Baseball's Breakout Players of 2008
Last year, my year end review picked a breakout superstar in each sport for that year. That will still happen, but in this slideshow I'm narrowing it down to just baseball and giving you the top breakout players of the 2008 season. Check out the Breakout Superstars of 2008 to find out who wins the overall award later this month.
Take in mind, this isn't necessarily for the best statistical performance, but rather the players who put themselves on the brink of "Super Stardom" with their seasons and prominent moments.
James Loney, 1B Dodgers
Loney was my pick for Breakout Candidate in 2008. He probably won't win it overall, but he is one of the picks after he capped off his season-campaign with a grand slam in the NLDS off Ryan Dempster. Loney was a model of consistency for his Dodger team that didn't hit their stride till the second half, playing in all but one game and knocking in 90 runs.
Evan Longoria, 3B Rays
As if there was any doubt that this young rookie would be here? He's the future face of the franchise that is everyone's new darling. He hits home runs and makes gritty defensive plays to boot.
27 home runs in the regular season and a rookie record for them in the postseason. He doesn't even need to be related to Eva Longoria either.
Edinson Volquez, SP Reds
He's not a rookie like many people think, he's the runner-up in the NL strikeout race (shared with Haren and Santana). Fellow Dominican Fausto Carmona won this award last year for his bright light performance against the Yankees and while Volquez didn't have a playoff platform to shine, he owned the first half of the regular season, including a showdown with AL Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee.
Volquez is the pitching superstar that Cincinnati needed in their boom-box of a stadium. While Johnny Cueto might have taken some early publicity away, Volquez outlasted him and showed he is an Ace-in-waiting.
John Danks, SP White Sox
No, Gavin Floyd won't be joining his rotation-mate John Danks in this and it's rather simple why.
Floyd won more games, but Danks was more electrifying on the bigger stage. When his team needed him the most, Danks lifted the White Sox over the Twins in the crucial play-in game a day after the regular season ended.
Danks also pitched into the seventh inning of the White Sox only playoff win against Tampa Bay.
Shane Victorino, OF Phillies
How can you not like the "Flyin' Hawaiian'"?
Shane Victorino grew up throwing coconuts, surely a reason his arm is so strong, now he's cemented himself as one of the Phillies' key players. He gets over-shadowed by the likes of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley, and understandably so.
But his personality and talent makes him a prime candidate for Breakout Player of the Year.
B.J. Upton, OF Rays
Behold the glitz and glamor that is Bossman Junior Upton. B.J. for short of course.
Upton went through some turmoil with his manager Joe Maddon for not running out ground balls and found himself riding the pine. After overcoming that and some injuries, Upton went on to shine int he postseason.
With speed, power, and defense, Upton is an all around player who will team up with Longoria for years to come and now that he's had the postseason stage to shine, the world is aware.
Joakim Soria, CL Royals
It's only a matter of time before people being to take notice of Joakim Soria and the job he is doing in Kansas City.
A Rule-V pick by the Royals a few years ago, he was taken with the intent of being a Jonathan Papelbon for Kansas City.
He's been exactly that, just in case you aren't paying attention to what's going on with the Royals.
Soria led all American League closers not named Francisco Rodriguez in saves. He also has the fire and intensity that makes closers the stars of their team.
Nate McLouth, OF Pirates
You're probably asking me how the Pittsburgh Pirates have a player on here, but once I get done you will understand.
Nate McLouth doesn't have the body type of a home run hitter, but the little man can rake. He doesn't have the signature moment of a playoff game, but he has his throw from center field to nail Dioner Navarro at home plate in the All Star Game.
He may not have a lot of ammunition to take on some of the players on this list, but he is in the conversation and if were on a more prominent team, he would have the chance to shine.
Josh Hamilton, OF Rangers
Did you really think we could do this whole thing without the story of the Summer?
Josh Hamilton had the bright lights of Yankee Stadium and the Home Run Derby to put on a display of ultimate strength and determination, something he ultimately needed to battle his addictions.
Hamilton also had the numbers in the regular season to back it up and with the past in the past, Hamilton is ready to return to that road of stardom, but a much cleaner and heralded road instead.
Carlos Quentin, OF White Sox
Probably one of the more unrecognized players in the entire MLB Quentin did nothing but hit more home runs than everyone, save Miguel Cabrera, and he even missed the final month of the season.
Quentin lost his time to shine due to that injury that caused him to miss not just the final month, but the White Sox postseason run. Surely their offense would have been able to come up with the clutch hits had they had the guy that was providing most of them all year.