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Every MLB Team's Best- and Worst-Case Record in 2013

Doug MeadCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2013

Every MLB Team's Best- and Worst-Case Record in 2013

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    Opening Day in Major League Baseball is Sunday, March 31. Each MLB team is busily preparing for the upcoming season, hoping that the new year will bring progress.

    A lot can happen during the year that can change the course of a team's record. Injuries, poor performance and sometimes just bad karma can cause teams to finish with worse records than expected.

    On the flip side, good health, breakout performances and a bit of luck can have some teams finishing far better than what was initially expected. Last year's Oakland A's are a prime example.

    Here is each MLB team's best- and worst-case record for the 2013 season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks made a bevy of moves this offseason in an attempt to improve upon last year's .500 finish.

    Brandon McCarthy was brought in to bolster the starting rotation in the absence of Daniel Hudson, likely out until after the All-Star break while he continues recovering from Tommy John surgery.

    The left side of the infield is brand new with Martin Prado and Cliff Pennington. The outfield has been shuffled as well with Adam Eaton in center and Cody Ross in right. Even the bullpen features new faces with Heath Bell and Tony Sipp.

    But is the team actually better?

     

    Worst-Case Record: 75-87

    If Adam Eaton can't carry his hot spring into the regular season, it would leave a hole offensively in the lineup and the top of the order.

    Cody Ross needs to prove he can hit away from Fenway Park, and Brandon McCarthy needs to have a big year to anchor the staff.

     

    Best-Case Record: 90-72

    This is a lineup that could gel, especially if Paul Goldschmidt continues developing his power.

    If Trevor Cahill can bounce back from an inconsistent season, and if Ian Kennedy can pitch like he did two years ago, this team has a chance in the NL West.

Atlanta Braves

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    The addition of B.J. and Justin Upton gives the Atlanta Braves a dynamic outfield that promises plenty of offensive fireworks.

    The Braves also return the best bullpen in the majors along with a solid starting rotation.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 81-81

    There is no way the Braves finish under .500. However, things could happen to derail what many expect to be a playoff contender.

    Can Tim Hudson continue carrying the load at the top of the Braves rotation? Can Mike Minor pitch like he did in the second half of last season?

    Can second baseman Dan Uggla bounce back from the worst year of his career? Can closer Craig Kimbrel continue his dominance? What if catcher Brian McCann can't return to form after his shoulder surgery?

    If all of the above questions come with negative answers, it could be a long year in Atlanta.

     

    Best-Case Record: 99-63

    This is also a team that could be better than very good.

    The Upton brothers alone provide plenty of power along with speed. They'll also get what amounts to a great trade-deadline upgrade when Brandon Beachy returns midseason from Tommy John surgery.

    In addition, if the bullpen once again lives up to its billing, this is a Braves team that has the potential to be one of the best in all of baseball.

Baltimore Orioles

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    After making the playoffs last season for the first time in 15 years, the Baltimore Orioles have hopes of repeating their success in 2013.

    Not many offseason changes were made, but the hope is that the O's roster as currently constituted can compete with the rest of the big boys in the American League.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 73-89

    The Orioles record in one-run and extra-inning games last year was what helped put them over the top.

    The chances of being that good again in both scenarios are slim. If that same luck fails them in 2013, the O's will come crashing down to earth.

     

    Best-Case Record: 89-73

    Pitching will likely carry the Orioles in 2013. If the rotation can hold its own, and if the bullpen can be as good as it was last season, Baltimore will be a player in the AL East once again.

    In addition, several players need to step up to help support center fielder Adam Jones in the offense. Manager Buck Showalter will have to pull the right strings to find an effective and productive combination, especially with the absence of a quality designated hitter.

    Luck is going to have to be a factor once again, however.

Boston Red Sox

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    After their worst regular-season finish since 1965, the Boston Red Sox sought to make changes this offseason.

    General manager Ben Cherington indeed made those alterations. Only time will tell if they were enough to put the Red Sox back up or near the top.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 68-94

    This is a season that really could go either way for the Red Sox.

