Greatest 1-Hit Wonders in Baseball History

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2012

Greatest 1-Hit Wonders in Baseball History

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    Every now and then a player comes out of nowhere and puts up great numbers. It could be a rookie that puts together an outstanding year or it could be a veteran that has a defining season after being nothing more than average throughout their career.

    For many of these players, success fades fast. Baseball has had a number of one-hit wonders that looked like they could have become household names, but then failed to produce.

    This surprising success has helped some players land big contracts that they failed to live up to. Here is a look at some of the biggest one-hit wonders in MLB history.

Angel Berroa

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    Angel Berroa entered the 2002 season as the No. 15 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America (via Baseball-Reference). He spent most of the year in the minors, but proved that he was ready for the big leagues.

    During his first full season in the majors, Berroa certainly lived up to expectations. He hit .287 with 17 home runs, 73 RBI and 21 stolen bases on his way to the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year award.

    The 2003 season was the high point of Berroa's career as he did not post an OPS+ higher than 81 during his next six season in the majors.

Bobby Crosby

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    The 2004 Oakland Athletics managed to win 91 games and one of the reasons for this was the success of rookie shortstop Bobby Crosby. As a 24-year old, Crosby hit 22 home runs and drove in 64 which was enough for him to win the 2004 American League Rookie of the Year award.

    Things would not go as well for Crosby throughout the rest of his career. Injuries limited his playing time and he was never able to find the success that he had in his rookie year.

Pat Listach

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    Pat Listach burst onto the scene in 1992 and then proceeded to quickly fall off the map the following year. During Listach's first year in the majors, he stole 54 bases and batted .290. He won the American League Rookie of the Year award and even received a few MVP votes.

    Listach would go on to play for another five seasons in the majors; during that period, he would steal just 62 bases and bat .231.

Mark Fidrych

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    When he reached the major leagues, it looked like Mark Fidrych was going to be a superstar. As a 21-year old, Fidrych went 19-9 with an American League-leading 2.34 ERA. Fidrych won the Rookie of the Year award and finished second in Cy Young voting.

    Injuries plagued Fidrych following his rookie year and he was never able to stay on the mound consistently. He would go on to make just 27 more starts over the next four seasons before retiring.

Joe Charboneau

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    Joe Charboneau is another player that was a flash in the pan. He looked like a star during his rookie season, but did not go on to have a long career.

    The 1980 American League Rookie of the Year, Charboneau hit .289 with 23 home runs and 87 RBI during his first season in the bigs. After suffering a back injury that would require two surgeries, Charboneau was unable to stay on the field and it caused him to retire after just three seasons (h/t Russell Schneider).

Oliver Perez

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    Oliver Perez had a lot of potential when he was in the early stages of his career, but he was never really able to harness all of his abilities. For one year, Perez did put things together.

    Perez went 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA and an 11.0 K/9 rate in 2004 when he was just 22 years old. He has since struggled in the majors.

    After not pitching in the majors in 2012, Perez has come back to find success as a reliever. If he can keep this up for another year, then he can prove that he is not a one-hit wonder.

Wally Bunker

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    Wally Bunker was able to dominate the American League before his 20th birthday. Bunker went 19-5 with a 2.69 ERA. He finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting because Tony Oliva put up outstanding numbers that year.

    Following that season, Bunker would be a slightly below average pitcher for the rest of his career. Over the next seven years, Bunker posted a 41-46 record along with an ERA+ of 96.

Bob Hamelin

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    In 101 games in 1994, Bob Hamelin was able to show off an impressive amount of power, smashing 24 home runs and batting .282. This performance was good enough to win Hamelin the American League Rookie of the Year award.

    Things would not go well for Hamelin over the next four years. He would only break the 10 home run mark one more time, and he had a .235 batting average over that time period. Just a short time after he broke on to the scene, Hamelin was out of the majors altogether.

Pete Schourek

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    Pete Schourek began his major league career with three miserable seasons with the New York Mets. He was then placed on waivers and claimed by the Cincinnati Reds.

    It looked like a change of scenery was exactly what Schourek needed. He was lights out during the 1995 season, going 18-7 with a 3.22 ERA. He would finish second in the National League Cy Young voting that year.

    This season was certainly an anomaly for Schourek, who would never win more then eight games in his 11-year career.  

Paul Abbott

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    For a starting pitcher with an 11-year career, it is certainly shocking that just under 40 percent of his wins came in one season. That is exactly what happened with Paul Abbott.

    Abbott won 17 games in 2001, and only 26 in the other 10 years of his career. His impressive 2001 season was certainly the pinnacle of Abbott's career.

Bill James

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    Bill James' outstanding season was a big reason why the 1914 Boston Braves won the Word Series. It was just his second year in the majors, but James was able to put up great numbers.

    Following that season, things were not the same for James. He was suffering from a dead arm which some have surmised was actually a torn rotator cuff (h/t David Jones of SABR). Whatever James was actually suffering from, it led to him being a one-hit wonder.

David Clyde

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    Before all of the hype that surrounded Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, there was a lot of hype thrown on another young phenom: David Clyde.

    Selected by the Texas Rangers with the first overall pick in the 1973 MLB draft, the Houston teenager skipped the minor leagues and began his career in the majors. Clyde's first start, an eight-strikeout performance in which he allowed one hit over five innings, only added to the hype.

    That start would be Clyde's one big moment. He never had a winning season and was in the major leagues for part of five seasons.

Wayne Garland

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    Wayne Garland had seven wins in three seasons entering 1976. Things would get much better for him that year as he went 20-6 with a 2.67 ERA.

    Following that season, Garland became a free agent and received the first 10-year deal in MLB history (h/t Mike Tully of The Los Angeles Times). The Cleveland Indians paid him $2.3 million and they only got 28 wins from Garland.

Brady Anderson

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    While Brady Anderson was selected to three All-Star Games, he is still deserving of a spot on this list because a lot of his career production came during one season.

    Anderson hit 50 home runs, nearly a quarter of his career total in 1996. That home run total is more than his next two highest seasons combined. As a result of this power surge, Anderson's name has been connected with steroids (h/t Jeremy Greenhouse of The Hardball Times).

Marvin Freeman

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    There have been a number of pitchers that have gone to Colorado and have struggled because Coors Field is a hitters' park. Marvin Freeman was able to buck that trend.

    Freeman was converted to a starter by the Rockies and went 10-2 with a 2.80 ERA in the strike-shortened 1994 season (he finished third in the National League Cy Young voting that season). Freeman struggled over the next two seasons and his career in the majors ended quickly.