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One of the things that it is uncomfortable about being an avid sports fan is watching your favorite players deteriorate. After watching this past Yankees season I can state that Posada was dead out of the gate. One of the cornerstones of the last twelve or so seasons is done. He can’t play anymore, Russell Martin and Jesus Montero are simply better options at this point. No one wants to see their idols break down in front of them, but that’s sports.

Luckily there is a flip side to this coin: watching young players come into their own and reach their potential. I wanted to point out and celebrate five players that made the leap this year. The trick is hoping that these seasons weren’t fluke but the start of a string of great years.

The Top Five

Matt Kemp - .324/.399/.586 39 HR/126 RBI / 40 SB – Matt Kemp rebounded nicely from the 2010 season in which his immaturity easily overshadowed his on field performance. If the Dodgers are to return to the playoffs Kemp will be one of the young players that they must rely on. He is a potential 40/40 player who hits for a high average. Kemp reminds me a lot of Daryl Strawberry offensively, but with better range defensively. I hope his career doesn’t mirror Strawberry’s.

Jacoby Ellsbury - .321/.376/.552 32 HR / 105 RBI / 39 SB – Pretty much the Matt Kemp of the American League (granted Kemp did it with less protection). Ellsbury was once considered the weakest link in the Red Sox future, a player that could be traded to bring in a big name, or to be shunted over to accommodate another player. Ellsbury has silenced his critics and then some. He was the only Red Sox (well besides Scutaro) that tried to hold off the collapse and quite honestly if not for Ellsbury, the collapse may have happened much sooner. The only thing not to like about Ellsbury’s season is that the Sox are now in a position to lose him because of the money they have tied up in underperformers like Lackey and Crawford.

Justin Upton - .289/.369/.529 31 HR / 88 RBI / 21 SB – It is easy to forget that Upton isn’t even 25 yet, he seems older than that. Upton put together a season worthy of the hype he had in the Farm System. It is safe to say that ‘The Other Upton’ is now BJ. Justin helped lead the surprise Diamondbacks to the NL West crown and into the playoffs. Arizona has a strong young core and should easily contend for the foreseeable future.

Alex Avila - .295/.389/.506 19 HR / 82 RBI – Avila made Victor Martinez’s signing look like a waste of money, as he was easily the best catcher on the Tigers. The Tigers relied upon Avila’s bat to help get them into the playoffs, but they also trusted the young Avila to manage the pitching staff. While Detroit’s staff wasn’t great, they maximized their talent, enough so to win the AL Central. Much more will be expected of Avila next season.

Alex Gordon - .303/.376/.502 23 HR / 87 RBI / 17 SB – Alex Gordon has gone from top ranked prospect to bust to where he is now, a break out player. It may have taken an exile to the Royals for Gordon to reach the potential that made him a ‘Can’t Miss’ prospect when he was tearing apart AAA pitching. It seems like Gordon is here to stay and is on a very intriguing, young Kansas City team that may surprise people next year.


If you’re jonesing for MLB Playoff News, The Sports Jury will be on top of things all October long. And if you’re looking for 2012 MLB Tickets, they’re actually on-sale now. The sun will come up, Red Sox fans. That goes for you too, Cubs fans.

Whats Your Verdict?