    Designated hitter David Ortiz is likely out for at least the start of the season and possibly more if his aching heels fail to get better. At 37 years of age, Ortiz is the focal point of the offense, which isn't a good sign.

    In addition, the Sox are counting on bounce-back seasons from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. They're also counting on John Lackey to return to his form of the mid-to-late 2000s following Tommy John surgery. And they're counting on Ryan Dempster to be able to pitch effectively in the American League.

    It's a lot to expect, and if a majority of the above factors don't come to fruition, it could be another long season.

     

    Best-Case Record: 92-70

    On the other hand, if Lester and Buchholz are successful with bounce-back seasons, if Ortiz returns to full health and rakes, and if Lackey, Dempster and Felix Doubront can provide meaningful production, the Red Sox will be in the hunt in the AL East.

Chicago Cubs

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    The Chicago Cubs are in the second year of their total rebuild under the Theo Epstein. The first year was painful—the franchise's first 100-loss season since 1966.

    The Cubs have made progress, however. The farm system is slowly on the mend, and youngsters are starting to emerge. Epstein and Jed Hoyer brought in savvy veterans to help out the pitching staff as well.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 66-96

    The Cubs won't repeat last year's mediocrity, but the starting rotation is still shaky, especially with Matt Garza starting the season on the disabled list.

    They still don't have a clear answer at third base, and they'll be depending on 37-year-old Alfonso Soriano to come up with another season of 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

     

    Best-Case Record: 81-81

    The Cubs have a chance to make a 20-game improvement if they can get a productive full season from first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

    If Garza comes back quickly, the front three of Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson will need to provide consistency.

    If Brett Jackson can finally start realizing his potential, it could make a big difference as well.

Chicago White Sox

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    The Chicago White Sox made a great run at the AL Central title last season before faltering in the final weeks. They opted not to make sweeping changes during the offseason.

    The Detroit Tigers, meanwhile, bolstered their roster by adding Torii Hunter and re-signing Anibal Sanchez. The White Sox's relative inactivity could be either a shrewd move or a big mistake.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 74-88

    The White Sox are counting on John Danks to return to form following last year's shoulder surgery. They're also counting on Jake Peavy to again be durable and productive after four years of shoulder woes followed by a solid season.

    Is first baseman Paul Konerko experiencing a regression? If his numbers continue to fall off, it won't help the Sox's chances. They'll also be counting on Tyler Flowers to fill A.J. Pierzynski's shoes.

    If all of the scenarios mentioned have negative outcomes, the White Sox will have a rough season.

     

    Best-Case Record: 91-71

    The rotation has a chance to be outstanding, especially if Danks bounces back and Chris Sale repeats last year's success. Jeff Keppinger and his solid on-base capabilities is a plus at the top of the order as well.

    If Konerko, Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo can supply plenty of punch in the middle of the order, the offense has a chance to do damage.

    Everything will have to go right for the White Sox if they hope to compete with the Tigers in the AL Central.

Cincinnati Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds had the second-best regular season in the majors last year.

    They return with a roster largely the same, save for Shin-Soo Choo replacing Drew Stubbs and some minor bullpen tweaks.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 83-79

    The Reds were one of only two teams that had five starters with at least 30 starts last year. In today's day and age, that's an anomaly.

    It would be a stretch to expect that feat to be accomplished again.

     

    Best-Case Record: 98-64

    Aroldis Chapman was thought to possibly join the rotation, but it appears he will remain the team's closer.

    If Joey Votto stays healthy, and if Choo can dramatically improve the Reds' on-base percentage in the leadoff position, the offense will be more than supportive enough for its solid pitching staff.

    Good health will dictate the Reds' outcome in 2013, especially for the starting rotation.

Cleveland Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians bring back a team in 2013 that could go either way. Offensive pieces brought on board will certainly help, but questions regarding the starting rotation still remain.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 69-93

    Things could go south in a hurry for the Tribe if Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson fail to improve on subpar 2012 seasons. The rest of the rotation, shaky as it is, could further the Indians' chances of failure.

