Falling Back in the MLB

Every year we seem to concentrate on players who will either breakout or maintain their upward curve, but what about taking a look at those players who may have reached their peak and could plateau or even regress this year.

Here are three that might just fit that criteria and it won’t surprise us to see them not reach their previous heights this year that they have reached in the past.

Jered Weaver is the first such player, he is well established as a No.1 starter but one statistic that is showing an alarming downward trend is his strikeout rate. In 2010, Weaver struck out a career-best 25.8 percent of batters; but over the past couple of years his velocity as well as his strikeout rate has declined. Toward the end of last season, his average velocity was barely above 85 mph and he finished with a strikeout rate of 19.2 percent.

He’s not getting any younger so Weaver is unlikely to see those numbers reverse themselves and he’ll have to rely more on his control and defence. Both those facets of his game are still excellent but the days of being an ace pitcher may well be behind him.

Hunter Pence was traded to the Giants last season but that saw his performances go into a sharp decline and those portents don’t bode well for this season. He is not the most patient of players and seemingly always wants to thrash the ball out of the park, but his speed looked to be going last year and the power might go the same way this. He may also struggle at AT&T Park where home runs and doubles and triples are hard to come by for right-handers. This puts Pence’s streak of 20-plus homers in five straight seasons squarely in jeopardy and one of the reasons why his days as a full-time starter might be numbered.

Finally, we’ll throw Jason Kipnis into the mix. He homered in four straight games in his introduction to the majors but moving on a year things don’t seem so rosy. Yes we know he had 14 homers but this season Kipnis will be 26, so he isn’t that young. He should be entering his prime, but his recent performance and projections offer little hope for growth and we think that there are other names that will be far better than Kipnis this year.

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