The Top 10 Biggest Baseball Flukes Since 1990
Over the years, Major League Baseball has seen some of the most incredible feats in sports history, be it through dramatic home runs, underdog teams going to the World Series, or spectacular pitching performances.
As fans, we rely on these moments and blow them up to extreme proportions. Regardless of our own hyperbole, however, these stories have often baffled even the most intelligent of fans.
Since baseball has been around for so long, it would be near impossible to count down all of these crazy moments/feats! Instead, let us take a look into the more recent moments that had all baseball fans simply scratching their heads.
These are the Top 10 Biggest Baseball Flukes Since 1990.
10. Esteban Loaiza's 2003 Season
Prior to 2003, Esteban Loaiza had bounced around three other clubs. He was not exactly what many would call well known, with his career high in wins being 11. Things would change very quickly.
After joining the White Sox's starting rotation, Esteban got off to a quick start, being named the American League starter in the 2003 All-Star Game (coincidentally in Chicago).
He would finish the season with a 21-9 record with a 2.90 ERA, finishing in second for the Cy Young Award.
Despite another All-Star appearance in 2004, Loaiza would soon vanish from baseball supremacy.
He bounced around between the Yankees, Athletics, Nationals, and Dodgers before returning once more to the White Sox in 2008. During this time, he failed to play in more than 10 games in a season five times.
9. 1998 San Diego Padres
The 1998 San Diego Padres were a fantastic team; let nobody take that away from them. They thwarted the NL West, finishing 9.5 games ahead of second-place San Francisco with 98 wins.
Prior to the season, the team traded for ace Kevin Brown, who would lead the team to an NL Pennant and World Series appearance against the New York Yankees.
Though sporting a lineup that contained Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, the late Ken Caminiti, and slugger Greg Vaughn, the team found no success in the final stages of October. They were swept by the Yankees in four games and were embarrassed by the likes of Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez.
The 1999 team would finish near the cellar of the NL West, and this team has yet to return to its former glory.
8. 1994 Montreal Expos
The Expos are greatly considered by many as having been one of the worst franchises in modern sports history. They had the smallest fanbase throughout the '90s and were considered a general failure.
However, in 1994, the Expos appeared to be on a surge. With the assistance of superstar Larry Walker, the team began to make a positive turn.
With the sudden appearance of blooming stars Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, Mike Lansing, and Jeff Fassero, the Expos found themselves leading the NL East at the deep point in the season with a record of 74-40.
All was right for the time, sending five All-Stars to the Midsummer Classic in Pittsburgh that season as well. Moises Alou himself even drove in the game-winning hit for the National League. They were destined to appear in the World Series.
The only problem was that there was no World Series. The 1994 season was canceled on Sept. 14, and the Expos would ultimately lose most of their stars to free agency the following season.
7. Carl Pavano
In 2003, Carl Pavano was considered one of the backbones of the Marlins team that won the World Series against the powerhouse New York Yankees. He notched 12 wins and appeared to be on the upside of his career.
The following season, Pavano was amongst the elite, sporting 18 wins with only eight losses. His control was spectacular, and he would become one of the hottest free agents on the market.
After a heated few months of discussions, Carl elected the New York Yankees over the Boston Red Sox, who signed him to a multi-year deal worth over $45 million. Little did they know this would become the worst signing of Brian Cashman's era as general manager.
Pavano was dismal in New York. In three seasons of actual playing time (he missed the 2006 season due to a series of injuries, which nearly led to legal issues with the team), he won just eight games. He appeared in 26 overall during his tenure.
After collecting his cash, Pavano moved on to the Cleveland Indians in 2009.
6. 2006 New York Mets
This is one of those teams that was "All or Nothing."
With two 15-game winners in Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel, the Mets' pitching proved relatively strong throughout the season (believe it). They displayed outstanding comebacks throughout the season and even managed to fight through injuries to star Pedro Martinez and several others.
It was the lineup though that made this team, "The Team. The Time. The Mets."
Carlos Beltran slugged 41 home runs with 116 runs batted in, and Carlos Delgado was just behind him with 38 round-trippers himself. David Wright and José Reyes developed into stars, and the squad received strong seasons from José Valentin and Paul Lo Duca as well.
