The good Michael Jordan made No. 23 an iconic basketball amount, and whereas there will not be a baseball participant who pretty reaches his stage (or, y’know, even comes shut), we thought we’d try the players who’ve worn No. 23 of their MLB careers. Why? On account of it’s 2023, and that’s just about nearly as good of a function as any within the case of offseason content material materials.
And in its place of merely doing a score of careers you’ll do by your self with a quick Baseball-Reference search — Ryne Sandberg has the easiest bWAR whereas carrying the No. 23 on his once more — we in its place thought we’d try the easiest seasons ever turned in by players carrying No. 23.
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The opponents to make the report of the 23 biggest seasons by players carrying No. 23 was additional fierce than I imagined, to be reliable. How fierce? For example, Jermaine Dye’s glorious 2006 season for the White Sox — 44 homers, 124 RBIs, fifth-place MVP finish — didn’t make the decrease. Neither did Zac Gallen’s good 2022: 2.54 ERA, NL-leading 0.913 WHIP and fifth-place Cy finish. Or Doug Jones’ 36-save, 1.85 ERA season in 1992.
It’s a report of actually stellar seasons. A couple of quick notes: First, we solely picked one 12 months per participant. So a person like Sandberg, who had 4 seasons with a bWAR of seven.0 or bigger, is barely on the report as quickly as. Second, MVPs and Cy Youthful awards matter. Third, the report is admittedly a bit subjective. It’s not solely a score of WAR or OPS+.
Let’s get started.
23. Fernando Tatis, 1999 Cardinals
Numbers of remember: 34 HR, 107 RBIs, 21 SB, .404 on-base share, 139 OPS+
Concepts: A bit little bit of a spoiler proper right here, nonetheless this man is part of the one father-son duo on the report. And, positive, his MLB file of two grand slams in a single recreation occurred in 1999.
22. Jim Turner, 1937 Boston Bees
Numbers of remember: 6.1 bWAR, 2.38 ERA (led league), fourth in MVP vote
Concepts: Nicknamed “Milkman Jim,” Turner was a 33-year-old rookie for the Bees (now Atlanta Braves) in 1937, having spent the sooner 14 seasons having fun with minor league ball. Turner led the NL in ERA, full video video games and shutouts in 1937. He wound up pitching 9 years inside the majors, retiring with a 3.22 ERA.
21. Nelson Cruz, 2019 Twins
Numbers of remember: 41 HR, 108 RBIs, .311, 168 OPS+
Concepts: Truly, you would choose practically any 12 months Cruz wore No. 23. From 2014 to 2019, having fun with for the Orioles, Mariners and Twins, Cruz averaged 41 homers, 105 RBIs and a 149 OPS+. I merely went with 2019 on account of it was his highest OPS+ inside the run.
20. Willie Horton, 1968 Tigers
Numbers of remember: 5.4 bWAR, 36 HR, 165 OPS+
Concepts: An icon in Detroit, Horton and his No. 23 have been a staple in Tigers lineups from 1964 to 1976. Horton slugged 262 homers in a Tigers uniform, making 4 All-Star teams. His fourth-place finish inside the 1968 AL MVP race was the easiest of his occupation. Oh, and Horton hit .304 with a homer and three RBIs inside the World Sequence as a result of the Tigers acquired in seven video video games. Every of his singles in Recreation 7 in opposition to Bob Gibson led to run-scoring innings in Detroit’s 4-1 win.
19. Jack Aker, 1966 Kansas Metropolis Athletics
Numbers of remember: 4.6 bWAR, 1.99 ERA, 113 IP, 32 saves
Concepts: Aker’s 1966 season was one in every of many 10 biggest by any MLB reliever inside the decade — not unhealthy for a person who was initially drafted as an outfielder.
