MLB: 10 Players Who Will Bounce Back in 2011

James Stewart-MeudtCorrespondent IIJanuary 26, 2011

MLB: 10 Players Who Will Bounce Back in 2011

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    The 2010 baseball season wasn't the best for many players. There were some big names who had down seasons and will look to rebound in 2011.

    There are a ton of factors that can contribute to a down season. Injuries, a poor lineup, and even the media can keep players in a slump for the entire season.

    Let's take a look at 10 players who will have bounce-back seasons in 2011.

10. Jason Bay

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    Jason Bay was supposed to give the Mets a big bat in the middle of their batting order to provide some pop in the cavernous Citi Field. However, that didn't exactly work out.

    Before going down for the season with a concussion July 25, Bay was hitting just .259 with six home runs, 47 RBIs and a .402 SLG.

    His 36-home run, 119-RBI performance for the Boston Red Sox in 2009 is what earned him his four-year, $66 million deal from the Mets.

    Like a lot of Mets, 2011 is all about health for Bay. He'll have to stay on the field and put up the kind of numbers he has for his entire career if the Mets want to have any chance at contending.

     

    2011 Prediction: .275 BA 30 HR 103 RBI .503 SLG

9. Jimmy Rollins

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    Injuries limited Rollins to just 88 games for the Phillies last season. He hit just .243 with eight home runs, 41 RBI and a .320 OBP.

    Throughout his 10-year career in Philadelphia, Rollins has been a lock for double-digit home runs and plenty of runs scored. With the loss of Jayson Werth, Rollins will have to put himself on base more for the big bats of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to drive him in.

    After adding Cliff Lee this offseason, the Phillies have assembled one of the best starting rotations in baseball, and are easy pre-season favorites to make the World Series. In order to do that, Rollins will have to return to form in 2011.

    2011 Prediction: .280 BA 19 HR 75 RBI 109 R .344 OBP

8. Pablo Sandoval

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    The "Big Panda" was almost a non-factor during the Giants' run to a World Series title. His weight has always been called into question, and he needs to show up to Spring Training with a few less pounds and a much-improved attitude.

    Despite the questions about his weight, Sandoval still started 152 games in 2010, so durability isn't his problem. He hit .268 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs.

    Offense isn't the Giants' strength, but Sandoval still needs to show the pop he did in 2009 when he crushed 25 bombs, drove in 90 runs and hit .330. If the Pablo Sandoval-circa 2009 shows up this season, the Giants will be an even bigger force in the NL West.

     

    2011 Prediction: .290 22 HR 88 RBI .490 SLG

7. Derek Jeter

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    Derek Jeter came under fire this season when he became a free agent for the first time in his career. Coming off the worst statistical season he's ever had, many fans didn't think Jeter was worth more than $4-5 million per season, and that maybe the Yankees should consider letting him go altogether.

    The Yankees eventually resigned Jeter for three years and kept him as the highest-paid shortstop in baseball.

    Jeter needs to have a big bounce-back season in 2011, not for the Yankees to contend, but to show his numerous critics that he's not done yet.

    In 2010, Jeter hit .270 with an OBP of .340, 35 points lower than his seasonal average. Despite the low OBP, Jeter still scored more runs than he did during his great 2009 campaign.

     

    2011 Prediction: .295 12 HR 76 RBI 109 R .385 OBP

6. Josh Beckett

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    Earlier this week, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Boston was the better team because of its starting rotation. For that to be true, Beckett will have to improve on his 2010 numbers.

    In 21 starts, Beckett went 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP.

    Beckett's numbers were down across the board from 2009. His K/BB rate fell from 3.62 to 2.58 and his BAA increased from .244 to .292. Becket will need to keep hitters off balance and get his fastball past them to have any success in 2011.

    The Red Sox's hopes for October baseball may rest on his shoulders.

     

    2011 Prediction: 18-9 3.25 ERA 185 K 1.13 WHIP

5. Zack Greinke

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    What kind of pitcher is Zack Greinke? Is he the 2009 Cy Young winner who posted a 2.16 ERA with 242 SO, or is he the 2010 pitcher who went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA?

    A change of scenery should answer that question in 2011 now that Greinke has made the move to the National League.

    Most Greinke supporters will point to his lack of run support and the losing mentality in Kansas City as the factors that have held him back in his career. Greinke has also suffered from depression and anxiety disorder, so we'll see what he does on a contending Milwaukee Brewers team.

    Greinke needs to show people the kind of pitcher he can be when he has a good offense and a winning culture to pitch for.

     

    2011 Prediction: 17-5 3.50 ERA 1.18 WHIP 201 K (third in Cy Young voting)

4. Matt Kemp

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    Like Greinke, Matt Kemp needs to answer a lot of questions in 2011. Fans need to know if he's capable of being the centerpiece of the Dodger offense.

    Coming off a fantastic 2009 season, Kemp hit just .249 with a .310 OBP. He did collect 28 home runs and 89 RBI, though.

    The Dodgers have a serious lack of power which could keep them out of contention in the NL West, despite their revamped starting rotation. There are some questions surrounding the Dodgers going into this season, but Kemp can't be one of them.

    If the Dodgers fall out of contention quickly, will Kemp stick around?

     

    2011 Prediction: .300 BA 24 HR 92 RBI .340 OBP

3. Derrek Lee

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    After his 35-home run, 111-RBI performance for the Chicago Cubs in 2009, Lee wasn't able to come even close to those numbers last season.

    Lee was traded to the Atlanta Braves in August and finished the season with 19 home runs, 80 RBI and a .260 BA.

    Lee signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles and will join a much-improved offense that also added J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds.

    A solid supporting cast should help Lee put up big numbers in 2011, not to mention, they only gave him a one-year deal.

     

    2011 Prediction: .290 30 HR 95 RBI .503 SLG

2. A.J. Burnett

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    If the New York Yankees want to keep up with the much improved Boston Red Sox this season, their starting pitching needs to step up, and it all starts with A.J. Burnett.

    Since signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract in 2008, Burnett has not produced for the Yankees, and 2010 was a disaster.

    Burnett went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in just 186.2 IP. He was up and down all season, finally imploding with a massive 11.35 ERA in June. He bounced back nicely with a 2.00 ERA in July, but was again terrible in August and September, which prompted manager Joe Girardi to leave Burnett off the Yankees' postseason roster.

    The loss of pitching coach Dave Eiland might not be the best thing for Burnett either. We'll have to see what Burnett can do in 2011, but there's no way he can be that bad again.

     

    2011 Prediction: 16-11 3.60 ERA 1.22 WHIP 210 K

1. Carlos Beltran

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    Carlos Beltran missed almost all of the 2009 and 2010 seasons due to injury and needs to show he's finally healthy this season. He's entering the final year of his contract with the New York Mets, and if he produces in the first half of the season, he's certain to be traded.

    In 64 games after coming back mid-season in 2010, Beltran hit .255 with seven home runs and 27 RBI.

    Beltran has had big seasons for the Mets since his signing in 2005, and he'll need to do so again if they want to contend in the NL East. However, the Mets probably don't have the starting pitching to keep up with the Phillies and Braves, so Beltran wont stay in New York much longer.

    If he's really finally healthy, Beltran can still be a productive player for any team. He'll be given a chance to stay in center field during Spring Training, but the Mets will most likely move him to right field to spare his knees. That could be a big boost for him and keep his trade value up.

     

    2011 Prediction: .285 28 HR 101 RBI .349 OBP .490 SLG