Special Report

Greatest Rookies of All Time

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

24. Michael Jordan
> League: NBA
> Rookie season: 1984-85
> Team: Chicago Bulls
> Statistics: 28.2 points per game, 51.5% shooting

Michael Jordan’s legendary NBA career got off to a hot start during the 1984-1985 season. MJ played in all 82 Chicago Bulls games, averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. Jordan hit 51.5% of his shots that season, one of the better shooting seasons of his career. That season, Jordan won the NBA Rookie of the Year award — the first of many trophies he would accumulate in his career.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

23. Aaron Judge
> League: MLB
> Rookie season: 2017
> Team: New York Yankees
> Statistics: 52 home runs, 127 walks, 128 runs

No rookie has ever hit more home runs than New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. The 6-foot-7 outfielder used his powerful frame to hit 52 home runs in 2017. While his long balls got most of the attention in his breakout year, his 127 walks led the American League that season.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

22. Dak Prescott
> League: NFL
> Rookie season: 2016
> Team: Dallas Cowboys
> Statistics: 3,667 pass yards, 23 touchdowns, 104.9 passer rating

When he stepped in for the injured Tony Romo in 2016, fourth round pick Dak Prescott proved to be a more than suitable replacement quarterback. Prescott led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record that year, throwing for 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions, while posting a 104.9 passer rating — the best ever for a first-year starting QB. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Prescott has not been able to match that success in his two subsequent seasons.

Source: Courtesy of Baseball Digest / Wikimedia Commons

21. Ted Williams
> League: MLB
> Rookie season: 1939
> Team: Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .327 average, 31 home runs, 145 RBI

There was no AL Rookie of the Year award yet in 1939. If there was one, Ted Williams certainly would have won it. In his first season with the Red Sox, Williams hit .327 with 31 home runs and an MLB-leading 145 RBIs. The 20-year-old outfielder finished fourth in the MVP voting even though he wasn’t named an All-Star. Williams would go on to make the All-Star team in 17 of the next 18 seasons he played and be named a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Source: Greg Trott / Getty Images

20. Patrick Willis
> League: NFL
> Rookie season: 2007
> Team: San Francisco 49ers
> Statistics: 174 tackles, 4 sacks, All-Pro

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis was a tackling machine. In his rookie season, he led the NFL with 174 combined tackles and 135 solo tackles and was an All-Pro selection. Willis was arguably the best linebacker in the NFL for years until he retired somewhat abruptly in 2015 at age 30. He said he no longer had the passion to play, as injuries took their toll on his body.