Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano won the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2010
As Opening Day 2011 draws near, there have already been predictions of success and failure.
The MLB offseason never fails to entertain us, as there is always drama to keep us on our feet. From the moment the season ends, everyone wants the next season to begin.
The crowing of the San Francisco Giants as World Series Champions might have been a surprise to many, but so were many player's performances.
But nothing feels better than returning to the top from the bottom, and no one enjoys a good comeback story quite like baseball fans.
Six players make this list: their previous season performances have been lackluster, whether because of injuries or something else. But, they all clearly have the potential to be successful; they've tasted it before.
Who can and will contend for Comeback Player of the Year?
In 2010, this White Sox pitcher made $15 million. But he certainly did not live up to his large paycheck.
He finished with a mere 7-6 record and a 4.63 ERA. Despite having an ERA under 4.00 for five years straight, he was unable to deliver this past season. He gave up 55 earned runs/runs allowed and 13 homeruns.
An injury in early July immediately followed by back surgery did hamper the rest of his season. He is expected to be ready to go by Opening Day and claims he is in the best shape of his life.
The winners of this award in both the NL and AL in 2010 were pitchers who had both recently overcome an injury (Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson). Thus, the territory is friendly towards pitchers.
Peavy, at 29, is experienced. In addition to winning the coveted NL Cy Young Award in 2009, he has already successfully overcome a serious injury before (ankle in 2009).
He has been intensely rehabbing his torn latissimus dorsi muscle and has placed high expectations on himself to mirror those received from his team. The White Sox have a stronger roster than last season, which can only help a recovering pitcher. Look for him to start the season a little shaky, but pick up and finish strong.
The Cleveland Indians center fielder has been dubbed “Superman” for a reason.
By 2005, his star potential was shining when was named leadoff hitter. That year, he hit .289 with 81 RBIs (his second highest total of his career). From 2006-2008 he was voted an All Star, stole 93 bases, played in 481 games and hit 124 doubles.
Yet, his numbers saw dramatic decreases in 2009 and 2010 due to injuries to his elbow and knee, respectively.
Although the Indians may not be serious postseason contenders this coming season, their offseason moves coupled with players returning from injuries will help push them back to their 2007 success.
Sizemore has been with the Indians for seven years, putting him in a leadership position. He will come back from his injury and be a strong candidate for Comeback Player.
The 27-year-old pitcher is now starting for a Milwaukee Brewers team that finished in a lackluster third place in the NL Central.
Yet, he left a Kansas City Royals team that finished dead last in the AL Central. After winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2009 with a 2.16 ERA and 16-8 record, he fell to a 4.17 ERA and a 10-14 record in 2010.
He asked to be traded due to the “rebuilding” nature of the Royals and will hopefully be satisfied with a powerful Brewers offense backing him.
His 932 career strikeouts prove why he was chosen in the first round of 2002 draft right out of high school. He clearly is a winner and wants to continue winning.
They say the “grass is always greener on the other side” for a reason and Greinke will rebound and show the baseball world how much of a star he really is.
Everyone’s favorite Yankee had probably the worst season of his career.
After six straight years of batting above .300, he hit a measly .270. He did have some high points, winning his fifth Gold Glove award and committing his lowest amount of errors in his career.
He may be 36, but he is one of the most legendary New York Yankees players and is clearly one of the most driven. There is a reason why he was named captain of the Yankees in 2003 after leading them to three World Series Championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Two words: Derek Jeter.
He has proven to us over and over again that he does not like to lose. Having a bad season is not normal for Jeter, and he will undoubtedly rebound. With a new contract and a long offseason to work on improving, look for him to show us why he is such an amazing baseball player this coming season.
He is an 11 time All-Star, four time Silver Slugger award winner, and five time Gold Glove award recipient. He is classy on and off the field; everyone looks up to him.
His career batting average of .314 proves that he has the ability to have an incredibly strong 2011; and he will.
This second baseman for the Texas Rangers truly became a star when he hit for the cycle in 2009. He also became just one of two players in the Rangers’ 30-30 club. No one can probably guess that he was drafted in only the 17th round in 2000.
However, since 2008 his batting average has not been about .300. His hits, runs, doubles, triples, homeruns and RBIs have all been on a decline the past few years.
In 2010, his batting average was .281 and he had only nine homeruns and 45 RBIs. However, these numbers can be attributed to injuries: his ankle at the beginning of the season and his groin from July to September. Despite this, he made his second All-Star appearance.
Kinsler is a talented player, who has been labeled as a “five-tool player.” He holds many Rangers records and as also been recognized by the MLB. He has been plagued with many injuries in his career, but a strong finish to 2010 signals a strong start to 2011.
Scouts, coaches, managers and other players alike have all commented on his skills and strength. At the end of the day, players who have overcome adversity will continue to do so until they reach their ultimate goal.
Jones, 38-year-old third baseman for the Atlanta Braves, has been a household name since he entered the league in 1993.
Having been with the Braves his entire career, he has amassed numerous awards and accomplishments, such as being the only switch hitter to have a career batting average over .300 and over 400 homeruns.
He underwent knee surgery in the summer of 2010, but should be ready to go by Opening Day 2011.
Although he hit sub-.300 in 2009 and 2010, he did bat .364 in 2008.
This proves that he still has the ability to be a great hitter. This incredibly gifted player and leader may be entering into his last season and will make a serious run for Comeback Player of the Year.