By: Ryan Korp
Major League Baseball went through a dark time clouded by steroid use in the mid 1990s until the early 2000s. Players came out of nowhere to have huge years and short bursts of ridiculous success, only to fade faster than they came onto the scene.
By now, most of these guys are just an afterthought. I’ll bring them back into your memory for a little, give them another 15 seconds of fame.
1. Shawn Green
A Rookie of the Year Candidate with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995, Shawn Green came into the big leagues with a high upside. Through his first three full seasons in the league, Green topped out at 16 home runs and a .288 average. In 1998, Green exploded and seemingly out of nowhere hit 35 homeruns, drove in 100 runs and stole a whopping 35 bases.
Over the next four seasons, Green hit 40 home runs three times and drove in over 114 runs three seasons in Toronto and with the Dodgers. After 2002, Green’s power numbers plummeted and he never hit more than 28 home runs in a season. His career came to a very abrupt end in Arizona and New York.
2. Richie Sexson
A two-time All-Star selection for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002 and 2003, Sexson hit 31 homeruns in his first full season in the big leagues with Cleveland and drove in 116 runs. Sexson belted 45 homeruns two different times in Milwaukee and had six career seasons with 30 or more homeruns. In cavernous Safeco Field, Sexson was able to hit 39 and 34 homeruns in 2005-06. Average continued to go down and strikeouts continued to go up as his career progressed, and he was done by age 33.
3. Phil Nevin
After three years bouncing around the league as a bench player, Nevin got a chance with the San Diego Padres in 1999 and hit 24 homeruns with 85 RBIs. After a 41 homerun season and an All-Star selection in 2001, the power just about disappeared as Nevin produced seasons of 12, 13, and 12 over his last five seasons in the big leagues. Someone was juicing.
4. Greg Vaughn
Vaughn was a solid power hitter in the first seven seasons of his career, hitting 15-25 a season for the Milwaukee Brewers. 1996 brought about the ridiculous numbers for Vaughn as he hit 41 homeruns with Milwaukee and the San Diego Padres seemingly out of nowhere at age 30. He followed that All-Star season with just 18 dingers. In 1998, Vaughn hit 50 during the homerun chase season of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. 45 homers followed in Cincinnati in 1999 as he put together three seasons of 40+ homeruns in four years after the age of 30.
5. Richard Hidalgo
Talk about having a career year, Hidalgo can tell you all about that. In 2000, he put up insane numbers with the Houston Astros. Hidalgo batted .314 with 44 homeruns and drove in 122 runs in the Astrodome. He hit over 20 bombs in a season only twice more in his career, fading very quickly and was out of baseball at age 30. Hidalgo only played nine seasons, and none was bigger and more obscure than his 2000 campaign.