Cliff Lee is a great example of the difference a year can make. Lee recently won the AL Cy Young one year after being in AAA. This is just an example of the tremendous strides that can be made by working hard and not cutting corners. Below are a few good quotes from the article followed by a link.
"I knew pretty early that it was going to be a special year. I really did," Lee said. "But I also knew that I had to keep my mind in the moment, keep doing my work, not cut any corners."
"I made a conscious effort to work on throwing away from righties and using my curveball more, using my changeup more and actually pitching," Lee said. "I was going to miss spots here and there, but for the most part I felt like I had command from the first start to the last start and I made guys earn their way on."
"Obviously, I used '07 as motivation in the offseason to go and do everything I could to make sure that didn't happen again," he said. "I also think that going through what I did last year did help in making me a mentally tougher baseball player. Looking back on it, it wasn't any fun. But it definitely makes for a better story."
"My job is to come back in '09 and do it again. There's no reason to think I can't," Lee said. "I honestly feel like I'm going to come back and pick up right where I left off."
article link: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3700686