2007, Andruw Jones: Jones rang up 26 homers and 94 RBIs last season, and though those are solid totals, they fell well short of the 41 jacks and 129 RBIs he posted the in 2006. His batting average plummeted to an atrocious .222, the third-worst mark among qualified players. Many owners stuck with the former Most Valuable Player candidate for most of the season, clinging to the hope that he would get hot while playing for a new contract. Instead, Jones wound up with one of the worst walk seasons in recent memory, leaving his unlucky owners out to dry.
2006, Derrick Turnbow: Turnbow was one of baseball's most pleasant surprises in 2005, then followed up his breakout season with an atrocious encore. Through the first three months of 2006, Turnbow was having a decent season, putting up a 3.28 ERA to go along with 23 saves. Then, before July was out, his ERA hit the 6.00 mark, and the Brewers handed his closer job to the newly acquired Francisco Cordero. Turnbow finished with a 6.87 ERA, 24 saves and a 1.69 WHIP, a year after he had 39 saves, a 1.74 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.
2005, Corey Patterson: After Patterson's 24-homer, 32-steal season in 2004, people were expecting him to be a 30-30 guy for the next decade. Two months into 2005, he was hitting .278 with 10 homers. Then came a .157, no-homer month, followed by five weeks in the Minors, followed by a .167, one-homer month, and capped by a .182 average and just one homer in September/October. Patterson ended the season with a .215 average and only 13 homers (.175 with two homers after the All-Star break). Ignored by so many owners on draft day, Patterson got even by stealing 45 bases and batting a respectable .276 in 2006.
2004, Javier Vazquez: When Vazquez was dealt to the Yankees in 2004, he was touted among the favorites to win the American League Cy Young Award. Many assumed that with the Yankees' offense behind him, Vazquez would win 20 games and continue to post solid ERA and strikeout numbers. While Vazquez did manage 14 wins, his strikeout total dropped from 240 to 151 and his ERA climbed from 3.24 to 4.91. Most of the damage came after the All-Star break, as Vazquez's second-half ERA came in at an ugly 6.92.
2003, Pat Burrell: Burrell was on the verge of becoming a bona fide superstar when the bottom fell out in 2003. A year after going .282-37-116, Pat the Bat barely hit .200, hit only 21 homers and saw his RBI total drop by 52 (64 RBIs). No player in baseball who qualified for the batting title had a lower average than Burrell's .209 mark. In fact, his average was 16 points lower than the next-closest contenders, Jose Hernandez and Ramon Santiago.
2002, Chan Ho Park: Some suspected that Park's numbers would take a hit when he left the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine for Arlington, but few knew that his days as a solid big-league pitcher were over. After consecutive 200-strikeout, sub-3.50 ERA, 15-plus-win seasons, Park fell apart in Texas, posting a 5.75 ERA, winning only nine games and fanning 121 batters. In 2003, things got much worse: Park's ERA rose to 7.58 and he won one game all season.
2001, Darin Erstad: When your batting average drops 97 points in one season, your homer total plummets from 25 to nine, and you only knock in 63 runs a year after reaching 100 RBIs, you pretty much earn an automatic bid to this list. Erstad never came close to replicating his career year of 2000 and has not hit more than 10 homers in any season since.
|After a brilliant 1999 campaign, Jose Lima, then of the Astros, experienced one of the biggest drop-offs a pitcher has had.|
2000, Jose Lima: Few players have ever killed fantasy owners' ERAs and WHIPs the way Lima did in 2000. To sum it up: 21-10, 3.58 ERA in '99, 7-16, 6.65 ERA in 2000. Doesn't get much worse than that.
1999, Tom Glavine: This was the toughest year to find a player who totally crashed. So despite not-so-terrible numbers, Glavine took the crown. The future Hall of Famer was coming off a season in which captured his second Cy Young Award by going 20-6 with a 2.47 ERA. Those numbers were nothing new to Glavine, who was one of the most successful pitchers of the decade. But '99 was a different story, as the seven-time All-Star endured one of the worst years of his career. His numbers weren't even that bad (14-11, 4.12 ERA), just far below Glavine's standards. Though he finished the season with 25 more hits than innings pitched, Glavine rebounded in 2000, winning 20 games for the fifth time in his career.
1998, Mark Wohlers: One of baseball's top closers from 1995-97, Wohlers simply forgot how to throw strikes in '98. He walked 33 batters in 20 1/3 innings and notched only eight saves after saving 97 games over the previous three seasons. His ERA skyrocketed from 3.50 to 10.18, and his WHIP was over 2.50. Four years later in 2002, Wohlers saw his career came to an end as a member of the Indians.
