MLB Players Who Will Have Strong Comeback Seasons
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A short memory is best when it comes to baseball.
As a new season gets underway, many players view this as a chance to start fresh.
Seasons plagued by injury or poor performances have these players hungry to show what they’re capable of.
Even the most seasoned of veterans go through a rough patch. In 2011, Adam Dunn couldn’t find his swing at all, hitting a measly .159 with just 11 homers. Last season, he clubbed 41 home runs on his way to earning the Players Choice American League Comeback Player of the Year award.
Nobody likes to miss time with injury or go through slumps that last months.
For these players, you just have to turn the page. Let’s take a look at some players who will have bounce-back seasons.
The Padres will benefit from having Quentin in the lineup.
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The Padres are expecting big things from Carlos Quentin this season.
He missed a major chunk of games in 2012 and his numbers were an indication. He hit .261 with 16 homers and 46 RBI in just 86 games played.
Quentin has been working extremely hard to get past his injuries and stay healthy for a full season. He had knee surgery last March, which didn’t help him stay on the field, so he had another arthroscopic knee surgery in October to help him get a full offseason of workouts in.
That’s the biggest issue for Quentin. He has to stay on the field. If he is in the lineup, he will be productive.
Manager Bud Black expects him to play anywhere from 120 to 135 games. He’ll need the occasional rest to keep up with the 162-game season.
If he’s able to stay in the lineup, his bat will provide extra power and his numbers will see a vast improvement.
Brian Roberts looks to revitalize his career.
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It’s been a rough few years for Brian Roberts, who hasn’t seen much of the playing field.
He’s been sidelined with a variety of injuries. Concussions, back spasms, surgery for a torn labrum in the hip and surgery for a sports hernia have caused Roberts to play in just 115 games over the past three seasons.
He comes into spring training healthy and eager to prove to manager Buck Showalter that he can still be an everyday second baseman.
When he’s healthy, he’s dangerous. A leadoff hitter, he gets on base, steals and can find the gaps. His versatility is invaluable.
He’s looking forward to a full spring training and anticipates being the Opening Day second baseman, according to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli.
It’s been a long journey, but Roberts has been impressive so far in spring training and could be the feel-good story of baseball this year.
Bautista has been crushing the ball this spring.
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Jose Bautista is a pure power hitter with a great arm in the outfield. He smashed 27 homers last year until he suffered a left wrist injury in mid-July.
The injury came on a moonshot in Yankee Stadium that ended up a foul ball. He hit the ball so hard he just about ended his season, playing in only two games the rest of the way and eventually undergoing surgery.
Despite missing most of the second half in 2012, Bautista still leads the MLB in home runs since the start of the 2010 season.
He has been one of the most consistent hitters during his time with Toronto and posted a career-best average of .302 in 2011.
He hit a home run in the first spring game after surgery. The ball is popping off his bat, and he hasn’t missed a beat recovering from injury.
With the offseason additions the Blue Jays have made, Bautista will see more opportunities to drive in runs. He'll put up numbers similar to his 2010 campaign, when he hit 54 homers and drove in 124 runs.
Roy Halladay will be back to dominance in 2013.
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Roy Halladay struggled through nagging injuries in 2012, posting a 4.49 ERA.
Although he missed only eight starts, his velocity was down all year, and he was relying too much on his offspeed pitches.
The good news is he has exceeded 92 mph on his fastball this spring, according to John Finger of CSNPhilly.com.
He’s a workhorse. He pitched 17 complete games in his first two season in Philadelphia, including nine in 2010 when he won the NL Cy Young.
The 36-year-old has looked sharp in spring training games this year, although clearly shaking off some rust. He is testing out all his pitches and getting comfortable with his breaking ball.
In the same article, Halladay told John Finger of CSNPhilly.com:
I feel good physically and conditioning-wise. Really, I think that is ahead of everything else and it’s just a matter of fine tuning pitches.
Halladay will be back to the dominating pitcher he’s been for over a decade and prove his durability is still there in 2013.
Johan Santana looks to put together a healthy 2013 campaign.
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Johan Santana was in line to be the Comeback Player of the Year last season after throwing back-to-back complete-game shutouts, including the franchise’s first-ever no-hitter on June 1.
He then lost his last five starts of the season, giving up no less than six runs in each start. His ERA was 2.38 after the no-hitter, but then it skyrocketed to 4.85 at season’s end.
He finished the year on the disabled list after suffering a sprained ankle and inflammation in his lower back.
He may not be ready for Opening Day, but has begun throwing long toss and getting his shoulder ready for the lengthy season.
