By Eriq Gardner //
Biggest Suprise: Carlos Gonzalez
Gonzalez’s superb season didn’t come completely out of the blue, as many pundits figured he’d be a good sleeper heading into the 2010 season. But the most valuable fantasy asset in all of baseball? Not even the Oracle of Apollo saw that one coming. This year, Gonzalez lived up to his power/speed potential and racked up a huge line of 34 HR, 117 RBIs, 111 runs, 26 steals, and a .336 average. How much is he worth going forward? The question was the subject of debate here recently: Yes, he’s a stud
. No, questions remain
Biggest Bust: Brad Hawpe
Hawpe was the model of consistency before the 2010 season. In four consecutive years, he hit no less than 22 HR and no more than 29 HR. In that time, thanks to his prowess versus right-handed pitching, he hovered right around a .287 average. This season, everything collapsed. Hawpe didn’t even get to double digits in home runs, hit a lowly .245, and experienced injuries and withering playing time that led to his release. Hawpe ended the season with Tampa Bay and will look to bounce back in 2011 – with very modest expectations.
2011 Keeper Alert: Troy Tulowitzki
Tulowitzki had quite a season in September alone, hitting 15 homers that month. Only five other shortstops in all of baseball hit 15 HR for the entire year. The strong finish more than made up for a broken wrist that cost him six weeks of action. Making just 529 plate appearances, Tulo finished with 27 HR, 95 RBI, 89 runs, 11 stolen bases, and a .315 average. His strong year plus the lack of talent at the shortstop position throughout the league makes him a first-round pick next season.
Regression Alert: Seth Smith
Smith had about the same playing time in 2010 as 2009: 398 plate appearances to 387. Smith increased his home runs from 15 to 17. But if there’s any reason why Smith might slip under the radar, it’s a disappointing batting average. In 2009, Smith flirted with .300. This season, Smith’s average fell to .246. However, give him a dozen more hits and double his playing time, and Smith is still a candidate to hit 25 HR and bat .300. There’s reason to believe: Hawpe is no longer sharing playing time, and Smith’s batting average on balls in play was an unlucky .256 in his disappointing season.