Mauerâs sweet stroke is one of the best amongst major league catchers. He hit .294 last year, and seems like a lock to go over .300 in â06. He may not always hit for power, but he should be good for a lot of doubles, and around 80 RBIs.
2 of 10Bill Boyce/AP
FIRST BASE: ALBERT PUJOLS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
As the reigning NL MVP, Pujols is one of the best hitters in baseball. As the anchor of the powerful Cards' lineup last season, he terrorized opposing pitchers with 41 homers, 117 RBIs, 129 runs scored, and hit .330.
3 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
SECOND BASE: CHONE FIGGINS
The Angelsâ leadoff hitter wonât give you the best power numbers (8 HR, 57 RBIs in 2005), however his speed is what makes him so valuable. Last year he had 63 stolen bases and heâs good to hit over .300 and score at least 100 runs.
4 of 10John Biever/SI
SHORTSTOP: MICHAEL YOUNG
Young had a monster year in â05 with 24 long balls, 91 RBIs, 114 runs and an AL-best average of .331. Itâs no wonder people say Ameriquest Field is a hittersâ park.
5 of 10Winslow Townson/AP
THIRD BASE: ALEX RODRIGUEZ
A-Rod did it all last season hitting .321 with 48 dingers, 130 RBIs, 124 runs, and 21 steals on his way to winning the AL MVP. He is one of the games most consistent hitters and never takes days off. He isnât just the tops at 3B, he may be the best overall player in the game.
6 of 10Robert Beck/SI
OUTFIELD: VLADIMIR GUERRERO
Missing almost a month last year, Vlad still popped 32 homers, and knocked in 108 ribbies. But he is more than just a power hitter as witnessed by his .317 batting average and 13 steals in only 14 attempts. The heart and soul of the Angels is looking to bounce back with a monster year in 2006.
7 of 10Arron Cummings/AP
OUTFIELD: MANNY RAMIREZ
Hitting behind David "Big Papi" Ortiz and playing in Fenway Park, one of the best hittersâ parks in baseball, Manny looks to have another MVP-like year in 2006. Last yearâs stats speak for themselves; 45 HRs, 144 RBIs, 112 runs. Thatâs just "Manny being Manny."
8 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
OUTFIELD: CARL CRAWFORD
Crawford is one of the many rising stars of the D-Rays because he does whatever it takes to win. Last year he had 81 RBIs to go with 101 runs and 46 steals. Plus a league-leading 13 triples. He knows how to produce from the leadoff spot where he always seems to come up big.
9 of 10David E. Klutho/SI
STARTING PITCHER: CHRIS CARPENTER
Carpenter had a big year in â05, which almost landed him the Cy Young award. The ace of the Cardinals staff had a record of 21-5 with an ERA of 2.83, a WHIP of 1.06 and 213 strikeouts.
10 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
RELIEF PITCHER: MARIANO RIVERA
When Metallicaâs "Enter Sandman" begins to play in the bottom of the ninth, 56,000 Yankee fans rise to their feet because they know Rivera is coming in to end the game. In â05 he had 43 saves and more then a strikeout an inning and remains one of the best closers the game has ever seen.
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