MLB Predictions: 2012 Playoff Teams
Winning a division title is the goal on the minds of coaches, players and ownership heading into spring training.
Many teams have yet to take their final shape, but the outlines are becoming clear as March approaches.
As of now, there are eight teams that appear to be headed for the playoffs in 2012.
Many variables with come into play when determining the final group of teams to play in October, but for now, these are the clubs that have the pieces in place to contend this season.
AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim
While the Texas Rangers have won the American League West the past two years, the Angels are ready to fight for the division in 2012.
The additions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson make the Angels one of the most dangerous teams in the American League.
AL Central: Detroit Tigers
No team in the AL Central did more to improve than the Tigers, and they should be able to handle competition in the division.
Having Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera hitting back-to-back only spells trouble for pitchers in the division.
Justin Verlander will look to build upon his MVP award and help the Tigers back to the postseason in search of a World Series ring.
AL East: New York Yankees
The Yankees acquired Michael Pineda from the Mariners and signed Hiroki Kuroda to bolster the rotation.
Both pitchers will be critical to New York's success in an ever-improving division.
The Red Sox will not let the Yankees run away with the division, nor will the Tampa Bay Rays.
That being said, the Yankees have too many bats, and now, more than enough pitching to win the division again in 2012.
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have the talent to make the playoffs in 2012.
Carl Crawford played much below his ability in 2011, and the Red Sox were on the short end of the stick. They were relying on a big season from Crawford.
This season, Crawford will bounce back and lead the Red Sox to the playoffs.
The Yankees added both Pineda and Kuroda to keep themselves as the favorite in the American League East, making Boston the front-runner to win the wild card.
NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks won the division a season ago under first-year head coach Kirk Gibson.
Arizona acquired right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill in a trade with Oakland and signed outfielder Jason Kubel during the offseason.
Additionally, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will be with the big league club for a full season. Goldschmidt hit eight home runs and nine doubles in just 154 at-bats down the stretch in 2011.
Arizona looks ready to compete with the rest of the National League West and is the team to beat in the division at this point.
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers lost Prince Fielder, but that does not take away their place as the favorite in the National League Central.
Milwuakee signed Aramis Ramirez to make up for the lost power of Fielder.
The Brewers still have three top-of-the-rotation pitchers in Yovanni Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke.
The pitching, along with the lack of progress made by other teams in the division, leaves the Brewers as the team to beat in the National League Central.
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation matches up against any team in baseball.
Philadelphia won 102 games a season ago and should have no trouble winning games this season.
The Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year contract in order to solidify the bullpen
Charlie Manuel looks to have his team poised to win another National League East title.
NL Wild Card: San Francisco Giants
Bruce Bochy and the San Francisco Giants will bounce back from an offensive disaster to make the playoffs as the wild-card team in 2012.
The Giants will have Buster Posey back in the lineup and behind the dish. Having Posey back changes the entire dynamic of an offense that was led by the Giants' young stud.
Additions of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to the outfield should provide some runs with added speed at the top of the order.
San Francisco's pitching staff is among the best in the National League, something it proved in the 2010 playoffs. The Giants are my pick to win the wild card in 2012.