Let’s face it: however untalented a reality TV star may be, they often draw attention and make money. These two elements bring unspoken levels of expectation and pressure that separate the contenders from the pretenders. As the remarkably gifted sons of a collective hemisferio, Latinos in Major League Baseball have responded to the enormous pressures and expectations by amassing history-making contracts, establishing new all-time marks and conquering the sport’s most coveted records. If Latinos grabbed MLB’s headlines during the off-season then watch for these peloteros, as past performance has either created an expectation to return to form or deliver an encore performance during the 2012 regular season.
Albert Pujols – First Base – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The biggest free agent acquisition baseball has seen for arguably the best player in baseball today. Dominican-born Pujols will soon taste what L.A. is like after inking the second largest contract in U.S. sports history (10 years, $240 million) with the Anaheim Angels. The three-time National League MVP and two-time World Series champion, all with the St. Louis Cardinals, has created a seismic shift in the power balance in the American League, especially in the AL West. Talk about pressure – many expect him to be favored to win the AL MVP award and bring the Angels to their first World Series appearance since 2002.
Alex Rodriguez – Third Base – New York Yankees
Not much needs to be said about the man with the first ($275 million) and third ($252 million) richest contracts in sports. Finally shaking off his post-season ineptness by carrying the Yankees to their 27th World Series Championship in 2009, the three-time AL MVP’s offensive output has noticeably declined the past two seasons mostly thanks to lower body injuries. A Washington Heights born Dominican, the 36-year old A-Rod has arrived at spring training rejuvenated, fully healed and in fantastic shape. As the team’s clean-up hitter, the Yankees quest for number 28 depends largely on number 13’s ability to reestablish himself as one of the game’s most lethal offensive forces. His mission, should he choose to accept it, is to get his mojo flowing on the field as well it has been off the field.