    While the offense has been bolstered by the additions of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs, there's also the potential of a high strikeout rate. If Stubbs and Reynolds approach 400 whiffs combined and continue with averages of .220 or lower, it could have an adverse effect on the offense.

     

    Best-Case Record: 90-72

    This is a team that could repeat the success attained by the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland A's last season. New manager Terry Francona could be the guy who motivates his club to consistently produce at a high level. 

    If Jimenez and Masterson are successful in turning their misfortunes around, the Indians could well be in contention in the AL Central.

Colorado Rockies

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    After the worst regular season in franchise history, things can only better for the Colorado Rockies, right?

    Not necessarily.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 62-100

    Health and starting pitching will dictate the Rockies' outcome in 2013. If they repeat last year's failures with their rotation, it will be a long season for first-year manager Walt Weiss.

    They'll also need a run of good health. Injuries last year to Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer took a major bite out of their offense. A similar scenario this season dooms them to mediocrity once again.

     

    Best-Case Record: 81-81

    Everything has to go right for the Rockies to even achieve a .500 record.

    Juan Nicasio, Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin absolutely have to stay healthy for the Rockies to see any improvement. Drew Pomeranz has to deliver on his potential as well.

Detroit Tigers

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    In defense of their American League pennant this season, the Detroit Tigers feature a team that could easily repeat last year's success.

    They could also see a scenario in which several factors could derail their chances.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 84-78

    The bullpen for the Tigers doesn't feature an established closer. It's still unclear whether Bruce Rondon can be the answer, although he has looked much better in recent outings.

    Torii Hunter will be expected to provide numbers similar to last year (.313 average, 16 home runs, 92 RBI), and Andy Dirks will be given the opportunity to show he's ready for full-time duty in left field.

    Any combination of negative results from the above, combined with unexpected injuries, could spell doom for the Tigers in 2013.

     

    Best-Case Record: 100-62

    The Tigers could be the best team in the American League. The return of Victor Martinez to an offense already featuring Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and slugger Prince Fielder gives the Tigers an added benefit.

    The starting rotation could also be one of the best in the league. If the front quartet of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez delivers 65-70 wins, the Tigers walk away with the AL Central title.

Houston Astros

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    With a payroll that will barely scrape $25 million, the Houston Astros are expected to struggle in their first year in the American League.

    But Astros management is sticking by their plan of a slow and methodical rebuild.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 44-118

    Yes, the Astros could actually flirt with the modern-day record for futility established by the expansion New York Mets in 1962.

    The only position player with any experience to speak of is designated hitter Carlos Pena, and he hit below .200 last season. The pitching staff beyond Lucas Harrell is without question a shaky bunch, and they're relying on Jose Veras to close games for the first time in his career.

     

    Best-Case Record: 70-92

    Many of the players on the Astros roster will be playing to prove themselves worthy, and that could be a positive. There is potential in Matt Dominguez, Brett Wallace, Jose Altuve and Chris Carter to provide solid production.

    Wesley Wright, Jarred Cosart and Josh Fields could be positive factors in the bullpen, and veterans Philip Humber and Erik Bedard could provide some stability in the rotation.

    It's a big stretch, but hey, it is possible.

Kansas City Royals

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    Wow, wouldn't it be nice if the Kansas City Royals could carry their spring training success into the regular season?

    But we all know that records don't matter in spring training. However, this is a team that has the potential to finally break a longstanding playoff drought.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 74-88

    So much depends on solid pitching for the Royals in 2013. Owner David Glass made good on his promise to spend money on starting pitching.

    But if James Shields, Wade Davis, Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie can't deliver on the investment made by Glass, the Royals will finish with their 28th consecutive non-playoff season.

     

    Best-Case Record: 92-70

    Then again, if Shields, Davis, Santana and Guthrie do provide quality up front, it's a different story. In addition, the Royals lineup that features mostly homegrown talent could continue to mature and develop as a unit.

    The bullpen promises to be a solid unit with Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera leading the way. This is a Royals team that has the potential to end years of mediocrity.

Los Angeles Angels

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    With the addition of Josh Hamilton, the Los Angeles Angels are definite contenders in the AL West. But questions concerning the starting rotation tempers those expectations.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 81-81

    The Angels are counting on the trio of Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton to deliver at the back end of the rotation. If Hanson continues showing decreased velocity and Blanton can't be better than a pitcher who's delivered a 4.79 ERA in his past three seasons, all the offense in the world can't help the Angels.

    In addition, Ryan Madson has yet to take the mound in his return from Tommy John surgery. Moving Ernesto Frieri to closer weakens the bullpen overall with no established setup man.

    Another start like last season (6-14 in month of April) cannot be repeated.

     

    Best-Case Record: 98-64

    The Angels feature an offense with four players who hit 30-plus home runs last season (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout). It could be one of the most potent units in the majors.

    If C.J. Wilson can bounce back from a tough second half, he and Jered Weaver would provide an outstanding duo at the top of the rotation. A productive year from center fielder Peter Bourjos would be of great benefit too.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    How the Dodgers' projected $213 million payroll equates to wins and losses has yet to be seen. It is the highest payroll in MLB.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 84-78

    The Dodgers already have major health concerns. If Zack Greinke, Carl Crawford, Chad Billingsley and Matt Kemp aren't fully healthy, there will be issues. Greinke is already unsure whether he can be ready for the start of the season.

    Kemp is the focal point of the offense. Coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, he has yet to break out offensively this spring.

    It won't be payroll that decides the Dodgers' fate in 2013. It will be the trainer's ability to keep healthy bodies on the field.

     

    Best-Case Record: 103-59

    If all players are in fact able to sustain good health, this is a team that can hit the century mark in wins.

    The offense with Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier leading the way can inflict serious damage. A pitching staff led by Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is loaded with savvy veterans who know how to win.

    A bullpen with Brandon League, Kensley Jansen and Javy Guerra offers a trio of closers who can greatly impact games in the late innings.

Miami Marlins

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    Now that they've completed their fire sale and the dust has settled, the Miami Marlins start the 2013 season with a group of youngsters and recycled veterans. It's understandable that expectations are low.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 55-107

    The Marlins could exceed the futility attained by the Houston Astros last season. First-year manager Mike Redmond has a an eclectic group of prospects, veterans in decline and castoffs to work with.

    It won't be a pretty sight.

    Without Logan Morrison to start the season, there won't be a whole lot of help for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He could be spending much of the season taking leisurely walks to first base as teams pitch around him.

    The rotation could be a revolving door of candidates, especially if Miami decides to use the trade deadline to unload pieces.

     

    Best-Case Record: 65-97

    Even under the best of circumstances, the Marlins will have a hard time avoiding a 100-loss season.

    There are some building blocks with Stanton, Donovan Solano, Rob Brantly and Adeiny Hechavarria, but unless each of them aside from Stanton suddenly morphs into an All-Star, the future is all that Marlins fans have to hope for.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    So much of the Milwaukee Brewers' fate for the 2013 season rests on their starting rotation.

    A young and inexperienced group led a surprising run into contention in late August last season before eventually fading.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 73-89

    Again, it's about the success of the rotation. So much depends on how Marco Estrada, Mark Rogers, Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Chris Narveson can provide support for ace Yovani Gallardo.

    The Brewers face issues at first base as well, with Corey Hart out for at least the first month and Mat Gamel gone for the year with another torn ACL. They're even considering moving longtime shortstop Alex Gonzalez over temporarily.

    Closer John Axford also needs to reestablish his dominance after an up-and-down performance last year.

     

    Best-Case Record: 91-71

    Last year's success by the starting rotation in leading the Brewers back into contention could actually serve them well this season.

    Estrada, Fiers, Rogers and Peralta all showed flashes of excellence last season. If they can extend those flashes into something more like sustained consistency, the Brewers could be tough to match up with.

