Often in the MLB, players take a step backwards after excelling in their rookie seasons. Teams have video of their swings or their tendencies on the mound, and are able to better exploit their weaknesses. These players need to make adjustments in order to maintain their rookie success. Here are some of the second year players who have started 2014 in a sophomore slump.
While the Indians were very careful with Danny Salazar’s innings last season, he showed he had the stuff to be a legitimate star by earning a call-up over AAA teammate Trevor Bauer and instantly finding success. Last season Salazar commanded the strike-zone averaging 2.6 walks per nine innings, while striking out 11.3 per nine. This season in is first three starts he has not shown that same command. He has already walked eight batters in 14 innings (an average of 5.1 per nine innings) and has an ERA of 7.71. He has also struggled to keep the ball in the park, allowing four homeruns in 14 innings of work. While it is just a small sample size, fangraphs shows that his average fastball velocity is two miles per hour slower this year. If he can keep the ball in the park and pound the strike-zone consistently, he has all the tools to turn his season around quickly.
In last season’s call-up, Jarred Cosart showed that he is one of the future cornerstones of the Astros rotation. While he went just 1-1 in ten starts, his was nearly unhittable with a 1.95 ERA. This year, Cosart has had two bonafide starts against the Yankees and Rangers and which balances out two hideous starts against the Angels and A’s. During his fourth start of the season against the A’s, Cosart lasted just one-third of an inning, allowing seven runs on three hits and four walks. If he is going to be one of the pitchers counted on in the Astros’ rebuild he needs to find the consistency to provide quality starts each time out.
When given an opportunity to play full-time last season, Khris Davis showed impressive power that rivaled some of the league’s best sluggers. This season, Davis has gotten off to a slow start. He opened the year hitless in his first three games against the Atlanta Braves. In 55 at-bats, Davis has produced just 13 hits and zero homeruns with a .236 batting average. Playing under the pressure of replacing Nori Aoki, Davis has pressed at the plate and swung at many pitches outside of the zone. Throughout his minor league career Davis was a consistent slugger. He needs to relax and look for good pitches to drive to return to form.
The 2013 AL Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers, has gotten off to a rough start with the Rays this season. Last year, after his June call-up Myers became a force in the Rays lineup pounding 15 homeruns and driving in 53 runs. This season he has already struck out 17 times while batting just .228. Myers went three for five in a game against the Yankees on April 18th and there is hope that this night may get him jumpstarted.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference