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Top 7 Pitching Staffs from 2012 MLB Season

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Top 7 Pitching Staffs from 2012 MLB Season

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2012 MLB season over and the San Francisco Giants once again crowned World Series champions, most fans are looking ahead to next year. However, there are several teams trying to get to the top of the mountain and even the teams with the top pitching staffs did not win the ultimate prize. What are the top seven pitching staffs from this past season and how can they continue their dominance in 2013?

All seven pitching staffs in this slideshow have something in common. They had an outstanding starting rotation and every aspect of their bullpen made solid contributions. Of course, none of these staffs was perfect as there is no such thing in the game of baseball. However, these seven teams were the closest to being perfect and have the best chance of repeating their success next season.

Another thing these seven staffs have in common is that they had at least one pitcher take their game to the next level, which helped the overall success of the team. Sometimes it takes just one player to motivate the rest of the squad to play at the highest level possible. Also, it is no coincidence that success meant clinching a postseason berth as five of the seven teams did so. Ironically, one of the teams on this list that did not make the playoffs just happens to be the No. 1 pitching staff from this past season.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see if your favorite team made the list of the top seven pitching staffs from 2012.

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#7 San Francisco Giants

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants may have won the World Series, which is all that really matters, but they were not even close to the No. 1 spot on this list. San Francisco finished the season with a 3.68 team ERA, 53 saves, 14 blown saves, 1,237 strikeouts, 489 walks, a .248 opponent batting average and surrendered 593 earned runs in 1,451 innings.

Matt Cain was the MVP of the pitching staff with his 16-5 record, 2.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 219 1/3 innings, all of which were team highs except for the ERA. Cain also pitched a perfect game on June 13. Sergio Romo comes in at a close second for the best pitcher on the team with his 4-2 record, 1.79 ERA, 14 saves, 23 holds and 10.25 strikeouts per nine innings. The Giants have proven once again they have a bright future ahead of them and it certainly starts with the pitchers.

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#6 Oakland Athletics

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics won their first division title since 2006 despite having the second-lowest payroll in all of baseball. None of the Oakland pitchers blew anyone away with their statistics, but as a team they really came together and dominated opponents. The Athletics had a 3.48 team ERA, 47 saves, 17 blown saves, 1,136 strikeouts, 462 walks, a .245 opponent batting average and they allowed 569 earned runs in 1,470 innings.

Jarrod Parker was the top starting pitcher on the team with his 13-8 record, 3.47 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings. Closer Grant Balfour was the top overall pitcher as he posted a 3-2 record with a 2.53 ERA, 24 saves, 15 holds and 72 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings.

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#5 Cincinnati Reds

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central for the second time in three years and a large part of their success in 2012 had to do with their pitching. The Reds as a pitching staff posted a 3.34 ERA, 56 saves, 18 blown saves, 1,248 strikeouts, 427 walks, a .247 opponent batting average and allowed 540 earned runs in 1,453 innings.

Johnny Cueto was the MVP of the Reds this season but there are several pitchers on the team who deserve the honor as well. The starting pitcher went 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA, 170 strikeouts and a 5.8 wins above replacement in 217 innings. The top reliever on the team was Aroldis Chapman who has really come into his own in 2012. Chapman posted a 5-5 record with an outstanding 1.51 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 38 saves, six holds, 3.6 wins above replacement and 15.32 strikeouts per nine innings in 68 appearances.

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#4 Atlanta Braves

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves clinched a postseason berth for the second time in three years, but were bounced out of the playoffs early in a controversial single-elimination Wild Card game. Atlanta’s pitching staff was very good in 2012, but that part of the team may struggle going forward due to trades that have already taken place this off-season. The Braves posted a 3.42 ERA, 47 saves, 13 blown saves, 1,232 strikeouts, 464 walks, a .243 opponent batting average and gave up 549 earned runs in 1,445 innings.

Veteran starting pitcher Tim Hudson was the best starter on the team this past season with a 16-7 record with a 3.62 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 179 innings. Closer Craig Kimbrel continued his domination in the bullpen in his second year in the majors as he posted a 3-1 record with a team-high 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 42 saves, 3.2 wins above replacement and 16.66 strikeouts per nine innings in 63 appearances.

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#3 Los Angeles Dodgers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers missed the postseason in 2012 but something tells me they are going to be there in 2013. Los Angeles has made several acquisitions to send them to the top, including adding Zack Greinke to an already impressive pitching staff. The Dodgers posted a 3.34 team ERA, 40 saves, 19 blown saves, 1,276 strikeouts, 539 walks, a .238 opponent batting average and 538 earned runs in 1,449 2/3 innings.

The team’s top pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, also happens to be one of the league’s top pitchers as he was the runner-up to the National League Cy Young Award. Kershaw was named an All-Star in 2012 and was crowned the MLB ERA Champion. Kershaw went 14-9 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 6.3 wins above replacement and 229 strikeouts in 227 2/3 innings. Closer Kenley Jansen was another top pitcher on the club as he posted a 5-3 record with a 2.35 ERA, 0.85 ERA, 25 saves, eight holds and 99 strikeouts in 65 appearances.

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#2 Washington Nationals

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals have come a long way since being one of the worst teams in all of baseball a few years ago. Washington had the top record in the majors and the best pitching staff in the National League in 2012. Unfortunately, they could not get past the NLDS, but there is always next year, as this team is not disappearing from the top. The Nationals had a 3.33 team ERA, 51 saves, 17 blown saves, 1,325 strikeouts, a .237 opponent batting average and allowed 543 earned runs in 1,468 1/3 innings.

The starting rotation is loaded with talent and has will be even better with the solid acquisitions that have been made this off-season. Starter Gio Gonzalez was one of the top pitchers in all of baseball with his 21-8 record, 2.89 ERA, 4.5 wins above replacement and 207 strikeouts in 199 1/3 innings. He also only surrendered nine home runs all season. Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was another phenomenal member of the pitching staff this past season until he was shut down due to innings. The ace went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings.

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#1 Tampa Bay Rays

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays had the top pitching staff in the majors in 2012 and after looking at their numbers, it will be hard to believe that this team did not clinch a postseason berth despite having 90 wins. The Rays had the American League Cy Young Award winner and the MLB Delivery Man of the Year on their team this past season plus several other talented pitchers. Tampa Bay posted a 3.19 team ERA, 50 saves, eight blown saves, 1,383 strikeouts, 469 walks, a .228 opponent batting average and surrendered only 518 earned runs in 1,459 2/3 innings.

David Price was the Cy Young Award winner and he certainly deserved it. Price went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA, 6.5 wins above replacement and 205 strikeouts in 211 innings. James Shields, another top starter, also had a good season in which he went 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 227 2/3 innings. Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney was the best closer in the game in 2012. Rodney posted a 2-2 record with an astonishing 0.60 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 3.7 wins above replacements, 76 strikeouts and 48 saves in 76 appearances.