Hello, Chance Sisco; See ya later, Albert Almora

Chance Sisco was a top prospect with the Orioles. (Wikipedia)

The Mets recently welcomed catcher Chance Sisco to the big league roster and bid adieu to struggling outfielder Albert Almora.

Both were once top prospects who have yet to live up to their promise.

Sisco has been in the majors since 2016, slashing .199/.319/.339 in 191 career games. With the Orioles this season, he hit just .154/.247/.185 in 23 games before being selected off waivers by the Mets in June.

But there is a glimmer of hope for Sisco. Despite his offensive struggles, he usually performs well in the minors (never mind his .207 average this year) and was twice selected to the Futures Game.

Encouragingly, he knows how to get on base, posting a career .383 on-base percentage on the farm and, as recently as last season, a .364 mark in the majors.

That bodes well for the 26-year-old, who has yet to enter his prime and who arrives in New York with three .300 seasons in the professional ranks under his belt.

At the very least, he shores up a team’s catching contingent that is in disarray, with starter James McCann batting .240 with an OBP barely over .300, backup Tomas Nido – currently on the Injured List – hitting .231 and career minor leaguer Patrick Mazeika managing a .276 average that is bound to regress.

Albert Almora disappointed with the Mets. (Wikipedia)

Optimally the Mets have caught lightning in a bottle – again, as Brandon Drury certainly fits that description, as well – and perhaps they did. Sisco collected a hit and RBI in his first Mets at-bat.

As for Almora, his tenure with the Mets has been nothing but a complete failure.

Once a sixth overall pick, he was once a wunderkind, making Baseball Prospectus’ and Major League Baseball’s top prospect lists five years in a row – peaking at number 18 on both – and Baseball America’s list thrice, peaking at number 33 there.

And it almost seemed like he’d live up to the hype. In his second big league season, 2017, he hit .298 in 299 at-bats and the next year – his first with significant starting time – he batted .286.

But the wheels fell off the cart.

Then Almora arrived in New York.

And the cart fell apart.

In 47 at-bats with the Mets, he’s batted just .128. His longest hitting streak is one game. He’s gotten a hit in just three of the 39 games he’s played.

Each year, New York keeps at least one struggling outfielder around way too long. In 2020, they let Billy Hamilton, who hit .045, steal 17 games and 22 at-bats from a more deserving player. In 2019, they had Carlos Gomez (89 AB, .198 BA), Keon Broxton (49 AB, .143 BA) and Aaron Altherr (31 AB, .129 BA). In 2018, they brought back former prospect Matt den Dekker and gave him 18 at-bats, just to hit .000. And this year, in addition to Almora, they had Cameron Maybin, who went 1-for-28 (.036 BA).

Trotting the same mediocrity out day after day just breeds the same mediocre results.

New York threw Almora at the wall. He didn’t stick. Time to try something new.

Hey, Mark Payton’s hitting .317 at Syracuse. Give him a shot.

Worst trades in Mets history #1: Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady

Mike Cameron, toward the end of his career. (Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong, at the time this wasn’t a terrible deal. Only in retrospect can we see how much the Mets lost.

Outfielder Mike Cameron, he of great defense, good pop and even better speed, joined the Mets in 2004 and hit 30 home runs that season. In 2005, he was on pace for one of the best years of his career, hitting 12 home runs with 39 RBI and an elevated batting average through 79 games.

Partway through the year, however, he was involved in a terrible outfield collision with Carlos Beltran, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. It was a matter of two center fielders trying for the ball at the same time—Cameron had shifted to right field to accommodate the newly arrived Beltran, but he was a center fielder by trade.

In Cameron, the Mets had damaged goods who might or might not fully recover and a guy who was forced to play out of his natural position. Trading him, and his pretty large contract, seemed like a good idea.

On November 18, 2005, he was sent to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Xavier Nady.

Nady spent less than a full season in New York, hitting .264 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI in 75 games before himself being sent to the Pirates. Granted, he was a big reason the Mets got off to a hot start in 2006—they were 46-29 in games he played—but the brevity of his stay negated much of the impact he had on the club.

