Everyone has a habit of trying to predict the future and with baseball it is near impossible to do. However I love to make predictions and I have been known to “call things” so I decided to share with the world my predictions of which teams will be in the newly expanded playoffs this upcoming season. Last year I didn’t do so well, but I was right about the Cardinals winning the wild card, Brewers winning the central, Phillies winning the East, and the Rangers winning the AL West so let’s see if I can do a little better this time around, here is a look at who I think will be playing October baseball :

National League:

West: Arizona Diamondbacks 

Upton one of the rising superstars in baseball hopes to lead the D'Backs back to the postseason. (AP)

Last year the Diamondbacks were one of the most underrated teams and biggest Cinderella stories in baseball. They are a very talented team featuring superstar Justin Upton, talented veterans like Chris Young, Miguel Montero, and Stephen Drew, as well as a newly bolstered rotation featuring Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, Daniel Hudson, and Josh Collmenter. Last years manager of the year Kirk Gibson will most likely be repeating the NL West title, however the Rockies are always a sneaky and be that streaky team, and the Giants are very talented too if healthy.

Central: St. Louis Cardinals

Will last years stars be able to help the team recover from the loss of Pujols? I think so! (July 11, 2011 - Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Albert Who? The Cardinals will be just fine without Albert Pujols, they have Adam Wainwright returning from injury, veteran superstars like Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, and the recently extended Yadier Molina, up and coming young players like David Freese, Allen Craig, Jon Jay, and Jaime Garcia, as well as adding another talented veteran in Carlos Beltran. First year manager Mike Matheny will have fun with his lineup and as long as the Cardinals can stay healthy and play to potential they will be far better than the World Series team they were a year ago, I have them picked to repeat as Champions and that is not just based on my personal bias!

East: Philadelphia Phillies

The best 1-2-3 punch in baseball the three Aces of the Phillies (AP)

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels that is all I need to say. When you have three aces on your team in a ballpark that is known more for hitters, it is tough to pick against them. However the Phillies do have a lot of question marks: When will Ryan Howard return and will he be able to hit? Will Chase Utley and Placido Polanco stay healthy? Was Vance Worleys rookie season a fluke? If the Phillies can stay healthy and be able to hit they should have no problem winning the NL East for the sixth consecutive season.

Wild Card 1: Miami Marlins 

Giancarlo Stanton helps to lead the new Marlins to another World Championship. (Jeff Robertson, AP)

The new and improved Miami Marlins are out to show that they can be taken seriously. Not only did they change their name and move into a new ballpark, they also tripled their payroll and added a new manager in Ozzie Guillen and some key players like Heath Bell, Mark Buerhle, Carlos Zambrano and the biggest of all Jose Reyes. Not to mention like the Cardinals they are getting their ace pitcher back, Josh Johnson is returning from a season ending injury. The Marlins also have very talented players like Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Gaby Sanchez. Their rotation is much stronger than it has been in the past featuring Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Mark Buehrle, Annibal Sanchez, and Carlos Zambrano. This team is for real and if they can stay healthy I see them being a real dark horse in the later end of the year and they may even win the NL East if the Phillies struggle to stay healthy.

Wild Card 2: Cincinnati Reds 

The Reds are in a win-now mode before their stars hit free agency. (August 20, 2011 - Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

Walt Jocketty and the Reds are in the midst of a “Win-now” philosophy as they are trying to win before superstars Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips hit free agency. The Reds made several moves including the Mat Latos trade that sent top prospect Yonder Allonso and Edinson Volquez along with some other prospects to San Diego. They also traded young left handed starter Travis Wood to the Cubs for set up man Sean Marshall. They signed Ryan Madson and Ryan Ludwick to one year deals and the Reds elected to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation which should be interesting as well. The Reds will be the Cardinals toughest competition in the NL Central but I don’t see them winning it, but you never know in baseball.

Three teams to watch:

  1. Washington Nationals- The Nats are a young team on the rise and they will be the real deal in 2012 and beyond. They have a great shot at making the playoffs and I could even see them vying for the NL East title if they can stay hot. They bolstered their rotation adding Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson and let us not forget they still have Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman in their rotation as well. They have many talented young players like Strasburg, Zimmerman, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, and possibly Bryce Harper.  Also they have talented veterans like Ryan Zimmerman who just signed an extension, Jason Werth who will be hoping for a bounce back season, and Mike Morse who had a breakout year last season.
  2. Colorado Rockies- The Rockies always seem to find a way to make the playoffs even if they have a rocky start(no pun intended) except last season they couldn’t put it all together. A plethora of injuries kept the Rockies from really thriving in the NL West last season but with guys like Troy Tulowtizki and Carlos Gonzalez on the team it is hard to pick against them. If their younger players like Drew Pomeranz and Alex White can put it together and the veterans can play to their potential the Rockies could find themselves in the playoffs once again.
  3. Atlanta Braves- The Braves are one of those teams that seems to make it every year, and last year they were so close to making it again until their massive collapse led to the Cardinals taking the wildcard and eventually the entire thing. The Braves are stacked in pitching with starters like Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurjens, Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor as well as a very talented bullpen in Jonny Venters, Erick O’Flahrety, Kris Medlen, and Criag Kimbrel.
American League:
West: Texas Rangers  

