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Sometimes, a breakout season is an indicator of big things to come. Other times, not so much.
Let’s gaze back over the past two decades and identify eight MLB players who fall into the latter category, guys who put up a single eye-opening statistical season but never replicated that success.
At least one is still playing and could therefore technically enjoy a comeback. The rest are out of the league, and the die is officially cast on their one-hit-wonder status.
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In 2002, Junior Spivey hit .301 with an .865 OPS for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Playing his first full MLB season at age 27, he made the All-Star team and picked up down-ballot MVP votes.
The following year, he battled injuries. His average dropped to .255, and his OPS plunged to .759. An offseason trade to the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t improve his fortunes.
By 2005, his slash line had fallen to .232/.315/.378 in 77 games between the Brewers and Washington Nationals, and he never played another big league inning.
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In 2005, the Houston Astros made their first World Series in franchise history with help from right fielder Jason Lane.
The 28-year-old swatted 26 home runs and 34 doubles and posted an .815 OPS, then he hit two home runs in the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. (The ‘Stros were in the Senior Circuit at that point.)
It would prove to be Lane’s only full season as an MLB regular. He hit a scant .201 in 112 games with Houston the following year and hit .175 between the Astros and San Diego Padres in 2007.
Lane briefly returned to the majors as a 37-year-old pitcher in 2014, throwing 10.1 innings, posting a 0.87 ERA for San Diego and adding an interesting footnote to his career.
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In 2009, Chris Coghlan hit .321 with an .850 OPS in 128 games for the Florida Marlins and won National League Rookie of the Year honors.
In the subsequent four seasons with the Marlins, he posted a much-less-impressive .659 OPS, and the Fish finally cut bait and let him loose.
Coghlan enjoyed a decent bounce-back campaign with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 when he hit. 250 with 16 home runs, but his numbers soon returned to sub-replacement-level, and he was out of the league after the 2017 season.
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Evan Meek was an All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, which says a lot about the sorry state of the Bucs roster that season.
Still, Meek pitched well for those dismal 105-loss Pirates, posting a 2.14 ERA in 80 innings out of the bullpen while flashing a solid mid-90s fastball.
A shoulder injury in 2011 derailed his career, however, and he threw just 56 more big league frames before hanging it up after the 2014 season.
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If nothing else, Peter Bourjos is the answer to an interesting trivia question: Who was the Los Angeles Angels’ center fielder before Mike Trout?
Bourjos had a solid season in 2011. He hit .271 with 12 home runs, 22 stolen bases and an American League-leading 11 triples.
The following year, he began the season as the Halos’ starting center fielder. But by late April, Trout was promoted to the big leagues, and Bourjos was sent to the bench.
He played for four different teams between 2014 and 2018 and returned to the Angels in 2019, hitting .091 in 26 games.
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In 2011, Mike Morse hit 31 home runs with a .910 OPS for the Washington Nationals. At age 29, he appeared ready to live up to his nickname, The Beast.
Injuries and inconsistency interceded, however, and Morse never again reached 20 home runs.
He was a key member of the San Francisco Giants’ 2014 championship team and hit a huge pinch-hit home run in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
But his impressive power continued to dwindle, and he was finished after hitting .194 in 24 games with San Francisco in 2017.
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Alexi Ogando was a big part of the Texas Rangers rotation in 2011.
A converted outfielder, he finished 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA, made the All-Star team and helped Texas win a second consecutive AL pennant.
After a move to the bullpen in 2012, Ogando was hit by injury in 2013 and was never the same.
He bounced from the Boston Red Sox in 2015 to the Atlanta Braves in 2016, missed the 2017 season entirely and threw just one inning with the Cleveland Indians in 2018.
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Aaron Sanchez threw like an ace for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. During his age-23 season, the right-hander led the American League with a 3.00 ERA and went 15-2 in 192 innings.
He also made the All-Star team and finished seventh in Cy Young Award balloting.
Since then, he has battled injuries and control issues and has never posted an ERA below 4.25. He was dealt to the Houston Astros in 2019, but shoulder surgery put him on the shelf.
Sanchez is still just 27, meaning a comeback could be in the offing. For now, though, his brilliant ’16 effort looks more like an anomaly than a harbinger of greatness.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.