Five Bounce Back Baseballers For the 2011 MLB Season
Just as the baseball season begins each spring, it is equally inevitable that there will be a handful of players who don't live up to the promise shown in previous seasons. Yet, it's equally inevitable that a handful of these "busts" will bounce back with big seasons the following year. Below are 5 bounce-back players for the 2011 MLB Season. Below each player you will find a short checklist of that player's recommended cards.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants
The beauty of baseball is that stats never tell the complete story of team's success. If you had told me that Carlos Gonzalez would vie for the triple crown, Troy Tulowitzki would have a Mauer-esque power surge and Ubaldo Jimenez would win 15 games by the All-Star break, I would have assumed the Rockies won the West. Yet, that's not the case, as the Giants won the West on their way to a World Series title, doing so with an overweight Pablo Sandoval who was twice the shadow of his former self.
During the off season, Sandoval got into shape and lost 40 pounds, which when paired with his pristine stroke at the plate could lead to some big bounce back numbers, especially batting around Buster Posey and possibly Brandon Belt. A batting title may very well be in the cards for Sandoval in 2011.
- 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #152 Pablo Sandoval AU/819 ($50)
- 2009 SP Authentic #247 Pablo Sandoval AU/230 (RC) ($60)
- 2009 Sweet Spot #123 Pablo Sandoval AU/550 ($50)
Zack Greinke, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
In 2009 Greinke was absolutely un-hittable, winning the Cy Young with the use of the game's best late breaking repertoire. I've never seen a smarter pitcher vs. hitter face-off than those that took place between Joe Mauer and Greinke in 2009.
In 2010, Greinke looked lost at times, struggling to find the plate or establish any sort of rhythm. This tends to happen with players on teams that know their season is over before it even begins. Greinke is currently injured with a rib fracture, but once that heals, he should thrive playing in the National League on a contending team with a potent offense.
- 2002 Bowman Draft #BDP6 Zack Greinke RC ($8)
- 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft #6 Zack Greinke RC ($12)
- 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres #93 Zack Greinke AU XRC ($60)
Joe Nathan, RP, Minnesota Twins
Sometimes baseball doesn't add up. When you consider the fact that Nathan is almost 37 and that he's roughly 12 months removed from Tommy John surgery, you'd think that losing a few MPH on the old fastball would be the final nail in the coffin for Nathan. Yet, you can't keep a great closer down, as the same mind set that makes them an unshakable door slammer is the same mind set they use when dealing with adversity.
Over the years Mariano Rivera has been a fan of Nathan, praising the 4 time All-Star for his approach. When the greatest closer to ever wear an MLB uniform is a fan of you, that's saying something. Nathan will probably never compile the type of numbers that would warrant a call to the hall, but for a 5 year span he was as good as any closer in the game, which ironically is the argument used to keep players out. Like how the dinosaurs in Jurassic park "found a way" (to breed in spite of the fact they were all males), so will Nathan during the 2011 MLB season.
- 1999 Fleer Tradition Update #U101 Joe Nathan RC ($1-$2)
- 1999 Bowman #388 Joe Nathan RC ($2)
- 1999 Bowman Chrome #388 Joe Nathan RC ($5)
Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Unlike his brother B.J., with whom I am fairly certain will never get "it", the 23-year old Justin will take a big step toward becoming the player we all thought he would become in 2010 in 2011.
This will be in large part due to D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, who rules with an iron fist, preaches fundamentals and demands accountability in his clubhouse.
- 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC223 Justin Upton AU ($120)
- 2007 SP Authentic #161 Justin Upton AU/120 RC ($60)
- 2007 Ultimate Collection #140 Justin Upton AU /299 RC ($60)
- 2007 UD Black #64 Justin Upton AU /99 RC ($150)
- 2007 Exquisite Collection Rookie Signatures #162 Justin Upton Jsy AU/199 RC ($80)
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers
Coming off a monster 2009 season, Kinsler struggled with injuries and inconsistency during his 2010 campaign. Though it's dangerous to read too much into spring training stats, Kinsler is currently batting .393 with a league leading 5 home runs.
Seeing as how Kinsler isn't a no name player, it's fairly safe to assume than he could bounce back in a big way during the 2011 MLB season. He's shown signs of being able to hit for average and power during his first 5 years in the show, just never in same season. 2011 could be that season.
- 2005 Bowman Chrome #171 Ian Kinsler RC ($6)
- 2005 Topps Gallery #154A Ian Kinsler FY Green RC ($10)
- 2005 Topps Cracker Jack #201 Ian Kinsler SP RC ($12)
- 2006 Bowman Sterling #IK Ian Kinsler AU (RC) ($25)
- 2006 Ultimate Collection #123 Ian Kinsler AU/180 (RC) ($40)
- 2006 SP Authentic #288 Ian Kinsler AU/299 (RC) ($80)
- 2006 SPx #149 Ian Kinsler AU/999 (RC) ($25)
- 2006 Topps Chrome #340 Ian Kinsler AU (RC) ($20)