Greatest Rookies of All Time

Print Email

Source: Doug Pensinger / Allsport / Getty Images

19. Jevon Kearse
> League: NFL
> Rookie season: 1999
> Team: Tennessee Titans
> Statistics: 14.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss

Jevon Kearse was known as “The Freak” for his astonishing combination of size and athleticism. After being selected in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, Kearse showed off his abilities, recording a rookie record 14.5 sacks as well as 15 tackles for loss. Kearse played well in his first three seasons, but his production waned afterward and he missed large parts of seasons due to injury.

Source: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images

18. Alexander Ovechkin
> League: NHL
> Rookie season: 2005-06
> Team: Washington Capitals
> Statistics: 52 goals, 54 assists

Alex Ovechkin edged out his rival Sidney Crosby to become the 2005-2006 Calder Memorial Trophy winner. Leading all NHL rookies with 106 points that season — 52 goals and 54 assists — Ovi had the fourth highest point total of any rookie in NHL history for the Washington Capitals.

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Allsport / Getty Images

17. Ronnie Lott
> League: NFL
> Rookie season: 1981
> Team: San Francisco 49ers
> Statistics: 89 tackles, 4 touchdowns, All-Pro

Ronnie Lott’s 1981 rookie season was one of the best years of his Hall of Fame career. Lott had 89 tackles and picked off seven passes, returning three of them for touchdowns — leading the NFL that year. Lott continued his top-notch play in the postseason, intercepting two more passes and taking one to the house. Lott helped the San Francisco 49ers win the Super Bowl and was named first team All-Pro. He would go on to win three more championships and make five more All-Pro teams.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

16. Fred Lynn
> League: MLB
> Rookie season: 1975
> Team: Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .331 average, 47 doubles, Gold Glove

In 1975, Fred Lynn became the first player in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. The Red Sox slugger hit .331 and led the Majors with 47 doubles and a slugging percentage of .566. He also excelled on defense, winning the Gold Glove for his play in centerfield. Lynn would make eight more All-Star teams and win three additional Gold Gloves in his 17-season career.

Source: Montreal Gazette / Wikimedia Commons

15. Tiny Thompson
> League: NHL
> Rookie season: 1928-29
> Team: Boston Bruins
> Statistics: 1.15 goals against average, 12 shutouts

Hall of Fame goaltender Cecil “Tiny” Thompson had a dream start to his career. During the 1928-1929 season, he led the NHL in wins with 26. Thompson’s top-notch goalkeeping helped the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup that year. His 1.15 goals against average still stands as the lowest GAA of any rookie netminder.