Melky Cabrera has been in the league since 2005, but this came out of nowhere. In 2010, he had over 500 PA, and hit .255 with only 4 HR and 7 SB. He signed a one year contract with the Royals and ended up had an excellent season. He was traded to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez a few months ago.
The Giants contended last year (86 wins and 4 GB in Wild Card race) despite coming in 29th in runs, so Cabrera could play a big role in the NL West if he can continue to produce like this. This is a contract year for Cabrera, and it could be a chance to go back to the playoffs (where he has mostly struggled, except for the 2009 ALCS).
Every other player on that list produced well beyond one season, but it's too early to say if this is something we can expect from Melky every year. He'll have his chance to show it wasn't a fluke in 2012.
With the MLB offseason fast coming to a close, many pairs of eyes will be trained on the states of Arizona and Florida as pitchers and catchers finally start reporting to camp.
While a number of teams are widely expected to contend for the postseason, there are other teams that could surprise with better than expected seasons as well. Here are five such teams.
1. Colorado Rockies
Last season, the Colorado Rockies were many experts’ pick to win the NL West. However, Ubaldo Jimenez struggled throughout the season before his trade to the Cleveland Indians, Jorge de la Rosa and Juan Nicasio were both hurt, and Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez both struggled at times.
Now, the Rockies have added a wealth of pitching, and while the total sum may not have been top-tier, they should nonetheless add great depth. Veterans Casey Blake, Michael Cuddyer, Marco Scutaro, Jeremy Guthrie, and Ramon Hernandez have also been added, giving the Rockies more offensive weapons. Considering their disappointing campaign last season, they could very well surprise many in 2012.
2. Minnesota Twins
After a 99-loss season that saw a rash of injuries and inconsistent pitching in 2011, the Minnesota Twins are faced with an unlikely sight—looking up from the bottom.
Much of their success/failure in 2012 will depend on the health of their version of the M & M’s—Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Morneau stated in late January that his recovery is “right on schedule” to start the season at first base, and Mauer will look to play a full season, aided with the addition of catcher Ryan Doumit that will give Mauer flexibility in the lineup either at designated hitter or spelling Morneau at first. The addition of Josh Willingham will help upgrade the offense as well.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
With a professional sports record of 19 consecutive losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates look to break that streak of ignominy in 2012. The addition of Erik Bedard helps the starting rotation, and the continuing development of Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker will go a long way in determining if the Pirates can indeed break that inglorious streak.
A promising start to the 2011 season led to a classic freefall in the final two months of 2011, however, the Pirates have prospects on board who could arrive to bolster the roster at some point this season.
4. Kansas City Royals
Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Kansas City Royals have gotten far too used to losing in recent years. However, 2012 could see a significant change if the youngsters on board continue their development.
Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow and Johnny Giavotella all have a full year under their belts, and with the additions of Jonathan Sanchez and Jonathan Broxton, the Royals have a great mix of veterans and youngsters who just could propel the Royals well above the .500 mark.
5. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres only made one free agent signing of note (Mark Kotsay) who likely won’t impact them on a daily basis, however new GM Josh Byrnes certainly re-worked his roster with a series of trades that will make the Padres a very interesting team in 2012.
By adding veterans Huston Street and Carlos Quentin, youngsters Yonder Alonso and Andrew Cashner and a pitching-rich staff that will include Tim Stauffer, Corey Luebke, Clayton Richard and Dustin Moseley, the Padres could very well be the biggest surprise of the 2012 season.
"This is a guest post submitted by Mike Wright. Mike played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports now that he is too old to contribute at a high level. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world, and loves writing on different sports topics.”
.245 BA or lower, 16+ HR, 35+ SB (since 1900)
1986 Barry Bonds
1993 Eric Davis
2010 BJ Upton
2011 BJ Upton
BJ Upton (Rays) has had an interesting career so far, and could still emerge as a dominant player. He is only 27 years old despite having 3430 career PA and 5 seasons as an everyday player. Since what appeared to be his breakout season in 2007, he has been very inconsistent:
The only stat that hasn't rebounded is his BA, but at least he has continued to steal a lot of bases. A player on a good team that plays almost every day with his speed should be scoring at least 100 runs per year.
He has the ability to get on base (he has an OBP of .386 and .383 in 2007 and 2008), and he appears to be on the upswing on other facets of his offensive game. This could be the year he breaks out again, and it would be a good time because he hits free agency in 2013.
The last time it was under 12 (except for the strike shortened 1994 season) was 1992 (when it was only 8). If the trend continues, this could be a memorable year for how few players have big offensive seasons.