Jose Bautista was one of the MLB's most surprising players of 2010.
As we head into the last three weeks or so of the MLB season, it's pretty clear which players have had the biggest breakout seasons in 2010.
This list consists of guys who weren't really thought of as being star players prior to this year but really proved it this year.
There are some guys who were past the age where they were expected to break out (Aubrey Huff, Jose Bautista), some who showed potential but delivered on it for the first time this year (Mat Latos, Carlos Gonzalez), and some who weren't even in the majors until the beginning or middle of this year (Buster Posey).
So, without further ado, here are the most surprising players/best breakout seasons of 2010.
Austin Jackson was great for the beginning of 2010.
Yeah, so he cooled off a lot after a truly amazing April and May, when he hit roughly .330 between the two months. Still, hitting .303 with 22 steals is about as good as it gets for most rookies. Plus, he's almost a lock to reach 100 runs in his first full season.
Admittedly, he has no power and he strikes out a lot, but he's a Rookie of the Year candidate for good reason.
Huff experienced a complete renaissance in San Fran this year.
Wow...we all thought he was done at age 33, but I guess not. Huff has put together a very impressive season, hitting .293 with 24 homers thus far. He may also have a shot at 100 runs and 100 RBI.
Not bad for a guy who hit .241 last year. Even more impressively, he put together a .386 OBP this season. Not bad at all.
Now, he's not a true "breakout player" because this wasn't even his best season (he hit above .300 as recently as 2008), but I included him simply because he was all but left for dead at the beginning of this season.
Posey was brilliant for the Giants after being called up to replace Bengie Molina.
Now for Huff's more-hyped Giants teammate, Buster Posey. Posey was called up partway through the season, but since then he's looked like the next Joe Mauer. As a rookie, Posey's hit .325 with 12 homers and an .875 OPS in only 330 at-bats.
Now, many prospect rankings listed him No. 1 (or at least in the top five) before the season, so everyone was warned in advance. Even so, Posey's certainly not making the Giants regret getting rid of Bengie Molina, as he has "future star" written all over him.
Ubaldo Jimenez got off to one of the hottest starts in recent memory, and has coasted to a solid season from there.
Jimenez had a truly incredible first two months, putting up a 0.78 ERA between April and May. He was literally untouchable for two full months, but he was mortal after that (especially since the break—he's put up a 3.98 ERA and 1.36 WHIP since then).
Even so, he's still put up nearly a strikeout per inning, with 178 over 190 innings pitched.
He's been good in the past, picking up 15 wins and a 3.47 ERA last year, but he already has 18 wins (meaning he's almost a lock for 20 wins) and a 2.79 ERA this season.
Trevor Cahill put in a great 2010 campaign, despite starting in the minors.
This was supposed to be the big breakout year for Brett Anderson, but he got hurt. So instead, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez ending up taking over the responsibility, as both put up excellent seasons for an Oakland rotation that could be great in the future with Anderson, Cahill, Gonzalez, and Vin Mazzaro.
Anyway, I'm grouping these two solid young pitchers together. Cahill has put up an incredible 2.61 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, although he's had a low strikeout rate (less than 100 strikeouts over more than 170 innings). He's also gotten 16 wins despite not spending the full season in the majors.
Gonzalez, who was once a top prospect but dropped off over the last few years, has put up a pretty good year as well, with a 3.16 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 179 innings.
Clay Buchholz has turned out to be Boston's best pitcher this year, with a huge season.
Clay Buchholz, similarly to Gio Gonzalez, was once one of the top prospects in baseball but struggled a bit in the last couple of years. However, he finally broke through in 2010, with a great 2.53 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, along with 15 wins so far.
However, he's had a similar problem to Trevor Cahill, as he's not striking out too many hitters (104 strikeouts in 152 innings).
That said, he's arguably been the team's best pitcher this year, as Jon Lester has had a few rough patches (although he did have a much higher K/9 rate) and Josh Beckett has had more or less a miserable season. Buchholz and Lester will give Boston dual aces for years to come.
David Price has put together a great season in his first full year.
Price has been one of baseball's most highly-touted prospects, but he hadn't played a full season until this year. He lowered his ERA by nearly two runs from last year and increased his strikeout rate as well (163 over 178 innings).
His stats thus far have been as follows: 2.78 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 17 wins (there's a good chance he'll get to 20 wins for the first time). Basically, he improved on last year's performance in every single statistical category, and at 25 years old right now, he'll be a great player for quite a long time.
Latos wasn't great as a rookie last year, but has broken out in a huge way this year.
This guy seriously deserves to be in the NL Cy Young conversation. A 2.21 ERA and 0.96 WHIP?!?! Really? He's only gotten 14 wins so far this year, but he has over a strikeout per inning and less than a baserunner per inning. That's about as impressive as it gets.
Prior to this year, he had only pitched in 10 games and had allowed a rather unspectacular 4.62 ERA. What a great year from this guy, and he's only 22 years old. He's a big reason the Padres have been so surprising this year, and he's been good both at PETCO and on the road.
Jose Bautista was a huge out-of-nowhere story this year, and will probably win the MLB home runs title.
Where did he come from? Bautista had never hit more than 16 homers or hit higher than .254 in any given season, and at age 29 he didn't look like he ever would do much better than that.
But in 2010, he has already smashed an incredible major league-leading 46 home runs to go with a career-high .266 average, plus 95 runs and 110 RBI.
Even though the batting average isn't great, he's been one of the most shocking players of the year, without question. He's had very solid plate discipline as well, collecting 90 walks already, giving him a .385 OBP. Not bad...
Carlos Gonzalez has put up an amazing 2010 season, considering he'd never played in more than 90 games in his MLB career.
Well, he doesn't have great plate discipline, but it could be worse, and he's great at pretty much everything else when he's at the plate.
Power hitting? He's got 32 homers, and he leads the NL in total bases and slugging percentage. Contact hitting? A NL-leading .335 batting average, and he leads the NL in hits. Speed? He's stolen 23 bases, and he's gotten more steals each year of his career. Fielding? He's only made one error this season.
Finally, he also has 96 runs and 100 RBI (which also leads the NL). What a year for "CarGo."