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Eight players last year received votes for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Atlanta relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel was voted the league’s best rookie in 2011.
So how have these eight players performed this year? With the dreaded “sophomore jinx” hovering over their heads, which of these eight NL players are “beating the sophomore jinx,” which ones are “losing the sophomore jinx,” and for which players is it “too early to tell.”
Following is a summary of each player’s 2012 season and my take on their battle with the “sophomore jinx.”
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta (2011 NL Rookie of the Year): The Atlanta reliever led the league in saves (46) and compiled a 4-3 record with a 2.10 ERA. This year he has 28 saves, a 0-1 record and an ERA of 1.42. His WHIP has dropped to 0.68 from 1.04. He was again an NL All-Star selection this year. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Beating the sophomore jinx.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta (runner-up): The Braves first baseman hit .282 with 21 HRs and 76 RBI last season. His numbers this year are very comparable: A .275 average with 13 homers and 58 RBI. Has had a solid season and looks like he may challenge for a 100-RBI season. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Beating the sophomore jinx.
Vance Worley, Philadelphia (3rd place): The Phillies pitcher was 11-3 last year with a 3.01 ERA. This season he has a 5-6 record and an ERA of 3.82, with a WHIP that has increased to 1.39 from 1.23. Spent some time on the DL with a bone chip in his elbow and just has not regained the form from last year (a fate that seems to be haunting the Phillies as well). His ERA is respectable and he has made some quality starts. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Too early to tell.
Wilson Ramos, Washington (4th place): Ramos hit .267 with 15 HR and 52 RBI in 113 games with the Nationals last year. In May he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and was placed on the IR list for the season. He was hitting .265 in 25 games. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Lost to the sophomore jinx.
Josh Collmenter, Arizona (5th place): The Diamondback’ hurler was 10-10 last year with a 3.38 ERA. In eight starts this season he is 2-2 with a 3.82 ERA. After four early season starts and an 0-2 record (9.82 ERA) he was demoted from the starting rotation. Has pitched well in three starts in July, winning two games and allowing only four earned runs in 18 innings of work. Could be on the road back to last year’s form. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Too early to tell.
Danny Espinosa, Washington (6th place): The Nationals infielder batted .236 with 21 four-baggers and 66 RBI. His average this year is at .249, but his power and RBI numbers are lagging a bit. Having a really nice July with a .343 average, including batting .375 in his last seven games and a nine-game hitting streak. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Too early to tell.
Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs (tied for 7th place): Cubs second baseman hit.276 last year. He has been solid all year and is hitting .262 and has doubled his HR output from last year to four this season. Has a 66-game errorless streak and has been outstanding in the field. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Beating the sophomore jinx.
Kenley Jansen, L.A. Dodgers (tied for 7th place): Working out of the Dodgers bullpen last season, Jansen was 2-1 with five saves and an ERA of 2.85. This season he has 19 saves, a WHIP under 1.00 (0.86), a 4-3 record and an ERA of 1.93. Has a great strikeout-to-walks ration with 70 K’s and only 18 walks. Has taken over the role as the Dodgers primary closer. SOPHOMORE JINX FACTOR: Beating the sophomore jinx.
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