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Each club's best individual offensive season

December 1, 2020

For some clubs, finding the best single-season offensive performance in franchise history is simply a matter of selecting the best individual season among a series of incredible statistical lines from the team's best all-time player. For others, it's simply a season in which a star player managed to take his

For some clubs, finding the best single-season offensive performance in franchise history is simply a matter of selecting the best individual season among a series of incredible statistical lines from the team's best all-time player. For others, it's simply a season in which a star player managed to take his already impressive game to another level.

Either way, MLB.com's beat reporters recently sorted through the best individual offensive seasons of all-time for each team. Below is the top single-season performance for all 30 clubs, as well as a link to the top-5 for each club.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

BLUE JAYS: Josh Donaldson, 2015

That trade worked out well for the Blue Jays, didn’t it? In Donaldson’s first season with Toronto, he won the AL MVP Award, joining George Bell (1987) as the only players in Blue Jays history to claim that honor. With a .939 OPS, 41 home runs and an incredible defensive highlight reel, Donaldson was more than just Toronto's best player, he was the one who set the tone for the entire team. Valued at 8.7 fWAR, Donaldson’s 2015 season was the most valuable of any Blue Jays hitter in the club’s four-plus decades, leaving a high bar for this next wave of young stars to live up to. The 2015 season was also the start of back-to-back AL Championship Series runs for Toronto, with Donaldson at the heart of it all. More >

ORIOLES: Cal Ripken Jr., 1991

Has there ever been a better season by a shortstop? Maybe not. The 11.5 bWAR Ripken achieved in 1991 is not only the best single-season mark by any Oriole regardless of position, it’s also the top single-season total all-time for any full-time shortstop. Setting career marks in several major offensive categories, Ripken became the first shortstop to compile at least 30 homers, 200 hits and 40 doubles in a single season. He led baseball in total bases, while also winning All-Star Game MVP honors, the Home Run Derby and his second AL MVP Award. More >

RAYS: Carlos Peña, 2007

This one was easy. Despite the Devil Rays winning just 66 games in 2007, Peña was able to deliver with undoubtedly the best season by a position player in franchise history. He set franchise records with 46 homers, 121 RBIs and a 1.037 OPS. Peña was able to hit 28 or more homers in each of his four seasons with the Rays, but his best work came in ‘07 with the type of campaign that will be difficult to top. More >

RED SOX: Carl Yastrzemski, 1967

As tough as it is to overlook the many amazing seasons from Ted Williams, Yaz’s 1967 season is the most special in Red Sox lore when you factor in what it meant to the transformation of the franchise. In '67, Yaz’s Triple Crown season (.326 average, 44 homers, 121 RBIs) came amid the pressure of an intense pennant race that wasn’t decided until the final day of the regular season. Over the final two games, with everything on the line, Yaz went 7-for-8. Aside from his offensive excellence, Yastrzemski also won the Gold Glove for his excellence in the outfield. His 12.5 bWAR that season is the best in a single season by any position player in club history. More >

YANKEES: Babe Ruth, 1920

You could easily fill the Yankees' entire list with the Great Bambino’s exploits. Though Ruth hit 60 homers in 1927, a single-season mark that stood for more than three decades, his '20 season stands out because he was playing a completely different game than the competition. No one had hit 30 home runs to that point (Ruth set the record in '19 with 29), and the Sultan of Swat hit 54. He outhomered every other AL team. Ruth’s resulting 225 OPS+ is pure insanity. With a .376/.532/.847 slash line, Ruth led the league in runs (158), homers, RBIs (135), walks (150), on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The slugging percentage stood as a Major League record until 2001. More >

AL CENTRAL

INDIANS: Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1911

It’s hard to top a season that set the Tribe’s franchise record in hits (233) and batting average (.408). Jackson had a handful of impressive seasons for Cleveland, but none were quite like 1911. In his first full big league season, Jackson put up marks that would prove to hold up as career highs in hits, average, doubles (45), stolen bases (41), on-base percentage (.468, which led the Majors that season) and OPS (1.058) in 147 games. He finished fourth in the MVP vote and was the runner-up for the batting title behind Ty Cobb, who hit .419. More >

