Well the wave of rookie phenoms that raided the show in 2010 have proven to be no exception to the curse of the sophomore slump. Through injury and just pure regression, the young ballplayers in their second year in the show have failed to build on their promising rookie campaigns.
Just look at 2010 NL Rookie Of The Year recipient, Buster Posey. Posey led his team to a World Championship in his first season in the majors, batting .305 with 18 homer and 67 RBIs in only 108 games. Now in 2011, the 24-year old backstop now has his career in jeopardy after shattering his ankle in a collision at home plate with Scott Cousins, leaving him out for the year and questionable if he will ever be a catcher again.
Thought by many to easily take the Rookie Of The Year before the arrival of Posey, Jason Heyward has failed to build on the successes of last year as well. The highly touted prospect set the tone for his 2010 campaign by ripping a 3-run homer to right field, en route to an additional 17 homers and 69 RBIs to take second place in the Rookie Of The Year balloting. Fast forward to 2011, and Heyward has fallen apart, not only batting .224 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs and missing nearly a month due to a shoulder injury, but has lost his job as an everyday starter, sharing time with Jose Constanza.
Pedro Alvarez was shaping up to be one of the most up and coming third baseman in the game, ripping 16 homers and driving in 64 runs in only 95 games played. Now in his sophomore campaign, the 24-year old Dominican native has been bounced around from the MLB back to the minors about 3 times this season due to his pitiful .196 average, 3 homers and 15 RBIs in 56 games! Not to mention, in his most recent callup, the Pirates went 4-17 while Alvarez was on the active roster, putting them out of their first pennant race in nearly 20 years.
Austin Jackson appeared to be becoming one of the top leadoff hitters in the American League in 2010, bating .293 with 181 hits, 103 runs, 48 extra base hits and 27 stolen bases, taking second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. Those numbers have plummeted to an abysmal .242 average with 111 hits, 61 runs, 31 extra base hits and 17 stolen bases.
Stephen Strasburg had the most buzz around him then anyone had seen in generations. His stuff was, and still is, unbelievable and incredible. the 23-year old fireballer went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in only 12 starts! If his strikeouts from 2010 were stretched over a full, 34 start season, we are talking 260 strikeouts. In a devastating turn of events for the Nationals, Strasburg went down with a torn elbow ligament and had to have the infamous Tommy John Surgery, leaving him out for the better part of his sophomore campaign.
Then of course there is Ike Davis, who after holding his own with 19 homers and 72 RBIs in his rookie year, was on pace for a monster season before an unfortunate collision with David Wright left Davis out for the year with a sprained ankle and a bone bruise.
I could go on for days I mean Mike Leake, Ian Desmond, Tyler Colvin, Danny Valencia, Brian Matusz, John Jaso, Roger Bernadina; the list goes on and on.
Yes there are some second year players who have built upon their rookie campaign such as Mike Stanton, Starlin Castro, Gaby Sanchez, Brennan Boesch and David Freese, but the overwhelming number of rookies and top prospects from 2010 that are now struggling mightily in their sophomore campaign is stunning.
I guess there really is something to the “Sophomore Slump”.