In 2010 Adrian Beltre showed the baseball world that there was still some power in his bat and zip in his cross diamond throws.
Every year several baseball players prove that they are not yet over the hill and can help a team in it is drive towards the pennant.
The 2011 season will almost certainly provide some surprise comeback players too. Finding these players now and investing in their baseball cards and memorabilia may bring financial rewards later.
Many players suffered serious injuries in 2010 that derailed good years. Of course, rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg’s season came crashing down not long after it started. He won’t likely be at full strength until 2012 but there are other candidates currently flying a bit under the radar.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia from Boston and Justin Morneau from Minnesota top the list. Pedroia had back to back seasons in which he was voted the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the American League. Ellsbury led the league in stolen bases and proved a capable outfielder for the Red Sox in 2009 but last season was lost to an ongoing series of stints on the disabled list.
Morneau was flying high with a .345 average when a concussion suffered just before the All-Star break led to a premature end to his season. He won’t turn 29 until the season is underway.
Significant milestones can impact a player’s long-term value. Jim Thome needs just 11 homers to join the 600 home run club, a feat that will likely earn him a little more respect from collectors. Beltre stands just 111 hits from 2,000 and is a candidate to reach 3,000 before his career ends. Albert Pujols needs 42 homers to reach 450 and 100 hits to make it to 2,000.
Yet the player with the most to gain in 2011 might be Derek Jeter. His career has now begun its inevitable decline but the hubbub over his contract could motivate Jeter even more. He’s just 74 hits away from 3,000. If he and the Yankees have a good year, Jeter’s rookie cards could climb in the second half of the season.
Alex Rodriguez needs 37 homers to reach 650, a figure that will kick start the countdown to the 700 club.
Other future members of the Hall of Fame are coming to the end of their careers. Players such as Rivera and Jorge Posada should still be able to contribute and improve their status. Rookie cards from their early years will surely be increasing in value as they near the end of careers that, being played on one team, are truly rare in the modern age of baseball.
Other players, such as Manny Ramirez will be added to rosters as the season approaches. Coming to the end of certain Hall of Fame career, Manny’s star may have dimmed but he is still one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball and capable of having another terrific season with a new team. He’s 45 homers away from 600.