Projections for MLB's 2015 rookies as predicted by famous sophomore albums
Sophomore slump. It's a phrase that can send chills down the spine of even the most dominant rookies in the history of sports. And that fear translates to the worlds of film, music, television, politics etc. The notion that an initial display of excellence doesn't necessarily predict sustained excellence -- regardless of the arena -- is absolutely terrifying, which means that MLB's 2015 rookie class is probably hell-bent on breaking out of that "sophomore slump" mold.
Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa and the rest of MLB's latest wave of young talent is hard at work this offseason to improve on the numbers they posted last year. In an effort to predict their 2016 production, it only made sense to examine the notable follow-up albums recorded by music's biggest stars to determine how or what we should expect from last year's rookies going forward.
NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant - "Under the Cork Tree" - Fall Out Boy
Think back and try to remember the first time you heard of Fall Out Boy. It was probably some time in 2005 after "Sugar, We're Going Down" hit your local alternative rock station. But chances are that the scenesters in your life had already love, love, loved FOB's debut 2003 album "Take This to Your Grave."
This is where the Bryant parallel exists. Bryant will become even more immensely popular than he already is when he helps the Cubs to their first World Series berth since 1945. He'll become a household name and history will remember him as the guy that helped to break the Curse of the Billy Goat.
And those of us who watched him scorch the Earth at Spring Training last year ... we who played hooky to watch him make his MLB debut ... will spend the next 10 years annoyingly reminding everyone around us that we liked him before it was cool to like him.
AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa - "No Fences" - Garth Brooks
This analogy is simple: Brooks' self-titled debut album hit No. 1 on the U.S. country music chart in 1989, but his follow-up -- "No Fences" -- transcended the country genre and hit No. 1 on the "Billboard" Top 200 chart. It became the most popular album of his career, selling over 23 million copies.
If Correa's AL Rookie of the Year Award-worthy debut season -- in which the Astros won the AL Wild Card Game -- is Brooks' first album, then Correa's "No Fences" second season will be an 8-WAR epic in which he helps lead the Astros to an AL West division crown and wins the AL MVP in the process.
Francisco Lindor - "Paul's Boutique" - Beastie Boys
Lindor burst onto the scene in 2015 with a spectacular showing over his first 99 career MLB games, just as MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D announced their emphatic arrival with the commercially and critically successful "Licensed to Ill." And, just like the Beastie Boys, Lindor will follow up his rookie effort with a better, but not as flashy sophomore season.
The second album from MCA and Co. -- "Paul's Boutique" -- came in at No. 156 on "Rolling Stone's" 500 greatest albums of all-time, but it only reached No. 14 on the "Billboard" Top 200 chart. Lindor's 2016 will be better than his 2015, but it'll be quieter than people expect. He'll be worth close to eight wins above replacement, but he'll do it by being a plus defender, stealing bases and hitting singles. He won't hit 30 home runs. He won't steal 30 bases. He won't hit better than .310. He'll basically be the Jason Heyward of shortstops, which means that his 2016 season will be an overlooked masterpiece.
Miguel Sano - "Sam's Town" - The Killers
Much like The Killers' debut "Hot Fuss," Sano's rookie season was very critically acclaimed: he belted 18 home runs in 36 games, launched a ball off the catwalk in Tampa Bay, drove in 51 runs, drew an impressive 53 walks and was a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
But -- like The Killers' follow-up album "Sam's Town" -- Sano's second year in the bigs will be tough for most casual fans to swallow, mostly because he'll set an MLB record for strikeouts in a season. Still, though, the sabermetric community will revere his 2016 season, much in the way that music critics have since trumpeted "Sam's Town" as the most underrated album of the 21st century.
Kyle Schwarber - "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry
If we're gonna get super technical, "Teenage Dream" is Perry's third album (she first released an album under her actual name, Katy Hudson). But it's seen as the follow up to "One of the Boys," which was the first album from Perry as we know her today.
And the comparison here is pretty simple: Perry's debut album produced three Top 10 singles: "I Kissed a Girl," "Hot n Cold" and "Waking Up in Vegas." Schwarber's rookie campaign featured three multi-homer games. Perry's second album featured six Top-10 singles. Schwarber's sophomore season will feature six mult-homer games.
Carlos Rodon - "The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" by Bruce Springsteen
Rodon's stuff is nasty and it's only a matter of time before he's a perennial powerhouse who strikes out batters as quickly as they can step into the box. But, like The Boss before him, it's gonna take him a while to build up that kind of reputation. Springsteen released his debut album, "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.," in 1973. It only reached No. 60 on the U.S. "Billboard" chart. His follow up album didn't do much better (it topped out at No. 69). But it's remembered fondly by diehards and critics alike.
Springsteen's sophomore effort did introduce the world to one of the greatest songs in his catalog. In the dog days of August, Rodon will lose a no-hit bid in the ninth inning of a 15-K shutout. That will be his "Rosalita."
Joc Pederson - "Leave Home" - The Ramones
Watching Brian Kenny explain the inherent value of "three true-outcome" guys to other pundits on the MLB Network is like watching punk fans try to explain The Ramones to their parents in 1976. And Pederson serves as the face of that movement.
Young Joc posted a .346 on-base percentage and belted 26 home runs in his rookie season despite hitting just .210. Those numbers are thanks to his selectivity at the plate as he drew a wopping 92 walks in 2015. Much like The Ramones' sophomore effort, Pederson's second full season in the bigs will be a more refined version of his debut production: He'll strike out less, accumulate more hits, but sacrifice some power in the process. But, he'll still hit 15 home runs and draw a boatload of walks to keep him in the "three true-outcome" conversation.
In '77, "Rolling Stone" music critic Ken Tucker wrote of "Leave Home:"
Ditto for Joc's 2016.