Over the next nine days until Opening Day arrives, Caught Looking will preview  2010 with a series of posts and predictions as we gear up for the new season. Let’s start this off by taking a look at possible comeback players:

Carlos Quentin – Most of these players on this list will be hoping to bounce back from a bad season of injuries, and Quentin is exactly that. He struggled after his breakout season in 2008 and then missed two months due to a foot injury. I expect him to bounce back. The former first round pick is too talented to hit .236 again, which was helped by his extremely unlucky .221 BABIP. The good news is even in his down year he still showed power with 21 homers in 99 games. Of course, health will be a concern, but you could say that about anybody in the game. You’ll be able to pick him up late in fantasy leagues and enjoy the power and rebound season.

Grady Sizemore – Sizemore is another outfielder that is too talented (and I’m not talking about his nude photos!) to hit like he did in ’09. The dude was injured all season and it showed as his average dipped to .248, homers dropped from 33 to 18, steals down from 38 to 13 and he only fought through 106 games before shutting it down. He was also unlucky as he BABIP was the lowest in his career (.275). He’ll rebound in 2010, he has to or the Indians bats could be horrendous.

Chipper Jones – Unlike most on this list, Larry can’t blame his 2009 decline on injuries as he played 143 games. So what’s the problem? Well Chipper is getting up there in age, but the guy can still hit. Maybe he should have taken more days off to rest. I have no doubts that Chipper will shrug off his down year and bounce back like he always does despite turning 38 in April. Look at his 2004 season when he hit .248 and rebounded to hit .296 the next season, then .324, .337, .364 up till last season. His power might never be the same, but his average will rebound and hover in the .300 range once again.
3B honorable mention—Aramis Ramirez – Considering the fact that he missed more than two months due to injury, Ramirez still hit in the 82 games he played. This is becoming a trend…if healthy, Ramirez will be a solid third baseman.

Russell Martin -Who saw that season coming from Martin? I don’t think I’ve been more disappointed with a player in fantasy baseball then with Martin’s production drop off significantly instead of taking off after his solid ’07 and ’08 seasons. Instead of knocking out 20 homers for the first time in his career, they practically disappeared with only seven while hitting .250. Alright time for some good news. Martin just turned 27, so he can still hit his prime at the right time. Also, despite not hitting for power and his average dropping, he still walked a ton to warrant a .352 OBP. Finally, the last bit of good news is while other fantasy teams are taking Mauer and McCann ridiculously early, you’ll be able to pick up Martin later as a pretty good bargain.

Where in the hell did that season come from, Russell?

Catcher honorable mention—Ryan Doumit – It would be thrilling to see what this guy could actually do if he stayed healthy for an entire year. That’s what he’s focusing on this spring. Stay healthy, Ryan, stay healthy.

Roy Oswalt – I had to get a pitcher on here before closing out the list. The 2009 season was the worst yet in Oswalt’s career (8-6, 4.12). In fact, it was the first time in nine MLB seasons that his ERA was even above 4.00, which is a credit to how stellar he’s been over his career. He was shut down late in the season due to a back injury. That injury most likely bothered him throughout most of last season, so why shouldn’t we expect a big bounce back year for the Astros ace? I expect him to rebound to about 13-16 wins and an ERA back in the low-to-mid 3’s, and fantasy owners will be able to grab him a little later than usual on draft day.
Pitcher honorable mention—Derek Lowe – Lowe owns a career ERA of 3.84 and that’s even with eight seasons in the American League. Last year, he moved from the Dodgers to the Braves and saw his ERA go up a whole run and a half. He was durable, though, making 34 starts for Atlanta and still winning 15. I still Lowe “lowering” his ERA back under 4.00. Get it? Lowe, lowering, ha. Yep, I think I’ll end on that.

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