Will Josh Hamilton be entering his third consecutive World Series? (October 27, 2011 - Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

Yes the Angels have Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson now, but if we have learned one thing from baseball it is that money doesn’t always make championship teams.  The Rangers do have a lot of money as well but their team is more proven, they have  reached the World Series in two consecutive seasons losing both however. They have the best lineup in the American League featuring guys like Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Napoli to name a few as well as talented  pitchers like Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Alexi Ogando. If the Rangers don’t win the west I see them winning one of the wild cards, they are a great team and they will be in the post season one way or another.
Central: Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are arguably one of the best teams in all of baseball. They have a very talented offense featuring Miguel Cabrera, new lefty Prince Fielder, Johnny Peralta, Alex Avila, Austin Jackson and more. They also have one of if not the best pitcher in all of baseball in Justin Verlander, last years American League Cy Young and MVP. Their rotation is stronger than it has been in the past other than Verlander they have Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello. If Cabrera can play a steady third base and stay healthy the amount of power that will come from Cabrera and Fielder will be unnatural. I have the Tigers picked to be the loser in the 2012 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
East: New York Yankees

Robinson Cano is an MVP candidate and he will hope to lead the Yankees to the postseason yet again. (Sipkin/Newa)

The American League East is the best division in baseball which pains me to say it, but it is true. With the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, hell even the Blue Jays are getting better it will be a tough division to win but I see the Yankees winning it in the end. They are the best team in the American League with the highest payroll in all of baseball. They have guys like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeria, and Curtis Granderson in their lineup. As well as a newly bolstered rotation featuring ace CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, and Phil Hughes and a solid bullpen with David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and of course Mariano Rivera. If they don’t win the division I expect them to win one of the two wild cards, they will be in the post season I guarantee you that.
Wild Card 1: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 

The new boys will hope to get the Angels back into October ball.

Albert Pujols…Check. C.J. Wilson…Check. The Angels had one of the best off seasons in baseball improving both their rotation(maybe the best in baseball) and Albert Pujols to sure up their lineup. They have a surplus of talent featuring young guys like Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and Peter Bourjous as well as talented veterans like Bobby Abreu, Chris Ianetta, Kendrys Morales, Erick Aybar, and Howie Kendrick. Their rotation however is their biggest strength with last years Cy young award runner up Jered Weaver, former Cardinal Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and now C.J. Wilson it will be tough for any team to match that amount of talent.  However I don’t see them running away with the West like most people do, however it is very possible. No matter what the Rangers and Angels will both be in the post season, mark my words.
Wild Card 2: Boston Red Sox

A-Gon and the Red Sox will try to forget last years collapse and reach the playoffs once again

Last season the Red Sox had a historic collapse in September. Since then they have changed their manager in Bobby Valentine, and cut ties with GM Theo Epstein. If their players can just stay healthy they will have no problem having success in 2012, but that is just it, can they stay healthy? Josh Beckett, Jacoby Elsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youklis, and Carl Crawford are all key guys on the Red Sox that have just struggled to stay healthy in the past few years. But if they do, watch out. The Red Sox have one of the best offenses in baseball featuring guys like Elsbury, Pedroia, Youklis, Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Cody Ross, and more.
Three teams to watch:
  1. Tampa Bay Rays- Since their name change in 2008 the Rays have been one of the best young, Cinderella teams in all of baseball and they have found a way into the playoffs nearly every season since ’08. They have a small payroll but a great farm system, great manager, and very talented young players like Evan Longoria, David Price, Matt Moore, Desmond Jennings, and the list is endless. With their abundance of young pitching stars and the talent of their players it would not surprise me to see the Rays win a wild card spot or even the AL east division.
  2. Toronto Blue Jays-  The Blue Jays are one of those teams that gets overlooked because of the rest of their division. The Jays are in the AL East that features some of baseballs best teams in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays as well as the Orioles but they aren’t winning any time soon.  The Jays have very talented young players like Ricky Romero, Brett Lawrie, Travis Snider, former Cardinal headcase Colby Rasmus,Kyle Drabek,  and talented veterans like Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind, and Yunkiesky Betancourt.  If they can put it all together and stay healthy the Jays lead by Bautista may just have a breakout season.
  3. Kansas City Royals- The Royals are a young team on the rise. With arguably the best farm system in baseball, and with young players already major league ready like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, Aaron Crow, and Danny Duffy the Royals may just surprise the baseball world, but I still don’t see them making the playoffs but like I said before you never know in baseball.
World Series:
My prediction for the 2012 fall classic is a rematch of the ’34, ’68, and ’06 World Series the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. I am a fan of both of these teams I have family in Michigan and I respect the Tigers organization as well as my obvious personal bias for the Cardinals. I honestly believe all biases aside that this could realistically happen and not only that but I see the Cardinals being the first team since the Yankees to defend their title and win back to back World Series. It will happen, the Cardinals will be the 2012 World Series Champions.

 

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About The Author

I've loved the Cardinals for as long as I can remember, and always will.