Past Rookie of the Year Winners....


So just a little something I’ve been working on about former Rookie of the Year’s, and their careers…..


We’re all hoping Nolan Reimold wins the AL ROY.  He seems like a dark horse candidate (at least, I don’t remember seeing much about him – just all Weiters hype), but there are a number of good rookie pitchers that might still take it.  Anyway, thinking about Reimold got me wondering what percentage of ROY winners are in the hall of fame, and just how bad of a career could someone have after winning the ROY.  First off, the good, after the jump.

Out of 91 total ROY winners that are eligible for induction since 1947 (the 1947 and 1948 awards were not split into AL and NL categories), only 13 players have become HOF’s (side note:  Pete Rose won in 1963, but I considered him ‘ineligible’ for the purpose of this article).  That is only 14% of ROY winners.  The team with the most ROY winners who are now in the Hall is the Giants franchise, with three players, followed by a tie for second between Cincinnati and Baltimore, with two each.  8 of the NL winners and 5 of the AL winners have gone on to the Hall.  The short list:


NL Winners in the Hall (and their rookie year):


Jackie Robinson       1947

Willie Mays                1951

Frank Robinson         1956

Orlando Cepeda       1958

Willie McCovey         1959

Billy Williams             1961

Tom Seaver               1967

Johnny Bench            1968


AL Winners in the Hall (and their rookie year):


Luis Aparicio             1956

Rod Carew                1967

Carlton Fisk               1972

Eddie Murray             1977

Cal Ripken                 1982


If you take a look at the list of ROY winners not in the hall, you’ll find several other above average baseball players who went on to have decent careers in the majors.  That’s not the point of this article, though.  We want to look at some of the ‘flash in the pan’ (and some not even that!) type guys.  So let’s get started.


Harry Byrd – Philadelphia Athletics – 1952

Rookie Year stats:

15-15    3.31 ERA  228.1 IP  116 K  1.498 WHIP

Not so stellar stats – I wonder if there weren’t any other good rookies that year.  Looks like an average pitcher, maybe a good 3rd or 4th starter (B-R compares him to a name O’s fans are familiar with – Bob Milacki), but check out his stat line from the very next year:

11-20    5.51 ERA  236.2 IP  122 K  1.66 WHIP

He led the league in starts that year (37)…..also losses (20) and earned runs (145)!  He was traded to the Yankees the very next year, where he posted a decent record (9-7 2.99 ERA 1.31 WHIP), but bounced around for several years after that (split time between the O’s and the White Sox in 1955) before ending his career in 1957.  Career stats (7 seasons):

46-54  4.35 ERA  827.2 IP  381 K  1.50 WHIP


Joe Black – Brooklyn Dodgers – 1952

Rookie year stats:

15-4    2.15 ERA  142.1 IP  85 K  1.00 WHIP

Very nice looking line!  Interestingly, he only started 2 games that year, so those 15 wins came in relief!  He fell 8 innings short of qualifying for the ERA title that year, but he did lead the league in games finished (41).  Joe Black was the first black pitcher to win a World Series game, in 1952.  He also played for the Baltimore Elite Giants before making the switch to the Brooklyn Dodgers.  His sophomore season didn’t look so good though:

6-3    5.33 ERA  72.2 IP  42 K  1.39 WHIP

And his next season was dismal:

0-0    11.57 ERA  7 IP  3 K  2.28 WHIP

He too was out of baseball by 1957, at age 33.  Career stats (6 seasons):

30-12    3.91 ERA  414 IP  222 K  1.25 WHIP

(half of those wins were in his rookie year!)


