The Brady (Anderson) Bunch

Pitt the Elder

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This is partially motivated by the stars that faded away thread, but I thought it would be an interesting counterpoint to remember players that were largely mediocre who had, for reasons known or unknown, a single crazily awesome season. And of course, I'll start the thread with Brady Anderson.

By 1995, Anderson was a good player with some wheels (53 sb in 1992) and a little bit of pop. He was also arguably past his prime, having hit 21 HR at age 28 in 1992, but only hitting 13-16 in his 29-31yo seasons. He seemed like a guy destined to put up a handful of more seasons like that as he wound down his career into his mid-to-late 30s.

But instead, for one year only, he became one of the best hitters in the league.

In 1996, Anderson hit 50 hr on his way to a .297/.396/.637 slash line, a 156 OPS+, and 155 wRC+, finishing only 2 homers shy of Marc McQuire (of some limited fame) and 9th in the MVP voting. He generated 6.9 bwar and fwar.

Like I said, one of the best hitters in the league. But then <poof> he wasn't anymore. Anderson continued to have some good seasons from 1997-2000, but only hit 18, 18, 24, and 19 home runs each of those years, effectively returning to his 1992-1995 form before closing out his career. Naturally, everyone assumed (assumes?) that Anderson was roided up on the PEDs at the time, but it was such a flukey season, even to this day.

So who else is part of the Brady Anderson Bunch of flukey, improbable seasons?
 
Aug 20, 2007
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Jacoby Ellsbury's 2011 season.

Davey Johnson hit 43 home runs in 1973. His second best home run season was 18. His career total is 136 HR. He played 13 seasons and over 30% of his career HR came in 1973.
 
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Spelunker

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Solely in terms of homers, Bogg's 24 in rabbit-ball 1987.

His next highest total was 11, and even that was the only other time he broke into double-digits. To put it another way, he played for 18 seasons and 20% of his career HR total came in that one year.
 

jon abbey

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I was going to say Bret Boone but I see now that he actually had three really good seasons in a row, but what a crazy career. He played for 14 seasons:

Ages 23-31: 9 seasons, 4345 PAs, and just 5.5 bWAR. It's amazing he was still getting chances.
Ages 32-34: 3 seasons, 2070 PAs, and 19.0 bWAR!
Ages 35-36: 2 seasons, 1018 PAs, -1.7 bWAR.
 

DJnVa

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Not a MONSTER season but Larry Sheets in 1987.

1984-86: .271/.323/.471
1987: .316/.358/.563 with 31 HRs in 469 ABs
1988-90: .244/.304/.367 with 27 HRs in 1100 ABs
 

bob burda

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Jim Hickman, Cubs 1970 - .419/.582/1.001 slash line and an OPS+ of 155 at age 33. It is what Bill James called a fluke "Hall of Fame" season (in the old days, 30HR/100RBI/.300BA). He was pretty good for another couple of years, but not like this.

In the same year, Cito Gaston put up a .364/.543/.907 with an OPS+ of 146 at Jack Murphy Stadium in SD, a terrible hitter's park - and got over a 100 OPS only one more time 6 yrs later in 147 PAs in the hitter's paradise that was Fulton Co. Stadium in ATL.
 

nazz45

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Rich Aurilia had a rather long, average career but 2001 was certainly out of the norm. I imagine batting in front of Bonds had at least some impact on his 206 hits to lead the league and 37 home runs. Maybe he had some, um, additional help during that period in his career.
 

Hank Scorpio

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Trot Nixon was typically a very good offensive player from year to year, but in 2003 he very quietly put up a .975 OPS, which was better than Ortiz that season.
 

