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Baseball's All-Time Best Phenoms

Aug 30 2005 02:08 PM

Sports Illustrated have this list in the current issue,they didn't say how they came up with the list but it's interesting reading, I don't think it's in numerical order either.

Felix Hernandez
Seattle Mariners

Signed at 16 for a $710,000 bonus, the Venezuelan has drawn comparisons to Dwight Gooden after just four major league starts. Hernandez, who is the first 19-year-old to debut as a starter since Todd Van Poppel (1991) and Gooden ('84), has struck out 30 batters and walked three in winning two of his first three decisions.

Mark Prior
Chicago Cubs

After a stellar career at USC, Prior needed only nine minor-league starts to reach the majors at 21. He won six of his 19 starts as a rookie before going 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and leading the Cubs to the NL Central title in 2003

Rick Ankiel
St. Louis Cardinals

The young lefty breezed through the minors, garnering Minor League Player of the Year awards from USA Today and Baseball America in 1999. But after a promising rookie season during which he won 11 games for the Cardinals as a 21-year-old, he lost his control in a surprise first-round playoff start, throwing five wild pitches in an inning, won only two games over the next four seasons and gave up pitching to become a hitter.

Kerry Wood
Chicago Cubs

The young Texan announced his arrival with a record-tying, 20-strikeout performance against the Astros on May 6, 1998, at the age of 20. Wood went on to win NL Rookie of the Year honors, ranking third in the league in strikeouts while going 13-6 with a 3.40 ERA, but missed all of 1999 with an elbow injury

Jaret Wright
Cleveland Indians

The Tribe rode its 21-year-old rookie all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Wright posted an 8-3 record during the regular season and went 4-0 in the playoffs, including the deciding Game 5 victory against the Yankees in the first round. Injuries derailed his career, though; he's been a journeyman the past few seasons.

Bret Saberhagen
Kansas City Royals

After winning 10 games as a 20-year-old rookie in 1984, Saberhagen led the Royals to their only championship, winning the first of his two Cy Young awards and World Series MVP honors as well. The control artist finished with a respectable 167-117 record in 16 seasons with the Royals, Mets, Rockies and Red Sox.

Dwight Gooden
New York Mets

The Doctor was in. In 1984, NL Rookie of the Year Gooden became the first teen-ager to win at least 17 games since Baltimore's Wally Bunker went 19-5 in '64. One year later, Gooden would tear through the league, going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and winning the Cy Young award. However, off-the-field problems contributed to Doc Gooden falling short of his Hall of Fame potential.

Fernando Valenzuela
Los Angeles Dodgers

"Fernandomania" took off in 1981 as the 20-year-old screwballer won his first eight starts and won the NL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards while sparking the club to its first World Series title since 1965. Valenzuela became a workhorse for the Dodgers throughout the 1980s, surpassing the 200-innings mark seven times.

Bert Blyleven
Minnesota Twins

Just one year after being drafted, the 19-year-old curveball artist came up to the majors and helped the Twins claim their second consecutive AL West crown by going 10-9 with a 3.18 ERA. Twenty-two years later, Blyleven retired with 287 career victories and the fifth-most strikeouts (3,701) in history.

Vida Blue
Oakland A's

At 22, Blue had a season for the ages in 1971 as he won 24 games and took home the AL Cy Young and MVP awards for the AL West champion A's. Two years later, Blue would win 20 games again as the A's claimed their second of three consecutive World Series titles. Blue's final record: 209-161, 3.27 ERA, six All-Star Games

Jim Palmer
Baltimore Orioles

The future Hall of Famer became a full-time starter as a 20-year-old in 1966 and led the world champion Orioles in victories (15) and innings pitched (208 1/3). On Oct. 6, 1966, he blanked the Dodgers in Game 2 to become the youngest pitcher to throw a World Series shutout.

Don Drysdale
Brooklyn Dodgers

He posted his first big season at 21 in 1957: 17-9, 2.69 ERA, 221 IP. The future Hall of Famer won the NL strikeout crowns in 1959 and '60 and played on three of the Dodgers' world championship teams. In 1968, he tossed a then-record 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in 1968.

Bob Feller
Cleveland Indians

"Rapid Robert" won the first of his seven AL strikeout crowns as a 19-year-old in 1938. He won 17 games that year and would win 24, 27 and 25 games during the next three seasons of what would become a Hall of Fame career

Babe Ruth
Boston Red Sox

Before he became The Sultan of Swat, the Babe was the ace lefty of the Red Sox. He went 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA in 1915 at the age of 20 as Boston won the first of its three World Series with Ruth.

Christy Mathewson
New York Giants

The original phenom established himself early on as a major force, winning 20 games as a 20-year-old in 1901. His 373 career wins rank third on the all-time list behind only Cy Young (511) and Walter Johnson (417).

Aug 30 2005 02:15 PM

To include Jaret Wright and Rick Ankiel on this list is just plain stupid. Too early on Felix too.

This post was made under the posting designation 169) Joe McEwing

Bret Sabermetric
Aug 30 2005 02:45 PM

It's a mixed bag. If you're including phamous phlameouts, how can you possibly exclude Clint Hartung (in whose honor, I believe, the term "pheenom" was introduced)? And Karl Spooner? And Brien Taylor? And Bill Pulsipher?

But if you're limiting it to successes, then on what basis could you exclude Juan Marichal? Or Dean Chance?

Edgy DC
Aug 30 2005 03:48 PM

]In 1968, he tossed a then-record 58 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in 1968.

Does anybody know what year Drysdale did this?

Aug 30 2005 04:03 PM

1967, I think.

Aug 31 2005 07:28 AM

It's in "Let's Go Back in Time" order.

Aug 31 2005 07:40 AM

Bret, Clint Hatrung was so multi-talented that they didn't know if he would be come a great position player or a great pitcher. He became neither.

EDIT: IIRC, Hartung's nickname was "The Hondo Hurricaine".

But I find the name Brien Taylor interesting. Of all the players named in this thread, (the good, the bad, the ugly) he was the only one who never made it to the majors.