The 2012 MLB Playoffs will begin this Friday. Now is the time that fans get really excited, hoping that their team could win the World Series.
This postseason features two teams that haven't seen the playoffs in a while in the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics.
While there are some teams that are clearly favored, we all know anything can happen in the playoffs. It's entirely possible that we could see the Orioles win the World Series.
In addition to the Athletics and Orioles, we have the regular playoff attendees like the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants.
Who will win this year's World Series? It will be fun to find out.
Whenever the New York Yankees make the playoffs, they are going to be a favorite. This year is no different. While the Yankees have struggled at times this season, they have always come out better.
With the Yankees closing out the AL East in game 162, they get the advantage of waiting for the winner of the wild-card game. Whether it's the Texas Rangers or the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees are clearly the better team.
With Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees have the offense to take over any game, and they always seem to in the playoffs. If C.C. Sabathia and the debilitated pitching staff can keep the Yankees within striking distance, their offense will get the job done.
Led by the Triple Crown-achieving Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Detroit Tigers are the AL Central Champions for the second year in a row. After falling just short of the World Series last year, they will want to avenge that loss by making it all the way this season.
Cabrera and Fielder give the Tigers two of the best home run hitters in the game, and if they get going during the playoffs, they are going to be hard to stop.
With Justin Verlander as their ace, the Tigers are a team to beat entering October baseball. Behind him, they have Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The Tigers could be the World Series favorites this year.
The other surprise team of the MLB, the Oakland Athletics somehow made it into the playoffs facing huge odds. In a division with the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim, no one expected the A's to make it anywhere close to the postseason, much less win the AL West.
The A's have overachieved all season long and they hope to continue that into the playoffs.Their team is not made out of stars and all the players have had to dig deep to put them where they are today.
Another team that is looking for redemption, the Texas Rangers want to make it back to the World Series for the third straight season.
While the Rangers haven't been as dominant as they've been in the past few years, they are still a dangerous team. If Josh Hamilton can get into the same home run groove he was in at the beginning of the season going again, Texas will be a formidable foe against someone like Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.
The Rangers are going to need a bit more luck to get back to where they have been the last two years. Personally, I don't think it will happen.
The Cinderella of the MLB of this season, the Baltimore Orioles somehow kept their play up all year and are making the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
When the Orioles started the season strong, everyone thought that they would eventually return to their standard play of the past 15 years. They didn't, and now everyone is eating their words.
The easy prediction would be that their luck will finally run out in the wild card game. As we all know now, the Orioles have been proving everyone wrong all year and only a fool would count them out.
While a long shot, the Orioles want to complete the Cinderella run and will do anything to do it.
For the first time as the Washington Nationals, the former Montreal Expos are Division Champions. The Nats are assured to be the best team in the MLB and have the privilege of having home-field advantage for the entire playoffs. This leads them to being the obvious favorite coming out of the National League.
Even with the shutting down of Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals maintained enough momentum to be in this position. Big things are expected out of the Washington and they will be hard to beat throughout the playoffs.
The Cincinnati Reds are once again the NL Central Champions after missing out on the playoffs last season.
The Reds have the lineup to do serious damage in the playoffs. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips lead the offense while Bronson Arroyo leads the pitching staff. Homer Bailey is coming off a no-hitter and there is no better way to enter the playoffs. Well, other than a perfect game.
If the Nationals are somehow upset in the first round, the Reds are the new team to beat in the National League and probably the MLB.
The San Francisco Giants are only two years removed from winning their first World Series. They followed that up last year by scoring the least amount of runs in the history of Major League Baseball.
They bounced back this season to reclaim the NL West crown and are heading back to the playoffs. Despite losing Melky Cabrera for the season after the All-Star outfielder tested positive for enhanced testosterone, no one wants to face this Giants squad which has only gotten stronger with the second-half surge of MVP candidate Buster Posey.
Another team that disappointed in the 2011 season, the Atlanta Braves are a dark horse team entering the playoffs. Led by Chipper Jones in his final season, the Braves have quietly fought their way into the playoffs.
If the Braves make it past the wild-card game, there is a very big chance that they could make it to the World Series, but only if everything goes right. They would have to go up against the Washington Nationals and then the winner of the Cincinnati vs. San Francisco series.
The defending World Series Champions are in the same place they were last year: the wild card.
Given, there's an extra step to get into the divisional round this year, but even without Albert Pujols the Cardinals were good enough to be where they are today. I would say that the Cards have the advantage over the Braves in the wild-card game and will then pose a serious threat to the Washington Nationals in the divisional series.