Baseball is one of those games that can either be very kind or very mean. For the guys on our comeback list, 2011 was not a kind season. These players suffered from injuries and just poor seasons. Each of them would, albeit for different reasons, would label 2011 as a season to forget.
But, the great thing about baseball, and sports in general, is that there is always another year. For the men on this list, 2012 could be a great year. Their skill sets are still intact, and they appear to be healthy.
And for our fantasy players, keep an eye on these guys during your draft because they might be undervalued.
Before I introduce my list for potential comeback players in 2012, I'd like to address two players who have been mentioned as potential candidates but, in reality, their candidacy is very unlikely.
Yes, Pedro Alvarez has some amazing power and his 25 home run rookie season is only two years removed, but there are a lot of signs suggestion caution when speaking about his potential rebound.
For one, Alvarez was so bad that he was demoted to the minors, mostly because of his poor contact rate in the big leagues; back in the minors, that contact rate did not improve. Alvarez has had significant trouble against Left Handed Pitching (LHP); in 235 at bats in the second half of 2011, Alvarez hit .067 against LHP.
The ups for Gutierrez are that in 2011 he had a slight increase in contact rate, and he showed off his speed. But his fading power and terrible health make him an unlikely comeback. 2009 is long gone for him, and he probably won't be returning to that production again. I think 2010 with less power and runs batted in seems about right.
Adam Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2011 season. Naturally everyone felt that was the end of the Cardinals' season and, well, we all know the rest.
At 30 years old, and showing trends of continually getting better, Wainwright seems healthy and poised to make 2012 a big season. Tommy John can be tough to come back from, but Josh Johnson did it and it wouldn't be surprising if Wainwright does it this year.
After missing significant time in 2011 because of back and shoulder issues, Hanley is moving to third base and looking to rebound in 2012.
Given his still-strong plate discipline and a solid hit percentage, along with a much more powerful offense around him, he is sitting in a prime position to rebound. His power numbers may not rebound to the days of old, but expect his batting average to bounce back.
Another player who couldn't stay healthy in 2011. Mauer did, however, maintain his high contact rate in 2011 and, thus, gives us hope for 2012.
Somewhere between 2010 and 2011, as far as final numbers go, seems about right. His 2009 power numbers are certainly a thing of the past. His offensive value now rests solely with his solid batting average.
Prior to 2011, Crawford was a very consistent player. Healthy and with a year in Boston under his belt now, along with the powerful lineup around him, Crawford should have a nice bounceback year in 2012.
Expect a staple Crawford year: .280 batting average, 15 homeruns, 30-plus stolen bases and 70 RBI.
A player with his skill set is not likely to have two down years.
Adam Dunn makes this list, barely, but he's another one you should be more cautious about buying into. Expect some rebound, but certainly not to the pre-2011 levels.
His contact rate had dropped too far, and his struggle against LHP is at epic proportions. He does still, however, possess tons of power and good plate discipline.
All this suggests a small rebound, but not enough to win the award.