ROYALS: George Brett, 1980

Brett’s famous chase for .400 was not only the greatest offensive season in Royals history, it was one of the greatest in MLB history. Trying to become the first to hit .400 since Williams hit .406 in 1941, Brett had his average at .400 as late as Sept. 19 that season. He finished at .390, which led the Majors, as did his .454 on-base percentage and his .664 slugging percentage and his 1.118 OPS. Brett also put together a 30-game hitting streak that season, a Royals record that stood until 2019, when Whit Merrfield set the new mark at 31 games. Brett also had 33 doubles in 1980 with 24 home runs and 118 RBIs en route to winning the AL MVP Award. Quite the season. More >

TWINS: Rod Carew, 1977

Carew's chase for .400 took him into July with the baseball world watching. At .388, he fell short of becoming the first hitter to eclipse the legendary mark since Williams in 1941, but Carew nearly maintained that pace through the full grind of the season, coming the closest to matching Williams' feat of any qualified hitter to that point. Carew won not only the sixth batting title of his career, but also his first (and only) AL MVP Award as he also led the Majors in on-base percentage (.449), OPS (1.091) and runs (128). More than in any other season of his career, Carew's five-tool skillset all came together for 162 games, as he set career highs in hits, homers (14), triples (16) and slugging percentage (.570), while also stealing 23 bases. More >

TIGERS: Ty Cobb, 1911

Cobb posted the five best seasons for Tigers hitters in terms of bWAR, but his 1911 campaign stands out for his .419 average, 127 RBIs and 196 OPS+, earning him the Chalmers Award, the short-lived predecessor to the AL MVP Award. He had nearly twice as many games with three or more hits (29) as hitless games (17), and he didn’t go hitless in consecutive games until the final week of the season. Cobb led the league in average, runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, slugging percentage and stolen bases. Even when he didn’t hit, he ran, stealing four bases in a hitless performance against Philadelphia. More >

WHITE SOX: Frank Thomas, 1994

Let’s be honest: When it comes to Thomas, a Hall of Famer and arguably the top offensive force in franchise history, there are plenty of seasons to choose from for this exercise. There could be a top-5 seasons list had by Thomas with the White Sox on its own. But the 1994 campaign stands as his most overwhelming performance in just 113 games. The Big Hurt propelled a 67-46 squad with a .353 average, 38 home runs and 101 RBIs. Thomas topped the AL with 106 runs, 109 walks, a .487 on-base percentage, a .729 slugging percentage, a 1.217 OPS and a 212 OPS+. Thomas’ OBP, OPS and slugging percentage still stand as single-season franchise records. Thomas won his second straight AL MVP Award with this top-notch effort. More >

AL WEST

ANGELS: Mike Trout, 2016

It’s almost impossible to pick Trout’s best season, but it's hard to argue with 2016, when he posted a .315/.441/.550 slash line with 29 homers, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. He also led the league with 123 runs scored and posted 10.5 bWAR, which is tied for his most in a single season with his '12 rookie season. Trout didn't win the MVP Award in '12 but he won it in '16, giving that season a slight edge as his best. Trout has won three AL MVPs and has finished in the top-5 on six other occasions, which makes him this generation’s most consistently great superstar. More >

ASTROS: Jeff Bagwell, 1994

A unanimous choice for the National League MVP Award, Bagwell put up the kind of numbers in a strike-shortened season that would have stood out in a full 162-game campaign. He was the first player to finish first or second in his league in average (.368), runs (104), RBIs (116) and home runs (39) since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and he was the first player to lead the NL in runs and RBIs since Mike Schmidt in '81. Bagwell also won a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award and made his first All-Star team. He led the NL in slugging (.750), OPS (1.201), OPS+ (213) and total bases (300). He had 147 hits and scored 104 runs in 110 games before breaking his hand when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 10 -- just two days before a work stoppage ended the season. Bagwell hit a franchise-record 13 homers in June to go along with a .394 batting average and 28 RBIs before hitting .409 with 11 homers and a franchise-record 29 RBIs in July. More >

