By: Noah Wright
We all know some of the most famous one hit wonders; Joe Charboneau, Mark Frydich, Wayne Garland, the list goes on and on. Before we leave the 2010 decade, I want to look back at some of the decade’s biggest one hit wonders. To classify as a one hit wonder, the player has to have no more than 2 good seasons. I’m also not trying to include rookies, but one or two might pop up.
- Chase Headley:
The Padres’ long-time third baseman Chase Headley’s 2012 season was an anomaly in his 12 year career. Between 2008 to 2011, Headley was a league average hitter. He batted for a .269/.343/.393 line, and showed ok speed and power, along with really good third base defense. Then came 2012. In 699 PA’s, Headley batted for a robust .286/.376/.498 batting line. That was good for a 145 wRC+. That wRC+ was good for 9th in the entire MLB. Headley had also blasted 31 home runs, and stole 17 bases. While his defense saw a bit of a downturn (-1 DRS, 5.1 UZR), he was still a solid defender at third. But after 2012, Headley went back to being the league average hitter he was between ‘08-’11. Between 2013 and 2017, Headley posted a .256/.336/.386 batting line.
- Matt Harrison:
If you remember Matt Harrison, you probably remember he was pretty good with the Texas Rangers. After a few bad seasons (‘08-’10), Matt Harrison broke out in 2011. In 185 and two thirds innings, Harrison provided the Rangers with a 3.39 ERA, 3.52 FIP, and 1.276 WHIP. While Harrison wasn’t too much of a strikeout pitcher (just 6.1 K/9), his control was above average with a 2.8 BB/9 and .6 HR/9. Harrison followed up his 2011 season with another solid 2012 season. In 213 and two thirds innings, Harrison put up a 3.29 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and 1.261 WHIP. Harrison saw a decrease in walks (2.5 BB/9) and kept a similar HR/9 rate (.9). However after 2012, Matt pitched just 44 innings across 3 seasons. At the 2015 deadline, he was traded to the Phillies as a salary offset in the Cole Hamels deal. Sadly, Harrison’s career downfall can be attributed to injuries.
- Jeremy Hellickson:
This is one of the few rookies I’m going to include here. Hellickson was a former consensus top 10 prospect. His first big league season was pretty solid. He had a 2.95 ERA, and kept opponents to a .210/.287/.373 batting line in 189 innings. While he wasn’t really a strikeout pitcher (5.6 K/9), the Hellboy wasn’t much of a control pitcher either (3.4 BB/9). Regardless, Hellickson still provided solid results for the Rays. He earned the ‘11 Rookie Of The Year, and followed it up with a solid 2012. In 177 innings, Hellickson had a 3.10 ERA, and 1.254 batting line. He also saw his strikeouts and walks trend in the right direction with a 3.0 BB/9 and 6.3 K/9. But home runs became a problem as his HR/9 rose from 1.0 to 1.3. But after 2012, Hellickson became ineffective. Between 2013 and 2018, Hellickson had a 4.63 ERA, 4.59 FIP, and 1.281 WHIP. Sure he had a few OK seasons like 2016 and 2018, but he has never been able to replicate those first 2 seasons of his career.
- John Axford:
In the early 2010’s, Axford could have been considered a top tier closer. In his first full MLB season in 2010, the Brewers’ righty pitched to the tune of a 2.48 ERA, 2.13 FIP, and 1.193 WHIP in 58 innings. That also came with an impressive 11.8 K/9, and having given up only 1 home run the entire season. Sure his BB/9 was above 4 at 4.2, but it wasn’t detrimental. In 2011, Axford followed up his 2010 rookie season with a 1.95 ERA, 2.41 FIP, and 1.140 WHIP. Although his K/9 dropped to a still very good 10.5, his BB/9 improved to just 3.1/9. Axford still kept the ball in the yard as well indicated by his 4 home runs in 73.2 innings. But after those first 2 seasons, Axford never even came close to repeating those numbers. Sure he had some not bad seasons, and occasionally flashed the potential to reproduce his first 2 season numbers, but they were far from very good. Since 2012, Axford has played with the Brewers, Cardinals, Indians, Pirates, Rockies, the A’s, Blue Jays, and Dodgers. In that time, he has a 4.45 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and 1.500 WHIP.
- Domonic Brown:
After a few seasons of bouncing back and forth between the minors and majors, Phillies’ outfielder Domonic Brown seemed to finally find his footing in 2013. During the season, Brown hit .272/.324/.494, blasted 27 home runs, and finished with a 123 wRC+ in 540 PA’s. While Brown wasn’t super great defensively, his offense was very good and at just 25 years old, Brown looked like a future star for the Phils. But things didn’t go as planned. Brown declined rapidly the following 2 years. Between 2014 and 2015, Brown posted a .233/.285/.349 line in 716 PA’s. After the 2015 season, the Phillies released Brown. The former Philly has never appeared in an MLB game since then.