There is no good explanation for “sophomore slump”, but it is as real as Mexican jumping beans or Silly Putty. Every year, sophomore slump claims at least one player that everyone assumed was primed for greatness. In 2003 it was Blue Jays 3b Eric Hinske. In 2004 it was Royals SS Angel Berroa. Last year it was A’s 3b Bobby Crosby, though his season was cut in half due to injury.

Let’s take a look at last year’s top three in the NL rookie of the year voting and see how they’re fairing this year:

Jeff Francoeur: So far this season, Francoeur is hitting .194 with 14 RBIs on the road before Thursday, and .313 with 28 RBIs at home. Obviously, this hometown hero is more comfortable in the safe confines of Turner Field. Total, he’s hitting .253 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs and a paltry .271 OBP. Francoeur has struck out 46 times and walked only four times, which is a little silly for a guy with such average power. In his defense, Francoeur plays a solid right field and has an arm like a cannon. Verdict: Francoeur is Sophomore Slumping.

Willie Taveras: The speedy ‘Stros outfielder is hitting .260 with 0 homers, 14 RBIs and 9 stolen bases. That’s pretty lousy, any way you spin it. He plays good defense, but not good enough to make up for his low offensive numbers. Despite only 16 walks, his OBP is a surprisingly high .312. I can’t figure out how that is possible. He’s struck out 40 times, way too high for a guy with no homeruns. Verdict: Taveras is Sophmore Slumping.

Ryan Howard: The reigning rookie of the year’s defense is improving, but let’s not kid ourselves: he’s not in the lineup to catch and throw. The Phils’ firstbaseman is hitting .293 with 21 homers, 53 RBIs and an OBP of .361. He hit a ridiculous 13 homers in May. He’s struck out 60 times, which is high, but not too high a price to pay for his tremendous power. Verdict: Howard is a Sophomore Stud.

4 Responses to “Sophomore Slumping”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    Actually, there is a good explanation for the sophomore slump – the league catches up. When some random rookie has just been called up, nobody is going to pay much attention to him, but once he has established himself as a rising star, opponents will start to study him, watching video, looking for weaknesses, and making adjustments. Hence the sophomore slump. The good sophomores will make counter-adjustments and go on to have good careers. The bad ones will join all those other promising rookie who quickly faded into obscurity.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Wouldn’t it have to be Greg Maddux?

  3. It’s Maddux. I looked this up a couple of weeks ago as Pedro was coming up to 3000Ks. Sometime very soon, both Pedro and Schilling are joining this group of 3000Ks and less than 1000BBs with far better K/BB ratios than Maddux, if you can believe it.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    Hmmm…I guess the trivia sheet I am using is old. And I guess that means that there are two pitchers who have more than 1,000 Ks and less than 1,000 walks. Maddux is one. Can anybody guess the other?

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