View Full Version : Contest Entry: The best of the best obscure baseball seasons

01-27-2011, 03:52 PM
The Best of the Best Obscure Baseball Seasons (1980-present)

As time moves on, sports become more and more reliant on stats, numbers, saber-metrics and the such. I love stats, just about as much as anybody, so I thought I would try to find the three most obscurely great statistical seasons in Major League Baseball history. In this case, by obscure I mean great statistical seasons by players whom you’d never expect. A great example who just missed out on this list is Jose Bautista from just last year. His 54 home run season came out of nowhere, and those are the types of seasons that I attempted to target in this article. Now since eras are so hard to compare I have decided to limit this discussion to consider only the time period of 1980 to the present day. So, without further ado, I give you the most obscure seasons during this period in baseball!

Obviously baseball seasons are very hard to judge during this time period due to the steroid problem, however, I will treat everyone who played during this period on an equal playing field.

1) Richard Hidalgo- OF Houston Astros- 2000- Hidalgo was a serviceable major league ballplayer, hitting .269 over his 9 year career while providing some pop at the plate, but if you take out his year in 2000 his highest single season home run total was 28, highest RBI total was 88, and highest single season OPS was .957. However Richard had some serious mojo going in 2000 apparently. He had career highs in almost every conceivable category. He belted 44 home runs while knocking in 122. He hit a career high .314. He got on base at a .391 clip while slugging .636 (career averages of .345 and .490). His OPS was a whopping .1028 which was higher than MVP Jeff Kent’s mark of .1021. All and all, Richard Hidalgo put on a hitting display during the year 2000, and it has to go down as one of the most obscure seasons of all time.
2) Kevin Mitchell- OF San Francisco Giants- 1989- Anybody under the age of 25 ever even heard of Kevin Mitchell? This was truly an oddball season at its finest. Mitchell was a solid professional hitter, .284 for his career, who showed some serious power at times, two 30 home run seasons other than his 89’ campaign. However this season was otherworldly for Mitchell. He hit slightly above his career average, .291 for the season, but other than that he not only set career highs in most categories, he ended up leading the league. Mitchell led the NL with 47 home runs (the most since Mike Schmidt’s 48 in 1980) and 125 RBI (2nd most in a period spanning 1978-1995). Other than that all Mitchell did was have career highs and lead the league in slugging, OPS, and total bases. His .635 slugging for the year was the best single season slugging percentage of the decade other than Schmidt’s strike shortened 81’ campaign and his .1023 OPS was about .150 points higher than his career OPS of .880. Mitchell’s Giant’s team came up short in the 1989 World Series, but he did walk away with MVP honors after his hitting display.
3) Willie Hernandez- P Detroit Tigers- 1984- Want to know who the last pitcher to win both the Cy Young and MVP in the same season was? If you somehow came up with Willie Hernandez then you have way too much time on your hands. Hernandez was a relief pitcher for the Tigers in 1984 who racked up career best numbers in virtually every major pitching category. To start it all off, Hernandez managed to win 9 games out of the pen. He appeared in a career high 80 games and threw a career high 140 innings. Over these 140 innings, Hernandez posted a career best ERA of 1.92 (3.38 for his career) and saved 32 games. To put how obscure this season is with the rest of Hernandez’ career, consider that his career ERA+ was 119 (100 being an “average” pitcher) and his ERA+ in 1984 was over 200! Again, he’s the last player in the MLB to win both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season! That is insane!

Baseball is a crazy sport, and obviously anything can happen in any given year; remember, as I mentioned in the introduction, we did just see Jose Bautista hit 54 home runs in 2010. These kind of years are what is fun about sports, someone can come out of nowhere and make you sit back and just say “Wow, look at the year this guy had.” Unfortunately for Hidalgo, Mitchell, and Hernandez, these great seasons were obscure, and not breakout years that shaped the rest of their careers. Maybe Bautista’s story will end differently, and his 2010 will be the season that got him on the path to an amazing career, or maybe it will just go down as another obscure season that people will hardly believe could happen 20 years from now.

01-28-2011, 06:12 AM
Fun article to read. I'm younger than 25 and know who Kevin Mitchell is and that Willie Hernandez was the last guy to win a Cy Young and MVP in the same season, though. So maybe I have too much time on my hands.

01-31-2011, 09:27 PM
Thanks for the entry, here is the edited version: http://www.sportscardforum.com/articles/2011/01/the-best-of-the-best-obscure-baseball-season-1980-to-present/