MLB Futures: World Series Race Wide Open

The World Series race is as wide open as we’ve seen in recent seasons. The Texas Rangers, long considered a favorite, have been canceled out of the equation. As have the Atlanta Braves.

Normally, the New York Yankees are flawless but they’re pitching is questionable without the services of Mariano Rivera. As for Detroit, Oakland and Baltimore, they’re pedigree is untested.

In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals are unknowns while the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants don’t appear as strong as years past.

With the ring up for grabs, let’s have a look at the World Series futures:

Cincinnati Reds: There may not be a more balanced team in the major leagues but the injury to ace Johnny Cueto has to have some Cincy fans worried about their team going forward. Still, the Reds have a lot of talent and were ousted in last year’s playoffs, so that should give them thick skin.

New York Yankees: Yes, they had to sneak into the postseason and fight off Baltimore, but these are the New York Yankees and they’re always going to be a threat. If they get consistent pitching, they could pull away from the rest of the field.

Washington Nationals: The new kids on the block made the decision to head into the postseason without ace Stephen Strasburg, who was on an innings limit, and that puts a lot of pressure on a staff that was arguably the MLB’s best in 2012. How will this team deal with being in this position for the first time?

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have a bonafide ace in Justin Verlander (who wasn’t as good as last year, but is still a candidate to repeat for the Cy Young), the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years in Miguel Cabrera and a host of fantastic role players. Detroit underwhelmed all season but they were built for the playoffs.

Oakland Athletics: The Athletics have the momentum after stealing the American League West crown from Texas. They’re going to have to use that momentum because they don’t have the talent of the rest of their American League competitors. That being said, the A’s never give up until the final out and that comes in handy at this time of year.

San Francisco Giants: The Giants have gone through a lot with the Melky Cabrera situation and the struggles of Tim Lincecum, who is now coming out of the bullpen. But they’ve persevered with the rest of their pitching staff as well as timely hitting (Buster Posey was a beast in the second half) and they have their World Series-winning experience from two years ago. In a wide-open National League, the Giants could turn some heads.

Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore is the American League version of Washington, but the Orioles had to go through the AL East and almost upended the Yankees for the division crown. The Orioles have a couple of guys (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters) who could go on to be full-blown stars in the league but like the Nationals, how will they handle pressure?

St. Louis Cardinals: Go ahead, look past the Cardinals, they want you to. That’s how they ended up winning the World Series last season. Of course, Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols are no longer there but the Cards have done a brilliant job of remaining focused and fighting through injuries. That grit could take them a long way.

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