2013 In Review: The 30 Best Individual Sports Performances

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2013 In Review: The 30 Best Individual Sports Performances

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

2013 was a year filled with memorable individual sports performances. In the NBA, the best player in the world LeBron James dominated his opponents on a nightly basis. Other stars such as Kevin Love and Stephen Curry delivered insane statistics. In the NFL, a pair of quarterbacks had seven passing touchdowns in a single game this season, which has never been done before.

Major League Baseball also produced many memorable moments, including three no-hitters and a bunch of amazing hitting games, including a 4-for-4 game with three home runs, a 6-for-6 game, and a game in which a player had five stolen bases.

Three golfers made the list for their amazing performances in different Majors, outlasting star-studded fields in order to secure victory. A handful of the world’s best tennis players also cracked the top-30 as both a man and a women won two Grand Slams apiece in 2013.

A Heisman Trophy winner and one of the top-three best soccer players in the world also made it on the list, the first for a 25-for-27 passing exhibition and the latter for a four-goal performance.

It was certainly a year to remember. While you may question the way in which I rated each performance, know that it was based on a variety of factors. First is that I call the “wow factor”. You’ll be able to tell what I mean. The second is the context in which the game was played. In other words: was the game meaningful? If so, and it included an amazing performance, I bumped it over better statistical numbers with less of an important context. Here are the top 30 individual sports performances of 2013. Let’s hope we are in store for another amazing year in sports in 2014.

Dan Karpuc is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @dan_karpuc, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.

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30. Tim Lincecum’s 148-Pitch No-Hitter

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In what was by far the most bizarre pitching performance of 2013, Tim Lincecum threw a 148-pitch no-hitter on July 13 against the San Diego Padres. He had 13 strikeouts, but also four walks, and threw an incredible amount of pitches in the process. However, a no-hitter is a no-hitter, and Lincecum’s performance is the perfect way to start this list.

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29. Alex Rios’ 6-for-6 Game

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Alex Rios had a dream of a game on July 9 vs. the Detroit Tigers, going 6-for-6 to go with two RBIs and two stolen bases. Detroit simply couldn’t get him out.

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28. Eric Decker’s Four Receiving Touchdowns

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker had 174 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

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27. Jacoby Ellsbury’s Five Stolen Bases Against the Phillies

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On May 30 against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia, former Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with five stolen bases.

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26. Justin Rose’s U.S. Open Victory

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Justin Rose edged Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open at Merion under extremely harsh conditions, finishing with a score of three-over par. To put that into context, Tiger Woods shot 13-over, while Rory McIlroy shot 14-over.

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25. Joakim Noah’s Unorthodox Triple-Double

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On February 28, Joakim Noah had a triple-double of 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks against the Philadelphia 76ers. That doesn’t happen very often.

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24. Henderson Alvarez’s No-Hitter

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On September 29, on his last outing of the season, Miami Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez had a 99-pitch no-hitter, striking out four while forcing 14 ground ball outs.

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23. Jason Dufner’s PGA Championship Win

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Jason Dufner earned a two-stroke win over Jim Furyk at Oak Hill in August to win the PGA Championship. He shot 63 in the second round, leading to his victory.

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22. Kevin Love’s December Domination Against the Clippers

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On December 22, Kevin Love scored 45 points to go with 19 rebounds and six assists against a Los Angeles Clippers team that has DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Pretty impressive stuff.

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21. Adam Scott Wins Green Jacket

Adam Scott
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Adam Scott shot a final round 69, leading to a nine-under tournament to win his first Masters at Augusta National after a playoff with Angel Cabrera.

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20. BC’s Andre Williams Runs Wild On North Carolina State

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman finalist Andre Williams, a running back at Boston College, had himself a game against North Carolina State on November 16. On an astounding 42 rushing attempts, he gained 339 yards and two touchdowns en route to rushing for over 2,000 yards on the season.

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19. Anibal Sanchez’s 17-Strikeout Game

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On April 26, Anibal Sanchez led his Detroit Tigers to a win against the Atlanta Braves with a 121-pitch outing in which he fanned 17 batters in eight innings. I would have liked to see Jim Leyland let him stay in with the potential of a 20-strikeout game in place, but I understand the decision of why he decided to hold him back so early in the season.

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18. Miguel Cabrera’s Three-Homer Game

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Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the world. On May 19, he showed exactly why. He went 4-for-4 with three homers and five RBIs and a walk against the Texas Rangers.

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17. Jameis Winston's Debut

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Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston made a huge statement in his first game of the season, going 25-for-27 from the air for 356 yards and five touchdowns. Both of his incompletions were catchable as well. From that point on, he put the nation on watch.

