Stars that faded away...

LogansDad

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Never an MVP, but I think Robbie Cano might fit this bill.

If I may go in a brief tangent: what Bochy did to those Giants' starters was pretty rough.

Lincecum was dominant from ages 23-27, then was never the same.

Matt Cain was dominant from ages 21-27, then was never the same.

MadBum was dominant from ages 21-26, spent two years fighting injury, had one last solid season a 29 and has never been the same.

Bochy let those guys pitch their way through a ton of high-leverage innings and they paid the price.

But flags fly forever...
Mark Prior and Kerry Wood nod in agreement, while cursing Dusty Baker's future grave.
 

Dahabenzapple2

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Josh Hamilton

3 great years in his 29-31 year old seasons
Ok year at 32

done at 34

one of the great cautionary tales in baseball history

if only

hope he is ok
 

Hoya81

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Rich Gedman suddenly stopped being able to hit after '86. My dad always blamed Hriniak.

Roger Maris age 23-29: .268/.356/.517, 217 HRs
Roger Maris age 30-33 .249/.323/.395, 35 HRs

To be fair, he had broken bone in his hand that was never treated properly and probably robbed him of his power. Even if he never got anywhere near his '60 or '61 output again, being a 25-30 hrs a year guy into his mid '30s might have helped his HOF case.

Will Clark and Don Mattingly both had injuries rob most of their power after putting up big numbers early in their careers.
 

Pitt the Elder

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Mo Vaughn was the first guy that came to mind
Man, it's easy to forgot how good Mo was during his 4-year peak with the Sox. He was pretty good with the Angels for his two years there but his freak injury with the Mets really ended him.

Edit: I'm actually thinking about the injury he suffered when he first joined the Angels when he fell down the dugout steps, but apparently he only sprained his ankle and didn't miss much time. The killer was a ruptured tendon that needed to be surgically repaired that made him miss the entire 2001 video before he was traded to the Mets to close out his career.
 
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Pitt the Elder

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As the guy that started the thread, it's probably important to acknowledge that most MLB players, stars included, end up fading away by their early to mid thirties.

This study is dated (2007) but the average length of an MLB career is 5.6 years and the average age in the league (per a 2010 study) is 27.2. Doing some simple math implies and average age range of 24-30. It's not hard to see that really talented players break into the bigs a little sooner and hang on a little longer, but the age curve catches up with everyone eventually.

Edit: I will say that I started the thread in no small part because I find myself constantly asking myself questions like "Hey, what happened to Dellin Betances" because, in my head, it was a great player really recently and I think he *must* still be around, when in reality he hasn't been a good major leaguer since 2019 (which still seems really recent to me!). The pandemic-impacted 2020 season makes this worse, IMO. It seems like a lot of relevant players in 2019 just never made it back in 2021.
 
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Mooch

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Dale Murphy? He was a back-to-back MVP in 1982 and 1983, was in the top ten in 1984 and 1985, and 11th in 1987. Pretty consistently put up 140-150 OPS+ numbers while playing center field and winning five straight gold gloves. Seemed like a certain Hall of Famer at that point. From 1988 onwards, he was basically +/- 100 OPS+ until he finally broke down for good in 1992/93.
This was the first player that came to mind. Good call.
 

iddoc

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Nov 17, 2006
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This was the first player that came to mind. Good call.
Dale Murphy comes to mind immediately when thinking of cautionary tales for Mike Trout. Trout’s peak has been a bit better and started earlier (in part because the Braves messed around with Murphy at C for a while), but still.
 

jon abbey

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Dale Murphy comes to mind immediately when thinking of cautionary tales for Mike Trout. Trout’s peak has been a bit better and started earlier (in part because the Braves messed around with Murphy at C for a while), but still.
FWIW, Murphy had 46.5 career bWAR in 8000 ABs, Trout is at 81.5 in 5000 career ABs.
 

Norm Siebern

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Chris Davis and Ryan Howard were the first two I thought of
Ryan Howard was the first guy I immediately thought of as well.

Ellis Valentine (of the late '70s Montreal Valentines) was a favorite of mine growing up. He took a pitch to the face in 1980, his fourth year, and was never the same again. Willie Wilson, a contemporary and another favorite of mine also burned out quickly. But instead of a fastball, it was coke that took him out.
 

worm0082

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Hack Wilson was probably the biggest player aside from Ruth for a couple years until his personal problems did him in.
 

Jason Bae

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Marcus Giles:
2003-2005: .305/.378/.480, 122 OPS+, 15.1 bWAR
2006-07: .247/.325/.357, 79 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR

Edgardo Alfonzo:
1997-02:.297/.380/.464, 120 OPS+, 27.9 bWAR
2003-06: .266/.330/.371, 83 OPS+, -0.9 bWAR
 

The Gray Eagle

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Chris Sale:
Ages 21-29: 103-62, 2.89 ERA, 144 ERA+, in an average of 165 IP per season.
Ages 30-33: 11-13, 4.09 ERA, 117 ERA+ in an average of 65 IP per season.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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Ruben Sierra was runner-up for MVP at age 23 and a 4-time All-Star in his twenties. He only once topped 350 at-bats after the age of 30, but managed to stick around until he was 40.
 

zougwa

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Maybe not long enough to be a star, but Allen Craig hit .312 across 2 1/2 seasons, then plummeted to anemic numbers his last two years with Boston.