Upon leaving the Mets, Cameron averaged 23 home runs, 75 RBI, 81 runs scored and 17 stolen bases per year from 2006 to 2009. He was superior to Nady on defense, quicker on the base paths and possessed greater power. Nady, never a slugger, averaged only 10 home runs and 42 RBI per season from 2007 to 2012.

The Mets traded Cameron, a former All Star centerfielder, for Nady, a marginal starting outfielder, at best. At the time, it seemed like it made sense. But the power of hindsight suggests it didn’t.

Studs and duds, August 11 – August 17

Amazing things can happen when given a sample size of just a few games, and so can total disasters. Let’s see who the studs and duds were from the week of August 11 to August 17.

Teoscar Hernandez, the stud.

Offensive stud:  Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Hernandez has quietly been one of the game’s better sluggers since joining the league in 2016, with a career slugging percentage of .502. The past week shows he is firing on all cylinders in what has been a career year, as he’s collected 12 hits in 25 at-bats for a .480 batting mark. He’s hit 4 home runs – including a grand slam – and driven 10 runs in, while whiffing just 5 times. He has all the makings of a one-year wonder, but let’s enjoy his performance while we can.

Honorable mention: Ozzie Albies (2B, Braves; .344 BA, 4 HR, 2 SB, 11 RBI).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Welcome back from the Injured List, Gavin. Nice job in your return. Two errors, a strikeout and a 0-for-3 showing at the plate. You were a first round pick once, right?

Dishonorable mention: Greg Deichmann (OF, Cubs; .222 BA, 9 AB, 5 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Corbin Burnes (SP, Brewers). Corbin Burnes, you da man. Have you ever thought about becoming a Cy Young winner? This past week, Burnes won both his starts, allowing zero runs in each. In 14 innings, he struck out 18 batters and walked just 2, while allowing only 6 hits. It continues his run of dominance, as this season he is currently 8-4, 2.13 with league-leading K/9 IP, BB/9 IP, K/BB and HR/9 IP ratios of 12.4, 1.6, 7.6 and 0.4, respectively. He’s also leading the league in ERA+ (196) and he made the All-Star team. He finished 6th in Cy Young voting last year – let’s see how close he can get this year.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 1.37 ERA, 13.1 IP, 16 K, 3 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). Somehow Jorge Lopez has survived in the major leagues for six years with a career ERA over 6 and a paltry ERA+ of 75. He’s won 3 games this year, but lost a league-leading 13 – and the past week didn’t improve his line at all. In his lone start, he went just 3 1/3 innings and allowed 9 hits, 2 walks and 2 wild pitches, while surrendering 7 earned runs for the loss. Tick tock, tick tock, his time in the majors might almost be up.

Dishonorable mention: Nick Sandlin (RP, Indians; 1 G, 0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BSV, 1 L).

He can mash, but does he ever score? Players with 10-plus homers and fewer than 20 runs scored.

I recently did a piece on batters with seasons of 10 or more home runs and fewer than 20 RBI. Just eight guys have done it, with designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion the most recent in 2020.

That got me thinking – how many players have hit 10-plus dingers and scored fewer than 20 runs in a season? Would the list be as exclusive as the other one?

Catcher Ernie Lombardi was the first player to have fewer than 20 runs in a season with 10-plus homers. (Wikipedia)

Spoiler alert: It’s not. Thirty-two men have accomplished the feat, with notoriously slow-footed Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi the first to do it. In 1943, the backstop hit .305 with 10 home runs, 51 RBI … and just 19 runs scored. Which makes sense, I guess. When a player is too slow to even leg out doubles (he had 30 or more just once in 17 seasons), then it is reasonable to assume he won’t be sprinting himself past home plate much, either.

The next man to manage the feat was … well … Lombardi. In 1946, he had 12 home runs and 19 runs scored, with just 4 of his 69 hits going for doubles.

Since then, the feat has been generational. It did not happen again until 1953, but that year, three players – including Ted Williams – did it. Then nearly a decade passed before it happened again, in 1962. Then in 1964 and 1969, it happened twice each year.

Catcher Bob Tillman achieved the mark in 1969 and 1970, becoming just the second player to do it twice – with no one managing it more than once since. In addition, he was the only man to do it in the 1970s.