Jason Bae

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Trot Nixon was typically a very good offensive player from year to year, but in 2003 he very quietly put up a .975 OPS, which was better than Ortiz that season.
Bill Mueller was another one from that 2003 team that had a career year at the plate. .326/.398/.540, 140 OPS+. Mueller had a good career but he never came close to hitting like that in any other full season.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Rick Cerone, 1980. Hit .277/.321/.432 for an OPS+ of 107, the only time he was over 100 his whole career (except for a bizarre, out of nowhere 104 in 1991 with the Mets when he was 37). Only year he was in double figures in home runs. He had 85 RBIs, but only had one other season above 48. Cerone finished 7th in the MVP voting, never had another MVP vote. He somehow parleyed this single outlier season into another 12 years of playing terrible major league baseball.

Similarly, Daniel Murphy, 2016. Hit .347/.390/.595, an OPS+ of 155. Led the NL in slugging and OPS. Set career highs in doubles, homers and RBIs. Finished 2nd in the MVP vote, but only received one other MVP vote over the rest of his career. He had an OPS+ of 136 the next season, but was below 120 for almost all of the rest of his career. His bWAR was 4.5 that season, he was 20.4 for his whole career.
 
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glennhoffmania

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No one has mentioned Aaron Small yet? Not that he had an MVP-type season, but 2005 was kind of ridiculous.
 

Ale Xander

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He walked a ton that year so his peripherals weren't great, but they still valued W-L I think in 1993. Mark Portugal who was an average pitcher in his career (100 ERA+) got all his wins over .500 in 1993 to a 6th place finish in the CY. 18-4. Was 109-95 for his career. Didn't get any CY points any other year. So I guess he was relatively unhittable that year.
 

Tony Pena's Gas Cloud

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Who can forget Kent Bottenfield? 18-7 with a 116 ERA+ in his first year as a full time starter at age 30, out of the major leagues by age 33.
 

grimshaw

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Darin Erstad had a solid 14 year career. In 2000 he had an 8.7 fWAR season as one of the best defenders in baseball and a wRC+ of 140.
He was well below league average the rest of his career with the bat.
 
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Dontrelle Willis - 2005

In 2003, Willis was a good pitcher winning Rookie of The Year, throwing 160.2 innings with an ERA of 3.30. He had a bit of a sophomore slump, increasing his innings to 197. His ERA also jumped to 4.02 while his strikeout rate decreased. His 2005 season was great; he threw 236.1 innings (4th in the NL) with a ERA of 2.63 (3rd in the NL). He led the league in complete games (7) and shutouts (5) finishing runner-up to Chris Carpenter in the CY Young award voting. His 2006 season dropped off, throwing 223.1 innings with an ERA of 3.87. In 2007 he threw over 200 innings, but led the league in earned runs allowed; his ERA was 5.17. From 2008-2011 he never pitched more than 75 innings and never had an ERA under 5.00. In 2005 Willis accumulated 7.3 bWAR; he accumulated 15.4 bWAR total over 9 seasons.
 

Tony Pena's Gas Cloud

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It's really only a half season, but Jack Armstrong deserves a mention. He started the ASG in '90 to the tune of 11-3 with a 2.28 ERA, but was out of the rotation by year's end and appeared in only one playoff game during the Reds' championship run.
Outside of that first half of '90, he had a 29-61 career record with an 84 ERA+.
 

Max Power

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Norm Cash was a really good player, but had an all time great season in 1961. 361/487/662 slash line with 119 runs scored and 132 RBI. He was never over 100 in either any other year.
 

Sandwich Pick

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Pete Schourek in 1995 with Cincinnati.

4.1 of his career 6.1 bWAR, 18-7 record, 3.22 ERA (128 ERA+), 190.1 IP and 2nd in Cy Young voting.
 

