Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year race was primarily between San Francisco catcher Buster Posey and Atlanta outfield phenom Jason Heyward. Both were top selections in 2011 coming off their excellent rookie seasons and both are struggling.
Posey, a late May call up, batted .305 in 2010 with 18 HR and 67 RBIs in just 406 at-bats and helped lead his Giants to a championship. At a weak position like catcher, he was a top-five selection at his position in this year's draft, getting picked in the fourth round in most leagues behind only Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez and Brian McCann.
Posey is struggling in the first 36 games, batting .256 with four homers and 20 RBIs. His OPS is down almost 150 points from last season (0.862 vs. 0.715).
Perhaps the long postseason and short offseason has left the 24-year-old tired, or possibly the pitchers have adjusted their strategy but you have to be concerned at this point.
However, the catcher position being what it is, Posey should still be started.
Meanwhile, Heyward's production is equally concerning. After a solid April in which he hit seven home runs and knocked in 14, May has been a disaster for the Braves outfielder.
First, he suffered a shoulder injury which has limited his playing time and in those few at-bats (28) he's been horrible, hitting just .071 with an OPS of 0.319. He's currently in an 0-for-10 streak and has been a defensive replacement in the Braves last three contests.
Heyward should be firmly planted on your bench until he turns it around, which he eventually will. The 21-year-old simply has too much talent to continue to struggle.
The remainder of the top rookies from a year ago are all playing well. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.89 and a WHIP of 1.032, Florida's Gaby Sanchez is batting .331 with seven homers and 25 RBIs and Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro is batting .338, so it seems that the "sophomore jinx" in not epidemic, but localized to the top-two performers.
In the American League, AL Rookie of the Year winner Neftali Feliz continues to produce at a high level, with eight saves. He has yielded just one earned run all season.
But runner-up Austin Jackson is struggling, batting just .229 with an OPS 100 points lower than in 2010 (0.745 vs. 0.645). He also leads the league in strikeouts, which would be good if he was a pitcher, but is not so good for an outfielder. Jackson, at best, is a borderline starter because he can steal bases. He should be spot started only.
Third in last year's AL rookie voting was Minnesota's Danny Valencia. Like almost every other Twins hitter this season, he's struggling mightily. He should not be started at this time.
As always with young ballplayers, they are prone to good and bad streaks. In this case, we see both.
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