In fact, for a while it was a once-in-a-decade rarity. Outfielder Oscar Gamble did it with the Yankees in 1984, then it didn’t occur again until outfielder Shane Spencer had 10 home runs and 18 runs scored in 1998, also for the Bronx Bombers.

It happened four times in the 2000s, but the feat is disproportionately a product of the 2010s and beyond. Nearly half of its instances occurred after 2010, with it happening four times each in 2019 and 2020.

And three of the four occurrences in 2020 were parts just atrocious seasons. Gary Sanchez batted .147 in 49 games, while Encarnacion hit .157 and Rougned Odor managed a knock in one of every six at-bats, posting a .167 mark. The year before, Jung Ho Kang joined the ranks with a .169 mark and in 2014, Zach Walters batted .181.

True, the feat happens more in seasons of low average and poor performance, but a few batters bucked that trend. When Williams did it, he batted .407 in 37 games, while Spencer hit .373 in 27 games.

Frank Thomas is in the club, too. (Wikipedia)

While seasons with 10-plus homers and fewer than 20 RBI have mostly been accomplished by no-names, membership in the > 10 HR, < 20 R club is more inclusive. For every Manny Jimenez, there is a Frank Thomas; for every Mike Jacobs, there is a Gary Sanchez.

And if a player is a member of the HR/RBI club, then he’ll likely be a member of the HR/R club, as well. Six of the eight names in the former populate the latter – Walters, Curt Casali, David Ross, Todd Greene, Adam Duvall and Encarnacion – with corner infielders Wayne Gross and Randy Ruiz the only exceptions. Casali was the closest to achieving the improbable, as nearly all his runs came off home runs when he did it in 2015. He had 10 dingers and 13 runs scored, meaning just 3 came from sources other than the longball.*

*the record for most runs in a season in which all were scored on home runs is 3, which has happened 16 times, most recently by Matt Davidson in 2020.

Below is a list of all the players who have accomplished the feat.

Jacob deGrom’s downfall was predictable.

Jacob deGrom’s bout with injuries should come as no surprise. (Wikipedia)

I’m a Mets fan, so you’ll see random posts opining on various Mets minutiae.

But not minute is the ballad of Jacob deGrom. The hurler was the least known of the Big Five that was sure to lead the Mets to years of postseason appearances and World Series victories.

Among Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, deGrom wasn’t much of a prospect, and hardly anyone predicted his eventual rise to superstardom.

Baseball works in mysterious ways, of course. Harvey crumbled and is now pitching in the baseball hinterland of Baltimore, having gone 21-36 with a 6.13 ERA since 2017. Syndergaard had one really great year, 2016, earning an All-Star selection by going 14-9, 2.60 with 218 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings – but he’s been hurt, underwhelming or both since, and hasn’t pitched since 2019.

Wheeler wasn’t bad with New York, but he was once a 6th overall pick – yet he pitched no better than a number three starter for much of his Mets tenure. In typical Mets fashion, now that he’s with a division rival, he’s pitching like a Cy Young candidate. And Matz never quite put it all together, sometimes bubbling under greatness before pulling the rug out from underneath our expectations. His Mets career culminated in a 0-5, 9.68 ERA showing in 2020, and the club said sayonara.

Then there’s deGrom, the unassuming 9th round draft pick who didn’t reach Triple A until he was 25, who turned no heads with a middling 4.51 ERA the year before his big league debut, who was already in his age-26 season by the time he pitched for New York.

Yet, he’s the one who became a two-time Cy Young winner. He’s the one who made a bunch of All-Star teams. He’s the one who averages nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings, who has never allowed more than 59 walks in a season, who is the envy of the league.

All that is surprising, sure. But not shocking is his sudden bout with injuries, and – I hate to say it – his impending, inglorious decline. He is a 33-year-old pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball more than any other pitch, at an average speed of nearly 99 miles per hour. The triple digit barrier doesn’t stand in his way, as 100-plus is a frequent occurrence.

All this on an elbow that already had a Tommy John surgery in 2010. All this on an arm that has been pitching professionally for more than a decade. All this on an arm – and a body – that is quickly exiting its physical peak years and entering baseball senescence.  

