Félix Hernandez – Pitcher – Seattle Mariners
On a team devoid of any offensive firepower, King Félix is the team’s unquestioned ace and highly regarded as one of the game’s top flamethrowers. The confident Venezuelan has a devastating arsenal of quality pitches and was the AL’s 2010 Cy Young award winner. Though his win-loss record that year was a pedestrian 13-12, his 2.27 ERA is truly remarkable considering an anemic offense that scored a total of seven runs in all 12 losses while he was in the game. A workhorse who has pitched over 200 innings for three consecutive seasons, Hernandez will again be expected to deliver under pressure.
Yadier Molina – Catcher – St. Louis Cardinals
With Pujols’ invasion of the American League soon to begin, the unassuming Molina’s importance takes on even greater significance. Coming off a career year offensively in 2011, which culminated in an improbable World Series championship, Molina is the youngest of three Puerto Rico-born MLB catchers (Bengie and José are his brothers) that built their reputation on game-calling, defense, durability and situational hitting in the most demanding of positions. His consistency behind the plate was recently rewarded with a five-year, $75 million contract extension, a move that signals his value to the team and higher expectations on – and off – the field.