Special Report

Greatest Baseball Player the Year You Were Born

Al Bello / Getty Images

Before the NFL and the NBA became as popular as they are today, baseball stood alone as America’s pastime. Fans would flock to stadiums and huddle around black and white TVs to watch icons like Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle play ball.

The American and National League each grants its own Cy Young Award for the top pitcher and an MVP to the top player overall. However, in each season, only one player stood out as the very best in baseball.

To determine the greatest baseball player the year you were born, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the players with the highest wins above replacement each season since the Integration Era began in 1947, using data from Baseball Reference.

Some of the players on this list are now hailed as some of the greatest in history. Others were flashes in the pan and were mediocre outside of their one great season. Several of these players had incredible careers that would normally earn them a spot in the Hall of Fame, but cheating allegations and other untoward behavior has kept them out of Cooperstown. These are the scandals that rocked the sports world.

Every position except catcher is represented on the list. Pitchers are more likely than any other players to rank as the greatest player in a given year, followed by center fielders. 

Many of the players included won an MVP or a Cy Young for the season (or seasons) in which they ranked as the MLB’s best. However, very few won the World Series in the year they were baseball’s top player, and many never won a World Series at all. These are the greatest players that never won a championship.

Click here to see the greatest baseball player the year you were born

Source: Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1947
> Player: Ted Williams
> Position, team: Left field, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .343 batting avg., 114 RBIs, 32 home runs

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Source: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1948
> Player: Stan Musial
> Position, team: Right field, St. Louis Cardinals
> Statistics: .376 batting avg., 131 RBIs, 39 home runs

Source: Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images

1949
> Player: Jackie Robinson
> Position, team: Second base, Brooklyn Dodgers
> Statistics: .342 batting avg., 124 RBIs, 16 home runs

Source: Bowman Gum - http://www.vintagecardtraders.org/virtual/53bowman_color/53bowman_color.html / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1950
> Player: Eddie Stanky
> Position, team: Second base, New York Giants
> Statistics: .300 batting avg., 51 RBIs, 8 home runs

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

1951
> Player: Jackie Robinson
> Position, team: Second base, Brooklyn Dodgers
> Statistics: .338 batting avg., 88 RBIs, 19 home runs

Source: Bowman Gum - http://www.vintagecardtraders.org/virtual/53bowman_color/53bowman_color.html / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1952
> Player: Bobby Shantz
> Position, team: Pitcher, Philadelphia Athletics
> Statistics: 2.48 ERA, 24-7 record, 152 strikeouts

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

1953
> Player: Al Rosen
> Position, team: Third base, Cleveland Indians
> Statistics: .336 batting avg., 145 RBIs, 43 home runs

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Source: Bettmann / Bettmann via Getty Images

1954
> Player: Willie Mays
> Position, team: Center field, New York Giants
> Statistics: .345 batting avg., 110 RBIs, 41 home runs

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

1955
> Player: Mickey Mantle
> Position, team: Center field, New York Yankees
> Statistics: .306 batting avg., 99 RBIs, 37 home runs

Source: Unknown author - Jay Publishing via tradingcarddb.com / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1956
> Player: Mickey Mantle
> Position, team: Center field, New York Yankees
> Statistics: .353 batting avg., 130 RBIs, 52 home runs

Source: New York Yankees - Heritage Auctions / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1957
> Player: Mickey Mantle
> Position, team: Center field, New York Yankees
> Statistics: .365 batting avg., 94 RBIs, 34 home runs

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Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1958
> Player: Willie Mays
> Position, team: Center field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .347 batting avg., 96 RBIs, 29 home runs

Source: Chris McGrath / Getty Images

1959
> Player: Ernie Banks
> Position, team: Shortstop, Chicago Cubs
> Statistics: .304 batting avg., 143 RBIs, 45 home runs

Source: Michael Nagle / Getty Images

1960
> Player: Willie Mays
> Position, team: Center field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .319 batting avg., 103 RBIs, 29 home runs

Source: Unknown author - New York Yankees via tradingcarddb.com / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1961
> Player: Mickey Mantle
> Position, team: Center field, New York Yankees
> Statistics: .317 batting avg., 128 RBIs, 54 home runs

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images News via Getty Images

1962
> Player: Willie Mays
> Position, team: Center field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .304 batting avg., 141 RBIs, 49 home runs

Source: Tim Bradbury / Getty Images

1963
> Player: Sandy Koufax
> Position, team: Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
> Statistics: 1.88 ERA, 25-5 record, 306 strikeouts

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Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1964
> Player: Willie Mays
> Position, team: Center field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .296 batting avg., 111 RBIs, 47 home runs

Source: William C. Greene New York World-Telegram and the Sun / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1965
> Player: Willie Mays
> Position, team: Center field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .317 batting avg., 112 RBIs, 52 home runs

