As any fantasy nut knows, just because a player was successful (or unsuccessful) one season, it doesn’t mean he’ll perform similarly the following year. We’ve all heard some version of this phrase echoed before when discussing player production: “this year’s statistics don’t equal next year’s statistics.”
There are some exceptions of course (see Pujols, Albert), but inevitably, you’ll have someone in your league that doesn’t do his or her homework. If they were to view 2012 as a 2011 clone, they’d likely avoid all of the players listed below. But in my opinion, each of the three guys I’ll discuss are in line for rock solid bounce-back campaigns.
Ichiro Suzuki. Yes, he’s 38 years old, and yes, he posted a career worst AVG (.272) and OBP (.310) last season. The good news? Ichiro remains one of the most durable players in the league, missing just 19 games since 2004, with 16 of them coming in 2009. And despite the down 2011, Suzuki remained a potent base stealer, notching his fifth career 40-plus steal season. With an improved offense around him – most notably from young stud second basemen Dustin Ackley – I love Ichiro’s chances of improving on his 80 runs from 2011. He’ll be a bargain pickup on draft day.
2011 stats: .272 AVG, 80 runs, 47 RBIs, 5 HRs, 40 SBs
2012 projections: .299 AVG, 89 runs, 48 RBIs, 5 HRs, 41 SBs
Jayson Werth. Werth’s 2012 can’t go any worse than his 2011. In his first year with the Nationals, the prized free agent acquisition posted a lowly .232/.330/.389 slash while striking out a career-high 160 times (or once every 3.5 ABs) With expectations tempered heading into year two in D.C., I think Werth performs more like the guy the Nats thought they’d get last season. Washington is considered the favorite to land top free agent Price Fielder, a guy who would certainly help take pressure off the 32-year-old. With a lot of owners down on Werth, I think he’ll provide solid value as a guy that’ll help you in five categories.
2011 stats: .232 AVG, 69 runs, 58 RBIs, 20 HRs, 19 SBs
2012 projections: .281 AVG, 82 runs, 93 RBIs, 27 HRs, 17 SBs
Carl Crawford. Crawford is one of baseball’s speediest, most athletic players. And he’s a member of one of baseball’s most dangerous lineups. But what in the world happened in 2011? As an owner last season, checking box scores and watching Sox games was beyond painful. Like Werth, it’s quite possible Crawford felt the pressure of living up to a big money deal. But I foresee a massive turnaround for the four-time All-Star. He’s simply too talented to perform at a mediocre level for another season, especially in Boston’s loaded offense. He recently underwent wrist surgery, but by all accounts it wasn’t major. While there’s some risk that he’ll miss a week or two of the regular season, I look for a huge leap in production.
2011 stats: .255 AVG, 65 runs, 56 RBIs, 11 HRs, 18 SBs
2012 projections: .298 AVG, 98 runs, 90 RBIs, 17 HRs, 41 SBs
Honorable mention: Kevin Youkilis, B.J Upton, Chad Billingsley, Mike Pelfrey, Joakim Soria.
Kevin is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games, a one-stop-shop for tailgate gear and much more.
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