With the St. Louis Cardinals winning the 2011 World Series, it's now time to look ahead and see who the early favorites are to win it all in 2012.
While the Cardinals were certainly a solid team last season, not many people were actually expecting them to be crowned world champions. With that being said, everyone has a chance, no matter how small of one it is.
Here's a list of every team's chance of winning the World Series in 2012.
After the Arizona Diamondbacks overtook the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West, they never looked back and cruised to their first division title since 2007.
The Diamondbacks are a team built for the long run, since Justin Upton is only 24 years old and Ian Kennedy is 26.
However, the offense strikes out too often, 1249 times in 2011 in fact, but they surely make up for it with the amount of power their lineup possesses.
If the bullpen continues to build off their successful season in 2011, the Diamondbacks could very well make some noise in 2012.
The 2011 season for the Atlanta Braves was forgettable.
The Braves blew a 10.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals on August 25 and failed to make make the playoffs all together.
Their pitching was stout, but their offense ranked in the bottom 10 of the league in runs scored, batting average, slugging percentage and on base-percentage.
It's not the Baltimore Orioles' fault that they don't have a legitimate shot at the World Series.
You can blame that on the division they play in since the AL East is arguably the toughest division in all of sports.
It's only a matter of time before the young and talented starting rotation emerges as one of the leagues elite, but the Orioles are just not there yet.
Similar to the Atlanta Braves situation, the Boston Red Sox want to forget about the 2011 season as quickly as possible.
Not only did they blow a lengthy lead in the wild card race and failed to reach the postseason, they also lost Theo Epstein, one of the better general managers in baseball.
The Red Sox are an extremely talented team, but they just happened to lose momentum at the wrong time of the season.
Even though David Ortiz's status with the team in 2012 is currently up in the air, expect the Red Sox to come back with a chip on their shoulder, which could make them a very dangerous team.
The Chicago Cubs' potential success in 2012 will largely depend on how well new general manager Theo Epstein sheds salary from the payroll.
The Cubs owe Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano a combined $38 million in 2012, and both are two of the biggest underachievers on the entire roster.
The Cubs will need to improve their pitching if they hope to contend in the NL next year, so all this talk of Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols doesn't quite make sense.
Sure, adding a bat like Fielders or Pujols to the equation will always help, but that type of money could be spent better elsewhere and Epstein knows this.
If the White Sox want to contend in 2012, then Paul Konerko is going to need a little bit of help.
Players like Alex Rios and Adam Dunn struggled all year, and a .254 batting average from Carlos Quentin and a .230 average from Gordon Beckham left a little to be desired.
If Dunn and Rios could return to their normal forms and management succeeds in retaining pending free agent Mark Buehrle, the White Sox could make some noise in the AL Central.
What happened to the Cincinnati Reds in 2011?
Going from a 91-win season in 2010, to a third place finish in the NL Central in 2011 is quite a lapse in just one season.
We all know the Reds can hit, and it'll only continue to get better with Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce still learning how to be consistent hitters.
But one thing the Reds must improve on is pitching, especially the starting rotation.
Johnny Cueto was impressive in his limited time during 2011, and Mike Leak was also a pleasant surprise. But outside of that, the Reds struggled to find consistent starts from anyone else in the rotation.
It's a reoccurring theme for the Reds in every offseason, but they must improve their pitching if they hope to contend in 2012.
The Cleveland Indians are a tough nut to crack.
Some say they played out of their heads in 2011, but an excellent bullpen with adequate starting pitching is a recipe for a contending team. However, the Indians' pitching could only carry the offense so far.
Travis Hafner was hurt periodically throughout the year, and a .239 batting average from Carlos Santana was a little underwhelming.
The good thing for the Indians is that their payroll in 2011 was roughly $49 million, so they'll have money to spend this offseason to improve their offense.
If Shin Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore, presuming the Indians pick up the option on him, can come back healthy and produce, who knows how good the Indians can be in 2012.
One wouldn't think that a team with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez would be rebuilding, but that's exactly what the Colorado Rockies are in the middle of.
It won't be a drastic rebuilding process since the Rockies already have a ton of minor league talent just waiting to burst onto the scene.
However, the Rockies need help with pitching or else they won't stand much of a chance against the Giants and the Diamondbacks in the NL West.
Jhoulys Chacin can't do it all.
The Detroit Tigers were close to winning it all in 2011, and expect more of the same when 2012 rolls along, if not more.
