2012 MLB Predictions: 4 Favorites That Will Miss Postseason
The MLB expanded its postseason to include an additional two teams, so it will be easier than ever to play in October, but there will still be some surprising absences.
Last year, the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves looked to be headed for easy Wild Card wins, but both fell apart and ceded their positions. The Arizona Diamondbacks came out of nowhere to win the NL West, and even the Pittsburgh Pirates showed signs of playoff potential.
But what will be our surprises in 2012? Which favorites will be missing from the postseason?
Keep reading to find out.
St. Louis Cardinals
The defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals will not be back with a chance to repeat in 2012.
After losing two huge pieces in Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa, they may not be clear favorites to win the central. But adding Carlos Beltran and hiring a staff similar to that of LaRussa's helped, and they have certainly established themselves as contenders.
But they will not contend late into next season.
Last year's World Series team barely made the playoffs in the first place, and the Cards simply couldn't do enough to improve a team that was 90-72, and had to go 18-8 in September to get to that record. They got hot at the right time, and won't be able to do it again in 2012.
The notoriously cheap Florida Marlins changed more than their name when they became the Miami Marlins. They opened up their wallets and poured out money to Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. They were also close to signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
While the Marlins are still stuck behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the division race, this revamped team should be considered as favorites to earn one of the two wild card spots.
Those spots, however, will find themselves in other hands.
Miami has a bright future, but 2012 will not be the year that they start seeing results. Offense isn't the problem, as Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez appear to be working well in their roles. Giancarlo Stanton is in position to have a big year as well.
The problem will be pitching, where they don't have the strength to compete with the Phillies, Atlanta Braves, or Washington Nationals. Josh Johnson could easily find himself on the DL again, and the addition of Buehrle was made out to be a bigger deal than it actually is.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have all of the ingredients to repeat as NL West champions, but they won't, because it's the NL West.
This division changes up every year and there is always a sneaky team contending that nobody saw coming. Last year it was the Diamondbacks; the year before that it was the San Diego Padres, and in 2009 it was the Colorado Rockies.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are still reeling from the McCourt mayhem, but they have good pieces, which sets them up perfectly for a "surprise" run this year.
As for the Diamondbacks, a wild card spot is hardly out of the question, but the beasts of the east will have the best chance at locking up those. Once Arizona's young pitching develops and gets accustomed to the seven-month season, this team will be in a better position to take control of the NL West and make the playoffs more consistently.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have missed the playoffs only once is the past decade, but they will miss them again in 2012.
The core of their team is getting old and its production is slowing. Alex Rodriguez can't seem to stay healthy for an entire season, and Mark Teixeira's 2011 is a sign that his glory days are over as well.
Pieces like Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano will certainly help the Yankees contend until the end, but they won't be able overcome the pitching of the Tampa Bay Rays or the bats of the Boston Red Sox. With the second wild card team coming from the AL West, it looks like the Yankees are the odd team out.