In baseball, MLB teams have control over their prospects for quite a few years, but by the time they reach their peak, they hit free agency. When star players hit a contract year, all eyes are on them.
Sure, some get re-signed to long-term deals beforehand, like Joey Votto and Matt Cain just did. The rest know that 2012 is a make-or-break year for them. The same is true of those recovering from significant injuries or those getting one last chance to prove themselves.
There are 40 players in the major leagues who need to have a great 2012 to prove themselves. For some, a breakout season could mean a big payday.