Best Comeback Kid in Baseball - 2011
Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder
Remember when crucifix-sucking Chris Young sucked? When the center fielder (who likes to taste his silver necklace during games) was sent down to the minors for a stint because he couldn't buy a hit. Yes, his M.O. was to pop out to an infielder in 2009, when he cooled his heels with the Reno Aces for three weeks. His batting average dropped below .200 that year, and he finished that season at .212 with 15 homers (he had hit 32 in 2007 and 22 in 2008.). Well, this year, he had 16 homers with the season slightly half done and a .262 average. When he was in his slump, he was lucky to bat seventh when he was in the game at all. Last year, he was moved to leadoff and his production improved. And this year, he's batted fourth (cleanup) on many nights, because of his 50-plus runs batted in. In addition to the hitting, Young is an avid base-stealer. In a game with the Milwaukee Brewers late last season, he became the first major leaguer to become a member of the vaunted 20-20 club — he hit his 20th homer to go along with 22 stolen bases. This year, he has 14 steals so far. Two seasons ago, predictions were that he might be sent to the farm permanently and soon be out of baseball, but the naysayers were wrong. What turned Young around? Part of it was hard work, which included adjusting his swing, and part of it was having a manager, Kirk Gibson, who believes in him. Whatever mojo is working, Young has not only saved his career but vastly improved what was the worst offense in the big leagues last year.