Howard Johnson led the NL in home runs (38) and RBIs (117) for the Mets at age 30 in 1990, then across the next four seasons hit .219 with a .700 OPS for three teams.
 

8slim

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Aren't the players who do not 'fade away' the exception?
Most likely.

I think in this case McCutchen is currently the shining example. He's a guy who was big star within the baseball world 6-7 years ago. Since then he's spent several years kickin' around a few clubs, doing OK, but often generating reactions of "oh *that's* where Andrew McCutchen plays now!" when one sees him in the lineup.

Sadly, Nomar was the poster child for this dynamic a dozen or so years ago.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Most likely.

I think in this case McCutchen is currently the shining example. He's a guy who was big star within the baseball world 6-7 years ago. Since then he's spent several years kickin' around a few clubs, doing OK, but often generating reactions of "oh *that's* where Andrew McCutchen plays now!" when one sees him in the lineup.

Sadly, Nomar was the poster child for this dynamic a dozen or so years ago.
I feel like Scott Rolen (who was sort of a Philly version of Nomar) also fits in this category, except that he was actually still a (mostly) pretty good player with the Cardinals and Reds, but nobody seems to remember that part of his career.
 

8slim

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I feel like Scott Rolen (who was sort of a Philly version of Nomar) also fits in this category, except that he was actually still a (mostly) pretty good player with the Cardinals and Reds, but nobody seems to remember that part of his career.
That's a good one as well.

I'm thinking the criteria may be a player who was on a HoF trajectory for a substantial amount of time (~5 years?), switched teams a time or three, and subsequently had an equal-ish amount of time as a league average type player. Basically, someone who went from being top of mind, to someone you only think about when your favorite team plays theirs.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Ruben Sierra was runner-up for MVP at age 23 and a 4-time All-Star in his twenties. He only once topped 350 at-bats after the age of 30, but managed to stick around until he was 40.
In Howard Bryant's bio of Rickey Henderson, he talks about the trade that brought Sierra to the A's. Basically he said by the time he got to Oakland, Sierra felt that he had to be a strong power hitter, bulked up and never really adjusted to where he was when he first came up with the Rangers. The implication is that if he stayed lean and trim, he could've been an even bigger star.

BTW, that Rickey book is awesome. If you haven't yet, I suggest you read it immediately.
 

Marciano490

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I feel like Scott Rolen (who was sort of a Philly version of Nomar) also fits in this category, except that he was actually still a (mostly) pretty good player with the Cardinals and Reds, but nobody seems to remember that part of his career.
I was going to say Evan Longoria, but his cliff wasn’t as sharp as I recalled, looking at the numbers. Think he fits better in this category.
 

Max Power

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Aren't the players who do not 'fade away' the exception?
Right. The spirit of the thread is more about superstars who became journeymen, not sudden collapses or retirements. Guys like Rickey and Manny were all time greats, but continued to play organized baseball until someone ripped the uniforms off their backs. Toward the end, you were always surprised to see where they'd pop up. Someone like Miggy Cabrera doesn't count since he didn't jump from place to place looking for a job.

Eddie Murray is another good one. Yes, he's in the Hall of Fame, but he also played for 5 teams over the last 6 years of his career.
 
Jun 12, 2019
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I submit Jason Giambi. He left the Yankees after a 32 homer, 128 OPS+ season, then played SIX more seasons in obscurity with Colorado and Cleveland as a pinch hitter/part time DH.
 

Pitt the Elder

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I submit Jason Giambi. He left the Yankees after a 32 homer, 128 OPS+ season, then played SIX more seasons in obscurity with Colorado and Cleveland as a pinch hitter/part time DH.
Wow, that's pretty remarkable. What's crazy about that 6-year stint was how *terrible* he was for long stretches. It's more unbelievable that Cleveland kept him on the roster until he was 43.
 

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Right. The spirit of the thread is more about superstars who became journeymen, not sudden collapses or retirements. Guys like Rickey and Manny were all time greats, but continued to play organized baseball until someone ripped the uniforms off their backs. Toward the end, you were always surprised to see where they'd pop up. Someone like Miggy Cabrera doesn't count since he didn't jump from place to place looking for a job.

Eddie Murray is another good one. Yes, he's in the Hall of Fame, but he also played for 5 teams over the last 6 years of his career.
I definitely hear what you're saying, but I have trouble believing that someone who played for 21 seasons could have faded away. I guess there are many definitions of what fits the criteria.
 
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Miguel Tejada ended his career bouncing around to random teams. 2008-2009 in Houston. 2010 in Baltimore and San Diego. 2011 in San Francisco. He did not play in 2012. He came back in 2013 for Kansas City.
 

tims4wins

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Never an MVP, but I think Robbie Cano might fit this bill.

If I may go in a brief tangent: what Bochy did to those Giants' starters was pretty rough.

Lincecum was dominant from ages 23-27, then was never the same.

Matt Cain was dominant from ages 21-27, then was never the same.

MadBum was dominant from ages 21-26, spent two years fighting injury, had one last solid season a 29 and has never been the same.

Bochy let those guys pitch their way through a ton of high-leverage innings and they paid the price.

But flags fly forever...
I thought of Cano too - did you know he had a higher OPS+ in Seattle than with the MFY? Location really does matter as he has mostly been irrelevant since leaving the Bronx, even though he’s remained a very good hitter.