In Game Seven of the NLCS against the Cardinals, the team seemed destined to win after Endy Chavez made one of the greatest postseason catches of all time. However, they lost after a Yadier Molina two-run long shot and would have to wait until 2007.
However, in 2007, the team suffered one of the worst collapses in baseball history and has yet to establish themselves as a legit threat once again.
5. 2006 Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers during the 1990s and early 2000s were nothing but a speckle in the playoff chase that is Major League Baseball. Just three seasons before, they had come only one loss short of tying the 1962 New York Mets for the worst record in a single season, and they had very little upside to them overall.
For some reason. though, 2006 was different. The franchise brought back Jim Leyland to manage, who had spent the first 18 years of his career with the team. It was destiny.
With a miraculous 95-win season, the Tigers clinched the AL Wild Card. Shortly after, they defeated the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics to advance to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Detroit relied on a core of young talent alongside a superstar in Magglio Ordoñez. Mags hit 24 homers in 2006, including one that clinched the American League pennant.
Unfortunately for the team, they were abruptly mowed down by the Cardinals in just five games. They would narrowly fail to repeat their success in 2007 and would bombshell in 2008 after acquiring big names such as Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
4. Brady Anderson's 1996 Season
Before 1996, Brady Anderson was nothing more than an average player. He had only hit more than 20 home runs in a season once before and never came within more than 20 RBI of 100. Things were about to change.
In '96, Anderson exploded for the Baltimore Orioles. Hitting in the same lineup as Cal Ripken Jr., Brady smashed 50 homers while driving in 110 runs! It was considered one of the single greatest turnarounds in modern history, and he was an instant All-Star.
For the remaining six seasons of his career, he would never drive in more than 81 runs nor even hit half as many home runs as he did in 1996. Though he did appear in another All-Star Game, he was never as effective.
Brady's 1996 season is considered one of the biggest flukes of any single player.
3. 2008 Major League Baseball Season
As a baseball fan, the 2008 baseball season (I can say) was the greatest one ever witnessed. After all, only one word could describe it: parity.
The main story of '08 revolved around the Tampa Bay Rays, who had recently dropped the "Devil" in the name. Good thing they did. The Rays exploded out of nowhere, winning the American League East over the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox.
This feat would be repeated, as the Rays would advance to the Fall Classic after beating Boston in a thrilling Game Seven.
Both New York teams missed the playoffs, with the Yankees being excluded from October for the first time since 1993. The Mets, on the other hand, suffered yet another collapse, and morale in the city was lower than ever.
The Philadelphia Phillies shocked the baseball world by defeating the Rays, delivering them their first world title since 1980. The clinching game was actually a continuation from a suspended game a few nights before, allowing all of America to view their triumph.
Throw in the miraculous comeback of Josh Hamilton, the emergence of the Brewers and CC Sabathia, and a 5'9" MVP, and the league will never be the same.
2. 1997 Florida Marlins
In only their fifth season in Major League Baseball, the 1997 Florida Marlins were considered one of the most feel-good stories ever.
Taking advantage of the relatively new Wild Card, the Marlins finished in second place in the NL East, just behind the Atlanta Braves. With a lineup filled with impact players such as Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, and Jeff Conine, Florida made a charge towards the World Series.
In the Fall Classic, the team boasted impressive pitching performances by rookie Livan Hernandez and veteran Al Leiter. In a thrilling Game Seven against Cleveland, shortstop Edgar Renteria singled in Craig Counsell to give manager Jim Leyland his first World Series title.
The next season, the team went 54-108, one of the worst records in baseball.
1. 2007 Colorado Rockies
Believe it or not, this team ranks No. 1 on this list. The Rockies were a mockery for all their few years of existence in Major League Baseball, having only made the playoffs once before. 2007 would change the team forever.
With manager Clint Hurdle at the helm, the team looked to make some noise in the always weak NL West. Having been down eight games in the Wild Card race mid-season, the Rockies stormed down the stretch, ultimately clinching a playoff berth.
Did I mention it came after a thrilling one-game playoff against the San Diego Padres?
After an incredible run, Colorado clinched a World Series appearance against the Boston Red Sox. There, they were promptly swept, and despite an unexpected rally from the team and their fans, the dream season was over.
The team entered 2008 with much optimism, but to no avail. They finished 14 games under .500 and stand in the basement of the division in 2009.