A brief look at some potential candidates for the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award......
1. Jimmy Rollins - SS - Philadelphia Phillies
For the third consecutive season following his 2007 MVP campaign, Jimmy Rollins numbers have dropped. Gone is the player that once would consistently hit .280, hit 20+ home runs, and steal 40+ bases. Rollins used to be the ultimate threat in baseball. He has three gold gloves, three all-star appearances, a silver slugger, and an MVP award under his belt and is still relatively young at age 32. Rollins was the best shortstop in the National League a few years ago, but some feel his MVP season in 2007 may have gotten to him as Rollins hasn't been the same type of player since. After hitting 25 and 30 home runs in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Rollins power dropped considerably in the seasons that followed. Not only were his home run totals down, but Rollins could no longer hit as many extra base hits as he used to. His batting average has decreased every season as well as Rollins hit a measily .243 last year. Compounding to the problems at the plate, Rollins has had multiple injuries that have held him back. Last season alone, Rollins missed 74 games with injuries to his calf, a bruised left foot, and a right hamstring. While the Phillies picked up Rollins 8.5 Million Dollar option for 2011, Rollins remains without a contract for next season. If his play doesn't improve, there are serious questions as to whether or not the Phillies should invest to keep him around long term. Rollins has the potential to turn his career around. He has the right skillset and considering the lineup and ballpark he plays in, he should be capable of putting up big numbers. Considering Rollins is in a contract year and is coming off the worst season of his professional career, "J-Roll" is and excellent candidate for the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
2. Carlos Lee - LF - Houston Astros
Much of the Houston Astros lack of success last season can be attributed to the team not getting much production from star outfielder Carlos Lee. While Lee still managed to hit 24 home runs and drive in 89 runs, those are his lowest totals since his 2001 season with the Chicago White Sox. Compounding to problem was Lee's lifeless bat. Even in seasons where Lee has shown less power than usual, he still has always been a very good contact hitter. In the 11 seasons prior to last year, Lee averaged a .291 batting average. Last season, that was Lee's on base percentage as he only managed a .246 average and 37 walks in 605 at bats. "El Caballo" is getting paid 18.5 Million dollars next season to be the Astros star player. Because Lee has never shown any signs of declining before last season, he could very easily bounce back to form and become the National League Comeback Player of the Year.
3. Aramis Ramirez - 3B - Chicago Cubs
The success of the Chicago Cubs season is highly correlated with both the health and the play of third basemen Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs have disappointed over the past two years in large part because Ramirez was either injured or inneffective at the plate. In 2009, Ramirez missed 80 games with injuries to his back, calf, and a dislocated left shoulder. Last season Ramirez missed 38 games due to an injury to his thumb and quadriceps. Meanwhile, Ramirez's production at the plate completely dropped off. Ramirez, a career .282 hitter, hit just .241 and had an on base percentage of just .294. So far this spring, Ramirez has looked good, hitting for a .286 average. Ramirez has a 16 Million dollar for next season that won't be picked up unless he has a big season. Considering Ramirez looks to be fully healthy and will want to be playing for a contract next season, he stands as a good candidate to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
4. Carlos Beltran - RF - New York Mets
Carlos Beltran was once a player that had the complete package of athleticism, skill, and natural baseball instincts. His ability to hit from both sides of the plate for considerable power, combined with his speed on the basepaths made him one of the games most dangerous. That's at least what the Mets thought he would be when he signed a 7 year, 119 Million dollar contract back in 2005. Beltran lived up to the contract for the first 4 seasons, but has fallen off due to injuries in both 2009 and 2010. The former five time all-star and 1999 Rookie of the Year missed 98 games last season with a knee injury. Due to the injury, Beltran has lost some mobility and will be moved to right field for the first time in his career as a regular. In Spring Training so far, Beltran was shut down due to tendinitus in the injured knee, but has since been cleared to play. If Beltran can resemble the player he once was prior to inury, this award may be his for the taking.
5. Pablo Sandoval - 3B - San Francisco Giants
After having a breakout season in 2009, Pablo Sandoval struggled mightily at the plate in 2010. Sandoval almost won the National League batting title in 2009, but couldn't manage to hit left handed pitching last season batting just .227 against southpaws. In addition, Sandoval did not show a commitment to improving his conditioning and was considerably overweight. Sandoval's range at the hot corner was one of the worst in the league. After losing his starting job late last season, Sandoval is out to prove that he deserves to be a starter in this league. So far in spring training, Sandoval has shown such commitment losing 38 pounds and dropping is body fat by 11%. With the weight loss, Kung Fu Panda has shown improved range at third and is hitting the ball well. He already has 3 home runs this spring and he remains a great candidate to bounce back in 2011.
NL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates
Posted on: March 15, 2011 8:10 pm