When a team has a lineup like the Tigers, even a mediocre starting rotation could be backpacked into the postseason.
But with a starting rotation consisting of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Matt Scherzer, the Tigers will be one of the early favorites to win it all in 2012.
One thing to watch in 2012 is how Verlander fairs through the entirety of the season. He has proven that he can pitch dominantly on a consistent basis, but 251 innings pitched in a season is a lot of mileage for a starting pitcher.
Maybe a brand new baseball stadium is all the Florida Marlins need to get back into World Series contention? Or maybe a charismatic manager like Ozzie Guillen who can lead this young team and whip Hanley Ramirez back into shape is just what the doctor ordered?
While the chances that they even make the postseason in 2012 are slim, the Marlins young core on offense will be a force to reckon with in the near future.
Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison are all on the right side of 30 years old, but its the pitching that is a little suspect.
With a healthy Josh Johnson coming back from injury, who knows what the future has in store for the Marlins in 2012. It's always the young and energized teams that tend to surprise everyone.
Sorry, Houston Astros, but teams this early on in the rebuilding process don't even stand a chance at making the postseason, let alone winning the World Series.
Both Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers will likely be traded during the offseason, which will leave Carlos Lee as the only established MLB player on the roster.
However, one name to keep an eye on is J.D. Martinez, who is a star just waiting to emerge.
There will come a point in time when the Kansas City Royals are no longer the laughing stock of MLB.
It is unlikely that the Royals will make that last giant leap in 2012 due to their lack of pitching.
However the young offensive core consisting of Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera and Eric Hosmer will put the Royals back into contention before we know it.
Led by ace Jered Weaver, the Los Angeles Angels pitching was one of the best in baseball during the 2011 season. Dan Haren and Ervin Santana also had phenomenal years but it just wasn't enough to keep up with the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Taking on the contract of Vernon Wells was a huge mistake, since it will likely impede the Angels from pursuing some of the top offensive free agents on the market.
However, there is a ton of potential on this team. Mark Trumbo had a fantastic rookie season and Mike Trout is ready to go if the Angels can find enough room in their outfield to put him.
Don't count out the Angels next season. If they are able to somehow sneak into the playoffs next year, they can do a lot of damage with Weaver, Haren and Santana pitching in succession.
It's hard to count out a team that has Clayton Kershaw, a Cy Young award candidate, and Matt Kemp, a MVP award candidate.
However, with the turmoil that is engulfing the Dodgers organization, it'll be hard for them to make the necessary moves to return to legitimacy in just one season.
2012 will be a wash for the Dodgers, but don't count them out for much longer than that.
It's the big question that everyone is asking: Will Prince Fielder still be a Milwaukee Brewer at the beginning of the 2012 season?
He has already publicly stated that he doesn't think so, but who knows what the meaning behind it truly was? Either way you look at it, the comment was ill-timed, since the Brewers were in the middle of the regular season and trying to prepare for the playoffs.
If Fielder does walk, there is enough offensive firepower currently in the Brewers lineup to somewhat temper the loss. However, 38 home runs and 120 RBI would be production hard to replace. How successful the Brewers are in 2012 will largely depend on Fielder's decision.
It was certainly a disappointing season for the Minnesota Twins in 2011.
They ranked in the bottom 10 of many pitching and offensive stat categories, and their 63-99 record certainly reflected that.
To make matters worse, Michael Cuddyer, their best offensive player in 2011, will likely leave to test the free agent market.
But if both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer somehow come back 100-percent healthy in 2012, who knows what can happen.
With Carlos Beltran already gone and Jose Reyes potentially in the same boat, the Mets find themselves in a pickle this upcoming offseason.
With $55 million of the payroll dedicated to three players—Johan Santana, Jason Bay and David Wright—over a third of their overall payroll will be consumed by players who are as unpredictable as they come.
Jason Bay hasn't earned a dime of his four-year, $66 million contract. Johan Santana was hurt all of 2011. And David Wright can't seem to find a way to stay on the field the entire season.
Having Ike Davis back from injury should help the offense that could potentially lose two of its best hitters from 2011, but it's still the pitching that will impede the Mets from winning it all in 2012.
Try to remember a year when the New York Yankees were not one of the favorites to win the World Series?
The fact of the matter is that the Yankees are always contenders, and it'll be more of the same in 2012.
While their offense is one of the best in MLB, the pitching was a little suspect, and the potential loss of ace C.C. Sabathia certainly will not help.
