The dreaded term "sophomore slump" is rarely uttered in regard to occasional stud players. Their ungodly skills override any consideration that a brilliant rookie season will be followed by a dud.
Such was the case with Angels absurdly talented outfielder Mike Trout, who indeed showed nary a trace of regression in his second year. Now the eyes of the baseball world are fixed on Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who was virtually unhittable last season. His Koufaxesque numbers included 111 hits and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 innings. He emerged as a Fantasy giant.
Such statistics indicate that Fernandez could very well be slump-proof. Miami manager Mike Redmond has expressed just one concern - that the 21-year-old will try to do too much to prove he is just that. Folks are already lumping Fernandez in with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and forecasting a battle between the two for the 2014 National League Cy Young Award. Fantasy owners are rightfully snagging Fernandez earlier in drafts than a second-year pitcher has ever been taken.
MLB Network analyst Ron Darling understands the pressure on Fernandez. He saw it in the mid-1980s on Mets teammate Dwight Gooden, who never lived up to the brilliance displayed in his first two seasons despite four All-Star Game appearances. Darling expressed his hope that Fernandez does not attempt to make any adjustments from his first season to his second because he already boasts all the tools to dominate the game.
Perhaps that's true. It will certainly be interesting to find out. The fate of Fernandez is one of the most intriguing storylines in baseball with the regular season on the horizon.