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Top 10 Bounce-Back Candidates

Brad Evans
Yahoo Sports

Also see: Dream Team | All-Bust Team | All-Breakout Team | All-Rookie Team

Every year, once-prized commodities coming off down years are quickly dismissed by the masses, thrown away for the latest and projected greatest up-and-comers. Many fit the definition this year. Because surprises lurk behind every corner in Fantasyland, here are 10 players primed for major rebounds.

TOP 10 PLAYERS BOUND TO REBOUND
SP –> Francisco Liriano: Liriano's dreadful alter-ego may finally be no longer. The southpaw is healthy, confident and his slider is snapping once again. In 18 Grapefruit innings, he's posted a sparkling 23:3 K:BB split. A season similar to 2010 could be on the horizon – double-digit wins, 200-plus Ks, sub 4.00 ERA.
1B –> Adam Dunn: Once one of the game's most consistent sluggers, Dunn plummeted last year after an emergency appendectomy sapped his strength early in the season. But the Human Hurricane is fully healthy and determined to resurrect his career. This spring, he's quietly sharpened his eye, striking out just four times compared to 12 walks. If that carries over … 35-40 HRs.
1B/OF –> Kendrys Morales: This Halo, finally almost fully recovered from a devastating leg injury that robbed him of over a season-plus, is poised for a monster rebound. He's ran the bases without repercussion and has exhibited a smooth stroke in limited action this spring. Still just 28, he's more than capable of a .290-25-85 campaign batting behind Phat Albert.
SP –> Johan Santana: Even healthy, Santana is far from the once untouchable two-time Cy Young winner. His fastball, which recently topped out at 92 mph, is more pedestrian. Still, after seeing only limited action in '11, he could be useful in mixers as a back of the rotation starter. His progress this spring has certainly been encouraging. Provided he doesn't fall apart … 14 W, 3.75 ERA, 145 K
OF –> Delmon Young: Last season was tough sledding for the former No. 1 overall pick. A dreadful first half killed his confidence and greatly suppressed his numbers. But feeding off Prince Fielder this spring, he's rediscovered his mojo, knocking in a spring-best 19 runs. Only two years removed from a top-30 fantasy season, the 26-year-old is sure to exceed expectation.
SP –> Ubaldo Jimenez: For the Bosley of the Buckeye State, last year was hair-raising. After he lit the world on fire in '10, his production across three categories (W, ERA and WHIP) slid dramatically, primarily due to a dramatic drop-off in velocity. He's had a rather rocky spring, but his fastball speed has consistently hovered in the 94-97 range. If he can locate his offerings more effectively, a final line of 15 W, 3.75 ERA and 200 Ks is within reach.
OF –> Alex Rios: Rios, like Dunn, was a White Sock whose value faded to black in '11. He was one of the worst outfielders in the virtual game, returning little on his original investment. But he's done this before, only to rebound in a major way the following year. Expected to bat third for Robin Ventura, he's in prime position to again party in the 20-20 club this year.
RP –> Joe Nathan: Now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Nathan is officially on the comeback trail. Expected to be the Rangers' opening day closer, he has fair odds of returning to the 35-plus save level he held as a Twin from 2004-2009. He's been slapped around this spring, but Texas is confident he'll regain his once dominating form.
SP –> Edinson Volquez: The Electric One has barely flickered since undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago. Control problems ballooned his ERA and tarnished his reputation. Now in San Diego, a pitcher's haven, he could surprise. Keep in mind, his velocity maintained a pre-surgery level the past two years. Pop the mitt with more accuracy, and the late-round pick will turn a massive profit.
OF –> Andre Ethier: Last year, the outfielder's power disappeared into LA's low-hanging smog. Poor success against sliders caused him to pound the ground with more frequency. But motivated by the all-mighty dollar – he's a free agent after this year – he should flex more muscle. He's driving the ball with more gusto this spring. A return to the .290-25-90 level is quite possible.
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