    The offense will need the continued leadership of Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, but they'll also need significant contributions from the likes of Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks and Norichika Aoki. 

Minnesota Twins

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    Much like the Milwaukee Brewers, the success of the Minnesota Twins in 2013 is predicated on the success of their starting pitching.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 60-102

    The Twins attempted to bolster their starting rotation—dead last in the American League last season—with a Band-Aid approach.

    Kevin Correia and Vance Worley were both added, and both are serviceable. But the Twins also added Mike Pelfrey, returning from Tommy John surgery, and Rich Harden, who hasn't pitched since September 2011 and has endured a career loaded with shoulder issues.

    Oh yeah, and returning pitcher Scott Diamond has yet to suit up and pitch this spring.

    They also traded outfielders Ben Revere and Denard Span. While they got pitching in return, they'll also rely on Chris Parmelee, Darin Mastroianni and possibly prospect Aaron Hicks to fill the void.

     

    Best-Case Record: 82-80

    The Twins do feature an offense that could be a plus.

    Josh Willingham is coming off a career year, and Joe Mauer appears to be back in form after hitting .319 last year. First baseman Justin Morneau looks like he's ready to bust out after a phenomenal effort in the WBC, and Ryan Doumit set career highs last year with 18 home runs and 75 RBI.

    If Pelfrey returns to form and Worley can repeat the success of his rookie season, the Twins have a chance of being a .500 team.

New York Mets

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    The New York Mets appeared to be taking a step backward when they traded Cy Young Award-winning pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays.

    But there was a method to their madness—they received a return package that could well help shape their future.

    It will cause pain in the short term, however.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 65-97

    With the exception of the Dickey deal, the Mets were largely inactive this offseason.

    They did acquire Brandon Lyon in an effort to bolster a staggering bullpen. But the trade of Dickey and their inability to re-sign Scott Hairston did nothing to help their chances this season.

    Johan Santana is already a question mark, and closer Frank Francisco will likely start the season on the disabled list. In addition, a questionable outfield with little power does nothing to lift expectations.

     

    Best-Case Record: 79-83

    This is a team that faces serious obstacles, and only the best of luck can lift the Mets anything close to .500.

    Jonathon Niese appears on the verge of becoming an ace. Bobby Parnell could surprise everyone with his closing abilities. Ike Davis could break through and hit above .229. Jordany Valdespin could be an offensive spark plug. And Matt Harvey has the potential to win 20 games.

    Even with all of the above coming to fruition, it's not enough the put the Mets in contention in the powerful NL East.

New York Yankees

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    The question of age is what concerns the New York Yankees entering the 2013 season. Specifically as it relates to overcoming injuries and keeping up with the younger teams in the AL East.

    Injuries have already taken their toll.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 80-82

    The Yankees have a stout rotation with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova. But Phil Hughes is sidelined with a bulging disc in his upper back. Hughes has started throwing batting practice but will likely start the season on the DL.

    The starting lineup could struggle to score runs, especially with both Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson out for at least the first month of the season. General manager Brian Cashman has scrambled to find replacements, approaching Derrek Lee about first base and signing Brennan Boesch to help cover the corner outfield positions with Brett Gardner moving back to center field.

    Still, the loss of power presents a major problem in the Bronx.

     

    Best-Case Record: 91-71

    The Yankees have always shown an ability to be resilient, and it would be foolhardy to bet against them trying to stay competitive and near the top of the AL East.

    If the rotation stays healthy and the bullpen with Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Co. can provide stellar support, this team will have a chance.

Oakland Athletics

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    Were the Oakland Athletics just a one-hit wonder? That's what many are asking after their surprising run to the AL West title last year.

    General manager Billy Beane went to work this offseason in an effort to ensure that the A's don't become baseball's version of Toni Basil.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 81-81

    Even if the A's can't repeat last year's success, they're still at worst a .500 team. There's too much talent not to be.