ATHLETICS: Jimmie Foxx, 1932

Though Foxx captured the AL Triple Crown in 1933, his campaign the year before was arguably the greatest single-season performance of his Hall of Fame career. Foxx earned his first of three career AL MVP Awards in ‘32 after leading the league in home runs (58), RBIs (169), runs scored (151) and slugging percentage (.749) over 154 games. The only thing standing between Foxx and the Triple Crown in ‘32 was Red Sox first baseman Dale Alexander, who finished with a batting average three points higher than Foxx at .367. Foxx’s 10.1 offensive bWAR for the ‘32 season remains the club record. More >

MARINERS: Ken Griffey Jr., 1997

The hard part with Griffey is picking just one out of his 10 All-Star seasons in Seattle, but the tiebreaker comes down to that 1997 AL MVP trophy sitting in his Florida home. The hardware was well earned, as Junior -- in his prime at the age of 27 -- led the AL with 56 homers, 147 RBIs, 125 runs scored and a .646 slugging percentage in 157 games, while adding 15 stolen bases for good measure. Griffey hit .304 with a .382 on-base percentage as well as providing Gold Glove defense. It’s hard to top the 165 OPS+ (though Griffey did so twice, at 171 in ’93 and ’94), or equal the 56 bombs (though Griffey did just that the following year in ’98). But for the whole package, Griffey was in peak form in ’97 in leading Seattle to just its second AL West title and its first 90-win season. More >

RANGERS: Juan Gonzalez, 1996

Gonzalez had several outstanding seasons with the Rangers, including 1998 when he set a club record with 157 RBIs. But in '96, he carried Texas to its first division title in club history and was named the AL MVP despite missing 28 games because of injuries. He was especially devastating in the hot summer months, hitting .407 with a .917 slugging percentage in July and .311 with a .642 slugging percentage in August. When it was over, Gonzalez had a .314/.368/.643 slash line with 47 home runs and 144 RBIs. He also hit five home runs in four games in the AL Division Series against the Yankees. More >

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

BRAVES: Hank Aaron, 1959

Aaron produced a higher OPS (1.079) and OPS+ (194) while primarily playing first base at 37 years old in 1971. He also had a strong 166 OPS+ when he captured his only NL MVP Award in '57. But his most impressive season was constructed in '59, when he tallied 400 total bases, a number that still hasn’t been matched in franchise history. He hit .355 with 39 homers, a 1.037 OPS and 182 OPS+. No other Brave has ever hit .350 with 35 homers in a season. Aaron finished third in NL MVP balloting behind the Cubs’ Ernie Banks and Braves teammate Eddie Mathews. Banks had a higher bWAR (10.2), but like Mathews, his OPS (.970) and OPS+ (156) was trumped by Aaron’s. More >

MARLINS: Giancarlo Stanton, 2017

Since breaking into the big leagues at 20 years old in 2010, Stanton repeatedly dealt with injuries, leaving many to wonder what the slugger could do if he stayed healthy for an entire season. The answer came in '17. Stanton paced the Majors in home runs (59), RBIs (132), slugging percentage (.631) and OPS+ (169). His monster season earned him the NL MVP Award, the only one ever won by a Marlins player. Stanton was an All-Star, Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove finalist. Playing in 159 games, he had a slash line of .281/.376/.631 while scoring 123 runs, the third-most in the Majors. August underlined his dominance in that season, with Stanton belting 18 home runs, which tied the MLB mark for the month of August, set in 1937 by Rudy York of the Tigers. Stanton’s home run total shattered the previous Marlins franchise mark of 42, set by Gary Sheffield in '96. More >

METS: David Wright, 2007

Wright’s 2007 season was the best in Mets history in terms of both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs’ versions of WAR. At age 24, Wright became the first player in 16 years to compile a 30-30 season, cracking his 30th homer on Sept. 16. He attempted only 39 steals on the season, finishing with an 87-percent success rate. The '07 Mets became infamous for one of the biggest collapses in Major League history, blowing a seven-game NL East lead with 17 to play. But it wasn’t because of Wright, who hit .397 with 11 RBIs and a 1.027 OPS in those 17 games. In addition to finishing fourth in NL MVP voting, Wright won the first of his two career Gold Gloves, proving as adept at third base as he was in the batter’s box. And he did it nearly every day, matching his career high -- achieved three times -- with 160 games played. More >

