Looking at baseball burnouts


The stuff about Clayton Kershaw earlier —  and the reference to Dale Murphy — made me think about baseball players who just inexplicably fall off a cliff. Then, like 20 minutes later, I came across this article at The Hardball Times from Alex Remington about “Baseball Burnouts.” It’s really good.

Now, to be clear, Dale Murphy is not a “burnout.” He shined brightly for a long, long time and was ready to start the wind-down part of his career, after which he’d be a guy who had a Hall of Fame peak and then some nice overall numbers. He just didn’t have the normal wind down. He just . . . stopped.

In contrast, Alex is looking at guys who had a great rookie year and then never did much of anything else. As Alex puts it, the “Joe Charboneaus in baseball history.” He comes up with a handful of them, including Billy Grabarkewitz, Mitchell Page and Rick Ankiel, all of whose careers were . . . weird.

Sometimes these guys were just bad players who had a freak good season out of the gate. Sometimes they’re different cases, like Ankiel. Either way, a fascinating topic.

Video: Pete Alonso hits home run no. 50

Pete Alonso
Getty Images

Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.

It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.

Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.