Being named Rookie of the Year is almost like getting a stamp of approval saying that you are on your way to becoming a bona fide superstar. The naming of a Rookie of the Year is usually well disputed and argued about by people like me when someone like Angel Berroa is chosen over Hideki Matsui. Now, of course, there is no guarantee the selected player will become a superstar but it’s still fun to rip the decisions, especially when Bobby Crosby is one of them. So here is a round-up, I’ll keep it to the last 20 years, of players that didn’t live up to their Rookie of the Year expectations.
Pat Listach: Listach was called to the big leagues by the Brewers in the beginning of the 1991 season. Pat swiped 54 stolen bases and that earned him a Rookie of the Year award probably because the Brewers made the playoffs that year with his help. After that he didn’t contribute much and ended his playing career in 1997 with the Astros. Highlight of his career was getting traded to the Yankees only to be returned like an ugly sweater to Wal-Mart the day after Christmas to a woman behind the counter wearing the same one and you don’t have the heart to tell her why you think it’s so ugly.
Bob Hamelin: Any time a rookie can break into the league and hit 24 home runs there is going to be some buzz. Hamelin did just that and won Rookie of the Year awards in 1994, he didn’t live up to the hype of his rookie year, mostly because of injuries to his legs and a developing eye problem that kept him from the game.
Kazuhiro Sasaki: Despite pretty decent MLB numbers Kazuhiro only spent a few years in the major leagues which qualifies him for this post, in my eyes. He was a big part of a steady Mariners bullpen in the early 2000’s and was named Rookie of the Year in 2000. Longing to be back with his family was cited as the reason he left the Mariners. Other rumors were that he was having multiple affairs which was a big no-no with Mariner Moose. These rumors were probably true, he cheated on his wife and got his mistress pregnant while back in Japan.
Angel Berroa: This shouldn’t be a shocker considering my intro into this article. Angel had an extremely impressive rookie year and that was pretty much it. After the 2003 season Berroa’s playing slid down faster than Lindsay Lohan’s sanity and sobriety. Eventually the Royals had enough and sent him packing, after short stints with the Dodgers, Yankees and Mets, Angel is still playing ball but now it’s apparently soccer where he can’t use his hands to field the ball which is a good thing because he was a miserable fielder.
Bobby Crosby: There is some kind of pride in being named Rookie of the Year with the lowest batting average in the awards history. Bobby will always have that as batting .239 is really nothing to be proud of. His MLB career was a short one as guys who can, pretty much, only hit home runs usually don’t have lucrative and lengthy careers unless their name is Adam Dunn and they hit 40 homers a year. Bobby, thanks for giving us something to look for in a Rookie of the Year as a hitter, an average that doesn’t reflect that of a backup catcher or really good hitting pitcher.
Since Bobby the AL Rookie of the Year has been pretty consistent with players who, at least, still play the game. Of course there is still time for these guys to join the list, Verlander was named Rookie of the Year in 2006 and what has he done?
Before I get into the NL I have to admit I expected the AL to have a lot more busts but JEEZ this list is pretty good too. Jason Jennings? Really?!!
Scott Williamson: Williamson came to the pros on fire and earned himself a spot on the All-Star Team and eventually Rookie of the Year honors. An impressive example of how fast you can climb through the minors, making only 5 appearances, Williamson made an immediate impact for the Reds. Impressive numbers would’ve kept him in the majors but injuries held him back and eventually made him a journeyman around the league. Williamson was also the first Rookie of the Year for the Reds since Chris Sabo won the award in 1988, we should learn for history as those two are prime examples why Reds shouldn’t be named as Rookie of the Year.
Jason Jennings: Coming out of college Jason appeared to be the jack of all trade and a player that every team would be gunning for. He was an all around baseball player who could pitch and hit. His calling in the majors would be because of his pitching abilities and right out of the gate he showed promise throwing a complete game shutout in his first game, along with a home run. After his rookie year his numbers deteriorated, except for 2006 where his potential shined, and he bounced around from team to team never completely blossoming into the player everyone expected him to become.
Dontrelle Willis: Some people may scratch their heads at this one, mostly because he did have success in the major leagues. Yes Dontrelle was an elite pitcher for quite some time, however we can’t forget that he also fell apart, seemingly, out of no where. His best years were hands down with the Florida Marlins, where he won Rookie of the Year and a World Series in the same year, and he had sub-par years with the Tigers who expected him to bring his solid performance and stamina to a rebuilding team. D-Train, as he was known, came off the tracks and unfortunately for us we will never see that ridiculously weird pitching motion again.
Jason Bay: If he was still playing in Pittsburgh, or maybe even the Red Sox, he probably wouldn’t be on this list but now he’s with the Mets so it’s clear why he is here. In Pittsburgh Bay was an unbelievable talent, hitting for power, having incredible wheels and even making the occasional web-gem worthy play in the outfield. His huge numbers got him a big contract from the Sox where he did okay before signing with the Mets. After joining the Mets he inexplicably dropped in his production and fielding abilities. Many will blame the bigger ball park, some will blame the lackluster lineup but it doesn’t matter, the guy just flat out can’t play any more.
Geovany Soto: Bursting onto the scene in Chicago was Geovany Soto, a husky catcher with a ton of pop in his bat and hitting in a order that could help me develop into a big time star. After his rookie season Soto’s production wavered and then has pretty much declined from there. Being a decent backstop has kept him in the game, he can also hit the ball out still which provides him with some value for some teams. He’s now with the Texas Rangers only because they don’t want to lose Napoli’s bat to injury behind the plate. Sorry Soto but now you’re more stuntman protecting a better player than an actual player yourself.
Chris Coghlan: This guy is a pretty good head scratcher. Yeah most players have a sophomore slump but not one that will blacklist them from the major leagues. Coghlan came to the Marlins in 2009 and seemed to be their saving grace. He hit his way to Rookie of the Year honors and was sure to be a fixture in their lineup for years to come, until he stopped hitting. Since 2009 Coghlan has been up and down to the minors and hasn’t seen playing time since June 2012, which isn’t bad but it was only because a guy got hurt. It’s still young in his career and maybe the minors will help him out but for now he’s there and got replaced by Scott Cousins!
Of course there could be more, who knows maybe Mike Trout or Bryce Harper will end up on this list, only time will tell.