If Sabathia does end up leaving New York, the Yankees will do what they do best and sign another free agent pitcher to take his place.
Many thought that the Oakland Athletics would be the dark horse team of 2011 and take the AL West with their young and exciting pitching staff.
But never at one point did the A's look like the team that some thought they would, and that was mostly due to their inept offense.
Jemile Weeks came on late to have a solid second half of the season, but the A's will need way more offensive help if they hope to keep up with the Rangers and the Angles in the AL West.
On paper, the Philadelphia Phillies could be the best team in MLB. However, a list of names does not decide who the World Series champion is.
Since the Phillies won it all in 2008, they have made it to the postseason every season, but have somehow found a way to play worse every year despite the great additions to the roster.
In 2009, they lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series. In 2010, they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. In 2011, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.
See the trend?
The Phillies will make the postseason and they will be one of the favorites to win it all again. However, seeing the Phillies fail to win it year after year makes you wonder if the Phillies are unable to stomach the high expectations?
With players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley on the roster, one would think not, but that certainly hasn't looked to be the case as of late.
Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates were actually atop the NL Central at one point in the season in 2011, and it wasn't even during opening week!
However, the Pirates fell back down to earth as the year went on.
The Pirates are a team that is full of potential, especially the pitching staff, but they just aren't there yet.
There aren't many offenses worse than the San Diego Padres' in 2011.
They ranked 28 in runs scored, 29 in batting average, 28 in on-base percentage and 29 in slugging percentage.
You aren't going to win many games with that kind of offense, no matter how good your pitching is.
It's a shame that the San Francisco Giants never got an opportunity to defend their championship from the 2010 season.
Injuries were one thing that prevented the Giants from reaching the postseason since 27 players were put on the disabled list at one point in the season.
It got so bad that every player from the opening day lineup, besides Aubrey Huff—who had one of the more disappointing seasons—had been placed on the DL.
While injuries are only one excuse for the Giants minor collapse in the middle of the season, the offense did struggle mightily down the stretch.
Even with Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez coming back from injuries, the Giants' offense needs help.
However, with the pitching staff that the Giants have, they will always be contenders to win it all.
Speaking of inept offenses, the Seattle Mariners offense tops them all with the lineup that they fielded every game.
You have to see it to believe it yourself, but the Mariners offense ranked dead last in the league in every offensive category.
Yes, Having Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda atop the rotation does give the Mariners some hope, but they will remain in last place in 2012 if they don't address their needs on offense.
Many thought the St. Louis Cardinals' season was over once Adam Wainwright was lost for the year even before it started.
And then lo and behold, they storm back from 10.5 games back in late August and eventually end up winning the World Series.
Who would have thunk it?
But the question still remains, will Albert Pujols be back in the red and white when the 2012 season begins?
Whether or not he does, the return of Wainwright will greatly benefit the Cardinals as they try to repeat as World Champions in 2102.
Even though the Tampa Bay Rays were eliminated from the playoffs in just the first round in 2011, their journey to the postseason was a magical one.
The Rays were hot during the stretch, but a playoff berth was basically thanks in part to the Red Sox's collapse.
With a pitching staff consisting of David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis, the Rays certainly have a legitimate shot to win it all in 2012.
After back-to-back World Series appearances, the Texas Rangers have nothing to show for them.
After their first appearance in 2010, they lost their ace Cliff Lee via free agency. After this season, they will also likely lose their ace C.J. Wilson.
Their offense is a juggernaut, and their bullpen has been vastly improved throughout the 2011 season. However, it's hard to win in this league without any starting pitching.
If the Rangers really do lose Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland must step up if the Rangers have any hope actually winning a World Series in 2012.
If the Toronto Blue Jays weren't in the AL East, they would be my surprise team of the 2012 season.
But since the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are all in the same division, the Blue Jays practically have no shot at a title, and that is no disrespect to the talent on the roster.
Ricky Romero is one of the young and promising pitchers in baseball right now, and Jose Bautista could very well be the best hitter on the planet.
There is talent on the Washington Nationals roster.
Michael Morse had a tremendous year in 2011, and Ryan Zimmerman is one of the most underrated hitters in baseball.
Their bullpen has one of the best one-two punches in Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. And don't forget about players like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper who have yet to establish themselves in the league.
The Nationals are a young team, but don't be surprised to see them make some noise in 2012.