| ||Friday, December 31|
|Sports are about winning. But sports are also about statistics. With that in mind, we've chosen the 10 best individual seasons -- based purely upon statistical accomplishments. It was a little too difficult to rank them in order, so we've listed them chronologically.
1921: Babe Ruth, New York Yankees|
Let the numbers speak for themselves: 59 home runs, 171 RBI, 177 runs scored, 144 walks, a .530 on-base percentage and .846 (!) slugging percentage. He easily led the league in all those categories. He outhomered five other teams. He hit 44 doubles and 16 triples to gather 119 extra-base hits and compile 457 total bases. He hit .378, stole 17 bases and even went 2-0 as a pitcher. 1962: Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
Hey, it's pretty hard to ignore a season when you average 50.4 points per game. Chamberlain scored more than 50 in 45 games. He also averaged 25.7 rebounds per contest and played 3,882 minutes in 80 games. What's remarkable about that? It means Chamberlain averaged more than 48 minutes played per game. 1970: Pete Maravich, LSU
How great of a college basketball player was Pete Maravich? He still holds the NCAA Division I career scoring record, even though he played before freshman eligibility and before the 3-point shot. Of course, he does hold the three highest scoring averages of all time. He averaged 43.8 points per game in 1968, 44.2 in '69 and then 44.5 as a senior, when he also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. He scored more than 50 points 28 times in his career, including 10 times in 1970. 1983: Martina Navratilova
No athlete dominated an individual sport like Navratilova did in 1983. Using a powerful first serve and precise volleys, she crushed her competition, going 86-1 for the season. She won three of the four grand slams, failing only to win the French Open. In fact, from '82 through '84, she went 254-6, reeling of winning streaks of 74 and 54 matches. 1984: Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
In just his second year in the NFL, Marino had the most impressive season in quarterback history. He tossed 48 touchdown passes (Marino's 44 in 1986 is the only other season over 40). He threw for a record 5,084 yards, averaging more than nine yards per attempt. He had four games of more than 400 yards and six games of at least four touchdown passes. 1985: Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers
Gretzky scored a record 92 goals in 1982. He scored a record 215 points in 1986. But 1985 was his most impressive season overall. He led the NHL (of course) with 73 goals and 135 assists to score 208 points. And amazingly, he finished at +98 in goal differential. To top it off, he led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup by scoring a record 47 points in the playoffs.
How do you pick one Jerry Rice year? Do you go with 1995, when he caught 122 passes for 1,848 yards? Or 1986, when he caught 86 passes for 1,570 yards? We'll go with 1987. That year Rice set a record with 22 touchdown receptions -- no other receiver has caught more than 18. Most amazingly, however, Rice did it in only 12 games due to the strike. That works out to 29 over a full 16-game schedule. 1988: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
In 11 regular-season games, Sanders rushed for a record 2,628 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He rushed for 37 touchdowns and scored 39 overall -- both records. Four times, he rushed for more than 300 yards in a game, including a season-high of 332 vs. Texas Tech. The Cowboys scored more than 40 points in 11 of their 12 games and beat Wyoming 62-14 in the Holiday Bowl as Sanders rushed for 222 yards and scored five more touchdowns. 1989: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Yes, Oscar Robertson once averaged a triple-double for a full season, but no player had the all-around season that Jordan had in 1989. He led the league in scoring at 32.5 points per game, shot 54 percent from the field and 85 percent from the line. He also averaged eight rebounds and eight assists per game and was named to the All-Defensive team. 1993: Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants
Folks, Ted Williams never had a season of all-around brilliance like this one. And remember, Bonds accomplished this before the recent offensive explosion in baseball. He led the National League with 46 home runs and 123 RBI and hit .336 (fourth in the league). He led the league with a .458 on-base percentage and .677 slugging percentage. He scored 129 runs, second in the league. He drew 126 walks, including 43 intentional free passes. He also chipped in with 29 stolen bases and a Gold Glove Award.