The 10 Worst Careers by MLB Rookies of the Year Since 1990
Isn't it a disappointment when a guy comes up and puts on an absolute show in his rookie season but does nothing after?
You know the type—the guys who come up, light up Major League pitching or dominate Major League hitting for a season, and either you never hear from them again or they simply become journeymen.
This is a countdown of the top 10 players who were good enough to win ROY but soon after fell into obscurity.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Dontrelle Willis, Florida Marlins
Where to begin with Dontrelle? Since going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 142 K's, Dontrelle has been a mess. Although he helped Florida win the 2003 World Series and had a spectacular 2005, winning 22 games, he has done nothing since.
Traded to the Tigers in 2008 as part of the mega-deal in which Detroit also acquired Miguel Cabrera, Willis lost his command. From 2006-2009, he has averaged a 5-8 record with a 5.45 ERA and just 85 K's.
Willis is only given an honorable mention, however, because he is still very young, very talented, and has time to turn his career around.
69-60 Record, 4.02 ERA , 792 K's
10. Todd Hollandsworth, Los Angeles Dodgers
In 1996, Todd Hollandsworth became the fifth straight Los Angeles Dodger to win the Rookie of the year award.
They had high hopes for him after he hit 12 HRs with 21 steals. However, Hollandsworth would top that season only once, in 2000, in which he spent half his year in pre-humidor Coors Field.
Hollandsworth became a journeyman outfielder, averaging just 92 games per season, with eight homers and five steals.
.273 BA, 98 HR, 401 RBI, 75 Steals
9. Eric Hinske, Toronto Blue Jays
Eric Hinske looked ready to bloom. He was talked about in Moneyball, he had power to all fields, and he played third and stole double-digit bases on a Toronto team looking for a star to go along with Roy Halladay and Carlos Delgado.
Hinske, however, faltered after that season. From 2003-2008, he averaged just 13 HRs and 52 RBI to go along with just seven steals. He has developed into a journeyman utility outfielder and currently finds himself riding the bench in New York.
He still has some pop in his bat (he hit 20 dingers for the Rays in 2008) but hasn't nearly lived up to his potential, never topping his home run, RBI, batting average, and stolen base totals from his rookie year.
.255 BA, 107 HR, 411 RBI, 60 SB
8. Jason Jennings, Colorado Rockies
In 2002, the Rockies were still five years away from reaching their first World Series, five years away from "Rock-Tober"—but they still had hope.
That hope came from the electric arm of a young righty named Jason Jennings. In 2002, Jennings went 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA and 127 K's in pre-humidor Coors Field. Those were arguably the best numbers ever put up by a Rockies pitcher.
The best thing about it: He was 23.
Jennings would proceed to have four less-than-stellar years in Colorado before going to Houston in 2007.
Since 2003, Jennings has averaged a 6-9 record with a 5.63 ERA and just 83 K's. Although a somewhat serviceable Major League starter, he has never recaptured the glory of 2002.
62-73 Record, 4.93 ERA, 737 K's
7. Scott Williamson, Cincinnati Reds
In 1999, Scott Williamson burst onto the the scene for the Reds. Used as a middle reliever and a closer, Williamson was an All-Star and the Rookie of the Year.
Sporting a 12-7 record with a sparkling 2.41 ERA and 107 K's in just 93.1 innings, he looked like a clear-cut future stud at closer/middle relief.
However, the Reds already had a closer of the future in Danny Graves and were not willing to relinquish the spot to Williamson. He floundered, going 5-8 in 112 innings pitched. From 2000-2007, Williamson averaged a 2-2 record with just 50 K's and a 3.95 ERA.
Who knows what would've happened had injury befallen Graves and Williamson had another shot to close? We'll never know.
28-28 Record, 3.36 ERA, 510 K's
6. Ben Grieve, Oakland Athletics
In 1998, Ben Grieve looked like a future stud. In 2006, Grieve was out of baseball.
How could a player with such promise fall apart that quickly?
Let's go to the tale of the tape. In 1998, Grieve hit 18 HRs with 89 RBI and a .288 average. He would continue to progress, averaging 20 HRs and 83 RBI from '98-'02.
Then, he fell off the face of the Earth. Grieve couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag, averaging 10 HRs and 43 RBI (and that's per 162 games!) between 2003 and 2005. By age 30, he would be out of baseball.
.269 BA, 118 HR, 492 RBI, 24 Steals
5. Angel Berroa, Kansas City Royals
He is just the first Royal to be named, as you will see.
In 2003, there were two big-time rookies competing for the award. One was Yankees outfielder and Japanese import Hideki Matsui. The other was Royals 25-year-old shortstop Angel Berroa.