NATIONALS: Bryce Harper, 2015

Harper did it all in 2015, winning unanimous NL MVP honors at only 22 years old. He paced the Majors in home runs (42) and runs scored (118), and he led the NL in on-base percentage (.460), slugging percentage (.649), OPS (1.109) and OPS+ (198) over 153 games. His .330 batting average and 172 hits were career highs. Harper holds the single-season franchise records in offensive bWAR (9.1), OBP, OPS+, at-bats per home run (12.4), walks (130) and times on base (301). That season, he earned his first Silver Slugger Award and his third All-Star selection. More >

PHILLIES: Mike Schmidt, 1980

Schmidt put up incredible numbers in nearly every season from 1974-87, but his '80 season was the greatest. Schmidt slashed .286/.380/.624 with 48 home runs, 121 RBIs, a 1.004 OPS and a 171 OPS+. He won the NL MVP Award. He won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. He made the NL All-Star team. He also earned World Series MVP honors, helping the Phillies win their first championship in franchise history. Schmidt actually put up better offensive numbers in the strike-shortened '81 season, when he won his second of three MVP honors. But Schmidt’s ‘80 campaign will always be the one Phillies fans remember the most. More >

NL CENTRAL

BREWERS: Robin Yount, 1982

Yount made a steady rise to stardom for the Brewers during the late 1970s, but it was in ’82 that he really broke through. He led the Majors in slugging percentage, hits, total bases and doubles, and finished third in the AL in batting average and triples. He hit 29 home runs with 114 RBIs -- marks that stood as career highs when his 20-year career was over -- while winning a Gold Glove Award at shortstop. In the regular-season finale at Baltimore, with the AL East title up for grabs, Yount hit a pair of home runs off Orioles ace Jim Palmer to send the Brewers to their first division crown. He was the runaway choice for AL MVP, the first hitter in franchise history to win that award (reliever Rollie Fingers won it in ’81). Yount received 27 of 28 first-place votes. The greatness of Yount’s all-around performance that season has not been diminished by the passage of time. It remains the most valuable season in franchise history by fWAR, bWAR and offensive bWAR -- at least one win better than the runner-up in every measure, and in some instances by multiple runs. His 10.6 bWAR is tied for 25th best in baseball history. Yount’s 9.8 fWAR in ‘82 is sixth-best in history for a shortstop. More >

CARDINALS: Rogers Hornsby, 1924

Hornsby’s 1924 season was one for the ages. Along with his record-setting .424 average, the feisty second baseman posted a league-leading .507 on-base percentage and slugged a league-leading .696. He was also the NL leader or co-leader in hits (227), runs (121), doubles (43), OPS+ (222), total bases (373) and so on. He posted a 12.1 bWAR, which is the highest single-season WAR for a position player in Cardinals history. That season saw the Hall of Famer go hitless in just 24 games out of the 143 he appeared in and never more than two days in a row. More >

CUBS: Rogers Hornsby, 1929

The Cubs acquired Hornsby in the midst of his prime from the Boston Braves for five players and $200,000. Then, the Hall of Famer turned in a performance in 1929 that remains the single-season club record for WAR by a position player via both FanGraphs (11.1) and Baseball-Reference (10.4). In 156 games, Hornsby racked up 229 hits and scored 156 runs -- both single-season franchise records to this day. The second baseman logged a .380/.459/.679 slash line to go along with 39 home runs, 47 doubles, eight triples and 149 RBIs. Hornsby also drew 87 walks and struck out just 65 times. His work helped power the Cubs to the World Series and netted the Hall of Famer the NL MVP Award. More >

