 through 1980 and, at the age of 26, his career had come to an end.
9. St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols (2001)
Stats: 161 G, .329/.403/.610, 88 XBH (37 HR), 130 RBI
While we have come to know Albert Pujols as one of the premier first basemen in the history of baseball, the 21-year-old version of the legendary slugger bounced all over the field for Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001.
Pujols would spend time at first base, left field, right field and third base (not to mention a pair of games as a designated hitter), but the constant moving did nothing to diminish his output at the plate.
He'd take home National League Rookie of the Year Award honors and winner of his first silver slugger award, Pujols set a new National League record for rookies with 130 RBI, beating Wally Berger's 71-year-old record of 117.
His fourth-place finish in the MVP race was only a foretelling of things to come, as he'd win the award three times and finish no lower than fifth on eight different occasions while playing in St. Louis.
8. Cleveland Indians/Naps: Shoeless Joe Jackson (1911)
Stats: 147 G, .408/.468/.590, 71 XBH (7 HR), 83 RBI
After beginning his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1908, Shoeless Joe Jackson became the infamous "player to be named later" in a trade between Philadelphia and Cleveland in July of 1910.
The A's didn't know what they were giving up.
Jackson would thrive with regular playing time for Cleveland in 1911, leading the league with a .468 on-base percentage while finishing second to Detroit's Ty Cobb in nearly every offensive category, including batting average, hits (233), doubles (45) and total bases (337).
Jackson would finish fourth in the MVP voting, and his .408 batting average still stands as a major league record for rookies—a record that is unlikely to ever be broken.
7. Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: Bryce Harper (2012)
Stats: 139 G, .270/.340/.477, 57 XBH (22 HR), 59 RBI
There isn't a 19-year-old in baseball history who accomplished what Bryce Harper did in his rookie season for the Washington Nationals. With his remarkable Rookie of the Year Award-winning season still fresh in our minds, there's no real need for me to elaborate on his accomplishments.
But when you're trying to put Harper's rookie season in it's proper place, consider this: Harper is the only player in baseball history to hit 20 home runs, post an OPS above .800 and score at least 98 runs—as a teenager.
6. Seattle Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki (2001)
Stats: 157 G, .350/.381/.457, 50 XBH (8 HR), 69 RBI
While some fans maintain that Ichiro Suzuki, already an established star in Japan after a nine-year career with the Orix Blue Wave should not have been eligible to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2001, a 27-year-old Suzuki accomplished something that only one other player in MLB history has accomplished.
He won both the Rookie of the Year award and MVP award in the same season, joining Boston's Fred Lynn, who accomplished the feat in 1975 (amazingly enough, that wasn't enough to get Lynn onto this list).
Suzuki led the American League in batting with a .350 average and led the majors with 59 stolen bases and 242 hits. The latter set a new major league record which broke Shoeless Joe Jackson's 90-year mark of 233.
5. Philadelphia Phillies: Dick Allen (1964)
Stats: 162 G, .318/.382/.557, 80 XBH (29 HR), 91 RBI
Dick Allen's rookie season in 1964 is not only the greatest ever put forth in Philadelphia, but one of the greatest by any rookie in the history of the game.
Allen was an absolute beast at the plate, leading the National League in runs scored (125), triples (13), extra-base hits and total bases (352). He also ranked among the league leaders in on-base percentage, OPS (.939), hits (201), doubles (38) and home runs.
He would receive 18 of 20 possible votes en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award and finish seventh in the MVP race.
4. Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams (1939)
Stats: 149 G, .327/.436/.609, 86 XBH (31 HR), 145 RBI
It's fitting that when Ted Williams began his major league career on April 20, 1939, Boston was playing a New York Yankees squad that featured a center fielder named Joe DiMaggio, as the two would be forever linked from that point on as iconic figures of the game.
Teddy Ballgame put together a nine-game hitting streak to begin the season, and by the time it was over, the lanky outfielder led Boston in hits (185), runs (131), doubles (44), triples (11) and RBI, trailing only future Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for the team lead in batting average and home runs.
His 145 RBI were the most in baseball, 17 more than Cincinnati's Joe McCormick, while his 344 total bases led the American League, nine behind St. Louis' Johnny Mize (353) for the most in baseball.
3. New York Mets: Dwight Gooden (1984)
Stats: 31 GS, 17-9, 2.60 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 276/73 K/BB
When it came to having youngsters win individual awards in the early 1980s, few teams could compete with the success of the New York Mets.
After watching slugger Darryl Strawberry win the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1983, Dwight Gooden followed suit by accomplishing the feat in 1984—but doing so in much more impressive fashion.
A 19-year-old Gooden destroyed baseball's record for strikeouts by a rookie pitcher by fanning 276 batters, beating the prior record holder, Cleveland's Herb Score, by 31. He racked up double-digit strikeout totals in 15 of his 31 starts and missed the mark by one in two other starts.
The runner-up to Chicago's Rick Sutcliffe in the Cy Young Award race, Gooden would pick up that award in 1985 and help the Mets win the World Series in 1986 before injuries and drug abuse derailed what looked to be a Hall of Fame-caliber career.
2: Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout (2012)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Stats: 139 G, .326/.399/.564, 30 HR, 83 RBI
As with Bryce Harper, I don't really need to go into much detail on Mike Trout's rookie campaign, as it stands alone on its merits and is still fresh in our minds.
He led all of baseball in runs scored with 129, the most by a rookie since Ted Williams scored 131 in 1939. He also led baseball in stolen bases with 49, swiping bags at a ridiculous 91 percent success rate.
The youngest winner of the Rookie of the Year award and runner up to Miguel Cabrera in what was one of the most hotly debated MVP votes in history, Trout's rookie season is the best season that any 20-year-old has ever had with a bat in his hands.
Along with Bryce Harper, Trout is one of two players in the history of the game to hit 20 home runs, post an OPS above .800 and score at least 98 runs who was 20 years old or younger.
But, contrary to popular opinion, his is not the greatest rookie season that we've ever seen.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: Fernando Valenzuela (1981)
Stats: 25 GS, 13-7, 2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 180/61 K/BB
Other players have had more impressive numbers, but no rookie has had as much of an impact—on the field and in the stands—as a pudgy 19-year-old Mexican who spoke no English and had a name that most people couldn't pronounce.
Fernando-mania swept the nation, as Valenzuela became a rock star overnight. Sold out stadiums along with the atmosphere at the ballpark during his starts, resembled a college football game more than a professional baseball game.
It was one, gigantic party, with people from all backgrounds of all creeds—especially the Latino community—coming together to watch and celebrate Valenzuela.
He was electric on the mound, leading the league in starts, innings pitched (192.1), complete games (11), shutouts (eight) and strikeouts.
He'd go 3-1 during the postseason, including a complete-game victory over the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series.
Valenzuela would win both the National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards, the only pitcher in baseball history to win both awards. He'd also finish fifth in the MVP race.
No rookie has ever had as much success—and made as big of an impact on the game—as Fernando Valenzuela.