Source: N.Y. Public Library Picture Collection / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1966
> Player: Sandy Koufax
> Position, team: Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
> Statistics: 1.73 ERA, 27-9 record, 317 strikeouts

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1967
> Player: Carl Yastrzemski
> Position, team: Left field, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .326 batting avg., 121 RBIs, 44 home runs

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Source: Baseball Digest / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1968
> Player: Bob Gibson
> Position, team: Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
> Statistics: 1.12 ERA, 22-9 record, 268 strikeouts

1969
> Player: Bob Gibson
> Position, team: Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
> Statistics: 2.18 ERA, 20-13 record, 269 strikeouts

Source: Kathryn Riley / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1970
> Player: Carl Yastrzemski
> Position, team: First base, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .329 batting avg., 102 RBIs, 40 home runs

Source: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1960s-Chicago-White-Sox-Pitcher-Wilbur-Wood-Type-1-photo-8x10/153999500302 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1971
> Player: Wilbur Wood
> Position, team: Pitcher, Chicago White Sox
> Statistics: 1.91 ERA, 22-13 record, 210 strikeouts

Source: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1972
> Player: Steve Carlton
> Position, team: Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
> Statistics: 1.98 ERA, 27-10 record, 310 strikeouts

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

1973
> Player: Tom Seaver
> Position, team: Pitcher, New York Mets
> Statistics: 2.08 ERA, 19-10 record, 251 strikeouts

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Source: Jonathan Daniel / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

1974
> Player: Mike Schmidt
> Position, team: Third base, Philadelphia Phillies
> Statistics: .282 batting avg., 116 RBIs, 36 home runs

Source: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1975
> Player: Joe Morgan
> Position, team: Second base, Cincinnati Reds
> Statistics: .327 batting avg., 94 RBIs, 17 home runs

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1976
> Player: Mark Fidrych
> Position, team: Pitcher, Detroit Tigers
> Statistics: 2.34 ERA, 19-9 record, 97 strikeouts

Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1977
> Player: Rod Carew
> Position, team: First base, Minnesota Twins
> Statistics: .388 batting avg., 100 RBIs, 14 home runs

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Source: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1978
> Player: Phil Niekro
> Position, team: Pitcher, Atlanta Braves
> Statistics: 2.88 ERA, 19-18 record, 248 strikeouts

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1979
> Player: Fred Lynn
> Position, team: Center field, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .333 batting avg., 122 RBIs, 39 home runs

Source: Rich Schultz / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1980
> Player: Steve Carlton
> Position, team: Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
> Statistics: 2.34 ERA, 24-9 record, 286 strikeouts

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

1981
> Player: Mike Schmidt
> Position, team: Third base, Philadelphia Phillies
> Statistics: .316 batting avg., 91 RBIs, 31 home runs

Source: Ron Vesely / Contributor / Getty Images North America

1982
> Player: Robin Yount
> Position, team: Shortstop, Milwaukee Brewers
> Statistics: .331 batting avg., 114 RBIs, 29 home runs

Source: Elsa / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1983
> Player: Cal Ripken Jr.
> Position, team: Shortstop, Baltimore Orioles
> Statistics: .318 batting avg., 102 RBIs, 27 home runs

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Source: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1984
> Player: Cal Ripken Jr.
> Position, team: Shortstop, Baltimore Orioles
> Statistics: .304 batting avg., 86 RBIs, 27 home runs

Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

1985
> Player: Dwight Gooden
> Position, team: Pitcher, New York Mets
> Statistics: 1.53 ERA, 24-4 record, 268 strikeouts

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1986
> Player: Teddy Higuera
> Position, team: Pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers
> Statistics: 2.79 ERA, 20-11 record, 207 strikeouts

Source: Al Bello / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

1987
> Player: Roger Clemens
> Position, team: Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: 2.97 ERA, 20-9 record, 256 strikeouts

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Source: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1988
> Player: Wade Boggs
> Position, team: Third base, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .366 batting avg., 58 RBIs, 5 home runs

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1989
> Player: Bret Saberhagen
> Position, team: Pitcher, Kansas City Royals
> Statistics: 2.16 ERA, 23-6 record, 193 strikeouts

Source: Rick Stewart / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

1990
> Player: Roger Clemens
> Position, team: Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: 1.93 ERA, 21-6 record, 209 strikeouts

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1991
> Player: Cal Ripken Jr.
> Position, team: Shortstop, Baltimore Orioles
> Statistics: .323 batting avg., 114 RBIs, 34 home runs

Source: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1992
> Player: Greg Maddux
> Position, team: Pitcher, Chicago Cubs
> Statistics: 2.18 ERA, 20-11 record, 199 strikeouts

