Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians
2007 Stats- 147 G .301 AVG 78 R 25 HR 114 RBI
2008 Stats- 73 G .278 AVG 30 R 2 HR 35 RBI
Analysis: Martinez's 2008 campaign was limited to 73 games due to hamstring and elbow injuries. However, he played well in September, hitting .288 with two home runs and 14 RBI, so there is definitely hope Martinez will have a strong 2009 campaign. He is still only 30 years old, which means he should be young enough to regain his 2007 form of .301 AVG 78 R 25 HR and 114 RBI. If DH Travis Hafner plays anywhere near what he used to be, look for Martinez to have a huge year.
Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians
2007 Stats- 152 G .266 AVG 80 R 24 HR 100 RBI
2008 Stats- 57 G .197 AVG 21 R 5 HR 24 RBI
Analysis: Pronk fell off the ship last year, limited by an injury to his right shoulder, hitting a terrible .197 in 57 games. There is only room to go up, right? He is still only 31, had a successful surgery this fall, and along with Victor Martinez, will be considered a comeback player of the year..if he stays healthy.
Howie Kendrick, Angels
2007 Stats- 88 G .322 AVG 55 R 5 HR 39 RBI 5 SB
2008 Stats- 92 G .306 AVG 43 R 3 HR 37 RBI 11 SB
Analysis: Kendrick is arbitration eligible in 2010, so this year would be a great time for Kendrick to prove that he deserves a pay raise over the minimum. Despite being limited by injuries the last two seasons, Kendrick has put up excellent and consistent numbers. If he plays at least 150 games, look for him to be around a .310 AVG, 90 R, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 20 SB, all not too shabby for a 2B.
Mike Lowell-Boston Red Sox
2007 Stats- 154 G .324 AVG 79 R 20 HR 120 RBI
2008 Stats- 113 G .274 AVG 58 R 17 HR 73 RBI
Analysis: Despite only playing in 113 games last season, Lowell still put up good numbers in 17 HR and 73 RBI, mostly Big Papi/Manny-Less. Big Papi is back this year at full strength along with a much more motivated Red Sox team that will look to re-capture the American League East title. If Lowell stays healthy, look for a return to his 2007 numbers.
Troy Tulowitzki- Colorado Rockies
2007 Stats- 155 G .291 AVG 104 R 24 HR 99 RBI
2008 Stats- 101 G .263 AVG 48 R 8 HR 48 RBI
Analysis: Looked as by many as a possible MVP candidate in 2008 following a strong '07 campaign, Tulo was sidelined for a good portion of last year with injuries. After the All-Star break, though, Tulo came back and hit .327 with 30 RBI in August and September. Look for him to be motivated to prove that '07 was not a fluke. He will be without Matt Holliday this year, but playing in Colorado always helps the numbers.
Jeff Francouer—Atlanta Braves
2007 Stats- 162 G .293 AVG 84 R 19 HR 105 RBI 129 K 42 BB
2008 Stats- 155 G .239 AVG 70 R 11 HR 70 RBI 111 K 39 BB
Analysis: Francoeur had a terrible 2008 campaign, hitting only .239 and at one point being demoted to the minors. Don't forget that Francoeur is capable of putting up big numbers, as evidenced by the .293 105 RBI campaign of 2007. If he corrects his swing, look for him to be a huge sleeper in '09.
2007 Stats- 143 G .285 AVG 100 R 25 HR 103 RBI
2008 Stats- 93 G .294 AVG 43 R 9 HR 45 RBI
Analysis: Matsui is still only 35, and in baseball years still has a few years left in the tank. He was limited by injury last year, but still was able to hit .294 and drive in 45 runs in only 93 G. Hitting with newcomer Mark Teixeira and a motivated Alex Rodriguez, look for Matsui to have a big year.
2007 Stats- 150 G .262 AVG 84 R 22 HR 78 RBI
2008 Stats- 153 G .219 AVG 86 R 24 HR 69 RBI
Analysis: After putting up decent power numbers with the Oakland A's in the early part of his career, Swisher went to the White Sox and had a terrible year, hitting only .219 in an offensively deficient White Sox lineup. Was it a function of trying to do too much? Getting placed in a lineup with the likings of Jeter, A-Rod, Tex, and Matsui will solve the problem.
2007 Stats- 34 GS 18-13 3.95 ERA 177 K
2008 Stats- 30 GS 14-6 3.91 ERA 130 K
Analysis: Zambrano had a dismal 2008 campaign, despite making the claim in spring training that he would win the Cy Young. Was it a case of trying to do too much? Maybe, but Zambrano battled injuries most of the season and was playing through pain. Look for a much more motivated Zambrano to anchor the Cubs rotation and put up stats similar to '07.
2007 Stats- 28 GS 13-5 3.16 ERA 221 K
2008 Stats- 15 GS 6-4 3.67 ERA 72 K
Analysis: After having a career year in '07 with Baltimore, Bedard traded to Seattle last year, and had a terrible '08 campaign, having trouble staying healthy. Is Seattle the place where career years and huge contracts fall to nothingness? (Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre?) Who knows, but look for Bedard to be healthy this year and put together a strong '09 campaign.
2007 Stats- 34 GS 16-6 3.73 ERA 218 K
2008 Stats- 29 GS 6-17 4.78 ERA 153 K
Analysis: Did the innings he pitched in '07 catch up to him? The atmosphere in Cincinnati has certainly changed with the departure of Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr., and Harang finds himself in a good rotation with Edison Volquez. If he can stay healthy and shake off '08, look for a rebound season for Harang.
2006 Stats- 32 GS 15-8 3.09 ERA 184 K
2007-2008 Stats- 4 GS 3.5 ERA 10 K
Analysis: Every comeback player of the year list has to include Chris Carpenter. It deserves no explanation.
2007 Stats- 48 G 5-2 2.88 ERA 16-21 SV
2008 Stats- 63 G 7-5 3.73 ERA 18-25 SV
Analysis: Street has been battling injuries the last two years, and finally seems to be healthy and looking for a fresh start in Colorado. Will enter the season as the closer, but former closer Manny Corpas will be looking over his shoulder.