As it turns out, I was on the road all day yesterday picking up my car which had broken down in New Jersey last week. Merry Christmas to me. Unfortunately this prevented me from taking a look back at third base as I had planned, but don’t fret! Today you get another double-dose of 2009 recaps with both third base and outfield, but before we move on, let’s not forget how get got here:
What a crazy year we saw at third base. The consensus preseason top two (Alex Rodriguez and David Wright) barely clung onto top 10 status, and three of the top five could legitimately have their success referred to as a nice surprise. Don’t take my word for it. Have a look for yourself.
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MVP of 2009
Mark Reynolds (ARI) – It pains me to name a .260 hitter the position’s MVP, but the numbers don’t lie; Reynolds muscled 10 more HR than anyone else at the position, finished third in SB, fourth in RBI, and fifth in R. No other player at third base finished top five in more than three of those categories, so despite the shortcomings in the AVG department, he was still one of the most well-rounded players fielding the hot corner in 2009.
Honorable Mention: Evan Longoria (TB)
Comeback Player of 2009
Chone Figgins (LAA) – Remember how disappointing Figgins was in 2008? He only managed 453 AB, struggled to post a .276 AVG, and while you don’t draft him for his power numbers, he put up only 1 HR and 22 RBI. Twenty. Two. Needless to say, seasons like he had in 2009 are what made him one of the most exciting players to watch (and own) since he broke out in 2004. In fact, last year he had his best season as a professional, setting career marks in plate appearances (729), runs (114), doubles (30), walks (101), and OBP (.395). To illustrate how much he stepped up his game, consider that his previous career high in walks was only 65, and he also added five HR and 54 RBI to get back to that “respectable” threshold where he no longer kills you in power categories. As long as he’s scoring runs and stealing bases though, most people won’t care how many runs he drives in.
Honorable Mention: Adam Kennedy (OAK)
Breakout Player of 2009
Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) – Let me preface this selection by saying this: Evan Longoria did not break out in 2009. He did that in 2008. If you look at his per-game averages, expected BABIP, HR/FB%, WAR/game, and many other stats, you’ll see he had a nearly identical season to the year before, the only difference being he played 35 more games in ’09. Zimmerman, on the other hand, finally became a fantasy star. The addition of Adam Dunn to the lineup undoubtedly helped, but Dunn can’t take all the credit. Zimmerman saw a lower percentage of strikes this season (60.5%) than any other year in his career, but an improved eye yielded career highs in walks (72) and AVG (.292). At only 25 years old, this is the first of many more 30/100 seasons to come.
Honorable Mention: Pablo Sandoval
Most Disappointing Player of 2009
David Wright (NYM) – Entering 2009, Wright had all the indicators of a monster season. His HR totals had increased every year for four straight years, his lowest average in a full season was .302, he averaged 114 runs in ’07 and ’08, and he had never finished with fewer than 102 RBI. In short, he was as sure a bet as there was, but after posting only 10 HR and 72 RBI in the Mets’ first season at Citi Field, there are obviously numerous questions surrounding his underwhelming performance. Of all those questions, one is more pressing than all the rest: Why? Most blame it on Citi Field, but is that really the answer. In the coming days, we’ll try to answer that question by looking into whether or not Citi Field really is where homeruns go to die. While that answer is as of now unknown, one thing is for sure. If Wright slips to the end of the first round, get him.
Dishonorable Mention: Chipper Jones