MLB MLB Playoffs

Best, Worst-Case Scenarios For Each 2013 MLB Playoff Team

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Best & Worst-Case Scenarios For Every 2013 Playoff Team

Best & Worst-Case Scenarios For Every 2013 Playoff Team
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Now that all of the playoff teams have seemingly been decided, many fans across baseball are starting to analyze their favorite contender with a fine-tooth comb. They ponder things like; can my team win it all? Or they may ask themselves, what is my team’s biggest weakness? They may even completely bury their favorite team at the start of the playoffs, only to see them come back and win it all.

For me personally, I take playoff analysis a step further. I think about what each team, regardless of who I may like in a particular year, has to lose or gain from a World Series’ victory or first-round playoff elimination.

For the purposes of this slideshow, I have chosen to break down each playoff team’s worst- and best-case scenarios for this year’s playoffs, starting with the AL and then moving to the NL. As many of you may know, quite a few teams, the Boston Red Sox for example, have extra incentive to win it all this year. Unfortunately for these numerous teams, only one of them can win it all. In any case, it will be interesting to see how some of these storylines play out in October.

If you disagree with any of the points or opinions that I am about to make in this slideshow, I would encourage you to express your own opinion on that matter in the “comments” section down below. I will start by analyzing the best and worst-case scenarios in this year’s playoffs for the Red Sox.

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Boston Red Sox: Best-Case Scenario

Boston Red Sox Best-Case Scenario
Bob Dechiara-USA TODAY Sports

The best-case scenario For the Red Sox is that Jacoby Ellsbury comes back healthy for the playoffs, playing to his capabilities, and the starting rotation carries them to a World Series title in 2013. If they were to win it all, the team would erase all of the crazy drama in the past two years.

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Boston Red Sox: Worst-Case Scenario

Boston Red Sox Worst-Case Scenario
Bob Dechiara-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for the Red Sox would be for Ellsbury not to return in the postseason and for the pitching staff to struggle, resulting in a first-round elimination. If this were to happen, more talk of fried chicken and beer along with the 2012 collapse will almost certainly be rehashed. A dark cloud would be cast on the team as the year would be remembered as another collapse.

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Cleveland Indians: Best-Case Scenario

Cleveland Indians Best-Case Scenario
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The best-case scenario for the Cleveland Indians would be for them to win it all for Terry Francona. After the way he left Boston, it would be the ultimate revenge for Francona to win it all. Also, the Indians will have won it all with a cast of misfits many thought wouldn’t even make the playoffs. It would be the ultimate Cinderella story.

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Cleveland Indians: Worst-Case Scenario

Cleveland Indians Worst-Case Scenario
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for the Indians would be that they lose in the first round and are exposed as a team that can't win when the games really matter, and Francona would suffer more heartbreak. The team would be dismissed as a pretender, and the incredible season that they have had up to this point would be all for nothing.

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Detroit Tigers: Best-Case Scenario

Detroit Tigers Best-Case Scenario
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The best-case scenario for the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs would be for Justin Verlander to return to his 2012 form. Also, Miguel Cabrera having a monster postseason statistically would be ideal as he is in a fierce competition with Chris Davis for the AL MVP. Having Cabrera carry the team to a World Series Championship would be the best-case scenario for both parties.

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Detroit Tigers: Worst-Case Scenario

Detroit Tigers Worst-Case Scenario
Bob Dechiara-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for the Tigers would be that Verlander continues to struggle along with the rest of the pitching staff, Cabrera has a quiet postseason, and the Tigers get eliminated in the first round. If that were to happen, it would be extremely disappointing for a team that many thought would win their division and the World Series before the start of the season.

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Oakland A's: Best-Case Scenario

Oakland A's Best-Case Scenario
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the Oakland A's, a lot rides on this postseason as well. In the best-case scenario, their young rotation with guys like Sonny Gray would carry them to the World Series. They would also ideally get big contributions from guys like Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson in the lineup. If they were to win it all, Billy Beane and the A's will have finally won the big one after countless times trying over the past decade.

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Oakland A's: Worst-Case Scenario

Oakland A's Worst-Case Scenario
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for Oakland is that their young arms fail them in the postseason, their hitting doesn’t translate against postseason pitching, and they lose in the first round. If they were to crumble, Oakland would continue to be a team that can’t win the big one. Also, as Beane stated in the movie Moneyball, they would still be looking for a win in the “last game of the season.”

