MLB: 3 Teams That Should Have Made the Playoffs
The 2012 postseason has been a memorable one thus far. With all four division series going to five games, the competition seems more evenly matched than that of previous years.
With the games so close and all the series so competitive, there’s little doubt that the final regular season standings gave us all the playoff-worthy teams.
The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A’s had outstanding seasons that exceeded expectations, but both made early exits in the ALDS.
Detroit sneaked into the playoffs and has been a force ever since, knocking off a resilient and chemistry-infused A’s squad.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been a huge surprise knocking off very good Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals teams. Their four run ninth inning in game five of the NLDS was one of the highlights of this postseason.
After getting routed in games one and two, the San Francisco Giants dug up enough momentum to win games three though five and take this series.
For the teams on the outside looking in, the playoff excitement is simply disappointment.
"It hurts," said Chicago White Sox’s Adam Dunn. "It stinks, but we have to look in the mirror and realize we did it to ourselves."
Here are three teams that should have made the playoffs in 2012.
Chicago White Sox
Ventura arguing a call in a losing effort Sept. 22 against the Angels.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
On September 15, the Chicago White Sox’s AL Central lead was just one game in front of the Tigers.
Here’s a team that led the division since May and whose manager was in the running for AL Manager of the Year.
What happened? A Boston-like collapse that has managed to stay well under the media’s radar.
The Sox went 11-17 in the month of September, letting up more hits, walks and earned runs than any other month. They displayed the stereotypical pitching of a late season collapse.
Chris Sale gave the Sox an extra boost in the starting rotation this season, but had a collapse of his own in September.
Through the month of August, Sale was a definite Cy Young favorite. He recorded a 15-5 record with a 2.81 ERA.
In September, hitters finally figured Sale out. Facing teams like the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, Sale recorded his worst month of the season.
He posted a 2-3 record with a 4.11 ERA in September. Four of his six starts came against teams with under .500 records.
To blame the collapse on the performance of simply one starting pitcher would be naïve. Jose Quintana, who had a great regular season, struggled in September going 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA. Francisco Liriano had similar numbers.
Even their 23-year-old closer Addison Reed struggled with an 8.00 ERA in September.
To top off their horrible September pitching was an offense incapable of bailing out their starters. In the month, the Sox had eight games in which they gave up four or less runs and lost.
They had their worst offensive month since April hitting just .250.
“You end up where you’re supposed to end up,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. “The effort was there. We just came up short.”
The effort wasn’t there. Ventura had a great managerial season, but failed to rally the troops in the end. After a disappointing season, the Sox have a lot to look forward to heading into next year.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Gonzalez and Kemp reflecting in the dugout Oct. 2 against the Giants.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
On August 25 the Los Angeles Dodgers made what was certainly the blockbuster trade of the season with the struggling Boston Red Sox.
The trade was made in an attempt to diminish the 3.5 game lead the San Francisco Giants had in the division.
The trade resulted in Los Angeles acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto. All of a sudden the Dodgers looked to be the most offensively stacked team in baseball.
This comes after the Dodgers also traded for the Miami Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez on July 26 to fill their hole at shortstop.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, their historic blockbuster trades did not pay off.
Los Angeles ended the season with an 86-76 record, eight back in the division and two back in the wild card. The $250 million worth of salary acquired in the August 25 trade bought the Dodgers a 17-18 record to end the season.
So what contributed to this overly talented team’s absence from this year’s playoffs? If you think it was a late season pitching collapse, you’re wrong.
In September the Dodgers pitched their way to a 2.76 ERA, second best in baseball behind the Braves. But the Braves finished September with an outstanding 19-8 record, while the Dodgers ended just 14-12.
The Dodgers' offense scored just 91 runs in the month of September and hit .251.
Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier hit just .245 in September, both striking out over 23 times. Carl Crawford remained on the DL and did not have an at bat for LA this season.
Their offense struggled late, but it was the success of division rival San Fransisco Giants that really forced them out of playoff contention.
The Giants went 20-10 in September and October, really widening the gap between them and the Dodgers in the division.
The Cardinals contributed as well, staying consistent late in the season and keeping the Dodgers away from the final wild card spot.
With Crawford coming back next season and a fresh start for newly acquired players like Ramirez and Gonzalez, Los Angeles should have little trouble being a playoff contender.
Tampa Bay Rays
Hellickson tipping his cap after holding the Orioles to just 1 run Oct. 3.
J. Meric/Getty Images
There were nine teams in baseball this season that won over ninety games. Eight made the playoffs.
Tampa Bay was the other one.
Slighted by a division that traditionally ranks among baseball’s best, the Rays missed this year’s playoffs despite being a pretty good team.
The Rays have only one thing to blame for being unable to claim a playoff spot: the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles came out of nowhere this season. They defied oddsmakers and baseball experts, putting together one of the most respectable seasons in baseball history.
The birds had a unique team chemistry that centered on their leader and manager Buck Showalter.
The fact that the Rays, with one of the best rotations in baseball, couldn’t pass a team with a true ace is baffling.
Tampa finished the season 19-11 in their last 30 games. During that stretch the Rays batted .257 and scored the sixth most runs in baseball with 139. They also pitched to a 3.07, good for fifth best in baseball.
Tampa had a great end to the season, but Baltimore’s offensive production was better than any other team in baseball, and its pitching kept pace with Tampa’s.
This team ended 90-72, didn’t have a late season collapse and pitched well all season. This year, its division got the best of them.