Around this time last year, the St. Louis Cardinals were a mere wild-card contender hoping for a chance to make the playoffs before eventually going on to win the World Series.
Teams in a similar situation this year are hoping to take a similar path as the 2011 Cardinals, as they eye the opportunity to be the last team standing in October.
Wild-Card contenders usually make for successful playoff teams. They have to earn their playoff berths by outplaying several teams in streaky fashion to end the year.
Playoff races in the MLB are heating up. It seems like the wild-card races in each league could come down to the final week of the 2012 season.
Here are a few wild-card contenders that could win the World Series.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have been largely unpredictable for most of the 2012 season. The addition of Mike Trout helped save their season early on. Since then, they have regressed back to their inconsistent ways.
If the Angels can find a way for their offense and pitching to click at the same time, they could easily be contending for a World Series in October. The Angels have the talent on their roster to get it done, but in the end they'll have to shake their bad habit of being inconsistent.
Albert Pujols has returned to his dominant form, and if the Angels can find a way to sneak into the playoffs, they could wreak havoc with the hitters they have in their lineup.
The Tigers boast one of the best pitchers and hitters in the game, yet still find themselves struggling to lock down a playoff spot. Regardless, the Tigers should have a chance to be one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs.
Detroit's schedule in September is one of the easiest out of all the wild-card contenders. The Tigers will face the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals several times to end the year.
If the Tigers can take advantage of their schedule, they'll be one of the hottest teams in MLB when the playoffs start.
Los Angels Dodgers
The Dodgers have been the most active team in the trade market all year. This aggressiveness shows how serious they are about contending.
The Dodgers are a completely different team now than they were a few months ago. Their lineup has been strengthened by the additions of Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. With these new acquisitions, Los Angeles now boasts one of the best lineups in the National League.
If the Dodgers can find some consistency in their rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, they could easily be a serious World Series contender.