It is now February, and the 2012 Major League Baseball season is sneaking up on us.
This offseason has caused some changes that will surely make an impact on the way things turn out this season.
With time comes change.
As each season passes, older stars begin to fade and new players become the stars.
1. Brian McCann
McCann has been one of the most consistent players in MLB while playing the most demanding position. He is a solid blend of hitting, fielding and durability.
Every team wants a catcher who averages throughout their career a batting average around .285, 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in.
2. Mike Napoli
Napoli came on strong in the second half of the season. He helped lead the Rangers through the playoffs, and into the World Series. He also proved that he is a capable defensive catcher.
Napoli should no longer have any problems finding playing time and he will have a significant role on one of the best teams in baseball.
3. Joe Mauer
The 2009 AL MVP has had a problem staying healthy and returning to his MVP form. After hitting 28 homers in 2009, Mauer has only hit 12.
If Mauer can stay healthy and find his power stroke in 2012, he will climb back up this list.
4. Buster Posey
The 2011 season was disappointing for both the San Francisco Giants and Buster Posey. An unfortunate knee injury ended Posey's season early. He was experiencing a little bit of a sophomore slump but he still remains a very exciting player.
Time will only tell if his injury will have an effect on his performance in 2012.
5. Carlos Santana
Santana is a solid young offensive catcher. He also played 66 games at first base in 2011. He is not the best defensive catcher, but what he lacks defensively he should be able to make up offensively.
Santana should be able to improve upon all of his stats from the 2011 season going into 2012.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Avila, Matt Wieters, Miguel Montero, and Yadier Molina
1. Albert Pujols
Pujols is probably the best player in baseball.
He is the most consistent offensive player as he hits for both power and average. He is also a very good defensive player. Now that Pujols is on the Los Angeles Angels and in the American League he will get some time as DH.
This should only make him more productive because the DH role will help him rest during the 2012 season.
2. Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez, like Mark Teixeira, is an exceptional defensive and offensive first baseman. In his first season in Boston, Gonzalez hit .338, with 27 home runs and 117 RBI.
If the Boston Red Sox can stay healthy in 2012, it will only be beneficial for Gonzalez.
3. Joey Votto
Votto has emerged as an elite offensive player in MLB. He followed up his 2010 MVP season with another strong season in 2011. There is no reason why 2012 should be any different.
I'm going on the record now and saying that Joey Votto will lead the Cincinnati Reds back into the playoffs and win the 2012 NL MVP award.
4. Mark Teixeira
"Marky Mark" Teixeira is probably the best defensive first baseman in Major League Baseball.
Teixeira's power numbers were where they usually are, but his batting average never climbed up to where it should be.
He should continue to be an elite defensive first baseman and he could get back in the MVP discussion in 2012. If he can get his batting average back up to around .300 he will be a fantasy star in 2012.
5. Prince Fielder
Fielder is an offensive stud.
He drives in runs and is the definition of a major league slugger. He recently signed with the Detroit Tigers, and being on a new team could also mean he'll need some time to adjust to his new surroundings.
If he can stay healthy, he will be entering his prime in 2012 and the sky is the limit.
Cano is hands down the best second baseman in baseball.
He is also one of the best all-around players in baseball. Cano has entered his prime and he has been so close to hitting 30 homers the past three seasons (25, 29, 28). He has proven that he was wrongly accused of being a lazy defensive player, and has shown that he is an elite defensive player.
Cano is my pick for the 2012 AL MVP, as I expect him to hit over .300, with 30-plus home runs and more than 100 RBI.
2. Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia can be considered the leader of the Boston Red Sox and has been the most consistent player on the team for a few years now. He is a solid defensive player and a gritty offensive player.
Expect his numbers to be solid if he and the rest of the Red Sox can stay healthy.
3. Ian Kinsler
Kinsler has had trouble keeping his batting average around .300 but has been very consistent with his power numbers.
Kinsler has been a big part of a strong Rangers offense, and his power combined with his speed should have a significant impact on the offense once again.
4. Brandon Phillips
Phillips is the definition of a "solid" MLB second baseman.
Throughout his career he has a batting average of .272, while averaging 20 homers and 82 RBI. He has averaged 22 stolen bases a season as well.
5. Chase Utley
Utley is a declining player who has been having an issue with staying healthy recently.
If he can find a way to stay healthy in 2012, Utley should be among the top second basemen in baseball.
That is a big "if," though.
1. Miguel Cabrera
With the addition of Fielder to the Detroit Tigers, Cabrera is making the transition over to third base.
He is sure to have his struggles at third though, as he is not the best defensive player out there. His offensive production, however, will make up for any defensive struggles.
Cabrera led the league with a .344 batting average in 2011, and with Fielder as his protection (batting behind him in the lineup), he could lead the league in all offensive categories this upcoming season.
2. Adrian Beltre
Beltre won his third Gold Glove award in 2011. Combine his fielding with a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI, and you have an extremely valuable player.
If Cabrera struggles defensively at third base, Beltre could easily be seen as the top third baseman in baseball.
3. Evan Longoria
I'm sorry, but I am just not sold on Longoria.
I'm sure I'm going to hear it the most for this ranking. He could have his big breakout year this season. Longoria's batting average was below .250 last season (.244) and he has yet to hit above .300 in a season.
Longoria is also on a Rays team that has a mediocre offense at best. He will not have the same protection that Beltre or Rodriguez will have.
The biggest issue for "A-Rod" has been health.
