The 2013 season will breed new hope for many teams in the MLB, but for some the playoffs are a near lock after a disappointing finish to the 2012 campaign.
For teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers, this past offseason was nothing short of successful.
There's no question that the many additions these teams made will go a long way toward regular season success and a potential division title or Wild Card spot.
Let's take a closer look at each of these squads and why they are certain to play October baseball in 2013.
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles had a solid roster last season, so it came as a surprise that the team finished a dreadful third in the American League West behind the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. Not making the playoffs was nothing short of a disaster for a team that spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire players like Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
The biggest move the Angels made this offseason was the unexpected signing of slugger Josh Hamilton. The former Rangers star will add yet another huge bat to a lineup that already sports Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout.
That combination of hitters is a nightmare for opposing pitchers and should lead to a ton of runs for the Angels.
Clearly we know that offense isn't all it takes to be successful, so it's important to note the Angels have a solid starting rotation to go with their lineup.
Led by perennial Cy Young candidate, Jered Weaver, the Angels will also send Wilson to the mound as their No. 2 starter for a stellar 1-2 punch. Beyond those two, Los Angeles will send Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas to the hill as its 3-4-5 starters.
Granted, none of the latter arms are going to shut opposing offenses down on a regular basis, but each starter should get more than ample run support to be successful this season.
Angels Projected 2013 Record: 95-67 (AL West Winners)
Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto has been the trendy pick to surprise the baseball world and make the playoffs the past few seasons, but nothing has come of it. However, that could all change this season as the team has made some significant improvements all around the roster.
The Blue Jays were the latest beneficiary of a Miami/Florida Marlins fire sale after they acquired Emilio Bonifacio, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle for next to nothing. Also, the team signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal and traded for National League Cy Young winner, RA Dickey.
As far as their lineup is concerned, the Blue Jays are as deep as they come. The additions of Reyes, Bonifacio and Cabrera will go great when combined with sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion as well as Brett Lawrie.
On top of that, Toronto's rotation is one of the deepest in baseball with Dickey, Johnson and Buehrle at the front end with Brandon Morrow and Rickey Romero behind them. Morrow's ERA was sub-three last season and before 2012 Romero was seen as a No. 1 starter.
As the Blue Jays have made these moves and improved considerably, the rest of the teams in the AL East haven't done much to supplant them. In fact, it isn't even close.
So, with the Blue Jays moving onward and upward while their division rivals are getting older and becoming less talented, Toronto has a golden opportunity to extend the 2013 season into October.
Blue Jays Projected 2013 Record: 94-68 (AL East Winners)
Los Angeles Dodgers
The path to the postseason for the Dodgers will be difficult with the defending World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants, in their division.
Los Angeles finished eight games out of the NL West title last season and missed out on the Wild Card by just two games. That was after adding a ton of talent during the season—namely slugger Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, infielder Hanley Ramirez and starting pitcher Josh Beckett.
The biggest problem this team faced last year was the fact that Matt Kemp only played in 106 games. Kemp is an MVP-caliber player when healthy and is the heart and soul of this team's lineup by far.
Having him back for a full season with guys like Andre Ethier, Gonzalez, Ramirez and Crawford around him should make for quite the potent offensive attack as long as all are healthy and playing up to expectations.
A huge addition made this offseason was the signing of former AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. The 29-year-old was solid during the 2012 campaign and will give the Dodgers one of the best 1-2 combos in baseball when combined with fellow former Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw.
Last season Kershaw had to shoulder the load of what was a mediocre rotation. Now, Los Angeles has serious reinforcements in Greinke and Beckett, who despite having a bad 2012 season is due for a good one as he is notoriously an every other year kind of pitcher.
Dodgers Projected 2013 Record: 92-70 (No. 1 Wild Card Spot)
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