While obscene breakouts like Jose Bautista are often stretched decades apart, each season brings new stars that are able to develop/refine areas of their game—turning weaknesses into strengths.
Curtis Granderson has finally conquered left-handed pitching, Jacoby Ellsbury learned the importance of remaining quiet and balanced and Cliff Lee once bounced back from the minors with new-found confidence and command.
Who will take that next step in 2012 from role guy to star or star to bona fide superstar? Whose true potential will finally be realized?
We will aim to answer those questions for you with five excellent players under 30 who will jump into a new stratosphere this season.
Some important criteria in compiling the list include:
1. Must be under 30 years old: no rebounding veterans like Dan Uggla and Jayson Werth.
2. Must have completed at least one full season in MLB (150-plus games or 30-plus starts): no Matt Moore, Jesus Montero, Brett Lawrie and other brand new prospects.
3. Cannot solely be “improving” based on 2011 injury: must significantly jump above career trends, as opposed to reestablishing a previous performance base.
4. No “horrendous” to “decent” improvers need apply: jumping from a 6.50 ERA to 4.50 is a massive improvement, but this is focusing solely on game-changers.
Feel free to make the case for any of these omissions in the comment section or add more of your own, as I would love to debate some baseball with all of you.
Here we go, starting off with reigning World Series MVP.