By R.J. Anderson //
Biggest Surprise: Marlon Byrd
A surprise not in the sense that Byrd continued to hit, but that he continue to hit like he had never left Texas in the first place. His ISO dropped to .136 (his previous Rangers’ low was .152) but an increase on batting average in play (.335) and a drip in strikeouts helped buoy his line to .293/.346/.429. Byrd’s home runs and RBI totals predictably dropped sharply from Arlington levels. But Byrd’s runs scored total jumped to 84, the best result in seven years.
Biggest Bust: Aramis Ramirez
Ramirez reminded Cubs fans of washed-out prospect David Kelton more than himself while battling a thumb injury throughout the season. Ramirez’s power numbers (25 homers, 83 RBI) were excellent, but missing 38 games depressed his runs scored total, and Ramirez has now missed 30 games or more in three of the past four seasons. Worse from a fantasy perspective, Ramirez hit just .241 this season, his worst result in eight years. Ramirez’s .245 BABIP certainly hurt, but so too did his highest strikeout rate since 1998.
2011 Keeper Alert: Starlin Castro
The brightest spot of the Cubs’ season, Castro shot through the minors and made his major league debut in May. The 20-year-old hit .300 with 10 stolen bases and 53 runs scored. Someone with that kind of success at that age is usually setting himself up for a grand career. He’s probably a career keeper, especially at a scarce position.
2011 Regression Alert: Tyler Colvin
Colvin had a great year (20 homers, .500 slugging percentage in 135 games) despite never hitting well in the minors. The former first-round pick has talent, but expecting him to post those kinds of numbers heading forward might be a little much. As is, Colvin learns how to reach more often (.316 on-base percentage) or he risks losing playing time if/when his power numbers regress back to earth.