These five hitters were coming off good to excellent seasons in 2008 and almost everyone was expecting similar years in 2009, if not better. However, that did not happen. Let's take a look at these five hitters closely.....
Russell Martin - Age 27
2009: 7HR-53RBI-63R-11SB-.250 Avg
2008: 13HR-69RBI-87R-18SB-.280 Avg
Martin saw his numbers fall in every category last year. Have the Dodgers played Martin too much the last 3 years? In the last 3 seasons Martin has played in 449 games with 96% of those games at catcher. Now Martin is a differnt kind of player because even in 07 & 08 where Martin had big years, his biggest appeal was he was a poor man's 5 category player though not that poor because Martin gave it to you at catcher, which numbers are very hard to come by. So what can we expect in 2010? Players do have bad years and Martin is only 27, but the work load over the last 3 years is a bit of a concern. I believe the smart way to look at Martin is his overall career which says that Martin is a better player than the numbers in 2009. Having said that, do not assume Martin will go back to his 07 & 08 production in 2010, and by no means pay for Martin on draft day based on 07 & 08. Expect a good year and hope for a great year.
Geovany Soto - Age 27
2009: 11HR-47RBI-27R-1SB-.218 Avg
2008: 23HR-86RBI-66R-0SB-.285 Avg
Soto saw his numbers almost cut in half if not more across the board while his average crashed in 2009. Soto did deal with shoulder and obligue injuries last year so I am sure that played a big role. However was it the whole story? Keep in mind sometimes it's very hard when expectations on put on your players for the first time. Going into season it looked like Soto was going to be one of the top NL catchers for the next few years. That still could happen considering he had 163 less AB's in 09. Good fantasy baseball advice would say close to 20HR, 70RBI & 50R are very realistic but figure an average around .260.
Kelly Johnson - Age 28
2009: 8HR-29RBI-47RBI-7-.224 Avg
2008: 12HR-69RBI-86R-11SB-.287 Avg
Johnson was basically the Russell Martin at 2B. Not a killer in any category but did everything good. Johnson has shown in his career that he is a streaky hitter and last year while Johnson struggled Martin Prado excelled and it made it very hard for Johnson to get AB's. Johnson now gets a freash start in Arizona and could be a nice buy come draft day at a very weak position.
Corey Hart - Age 28
2009: 12HR-48RBI-64R-11SB-.260 Avg
2008: 20HR-91RBI-76R-20SB-.268 Avg
Keep in mind that Hart missed pratically the last 2 months due to an appendectomy. One good sign is Hart's walks were up 59% in 2009. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Hart has dropped over 20 lbs this off-season. Hart put up 20HR & 20SB seasons in 07 & 08 and there are only a few guys in the NL who can do that. If you can get a good price on Hart come draft day roll the dice on him.
Alfonso Soriano - Age 34
2009: 20HR-55RBI-64R-9SB-.241 Avg
2008: 29HR-75RBI-76R-19SB-.280 Avg
There are a lot of signs here that say that Soriano's monster years are a thing of the past. First Soriano is heading to his mid 30's and had knee pain last year so one what have to think Soriano will only look to steal when games are on the line. If you can get 15SB's from Soriano next year take it and run. Also, Soriano, due to numerous injuries, has not reached 500 AB's the last 2 seasons. Throw in the fact that Soriano has always been an undisciplined hitter and I am very leary of Soriano. Soriano in most drafts will probably go more than he should because of his name, don't be the owner that overpays for him. I would pass on him and go after other players.
Next NL King article will feature 5 NL pitchers looking to bounce back in 2010.
NL King - C.Lizza