Players that will define the 2012 MLB season

Yu Darvish

There does not appear to be a runaway, surefire, can’t-miss World Series contender in either the American or National Leagues this year.

To figure out which teams will play late into October, Metro looks at a variety of impact players from both leagues that will make-or-break Fall Classic chances.

Yu Darvish

Pitcher, Rangers
Not since Dice-K has a pitcher from Japan created so much buzz. If he can have the same kind of impact that Matsuzaka had in his first season, the Rangers could well make it three World Series appearances in a row.

Bryce Harper
Right field, Nationals
Could the biggest news out of Washington this October take place on the baseball field? Anything can happen in an election year, and Harper will certainly be a candidate — for Rookie of the Year. The Nationals might even be a contender to unseat the incumbent Phillies, and Harper is expected to lead that campaign. The first overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft looks to be ready for the bright lights.

Albert Pujols
First baseman, Angels
The Angels might be the most stacked team on both sides of the ball in the American League, and the acquisition of Pujols is the linchpin. But, still, the lineup behind Pujols in L.A. is hardly Murderer’s Row, and Pujols could easily get the Bonds treatment in his new league. How he adjusts could determine the American League pennant.

Matt Kemp
Center field, Dodgers
Do you believe in Magic? Maybe things are finally looking up for the Dodgers, who have been looking up in the NL West standings for the past few years. But they still have Kemp, who is might be the best player in baseball no one knows about. Maybe some baseball Showtime in L.A. will finally make Kemp a star. Kemp batted .324 at the dish last year while driving in a career-high 126 runs with 39 homers.

Troy Tulowitzki
Shortstop, Rockies
If the National League is looking for an untainted star, it could perhaps find him in Colorado, where the All-Star shortstop is already being touted as an MVP candidate. The Rockies should be contenders in the West, and Tulo might finally be on the precipice of a monster season.

Strong arms

A look at some big arms that will play a big role in 2012:

Josh Beckett, Red Sox
: The last time Beckett entered a Red Sox season so embattled was 2007, after he allowed 30 homers in a 2006 season that left many questioning his bona fides as an ace. Now, after clubhouse-gate, he once again must prove himself. In 2007, it resulted in a Cy Young-caliber performance.

Mariano Rivera, Yankees: Speculation is rampant that this will be the final season of Rivera’s brilliant Yankees career. The godfather of closers, Rivera could well go out with another World Series ring. How he performs at age 42 will certainly go a long way to determining the success of the Yankees in 2012.

Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies: The Phillies offense enters the season decimated by injuries, with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley sidelined. But the starting pitching is still flush with aces, keeping pennant hopes alive. The margin for error is small, and if ‘Pap’ slips even a little, those knowledgeable fans in Philly will make his life miserable.

Justin Verlander, Tigers: The Tigers have plenty of offense, especially with the acquisition of Prince Fielder, giving the Tigers a deadly corner combo with Miguel Cabrera. But the Tigers’ rotation is rather pedestrian 2 through 5. So as the mighty Verlander goes, so go the Tigers.


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.