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2012 MLB Predictions: Sluggers Who Will Dominate the Home Run Chase This Season

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIMarch 15, 2012

2012 MLB Predictions: Sluggers Who Will Dominate the Home Run Chase This Season

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    With plenty of power hitters in the MLB, Jose Bautista's reign as two-time defending home run leader may come to an end in 2012.

    But who from the talent pool can do it?

    Of 25 players on 30 rosters, 10 in particular have what it takes to steal Bautista's thunder.

    Here's a look ahead to who will win the crown as the most powerful hitter in the league.

The 2011 Top 10

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    Before you look at the 2012 predictions, here is a reminder of the 2011 top 10:

    10. Ryan Howard/Ryan Braun (33)
    9. Giancarlo Stanton (34)
    8. Dan Uggla (36)
    6. Albert Pujols/Mark Reynolds (37)
    5. Prince Fielder (38)
    3. Mark Teixeira/Matt Kemp (39)
    2. Curtis Granderson (41)
    1. Jose Bautista (43)

10. Troy Tulowitzki

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    Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has the potential to hit around 30 home runs every season. If only his health could keep him on the field.

    "Tulo" has played in 150 games or more in a season just twice in his six-year career.

    2012 will treat Tulowitzki to an entire season.

    He plays at one of the most, if not the most, hitter-friendly ballparks in the nation, so he should absolutely rake.

    HR Total = 34

9. Jay Bruce

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    From 2010 to 2011, Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce's home run total spiked from 25 to 32.

    Bruce has two fantastic things going for him.

    One, his age. He'll be 25 years old entering the 2012 season. He hasn't even hardly entered his prime yet.

    Two, his home field. He hits at Great American Ballpark, ranked third in home runs given up in 2011.

    It's safe to say if Bruce stays healthy his home run total will rise even more.

    HR Total = 35

6. (tie) Evan Longoria

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    In a four-year career Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays has averaged 28 home runs per season.

    The problem is, Longoria averages 140 games a year.

    In 2012, like Troy Tulowitzki, Longoria will be healthy and hit the most home runs of his career to date.

    HR Total = 36

6. (tie) Prince Fielder

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    In 2011, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder hit 38 home runs behind NL MVP Ryan Braun.

    Since then, he's switched to the American League and from Miller Park to Comerica Park.

    The ballpark may not be a big concern. Miller Park gave up the 11th-most home runs last season while Comerica ranked 14th.

    But combining this aspect with learning new pitchers in the AL, Fielder's numbers will drop in his first year as a Tiger.

    Still, he's Prince Fielder. He's a beast.

    HR Total = 36

6. (tie) Mark Teixeira

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    New York Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira is good for over 30 home runs most seasons. Though he's only cracked 40 one time.

    In the last four seasons he's hit 33, 39, 33 and 39 home runs, respectively.

    It'd be easy to just assign 33 home runs to Teixeira in 2012, but to be safe I'll go right in the middle.

    HR Total = 36

5. Albert Pujols

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    Former St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols blasted 37 long balls last season at the 27th-ranked stadium for home runs. Now with the Los Angeles Angels, he'll have a slightly easier time at 25th-ranked Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

    His power has declined over the last three years, but age isn't too much of a concern as Pujols is still only 32 years old.

    The biggest issue this year may be his supporting cast.

    Last year Pujols hit in front of Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. This year, he sits third in the order, likely before Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter. The combination is a lot less daunting.

    It's undetermined at this point how the switch from the NL to the AL will affect Pujols. On the one hand, he'll need time to figure out the pitching. On the other, he has such a superior eye it shouldn't take long.

    The more hitter-friendly stadium combines with the less fearsome lineup to even out for Pujols.

    HR Total = 37

4. Mark Reynolds

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    Mark Reynolds, seriously?

    Absolutely.

    Matching Albert Pujols, Reynolds hit 37 dingers last season in his first year with the Baltimore Orioles. He averages about 32 every year already.

    He's 28 years old this season so he's probably going to find his peak shortly and he'll be more comfortable in Baltimore in year number two.

    HR Total = 38

3. Miguel Cabrera

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    The addition of Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers lineup is going to benefit Miguel Cabrera more than anyone else.

    Hitting before Fielder, Cabrera will see plenty to feast on. No one will want to pitch around Cabrera knowing what's coming next in the order.

    Cabrera typically puts up home runs in the mid-30s. It's easy to assume he'll do it again and with Fielder lurking behind him his numbers will rise.

    HR Total = 40

2. Jose Bautista

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    Toronto Blue Jay right fielder Jose Bautista came out of nowhere in 2010, surprising fans across the nation with a league-leading 54 home runs.

    In the six seasons prior, he hit 74 total for an average of 12 a season.

    In 2011, Bautista proved he was no fluke by hitting 43 home runs.

    Hitting the most home runs in a season three consecutive years is quite the feat, one that will be very difficult to do.

    Can he do it? Absolutely.

    Will he? Doubtful.

    HR Total = 41

1. Matt Kemp

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    Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp's home runs have risen every single season he's been in the major leagues.

    From 2010 to 2011, the number rose from 28 to 39.

    In 2012, he'll only be 27 years old. There's reason to believe his numbers will rise even more this season.

    Another jump by 11 seems a bit unrealistic, but Kemp will definitely surpass the 40 mark.

    HR Total = 43

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