Rank: Best Single-Season Performances

Created: January 1, 2008, 3:35 PM

Tiger Woods' 2000 season was one for the ages.

Who put up the greatest individual season of all time? We're all familiar with the great performances in each sport--Babe Ruth's record-breaking seasons, Michael Jordan's all-around dominance, Tom Brady's aerial assault--but how do they stand next to one another?

Our research department has compiled a list of the top 25 individual seasons of all time. We've got it all in there, everything from tennis, to NASCAR, to golf and beyond.

Whose season do you think was the best? Submit your rankings now!

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  • Lew Alcindor's first career college game resulted in a school-record 56 points, foreshadowing things to come. In his 1966-67 season at UCLA, Alcindor averaged 29 points per game, the best in UCLA history. The Bruins went 30-0 on their way to an NCAA championship.
  • Marcus Allen's 1981 season at USC saw him become the first D-I player to rush for over 2,000 yards, and his record of rushing for 200 yards in five straight and eight total games still stands. His Heisman Trophy was just icing on the cake.
  • Regardless of the controversey now surrounding him, it's clear that Barry Bonds' 2001 season was otherworldly. Aside from hitting 73 home runs, he broke the single-season slugging percentage mark (set by Babe Ruth), with an astounding .863 mark, while also breaking Ruth's record for walks. His .515 OBP was the best since Ted Williams in 1957.
  • Even if he hadn't led the New England Patriots to the first undefeated record since the 1972 Dolphins, Tom Brady's season would still be one for the ages. Brady broke Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown record with 50, and posted an astounding 50-8 TD/INT ratio. He threw for 4,806 yards and posted a 117.2 QB rating.
  • All you need to know about Wilt Chamberlain's 1961-62 season with the Philadelphia Warriors is this: his over 50 points per game and 25 rebounds per game are as good as Tim Duncan's best season--DOUBLED. Chamberlain also averaged 48.5 minutes per game, only missing eight minutes the entire season.
  • It's a big deal these days when a pitcher gives up only one run in a start. In Bob Gibson's 1968 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, he did that pretty much every day. Gibson's 1.12 ERA is the fourth-best of all time, and his road ERA was an astounding 0.81. In 90 innings during the middle of the summer, Gibson allowed two runs. His 13 shutouts tied for the third-most ever. Even his 22-9 record doesn't fully capture his greatness -- his ERA in his nine losses was 2.14.
  • Steffi Graf achieved a Golden Grand Slam in 1988, winning all four Slams, plus an Olympic gold medal. She finished the year with a 72-3 record, winning 46 straight matches, and dominating eight singles titles.
  • Wayne Gretzky's 1981-82 season with the Edmonton Oilers cemented his status as the best player in the game. Greztky set several records for scoring, including goals (an astounding 92), assists (120) and reaching 50 goals faster than any other player.
  • Bobby Jones chose a good year to go out on top. His 1930 season gave rise to the term "Grand Slam", as he won the British Open, U.S. Open, British Amateur, and U.S. Amateur, at the time the four major golf tournaments.
  • Michael Jordan has long been considered perhaps the greatest offensive player to ever play in the NBA, but during his 1987-88 season, he was its best defensive player as well. Jordan scored 35 points per game and contributed 3.2 steals and 1.6 blocks. Jordan is the only player to both lead the league in scoring and win Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season.
  • Mario Lemieux was unable to play a full season in 1992-93, but his contribution in the games he did play was unparalleled. Lemieux finished the season with 160 points despite missing 24 games. His 2.67 points per game, pro-rated to 84 games, would have left him with 224 points.
  • Pistol Pete Maravich was the greatest scorer in college basketball history, and his 1969-70 season for LSU is only one of many reasons why he achieved that title. Maravich averaged an astounding 44.5 points per game, scoring 1,381 overall (more than Charles Barkley scored in his three-year college career). His lowest-scoring output was 29, which is more than any player averaged in 2006-07.
  • In his second year as a player, Dan Marino had the greatest season the NFL had ever seen up to that point. Marino threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns, shattering both previous records.
  • Pedro Martinez led baseball in wins, strikeouts and ERA. He posted an ERA of 2.07 in a league that had an overall 4.86 mark. Pedro struck out 13.2 batters per nine innings and five of the first six batters in the All-Star Game. Martinez also threw 17 scoreless innings in the postseason.
  • Martina Navratilova had an unprecedented run of dominance in 1984. She won 74 matches in a row, including 13 straight singles titles. She won three of four majors, and all four majors in doubles, with Pam Shriver.
  • In 1969-70, Bobby Orr became the only defenseman in the NHL's history to lead the league in scoring. He also won all four major awards (the Hart, Ross, Norris, and Conn Smythe trophies). Add to that his memorable playoff goal, and Orr had himself a pretty good year.
  • Richard Petty set two records in 1967 that will likely never be topped. He won 27 of 49 races that season and achieved a 10-win-in-a-row streak. His 19 poles are the second-most in history.
  • Forget about Randy Moss -- Jerry Rice caught his NFL-record 22 touchdowns in only 12 games in 1987. Over a full 16-game schedule, Rice would have caught approximately 29 TDs.
  • Oscar Robertson has the only season ever where a player averaged a triple-double. He posted 41 of them in 1961-62 for the Cincinnati Royals, averaging 30.8 points, 11.4 assists, and 12.5 rebounds per game.
  • Babe Ruth was no stranger to huge numbers, but his 1921 season for the Yankees stood above the rest. Ruth hit 59 home runs and had 171 RBIs and still holds major league records for runs (177), extra-base hits (119) and total bases (457). He also led the league in OBP, SLG, and walks.
  • Barry Sanders' 1988 season for the Oklahoma State Cowboys was perhaps the best college football performance ever. Sanders set a record for rushing yards (2,628), all-purpose yards (3,250), rushing touchdowns (37) and touchdowns (39). He had more 300 rushing games that season (4) than anyone else has had in a career. He set 34 NCAA records in 1988.
  • O.J. Simpson's 1973 season with the Buffalo Bills was the only one in which a player rushed for 2,000 yards (in this case, 2,003) in a 14-game season. His total was nearly twice as much as the second-place finisher.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson broke 11 single-season records in 2006 with the Chargers, the most prolific scoring effort in history. Tomlinson rushed for 28 touchdowns and scored 31 total, even adding two passing touchdowns.
  • Ted Williams's 1941 season is the last in which a batter hit over .400. At .406, he was the youngest player to reach that feat. He led the league in home runs, runs, and slugging percentage. His amazing .553 OBP was the best ever until Barry Bonds.
  • Tiger Woods won nine tournaments in 2000, the most since 1950. He won three consecutive majors (including the U.S. Open by 15 strokes and British Open by eight strokes), becoming only the second person to do so.