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Tampa Bay Rays: Best-Case Scenario

Tampa Bay Rays Best-Case Scenario
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays are in a very similar situation to the Tigers. The Rays, like the Tigers, have to see their pitching step up for the playoffs, primarily David Price. Also, guys like Evan Longoria and rookie Wil Myers have to establish themselves as sluggers in the lineup. If these things happen, they can be World Series Champs, which would be the team’s best-case scenario.

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Tampa Bay Rays: Worst-Case Scenario

Tampa Bay Rays Worst-Case Scenario
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The worst case for the Rays would be that Price struggles like he did in the early part of the season, and the middle of the lineup falters against elite pitching, causing them to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. If they were to lose in the first round, it would be considered a lost season for a team many had pegged to be in the World Series.

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Atlanta Braves: Best-Case Scenario

Atlanta Braves Best-Case Scenario
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The best-case scenario for the Atlanta Braves would be for them to overcome their injury issues, have young starters like Julio Teheran pitch like studs, and hitters like Freddie Freeman will also need to step up their game in the postseason. Ultimately, the Braves will need to ride their starting rotation and closer to a World Series Championship. If these players can produce, that is their best-case scenario.

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Atlanta Braves: Worst-Case Scenario

Atlanta Braves Worst-Case Scenario
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The worst-case scenario for the Braves would be that the team can't overcome their injury issues. Another bad scenario that could play out would be that their young pitchers like Kris Medlen and Teheran could struggle under the bright lights of the postseason. If these things come to pass, the Braves could be headed for a first-round elimination.

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Cincinnati Reds: Best-Case Scenario

Cincinatti Reds Best-Case Scenario
Frank Victores- USA TODAY Sports

The best-case scenario for the Cincinnati Reds would be that Tony Cingrani comes back healthy, Johnny Cueto stays healthy, and the team's batting order stays competent against postseason pitching. Also, Billy Hamilton wreaking havoc on the base path, thereby manufacturing key runs, would be ideal to play in their first World Series since 1990.

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Cincinnati Reds: Worst-Case Scenario

Cincinatti Reds Worst-Case Scenario
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for the Reds is that their rotation crumbles with more injuries to Cueto and Cingrani. In addition, if their lineup struggles against postseason pitching, they could have a problem in the postseason. Add to the fact that Hamilton could struggle due to his offensive limitations if they put him in the lineup, the team may struggle to score runs, leading to a premature playoff exit.

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Best-Case Scenario

Los Angeles Dodgers Best-Case Scenario
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For the Los Angeles Dodgers, their best-case scenario is that Clayton Kershaw, Ricky Nolasco (who has struggled lately) and other solid arms in the rotation stay hot. It is also crucial that Andre Ethier comes back. Also, if rookie Yasiel Puig and veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez play up to their capabilities, they will be in great shape to win the World Series, which is the best-case scenario for every playoff team.

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Worst-Case Scenario

Los Angeles Dodgers Worst-Case Scenario
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for the Dodgers is that Ethier is kept off the postseason roster, Kershaw and Nolasco struggle against elite playoff sluggers, while Puig, Gonzalez and Ramirez underachieve at the plate. If this were to happen, the Dodgers could be in trouble, possibly having a first-round collapse in the playoffs.

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Best-Case Scenario

Pittsburgh Pirates Best-Case Scenario
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The Pittsburgh Pirates' best-case scenario in the playoffs is that they continue their pitching dominance. Between Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke and A.J. Burnett, these young arms could be the difference between a first-round elimination and a deep playoff stint, and possible World Series win. Another part of the team’s best-case scenario would be if Jason Grilli returned to the closer role and pitches like he did before his injury.

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Worst-Case Scenario

Pittsburgh Pirates Worst-Case Scenario
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The worst-case scenario for the Pirates would be if the postseason winds up being too big for their pitching staff and they struggle as a result. Also, if Grilli struggles in his return to the closer role, it could ultimately cost them a chance to win that ever-elusive World Series Championship. In any case, we will find out whether these things will come to fruition in October.

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St. Louis Cardinals: Best-Case Scenario

St. Louis Cardinals Best-Case Scenario
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The best-case scenario for the St. Louis Cardinals would be that rookie studs Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez produce up to their capabilities. Also, if Allen Craig can come back fully healthy, it will be a major shot in the arm for the club. If all these things play out the way they should, the Cardinals should certainly be among the contending teams for a World Series victory.

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St. Louis Cardinals: Worst-Case Scenario

St. Louis Cardinals Worst-Case Scenario
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The worst-case scenario for the Cardinals would be if Craig does not come back fully healthy, the rookie pitchers crumble under the pressure of the postseason, and if their lineup struggles against elite playoff pitching. If that were to occur, they could miss out on capturing another World Series title, which would be the team's 12th World Series victory of all-time.