It seems like he has not been playing at 100 percent health for the past several years now. When he was healthy last year, he played exceptionally at third base.
His offensive numbers have not been "A-Rod" numbers lately because of the injuries. If he can stay healthy in 2012, which I expect him to, he could restart his 30-home run and 100-RBI streak.
Rodriguez got the same knee treatment that Kobe Bryant got in Germany this offseason. If Bryant's start of this NBA season is any indication, we could see Rodriguez back to his MVP form.
5. David Wright
Like many of the top third basemen in baseball, Wright's health is an issue.
When healthy, he is a player with a nice mix of power and speed. The "Wright" move for the New York Mets would be to trade him, and fully commit to rebuilding, but why would the Mets make the right move?
If they actually do trade Wright, I expect a change of scenery to spark his play, and he will be able to end the season on a very strong note.
Honorable Mention: Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval
1. Troy Tulowitzki
Tulowitzi has become one of the top players in baseball.
He is the perfect combination of hitting and fielding. He also has power, which is rare from the shortstop position.
If he weren't playing for the Colorado Rockies, who most likely will be struggling in 2012, Tulowitzki would win the NL MVP.
2. Jose Reyes
It will be interesting to see what happens with Reyes in Miami.
He is one of the most exciting players in baseball primarily because of his speed. He hasn't been able to stay healthy though, and the injuries may come even more frequently as he begins to get older.
3. Starlin Castro
Castro will be 22 when the 2012 season starts.
In his time in the majors, Castro has hit over .300 and 2012 should be no different. He is not a power hitter but his numbers will most likely increase as he gets older.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera
Cabrera had his coming-out party in 2011.
He hit .273, with 25 home runs, 92 RBI and 17 stolen bases.
Cabrera will be 26 next season and entering his prime.
5. Derek Jeter
It appeared as if Jeter's career was starting to come to an end.
Then he got injured, and seemed to have found what made him so successful throughout his career when he returned.
He ended 2011 with a batting average around .300. In the last 63 games of the season, though, Jeter really put it all together, hitting .327.
He should continue to hit around .300 in 2012, and although he lost some of his range at short, he still is very sure-handed.
1. Ryan Braun
The 2011 NL MVP has recently tested positive for elevated testosterone.
Braun is appealing the 50-game suspension because he said the positive tests were a result of a medication he was taking.
Either way, Braun is still one of the best all-around players in baseball.
2. Carlos Gonzalez
Gonzalez followed up his MVP-caliber 2010 season with a strong 2011 season.
He is beginning to enter his prime and could, along with Tulowitzki, make the Colorado Rockies a dark horse in the National League (but don't count on it).
3. Josh Hamilton
Hamilton's story is well known.
He has come back from issues with drug abuse and become one of the best players in baseball.
However, health has been a concern, as he has struggled to stay healthy. When healthy he is as offensively productive as anybody in the league.
He recently has had another relapse and time will only tell if it has an impact on his 2012 season.
4. Matt Holliday
With Pujols gone, Holliday will become the most important offensive player for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012.
It will be interesting to see if the increased responsibility and pressure improves or hurts Holliday's play.
5. Carl Crawford
Crawford struggled in his first season with the Boston Red Sox.
He has had enough success in the majors, however, to believe that he will turn things around in 2012 and play at the level that he has throughout his entire career.
1. Matt Kemp
Much of the success of the Los Angeles Dodgers team will depend on the success of Matt Kemp.
Kemp had an MVP-caliber season in 2011 and should continue this in 2012.
He hit .324, with 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 2011.
Kemp could match or improve those numbers in 2012 as he begins to enter his prime.
2. Curtis Granderson
The true 2011 AL MVP had his breakout year.
Granderson is a Gold Glove center fielder, and if he can improve upon his batting average in 2012, he could once again be in the AL MVP discussion.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury showed some unexpected power in 2011.
Only the 2012 season will show if Ellsbury is really a 30-home run and 30-stolen base player.
4. Adam Jones
Unfortunately for Jones, he is on a bad Baltimore Orioles team.
At 26 years old, I expect Jones to have his breakout season in 2012 and finish the season with a batting average around .300, with 30 home runs and 100 RBI.
5. Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen is one of the top young players in baseball and should be able to put it all together in 2012.
Expect him to hit around .285, with 25 home runs and 90 RBI this season.
1. Jose Bautista
Arguably the most feared hitter in baseball is Jose Bautista.
Bautista proved he wasn't just a one-hit wonder in 2010, adding an excellent 2011 offensive season on top of it.
He also has one of the strongest arms in baseball and should hit at least 40 home runs with 100 RBI in 2012.
2. Justin Upton
Upton finally had his breakout season in 2011, and was in consideration for the NL MVP award.
2012 should see an even better season from Upton, as he is one of the brightest young players in baseball.
3. Hunter Pence
Pence is now on a contending MLB team, and with Ryan Howard out to start the season, he will be responsible for the main offensive production in the Phillies lineup.
He has a good overall blend of average and power.
4. Mike Stanton
Stanton should hit around 40 home runs with 100 RBI in 2012.
He is on a Miami Marlins team that has increased their offensive lineup, and Stanton will be smack dab in the middle of it.
5. Nelson Cruz
Health is an issue for Cruz, but he is on one of the top MLB teams.
He will most likely miss some time in 2012, and will probably end the season playing around only 130 games.
In those 130 games though, Nelson should hit about 35 home runs and drive in somewhere near 90 runs.