Jacob deGrom was 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA this season before getting hurt. (Wikipedia)

Can anyone honestly say they didn’t see this coming? Some of the greatest pitchers of our era, when their decline started, fell off rapidly. Johan Santana rattled off nearly a decade of pitching magnificence, just to get hurt, miss a year, and be out of baseball one year after that. Brandon Webb made three All-Star appearances in a row, got hurt, pitched one more game, and was done. Roy Oswalt was humming along, until he wasn’t. After his age-33 season, he was just 4-9 with a 6.80 ERA, and that was it.

Santana collapsed after his age-31 campaign; Webb after age 29, Tim Lincecum after age 27, Roy Halladay after age 33.

deGrom will be no different. His demise is forthcoming, and it won’t be pretty. It won’t be enjoyable. Mets fans will be set to wonder what could have been.

Now, he could mount a late-career comeback. That’s not an impossibility, either. Dennis Martinez had a disastrous swoon, then returned to pitch over 2,000 innings and win 134 games. Swoon, too, did Bartolo Colon, and the legend of Colon is one that will live on in baseball lore for generations. He returned from baseball’s no-man’s land to toss nearly 1,400 frames, win almost 100 more games, and endear himself to sports fans the world over. Even CC Sabathia managed the feat – saving his Hall of Fame chances by doing so – pulling himself from his career’s nadir and tossing nearly 600 more innings.

But Martinez, Colon, Sabathia – sure at points they had passable fastballs, but none of them were flamethrowers. DeGrom is. He throws – or threw, whether he’ll continue remains to be seen – smoke … and the hotter you throw, the quicker you burn out.

Therefore, a crafty deGrom redux, with his injury history, his style of pitching, his advanced age, doesn’t seem likely.*

*But there is hope, still, as Frank Tanana went from throwing fire to tossing junk. But he made the transition in his mid-20s, not his early-to-mid 30s.

What does the future hold for deGrom? We can hope for the best. But a Hall of Fame ending doesn’t seem likely – his seven-year peak from 2015 to this year pretty well mirrors Santana’s from 2002 to 2008. Assuming deGrom returns a shell of his former self, and in the long run I think he will, his fate with Cooperstown will be the same as Santana’s.

Santana received 2.4 percent of the vote in his first and only year of eligibility. A player needs 75 percent to get in.

Appreciate what you have when you have, I guess, because before you know it … it’s gone.

The Crazy Story of Conklyn Meriwether

It was November 20, 1955 in the small Florida town of Tavernier, on the Florida Keys. Conklyn Meriwether was eating his lunch at his in-laws’ home when suddenly he spoke to his son of just seven years evil words that quickly formed into an atrocious act of horror. He arose, walked to his car and grabbed his hatchet. He returned and the bloodbath began.

First, he attacked his brother-in law, Paul Mills, a mere teenager of 16 years. The youth survived the assault, but with a fractured skull and a four-inch gash on his head, neck and arm. He then went after his father-in-law, Paul’s 55-year-old pa, Charles, who initially survived the multiple skull fractures delivered by the crazed lunatic behind the axe—but who would, days later, succumb to his injuries.

Then it was his paralysis-stricken, immobile mother-in-law Ellen Mills’ turn, fearfully stuck in her wheelchair, unable to thwart the steel blows raining down upon her. She was the first to die, perishing instantly.

The attacks eventually ended, with Meriwether throwing the bloodied hatchet into a nearby bush. The officers arrived, finding him pacing back and forth in front of the bungalow in which the crimes took place. He was taken into custody. His wife, Ruth, who along with her three children was with Conklyn when the rampage began, had fled.

***

Before the amnesia-afflicted Conklyn Meriwether brutally murdered his paralyzed, wheelchair-bound mother-in-law and before he smashed his 55-year-old father-in-law’s skull in, and before he tore a gaping wound into his teenaged brother-in-law and even before he said to his seven-year-old son, “now, would you like to see me kill everybody?”, Conklyn Meriwether was a pretty good baseball player.

Though he never played in the major leagues—he appeared on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster in 1946, but did not get into a game—the six-foot, 210-pound future killer held his own against those whom he played. He spent 15 seasons in the minor leagues, including four in the New York Yankees farm system. He hit .307 in his career and displayed great power, slugging 280 home runs—an average of nearly 20 a season.

He could even twirl the pill with great acumen—he started out his career as a pitcher, one who would enter the ballgame doing cartwheels towards the mound—winning as many as 13 games in a season.

