Best Rookie Seasons, By Franchise

The newest toy (or tool, depending on seriously you take these things) at the baseball-reference .com Play Index is a Rookie button that allows one to search for rookie seasons only. The tool will not line up perfectly with players who have been considered “rookies” historically because (1) b-ref uses the current MLB rookie definition and applies that uniformly to all seasons going back in time, and (2) b-ref is fudging a bit on the service time part of the rookie definition, so it can be applied within the scope of the data b-ref has. But the results are still very useful and interesting, and with b-ref’s prominent position in the world of historical baseball data these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if b-ref’s approach to defining a “rookie” becomes the standard definition for historical purposes.

Using b-ref’s new Play Index tool, here are (after the jump) the top rookie seasons by non-pitchers (1901-2012) for each current franchise, by season Wins Above Replacement (using the b-ref version of WAR of course):

Angels: Mike Trout (2012) 10.7
Orioles: Bobby Grich (1972) 5.6
Red Sox: Fred Lynn (1975) 7.1
White Sox: Tommie Agee (1966) 6.0
Indians: Shoeless Joe Jackson (1911) 9.0
Tigers: Donnie Bush (1909) 6.2
Royals: Kevin Seitzer (1987) 5.3
Twins: Tony Oliva (1964) 6.6
Yankees: Thurman Munson (1970) 5.3
A’s: Mitchell Page (1977) 5.8
Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki (2001) 7.5 (or Alvin Davis in 1984 with 5.7, if you don’t really consider Ichiro in 2001 a rookie)
Rays: Evan Longoria (2008) 4.5
Rangers: Bump Wills (1977) 5.0
Blue Jays: Eric Hinske (2002) 3.6
D’Backs: Alex Cintron (2003) 2.5
Braves: Jason Heyward (2010) 6.3
Cubs: Charlie Hollocher (1918) 5.0
Reds: Vada Pinson (1959) 6.3
Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki (2007) 6.5
Marlins: Hanley Ramirez (2006) 4.6
Astros: Joe Morgan (1965) 5.4
Dodgers: Mike Piazza (1993) 6.8
Brewers: Pat Listach (1992) 4.2
Mets: Ike Davis (2010) 3.1
Phils: Richie Allen (1964) 8.5
Pirates: Glenn Wright (1924) 5.5
Padres: Roberto Alomar (1988) 4.1
Giants: Jim Ray Hart (1964) 4.9
Cardinals: Albert Pujols (2001) 6.3
Nationals: Bryce Harper (2012) 5.0

UPDATE:

Combining both the everyday players on the original list above with the pitchers on Doug’s list in the comments, we can get a table of the very highest rookie WAR season for each franchise, using the higher of the top everyday player WAR and the top pitcher WAR:

[table id=92 /]

91 thoughts on “Best Rookie Seasons, By Franchise


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