Spring training games have officially begun, signaling the beginning of the 2012 baseball season. Now is the time that everyone from players to coaches to analysts to dedicated fans begin dissecting all 30 teams, identifying their strengths and weaknesses while also determining how much of a shot each team has at hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy this October.
So, when trying to weigh a team's World Series chances, what is the first thing you have to think about? How about that old adage, "pitching wins championships?" There's a reason it's said so much. It's true, a team rich with quality pitchers is usually the team to beat come October. By no means does having the best starting rotation guarantee a spot in the Fall Classic, just ask the Philadelphia Phillies, whose four aces weren't even enough to lift them out of the NLDS in 2011. However, if the offense can step up, the team with better pitching is going to win nine out of 10 times.
So, which teams have the pitching this year that, coupled with a plus offense, could be enough to lift them to the World Series? That list includes those Phillies again, along with the Angels, Yankees, Rangers and Cardinals. These teams should have enough to coast into the playoffs this year, especially with the inclusion of the two new wild-card spots in this year's playoff format. Again, in baseball there are no guarantees (just ask the Red Sox), but I think it's fair to say that for these five teams, the road to October likely won't be a very difficult one.
So which teams still need to find that extra piece for their starting rotation to lead them to a playoff spot? I have narrowed it down to six teams that I feel could potentially claw their way into the postseason picture in 2012, but would need at least one more quality starter in order to do so.