MLB Playoffs 2012: AL contenders

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NEW YORK YANKEES

Credentials: 95-67, AL East champions

Last postseason appearance: 2011, lost to Tigers 3-2 in ALDS

Best postseason finish: World Series champions (27 times, most recently 2009)

Manager: Joe Girardi (18-11 postseason record)

Player to watch: 2B Robinson Cano

Pitcher to watch: LHP CC Sabathia

The skinny: The Yankees continue to maintain a postseason presence nearly every year, but they have won it all only once since 2000. Nonetheless, they’re in position to claim their 28th title in a wide-open AL field. Cano remains their most consistent offensive force, but Derek Jeter has been surprisingly effective and led the league in hits at age 38. Pitching, however, has been a struggle, with Sabathia and Hideki Kuroda holding up the staff and Rafael Soriano leading the post-Mariano Rivera bullpen.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Credentials: 94-68, AL West champions

Last postseason appearance: 2006, lost to Tigers 4-0 in ALCS

Best postseason finish: World Series champions (nine times, most recently 1989)

Manager: Bob Melvin (3-4 postseason record)

Player to watch: LF Yoenis Cespedes

Pitcher to watch: RHP Jarrod Parker

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