1997, Brady Anderson: No one in the world expected Brady Anderson to hit 50 home runs in 1996, so when it came time to draft the following season, many fantasy owners were wary of the sideburned outfielder. Anderson had never hit more than 21 home runs in a season prior to '96, but no one expected him to hit only 18 in '97. His 32-homer drop ranks among the largest falloffs in Major League history.
1996, Jim Abbott: Abbott was a solid pitcher during the first half of the 90s before having one of the worst years by a Major League starter. In '96, Abbott led the AL with 18 losses and won only two games. His ERA more than doubled from the previous season (3.70 vs. 7.48), and he walked 78 with only 58 strikeouts. Amazingly enough, the Angels kept giving Abbott the ball throughout the season.
|Massive Sophomore Slump Vol. 1: Bob Hamelin won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1994, but suffered a brutal 1995 campaign.|
1995, Bob Hamelin: There is an excellent chance that anyone who drafted Hamelin in '95 is no longer playing fantasy baseball. The experience of having to digest Hamelin's .168 average, seven home runs and 25 RBIs was enough for any fantasy owner to hang it up. The year before, Hamelin was the AL Rookie of the Year with a .282 average, 24 home runs and 65 RBIs in only 312 at-bats. Royals fans were anticipating 40-50 home runs a year for the next decade. What they got was 16 home runs over the next two years -- and chants of "Bring Back Balboni."
1994, Terry Mulholland: The Yankees acquired Mulholland following his 12-9, 3.25-ERA campaign with the Phillies in '93. Mulholland helped Philly to its first pennant in 10 years and was expected to become an integral part of Buck Showalter's rotation in '94. It didn't happen. Mulholland bombed in the Bronx, going 6-7 with an atrocious 6.49 ERA. He gave up 30 more hits than innings pitched and allowed 24 gopher balls over 120 2/3 innings.
1993, Pat Listach: Listach swiped 54 bases, scored 93 runs and hit .290 for the Brew Crew in '92, on his way to beating Kenny Lofton for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. That turned out to be his first and last hurrah. Listach slumped to a .244 average the following season, and was out of the Majors by the end of '97. That prediction was slightly off. Listach stole only 62 bases over the rest of his career, which ended in 1997. In '93, he had just 18 steals and was a major bust at ballparks around the country.
1992, Cal Ripken: Ripken followed up a memorable season with his worst offensive output of his career. His numbers in '91 (.323-34-114) helped him earn his second career MVP. But in '92, Ripken was anything but valuable to fantasy owners. A 72-point dropoff in batting average, a meager 14 homers and 42 fewer RBIs than he rung up in '91 had many baseball writers questioning if it was time for Ripken to take a day off.
1991, Dave Stewart & Bob Welch:
The only '90s luminaries to fall harder from one year to the next were Milli Vanilli. Stewart and Welch combined for 49 wins in 1990 (Stewart 22, Welch 27), leading Oakland to its third straight AL pennant. Welch won the Cy Young Award and Stewart threw a league-leading 11 complete games. So what happened in '91? Stewart's ERA more than doubled, from 2.56 to 5.18, and his win total got sliced in half. Meanwhile, Welch's record fell from 27-6 to 12-13, his ERA ballooned from 2.95 to 4.58, and he rung up only 101 strikeouts against 91 walks.
1990, Jeff Ballard & Mark Davis:
If ever two people deserved to share an award, this would be the one. Both players went from being so good to so bad so fast that leaving either of them off would have been an injustice. Just the sight of these names makes 1990 fantasy owners quiver. Ballard: 18 wins in '89, two in '90. Davis: 44 saves and the Cy Young in '89, six saves and the end of his career as a closer in '90. Not even WWE wrestlers turn from good to bad that fast. Ballard's ERA jumped a point and a half, Davis' from 1.85 to 5.11.
1989, Andy Van Slyke: Danny Jackson and Jack Morris received heavy consideration for the '89 title, but Van Slyke came out on top. In '88, he ranked seventh in the NL with 25 homers and third in RBIs with 100 (only 11 players tallied 100 RBIs in '88, compared to 51 in 2000). Van Slyke scored 101 runs, stole 30 bases and slugged .506, so fantasy owners put a lot of cash on the table to acquire Van Slyke prior to the '89 season. That turned out to be almost as bad an investment as buying a few hundred Gregg Jefferies rookie cards. Van Slyke's numbers dropped significantly in every category -- with the exception of hit by pitches. He bounced back and had four productive seasons from 1990-93, but .237-9-53 with 16 stolen bases just didn't cut it in '89.
1988, Larry Sheets: There are probably 100 players worthy of this spot because almost no big-league player duplicated his '87 performance, but Sheets winds up taking the cake. In '87, Sheets had the ultimate career year following two seasons of platoon duty, hitting .316 with 31 taters and 94 RBIs. Fantasy players who predicted more success for Sheets in '88 couldn't have been more wrong. The numbers: .230-10-47. The result: Sheets' career came to a screeching halt, and he was out of baseball soon afterward.