Source: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1993
> Player: Barry Bonds
> Position, team: Left field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .336 batting avg., 123 RBIs, 46 home runs

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Source: Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1994
> Player: Greg Maddux
> Position, team: Pitcher, Atlanta Braves
> Statistics: 1.56 ERA, 16-6 record, 156 strikeouts

Source: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1995
> Player: Greg Maddux
> Position, team: Pitcher, Atlanta Braves
> Statistics: 1.63 ERA, 19-2 record, 181 strikeouts

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

1996
> Player: Ken Griffey Jr.
> Position, team: Center field, Seattle Mariners
> Statistics: .303 batting avg., 140 RBIs, 49 home runs

1997
> Player: Roger Clemens
> Position, team: Pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays
> Statistics: 2.05 ERA, 21-7 record, 292 strikeouts

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Source: Tom Hauck / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1998
> Player: Kevin Brown
> Position, team: Pitcher, San Diego Padres
> Statistics: 2.38 ERA, 18-7 record, 257 strikeouts

Source: Nick Laham / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1999
> Player: Pedro Martinez
> Position, team: Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: 2.07 ERA, 23-4 record, 313 strikeouts

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2000
> Player: Pedro Martinez
> Position, team: Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: 1.74 ERA, 18-6 record, 284 strikeouts

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2001
> Player: Barry Bonds
> Position, team: Left field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .328 batting avg., 137 RBIs, 73 home runs

Source: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2002
> Player: Barry Bonds
> Position, team: Left field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .370 batting avg., 110 RBIs, 46 home runs

Source: Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2003
> Player: Barry Bonds
> Position, team: Left field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .341 batting avg., 90 RBIs, 45 home runs

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2004
> Player: Barry Bonds
> Position, team: Left field, San Francisco Giants
> Statistics: .362 batting avg., 101 RBIs, 45 home runs

2005
> Player: Alex Rodriguez
> Position, team: Third base, New York Yankees
> Statistics: .321 batting avg., 130 RBIs, 48 home runs

Source: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

2006
> Player: Albert Pujols
> Position, team: First base, St. Louis Cardinals
> Statistics: .331 batting avg., 137 RBIs, 49 home runs

2007
> Player: Alex Rodriguez
> Position, team: Third base, New York Yankees
> Statistics: .314 batting avg., 156 RBIs, 54 home runs

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Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

2008
> Player: Albert Pujols
> Position, team: First base, St. Louis Cardinals
> Statistics: .357 batting avg., 116 RBIs, 37 home runs

Source: Sarah Stier / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2009
> Player: Zack Greinke
> Position, team: Pitcher, Kansas City Royals
> Statistics: 2.16 ERA, 16-8 record, 242 strikeouts

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2010
> Player: Josh Hamilton
> Position, team: Left field, Texas Rangers
> Statistics: .359 batting avg., 100 RBIs, 32 home runs

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2011
> Player: Roy Halladay
> Position, team: Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
> Statistics: 2.35 ERA, 19-6 record, 220 strikeouts

Source: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2012
> Player: Mike Trout
> Position, team: Center field, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
> Statistics: .326 batting avg., 83 RBIs, 30 home runs

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images

2013
> Player: Mike Trout
> Position, team: Center field, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
> Statistics: .323 batting avg., 97 RBIs, 27 home runs

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Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2014
> Player: Corey Kluber
> Position, team: Pitcher, Cleveland Indians
> Statistics: 2.44 ERA, 18-9 record, 269 strikeouts

Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2015
> Player: Bryce Harper
> Position, team: Right field, Washington Nationals
> Statistics: .330 batting avg., 99 RBIs, 42 home runs

Source: Rob Tringali / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2016
> Player: Mike Trout
> Position, team: Center field, Los Angeles Angels
> Statistics: .315 batting avg., 100 RBIs, 29 home runs

Source: Joe Robbins / Getty Images

2017
> Player: Joey Votto
> Position, team: First base, Cincinnati Reds
> Statistics: .320 batting avg., 100 RBIs, 36 home runs

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Source: Norm Hall / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2018
> Player: Mookie Betts
> Position, team: Right field, Boston Red Sox
> Statistics: .346 batting avg., 80 RBIs, 32 home runs

Source: Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2019
> Player: Alex Bregman
> Position, team: Third base, Houston Astros
> Statistics: .296 batting avg., 112 RBIs, 41 home runs

Source: Tom Pennington / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2020
> Player: Mookie Betts
> Position, team: Right field, Los Angeles Dodgers
> Statistics: .292 batting avg., 39 RBIs, 16 home runs

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Source: Rich Schultz / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2021
> Player: Zack Wheeler
> Position, team: Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
> Statistics: 2.78 ERA, 14-10 record, 247 strikeouts

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