7 MLB Teams That Will Not Live Up to the Hype in 2013
In this early stage of the 2013 MLB season, everyone still has hope for the year ahead, as fleeting as that hope may be.
Only 10 teams will make the postseason come October, so there are inevitably some teams which will come up short of expectations.
For some teams, simply making the playoffs is the goal. For others, anything short of a World Series title would be considered a disappointment in 2013.
Here are the seven teams that will not live up to the hype in 2013.
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Many expected the Indians to begin rebuilding this offseason, coming off a disappointing 2012 campaign in which they went 68-94.
Though they did move outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, the team spent most of their winter signing veteran free-agent pieces. They will instead make a push at contention this year.
Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn both signed big-money, multi-year deals. Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, Scott Kazmir, Jason Giambi and Rich Hill were added as well.
The lineup should be vastly improved, but the starting rotation simply isn't talented enough for the team to make a legitimate run at contention.
Their staff, fronted by Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson, is among the worst in the American League.
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After back-to-back seasons in which the Pirates were in contention at the All-Star break only to collapse down the stretch, many expect this to be the season they finally post a winning season.
Not since 1992, when they went 96-66 and captured the NL East title, have the Pirates posted a winning record.
They were 48-37 with a one-game lead in the NL Central at the All-Star break last season. But they slowly fell off from there and finished the season 79-83, a full 18 games out of first place.
Offensively, the team has a budding superstar in Andrew McCutchen but lacks much in the way of consistent producers beyond the center fielder.
On the pitching side of things, A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez form a solid one-two veteran punch atop the staff, but the rest of the rotation is below average.
The impending arrival of top pitching prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon—and continued development of guys like Starling Marte and Neil Walker—could make the team a contender in 2014.
But I expect another sub-.500 season in 2013.
Kansas City Royals
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After going 71-91 in 2011, many expected the young Royals team to make a drastic improvement last season. Instead, they improved by just one win.
With a solid core of homegrown hitters made up of Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, the team's offense looks promising moving forward.
The starting pitching was another story altogether. They overhauled their rotation this offseason to make a run at contention.
With newcomers James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana, along with re-signed veteran Jeremy Guthrie, the staff is no doubt improved.
However, they still have a ways to go to bridge the gap between themselves and the Tigers in the division. There are a ton of teams vying for wild-card spots, so their postseason drought will continue this season.
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The Orioles' surprise postseason push was one of the biggest stories of the 2012 season. They went 93-69 to secure a wild-card spot and then knocked off the Rangers in the wild-card playoff.
They also went 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra-inning affairs; both marks will be nearly impossible to duplicate.
The Orioles have a good young core offensively, led by Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, and they should once again be in the thick of things in the AL East.
However, the Blue Jays got vastly better this offseason, and the Rays and Red Sox figure to be improved as well. Things could be harder for them this time around.
Baltimore remains a team headed in the right direction. Once guys like Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman take their place atop the rotation, the Orioles should be a serious threat.
However, last season was a perfect storm of sorts. The Blue Jays and Rays will finish ahead of them in the division, and the Angels or A's will secure the other wild-card spot.
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After five straight NL East titles, the Phillies were among the league's biggest disappointments last season, going 81-81 and finishing a distant third in the division.
Injuries certainly played a role in that drop-off, with stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay all missing significant time.
However, this is a group of big-name players on the wrong side of their prime.
Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are still front-line arms, but Halladay is not the pitcher he was. Additionally, their entire infield is 33 or older.
They should be able to tack at least a few wins onto last year's total if healthy, but they have clearly fallen behind the Braves and Nationals. Health won't be enough to carry them to a division title.
Los Angeles Angels
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After spending big to add Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last offseason, the Angels didn't even make the postseason at 89-73.
It was another busy offseason. The team signed the market's top bat in Josh Hamilton, but the bigger signings came to the pitching staff.
Gone are Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Zack Greinke. In are Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson.
It's a change, but not necessarily for the better. Starting pitching may once again be an issue for the Angels this season.
A high-powered offense will keep them in contention, but after spending hundreds of millions of dollars the past two offseasons, anything short of a World Series title would be a disappointment.
Los Angeles Dodgers
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Sorry, Los Angeles, but this is not the year we see an all-L.A. World Series. Both teams will make the playoffs, but it's safe to say that's not going to cut it this time around.
The Dodgers have added a dizzying amount of top-end talent since the July deadline. They brought aboard Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, among others.
As a result, the team and its bloated payroll enter the season with legitimate title hopes. While the Dodgers have no shortage of stars, there are undeniably teams with more complete rosters.
I currently put the Nationals and Reds above the Dodgers in terms of pure overall talent, and the Giants are still the team to beat in the NL.
Joel Reuter is a National MLB Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report.