PIRATES: Honus Wagner, 1908

There are multiple candidates for Wagner’s best season ever -- he holds the top two spots in franchise history, by WAR, and seven of the top 20 -- but his 1908 campaign stands out even for an inaugural-class Hall of Famer. Simply put, this was the greatest season ever by one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. Wagner led the Majors in hits (201), doubles (39), RBIs (109), stolen bases (53), total bases (308) and all three triple-slash categories (.354 average, .415 on-base percentage, .542 slugging percentage). He led the NL with 19 triples. Over the 151 games Wagner played in '08, he had a 205 OPS+, meaning his adjusted OPS was 105 percent better than the league-average mark. And he did all that at the age of 34, while playing shortstop for a team that went 98-56. More >

REDS: Joe Morgan, 1975

The 1975 season was the pinnacle of the Big Red Machine dynasty and Morgan won the first of his two consecutive NL MVPs. Morgan's 11.0 bWAR was the best season among any Reds player in the Modern Era (since 1900) and it’s also tops among all Major League second basemen all-time. Morgan batted .327 and led the Majors in OPS (.974), OPS+ (169) and walks (132) while notching 67 stolen bases as the Reds went on to win their first World Series since '40. Besides being a no-brainer for the NL All-Star team, Morgan also won a Gold Glove. In ‘76, Morgan followed up his incredible season with a 9.6 bWAR and a 1.020 OPS that led the Majors, all while batting .320 with 60 steals as Cincinnati went on to win back-to-back World Series. More >

NL WEST

D-BACKS: Luis Gonzalez, 2001

Gonzalez is best remembered for a bloop single to left in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series that led the D-backs to a walk-off win, but his overall season was a story in power. In his age-33 season, Gonzalez slugged 57 homers and drove home 142 runs while posting a slash line of .325/.429/.688 and a 174 OPS+. His performance earned him a starting role in the All-Star Game and he also won the Home Run Derby. Despite the gaudy numbers, Gonzalez finished third in the NL MVP race behind Barry Bonds, who hit 73 homers, and Sammy Sosa, who had 64. More >

DODGERS: Jackie Robinson, 1951

Robinson won the MVP Award in 1949, but he had the highest bWAR (9.7) for a position player in club history two years later. That was the year best remembered for Bobby Thomson’s "Shot Heard 'Round the World" that ended the Dodgers’ season in shocking fashion. In much the same way as Mookie Betts for the current club, Robinson impacted games in a multitude of glorious ways as a game-changer at the plate, in the field and on the bases. More >

GIANTS: Barry Bonds, 2001

Arguably the most feared hitter of all-time, Bonds delivered his most prolific campaign with the Giants in 2001, when he logged the highest bWAR (11.9) by a position player in franchise history. He batted .328 with a 1.379 OPS and set single-season MLB records for home runs (73) and slugging percentage (.863). His most memorable moment came on Oct. 5, when he took the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park deep for his 71st home run of the year, breaking Mark McGwire’s three-year-old record. Unsurprisingly, Bonds’ otherworldly production earned him the first of four consecutive NL MVP Awards, along with an All-Star nod and a Silver Slugger Award. His '01 season narrowly edges his performance in '02, when he hit a career-high .370 with a 1.381 OPS, 46 homers and 11.8 bWAR to lead the Giants to the World Series, where they lost to the Angels in seven games. More >

PADRES: Tony Gwynn, 1987

One of the most underappreciated seasons in baseball history. It's criminal that Gwynn finished eighth in NL MVP voting in 1987, likely because the Padres finished 65-97 and last place in the NL West. This was Gwynn at his absolute best in every facet. He batted .370/.447/.511 with a league-leading 218 hits. He won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award. He swiped 56 bases and smacked 13 triples. Gwynn's 8.6 bWAR was tops in the NL and is the best mark in Padres history. In retrospect, it seems obvious that voters got it wrong 33 years ago. But MVP or not, Gwynn's 1987 season was special. More >

ROCKIES: Larry Walker, 1997

During the late 1990s, the NL West was the scene of a legitimate argument -- who was the best player in the league, Bonds or Larry Walker? For this particular season, Walker had the numbers and the excitement in his column. Walker led the NL in home runs (49), on-base percentage (.452), slugging percentage (.720), OPS (1.172) and total bases (409). Oh yeah, Walker also won an NL Gold Glove Award for his play in right field. It was good enough to earn him the '97 NL MVP Award, making him the only MVP in club history. More >