In baseball, a team could have a World Series caliber team on paper with numbers from the previous year. A team could go on a spending spree trying to get the best players available, giving them lucrative contracts because they proved in the past that they have the talent to stay in the Major Leagues and be a help to the team. Teams with big names such as the Philadelphia Phillies expected to make it to the play-offs because of the big names that are on the roster such as Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. However, the fact is, baseball is a game of chance. If the names on the rosters cannot perform on the field, then there is no chance for the team to make it into the postseason. As the 2012 season progressed, the teams I believed that would be in the cellar in their divisions rose to the top while teams I expected to be in the postseason sunk to the bottom. Here are the five teams that had surprised not only me but many baseball fans during the 2012 season.
- 1. Philadelphia Phillies: Since 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies were the kings of the National League East, being in two World Series in the last 4 years. Somehow, the 2012 season went terribly wrong. The Phillies lost key players such as Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Roy Halladay for 1 time or another but were not able to fight through the injuries to stay on top. The Phillies are currently in the National League East cellar, which prompted the Phillies to be sellers instead of buyers this season. The Phillies traded away players such as Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence; and Cliff Lee who was one of the most dominant pitchers has a losing record this season, not getting his first win since June of 2012.
- 2. Oakland Athletics: Since acquiring Yoenis Cespedes during the off-season, the Oakland Athletics have become a team that is in serious contention for the Wild Card spot. The Athletics GM Billy Beane had been playing Moneyball with the Athletics since the late 1990’s and so far this season, it seems to be paying off.
- 3. Chicago White Sox: After the White Sox did not make it into the play-offs in 2011, the organization made some changes. Former manager Ozzie Guillen packed his bags and went to the Miami Marlins while Robin Ventura (former New York Yankee and White Sox) took over the managerial role with no experience whatsoever. The White Sox have been playing good baseball lately, and it seems at this point they have a chance at making a run into the postseason. With a month of baseball to go, it would be interesting to see where the White Sox end up in the standings.
- 4. Boston Red Sox: Moving onto to the White Sox red counterparts in Boston, the Red Sox haven’t seemed to have gotten out of that funk that they have been since the 2011 September collapse. The starting pitching has not been there, mainly with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett and the Red Sox have had injuries galore with names such as Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury & David Ortiz hitting the disabled list at one point or another. The Red Sox are close to the American League East cellar and unless they get that hot-streak that they have been searching for, they might just spend another postseason at home.
- 5. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates were in a good position to go into the postseason at the halfway point in 2011, but like other teams, they slowly collapsed and missed their chance. This year however the Pirates continue to play strong baseball in the National League Central. The Pirates finally have the ace that they have been looking for, after acquiring A.J Burnett from the New York Yankees during the off-season for practically nothing. It is safe to say that the Pirates have a legitimate chance to make the postseason this year, if they continue to play good baseball.
With all of the wonderful and pitiful surprises that have occurred this season, the main question rests on everyone’s minds: which team will win the 2012 World Series? That question will not have an answer until there is one team standing, but what could make the victory sweeter, is if the champions are underdogs.