Players facing make-or-break seasons

Updated: January 28, 2013, 2:01 PM ET
By Buster Olney

Chris Davis had 1,005 plate appearances in his first four seasons in the big leagues, and so he was at a crossroads in his career in 2012. He had just turned 26 years old and had 441 strikeouts and 253 hits, and if he had struggled again, he may have cemented a reputation for being a not-quite-ready for prime time player.

But Davis stepped up and had a good season, posting an .827 OPS and hitting 33 homers among 53 extra-base hits; he had some big moments to help the Orioles make the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

Every year, there are always players facing a similar challenge, of defining themselves -- or redefining. Here are nine players in that position in 2013, among others:


Hanley Ramirez | SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers

Everybody remembers the days of Hanley Ramirez as one of the sport's most dynamic, well-rounded stars, because they weren't that long ago. In 2007, Ramirez -- then 23 years old -- hit .332, with a .386 on-base percentage, 29 homers and 51 stolen bases.

But his OPS has declined: