Commentary

Defining success for losers

Even also-rans can have a productive season if they find some long-term solutions

Updated: March 3, 2012, 9:41 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
McCutchenJared Wickerham/Getty ImagesA good year in Pittsburgh more likely involves an Andrew McCutchen extension than a pennant.

Despite spring proclamations of hope and what could be possible, not every team has a serious chance of capturing the World Series title this year. For some clubs, the lack of talent on the field makes that an unrealistic goal for 2012. However, that doesn't mean that they can't have a successful season, especially if they set their sights on things that they can accomplish this year. So, let's take a look at outcomes for nine expected non-contenders that would make 2012 a worthwhile campaign, even if it doesn't end with a run at the playoffs.

Baltimore Orioles: Get their young arms figured out

The Orioles' group of highly rated young arms have gone off the tracks, with Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Zach Britton all struggling to turn their minor league success into solid major league performances.

Their starters ended 2011 tied with Pittsburgh for the fewest wins above replacement for any team in baseball (5.7), and they traded rotation stalwart Jeremy Guthrie over the winter. While the Orioles have a few good young position players in the organization, they desperately need to develop a couple of quality starting pitchers. Britton has shown the most promise, but for the organization to take a step forward, they'll need Matusz to rebound or free-agent signing Wei-Yin Chen to blossom into a quality starter. If they can get good performances and full healthy seasons out of two of those three starters, they'll finally have the foundation of a real rotation in place for the future.

Oakland Athletics: Define the outfield


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