Six players ready for a rebound in 2023

You know what the funniest part of the 2022 Comeback of the Year Award was? That, for the first time, both winners were players who have almost secured their places in Cooperstown. Justin Verlander won the award in the American League (along with the Cy Young Award) and Albert Pujols won it in the National League, in what was his last major league season. Heading into the 2022 season, Verlander seemed to have a chance to win it, as he was coming off injury. But Pujols? Not even the most optimistic Cardinals fan could have anticipated what the veteran was going to accomplish. That’s the fun of the Comeback of the Year Award: It’s hard to predict.

But anyway, we’re going to try. Here’s a look at six players who had a rough 2022 but would be in a position to make an impact in 2023. Some are young players who couldn’t get their carbs going; others are veterans who have outperformed in their careers compared to last year. They could all bounce back in a big way in 2023.

Jonathan India, 2B, Reds
India was not only the National League Rookie of the Year in 2021; the vote was not close. The Reds second baseman received 29 of the 30 first-place votes — the other went to the Marlins’ Trevor Rogers — and firmly established himself as not only one of the Reds’ best players, but also a cornerstone of the team. . He had power, speed, defense, a great eye on the bat and undeniable style; it was impossible not to look at him.

Well, in 2022, India’s on-base percentage dropped 50 points (from .376 to .327), their slugging percentage dropped more than 80 points (from .459 to .378) and even their defense looked less solid. Problems with his right hamstring hampered him in the first half. And after suffering a bone bruise in his calf during the game “Field of Dreams,” he never quite got into a rhythm. India said he put too much pressure on himself last year after winning Rookie of the Year and it is assumed that this season, with lower expectations for him and his team, the atmosphere will be different. The Reds are still trying to nail down some things but India was expected to be a consistent piece for this team. In 2023, it could be.

Eddie Rosario, OF, Braves
Does anyone remember who the Braves traded for Eddie Rosario right before his incredible run to the World Series? Would you believe it was the Venezuelan Pablo Sandoval? It’s true! It’s hard to imagine Atlanta being crowned without Rosario, who was the MVP of the 2021 NLCS, in which his incredible three-run home run in Game 6 essentially sealed the series. It wasn’t surprising that the Braves re-signed the Puerto Rican, giving him a two-year contract, but 2022 was a disaster. Rosario did so poorly early on (.068 average in April) that the Braves sent him to have his eyes evaluated and discovered that he had inflammation in his right retina, which caused his vision to be blurry. He improved after returning and is expected to regain his spot in left field. After all, he performed with the bat throughout his career until he had trouble with his eyesight. And he is expected to have plenty of opportunities to grow again in October.

Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Tigers
Sometimes the most sought-after prospects don’t start off on the right foot. Everything we knew about Torkelson — the No. 1 pick in the 2020 Amateur Draft — heralded a breakout season in 2022. But like everything else that happened with the Tigers last season, Torkelson failed to fire up. After being called up to the big team, he was hitting .199 with five home runs (.577 OPS) in mid-July, forcing the Tigers to send him back to Triple-A. He did improve a bit when he returned to the majors in September (.678 OPS), but not by much.

Overall: Torkelson didn’t look like the luxury prospect who was supposed to lead the Tigers back to the promised land. Of course, Mike Trout didn’t have much success in his first stint in the majors either, and it all worked out in the end. The Felines have invested so much in Torkelson that he will be given every opportunity to establish himself. After the high expectations of him, Torkelson is the one who will quietly show his face: Try not to look so amazed when he recovers his level.

Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
There have been times in his career when it seemed like Votto was on a rapid decline, only to rebound and remind us why he makes a strong case for a Hall of Fame berth. For example, after the 2021 All-Star break (recently!) he hit 25 home runs and had a 1.057 OPS. Of course, he got off to a bad start in 2022 and before he had a chance to turn around, he suffered a torn rotator cuff and left biceps, ending his season. He should be healthy by the start of the season and with the Cincinnati club’s option for 2023, this could be the first baseman’s last season in the team’s uniform now that he’s 40. Votto is one of the few players you want to see succeed. If you bet against a rally from the veteran, he will be at your own risk.

Jared Walsh, 1B, Angels
For years, the plan to improve the Angels — aside from bolstering their pitching — was clear: Supplement Mike Trout with another star. Well, in 2021, Los Angeles had two: MVP Shohei Ohtani and Walsh, who after breaking into 2020 maintained the good level with a campaign with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs that sent him to his first All-Star Game. Sure, some of his numbers in the first half of 2021 were borderline abnormalities — he saw a dip in the second half — but no one imagined he’d disappear from the picture the way he did in 2022, hitting just 15 home runs and losing 70 points. his on-base percentage (from .340 to .269). The problems, as is often the case, were injuries: He had surgery for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome on Sept. 1, but could be ready for Spring Training. He doesn’t need to be the superstar he was in the first half of 2021 to help his team. But that would fit like a glove for some Angels who urgently need to succeed.

Jesse Winker, OF, Brewers
If anyone ever said that Eugenio Suárez would be of greater value than Jesse Winker after the shocking trade between the Mariners and Reds before last season, few would believe them. But in fact, that was the result, with Suarez outperforming Winker, who was traded to Milwaukee this winter for Kolten Wong. Though he obviously took a step back after his breakout 2021 season, Winker still posted a 103 OPS+ last season. And Milwaukee could be the ideal fit for the ranger: He’s from a division he knows well, on a contending team that trusts him enough to put him in the strong end of the lineup. The Brewers made some low-key moves in the offseason, especially with his lineup, and Winker is the centerpiece of all of them. Don’t be surprised if he suddenly looks like the guy Seattle thought he was getting after his stellar 2021 with the Reds.

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