 Don Schwall – Boston – 1961

Rookie year stats:

15-7    3.22 ERA  178.2 IP  91 K  1.55 WHIP

This guy beat out teamate Carl Yastrzemski for ROY honors that year!  He posted an amazing record considering he played for a team 33 games out of first place that year.  However, he came back down to earth the next year:

9-15  4.94 ERA  182.1 IP  89 K  1.65 WHIP

After that, he was traded to the Pirates and had a bit better year:

6-12    3.33 ERA  167.2 IP  86 K  1.38 WHIP

He switched to relief for the next season, and had one more good year in 1965 (2.92 ERA  77 IP), but was finished after the 1967 season at age 31.  Career stats (7 seasons):

49-48    3.72 ERA  743 IP  408 K  1.48 WHIP


Jim Lefebvre – Los Angeles Dodgers – 1965

Rookie year stats:

.250  136 H  12 HR  69 RBI  .369 Slg

Fairly unimpressive stats, but I guess they had to pick someone that year.  His next year was a good increase though, and it seemed to promise more to come:

.274  149 H  24 HR  74 RBI  .460 Slg

So, looked like a solid mid-range power guy, right?  His next year stats, with only 16 less games:

.261  129 H  8 HR  50 RBI  .366 Slg

It only went downhill from there.  He only hit double digits in home runs one more time, in 1971 (12), but never came close to his 1966 season.  By 1972, at age 30, he was out of the MLB.  He would go on to play four seasons in Japan, from 1973 to 1976.  Career stats (8 seasons):

.251  756 H  74 HR  404 RBI  .378 Slg


Mark Fidrych – Detroit Tigers – 1976

Rookie year stats:

19-9    2.34 ERA  250.1 IP  97 K  1.07 WHIP

I’m sure most of us are familiar with The Bird.  Led the league in ERA and complete games that year (24), and finished a close 2nd to Jim Palmer in the Cy Young voting.  Unfortunately, he tore his rotator cuff early in the 1977 season, and it was never properly diagnosed.  He would only last until the 1980 season, and was never the pitcher he could have been.  Career stats (5 seasons):

29-19  3.10 ERA  412.1 IP  170 K  1.20 WHIP


Joe Charboneau – Cleveland Indians – 1980

Rookie year stats:

.289  131 H  23 HR  87 RBI  .488 Slg

After a really good first year, he suffered a back injury, and he became the first ROY winner to be back in the minors the next year.  Extremely popular in the Cleveland area, he even had a song written about him.  However, he was out of baseball after the 1982 season after several back surgeries.  Career stats (3 seasons):

.266  172 H  29 HR  114 RBI  .393 Slg

Pat Listach – Milwaukee Brewers – 1992

Rookie year stats:

.290  168 H  1 HR  47 RBI  54 SB 

Speedster who helped Milwaukee win 92 games in 1992.  His speed seems to have dropped off considerably the next year (18 SB), and he only topped 20 stolen bases one more time (1996), before retiring after the 1997 season.  Career stats (6 seasons):

.251  444 H  5 HR  143 RBI  116 SB


Bob Hamelin – Kansas City Royals – 1994

Rookie year stats:

.282  88 H  24 HR  65 RBI  .599 Slg

Keep in mind he only played 101 games that year!  His production tailed off for the next few years due to leg and eye problems, but he had one more decent year with Detroit in 1997:

.270  86 H  18 HR  52 RBI  .487 Slg

He retired after the 1998 season.  Career stats (6 seasons):

.246  313 H  67 HR  209 RBI  .464 Slg


 Kazuhiro Sasaki – Seattle Mariners – 2000

Rookie year stats:

2-5    3.16 ERA  62.2 IP  78 K  1.16 WHIP  37 SV

A ‘rookie’ at age 32, Sasaki set the record for saves in a single season by a rookie.  He had two more dominant seasons (45 SV and 37 SV), and a mediocre one (10 SV), before deciding to head back to the Japanese leagues.  Career stats (4 seasons):

7-16    3.14 ERA  223.1 IP  242 K  1.08 WHIP  129 SV

Well that pretty much sums it up.  A large amount of the ROY players went on to have mediocre careers, and many did not even have great first years.  It just seems like many times, there wasn’t any really stand-out rookie for the league.  In a number of other cases, injury ended several promising careers.    


So I guess I’ve just proven what we already know:  ROY is NO guarantee of future greatness.  I was surprised to see just how few made it to the Hall, and the overall somewhat average careers of most of these players.  By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive, I just thought it would be interesting to post the results of some of the past ROY winners.  Here’s hoping Reimold (if he wins) has a much better career!


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