Best rookie year…all time…

I was looking through the 1954 and 1955 Topps sets. Something hit me, both have 3 MONSTER rookies. But wich year is the best, lets take a peak.

You have to start with the best.
755 homeruns, maybe the greatest hitter all time, a monster.

Next is another huge name.
Lets play two… Ernie had over 500 dingers and is one of the biggest names from one of the old school teams.

As an aside I have to mention how much I love the look of this card. The fact the background is white versus the colors on most ’54 cards really makes it stand out.

This guys name isn’t as huge as it should be.
3000 hits and 10 Gold Gloves. Next to Cobb probably the best Tiger.

3 HOFers, lets check the numbers:
57 All Star games
3 MVP awards
2 World Series
3 Batting titles
6 HR titles
14 Gold Gloves
1666 career HRs
9361 Career hits

Insane Right?


This guy is my favorite of the 6.
573 homeruns, 11th all time

A legend in his own time
Exactly 3000 hits, has his won award

Maybe the bets pitcher all time
One of the few pitchers to win MVP.

Three more HOFers, lets check the stats
35 All Star games
3 MVP awards
6 World Series
6 HR titles
4 Batting titles
12 Gold Gloves
3 Cy Youngs
3 Pitching triple crowns
813 career HRs
5086 Career hits

Also crazy.

Koufax as a pitcher makes it a little hard to compare this to 1954, but take into account how dominent Koufax was in his day. Easily the most feared pitcher of his era.

I also would like top point out this set helps support my theory on sets from the ‘5 years in a given decade.

As much as I want Clemente and Killebrew to take this you have to say 1954 is the stronger year. An all-time homerun king (some would argue he still is), 2 3000 hit club members, and a stargering 57 all star games.

Fun fact about these two sets. Even though they have massive rookies, neither set has a Mantle so they are a bit of a bargain compared to other ’50 sets.

Is there a stronger rookie year than ’54?



10 responses to “Best rookie year…all time…

  1. Were you counting Home run titles for both leagues combined in a season? If not 1954 would have 6, 2 for Banks and 4 for Aaron while Killebrew had 6 himself in the AL. I guess that’s what debates are for but it’s hard to find fault with either trio.

  2. I think 1951 is in the same class as the 55 and 54. You have Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Whitey Ford in the Bowman set.

  3. I think 51 Bowman would have to take the cake. If you think of the 9 guys between the 3 sets – only Mantle, Mays and Aaron are true top-20 or so all-time players. To have 2 in 1 set – that’s pretty ridiculous.

  4. I would struggle to put Koufax in the top 15 of pitchers all time – definitely not a top 20 player overall. He was amazing for his last 4 years, good for 2 years before that, and a sub-500 pitcher with an ERA above 4.00 during his first 7 seasons. He has 165 career wins. Being phenomenal for 4 years is great, but there’s just no way that can’t compete with guys with more longevity. I’d put him 15-20 all time for pitchers – just behind Bob Gibson and Pedro Martinez.

    I don’t know – Clemente as a top 20 player is close. Just thinking outfielders off the top of my head I’d put Ruth, Bonds, Mays, Williams, Aaron, Mantle, Cobb, and Tris Speaker ahead of him. Yaz, Rickey, Frank Robinson and him are all pretty close. So he’s around 10th of outfielders – so top 20 position player is probably fair.  I guess the difference between Aaron, Mantle and Mays – they are definite top 10’s – and Mays and Mantle in particular are hobby icons.

    Both Koufax and Clemente seem to have a bigger hobby status than their actual ranking as historic players. It’s a heck of a tough call – I guess I’d go with the 55 class.

  5. I would take Koufax from 1963-66 over just about anyone. It was a short run but dominent. He had three Cy Youngs in a time when the award was best pitcher in baseball, not just one league. He had a sub 2.00 era three season. His average ERA of his final four seasons was just 1.85. Most guys would give their arm to have one sub 2.00 season.

    Both he and Clemente had their careers cut short, so it’s hard to look at overall numbers compared to others.

    I would go 1955 as well though. Hank Aaron is just too much of a monster.

  6. Yeah – I agree the 4-year stretch for Koufax was probably the best 4 years as a pitcher in history – or at least modern history, not counting stuff in the 1880’s when they had different mound distance and one guy pitched 2 out of 3 games.

    It’s also true that Koufax had his career cut short. But his situation and Clemente are different. Koufax was cut short because of baseball related injuries – so I don’t think it’s fair to give him credit for “what he might have done”. Part of the reason he had to retire was that he was slinging it like no one else in those 4 years. Clemente is different – he was killed tragically a bit early, but it had nothing to do with baseball.

    Don Mattingly is similar – if he didn’t have a bad back, he probably would have been a Hall of Famer. If Ken Griffey didn’t get injured 5 times in CIncinnati he would have been the all-time home run king and ranked alot higher. But they did have those injuries – I’m as big a Griffey fan as I know – but I can’t put him in the same category as Aaron, even though he may have been slightly better in their first 12-13 years. Aaron’s ability to stay consistent past 33 or 34 is what puts him in such a select group.

    Kirby Puckett would be one I struggle with – his glaucoma wasn’t baseball related. I still lean toward putting more in the line of Koufax/Mattingly as far as valuing the impact of what took them out of the game. Like Koufax, he was great for a period, and then went from great to straight up not playing any more. Mattingly was more of a slow deterioration. I’m glad, though, he was in the game long enough to warrant Hall of Fame induction.

    • I gotcha.

      I liike what Koufax did though. His arm started to go so he stepped down. He didn’t want a graduel decline.

      It’s like George Constanza said, you have to go out on a high note.

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