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Kansas City, Toronto might just complete the list

March 4, 2013

I have not been watching Major League Baseball as long as some folks who are around.
That is when you put it into perspective.
I’ve been watching it die-hard since the 1990s, and that seems like a long time to me.
However, there are those who around who remember the Braves when they were in Milwaukee, and there are those who remember a respectable Mets franchise; well maybe we won’t go that far.
The point is that during my life, and during my baseball fandom, there are teams that I have never seen in October.
The list is narrowing, and in 2013, there is a really good chance that the magic number could be at zero.
I want to see all of the MLB clubs competitive and have a shot at the World Series. There are those teams that I want to win each year, but it is nice to see variety when it comes to the Fall Classic.
When 2012 started, I can say that I had not seen Baltimore, Kansas City, Washington (formerly Montreal) or Toronto in the playoffs.
Surprisingly, the list was shortened when Washington took the National League East, and Baltimore entered the playoffs for the first time since 1997, right before I became a fan of the game.
The list is down to two.
It’s the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays.
What are the chances these two teams will make the playoffs in 2013?
For Toronto, the chances are as high as they have been since their last playoff appearance in 1993, which ended in a World Series win.
Following that season, the players strike of 1994 virtually killed baseball in Canada.
Montreal was finally taken off of the ventilator in 2004 and moved to Washington.
Toronto has hung in there though, and now after 20 years, this team has a real shot at playing in October, and it have great shot at a title.
Toronto pulled off a pair of trades that changed the dynamic of the entire division of the AL East.
The team acquired aces Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from the Florida Marlins. Also coming over in that trade was All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes.
The Jays then acquired NL Cy Young award winner R.A.Dicky from the New York Mets in the winter. That’s three top-tier aces on one staff competing against the aging Red Sox and Yankees in that division.
Already with powerful hitters like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encanacion and Colby Rasmus, the Jays also signed once suspended and NL MVP candidate Melky Cabrera.
With that lineup on the mound and those hitters in the order, there is a high probability my list will be at one at the end of this season.
The hold out may be Kansas City.
The greatest tax write-off in the history of baseball does not have an all-star cast on the roster, but the team has a much better shot than its had in years at making the playoffs.
For one, the league has added a second wild card. This gives the Royals the luxury of having the fifth best record in the league and still making it to October.
The Royals, in my lifetime, have never done well with drafting, developing or acquiring all-star players.
If a player does well in Kansas City, he is usually traded before he sees a .500 winning percentage.
The Royals this year have homegrown slugger Billy Butler who batted .313 with 29 homeruns and 107 RBI in 2012.
Alex Gordon had 72 RBI in 2012 to go along with 14 homeruns.
Mike Moustakas hit 20 hoomers with 73 RBI, and Eric Hosmer batted in 60 with 13 homers.
It’s not the most powerful lineup in baseball, but in a Central division that has Detroit and no one else really as its top competitor, KC could score enough runs to win some games.
Luke Hockevar could reverse his 8-16 record on the mound for the Royals to prop up starter Bruce Chen who was the workhorse for the club in 2012 winning 11 games.
The Royals traded for Ervin Santana, a once proven starter in the majors. They also acquired Jeremy Guthrie.
Between Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton, 39 games were saved for KC last season.
These would not be promising statistics for any other club but Kansas City. It’s the best group of players the team has assembled since perhaps the ‘80s.
The odds are not with the Royals making the playoffs in 2013, but with Toronto’s new power and pitching, maybe my list will be down to one.

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