18. Ellis Burks, 2000 Giants
Numbers of remember: .344, .419 on-base share, 163 OPS+, 24 HR, 96 RBIs
Concepts: Burks was an excellent participant whose offensive numbers jumped when he acquired to Colorado in 1994, and plenty of wrote him off as a thin-air marvel. Nonetheless that merely wasn’t the case. Burks battled accidents all through his two-plus seasons with the Giants, nonetheless you see his numbers in 2000 (in solely 122 video video games), and that was on the heels of a 31-homer season in 120 video video games in 1999 with San Francisco.
17. Chris Hoiles, 1993 Orioles
Numbers of remember: 6.8 bWAR, 29 HR, .310/.416/.585, 162 OPS+
Concepts: Improve your hand if you knew Hoiles had a 6.8 bWAR season in his occupation. And sooner than you say, “Oh, I really feel FanGraphs’ WAR is additional right,” know that Hoiles had a 7.0 fWAR in 1993. If WAR existed in 1993, he would have been much more appreciated by baseball followers exterior of Baltimore.
16. Greg Vaughn, 1998 Padres
Numbers of remember: 50 HR, 119 RBIs, 156 OPS+, 6.3 bWAR
Concepts: Vaughn could mash the baseball. He had one completely different season with a 6-plus bWAR — 6.7 in 1993 for the Brewers — nonetheless we’ll go together with this one, the one with 50 homers and a fourth-place finish inside the NL MVP voting.
15. Jimmy Wynn, 1974 Dodgers
Numbers of remember: 7.7 bWAR, 32 HR, 108 RBIs, 151 OPS+
Concepts: Wynn turned a star with the Astros, in actual fact, handing over 11 good seasons in Houston, along with two with a bWAR above 7.0. Nonetheless he wore No. 24 in Texas, so these years don’t rely for our report. The 1974 season was his first with the Dodgers, and he helped L.A. win the NL pennant, and homered in Recreation 1 of the World Sequence off Rollie Fingers.
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14. Michael Brantley, 2014 Indians
Numbers of remember: 7.0 bWAR, .327, 148 OPS+, 20 HR 23 SB
Concepts: His nickname, Dr. Simple, does his sweet swing justice. In 2014, he added a bit additional power to his recreation, and the consequence was a third-place finish inside the AL MVP voting.
13. Bobby Thomson, 1951 New York Giants
Numbers of remember: 5.2 bWAR, 32 HR, 101 RBIs, .947 OPS
Concepts: I was torn on which Bobby Thomson season to utilize — he averaged 27 homers and 102 RBIs in his 5 seasons carrying No. 23 — nonetheless then I remembered, “Oh, yeah, he hit the Shot Heard ’Across the World in 1951” and, folks, that’s one hell of a tiebreaker.
12. Adrian Gonzalez, 2009 Padres
Numbers of remember: 6.9 bWAR, 40 HR, 162 OPS+
Concepts: The 2009 season wasn’t Gonzalez’s highest MVP finish carrying No. 23, nonetheless it was his highest WAR (B-R and FG) and the one time he reached the 40-homer plateau, so that works.
11. Ted Simmons, 1975 Cardinals
Numbers of remember: .332, 18 HR, 100 RBIs, 4.9 bWAR
Concepts: Simmons carried out 21 seasons in his Hall of Fame occupation, and No. 23 was the one amount he ever wore, so there have been a great deal of seasons to pick from. I went with 1975, nonetheless presumably give it some thought a tie with 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983.
10. Carlos Pena, 2007 Devil Rays
Numbers of remember: 7.2 bWAR, 46 HR, 121 RBIs, 172 OPS+
Concepts: The potential to produce seasons like due to this Paintings Howe didn’t want to commerce Pena in “Moneyball.” It took a few years for Pena to blossom into a really feared hitter, nonetheless that’s what occurred in 2007, the ultimate 12 months Tampa Bay was generally called the Devil Rays. When the crew mimicked his breakthrough in 2008 — needless to say beautiful run to the World Sequence? — Pena was correct within the midst of that lineup.
