2012 MLB Predictions: Teams That Will Enter the Playoff Chase

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2012

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Shortstop Jose Reyes #7 of the Miami Marlins poses for photos during media day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Major League Baseball has added a wild card to each league for this year's playoffs. Each wild-card team will play in a one-game playoff with the winner going to the Division Series.

With this change, more teams are going to have an opportunity of reaching the playoffs.

Of course, it may just mean that in the American League, more teams from the East are going to get in.

In a one-game playoff, though, anything can happen.

Although fans are unlikely to see an end of the season that would approach what happened on the last day of the 2011 season, another playoff spot makes things that much more interesting.

Here are three teams that had losing records last year but will be in the hunt in 2012.


Cleveland Indians

The Indians really overachieved last year, finishing 80-82.

Even with the Fausto Carmona/Roberto Heredia situation still unresolved, Cleveland looks to have a very good starting rotation going into this season.

Ubaldo Jimenez is going to have better numbers than he did last year and veterans like Derek Lowe and Kevin Slowey provide experience in the bottom of the rotation.

Then you have a starting lineup that has a lot of good, young hitters.

Carlos Santana might be the best offensive catcher in baseball. Second baseman Jason Kipnis hit seven home runs and managed to drive in 19 runs in just 36 games last year.

The Tribe can also rely upon guys like Jack Hannahan and Casey Kotchman for excellent defense. That's good news for a pitching staff filled with ground ball pitchers who pitch to contact.


Miami Marlins

This one shouldn't come as too big of a surprise.

Marlins management is taking a huge gamble this year. Along with the team's new stadium, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle were brought in as free agents and Ozzie Guillen was hired as manager.

The Marlins also already had a good young core anchored by Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez.

The pitching staff already looked pretty solid before Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano were brought in.

Also, look for Josh Johnson to be among Cy Young consideration this year.


Cincinnati Reds

2011 was a disappointing season in Cincinnati after their division in 2010. The Reds only managed to finish 79-83.

The NL Central could really be up for grabs this year.

Milwaukee had to replace Prince Fielder, and who knows how the Ryan Braun situation could affect him and the rest of the team.

St. Louis might be the reigning World Series winners, but they're a pretty old team and find themselves with a massive hole at first base.

The Reds strengthened themselves by adding Mat Latos. If Homer Bailey can get it together, Cincinnati could have one of the better rotations in the National League.