Baseball’s Rookie of the Year short careers

Players who win baseball’s Rookie of the Year (ROY) award are typically looked upon to eventually have long careers in the major leagues. There have been, however, a few ROYs who have had shortened careers, either because of a drop in performance or injuries.

Two of the most prominent ROYs who had short careers are Mark Fidrych and Joe Charboneau. Fidrych burst on the major league scene in 1976 with the Detroit Tigers, but a torn rotator cuff ended his career. He pitched only 27 games after winning the A.L. ROY award in ’76. Charboneau won the American League ROY in 1980 with Cleveland, but a back injury limited him to only 70 more games after his award-winning career.

Following are the ROY winners who played the fewest number of games after winning their honor (lists are split between everyday players and pitchers).

Non-pitcher ROY, team, ROY year                                Games after ROY award

Joe Charboneau, Cleveland, 1976                                                                  70

Ken Hubbs, Cubs, 1962                                                                                  154

Sam Jethroe, Bos (N), 1950                                                                          301

Pat Listach, Mil (N), 1992                                                                             354

Bob Hamelin, KC, 1994                                                                                 380

Jerome Walton, Cubs, 1989                                                                         482

Pitcher ROY, team, ROY year                                          Games after ROY award

Mark Fidrych, Detroit, 1976                                                                           27

Butch Metzger, SD, 1976                                                                               100

Joe Black, Brooklyn, 1952                                                                             116

Herb Score, Cleveland, 1955                                                                         117

Harry Byrd, Phil (A), 1952                                                                            144

Don Schwall, Boston, 1961                                                                           147

2 responses

  1. I remember the controversy when Pat Listach beat out Kenny Lofton for this award. Unlike Listach, Lofton went on to have a great career.

    1. Tony:
      I think the fact that Lofton went on to have a much better career just amplifies the controversy from that year. Of course the Rookie of the Year is for that one year, but in many cases people look at that award as some sort of anointing on the next great player. I heard one rumor about Listach after he won the award; don’t know if it’s true. I heard that Listach’s mom bought up as many of his rookie cards after winning the award thinking that they would be worth a whole lot of money when his career was over. He didn’t have a very long career and it’s makes you wonder what she did with all those cards (if in fact the story is true). The interesting thing is that Listach has gone on to have a nice coaching career and there is talk that he will be a big league manager in the near future, Thanks, Tony, for your comments.


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