    However, there are concerns nonetheless. Josh Donaldson and Scott Sizemore have both struggled this spring. Second and third base could be a revolving door this year as manager Bob Melvin decides on the most suitable candidates.

    Brett Anderson needs to show he can stay healthy, and Bartolo Colon and Dan Straily are the answers at the back of the rotation. Can the 39-year-old Colon put up one more year on his bionic arm?

     

    Best-Case Record: 93-69

    A rotation backed by solid youngsters could again help fuel the A's. Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin all performed wonderfully last season. There's no reason to think that can't continue.

    Yoenis Cespedes appears poised to become the team's offensive leader, and Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss could be providing plenty of power opportunities similar to last year, along with newcomer Chris Young.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    The Philadelphia Phillies will attempt to return to the postseason after missing out last year for the first time since 2006. To that end, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. got creative in constructing his current roster.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 77-85

    Last year, the Phillies nearly finished with their first losing record since 2002. If certain conditions exist this season, they could find themselves below last year's .500 effort.

    An aging group of veterans will almost always find themselves susceptible to injury. That's certainly the case for the Phillies with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, all of whom missed significant time last year.

    New third baseman Michael Young experienced a regression last year with the Texas Rangers. Can he play third base every day and recapture his offense at the same time?

    Questions concerning the corner outfield positions have dogged the Phillies. It will be up to Domonic Brown, Delmon Young, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr. to allay those fears.

     

    Best-Case Record: 93-69

    If the Phillies' big three of Cole Hamels, Halladay and Cliff Lee pitch to their potential and reach close to 50 wins combined, I like the Phillies' chances in the NL East.

    If Ben Revere can be a productive leadoff hitter, and if Brown can finally live up to his potential, I like the Phillies' chances even more.

    Of course, healthy and productive seasons from Howard, Utley and Young will help as well.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    For the past two seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates were on the verge of ending their North American professional record of the most consecutive losing seasons. However, second-half swoons extended that record on both occasions.

    Whether or not the Pirates did enough this offseason to finally bring their record of mediocrity to a halt remains to be seen.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 70-92

    The starting rotation beyond A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez is still iffy. James McDonald's season last year was a tale of two halves—the second one being horrific. Jeff Locke, Jeff Karstens and Francisco Liriano round things out for the rotation, and all of them have consistency issues.

    Newcomer Russell Martin helps add pop to the offense, but the .211 average needs to vastly improve. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez cracked the 30-home run barrier last year, but his streaky play defined his season as well.

    General manager Neal Huntington will have to make better decisions at the trade deadline. His past two years of dealing in late July didn't work out so well (Derrek Lee, Ryan Ludwick, Travis Snider, Gaby Sanchez).

     

    Best-Case Record: 87-75

    With the right amount of luck and a better fate in the second half, the Pirates can finally see the right side of .500.

    Starling Marte could become a terrific complement to center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Gaby Sanchez could rediscover the stroke that led him to back-to-back 19-home run campaigns in 2010 and 2011. McDonald could reverse course and become a second-half stud in the Pirates rotation.

    These factors could all give the Pirates that winning feeling, and even push them close to a postseason berth.

San Diego Padres

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    The San Diego Padres finished last season by winning 55 of their final 100 games—the seventh-best record in the National League over that span.

    However, they made virtually no changes to their roster over the offseason. What will their inactivity lead to in 2013?

     

    Worst-Case Record: 67-95

    The offseason inactivity could lead to disaster.

    The Padres brought the fences in at Petco Park over the offseason. For a pitching staff that finished 10th in the league with a 4.01 ERA last year and did nothing to make upgrades, that simply doesn't bode well.

    Losing Yasmani Grandal for the first 50 games of the season takes a bite out of the offense.

     

    Best-Case Record: 83-79

    The Padres' inactivity this offseason simply won't do in a division that saw the Dodgers and Diamondbacks make improvements. The Giants return almost all of their World Series-winning roster.

