Sophomore Slump: Truth or Cliche

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Sophomore Slump: Truth or Cliche
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In MLB, a sophomore slump, also refer to as sophomore jinx, is identified when a player is not able to live up to the standards set by their rookie season. 

Reasons to blame for the "slump" may be injury or lack of adjustments.

Pitchers seem to be more likely to regress because of fatigue. The innings pitched in their rookie season may have dramatically surpassed the prior season; think of the "Verducci Effect".

A young hitter will have to succeed by making adjustments. As the league sees the player, more videos and scouting reports will be available. Success will be determined on how fast the hitter adjusts to the new pitches being thrown and the location.

But is this term overused by many or is this cliche warranted?

Are players susceptible to this "jinx?

To answer these questions, I reviewed the second year seasons of the top 90 rookies to enter the Major Leagues since 1995.

The number of players identified to have struggle in their season was 20 (or 22%). Approximately 50 players had similar seasons as their rookie campaign with the remaining 20 surpassing their first year totals.

Surprisingly the split was almost even between hitters and pitchers.

The 11 pitchers identified were:

 

1. Livan Hernandez (1998)

2. Jason Dickson (1998)

3. Kerry Wood (1999)

4. Rolando Arroyo (1999)

5. Jeff Zimmerman (2000)

6. Rick Ankiel (2001)

7. Rodrigo Lopez (2003)

8. Shingo Takatsu (2005)

9. Josh Johnson (2007)

10. JA Happ (2010)

11. Rick Porcello (2010)

What Was Identified:

Wood, Ankiel, Johnson, and Happ were injured in their second season. Probably due to being overused.

Josh Johnson is the only pitcher to fully bounce back to become an All-Star.

 

The nine hitters to make the list were:

1. Quilvio Veras (1996)

2. Todd Hollandsworth (1997)

3. Jose Cruz Jr (1998)

4. Travis Lee (1999)

5. Warren Morris (2000)

6. Bobby Crosby (2005)

7. Troy Tulowitzki (2008)

8. Geovany Soto (2009)

9. Chris Coghlan (2010)

 

What Was Identified:

Hollandsworth, Crosby, Soto, and Coghlan join Kerry Wood as the ROY winners to make this list.

As basically all bounced back to have productive years, Morris is identified as a "One Hit Wonder". He is the one player who didn't. Will Coghlan, Happ and Porcello join Morris.

Tulowitzki has bounced from his 2008 season to become the best shortstop in baseball.

The results of this review proves that an average of one top rookie suffers the "jinx". So it proves that the label "sophomore slumps" may be a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason. 

The question that everyone should be asking, especially fantasy baseball owners, who will suffer the "slump" next year out this year's rookie crop?

 

 

 

 

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