Just because a team is considered a playoff contender doesn’t mean its not vulnerable in certain areas and couldn’t be exposed by an injury or a player not living up to expectations at a certain position.
Would the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants have survived the season if they had lost Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner or Ryan Vogelsong and had to throw Yusmeiro Petit or Eric Hacker out there every fifth day? I’m sure the Giants are glad they didn’t have to find out.
How about the Cincinnati Reds, who had the same five pitchers start 161 of 162 regular-season games? Would the sixth starter in waiting, Todd Redmond, have been a capable replacement if Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos got hurt? Not even close.
On the other hand, star first baseman Joey Votto missed a good portion of the second half with a knee injury, but the Reds overcame it thanks to the versatile Todd Frazier, who filled in at first base and third base during a very productive season.
It’s rare for a team to be strong in all areas and able to overcome multiple injuries. A little bit of luck in the injury department certainly helps.
Having versatile players on the bench who are good enough to be starters elsewhere is a key. Not a lot of teams have a Todd Frazier on the bench. Not even the 2013 Reds have that luxury since he’s now their starting third baseman.
Let’s take a look at five teams with high expectations for 2013 and identify where they could be in trouble if a key player underperforms or is injured.