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This past year, Derek Lee followed up perhaps the second best season of his career with his worst season since a 1999 campaign with the Florida Marlins. Lee hit just .260 with an uncharacteristically low .347 OBP and just 19 home runs. So why should we expect a big season from Lee in 2011?
As with every player on this list, track-record has to mean something. Lee hit .306 with a .972 OPS, 35 homers, and 111 RBI just a year ago. Prior to 2010, he hadn't failed to reach the .280 batting average mark in over a decade, and had only once fell shy of a .350 OBP. Aside from missing half of the 2006 season, Lee hadn't failed to reach 20 homers in a given season since 1999.
While Lee struggled with the Cubs, he played very well after a mid-season trade to the Atlanta Braves. As a member of the Braves, Lee hit .287 with a .384 OBP. He only hit three home runs, but he also hit 14 doubles, giving him 17 extra base hits out 37 hits in total. His .465 SLG was just shy of his career average, and his 130 OPS+ was seven points above his career average.
Finally, Lee signed with the Baltimore Orioles this winter. While the Orioles have struggled over the past couple of years and play in a very tough division, they also play in a friendly hitters ballpark. Over the past few years, they've seen career years from guys like Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott. And the lineup they can put around Lee will be quite good. Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Luke Scott, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and so on.
Lee isn't going to win an MVP award, and he isn't going to play as well as he did in 2009, but he can still be an offensive force and he's in the right position to put up a big season in 2011.