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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 One-Hit wonder seasons in Baseball History

Top 10 One-Hit wonder seasons in Baseball History

Publish Date: 07/14/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

One-Hit wonders

This list is for players who had one epic season but could never follow it up. Guys like Brady Anderson do not qualify because he was in the League for a decade and was a solid player; he had one great steroid-induced year. This list is for guys that had one amazing season and then kind of fade away.

10. Bob Hamelin, Kansas City Royals

George Brett retired after a Hall-of-Fame career and was replaced by Hamelin. To everyone’s amazement, Hamelin outdid Brett himself by hitting an astonishing.282/.388/.599 over 101 games while belting 24 homers, winning the Rookie of the Year Award easily over another solid slugger named Manny Ramirez.

After that season, Hamelin quickly faded from comparisons to Brett. He struggled to reclaim his former glory and was even sent down to the minor leagues to work on his swing. Ultimately, however, the Royals lost faith in him and eventually released him.

Video: Hamelin hits walk-off home run

Hamelin hits walk-off home run

9. Justin Thompson, Detroit Tigers

Thompson was an impressive hard-throwing lefty drafted out of high school who didn’t reach the majors until age 23 – yet, just one year later, had already become an All-Star pitcher with a 3.02 ERA over 32 starts and 223.1 innings pitched.

His arm saw similar wear during 1998 and 1999, yet his ERA increased by over one full run each season until he finally gave up starting as a starting pitcher at just 26 years old.

Video: 1997 Justin Thompson Detroit Tigers Television PASS Commercial

1997 Justin Thompson Detroit Tigers Television PASS Commercial

8. Chris Hoiles, Baltimore Orioles

Hoiles may not come up as often when discussing great offensive catchers in baseball. Still, his 1993 performance puts him up there with anything Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez or Johnny Bench could accomplish.

Hoiles was an impressive player throughout 126 games. In total, he hit 26 homers, drove in 82 runs and boasted a batting line of.310/.416/.585, placing him among the top five in each category.

Hoiles was known for his power-hitting solid ability as a catcher, but getting on base never came as quickly until 1993 at age 28.

Video: Chris Hoiles Relives His Ultimate Grand Slam | Orioles vs. Mariners - May 17, 1996

Chris Hoiles Relives His Ultimate Grand Slam | Orioles vs. Mariners – May 17, 1996

7. Tuffy Rhoads, Chicago Cubs

Tuffy Rhodes may have spent most of his career as a utility player, but 1994 will always be remembered as his finest year. Facing off against the legendary Dwight Gooden he hit three of his 13 career homers while appearing in 95 games that season, accumulating 17 doubles, eight homers and an OPS of.705.

He would only accrue eight more hits for the remainder of his major-league career and would soon find himself no longer playing ball at 26 years old.

Video: NYM@CHC: Rhodes blasts three homers against the Mets

NYM@CHC: Rhodes blasts three homers against the Mets

6. Marcus Giles, Atlanta Braves

Fans of the Braves were overjoyed at the prospect of Giles, Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones forming the core of a roster already boasting veteran stars Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield.

Giles wasn’t necessarily the star player on that team in 2003, but his play certainly showed it. The second baseman batted.316/.390/.526 with 21 homers, 49 doubles and 14 steals (all career highs).

At 25 years old, Giles seemed on track to becoming a perennial All-Star. Unfortunately, injuries forced him to miss more than a third of the 2004 season, and after an outstanding 2005 campaign, he took an abrupt downward turn; power fell away dramatically as his batting average plummeted far below.300, and by 2007 he had left major league baseball altogether.

Video: Furcal, Giles turn two despite hard slide

Furcal, Giles turn two despite hard slide

5. Dave Fleming, Seattle Mariners

Fleming made his major-league debut just a year after signing and was an instantaneous hit in Seattle. Throughout his rookie year, he won 17 games with an astounding 3.39 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 228.1 innings pitched, providing Seattle with a formidable two-pronged pitchers pair led by Randy Johnson.

But after his rookie campaign, the lefty struggled and won only 20 games more before retiring in 1995 after a brief stint with the Kansas City Royals.

Video: Seattle Mariners @ Chicago White Sox (6/19/95) MLB

Seattle Mariners @ Chicago White Sox (6/19/95) MLB

4. Rick Ankiel, St. Louis Cardinals

Ankiel’s story is well-known. At 20 years old and pitching for the Cardinals as a rookie pitcher with an outstanding 3.50 ERA over 175 innings as starter for them in 2004, Ankiel made 30 starts and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting but became disillusioned with playoff pressure as his performance faltered during that postseason.

Ankiel struggled mightily to throw strikes during that postseason and never again found his pitching form; after making one final comeback as a pitcher in 2004.

Video: 2000 NLDS Gm1: Rick Ankiel throws five wild pitches in Game 1 of the NLDS

2000 NLDS Gm1: Rick Ankiel throws five wild pitches in Game 1 of the NLDS

3. Hideki Irabu

Irabu was an impressive pitcher out of Japan who gained attention when he joined Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone and Dwight Gooden as members of a Yankees staff.

He made an impressionable debut season with New York, going 13-9 in 28 starts for a 4.06 ERA over 173 innings pitched despite missing playoff action that year. That feat earned him a World Series ring for this year as well!

Video: Hideki Irabu records his first strikeout in Majors in 1997

Hideki Irabu records his first strikeout in Majors in 1997

2. Joe Charboneau, Cleveland Indians

Charboneau looked like an absolute monster during his rookie season for the Indians, batting.289 with an OPS of.846 while hitting 23 home runs and 17 doubles.

Cleveland still finished with a losing record that season, yet fans knew they finally had someone who could compete with George Brett and the Kansas City Royals sluggers.

Charboneau proved incapable of fulfilling his promise as an athlete, playing only 70 more games for the Indians before retiring at 27 years of age.

Video: He Shouldโ€™ve Been the Next Reggie Jackson. So Why Does Nobody Remember Him? (ft. No More Fielders)

He Shouldโ€™ve Been the Next Reggie Jackson. So Why Does Nobody Remember Him? (ft. No More Fielders)

1. Mark Fidrych, Detroit Tigers

Fidrych burst onto the baseball scene as a 21-year-old rookie in 1976, quickly becoming one of the premier players. Over 29 starts, Fidrych completed 24 complete games – four shutouts included! – and amassed a 19-4 record.

His 2.34 ERA and 1.19 WHIP earned him nearly unanimous support as Rookie of the Year, placing second behind Jim Palmer for Cy Young voting.

Fidrych’s career soon fell on hard times; he made only 27 starts before exiting due to arm trouble in 1980.

Video: Mark Fidrych: A One of a Kind Ace Pitcher

Mark Fidrych: A One of a Kind Ace Pitcher

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