New York Yankees Shane Spencer: The Star that Never Was

For a month, Shane Spencer looked like a future star for the New York Yankees. Instead, he flamed out, becoming a part time player and making his last appearance in the Majors just six years later.

Towards the end of the 1998 season, Shane Spencer looked like a future star for the New York Yankees. He actually struggled in his first two stints in the Majors, and excluding his August 7th explosion where he was 5-5 with two doubles and two home runs, only had four hits in 24 at bats. Then, when he came back in September, Spencer looked like the second coming of Babe Ruth.

In just 14 games, of which nine were starts, Spencer had quite the impressive month. He had a .421/.476/.1.105 batting line, hitting eight home runs and driving in 21 runs in 48 plate appearances. He continued that torrid hitting into the American League Division Series against the Rangers, hitting two home runs in his two games of action. Spencer appeared as though he would become the next Yankees star, set to take his place beside the Core Four.

Instead, Spencer essentially became another Kevin Maas. He would have a six year Major League career, and would never have another OPS+ above 100 in his career. Spencer did have two more seasons with double digit home runs, but his struggles against righties left him on the short side of a platoon.

Spencer also became a bit of a vagabond towards the end of his Major League career. he became a free agent after the 2002 season, and signed with the Indians. Cleveland traded him to the Rangers for Ryan Ludwick. A free agent after the season, Spencer signed with the Mets, to be released on August 6. Although he did resign with the Yankees a couple of weeks later, Spencer never appeared in a Major League game again.

At 33 years old, Spencer headed to Japan, but his game had deserted him. In two seasons, he only hit at a .237/.308/.409 clip with 15 home runs in 428 plate appearances. Released by the Hanshin Tigers, Spencer’s career was over at just 34 years old.

Today, Spencer turns 45 years old. he will forever be remembered for his great month in his rookie season, where he appeared destined to become a future star. Instead, he became one of the many players who ended up being a cautionary tale when it comes to prospects and hot starts.

Shane Spencer appeared as though he was destined for stardom after a stellar September. Instead of becoming a part of a Fabulous Five for the New York Yankees, he was a solid platoon player, but was unable to reach those lofty heights again.

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