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The Best Shape Of My Life

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Last spring I identified a bunch of players who claimed to be - or were said to be - in better shape for the upcoming season. Here's how they (and a few others I missed) wound up doing.

Hitters

(Molina, Edmonds, Dye, Konerko, Pierzynski, Thome, Crawford, Sweeney, Quinlan, Posada, Sheffield, Martin)

2007 wOBA: .347
2008 wOBA: .335

Javy Lopez said that he was in the best shape of his life, but he couldn't get a job. Brian Anderson got a little better after spending most of 2007 hurt or in the minors. Interestingly, Jayson Nix, Paul McAnulty, and Nelson Cruz all improved in AAA after getting more fit. Johnny Damon, meanwhile, acknowledged that he was 12 pounds overweight and increased his value in the Majors by 1.6 wins.

Defensive evaluation is difficult, but it's worth noting that only Carl Crawford saw his defensive statistics improve by any significant margin, and all four of the catchers threw out fewer basestealers in 2008 than they did in 2007. Jim Edmonds' UZR nosedived.

Pitchers

This is really tough, so let's just go one by one:

Rich Harden: bounced back from a bunch of injuries to have a phenomenal, albeit limited season
Ray King: couldn't stick with the Nationals and wound up in AAA
Duaner Sanchez: bounced back from a lost 2007 to have the worst statistical season of his career
Felix: lasted the season but got slightly worse
Barry Zito: lasted the season but got slightly worse
Boof Bonser: pitched decently but wound up with an ugly ERA and a bullpen demotion
Clay Buchholz: pitched worse in the higher levels
Francisco Liriano: bounced back from a lost 2007 to have a solid season, albeit one that was worse than 2006
Joba Chamberlain: pitched very well as both a reliever and a starter until getting hurt
Kevin Millwood: lasted the season and stayed about the same
Chad Cordero: was completely fucked