Sophomore Slumps of the 2021 Season

The shortened season brought us an intriguing perspective on player development. We saw a slew of prospects being called up much earlier than expected including one pitching prospect from the 2020 draft immediately playing in the majors. Fast forward to the current day, there are a handful of those prospects in their second season falling short of expectations in their first full season in the majors. Here are three of the biggest regressors of the 2021 season.

Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies

Alec Bohm out of Wichita State was the third overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft. He was best known for his strong power hitting and being a magnet for walks. His 2020 campaign was out of this world, finishing as a top finalist for National League Rookie of the Year. In that season, he finished with a .338 batting average along with four home runs and 24 RBIs. This season so far, in about 40 more plate appearances, his runs, homers, and RBIs are all very similar. His numbers worsen with strikeouts, which is at 61 compared to only 34 last year. They also plummet with batting average, which is down to .212. His OBP is also down from .400 to .258. And he’s being walked less, 16 walks from last year to 13 this year thus far. Once a promising young player, Bohm is in desperate need to run around his production if the Phillies would also like to have some team success this season.

Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles

Ryan Mountcastle was a late call-up last season, appearing in just barely half of the team’s games this season, but showed serious promise to make him a key franchise cornerstone for years to come. He’s been only trending in the opposite direction since the 2021 season started. In 2020, Mountcastle finished with a batting average of .333 along with five home runs and 23 RBIs. What’s most impressive is that he actually finished with more hits than games played, 42 to 35. 2021 has been nothing but awful for Mountcastle. His batting averaging is down to .240 and his strikeout to walk ratio is up from 2.73 to 9.14. Mountcastle has recently hit four home runs in his last five games, so hopefully, this becomes the turnaround that he needs. However, nonetheless, this is a start that Mountcastle would like to forget about as he hopes to live up to the potential set by his phenomenal first season.

Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers

Devin Williams was a surprise winner for the 2020 National League Rookie of the Year as a setup pitcher due to Josh Hader’s established role as the closer for the Brewers for the past couple of seasons. But the numbers in 2020 back it up for Williams. He managed a 0.33 ERA with a 4-1 record over 22 innings pitched. He actually allowed only one earned run throughout the entire season. That has been the exact opposite in 2021. Williams currently has a 4.22 ERA in the same amount of innings. His ERA was as high as 13.50 earlier in the season. While it is likely that Williams’s role will likely stay the same, he’ll still have the rest of the season in order to continue his high production as a setup reliever with closer potential for a Milwaukee Brewers team trying to readjust their roster.

Sixto Sanchez, Miami Marlins

Sixto Sanchez has the most unique situation out of all players on this list. After a solid 2020 season where he finished 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA, Sanchez has yet to pitch this season and the information on why he hasn’t pitched doesn’t entirely match up. Sanchez coming into the season had a false positive COVID-19 test and a visa issue but those are issues that were quickly resolved. What hasn’t been resolved yet is the right shoulder inflammation that Sanchez has been experiencing since Spring Training. He has thrown simulation games but continues to experience discomfort which is why he hasn’t even made any minor league appearances to adjust his conditioning. This is likely a mix of the Marlins being cautious with one of their many prize prospects. But nonetheless, this is not what you want to see for a second-year player who had the potential to become an ace for the Miami Marlins. It is still currently unclear when Sanchez may return to the rotation if he ever does in 2021.

Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners

Kyle Lewis had an outstanding shortened season that earned the award of American League Rookie of the Year. In 2020, Lewis finished with 11 homers, 37 runs scored, and 28 RBIs in 58 games while also maintaining a .262 batting average. Compared to Bohm and Mountcastle, Lewis’s numbers haven’t dropped off nearly as much. But Lewis has already dealt with two injury stints that have landed him on the injured list. Lewis has only played in 36 of the possible 59 games the Mariners have played this season. He’s also only hitting .248 with five deep balls and 11 RBIs. Hoping for s short IL stint, Lewis still has plenty of time to turn this slow start around but it certainly not the start he would like to have after continuing his high expectations since being the 11th overall selection in 2016.