Last year eight players received votes for the American League Rookie of the Year. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was voted the league’s best rookie for the 2011 season.
So how have those eight players performed this season? With the dreaded “sophomore jinx” hovering over their heads, which of these eight AL players are ”beating the sophomore jinx,” which ones are “losing to the sophomore jinx,” and for which players is it “too early to tell.”
Following is a summary of each players’ 2012 season and my take on their battle with the “sophomore jinx.”
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay (2011 AL Rookie of the Year): Hellickson was 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in his award-winning season. This year, he has a 4-6 record and an ERA of 3.55. His WHIP has increased from 1.15 to 1.35. He has spent time on the DL this year with fatigue in his right shoulder. The righty is 0-4 in his last five starts with a 6.29 ERA. He has also been mentioned in some trade talks, as MLB Trade Rumors reports. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Losing to the sophomore jinx.
Mark Trumbo, L.A. Angels (runner-up): Trumbo hit .254 with 29 HR and 87 RBI last season. This year he already has 27 home runs and 66 RBI (on pace to drive in 113 for the season) and a batting average of .302. He leads the AL in slugging percentage and was an all-star selection. He has been a big factor in the Angels success this season. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Beating the sophomore jinx.
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City (3rd place): Last season Hosmer hit .293 with 19 HR and 78 RBI. To this point in the 2012 season, most of his numbers are down from last year: average down to .233, on base percentage and slugging percentage down. His power numbers are on pace to match last year. There’s still time for him to get his average up. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Too early to tell.
Ivan Nova, N.Y. Yankees (4th place): The Yankees hurler was 16-4 last year with a 3.70 ERA. He is 10-4 this season with a 4.10 ERA. Most of his numbers are comparable to how he pitched last season. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Beating the sophomore jinx.
Michael Pineda, Seattle (5th place): After finishing fifth in the AL ROY balloting last season, Pineda was traded to the Yankees. He went on the DL at the end of spring training due to tendinitis in his right shoulder and eventually underwent surgery in May. He will be out for the 2012 season. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Lost to the sophomore jinx.
Dustin Ackley, Seattle (6th place): The Mariners second baseman hit .273 last year in 90 games. His 2012 season games is at about the number he played in his rookie year, and most of his numbers are down; his average is .224, on base percentage and slugging percentage are also down. Has had a brutal July, hitting only .149. The season is starting to get away from him. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Losing the sophomore jinx.
Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay (tied for 7th place): The Rays outfielder hit .259 with 10 HRs in 63 games last year. His current average is around .240 and his other numbers are behind last year’s. He spent time on the DL this season, but a recent 6-for-18 stretch in his last five games may signal a turnaround to his season. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Too early to tell.
Jordan Walden, L.A. Angels (tied for 7th place): Walden was 5-5 with 32 saves and a 2.98 ERA in his rookie year. This year he is 2-2 with one save and a 3.86 ERA. His WHIP is up to 1.57 from last year’s 1.24. He lost his closer role in April after some early season struggles with his command. Right now he is on the DL with a strain in his right bicep. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Losing the sophomore jinx.
Tomorrow: A look at the 2011 National League ROY finalists and how they are doing against the sophomore jinx.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp