Every MLB Team's Biggest Fan Favorite Heading into 2013
It's hard to believe the offseason is almost over, with just a month separating us from spring training action for all our favorite teams.
Every team will have it's share of new faces when opening day finally arrives, but the fan favorites that have been leading their teams for years now are no doubt a focal point for the casual observer.
Here are some players in every franchise that hear their fair share of cheers any time they take the field for their home fans.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy
Justin Upton may be the biggest star on the Arizona Diamondbacks roster right now, but with constant rumors surrounding his potential departure hitting the internet, it's hard to say if he'll even be a member of the D-Backs when the season gets underway.
Ian Kennedy, on the other hand, should start on opening day, and has plenty of attributes that any fanbase would want from their ace.
Just two seasons ago he was a 21 game winner and Cy Young finalist, and last season he followed his efforts up with a 15 win campaign while leading the league in starts.
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward
After a stellar 2010 season saw Jason Heyward emerge in a big way for the Atlanta Braves, the expectations for the young outfielder were at their highest level, adding pressure that would ultimately lead to a subpar 2011 campaign.
He came back somewhat in 2012, batting .269, more than 40 points higher than the year before, while nearly reaching the 30 home run mark.
It'll be a few more years before Heyward reaches free agency, but the Braves faithful certainly hope it doesn't get to that point, with a contract extension instead locking him down for years to come.
Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones
Baltimore Orioles fans had plenty of reasons to be happy about their team's performance in 2012, but they no doubt have higher expectations heading into the 2013 season.
Leading the way will be Adam Jones, who batted a career high .287 last season, going deep 32 times while playing in every game.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz
It's hard to find a player in the league that has more fun than David Ortiz.
Since being released by the Minnesota Twins a decade ago, Ortiz has been a superstar for the Red Sox, making eight All-Star appearances and averaging 34 home runs per season along the way.
Under contract for the next two seasons, it's looking more and more likely that the 37 year old will be finishing his strong career in Fenway.
Chicago Cubs: Starlin Castro
In the midst of their rebuilding, the Chicago Cubs don't have much in the way of veteran presence on the roster, though they do have a plethora of young talent that could lead them back to contention once again.
Starlin Castro will be leading the way for the young Cubs in 2013, and though his average dipped back below .300 last season, he did once again steal over 20 bases and continued to remain a steady option appearing in all 162 games.
Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko
Having worn a White Sox jersey since 1999, it's hard to picture Paul Konerko playing for any other team as he winds down his career.
He's been about as consistent as any player in the league over the past handful of seasons. While he won't command another massive deal when he enters free agency after the upcoming season, he's definitely the type of player that you want to have in your clubhouse.
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto
After a disappointing postseason run this past season, the Cincinnati Reds will hope for a renewed sense of urgency this season as they look to make it to the fall classic.
Joey Votto will be in a Reds uniform through the 2023 season and they'll need everything out of him all along the way.
He played in only 111 games last season but was the NL MVP just three years ago when he went deep 37 times while leading the league in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS.
Cleveland Indians: Nick Swisher
He may not have even played a game for the Cleveland Indians yet, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player that takes as lighthearted approach to the game as Nick Swisher.
It's hard to find a time when he's not smiling, and with four solid seasons in the pinstripes behind him, Swisher will be a big name for the Indians over the next few years.
Colorado Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki
Much like the rest of the teams in the league that are embarking on their rebuilding process, the Colorado Rockies don't have much in the way of veteran presence on their roster.
What they do have is a star infielder in Troy Tulowitzki that will be the face of the franchise for the rest of the decade.
He's struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, but when healthy he represents a powerful bat and brings gold glove caliber defense to the diamond on a daily basis.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander
It's hard for fans of the Tigers to complain about their team's starting rotation, namely at the front end where Justin Verlander is without question one of the best pitchers in the game.
In 2011 he gave fans in the Motor City plenty to cheer for as he won an astounding 24 games and posted a 2.40 ERA en route to Cy Young and MVP honors.
Houston Astros: Jose Altuve
The Houston Astros have one of the youngest teams in baseball, and with stars like Carlos Lee and Wandy Rodriguez no longer with the team, it's probably hard for fans outside of the Houston area to identify many players.
They do have a potential star in the making with Jose Altuve, who at just 5'5'' is no doubt one of the smallest players in the league, nonetheless he made an all star appearance in 2012 and could be headed for bigger things yet as the team moves to the AL in 2013.
Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler
Already a six year veteran in the league, Billy Butler suddenly finds himself with some more star presence in the Kansas City Royals roster as James Shields and Wade Davis have made their way over from Tampa Bay.
Butler heard the support of fans when he was left off the home run derby roster during last year's all-star week, and will no doubt hear it again in 2013 as the team looks to climb up the AL Central standings.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout
Just a year ago it would've seemed that the newly signed Albert Pujols would become the face of the Los Angeles Angels franchise.
What a difference a year makes.
Mike Trout emerged in a huge way last season, taking home unanimous Rookie of the Year honors while also being snubbed in MVP voting.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been about as active as any team in baseball over the past six months with a new ownership group intent on sending the franchise in the right direction.
They've committed plenty of payroll to some stars but will have a decision to make when it comes to signing Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal.
He's been about as good as any young pitcher in the game over the past few seasons and will continue to be a top option for the Dodgers as they look to make a run at a championship.
Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
The situation surrounding the Miami Marlins is less than ideal from both a fan and player perspective.
There was so much hype in Miami just a year ago, and with all of that gone, young superstar Giancarlo Stanton was none too happy about the blockbuster trade that saw the roster depleted.
He's a dynamic offensive talent, but now that the team is listening on offers for Stanton it seems like it's only a matter of time before the Fins fans will need to find a new stud to cheer for.
Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun's name and reputation may have taken a hit last winter when word broke that he was facing a 50 game suspension for violating the PED policy in MLB, but the overturning of the suspension cleared his name and brought massive expectations.
He answered in a big way in 2012, hitting a career high 41 home runs and carrying the load on offense after the departure of Prince Fielder left a big hole in the Brewers lineup.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer
Hometown favorite Joe Mauer may take some heat for having a contract that pays him better than 25 percent of the team's payroll, but the fact remains that he's one of the game's best hitters and when he's behind the plate he's one of the best defensive catchers as well.
The expectations set for Mauer and Justin Morneau may have been too high a few years back when some dubbed them the next "M&M boys," but Mauer will be a staple in the Twins clubhouse for years to come.
New York Mets: David Wright
With the amount of attention surrounding R.A. Dickey and whether or not anything will be decided regarding his future in a Mets uniform, the situation surrounding David Wright has fallen somewhat under the radar.
That all changed this week when the Mets offered Wright a contract extension that would keep him in a Mets uniform through 2020.
The reigning Cy Young winner may now be gone, but with Wright in line to be with the Mets for years to come they've got at least one of their stars locked in.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter
After a somewhat down season in 2011 in which he hit only six home runs and notched his lowest hit total since 2003, Derek Jeter proved that age is nothing but a number, as the seasoned veteran came back in a big way last season.
He should be healthy for the 2013 season and with no plans on slowing down, Jeter will no doubt show once again why he's the captain.
Oakland Athletics: Yoenis Cespedes
After making headlines last offseason for unloading players, the Oakland Athletics finally made some noise with an acquisition when they signed highly coveted Cuban prospect Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.
He showed up in a big way in 2012, hitting 23 home runs and driving in more than 80 runs while leading the A's back to the postseason.
Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay
2012 may not have gone as planned for the Philadelphia Phillies, as a number of players battled injuries that would ultimately keep them out of the postseason.
They did make a significant financial contribution to Cole Hamels though—and with a healthy Roy Halladay back in 2013—they will no doubt be NL East contenders once again.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen
Much like the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates are centering their lineup around a star outfielder in Andrew McCutchen.
For much of the season McCutchen was in the NL batting race, and with him locked in through 2018, the Pirates will keep him around as they hope to bring a potseason appearance back to their fans in the Steel City.
San Diego Padres: Chase Headley
Chase Headley's name came into play during the deadline, as he emerged in trade talks concerning the New York Yankees (via Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports).
They may not have been interested enough to make a deal at the time, something that could be just the fate the Padres needed to retain a budding star.
Headley is under team control until 2015, and his solid offense (.286 BA, .376 OBP) will certainly help the Padres moving forward.
San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey
After sustaining a serious injury that ended his 2011 season, Buster Posey came out swinging in 2012, putting together an MVP-worthy performance that added another bullet point to his already impressive resume.
The Giants enter the 2013 season with a target on their backs as world champions, and with the team going in the direction that Posey goes, it's hard to see him ever putting on another uniform.
Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez
As the cornerstone of a franchise that's struggled in recent seasons, Felix Hernandez is a player that the Mariners simply can't afford to lose.
He won't be a free agent for another two seasons, but at just 26 years old it's never too soon to think about the future.
Putting the constant trade talk to bed with a contract extension would help the fanbase in Seattle gain confidence in the direction of the franchise.
St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese
In what turned out to be one of the most exciting World Series of all time, a recent baseball memory etched in history comes courtesy of hometown boy David Freese, who ended a back-and-forth Game 6 in style, forcing a Game 7 that the St. Louis Cardinals would win to clinch their improbable World Series title.
He was strong once again last season, batting .293 while going deep 20 times and driving in 79 runs while also making his first all star appearance.
Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria
Having missed 30-plus games in three of his first five seasons in the major leagues, Evan Longoria doesn't always project the image of a healthy third baseman.
When he is on the field, he's one of the best in the game. Longoria and his contract tie him to Tampa Bay for the next decade, so fans will certainly have a familiar face in Florida no matter how many other players are ultimately traded or signed elsewhere.
Texas Rangers: Ian Kinsler
The Rangers may have lost one star this offseason as Josh Hamilton signed with the division rival Angels, but they've still got plenty of talent around, headed up by Ian Kinsler.
Kinsler has only missed 12 games over the past 12 seasons and while he's seen his average dip down to .250 over the past couple of seasons he's still averaged 25 home runs in each of those seasons and is a dynamic multi-tool player that has the potential to lead a franchise.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista
The Toronto Blue Jays have transformed their roster this offseason through multiple blockbuster trades and the signing of one of last year's best offensive players in Melky Cabrera.
Even with all the new weapons in the lineup, their most dangerous asset is still Jose Bautista.
He's the cornerstone of an offense that should be able to contend in the AL East for years to come, and he will no doubt be a candidate for a contract extension once his time comes.
Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg
After undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair his arm, Stephen Strasburg came back strong in 2012, though his innings limit would ultimately cut his contributions short.
Players like Ryan Zimmerman do have massive contracts that could prove to be hard to move if necessary, but a dynamic starting pitcher like Stephen Strasburg is definitely the most indispensable player on the Nationals roster, and he needs to stick around for years to come.
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