It seems every season a small-to-mid market team emerges and makes some noise in the division races, posing a significant threat to the investments that "big market" clubs such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies make on annual payrolls.
The Tampa Rays finished 2010 with the best record in the American League at 96-66, despite a payroll only a fraction of that of their division rivals. Competing in a division where the Red Sox and Yankees were expected to win both the division and wild card, the Rays were a surprise postseason participant.
The San Diego Padres competed to the final game of the season for a playoff appearance despite no serious expectations entering the 2010 campaign. They finished with an impressive 90-72 regular season record.
The National League's expected postseason representatives are the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals or Cincinnati Reds and reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Which teams stand the best chance of upsetting one of the preseason favorites and make a similar rise to prominence in 2011?