MLB Sleepers: Who will be this year’s Giants, Rangers, Reds, Rays and Padres?

Sleepers can come in a variety of forms. Not all of them win the World Series, or their division, or even make the postseason for that matter. But all sleepers do have one thing in common: They do something unexpected.

The five sleepers listed below all did something unexpected in 2010. Let’s recap.

Giants: The team that seemingly came out of nowhere to win the World Series on the strength of their young pitching and a bunch of hitters that got red-hot at the right time.

Rangers: The team that everyone knew had talent to reach the postseason but were still hesitant about predicting them to win the division.

Reds: The youngish team that everyone knew would eventually compete, but were surprised to see that “eventually” meant 2010.

Rays: The team that people knew had the talent to reach the postseason but still stuck them behind the Yankees and even Red Sox in the division.

Padres: The team that nobody thought would challenge for a postseason berth and would have been the surprise of the year had they not collapsed down the stretch run.

So who are this year’s Giants, Rangers, Padres, Reds and Rays? I’m glad you asked.

The 2011 Giants: Oakland A’s
The strength of Oakland’s club is its young pitching, led by four pitchers in Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden, who are all 27 or younger. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Giants won the World Series last year with four pitchers (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner) who were all 27 or younger. The Giants also had an offense that would hardly keep opposing pitchers up at night but after GM Brian Sabean re-signed Juan Uribe and added guys like Cody Ross and Pat Burrell during the year, it was enough to be dangerous. Just like SF’s offense last year, Oakland’s bats aren’t going to scare anyone but after the offseason additions that Billy Beane made this offseason (Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus) they’re enough to be dangerous. And just like the Giants, if they can reach the postseason (where pitching matters most), the A’s might be able to do some damage.

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