Saturday, November 12, 2005

November 12th, 1968

Sammy Sosa Born

In 2001 Sammy Sosa finished second in the MVP vote behind Barry Bonds. While Bonds had a fantastic (BACLOnian?) season in 2001, Sosa was fantastic in his own right, posting a .328/.437/.737 line, good for a 201 OPS+. He had sixty-four home runs, drove in one hundred sixty runs while scoring one hundred forty-six. He also walked one hundred sixteen times (including thirty-seven intentional) and played in all but two games.

Since then, as you probably are aware, it has been nothing but downhill for Sammy. However, his performance is remarkable in its overall decline. Sosa's average has gone from .328 to .288 to .279 to .253 all the way to .221 this year in
Baltimore. Similarly, his OPS+ has gone from 201 to 160 to 135 to 110 down to a nearly twenty percent below league average 82 this year. He played in barely over one hundred games last year, drawing just thirty-nine walks, only two more than his intentional walk total from 2001. As if his fourteen homeruns and .376 slugging percentage didn't show just how far Sosa had fallen as a feared hitter, the fact that he received just three intentional walks, the same total Barry Bonds was issued in just fourteen games.

Popular speculation centers on Sosa removing himself from PEDs as the cause of his decline, but it's worth noting that another number might have had as much to do with it. In fact, it is the only meaningful number of Sosa's which has been increasing lately, as Sosa has gone from being age thirty-two to being age thirty-six. Is Sosa off the PEDs? Possibly. But four years is a lot in a baseball player's career, especially four in the thirties.

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