With a $5.5 million buyout looming, Santana has to prove he’s durable enough to get through this season healthy.
He’s had stretches where he’s unhittable and stretches where he can’t find the strike zone. The strength of his shoulder is key to his success, and any success the Mets may have as well.
Eric Hosmer still has a lot to prove.
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Eric Hosmer had the definition of a sophomore slump last year, batting .232 for the season. He was at a low of .172 on May 20 and peaked at .244 on September 12, but he couldn’t quite get it going.
This offseason, he focused on getting his body in shape for a 162-game season. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Hosmer had a detailed nutrition and workout plan while gaining 10 pounds in the offseason.
He figures to be a key piece of the Royals and will put last season in the rearview mirror.
Just 23 years old, Hosmer is going to learn from last year and get his career back on the right track.
He had 19 homers and hit .293 in 128 games his rookie season, so if he can get back to that form he could have a huge year.
It’s not like, ‘I hope he bounces back.’ I’m pretty firm in my mind that it’s a done deal. He’s bouncing back. He’s going to have a tremendous year.
There are high expectations for Hosmer, and he won’t disappoint this season.
Howard needs to sustain his strength through the length of the season.
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Rehabbing from a torn Achilles, Ryan Howard missed the first three months of the 2012 season.
He finished with a .219 average, 14 homers and a .295 on-base percentage in 71 games.
Howard is finally healthy and has come out swinging in spring training. He’s hitting .417 with three homers, three doubles and 10 RBI.
Howard is 5-for-9 in spring training games against left-handed pitching, including two doubles, a home run and six RBI. This is important for his production because he has notoriously struggled against left-handed pitching.
You can't look too far into his spring training statistics, but he often starts slow, so it's a good sign to see him so productive at this early stage.
If he can carry some of these successes into the regular season, then he could easily see a season of 40 home runs again.
A healthy and focused Ryan Howard will come back to All-Star form in 2013 and be a key piece in the middle of the Phillies’ order.
Ricky Romero hopes to return to ace form in 2013.
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Ricky Romero was the Opening Day starter for the Toronto Blue Jays last year after a promising 2011 campaign.
He had a career-high 15 wins in 2011 and a career-best 2.92 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .216 average.
Last season, he looked great for the first few months, starting the season 8-1. When July came, Romero’s season went.
He lost every game he started in July, going 0-6. In two of those games, however, Romero gave up two runs or less and lacked run support.
He started August off on a high note, getting the no-decision in a 3-1 win over the Oakland A’s. He then lost his next six decisions.
Finishing with a 9-17 record and 5.77 ERA, it was by far Romero’s worst season.
Despite not missing any time due to injury, Romero received platelet-rich plasma injections in his knees to help with tendinitis and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow to clean up scar tissue, per Gregor Chisolm of MLB.com.
Now, with the other arms in the Jays rotation, Romero won’t be relied on to carry the pitching staff.
We’ve seen how dynamic a pitcher Romero can be. With his injuries taken care of, expect to see the Ricky Romero from April and May of last season in 2013.
Matt Kemp can be the best hitter in baseball.
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Matt Kemp’s durability was tested last season when he hit the disabled list twice. Kemp is an MVP-caliber player who, despite injuries, still hit .303 last season.
He only had 403 at-bats compared to over 600 the previous four seasons and underwent surgery on his left shoulder in early October.
With the team he now has around him, a healthy Kemp is going to excel. He’s one of the most feared hitters in the game with his opposite-field power and his ability to spray the ball all over the field.
He boldly predicted a 50-50 season—with home runs and steals—prior to the start of last year. He didn’t anticipate only having the opportunity to steal 13 bases. He safely swiped nine bags.
With a healthy season, Kemp has the potential to be that 50-50 player. He continues to show off his unique combination of speed and power.
With Kemp on the field, the production will be there and the numbers will follow.
He’ll be back in the MVP conversation at year’s end.
The ageless Mariano Rivera will show the type of competitor he is.
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The greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, is returning at age 43 from a torn ACL.
With the loss of Rafael Soriano, the Yankees are going to rely on Rivera in the ninth inning.
He’s been as consistent a closer as possible, and though he’s coming back from injury, that shouldn’t affect his 2013 season.
If his cutter can still move, which is already shattering bats in simulated games, then there’s no reason not to think Rivera will save more than 30 games. He’s achieved that feat every year he’s been the Yankees closer, except 2002, when he saved 28 games.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Rivera back to his usual form and consistency.
He'll once again be one of the top closers in MLB.