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Projecting the MLB’s top sophomores in 2017

Will sophmore slumps hit your favorite rookie?


The sophomore slump is a big topic come April. People are always curious to see which rookies that stole our hearts with youthful vigor and all the gifts that came with having no expectations. But that’s no longer the case in your second season, and many sophomores do fall back to earth in their second season. In this article, we’ve aggregated the projections for all of last year’s big name rookies: Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Steven Matz, Jameson Taillon, Julio Urias, Michael Fulmer, Gary Sanchez, and Nomar Mazara.

 

Corey Seager

2016 season: .308/.365/.512, 26 HRs, 105 RBIs, 3 SBs

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: .286/.342/.475, 22 HRs, 77 RBIs, 4 SBs

Steamer: .286/.342/.475, 24 HRs, 78 RBIs, 4 SBs

Corey Seager is projected for minimal drop off in 2017, which isn’t too much of a let down for Dodgers fans, given the stellar rookie season that Seager had. Even with these numbers, Seager still projects as one of the best young staples to an organization in the league. These projections still maintain Seager with a 3.3 and a 3.6 WAR, which is right in line with his 3.3 WAR from last year (per FanGraphs). So you could say that Seager isn’t projected for a sophomore slump at all.

 

Trea Turner

2016 Season: .342/.370/.567, 13 HRs, 40 RBIs, 33 SBs 

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: .301/.347/.459, 15 HRs, 75 RBIs, 38 SBs

Steamer: .301/.347/.459, 14 HRs, 68 RBIs, 35 SBs

The systems are projecting a drop off from Trea Turner, but that’s not a shock after the abnormal and unexplainable second half he had in Washington. Even with a drop off, he still projects as one of the best shortstops in the league. His slash line is projected to drop, as is to be expected when you hit .342. And he’s only projected to have a few more homeruns and minimally more RBIs than in 2017, even though he’s projected for almost twice as many at-bats.

 

Stephen Matz

2016 Season: 9-8, 3.40 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 129 Ks

2017 Projections

Depth Charts: 11-10, 3.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 170 Ks

Steamer: 11-10, 3.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 170 Ks

Matz is actually projected for a little improvement across the board. Everywhere except his ERA that is. Given that Matz missed significant time at the end of 2016 that makes a good bit of sense. These projection systems didn’t see his success in 2015 and 2016 as any form of a fluke. They see it as very repeatable, given good health. The reality is, if Matz can stay healthy, the Mets can expect good things from him.

 

Jameson Taillon

2016 Season: 5-4, 3.38 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 85 Ks

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: 11-9, 3.51 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 155 Ks

Steamer: 11-9, 3.51 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 155 Ks

After a long, slow, and painful development as the former number 2 overall pick from the Pirates, Taillon finally burst onto the scene in 2016, and the projection systems say that he’s here to stay. It appears that Taillon’s elbow and shoulder are now in good shape, and he’s ready for the long haul. While he is projected for slight increases in some numbers, he’ll still be that much more successful just from pitching the 61 more innings that the systems have him projected for.

 

Julio Urias

2016 Season: 5-2, 3.39 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 84 Ks

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: 9-7, 3.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 126 Ks

Steamer: 9-7, 3.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 126 Ks

Urias burst onto the scene midseason, and while he wasn’t the razzel dazzle pitcher some were yerning for, he still had a successful rookie season, most of which was played at 19 years old. In 2017 he’s projected to make improvements, particularly in his WHIP. That in itself will make him that much more successful. Still, he’s only projected for 122 and 114 innings by the two projection systems. Don’t expect Urias to be a staple of the Dodgers’ rotation just yet. After all, he’ll play most of 2017 at 20 years old.

 

Michael Fulmer

2016 Season: 11-7, 3.06 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 132 Ks

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: 11-10, 3.97 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 150 Ks

Steamer: 11-10, 3.97 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 150 Ks

Fulmer burst onto the scene in 2016 and surprised everyone by running away with the AL Rookie of the Year award, joining the likes of Evan Longoria, Wil Myers and Mike Trout, to name a few. But Depth Charts and Steamer do see a bit of drop off on the horizon for the young hurler. It is expected that Fulmer will lose some in way of ERA and WHIP. Part of that is because the league now has a year to adjust to him, and the other part is because of the increased role that most expect the Tigers to use Fulmer in. All the same, 3.97 in 175 innings is nothing to sneeze at.

 

Gary Sanchez

2016 Season: .299/.376/.657, 20 HRs, 42 RBIs, 1 SB

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: .268/.329/.492, 25 HRs, 73 RBIs, 5 SBs

Steamer: .268/.329/.492, 25 HRs, 73 RBIs, 5 SBs

Here’s the least surprising thing you’ll find in this article: Gary Sanchez’s numbers aren’t reproducible. Sanchez busted through the Bronx doors Babe Ruth in 1918. He had an immaculate rookie campaign, that surely would have resulted in a rookie of the year award given more time. But he won’t be that again, says Depth Charts and Steamer. Not that he’ll be bad. He’ll be very good by catcher standards, potentially an All-Star. But he won’t be the guy you saw sending Brian McCann out of town in 2016. Essentially, you can expect slightly higher run production, spread out through 250 more at-bats. 

 

Nomar Mazara

2016 Season: .266/.320/.419, 20 HRs, 64 RBIs, 0 SBs 

2017 Projections:

Depth Charts: .272/.332/.437, 20 HRs, 74 RBIs, 3 SBs

Steamer: .272/.332/.437, 20 HRs, 72 RBIs, 3 SBs

Mazara was a finely tuned, toolsy, well-rounded hitting gift to the Rangers in 2016. He provided them nothing short of above average numbers in right field last year. And the best news is, they can expect the same thing in 2017, per Depth Charts and Steamer. That’s something to be excited about if you’re a Rangers fan. A lot of teams are satisfied to have consistent play at any position, whether it’s above average or not. The Rangers can rest that they have a staple in the outfield that will make progressive improvements to make himself on of the better run producing right fielders in the league for years to come. 

 

 

Projecting the MLB’s top sophomores in 2017

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