Berroa won the award after having nearly a 20-20 season. He hit .287 with 17 HRs, 73 RBI, and 21 SBs.
However, a sign of things to come was his 100 strikeouts, not something you usually see from a power/speed shortstop.
Indeed it would be a warning, as Berroa would average just nine HRs, 51 RBI, and seven steals to go along with 101 strikeouts from 2004-2009 (and that's also per 162 games, as opposed to a season average). Just about every other out Berroa has made in his career has been a strikeout (four of 10).
Berroa currently sits on the Yankees bench alongside Eric Hinske, while Matsui is a fan favorite in New York.
.259 BA, 36 HR, 252 RBI, 50 SB, 454 K's
4. Bob Hamelin, Kansas City Royals
Oh, Bob Hamelin. He of the bespectacled face and little teapot-esque stature.
In 1994, he would play just 101 games. However, he would hit 24 HRs with 65 RBI to go along with a .282 average in those games, earning him ROY honors.
From 1995-1998, Hamelin would average just 95 games played per season, averaging 10 HRs with 34 RBI to go along with it.
Hamelin would be out of baseball just four years after being the best freshman in the game. It makes you wonder if Hamelin was lightning in a bottle or talent without the playing time (he did manage 18 HRs with Detroit in 1997).
.246 BA, 67 HR, 209 RBI, 11 SB
3. Bobby Crosby, Oakland Athletics
In 2004, Oakland had a slick-fielding, power-hitting shortstop who they had taken in the first round of the draft in 2001.
In 2005, they had an average defensive shortstop who couldn't muscle a ball out of a Little League park.
The odd thing is, these two players are one and the same: Bobby Crosby.
Just the name conjures up images of wasted potential and makes even the biggest and baddest of what remains of the A's fans cringe.
After hitting 22 HRs with 64 RBI and a .239 average (second highest of his career, sadly), Crosby averaged a mere seven HRs and 37 RBI from 2005-2009 and has never reached a double-digit home run total again.
Oh, and he batted .229, .226, .237, and .204 in 2006, '07, '08, and so far in '09 respectively. It's hard to imagine how a player can come crashing down that hard, that fast.
.237 BA, 58 HR, 253 RBI, 34 SB
2. Pat Listach, Milwaukee Brewers
Pat Listach. What comes to mind when you hear that name?
Probably a light-hitting utility infielder with some speed.
Do you think 1992 AL Rookie of the Year with the Brewers?
Not a chance. But indeed Listach was. He was even 18th in the AL MVP voting (remember, the Brewers were still an AL team at the time).
Listach was never known for his power, hitting just one HR in 1992 and having a career high of three.
However, Listach was a speed demon in '92, stealing a whopping 54 bases to go along with a solid .290 average and a .352 on base percentage. Listach would never replicate that success though.
He would average no HRs, 19 RBI, and 12 steals from 1993-1997 as a utility man (he would play second, shortstop, and third in his career, as well as all three outfield positions).
Listach would never steal more than 25 bases or play in more than 101 games in his career post-ROY, and his career total in steals is barely double his total from his rookie year. It makes you wonder whether he should have won the award at all.
.251 BA, 5 HR, 143 RBI, 116 SB
1. Hideo Nomo, Los Angeles Dodgers
Now, the selection of Nomo as number one is going to be highly disputed, I'm sure, but I'm ready to back it up.
Nomo was probably the most hyped foreign import of all time when he arrived. He did not disappoint the Dodger Stadium faithful in his first season.
He went 13-6 and led the league in strikeouts with an astounding 236. After averaging 14 wins and 234 K's from 1995-1997, Nomo fell off the face of the earth. From 1998-2005, Nomo would average just eight wins and 135 K's.
Nomo had one season (2002, his first year back in LA) that essentially saved face and prolonged his career. But if you take out that season, Nomo would average a 9-11 record with just 142 K's and a 5.18 ERA.
Nomo was a dominant force for four years out of his 11-year career. In the other seven, he was marginal to terrible.
In 2008, after being out of the majors since 2005, he appeared in three games for Kansas City. He gave up nine runs (all earned) in 4.1 innings, struck out just three batters, and was sent down with an 18.69 ERA.
One wonders what would've happened if Nomo had not pitched at all in Japan, where he averaged 16 wins and 240 K's to go along with 3.19 ERA, and instead had played those years in the majors, where he would have thrown considerably fewer innings. Could he have been dominant throughout his career?
He was one of the most highly touted young players ever, yet became nothing more than a marginal career MLB pitcher.
Career Totals (including Japan Stats)
201-155 Record, 3.71 ERA, 3,122 K's