2009 AL Breakout Hitters
Russell Branyan – Seattle Mariners : Made his major league debut in 1998 with the Indians but has never batted 400 times in a season. He came the closest to 400 at bats in 2002 when he batted 378 times for the Indians and Reds.
He hit 24 homers that season and has hit 24 homers this season in only 310 at bats. His .274 batting average this season is the highest of any season in which he has batted more than 100 times.
He is currently tied for the AL lead in homers with Carlos Pena and Justin Morneau who also have 24 homers.
Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers: Two years ago Cruz hit nine homers and drove in 34 runs in 307 at bats. He has also batted 307 times this season as of today and has hit 23 homers with 54 RBI’s.
In 2007 he slugged .384 but is slugging .550 this season after slugging .609 last season. The only negative for Cruz is that he hit .330 last season but is only hitting .270 this season a drop of 60 points.
Aaron Hill – Toronto Blue Jays: Hill only played 55 games in 2008 due to injuries but has shown his 17 homers and 78 RBI season of 2007 was not a fluke.
He has hit 21 homers this season in 410 at bats while it took him 608 at bats to hit 17 homers in 2007. He is currently third in the majors in hits this season with 117 hits. Only Ichiro Suzuki first with 135 hits and Miguel Tejada with 125 hits are ahead of him.
Adam Lind – Toronto Blue Jays: Lind is in his fourth season with the Blue Jays and had nine homers and 40 RBI’s in 2008 in 88 games. This season he has 20 homers and 62 RBI’s in 91 games.
He has 10 more homers and 22 more RBI’s this season than his better known teammate Vernon Wells. His .553 slugging percentage which leads the Blue Jays is 73 points higher than his closest teammate Aaron Hill who is slugging .480.
Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays: Zobrist has shown in his fourth season with the Rays that he just needed a chance to play everyday when he replaced Akinori Iwamura at second base when Iwamura went down with an injury.
He has been very versatile having played second base, shortstop, third base and outfield for the Rays this seaon while hitting .304. He is sixth in the AL in homers with 18.
His most amazing stat this season is that his .589 slugging percentage is only seven points behind the AL leading Justin Morneau with a .596 mark and placing Zobrist second.
His 1.006 OPS is second in the AL behind Joe Mauer with a 1.015 mark. He deservedly made the 2009 AL All Star team.
Kendry Morales – Los Angeles Angels: It was beginning to look like Morales was destined to be a part-time player shuttling between the minors and the Angels.
Morales was a major star in Cuba but was banned from playing for the Cuban national team in 2004 for being arrested so often for attempting to leave the country.
His eighth attempt to leave the country was successful and he eventually signed with the Angels.
His first three seasons saw him shuttling between the Angels and the minors but this year he has hit more homers and drove in more runs than the other three seasons combined.
His 17 homers this season is seventh best in the AL. He has 52 RBI’s and is slugging .545 while hitting .294.
Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles: 2009 has seen Jones breakout in his fourth major league season. In his first two seasons with the Mariners he hit .216 and .246 with one and two homers in those seasons and eight RBI’s and four RBI’s.
He was part of the trade that sent Erik Bedard to the Mariners and it was the break that Jones needed. He hit nine homers and drove in 57 runs in his first season with the Orioles in 132 games.
Then he took his game to another level in 2009 and is currently hitting .307 with 14 homers and 52 RBI’s in 86 games. He also was selected to the 2009 AL All Star team.
Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers: Kinsler was on the verge of having his breakout season last year when he was injured and missed 41 games.
Once again he is poised to have that breakout season with 23 homers and 59 RBI’s in 375 at bats. Last season he had 18 homers and 71 RBI’s in 518 at bats.
Kinsler is currently tied for second in the AL in homers with 23 with Nelson Cruz and Mark Teixeira. They trail Justin Morneau, Carlos Pena and Russell Branyan who lead the AL with 24 homers.
Kinsler needs seven homers and nine stolen bases to become a member of the 30-30 club this season.
Note: This list only included players who have played a few seasons in the majors and doesn’t include rookies or players who have already had a breakout season.