In 1951, the 33-year-old slugger walloped 44 home runs, while batting .327. “Conk,” as he was known, hit 33 home runs the next year and 42 the next. Despite his successes, the man was aging—and following the 1954 season, after he tallied 1,463 hits and 268 doubles and a slugging percentage over .550 in his career, Meriwether was out of baseball.

Perhaps he was missing the game especially so on that late-autumn day. Perhaps, the ballplayer-turned-carpenter felt he could still swing a mighty stick, but lacking a bat he reached for the hatchet instead. Or perhaps, the husky Conklyn Wells Meriwether—a crazy name to fit a certifiably crazy man—was just nuts.

After the World War II veteran was taken into custody, investigators and family members and neighbors tried to piece together what just happened.

Though reports conflicted—some claimed Ellen was attacked first, then the father-in-law, then Paul, what unfolded was a murderous tragedy, one in which three people were attacked by an ax-wielding man.

That much they knew. But why? Meriwether’s wife said he was prone to fits of rage. His mental stability was in question.

Despite his potential cerebral disturbance, Meriwether, held without bond, was charged with first-degree murder in the attack on Mrs. Mills and attempted murder in the attack on the other two victims. When Mr. Mills passed, the charges were upped to two counts of first-degree murder. Meriwether waited in the Key West jail for his time in court.

At the behest of his sister, Mae Gibbs, in December 1944 a commission of two doctors and a layman was called to investigate the mental condition of the killer. A sane man could not do what he had done, it was thought. In his mind there was a glitch, an error, a miswiring of the synapses.

A month later, Judge Raymond R. Lord heard the findings. The sanity commission, after examining Meriwether and developing its report on the homicidal man, declared him insane and Lord had him committed to the State Mental Institution at Chattahoochee, warding off a possible death sentence.

The Protestant Conklyn Meriwether was born on July 18, 1918 in Island Grove, Florida. He would gain fame as a star minor league baseball player and infamy as an axe-wielding murderer. The criminally insane man, despite his horrid crimes, fought off the penalty of death and was paroled in 1975. He lived to be 78 years old, dying on August 11, 1996 in Bartow, Florida.

Works Cited

Bedingfield, Gary. “Those Who Served.” Gary Bedingfield’s Baseball in Wartime. Baseball in Wartime, 7 Feb. 2008. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.

“Consider Mental Quark Cause of Tragedy.” The Times-News [Hendersonville] 21 Nov. 1955: Four. Print.

“Ex-Ballplayer Who Allegedly Killed 2 Is Declared Insane.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 19 Jan. 1956, sec. 2: 13. Print.

“Hatchet Killer to Be Examined.” Sarasota Journal 20 Dec. 1955: 2. Print.

“MERIWETHER-L Archives.” Rootsweb. Ancestry.com, 19 Nov. 2006. Web. 12 Feb. 2012.

Pietrusza, David, and John Thorn. Baseball’s Canadian-American League. McFarland, 2005. Google. Web. 10 Feb. 2012.

“2nd Victim of Tragedy on Key Dies.” The Miami Daily News 6 Dec. 1955: 2A. Print.

“Uses Hatchet to Kill His Mother in Law.” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 21 Nov. 1955: 2. Print.

Random autograph of the day: Clint Davis

Davis was a stunningly successful reliever early in his professional career, posting ERAs of 2.22 and 1.94 in his second-and-third seasons, respectively. But it looks like injuries and the higher level of play at Triple A did him in, as he missed a couple seasons and saw his ERA balloon at the upper level. He was a strikeout ace before it was cool, though — with the independent Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in 1995, he averaged over 13 Ks per 9 frames.

The luckless peasant smote the immortal king

Dave Cheadle was a first round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 1970; in 1973, having been traded with others to the Braves for pitcher Pat Dobson, he reached the majors for a cup of coffee.

It did not go well — the 21-year-old made two relief appearances, tossed two innings, and allowed two hits. Fairly harmless, so far, but he also allowed three walks, two of which were intentional, balked once and surrendered a home run.

His career ERA was 18.00.

But there were six outs in those two innings. And one of those outs was a king, one of the greatest of all-time, a holder of a record today perhaps unattainable. This king was immortal, or so it seemed. He spent 24 years in the majors and three more in the minors. Then he managed for three more still.

