Predicting the breakout players of 2012

I asked readers on Twitter to name their top choice for breakout player for this season.

The question is fairly vague, although I did say not to include rookies like Yu Darvish, Matt Moore and Mike Trout, players who have received plenty of hype and will have high expectations.

Out of 100 responses, I got 63 different names listed, although that included my friend Thomas jokingly picking Don Kelly. Who knows, maybe Kelly will push Miguel Cabrera to full-time designated hitter. Anyway, here are the players who received more than two votes:

Justin Smoak, Mariners: 7

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays: 6

Brandon Beachy, Braves: 3

Mike Minor, Braves: 3

Dexter Fowler, Rockies: 3

Travis Snider, Blue Jays: 3

Lucas Duda, Mets: 3

Brandon Belt, Giants: 3

Dustin Ackley, Mariners: 3

This is what makes baseball so exciting and unpredictable. Some of the 63 guys mentioned will break out. All 63 certainly have a chance to break out, even in the vague definition of the term. And while Lawrie is an obvious candidate after his monster performance late last season, we don't know if Smoak or Belt or Fowler will become a big star. Maybe one will; maybe all three will. It's why we watch. My own pick: Homer Bailey. Long-heralded, he finally started putting it together last season. Cincinnati's a tough place to pitch so I'm not expecting a 3.18 ERA or anything, but I think he can get that ERA in the 3.50-3.75 range and become a solid No. 3 starter behind Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto.

Some comments from Twitter:

Dexter Fowler. I think this is DexFo's year to break out and become the third part of the Tulo, Cargo, Dexfo triumverante. -- @sskapyak

@LoMoMarlins Goes off .300/.405/.515 with a bump in power numbers. -- @faust74

Brett Lawrie is gonna have a memorable season. -- @GTAdross

Matt Wieters. Continues to cut his strikeouts down, .840 OPS in the second half of 2011. -- @GreenLineOutfit

I like jordan zimmermann to really break out this year. Keeps the ball in the park and limits his BBs #checkoutmynewWHIP -- @TheMuzz34

Cameron Maybin. Finally puts up a .290-20-90-50 campaign like the Tigers and Marlins expected. --@djameson87

Kris Medlen? Very good when healthy, and is finally healthy. Will play a huge roll for Braves this year. --@Max_Jensen10

Mike Stanton. He will lead the Majors with 45 HRs. --@JoeBoria

Alex Gordon, will have an MVP type season and finally live up to his potential --@Sean_Bealer

Justin Smoak. Or is that just wishful thinking?? --@CRoscoe2121