It’s the season of lists, and my list wouldn’t be complete without the top 12 players I’m interested in watching in 2012.
Be warned, this isn’t a list of the top 12 players overall or the top 12 players expected to break out. This is my list of players I’m interested in.
12. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates: Will he live up to expectations or will he continue to slump? It’s a make-or-break year for the Bucs’ third baseman. A good season would help the Pirates close in on a .500 or even a winning record.
11. Yu Darvish, Rangers: I’m always interested in seeing how the Japanese players adjust to life in America. Ichiro Suzuki excelled with the Mariners while Hideki Irabu struggled. I think Darvish will be fine.
10. Carlos Santana, Indians: The Tribe’s catcher mashed 27 home runs last season. Will he hit for a better average (.239)? Will he increase his power numbers? There are better things ahead.
9. Albert Pujols, Angels: Will he live up to the hype? The pressure won’t be as great in L.A. as it would be in New York, but he’ll get a dose of it anyway. How will he adjust to pitching in the AL?
8. Justin Verlander, Tigers: What can you do for an encore? How about win a World Series MVP? He’s tossed no-hitters, won an AL MVP and Cy Young Award. That’s about the only thing left.
7. Erik Bedard, Pirates: Yes, a second Bucco appears on my list. I guess that happens when you’re a Pirates fan. I’d like to see if Bedard can pitch more than 15o innings. If he can, and if he has his stuff, then it’s really good news for Pittsburgh.
6. Ryan Braun, Brewers: What will happen with the rumors about the failed PED test? Will he back up his MVP numbers without Prince Fielder?
5. Jason Heyward, Braves: The J-Hey kid has been on my radar for two seasons. He oozes talent and could really bust out this season.
4. Adam Dunn, White Sox: He had an abysmal season, hitting .159 with 11 home runs. And you can’t use the small sample size excuse since he had 415 at-bats. He’s done if he puts up similar numbers. He should have hit his usual 40 homers in hitter-friendly Chicago. He just has to rebound, but I’m not sure I’d draft him in mixed leagues.
3. Bryce Harper, Nationals: Unlimited potential that’s only exceeded by unlimited hype. The Nationals have something good going on, and Harper will be a part of it. I’ve got to see what he does this season.
2. Carlos Beltran, Cardinals: He won’t replace Albert Pujols, but many will expect him to. Ever since his explosion in the playoffs, there’s been high expectations of him and he seems to fall short. In fact, you almost could call him overrated.
1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: What will 2012 bring for him? Will Washington monitor his pitch-counts and innings pitched? Will he have Cy Young stuff? Gotta tune in.
– Rick Green