Top Ten Fantasy Baseball Bounce-Back Players for 2012

There are some years where players do not meet the expectations placed on them by themselves, fans, and fantasy owners.  However, good players will find ways to rebound the following season.  Finding those players is paramount to having success in fantasy baseball leagues because poor performances the season before tend to move players under the radar.  This is where you can pluck a gem out of nowhere and be on your way to fantasy baseball stardom.

10. Jason Bay (OF-NYM).  I have been extremely vocal and harsh in my criticism of Jason Bay and the albatross that is his 4 year/$64 million contract he signed before the 2010 season.  Bay has been an utter disappointment and a complete failure during his tenure with the Mets.  He has been saddled with injuries and inconsistent play.  But after two terrible years, Bay could be primed for a comeback in 2012 as the walls at Citi Field have been moved in several feet which could lead to more homeruns and RBI for the slugger.  Bay plays hard and does put forth a good effort, so it would not be the most shocking thing in the world if he hits .275 with 25 homeruns and 90 RBI. 

9. Shin-Soo Choo (OF-CLE).  It was a lost season for Choo in 2011 which was marred with injuries and off-field issues.  He had become one of the better offensive outfielders in the American League before it all went bad last year.  Now that he is healthy, Choo should be able to return to the path he was on before last season and be a 20/20 player with a batting average that could approach .300 again. 

8. Ubaldo Jimenez (SP-CLE).  After a dominant first half in 2010, it has been all downhill for Jimenez ever since.  He was shipped off to Cleveland last year and it recently got ugly with a war of words between him and former teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  Jimenez has a ton of talent, but his drop in velocity was alarming.  He has a lot to prove this year as Cleveland’s new ace and could be in line for a rebound season. 

7. Jayson Werth (OF-WAS).  After Washington gave Werth a staggering $126 million contract before 2011, Werth went out and had a miserable season.  He was exposed as the primary focus of a lineup without sufficient protection like he had in Philadelphia with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  But the Nationals are a team on the rise and Werth should thrive now that a lot of the attention is off of him with the pending debut of Bryce Harper and a return to health for Ryan Zimmerman.  He may not ever live up to that ridiculous contract, but he is certainly capable of hitting .280 with 25 homeruns and 85 RBI.

6. Brett Myers (RP-HOU).  In a surprising twist, the Astros have moved Myers out of the starting rotation to be the team’s new closer.  He thrived in this role with the Phillies a few years ago, so he does have the experience and pedigree to close games.  However, the question is whether he will have many chances to save games because the Astros will not be a good team in 2012.  He is playing for a contract again which is always an added incentive for players.  Myers could be a decent second or third tier closer after proving he doesn’t have much left as a starter.

5. Jason Heyward (OF-ATL).  If you look up the definition of a sophomore slump, you may see a picture of Jason Heyward in the dictionary.  The 2010 National League Rookie of the Year took a big step backwards in 2011 as he was injured and overmatched.  Heyward possesses a ton of talent and is clearly better than the numbers he produced last year.  His toughness and dedication was called into question by future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, so Heyward has a lot to prove to himself and his teammates.  It would not be a surprise to see him come back with a .275 average with 25 homeruns and 80 RBI in 2012.

4. Alex Rodriguez (3B-NYY).  It is hard to imagine that the prolific Alex Rodriguez would be on this list, but he is.  A-Rod had a sub-par year in 2011 where injuries sapped him of his power and overall productivity.  He is only two years removed from 30 homeruns and 125 RBI, so it is unfair to say he is done.  On the contrary, A-Rod is primed for a big season after working on getting and staying healthy.  He will have ample opportunity to be a DH this year to stay rested.  He may never put up a vintage A-Rod season again, but he should be back to the 30-100 standard we are used to.

3. Carl Crawford (OF-BOS).  If it wasn’t for Jayson Werth, we would be focusing on Carl Crawford’s contract as the worst of all-time.  Crawford was given $142 million by the Red Sox after the 2010 season, and all he did was suck and suck even more.  Granted the expectations placed on him were enormous, it didn’t help that an early season slump prompted Terry Francona to shuffle Crawford all over the lineup.  Crawford never hit his groove and settled for the worst season of his career.  Now his status for 2012 is already shaky as he rehabs from offseason wrist surgery.  Once he comes back, it is likely Crawford will return to form and hit .290 with 15 homeruns and 75 RBI with at least 25 stolen bases and 75 runs scored. 

2. Hanley Ramirez (SS-MIA).  The temperamental roto darling disappointed lots of fantasy baseball players in 2011 as his numbers plummeted, injuries mounted, and his attitude worsened.  Now the Miami Marlins have displaced Ramirez to third base to accommodate free agent shortstop Jose Reyes.  This could be good news for fantasy players as Ramirez’s dual eligibility at shortstop and third base will make him even more appealing.  He has said all the right things in terms of his switch to third base.  However, his shenanigans will not be tolerated by new manager Ozzie Guillen.  Look for Han-Ram to rebound and have his typical season of close to .300 with 20+ homeruns, 75 RBI, and a slew of stolen bases.

1. Adam Dunn (DH-CHW).  It was impossible not to feel bad for Dunn who had one of the worst statistical seasons in baseball history.  He batted well below .200 and only managed 11 homeruns after having seven straight 30+ homerun seasons.  The cause for his ineptitude is unknown, but Dunn  is primed to have a better year because it would be impossible for him not to.  He will be a steal in fantasy baseball drafts because he has fallen off people’s radar, but there is still plenty of pop left in his bat.  Even if he doesn’t approach the 30 homerun plateau, he should still be good for 25 homeruns and 80 RBI with a batting average that surpasses the Mendoza Line.

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