MLB: Three Breakout Players That Were a Hoax
Every so often we see players break out in MLB. These players of course were not expected to be such solid contributors, yet find themselves at the MLB mountaintop. However, some of these players turn out to be one-hit wonders. In 2017, these one-hit wonders will certainly be exposed.
I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but not all breakout stars remain outstanding. A great example of this has been the quirky career of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Puig burst onto the scene in 2013, having perhaps one of the greatest months in recent MLB history. Since then, however, Puig has leveled out and while he still provides an interesting dynamic, he is not the same wild horse of old. Of course Puig is very young still and will undoubtedly progress further as he becomes more and more situated with the American style of baseball. However, his breakout rookie season proved to be just a hot streak and a hoax compared to his recent performance.
That begs the question: which breakout stars will regress in 2017? While the popular consensus will likely be outrage, some of these players seem to lack that superstar consistency. Not saying they won’t be great, but as opponents figure them out we will all realize that the breakout was the ceiling of that player’s abilities. It’s not a personal knock on any one player, it is the simple fact that these breakouts are considered breakouts for a reason. We don’t ever talk about Mike Trout‘s “breakout” because he remained amazing and proved to be more than just a breakout talent.
So baseball fans, no hard feelings but some of your favorite players may be on this short list. I am sorry in advance, so let us take a look at three breakout stars who will prove to be a hoax.
Let’s get the most controversial inclusion on this list out of the way first: Gary Sanchez‘s historic rookie performance will prove to be a hoax. Now, before I say anything else, let me say I do think Sanchez will be a great player. He is very young and has tremendous upside to his game. Sanchez will be a good power producer, with his max being 30 home runs. However, trends are showing that as pitchers figured out Sanchez, his numbers took a tremendous dip. While it is true that this is a natural occurrence in the game of baseball, I think an entire season of Gary Sanchez will show us he is not this superstar prodigy we all think he is.
The biggest thing going against Sanchez is how he ended the season after his historic August. In August, Sanchez slugged 11 home runs and 21 runs batted in during a 24-game stretch. He batted .389 and seemed to be the next big thing behind the plate. However, after August we began to see the holes in Sanchez’s game, likely leading to a less dynamic 2017. In 28 games after August, Sanchez’s average dipped to .225. He still slugged nine home runs, albeit in 11 more plate appearances. He struck out 35 times, 14 more than in August. That led to a 10 percent increase in his strikeout rate.
Sanchez’s mellowed-out end to the season proves to be our judging point for 2017. Yes, it is unfair to judge him on one month of performance. On that basis, though, we cannot accept that he is a superstar on just August alone. As the season drags on, Sanchez will realize hitting home runs in the big leagues isn’t as easy as he thought.
Journeyman Rich Hill is a great MLB story to tell. Hill seemed to be a big league bust. With injuries and lack of performance, he saw himself in and out of the big leagues his entire career. As recent as 2015, Hill was pitching in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, hoping for a return to MLB. Fast forward to October of 2016, where we saw Hill throw six shutout innings against the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs. However, that may be the happy ending that Hill gets, as father time is the only unbeaten opponent. Against time, with a history of injuries, Hill’s breakout 2016 will prove to be one lone season.
Hill is one of the most perplexing pitchers in baseball, as he manages to succeed only throwing two primary pitches, a fastball and a curve ball. Hill doesn’t possess much velocity either, as his fastball averages around 90 miles per hour. The thing that has made Hill successful is his ability to change arm slots, differing the flight path of his pitches each time. It is a technique that is most prevalent in wiffle ball, and while it has worked for him now it may not in the future. The true fact of the matter is that Hill will turn 37 in March. While some guys have been successful in their aged years, Hill will not be one of them.
The primary reason for this is outside of 2016 Hill has not done much with his big league career. He has only thrown over 100 innings twice, last season and in 2007. He hasn’t shown the ability to remain consistent and actually produce for a season’s length rather than good spurts here and there. As much as I want Hill to succeed, he will prove to be a dud for the Dodgers. Wasting not only prospects last season, but $48 million over the next three seasons.
The 28-year-old slugger turned out to be a good producer for the Cincinnati Reds. In a time when Cincinnati is transitioning from its stars of old, Duvall seems like the perfect candidate to lead the franchise. After a breakout year that saw Duvall slug 33 home runs and 103 runs batted in, many Reds fans are happy to have him. However, as we so often see with power hitters, Duvall will level out in terms of production. This fall back to earth will certainly happen in 2017.
I can name a good list of power-hitting players that fell back to earth shortly after big seasons. Think of guys like Ryan Howard or Adam Dunn, outside of a few seasons of slugging monster home runs they didn’t do much for their franchises. The power hitters that stick around and contribute are the ones that hit for power with contact. Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez are recent guys to stay at the MLB mountaintop for more than a few seasons. Duvall has more in common with the first two names in this paragraph, which will lead to his eventual downfall.
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Duvall has a staggeringly high strikeout rate, coming in at 27 percent in 2016. His career average is a bit higher, 27.7 percent, and of all qualified batters Duvall has the 11th highest percentage. Sure, there are guys like Kris Bryant and Mike Trout who strike out a good amount, but they maintain a good average because they are pure hitters. Duvall had a .241 average in 2016, good for 128th in the league, tied with -2.7 WAR player Alexei Ramirez. Trends show that Duvall will fade back to normality, proving his breakout year was merely one season of slugging.