MLB Breakout One-Season Wonders for Every Team

Jordan Cohn
July 16, 2020 - 11:59 am

This list was a fun one to make, and my hope is that the names below provoke a mixed emotional reaction for you.

For one, I'm hoping to create an "oh yeah, that guy" feeling of nostalgia, a feeling that only baseball, for me, can provide in terms of sports history. Though the same effect is there for other sports leagues -- 'oh yeah, Peyton Hills!' or, 'I forgot about Brandon Roy,' for instance -- even the most insignificant MLB names can evoke as strong a reaction from many devoted fans.

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For the most part, this nostalgia should be good. Remembering these guys who provided a completely unexpected and phenomenal year for your favorite team should be a happy memory.

But I'm also hoping that there's some frustration. Why the heck was this guy so good for one year, and then so mediocre the rest of the way? Why did we pay that guy after one showing? Why didn't he bring the franchise through a prominent stretch after teasing us like that?

Whatever the case, this list certainly isn't like most lists you'll see on sports sites. These aren't your everyday names, your stars that soak up so much of the media attention. These are the obscurities, the anomalies of recent baseball history (I only chose names from the past 50 seasons, if you can call that recent) that many fans have pushed to the backs of their memory banks. It's time to bring them back to the front.

All stats retrieved from Baseball Reference. Bolded stats indicate league leader.

Brady Anderson had an unexpected power surge in 1996. Photo credit (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Mark Fidrych manicures the mound like he did so many times throughout his career. Photo credit (Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport via Getty Images)
No one expected Richard Hidalgo to clear 40 home runs when he did it in 2000. Photo credit (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Domonic Brown's spell of dominance in Philly only lasted about half of a season. Photo credit (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Ryan Ludwick's 2008 campaign was a power surge he couldn't quite replicate again. Photo credit (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Rich Aurilia cranked 37 home runs out of nowhere in 2001. Photo credit (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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