With more than a month remaining in the regular season, Mike Trout's campaign already looks like it might be remembered as the best ever recorded by a rookie. But the Los Angeles Angels center fielder's 2012 might have another lasting legacy: spoiling future rookie seasons for the rest of us.
While watching Trout run roughshod over opposing American League pitchers, it's easy to forget how rare it is for first-year players to be stars, let alone leading MVP candidates. However, it takes time for most young players (including Trout himself last season) to find their footing. Only one other rookie, 26-year-old Yoenis Cespedes, has amassed even a third of the value of the Angels outfielder this year.
Even highly rated rookies usually struggle in their initial exposure to big league pitching, and those who find success at first often suffer in their second trips around the league or in their sophomore seasons, as opponents start to exploit their weaknesses. Some of them recover quickly from these setbacks. Others take years to adjust, and many never put together the production that was expected of them.
The following 10 players ranked among the best 100 prospects in baseball at some point in the past decade, but they've all taken their lumps in the big leagues. This season, though, they look like they're back on track to fulfill their potential. But are they here to stay, or are they deceiving us again?