This king had 4,256 career hits. He scored over 2,100 runs and walked over 1,500 times and he rarely struck out — in nearly 16,000 plate appearances, he whiffed just 1,143 times. That’s once every 14 stops at the dish.

Pete Rose whiffed against the unlikeliest of foes. (Wikipedia)

So this baseball royalty, Pete Rose, should have handled this baseball peon, Dave Cheadle, handily when they met on September 16, 1973, in what was Cheadle’s debut inning. The pitcher already sat down the first batter he faced, Andy Kosco, on a grounder to third. But he was the number nine hitter.

Up stepped Rose. Rose had over 1,000 extra-base hits in his career, and he holds the all-time record for singles. But neither a single, a double, a triple or a home run thundered off his bat. Rose was hit by over 100 pitches in his career, but he did not step into one this time. He had a .375 on-base percentage and knew how to draw a walk — but earn a pass to first he didn’t do here.

Cheadle, whose poor control helped end his professional career prematurely, who was disappointingly middling in the minors, who allowed nearly a hit per inning at that level and more than once walked more batters than he struck out in a season … struck out Pete Rose.

The hit king humbled, Cheadle would pitch just one more major league game after that, and K just one more batter. He spent a few more seasons on the farm, performing poorly, never posting a winning record.

Pete Rose walked away from that game only halfway through his big league career; little did he realize, Cheadle was halfway through his, as well.

Random autograph of the day: Matt Drews

Matt Drews was the Yankees’ 1st round pick in 1993. He might be known as the guy taken between Billy Wagner and Derrek Lee, or the guy taken ahead of Torii Hunter, or perhaps the Yankees’ first round pick the year after they snagged Derek Jeter. Or perhaps, maybe, as the first of many Yankees first round duds in a long line that lasted nearly 15 years. Drews had promise, going 15-7 with a 2.27 ERA in Single A in 1995, but he contracted Steve Blass Syndrome and went 1-14, 5.56 the year after that, then 9-13, 5.59 after that, then 5-17, 6.57 after that, then 2-14, 8.27 after that. Apparently, his big league clubs had faith in his ability through it all, as he spent 5 of his 7 seasons at Triple A. 

He’s a future star! Just look at his first season! (Or, maybe not.)

The one-year wonder is not a rarity. He’s not unique or unusual and, in fact,  some of the most recognizable names in baseball’s history had just one great year.

Joe Charboneau. Kevin Maas. Dontrelle Willis.

Sometimes players who struggled their whole careers suddenly figured it out, putting it all together, for a season at least, until the magic was lost. It took Darin Erstad until his fifth season, 2000, to have his career year, when he hit .355 with 240 hits, 25 home runs and 100 RBI. Then he disappeared.

But what happens when a man’s best year is his first, or at least his first with any substantial playing time? Expectations are set … and dashed. It happened to Charboneau and Maas. Phil Plantier batted .331 in 148 at-bats in 1991, just to hit .243 for his career.

Let’s take a look at a handful of modern guys who came up and impressed the world, just to let us down in succeeding seasons.

Brett Oberholtzer had a 2.76 ERA his rookie year.

This post was inspired by Brett Oberholtzer, who debuted with the Houston Astros in 2013. He was one of the few bright spots on that 111-loss team, going 4-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 13 games (10 starts), completing 2 games and allowing just 13 walks in 71 2/3 innings. His 147 ERA+ was among the best on the team, surpassed by two other pitchers who never lived up to their first year billings, Jarred Cosart and Kevin Chapman.

Though players like J.B. Shuck and David Lough did, Oberholtzer received no votes for the American League Rookie of the Year. But it was a season that should have precluded some fine years ahead.

Should have. It didn’t.

Though he was a mainstay in the Astros rotation in 2014, Oberholtzer went just 5-13 with a 4.39 ERA in 24 appearances. After starting just 8 games the next campaign, he was sent to the Phillies in a substantial offseason trade that returned star closer Ken Giles and young infielder Jonathan Arauz.

By mid-August 2016, the Phillies had shooed him away to the Angels, with whom he finished his career … to the tune of an 8.55 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

Cosart loosely fits the parameters of this piece. He was a 38th round pick who worked his way into multiple top prospect lists, so success was expected of him. And he delivered, briefly.

