MLB Predictions 2012: Three Teams That Will Coast to Division Title

Matt OveringContributor IIIApril 4, 2012

MLB Predictions 2012: Three Teams That Will Coast to Division Title

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    Coasting to a division title isn't as easy as it sounds. In a 162 game season, the proverbial "it's a marathon, not a sprint" logic is more prevalent than ever.

    Some teams will need some good fortune to have a chance to make the postseason, while others will count on their stars to carry the load. 

    Injuries will have a significant impact on every team. Teams with the most depth and perseverance will come out on top. 

    Of course, talent doesn't hurt either. These three teams have what it takes to roll through their opponents this year in a commanding fashion.

Atlanta Braves, NL East

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    Coast? In the NL East?

    Yeah right.

    The Philadelphia Phillies have three of the best pitchers in baseball. The Miami Marlins have bought their way into contention.

    But the Atlanta Braves are better than both of those teams. Their rotation doesn't boast three superstars, but has the depth to outlast the Phillies on the season. The Braves' offense is also head and shoulders above the aging Phillies.

    Miami will contend as well, but it's not every year a team in the cellar steps up to become the division winner. 

    Rounding out the top four teams in the NL East is the Washington Nationals. They have the potential to be a dark horse in this division, but with a cap on how far they can pitch guys like Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman, they may stumble late.

    Atlanta will have a better offense than last year and their young pitching can only improve. In a 162 game season, the Braves will come out on top.

Cincinnati Reds, NL Central

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    St. Louis lost Albert Pujols. Milwaukee lost Prince Fielder.

    Those are two key components for two of the three contenders for the NL Central crown. The Cincinnati Reds decided to keep their star, Joey Votto, and inked him to an enormous deal. They also added Mat Latos to sure up the starting rotation.

    Both St. Louis and Milwaukee could make runs, and Cincinnati could disappoint like they did last year, but it is unlikely. Losing such valuable weapons on offense will prove to be costly.

    Theo Epstein may instill hope for Cubs fans, but chances are they won't be contending for a World Series this year. Pittsburgh still has holes to fill if they want to win. Houston has a problem.

    The Reds' youth are gaining experience, and Joey Votto is a stud. Cincinnati should win the Central with relative ease.

Detroit Tigers, AL Central

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    Who could beat Detroit?

    Kansas City may finally eclipse the .500 mark for the first time since 2003. Minnesota is nothing without Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Cleveland was the surprise team in the AL Central last year and still finished with a losing record last year.

    The Chicago White Sox pose an interesting threat, in that they are expecting a bounce-back year from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. If those sluggers, along with Paul Konerko, have great years, the White Sox have a small chance of taking the division.

    Detroit has the ace (Justin Verlander). They have one of the best hitting duos in the game. Rotation issues may hinder the Tigers from reaching 100 wins, but their offense is certainly capable. There is no reason for Detroit to lose the AL Central.