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16. Calvin Johnson’s 329 Receiving Yards Against Cowboys

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys, Megatron caught 14 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown.

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15. Chris Davis’ Hot Start To The MLB Season

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At the end of April, Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis hit an impressive .348 to go with nine homers and 28 RBIs. In May, he hit .364 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs. He made it known right away that he was a legitimate everyday first baseman and finished the year with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs.

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14. Tony Romo Outplays Peyton Manning

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Tony Romo can’t catch a break. Now most likely out for the season with a back injury, he has been the subject of scrutiny for a while now. However, in Week 5 against the Broncos, a game in which the Cowboys actually lost, he had 506 passing yards to go with five touchdowns and outperformed Peyton Manning. But again, his team lost and it essentially didn’t matter. Poor Tony.

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13. John Lester’s Game 5 Pitching Performance In the World Series

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Called on in Game 5 in a deadlocked World Series, John Lester delivered in a big way, pitching 7.2 innings, striking out seven St. Louis Cardinals hitters in the process, leading to a Red Sox victory.

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12. Steph Curry’s Big Night At MSG

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Steph Curry dominated at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks on February 27. He scored 54 points, including a ridiculous 11-for-13 showing from 3-point range, to go with seven assists and six rebounds.

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11. LeBron James’ Monster February Game Against the Kings

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Lebron scored 40 points, and had eight rebounds to go with 16 assists against the Sacramento Kings on February 2.

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10. Serena Williams’ French Open and U.S. Open Victories

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

I firmly believe when it is said and done, Serena Williams will be universally considered the best female tennis player of all time. This year, she won the French Open, defeating Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4, and then won the U.S. Open, defeating Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7, 6-1. She tore through the early rounds with complete ease and dominated her competition.

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9. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Four-Goal Performance

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In the middle of November, Portugal took on Sweden in World Cup qualifying. In that game, Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals, which is almost never done in soccer, especially at the international level.

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8. Homer Bailey’s Second Career No-Hitter

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On July 2 against the San Francisco Giants, Homer Bailey threw his second career no-hitter, striking out nine opponents in a 109-pitch outing in which he only gave up one walk.

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7. Andy Murray's Wimbeldon Win

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Murray made his homeland proud when he defeated Novak Djokovic by the score of 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to become the first British male Wimbeldon champion since Fred Perry in 1936.

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6. Rafael Nadal’s French Open and U.S. Open Wins

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Coming off knee surgery, no one knew if Rafael Nadal would be back to his old form in 2013. He answered those questions, beating David Ferrer by the score of 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to win the French Open, followed by a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory against Novak Djokovic to win the U.S. Open. He now has 13 Grand Slam titles, and is third among the all-time leaders.

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5. Nick Foles’ 7-TD Performance Against The Raiders

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Nick Foles has been extremely impressive after taking over as the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback. On November 3, taking on the Oakland Raiders, he had a perfect passer rating of 158.3, going 22-for-28 for 406 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-20 win. With the performance, he made Chip Kelly acknowledge him as the full-time starter.

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4. Jimmie Johnson Wins Sixth Sprint Cup Championship

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After winning consecutive Sprint Cup Championships from 2006-2010, Jimmie Johnson earned his sixth in 2013, making him the best (to some) NASCAR driver to ever start his engine.

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3. Jamaal Charles’ 5 TDs Against Raiders

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

On December 15, Jamaal Charles helped the Kansas City Chiefs demolish the Oakland Raiders by the score of 56-31. In the process, he had five touchdowns. One of those touchdowns came on the ground where he rushed for 20 yards, but the other four came on the receiving end, where he caught eight passes for 195 yards. It was without a doubt, the best performance from a running back all season in the NFL. He also caused me to lose in my fantasy football playoffs.

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2. Peyton Manning’s 7 TDs Against Ravens On Opening Night

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Was Peyton Manning afraid or tentative of taking on the defending Super Bowl winner Baltimore Ravens on opening night of the NFL season? Well, not really. On September 5, Manning went 27-for-42 for 462 yards and seven touchdowns. Seven touchdowns against the defending champs! His QBR of 141.1 also speaks for itself. This performance, especially in the context of the game and how it set the tone for the season, trumps Nick Foles’ outstanding performance as the Broncos spanked the Ravens 49-27.

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1. LeBron James in the NBA Finals

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In the thrilling seven-game NBA Finals, the best player in the world and perhaps the best player ever proved why he can be considered so, leading his Miami Heat to a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. In the decisive Game 7, he had 37 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, knocking down five 3-pointers in the process. He was the best player on the court every night, and is the reason the Miami Heat are currently seeking a three-peat. So much for all the haters who labeled him a "choke artist."