Friday, August 28, 2015

Top Rookies Who Quickly Faded (1980-1999)

Joe Charboneau- Indians
"Super Joe" was a breath of fresh air for the struggling Indians, hitting .289 with 23 homers and 87 RBIs in his debut. During spring training the following year, he was injured executing a headfirst slide. He was limited to 70 appearances in '81/'82 and, though he underwent surgery, he never returned to his prior form. He continued in the minors through 1984.

Steve Howe- Dodgers
Howe claimed the second in a line of four consecutive Rookie of the Year Awards given to Dodger players. He saved 17 games and won 7 more in 1980 while compiling a 2.66 ERA. Though he had a handful of decent seasons after that, he became infamous for his alcohol and cocaine use. During his twelve years in the  majors, Howe was suspended seven times. In 1992 he received a lifetime ban, which was overturned by his arbitrator. Out of the majors after '96, he died in a 2006 car accident.

Jerome Walton- Cubs
Great things were expected of Walton after his rookie campaign, in which he hit .293 with 46 RBIs while helping the Cubs to a division title. Perennially injured, he never matched those numbers in any other season. Though he appeared in 123 games in 1991, he managed a feeble .219 batting average. Aside from the '95 slate, he logged fewer than 100 at-bats every year from 1992-1998.

Pat Listach- Brewers
Primarily a shortstop, the speedy Listach was handy at second base and in the outfield as well. In his rookie season of '92, he stole 54 bases in 149 games. Multiple injuries limited him to no more than 101 appearances per year over the next five seasons. In 1996, the Brewers tried to trade him to the Yankees, but ended up sending pitcher Ricky Bones to New York in compensation when Listach failed to get into a single game due to injury. 

Bob Hamelin- Royals
 Hamelin had a promising first year with the Royals, smashing 24 homers with 65 RBIs in 101 games. But he never realized his potential. Slow afoot and below average defensively, he served mostly as a designated hitter over the next four seasons. He was out of the majors by the end of the '98 campaign.

Todd Hollandsworth- Dodgers
Though Hollandsworth hung around the majors for more than a decade, he couldn't match the success of his 1996 effort, when he was honored as the NL's top rookie with a .291 batting average, 42 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases. The Dodgers eventually gave up on him in 2000, shipping him to Colorado. Hollandsworth would spend time with six more teams before retiring. He was property of multiple clubs during four of his twelve major league seasons.

Kerry Wood- Cubs
 Wood is considered one of the top strikeout artists in baseball history with a lifetime average of 10.3 K's per 9 innings. In his fifth major league start, he fanned 20 batters in a game--a record matched twice by Roger Clemens. The injuries began to pile up immediately following Wood's Rookie of the Year effort. He sat out the entire '99 slate with arm difficulties and ended up missing significant playing time in all but two seasons between 2000 and 2006. In '07, he was assigned to the bullpen. Though it lengthened his career, he never led the league in any major statistical category for relievers. He appeared in his last game during the 2012 slate.

Scott Williamson- Reds
This right-hander was a workhorse for Cincinnati in his rookie season of '99, winning 12 games and saving 19 with a handsome 2.41 ERA. The Reds hung onto him until July of 2003, when it became evident that he was not developing into a star. He was a major contributor for the Red Sox during the 2003 ALDS and ALCS, but faded back into obscurity immediately afterward. Though he entered 103 games between 2004 and 2007, he was credited with just 3 wins and a save. His ERA was an unwieldy 5.42 in that span.  In 2011, he put his World Series ring up for sale.

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