What a difference a year can make for an athlete.
On August 9, 2009, Diamondbacks center-fielder Chris Young was sent down to the minor leagues. It seemed like a final blow to a player who had been steadily decreasing after being regarded as one of the best young hitters in the game after he finished the 2007 season with 32 home runs and 27 stolen bases.
But this year has been a different story for the talented Young. He has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for Arizona. He enters play today with a career-high .268 batting average, 17 home runs, 63 RBI, and 19 stolen bases, and even made appearances in the home-run derby and All-Star game.
The 17 home-run/19 stolen-base combo puts him as the closest player to reaching 20/20 this year.
A mechanical change made to his swing over the off-season has done wonders for Young, as his strikeouts are down this season.
That's one major reason he is having a career year in batting average; he's putting more balls in play. Young's combination of power and speed has always made him an electric player with the ability to change a game any time he came to the plate. But his struggles to get on base limited his potential. So if he is able to keep improving his plate discipline and contact rate, there's no limit to what he can accomplish in his career. Especially considering how he is also an excellent defensive center-fielder.
Young has put himself in the race for winning the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award. It really has been a nice story for the Diamondback's franchise that has pretty much been in a tailspin since their World Series title in 2001.
Here are a few other NL candidates:
- Corey Hart, RF, MIL- Has almost doubled last year's production already and was thought to maybe not have a job at the beginning of the season.
- Livan Hernandez, SP, WAS- If the season ended today his ERA would be under four for the first time since 2005.
- Tim Hudson, SP, ATL- Bouncing back from Tommy John surgery last season, he has posted a solid 10-5 record with a 2.47 ERA.
- Kelly Johnson, 2B, ARI- Johnson lost his starting job to Martin Prado in Atlanta last season but came over to the Diamondbacks and has been one of the best second basemen this season.