Every season, there are a number of September call-ups who offer false hope with a strong performance over the final month of the season. However, the prospects who build upon their early success en route to superstardom in the major leagues is incredibly rare.
Typically, a player’s first exposure in the Show (and occasionally the postseason, as well) may be regarded as the high point in their career.
For example, most of us remember former Yankees’ outfielder Shane Spencer, who seemingly became an overnight sensation thanks to an amazing overall performance in September of 1998.
Having played in 13 games earlier in the year while bouncing back-and-forth between Triple-A, the 26-year-old had a historically-good September. Spencer batted .421/.476/1.105 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in 14 games while playing both corner outfield positions for the Yankees.
His success carried over into the postseason, as well, where he batted .263 and launched two more home runs against the Rangers in the ALDS.
Needless to say, fans had exceptionally high hopes for Spencer headed into the 1999 season. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, he never came close to matching his September production, batting .262/.326/.428 with 59 home runs in 538 regular-season games.
Spencer’s best statistical season came in 2001 with the Yankees when he batted .258/.315/.428 with 14 doubles, 10 home runs, 46 RBI and 58 strikeouts in 80 games, which translated to a 1.9 WAR.
As I mentioned before, Spencer’s 1998 performance is a perfect example of how a September call-up’s production can be horribly misleading. While part of it can surely be attributed to luck, the rest is a matter of subjectivity and perception.
Here are five reasons to be weary of strong performances by September call-ups.