StupendousMan

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Norm Cash was a really good player, but had an all time great season in 1961. 361/487/662 slash line with 119 runs scored and 132 RBI. He was never over 100 in either any other year.
Gol darn it, I was just coming here to post "Norm Cash." Nice work, MP.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Dontrelle Willis - 2005

In 2003, Willis was a good pitcher winning Rookie of The Year, throwing 160.2 innings with an ERA of 3.30. He had a bit of a sophomore slump, increasing his innings to 197. His ERA also jumped to 4.02 while his strikeout rate decreased. His 2005 season was great; he threw 236.1 innings (4th in the NL) with a ERA of 2.63 (3rd in the NL). He led the league in complete games (7) and shutouts (5) finishing runner-up to Chris Carpenter in the CY Young award voting. His 2006 season dropped off, throwing 223.1 innings with an ERA of 3.87. In 2007 he threw over 200 innings, but led the league in earned runs allowed; his ERA was 5.17. From 2008-2011 he never pitched more than 75 innings and never had an ERA under 5.00. In 2005 Willis accumulated 7.3 bWAR; he accumulated 15.4 bWAR total over 9 seasons.
I was thinking D Train, but he had those two separated great years. I call that a “Rogelio Moret”, who was 13-2 in 1973 and 14-3 in 1975, and other than that was a .500 pitcher at best
 

zougwa

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1987 was said to be the Year of the Lively Ball and saw a lot of mediocre players turn into ephemeral home run leaders. Aside from Larry Sheets (mentioned upthread), Brook Jacoby hit 32 and then 9 the next season, never more than 20 any other year. Dale Sveum hit 25, never more than 12 after that.

Ken Caminiti’s 1996 was the same year as Anderson and saw similarly roid-suspect numbers: .326/.408/.621 en route to the NL MVP.

Felix Mantilla had been a 29-year-old utility infielder for Boston in 1964 when he hit 30 home runs with a .910 OPS. His career OPS was .732.
 

lexrageorge

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Atlee Hammaker had a good first half season for the San Francisco Giants: 9-4 w/ 1.70 ERA, good enough for an All Star berth. He came on in the third inning, trailing 2-0. 0.2 innings later, the AL had a 9-0 lead thanks to home runs by Jim Rice and Fred Lynn (a slam), finally breaking the AL's 11 game losing streak and ending a period where the NL won 25 of 27 mid-season classics.

Hammaker won 1 game the rest of the season, but still led the league in ERA+. Ignoring the season where he pitched only 6 games, he had an ERA+ exceeding 100 only once more. What's interesting is that he managed a "comeback" of sorts with the White Sox at age 37, even though he was terrible (ERA+ of 37).
 

jmcc5400

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Terry Pendleton was a solid third baseman known mainly for his glove when he signed a free agent contract with the last place Atlanta Braves in December 1990 at the age of 30. Pendleton proceeded to finish 1st and then 2nd in the NL MVP race, winning a batting crown and leading the league in hits both years (posting OPS of .880 and .824) along the way, as the doormat Braves won back to back NL titles. Pendleton retired 6 years later with a lifetime OPS of .707 (92 OPS+)
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Daisuke Matsuzaka had one really good season after coming here, amidst a string of average to pretty good ones. Not sure if he'd fit the bill.
 

Jason Bae

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Bob Cerv. He didn't reach the majors until he was 26 and only had 850 PA in his first 7 MLB seasons. Hit .305/.371/.592 with a 159 OPS+, 38 home runs and 6.3 WAR in 1958. He only hit 67 home runs and had 4.9 WAR outside of that season.
 

Jake Peavy's Demons

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Who can forget Kent Bottenfield? 18-7 with a 116 ERA+ in his first year as a full time starter at age 30, out of the major leagues by age 33.
Awesome shout! The next player I was ready to submit.

How about a couple of pictures who started opposite each other in the 2003 ASG:

Jason Schmidt, 2003. Sure, he had a couple of other great seasons, but his 180 ERA+ that year stands out.

Esteban Loaiza, 2003.

Also,

Mark Fidrych, 1976.

Morgan Ensberg, 2005. Also a SoSHer!! At least for a little while.

And maybe Fernando Tatis, 1999. 139 OPS+. His year of 2 GS in one inning. 22 SBs that year, 13 the rest of his career. 34 HRs that year too, next closest was 18 the next season.
 

Max Power

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We'll see how the next decade goes, but Mookie's 2018 might end up on this list. I can't think of too many other great players who have had just one season that's way better than any of their others.
 

tims4wins

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Aaron Small, 2005.

Career ERA+ of 86. Only good enough to throw 321 IP in the bigs.

In 2005, he went 10-0 with a 133 ERA+.

Still pisses me off to this day.

Edit: beaten by @glennhoffmania last night

Edit 2: and of course his partner in crime Shawn Chacon, he of the 45-61 career record and 96 ERA+, going 7-3 with a 149 ERA+ that year.
 

Sandwich Pick

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Lots of mentions of the 1996 season. Another one from that year is Pat Hentgen, who won the Cy Young.

He was very good for a while, but 1996 had him posting a 8.6 bWAR, 156 ERA+, 10 CG and 3 shutouts in a MLB-high 265.2 IP.
 

Jason Bae

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Carlos Pena. Very solid major leaguer, but he never came remotely close to duplicating his 2007 season. .282/.411/.627, 46 home runs, 121 RBIs, 172 OPS+ (versus career 117 OPS+), 7.2 WAR
 

SinkingLowe

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I'm not sure if this fits the definition. Matt Clement had a great first half in 2005 going 10-2 and making the AL All-star roster for the only time in 9 seasons. Then he got hit in the head shortly after the all-star break and was never the same again.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Tommy Harper. Like Brady Anderson, had the one year where he jumped from 9 HR to 31 and was an All Star for the only time in his career. Harper completely changed his game from ‘69 to ‘70. Leading the league with 73 stolen bases in ‘69 and then just 38 during his big power season.
 

Papo The Snow Tiger

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It can be argued that injuries should exclude his mention in this thread, but Mark Fidrych was one of the best pitchers in 1976. He went 19-9 for the Tigers that year with a 2.34 ERA in 31 games, starting 29, and won in the AL Rookie of the Year. Injuries, including an at the time undiagnosed rotator cuff injurie, limited his effectiveness after that, and he won10 more games while pitching just 27 over the next four seasons before his career came to an end.
 
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Aug 20, 2007
270
Boston
Former Red Sox (4 games in 2010) Felipe Lopez - 2005

While playing for the Cincinnati Reds, the 25 year old Lopez his 23 homeruns and slugged .486. His second best marks in those categories are 11 homeruns in 2006 and a .427 slugging percentage in 2009. He hit 90 homeruns total in his career. In 11 big league seasons, Lopez accumulated 7.5 bWAR., 4.3 of which came in 2005.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I'm not sure if this fits the definition. Matt Clement had a great first half in 2005 going 10-2 and making the AL All-star roster for the only time in 9 seasons. Then he got hit in the head shortly after the all-star break and was never the same again.
I think he fits. Unfortunately, I think that line drive gets too much credit for derailing his career. It really had nothing to do with it. He didn't really even miss a start over it, they just pushed him back a couple extra days. He made 11 more starts that season, mostly as part of a 6-man rotation when they re-incorporated Schilling after his dalliance as closer. He wasn't as good as he'd been in the first half, but Clement threw 63 innings with a 4.86 ERA (4.51 FIP) post-beaning.

It was the following season in which it was discovered that his shoulder was shredded that was really the end for him (12 starts, 6.61 ERA). He had shoulder surgery and never pitched again in the big leagues (not for lack of trying in 2007, 2008, and 2009).
 

Jason Bae

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I'm not sure if this fits the definition. Matt Clement had a great first half in 2005 going 10-2 and making the AL All-star roster for the only time in 9 seasons. Then he got hit in the head shortly after the all-star break and was never the same again.
He was a good pitcher in 2002-2004 (3.80 ERA, 11 WAR in 587.2 IP). He had a 3.85 ERA in that first half
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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Shouldn't Will Middlebrooks be on this list? He was pretty darn good for two seasons before he just cratered. He's why they dealt Youkilis away.