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Five players to watch in the 2014 MLB season

Reuters

(Reuters) - Five players to watch in the 2014 Major League Baseball season:

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MIGUEL CABRERA, DETROIT TIGERS

One of the cleanest hitters in baseball, Cabrera was named the American League's Most Valuable Player in each of the past two seasons. In 2012, he became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown after leading the AL in batting average, home runs and runs batted in (RBI).

Despite struggling with injuries in 2013, Cabrera finished with a career-best .348 batting average and matched his record of 44 home runs. With the departure of Prince Fielder, Cabrera returns to first base this year and, if he stays fit, will play a big role in determining whether the Tigers can land the World Series.

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MIKE TROUT, LOS ANGELES ANGELS

The 22-year-old outfielder has established himself as the brightest young player in the game. In 2012, Trout was named the AL Rookie of the Year and also finished second to Cabrera in AL MVP voting.

He finished second to Cabrera again in the 2013 AL MVP race after hitting .323 with 27 home runs, 97 RBI and 109 runs scored as well pulling off some outstanding catches in the outfield.

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ANDREW McCLUTCHEN, PITTSBURGH PIRATES

The 27-year-old center fielder won the MVP award for the National League last season after averaging .317, with 21 home runs, 84 RBI and 27 stolen bases.

A three-time All-Star, he helped lead the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years last season and looms as their trump card again this year.

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YU DARVISH, TEXAS RANGERS

Darvish joined MLB in 2012 in a multi-million dollar deal after establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in his homeland Japan. A right hander, Darvish has a wide repertoire of pitches that have made him an instant hit in MLB.

In his rookie season with Texas, he threw 221 strikeouts then tossed a league-leading 277 strikeouts last season with an ERA of 2.83. He came within one out of a pitching a perfect game against the Houston Astros and finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

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CLAYTON KERSHAW, LOS ANGELES DODGERS

When Kershaw won his second NL Cy Young Award in three years last season, the Dodgers rewarded him with a seven-year $215 million contract extension, the richest deal over offered to a pitcher.

The left-hander finished 2013 with a 16-9 record, 232 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.83, marking the third consecutive season he led the league in the key pitching statistic.

(Compiled by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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