With Major League Baseball still weeks away, those of us in warmer climates may enjoy checking out the following stars as they prepare to heat things up this season. The following are stars we'd pay to see in exhibition games.
After winning Rookie of the Year in 2001, Albert Pujols has followed up that early accolade with some startling numbers. By the end of 2011 he had been named an All-Star nine times, won the NL MVP award three times and earned two World Series rings with the 2006 and 2011 Cardinals.
In 2008 he was voted the most feared hitter in all of baseball in a poll of all 30 major league managers (via ESPN). He has also earned the Hank Aaron award twice. If you want to see a future Hall of Famer while he is still in his prime, take in an Angels spring game.
Prince is the son of Cecil Fielder, from whom he is now famously estranged. Cecil never tires of claiming that Prince got where he is today because scouts noticed him only as Cecil’s son (via Fox Sports Detroit). But despite his father's assertions, Prince is worth paying to see.
As a 12-year-old aspiring player, he hit a ball over the fence in a pregame activity in Detroit where his father was playing. When Prince knocked out his 50th in 2007, he and his dad became the only father-son combination in major league history to each have hit 50 home runs. Though their legacies are tied, the Tigers didn’t sign Prince to nine-year, $216 million dollar contract because of his father.
It is rare to find a pitcher who has dominated over a long career. Injuries plague the ability of these players to sustain over time. Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan and Pedro Martinez are names on a very short list.
At just 28, Cole Hamels may be the next added to the list of pitchers who dominated for over a decade without chemical help. He’s about to hit his peak and definitely worth spending money and a lazy Gulf Coast afternoon to watch him mix up his four pitches in a spring training exhibition.
Heading to Tampa to catch Derek Jeter in a spring game has a number of advantages. And those advantages all wear pinstripe uniforms.
Where else can you go in Florida to see this many All-Stars and future Hall of Famers in one place? But Jeter is a big draw this preseason, since we don’t know how much gas the 37-year-old has left in the tank.
The classic baseball hero is an outfielder with great range, a sure glove and a strong arm. He also hits with power and is speedy on the basepaths. But there just aren’t that many Willie Mays anymore.
Ellsbury is one, though.
Last season he hit 32 home ruins and stole 39 bases. In 2009, he took 70 bags. At 28, he is also just approaching his prime. Definitely worth paying to see.