9. Fernando Tatis Jr., 2021 Padres
Numbers of remember: 6.6 bWAR, 42 HR, 25 SB, 166 OPS+
Concepts: Yeah, you knew he was going to be on this report. It’s crazy to imagine that Tatis led the NL in homers in 2021 no matter having fun with merely 130 video video games. He’s been away for a while now, so it seems to be like people have forgotten how unbelievable he is as a participant. He could have an infinite 2023 season as quickly as he’ll get once more and readjusted.
8. Bernard Gilkey, 1996 Mets
Numbers of remember: 8.1 bWAR, 30 HR, 17 SB, .317 155 OPS+
Concepts: Whilst you get into that 8-WAR season, you’re talking about actually specific seasons. Gilkey turned a each day in his hometown of St. Louis, nonetheless his star flip — keep in mind his cameo in “Males in Black” — obtained right here with the Mets.
7. Mark Gubicza, 1988 Royals
Numbers of remember: 7.7 bWAR, 2.70 ERA, 269 IP
Concepts: Gubicza was already a foundational piece of the Kansas Metropolis rotation by 1988, nonetheless that was the season he turned among the many best pitcher inside the bigs. He made his first All-Star crew and accomplished third inside the AL Cy Youthful voting — though he had an equal bWAR as a result of the winner, Frank Viola.
6. Mark Teixeira, 2005 Rangers
Numbers of remember: 7.2 bWAR, 43 HR, 144 RBIs, .954 OPS
Concepts: Proper right here’s an inventory of every season in MLB historic previous by a switch-hitter with not lower than 40 homers, 140 RBIs and an OPS of .950 or larger …
2005, Mark Teixeira
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5. Luis Tiant, 1974 Crimson Sox
Numbers of remember: 7.7 bWAR, 2.92 ERA, 311 1/3 innings
Concepts: We went forwards and backwards between this season and Tiant’s first full season with the Crimson Sox — 1.91 ERA in 179 innings — nonetheless it’s onerous to argue with the insane workload. It was the tip of an interval, truly. After the 1974 season, solely 5 pitchers ever threw not lower than 311 innings in a single season.
4. Kirk Gibson, 1988 Dodgers
Numbers of remember: 6.5 bWAR, 25 HR, 148 OPS+
Concepts: On the time, it felt a bit odd that Gibson acquired the NL MVP with solely 76 RBIs, nonetheless the superior stats that now we’ve got now current what the writers knew then — Gibson was elite. And you then undoubtedly throw inside the iconic World Sequence homer vs. Dennis Eckersley and it’s an easy top-five choice for this report.
3. Don Mattingly, 1985 Yankees
Numbers of remember: 6.5 bWAR, 35 HR, 145 RBIs
Concepts: Peak Mattingly, sooner than his once more betrayed him, truly was great. For a three-year stretch from 1984 to 1986, Mattingly produced a .340/.382/,560 slash line, with a 158 OPS+ and a imply of 30 homers and 123 RBIs. His 1985 season will get the nod proper right here on account of, as we talked about up excessive, MVPs matter.
2. Ryne Sandberg, 1984 Cubs
Numbers of remember: 8.6 bWAR, 19 3B, 19 HR, 32 SB, 140 OPS+
Concepts: Sandberg was a powerful regularly starter in his first two seasons with the Cubs, nonetheless nobody was pondering “Hey, this man might presumably be a Hall of Famer” until his magical 1984 season. He acquired all of the items that 12 months — Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, All-Star nod — and helped elevate the Cubs to the playoffs for the first time since 1945. Sandberg hit .368 inside the NLCS, nonetheless the Cubs misplaced to the Padres in 5 video video games.
1. Zack Greinke, 2009 Royals
Numbers of remember: 10.4 bWAR, 2.16 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 9.5 Okay/9
Concepts: Greinke went by way of ups and downs his first few seasons inside the large leagues — that’s massively underselling it, ofcourse — nonetheless put all of it collectively in his Age 25 season for the Royals. He didn’t allow an earned run by way of his first 4 begins of the season, and eight events by way of the 12 months, he threw not lower than eight full innings and allowed one or zero earned runs. It’s truly cool to see him once more in Kansas Metropolis to wrap up his Cooperstown-bound occupation.