6”9 giant Jeff Niemann suffered his first loss of the season today. After starting the season 6-0, Niemann was tagged for 9 hits and 5 earned runs against the Marlins– who captured the series with a 6-1 win Sunday afternoon. Despite this however Niemann still owns a solid 2.83 ERA and an equally impressive 1.08 WHIP. After a strong rookie year (13-6), Niemann is dodging the notorious sophomore jinx that has plagued so many in the past. On that note, let us take a look at some of the most recent sophomore blunders after amazing rookie seasons.
Eric Hinske broke out of the gates with the Blue Jays in 2002 hitting 24 homeruns and batting .279. His success at the plate earned him the AL Rookie of the Year and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year. To add, the infamous J.P. Riccardi signed Hinske to a five-year deal worth close to $15 million. Hinske’s future was bright and the world was watching as he entered into his sophomore year. It was a lemon. Hinske’s average dropped 36 points to .243 and his homerun production cut in half to 12. Hinske, still playing, has not been able to return to his rookie form. However he has had some success. He’s been in the last three World Series– Red Sox 2007, Rays 2008, and Yankees 2009—primarily as a bench player. Hinske is currently playing for the NL east leading Braves.
Giovany Soto experienced a case of the sophomore slumps. After a brilliant rookie campaign in 2008, suiting a .283 batting average, smacking 23 over the fence and driving in 83, Soto had difficulties replicating his preliminary success. Soto hit just .218 and only managed 11 dingers in his second go around in the majors. Currently Soto is showing a better bat, hitting a modest .266 and 7 home runs for the Cubs.
Gordon Beckham of the Chicago White Sox is currently running the risk of recording a sophomore slump year of his own. In his rookie season Beckham compiled 14 dingers and 63 RBI in just 103 games. At that pace Beckham, a second baseman, would have finished with 22 homeruns and 99 RBI, outstanding numbers for a middle infielder. This year Beckham has only managed one measly homerun, with 14 RBI and a dreadful .206 AVG.
In scrapping for bit of info on why sophomores tend to slump, I stumbled upon an article by Aaron Gleeman. Gleeman punched in the numbers and discovered “sixty-four percent of the Rookie of the Year winners declined in their second season and just 32.5% improved”. It makes you wonder if rookies tend to slack during the off-season or if it really is some mystical curse.
About the Author
Written by Charlie Crabb
Charlie Crabb is currently studying journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Crabb is also a pitcher for an elite baseball travel team known as the Ottawa Knights, who play -with success- in tournaments all over North America. His current goals are to graduate and play ball at a professional level.