Do rookie starters struggle to find the strike zone in their first career starts?
Zack Wheeler’s big-league debut on Tuesday night went well. He held the Braves scoreless over six innings, allowing four hits, striking out seven batters, and showing impressive stuff. The only cause for complaint was that he walked five.
Two major-league teams are bereft of new blood on one side of the ball this season.
I lied to you a little in the title of this post. I did that because I wanted you to click on this article, and I was worried that you wouldn’t if I didn’t embellish a bit. Evidently it worked. So this is where I come clean and tell you that there aren't actually two teams who haven't had a rookie play for them in 2012. But now that you’re here, you might as well keep reading! Because there is something almost as interesting as two teams that haven’t had a rookie play for them: one team that hasn’t had a rookie pitcher play for it, and one team that hasn’t had a rookie non-pitcher play for it. Those teams, unlike the ones in my title, actually exist.
Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
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The 2006 class is a tough one to beat among a strong recent group of rookie classes.
Earlier this week, the folks at Beloit College released their annual MindsetList, a document designed to explain the cultural differences between the incoming class of college freshmen and the older faculty hired to teach them. The idea is to highlight the small and large ways the world has changed in the last 20 years by mentioning things that were true during the life span of oldsters that were never true for those under 20, e.g., the existence of things like a telephone cord, a country called Czechoslovakia, and a baseball commissioner not named Bud. For me, a man who fervently hopes Jamie Moyer comes back next spring to ensure I won’t have to face being older than every major-league ballplayer, this is always a time to reflect on youth and age, both in life and in baseball—especially so this year, since the current Mindset List includes a reference to the term Annus Horribilus, which I happened to use in last year’s BP Annual, but which I now know dates me almost as much as saying “23 Skidoo.”
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Players who set the bar high in their rookie seasons naturally have a harder time meeting expectations as sophomores.
A quick glance at the recent fortunes of last year’s Rookie of the Year hopefuls reveals that bringing home the hardware is far from a guarantor of future success. Of those receiving votes in the American League, victor Andrew Bailey, runner-up Elvis Andrus, and fourth-place finisher Jeff Niemann have used their successful starts as springboards for continued or heightened success. However, 2010 has been less kind to the other AL tyros who earned some November lovin’ from the BBWAA. A mere eight months ago, Rick Porcello was mowing down the Twins in the Metrodome as the Tigers’ season entered overtime; now he finds himself sporting an ERA over five (Skill-Interactive and otherwise). Gordon Beckham and his TAv below the terrible twos (.196, to be precise) have earned Ozzie Guillen’s ire (a distinction sharedbymany), and Brett Anderson, all but christened Cy Youngster prior to the season, may have pitched his last.