    Still, manager Bud Black has done a great job of turning sour grapes into fine wine over the years. He's got a solid bullpen along with a good core of hitters with Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, Yonder Alonso and rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

    If anything, Black can fight to keep his troops above .500, but without ownership's investment in the current roster, it's unlikely anything beyond that can be achieved.

San Francisco Giants

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    The San Francisco Giants return with a roster largely intact. That roster has the ability to repeat as World Series champions.

    However, it also comes with potential pitfalls.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 82-80

    The Giants were one of two teams (Cincinnati Reds) that had five pitchers start at least 30 games. Beyond that quintet, however, there is little depth. Should any of the starters fall to injury, the Giants are in trouble.

    AT&T Park will again challenge the Giants in terms of run production. They will absolutely need to match and/or exceed last year's numbers at home in order to compete in a division that saw at least two teams make sweeping changes.

    Making few changes can be a good thing. It can also serve to be a bad decision as well.

     

    Best-Case Record: 95-67

    The Giants feature one of the strongest starting rotations and bullpens in the National League. Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner could arguably be the best one-two starting tandem. A savvy group of veterans leads the bullpen.

    Brandon Belt showed a nice progression last year, and the Giants will need further advancement offensively this year.

    Hunter Pence will also need to improve on his .219 average with the Giants last year. If Andres Torres can help provide support in the outfield, that will be a great benefit.

Seattle Mariners

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    The Seattle Mariners have been at the bottom of the American League for the past four seasons in terms of runs scored. General manager Jack Zduriencik took steps to change that this offseason.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 70-92

    Were the offensive changes enough? They likely didn't hurt, but fences moving in at Safeco Field could hurt the pitching staff.

    Felix Hernandez can pitch anywhere, but what about guys like Joe Saunders and Hisashi Iwakuma? Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez round out the rotation. Can they be consistent all season?

    The Mariners will score runs, but the question is whether they can prevent them adequately.

     

    Best-Case Record: 85-77

    It's a stretch to think the Mariners can compete with the A's, Angels and Rangers in the AL West. But the offense has a chance to be very productive.

    Michael Morse and Justin Smoak have both had excellent numbers in spring training. If Smoak can finally prove the Mariners made the right decision in trading away Cliff Lee for him back in 2010, he'll make a big difference.

    The bullpen will be solid with Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush at the top. If the supporting cast of Stephen Pryor, Oliver Perez, Josh Kinney and Lucas Luetge can provide solid support, they'll be a terrific asset.

    Jon Garland could be a key contributor in the rotation after missing all of last season. He's looked solid this spring.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    The St. Louis Cardinals lost two key contributors in Rafael Furcal and Chris Carpenter for the season, Carpenter possibly for his career. How will that affect the Cardinals in 2013?

     

    Worst-Case Record: 83-79

    This is still an excellent team regardless of the injuries to Furcal and Carpenter.

    But additional injuries would take their toll. First baseman Allen Craig and center fielder Jon Jay both missed time last year, and the Cardinals need both on the field full time in 2013.

    Carlos Beltran needs to reverse his second-half swoon from last season, and Pete Kozma needs to step in and fill Furcal's shoes.

     

    Best-Case Record: 94-68

    The Cardinals offense could be explosive, especially if Matt Carpenter is given regular at-bats. Craig showed what he could do in a full season, and Matt Holliday continues to put up terrific numbers.

    The rotation with Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller/Joe Kelly has the potential to be stingy. A supportive bullpen led by Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs will be a major component as well.

    Health and the continuing development of Craig, Carpenter, Miller and Kelly will dictate the Cardinals' success or failure in 2013.

Tampa Bay Rays

28 of 31

    More than just about any team in the majors, the season could go either way for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 75-87

    The biggest question for the Rays is run production. The loss of B.J. Upton wasn't dealt with accordingly, unless you think James Loney can replace that offense.

    The loss of James Shields stings, and it will be up to youngsters Matt Moore and Alex Cobb to step up. In addition, can closer Fernando Rodney repeat last year's magical season?

    The offense remains the biggest issue. Beyond Evan Longoria, there is no proven producer. If Longoria goes down, so do the Rays' chances of a .500 record.

     

    Best-Case Record: 91-71

    On the other side of things, the Rays have shown their ability to compete over the past five seasons.

    A young and homegrown pitching staff is still the lifeblood of the team. David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Cobb have the ability to win 60-70 games. Jeffrey Niemann is a viable fifth starter option as well.

    The Rays nearly made the postseason last year with Longoria missing close to three months. It would be silly to count them out.

Texas Rangers

29 of 31

    Losing three key offensive contributors and failing to land an ace defined the Texas Rangers' offseason.

    The question is whether or not the Rangers did enough to counteract the losses.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 77-85

    Yes, the Rangers could be back under .500 if the right—or wrong, depending on how you look at it—conditions are met.

    The rotation features Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando. A true ace is lacking among that quartet.

    Martin Perez is out for at least a month with a broken forearm, leaving Nick Tepesch, Kyle McClellan and Randy Wells to battle for the final spot. Colby Lewis isn't expected back until early June, and an even later return date is anticipated for Neftali Feliz.

    A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman were brought in to help replace some of the offense lost with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young. But the Rangers may be relying on significant contributions from prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt.

    If that doesn't happen, they'll need some creative options from general manager Jon Daniels.

     

    Best-Case Record: 90-72

    If the starting rotation can hold up through the All-Star break, they can receive additional support from Lewis and/or Feliz. Pierzynski and Berkman could both be aided by hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark.

    Center fielder Leonys Martin could be a very welcome addition if he can continue into the regular season what he's accomplished this spring. Mitch Moreland could also be a sleeper in the Rangers offense.

Toronto Blue Jays

30 of 31

    With the changes made by the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason, they have catapulted themselves up near the top of the league.

    That's only on paper, though.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 82-80

    Chemistry will be a factor.

    It was certainly a factor for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year following a flurry of midseason trades. It was a factor for the Los Angeles Angels in the first month of last season, as Albert Pujols struggled to make the transition to a new team.

    Pujols admitted he put pressure on himself early in order to make a quick impression. The new Blue Jays players will need to heed Albert's words.

    The bullpen is the weak link.

    Sergio Santos is just now returning from triceps soreness and participating in Grapefruit League games. Santos pitched in only six games last season before being shut down with shoulder issues. Closer Casey Janssen has yet to return following shoulder surgery last November.

     

    Best-Case Record: 100-62

    If the new players for the Blue Jays click, they could set an all-time franchise record for wins in a single season.

    The addition of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera at the top of the batting is a major benefit to Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind in terms of run-scoring opportunities.

    R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle in the rotation along with Brandon Morrow presents a huge upgrade.

    If every player simply performs to expectations, the Blue Jays will handily win the AL East.

Washington Nationals

31 of 31

    The Washington Nationals will begin the defense of their first NL East division championship. They'll do so with a roster that's likely better than last season's 98-win squad.

    Like all teams, however, games aren't won on paper, and factors can alter a team's course in a hurry.

     

    Worst-Case Record: 85-77

    Even if the Nationals incur some injuries or encounter other performance-based issues, they'll be a .500-plus team. It's a roster that's deep and has backups capable of filling in.

    Nonetheless, if an injury were to befall starter Stephen Strasburg, and hip issues cropped up for starter Dan Haren, that would seriously affect Washington's ability to repeat in the NL East.

     

    Best-Case Record: 104-58

    On paper, I don't think there's any question that Washington stands above all other teams in the National League.

    Its rotation with Gio Gonzalez, Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Haren and Ross Detwiler is as good as it gets. The addition of Rafael Soriano to the bullpen gives the Nationals a killer trio of Soriano, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.

    The lineup is enhanced with the addition of center fielder and leadoff hitter Denard Span. Shortstop Ian Desmond is quickly developing into an elite player, and the sky is the limit for left fielder Bryce Harper.

    Manager Davey Johnson has already said this is his last year guiding the Nationals. He's got a golden chance to go out on top.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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