After Albert Pujols bolted for the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason, nobody expected the St. Louis Cardinals to repeat as World Series champions heading into the 2012 season. If anything, this was supposed to be a team going through a rebuilding phase with the loss of Pujols and retirement of their star manager Tony La Rusa.
Instead, this team put together a late rally once again at the end of the regular season by earning one of the two Wild Card spots in the new format before falling just short of the World Series in October after losing to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. Despite blowing a 3-1 lead in the series, the Cardinals were that close to appearing in the World Series for a second-straight season and with that type of momentum–it’s difficult not to wonder whether or not they would have won against the Detroit Tigers had they reached the final stage.
If there’s anything to take away from the Cardinals over the last couple of seasons, it’s they’re a team that plays their best baseball when nobody believes in them. For a team to fall one-win short of another World Series appearance during a year in which they were supposed to be going through a rebuilding phrase is beyond impressive and because of this–there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be considered the NL favorites heading into 2013.
It certainly won’t be easy, but St. Louis proved last year they’re certainly capable of going the distance with the type of roster they have.
“Like” Dan Parzych on Facebook
Be sure to follow Dan on Twitter @DanParzych