1987, Gary Pettis:
In 1987, everybody -- including Wade Boggs -- became a power hitter. Many Major Leaguers had career years, but not all of them. Pettis was one of the unlucky few. The speedy Angels center fielder swiped 154 bags from 1984-86, solidifying himself as the second-best base stealer in the AL behind Rickey Henderson.
He finished among the Top 10 in the league in stolen bases during every full season of his career except '87, when he notched a mere 24 steals. Pettis was never an exceptional hitter, but he was usually able to bat around .250. In '87, he hit just .208, and his RBI total slipped from 58 in '86 all the way down to 17.
1986, Willie McGee: There were four great candidates in 1986, as Carlton Fisk's home run total went from 37 to 14, and Dave Stieb and Bret Saberhagen had career-worst years. But this award goes to McGee for his 97-point dip in batting average. The 1985 NL batting champ forgot how to hit, score, run and drive in baserunners in '86. His run total dropped by 49 (114 to 65) and his stolen bases dropped by 37 (56 to 19). The most glaring stat was his RBI total of 48 -- an incredibly low number, considering Vince Coleman stole 107 bases batting ahead of McGee.
1985, Bruce Sutter: One of the most dominating closers in the late '70s and early '80s, Sutter unraveled in '85. A year earlier, he tied the Major League record for saves (45) and finished the season with an amazing 1.54 ERA while pitching for St. Louis. Things changed for the six-time All-Star the following year, when he joined the Atlanta Braves. His ERA nearly tripled to 4.48, and his saves total was halved (23). Sutter's career was essentially over, and he ended up saving only 17 more games before retiring in 1988.
1984, Cecil Cooper: This was a close race. Cooper against Expos hurler Steve Rogers. Rogers went from being one of the top pitchers in the NL from 1977-83 to being out of baseball two seasons later. A 17-game winner in '83, Rogers finished the '84 season with a 6-15 record, walked 14 more batters than he struck out (78 to 64) and watched his ERA jump to 4.31. Still, the nod goes to Cooper thanks to his mammoth RBI drop-off. Cooper drove in 121 runs in '82, and followed that up with 126 in '83. But in '84, with more than 600 at-bats, Cooper picked up a mere 67 RBIs. After delivering back-to-back seasons with more than 30 home runs, he only socked 11 in '84. His runs total dropped by 43, and his average sunk 32 points.
1983, Steve Kemp: Kemp was considered one of the game's better power-hitting outfielders before he joined the Yankees in 1983, but what nobody knew was that '82 would be his last productive season. He dropped from 19 homers to 12 and from 98 RBIs to 49. His average fell 45 points, his on-base percentage dropped 63 points and his runs total dwindled by 38. Of all Yankees with 100 or more at-bats that year, only Rick Cerone had a lower batting average than Kemp, who lasted one more season in the Bronx before finishing up his career with Pittsburgh and Texas.
1982, Tom Seaver:
Tom Terrific? Maybe in '81, but not in '82. In his first 15 big-league seasons, Seaver never once had a losing record or an ERA above 3.64. But then came 1982. While "E.T." and "Tootsie" had big years at the box office, Seaver had the worst season of his career. His ERA rose from 2.54 in '81 to 5.50, and his record flipped from 14-2 to 5-13 -- probably one of the worst single-season dropoffs by a Hall of Famer. Seaver was not finished, though: He won 31 games with the White Sox from 1984-85, tallying his 300th career victory along the way.
1981, Joe Charboneau: Injuries played a part in his speedy demise, but no Rookie of the Year winner in history embodied the notion of a sophomore slump quite like Charboneau. As a rookie in 1980, he cranked 23 homers and batted .289 (those numbers were actually good 20 years ago). In '81, he hit .210 with four home runs. Charboneau played a handful of games in '82 before hanging up his spikes.
Steve Stone deserves to be the first runner-up for 1981. Stone captured the AL Cy Young Award in '80, winning 25 games. The following year, he notched only four wins and saw his baseball career come to an end. Elbow trouble plagued him through most of the season, but I don't think many pioneer fantasy players back in 1980 sympathized with Stone.
1980, Don Baylor: A year after winning the MVP with a .296 average, 36 homers and a gaudy 139 RBIs, Baylor suffered a number of setbacks. A broken wrist and a dislocated toe forced Baylor to miss 72 games, but even when he was healthy enough to be in the lineup, his numbers were nowhere near anyone's expectations. He hit just .250 with 51 RBIs and managed only five home runs in 340 at-bats. Though few folks were playing fantasy baseball in 1980, those who did were undoubtedly torched by using an early pick on Baylor.