Carl Crawford and 10 Major Leaguers Who Better Have a Fast Start

Cody Elliott@VTCodyContributor IIFebruary 2, 2012

Carl Crawford and 10 Major Leaguers Who Better Have a Fast Start

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    Carl Crawford is coming off his first season with the Boston Red Sox and probably his worst as a major leaguer.

    In 2011, Crawford came into Boston with huge expectations that he could provide the boost the Red Sox needed to carry them to another World Series title. The team threw a ton of money at him in an attempt to outbid the Yankees.

    However, the money proved to be not wisely spent in his first season. Crawford finished with a .255 batting average and only 56 RBI for the season. His team faltered down the stretch and Boston was caught sitting at home when the postseason rolled around.

    If the Red Sox hope to have their money well spent from the big deal with Crawford, he will need to get off to a fast start and continue it in 2012.

    Here is a look at 10 other MLB players who better have a fast start in 2012:

Alex Rodriguez

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    Alex Rodriguez continues to be the face of the New York scrutiny after another poor postseason performance in which the Yankees were eliminated.

    Rodriguez has had his up and downs in his time with New York but has developed a reputation for routinely struggling in the postseason. He was the last out in last year’s playoff loss and it left a bad taste in many Yankee fans mouths.

    This season, he will need to get off to a fast start in order to avoid the scrutiny from heating up immediately. The 2012 season has the potential to be a very special one for the Yankees but much of it will depend upon the play of A-Rod.

Ubaldo Jimenez

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    Ubaldo Jimenez made headlines in 2010 for his amazing fastball and phenomenal record with the Colorado Rockies.

    However, last season he got off to a slow start and after being rumored in trades for a while, he was ultimately traded to the Indians. Jimenez finished the season with a rough 10-13 record and a 4.68 ERA.

    This season, Jimenez hopes to get back to his old ways and a fast start will be key. In 2010, Jimenez came out of the gates quick posting historic ERA numbers. If he gets off to another slow start in 2012, he could find his confidence down and another tough year on the mound.

Josh Johnson

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    Josh Johnson began 2011 the way any pitcher would like.

    He started 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA. However, after going down with an injury, he missed the rest of the season and now faces many questions about how he will rebound. The shoulder is the most important part of the body for a pitcher and it will be key to see how fast of a start he can get off to in 2012.

    If Johnson can begin the season with the same level of play as he did in 2011, the team will be a contender in the NL East. Johnson has stated to that “the shoulder feels great.”

    His start to 2012 will prove if he is telling the truth. 

Josh Beckett

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    Josh Beckett has developed a reputation as the ace of the Boston Red Sox rotation.

    He consistently has put up great numbers and been one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. However, down the stretch in 2011, Beckett struggled and the team fell with him.

    The team failed to make the postseason and much was in large part to his play. Many rumors circulated about the reasoning but it was hard to pinpoint one particular thing that could have went wrong.

    This season, Beckett hopes to earn back the fans' confidence with a fast start. If he can get out the gates and prove he is still the pitcher he used to be, Boston will be a contender. If he continues to struggle, it could be a long season for the Red Sox.

B.J. Upton

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    B.J. Upton had a nice season in 2011 but now faces a load of pressure in 2012.

    This is Upton’s contract year and if he hopes to get paid what he looks capable of, he will need to get off to a fast start in 2012 and maintain it throughout the year. Upton has become one of the faces of the franchise in Tampa Bay with Carl Crawford gone, but it remains to be seen if he can live up to the expectations.

    If Upton is able to get off to a fast start, his stock will only begin to rise and he could be in for a big pay day in 2013.

Prince Fielder

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    Prince Fielder was the star along with Ryan Braun last summer when he led Milwaukee to the NLCS.

    However, this offseason he followed in his dad’s footsteps and signed with Detroit. The contract was worth $214 million and surprised many by how much of a risk the Tigers took.

    The move has been praised by many but also ridiculed by some. Now, all the pressure is on Fielder for 2012. He will need to get off to a fast start to prove to both fans and the media that the Tigers made a smart move in signing him.

    If he doesn’t, it could be a very long year.

Jonathan Papelbon

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    Jonathan Papelbon has clearly become one of the best closers in the game.

    However, at the end of 2011 he didn’t look that way and his season ended on a walk-off home run that he allowed to send the Red Sox home with no postseason berth. This year should be a bit different.

    He is now a member of the Phillies and will need to prove he still has the ability to be a big-time closer. He must begin fast in 2012 to get himself back on track after a dreadful ending to 2011.

    If he is able to do so, the Phillies will have easily the best rotation in baseball.

Jose Reyes

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    Jose Reyes was the topic of conversation last year in New York.

    He created a bit of drama in the clubhouse as rumors circulated all season about where Reyes would land either via trade or free agency. So in the offseason, he joined the Miami Marlins and now the pressure is on.

    He was having a MVP-type season in 2011 but was shutdown early due to injury.

    This year, he will need to get off to a fast start to help the newly-located Marlins get off to a good start in their new home.

Adam Wainwright

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    Adam Wainwright missed all of last season.

    This year, he is expected to be out there and play a big role for the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals. However, many still have questions.

    In order to answer the questions that face him, he will need to get off a great start. The Cardinals lost Pujols to free agency this summer. Now, a lot more emphasis will be placed on the pitching staff instead of solely relying on the bats.

David Ortiz

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    David Ortiz has become known for getting off to slow starts each season.

    As the DH begins to age, the more likely he is to continue that trend. However, after the drama-filled offseason he has had, it will be key for him to get off to a fast start in 2012.

    The team also could use his skills early after the dismal ending to their 2011 campaign. The team will be under a new manager and a lot of questions are being asked about this team.

    Ortiz’s start could help define the season early.