In 10 starts for Houston in 2013, he went 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA, posting a 208 ERA+ in 60 innings. Though he didn’t live up to his first season’s output, he performed pretty well in 2014, going 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA in 30 starts. It was all downhill after that, however, as he spent just two more seasons in the majors, going 2-9 with a 5.19 ERA and 72 walks in 126 2/3 innings between them. Control issues hampered him throughout his career, as even in his initial campaign, he walked 35 batters to just 33 strikeouts.

And let’s give some press to Chapman, as well. Flash in the pan relievers are pretty common, and quite a few of them have their run of success early in their careers. Chapman was no different.

He made 25 appearances for the ‘stros in 2013, posting a 1.77 ERA and 232 ERA+ in 20 1/3 innings. But like Cosart, if you looked closely enough, the writing was on the wall. Chapman allowed 13 walks, or 5.8 per nine innings, and such wildness does not a successful career make.

The following season, he had a 4.64 mark in 21 games; he made just 3 appearances in 2015, and in 2016, his ERA was 9.00 in 9 games (he allowed 15 hits in 8 innings). And that’s all she wrote for Chapman.

Despite forging a relatively long big league career, pitcher Jerome Williams disappointed after his rookie season. With the Giants in 2003, Williams was 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts. In 131 innings, he allowed just 116 hits and 10 home runs, while completing 2 games and shutting out 1.

Jerome Williams disappointed after a promising rookie season.

Over the next 10 seasons, he won 10 games only once; his ERA dropped below 4.20 just once, as well. If you eliminate his first campaign, Williams was just 45-61 with a 4.78 ERA for his career; remove his first two seasons, and he was a meager 35-54, 4.87.

After collapsing early in his career, Williams disappeared from the majors from 2008 to 2010. Returning with the Nationals in 2011, he played seven more seasons, never regaining his footing. He retired after the 2016 campaign.

As an aside, it’s not a rare name by any means, but there have only been two Jeromes in major league history. The other was Jerome Walton, himself a Rookie of the Year with the Cubs in 1989. Within a few years, Walton was a bench player, hitting just .127 with 55 at-bats in 1992. He eventually rebounded to a degree, batting .303 over the final five seasons of his career, but he averaged just 45 games and 76 at-bats per year during that run.

Lew Ford is one guy who never managed to rebound. He was a 12th round pick by the Twins in 1999 and by 2002, he was hitting .318 with 20 home runs and 28 stolen bases in the minor leagues. That prompted Minnesota to give him a look in 2003, and he did not disappoint. In 73 at-bats, he slashed .329/.402/.575, knocking three home runs – including one off future Hall of Famer C. C. Sabathia.

By 2004, he was a regular in the Twins’ outfield. And with his hot hitting – he batted .299 with, 15 home runs, 20 stolen bases and a .381 on-base percentage – boosting the club, Minnesota finished first in the American League Central, losing to the Yankees in the Division Series.

He returned as a starter in 2005, but his OPS+ fell from 114 to 89; his OPS from .827 to .716. From 2006 on, he batted just .221 in 184 games over three seasons.

Unwilling to let his career go out with a whimper after 2007, he bounced around between Japan, Venezuela, Mexico, the independent leagues and Triple A from 2008 to 2011. He delayed that whimper to 2012, when he reappeared in the majors with the Orioles, hitting .183 in 25 games.

Lew Ford flamed out after a solid first full season.

But there’s more to this story! Ford, at 44 years old, is still playing professionally. Since 2013, he has been a member of the independent Long Island Ducks, missing only 2020. At 41 in 2018, he hit .293 in 468 at-bats and in 2019, his mark was .303 in 77 games. As of this writing, his 2021 batting average is .278.

Heck, there might be time for Ford to redeem himself, yet.

…but that doesn’t seem likely. Too often “future stars” become “past disappointments” and Ford, Oberholtzer and the rest rank among them. But perhaps it’s for the best – maybe it is better to rip that bandage off early, rather than forcing fans to wait … and wait … and wait … for a phenom to produce, though he never does.

Something is better than nothing, even if that something is brief – and it never happens again.