Not the Best Man. Not Bourn (though, admittedly, he says you can make a case). Hampton is the key to 2009. This either fills you with optimism, or it makes you download Peace Corps application forms.
If he's able to make all his starts (he made 29 starts in 2004), I could see him winning 15-18 games.
Well, it's not like his arm is tired. He hasn't thrown more than 100 innings since 2004. But let's look at the likelihood of this, because Hampton has won between 15 and 18 games three times in his career - twice in the Astrodome in 1997 and 1999 and in 2000 with the Mets. In those seasons, he made at least 33 starts.
In 1997, in the safety of the Astrodome Hampton was 10-2 with a 3.09 ERA (compared to 5-8 with a 4.61 on the road). In 1999, again in the safety of the Astrodome, Hampton turned in a career year and went 13-2 with a 2.49 ERA (compared to 9-2 with a 3.49 ERA - but this was also a great season: 22-4).
In 2000 with the Mets, Hampton went 11-4 with a 2.05 ERA at Shea Stadium (compared to 4-6 with a 4.83 ERA).
Clearly Hampton feels more comfortable at home (meaning that with Wandy and Hampton and some careful rotation juggling, the Astros could go 81-0 at home this year). Look at his career home/away splits:
Home: 1098 innings (in 162 starts), 81-44 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.
Away: 1054 innings (in 172 starts), 60-61 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.
Of course, it's hard to know if this will translate to 2009 after so much time away. But his arm will be live, because he hasn't really used it, except to make out deposit slips to his local lending institution.