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MLB Postseason Preview 2023

As we head into the 2023 MLB postseason, there are some familiar teams and some new teams. There have certainly been surprises and disappointments coming from both leagues, and it’s difficult to form expectations with a pool of playoff teams that fans aren’t used to. The seedings and wild card matchups have been set. Here is a quick preview of each World Series contender.

American League

#1 Baltimore Orioles (101-61)

To start, we have the biggest shocker of the 2023 season, the O’s. Baltimore has been rebuilding in recent years, finishing with a record above .500 for the first time since 2016 just last season. The Orioles highly exceeded expectations this season, taking control of the AL East from the Rays rather easily and eclipsing the 100-win mark. This is a young team, highlighted by top ranked prospects Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and Grayson Rodriguez. The bullpen is solid, and the lineup is full of hungry, young hitters. However, a starting rotation that is average at best with no true ace could struggle against playoff lineups.

#2 Houston Astros (90-72)

The reigning World Series champs are back in the race, and no one should be surprised. Houston continues to produce quality rosters across the board year in and year out. The Astros have made the playoffs every season since 2017, advancing to the World Series four times in that span. There has not been a World Series without this team since the shortened 2020 season. The Astros are the real deal with no true holes in the roster. Although the club got off to a slow start due to injuries, it quietly kept pace with the Rangers in the AL West and clinched the division in the final game. Houston has a good bullpen, a versatile group of hitters, and a star-studded rotation with ace Framber Valdez and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander (added at trade deadline). If Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve can hit like they did last postseason, the Astros are poised to make another run.

#3 Minnesota Twins (87-75)

The Twins haven’t had much postseason success in recent memory, but the team coasted to an AL Central title thanks to a noncompetitive division and a surprisingly dominant rotation led by Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray, and Joe Ryan. What’s concerning for Minnesota is that the health of top hitters Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa remains in question. Both have missed extended time from injury, and the lineup looks pretty thin past them. The Twins look to lean on their starters while facing a tough Blue Jays team.

#4 Tampa Bay Rays (99-63)

Despite some crucial losses (pitchers Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, and Jeffrey Springs and hitters Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe), the Rays finished one win shy of 100 and kept pace for the playoffs all season. Tampa Bay fully embraces the “next guy up” mentality, and the pitching still looks strong. AL batting champ Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena will lead the charge on the offensive side. Although the Rays never seem to have the superstars, they have been known as a gritty team in postseason play. Expect them to make some noise out of the gates.

#5 Texas Rangers (90-72)

The Rangers are an up and coming team that have put together a roster loaded with talent. They sat at the top of the division for the first half of the season, but had to settle for a wild card after late season pushes from Houston and Seattle. They added but quickly lost to injury two of the game’s greatest pitchers (Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer), but those weren’t the only arms added. Nathan Eovaldi had a career year at age 33 after being signed in free agency, and Jordan Montgomery has looked sharp since being added at the deadline. The Texas lineup features a scary top 4 in stars Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Nathaniel Lowe, and Adolis Garcia with depth behind them. The bullpen may prove to be the kryptonite, but starters should fear facing this offense.

#6 Toronto Blue Jays (89-73)

The Jays have been waiting patiently for their postseason moment with high expectations in recent years. They never hit their stride during the regular season, but did enough down the stretch to beat out the Mariners for the final AL wild card spot. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette lead a dangerous lineup with a good mix of young talent and veterans. The rotation is full of well-established arms behind ace Kevin Gausman, and the bullpen is formidable. Toronto can capitalize on a favorable wild card matchup with Minnesota and can give any AL team a run for their money with the breadth of talent on the roster.

National League

#1 Atlanta Braves (104-58)

Atlanta looks like a juggernaut this season after finishing with the best record in the MLB. The Braves have five hitters in their starting lineup this season with more than 30 home runs, and three with 40 or more. This star-studded lineup is led by probable NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. (hit .337 with 73 stolen bases) and slugger Matt Olson (54 HRs and 139 RBIs). Atlanta is currently the favorite to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook, but its ailing rotation could lead to struggles. It is unclear when ace Max Fried and veteran Charlie Morton will be able to return from injury, so the rotation is down two key starters indefinitely. Strikeout machine Spencer Strider will look to be the stopper in their absences. This squad has a ton of playoff experience, but its depth will be tested. Thankfully for Atlanta, a first round bye allows for more healing time.

#2 Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62)

There was a lot of hype surrounding the new Padres superteam (missed playoffs), but LA proved fans that it still owns the NL West. The Dodgers have a deep and versatile lineup with arguably the league’s best 1-2 punch in Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, both of which were in the MVP conversation as well. The pitching staff suffered major losses in Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin, and Walker Buehler will be sidelined still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Outside of veterans Clayton Kerhsaw and Lance Lynn, this rotation is young and inexperienced. Like the Braves, the Dodgers will look to their offense to take some pressure off their starters.

#3 Milwaukee Brewers (92-70)

Once Milwaukee found the top of the NL Central, they were never really tested for the division, despite late surges from the Cubs and Reds. The Brewers could be the best pitching team in the NL, even without Brandon Woodruff. Ace Corbin Burnes leads a deep rotation, while closer Devin Williams helms a dominant bullpen. The hitting is where most question marks lie. A bounceback season for Christian Yelich was encouraging, and some veteran bats were brought in at the deadline to balance out the lineup. However, while the pitching allows Milwaukee to compete, there is a clear void of impact run producers in the batting order compared to other NL teams.

#4 Philadelphia Phillies (90-72)

The Phillies got off to a slow start, but surged in the second half to secure a wild card spot with ease. It was the same story for newly signed star SS Trea Turner who batted .247 in the season’s first half, but .292 in the second half. The lineup features other big names like Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. The rotation looks strong behind Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, and the bullpen has recent postseason experience. Philadelphia is a complete team that has only added pieces since being World Series runner ups last season. They are the only NL wild card team that truly seems to stack up against Atlanta and LA.

#5 Miami Marlins (84-77)

The Marlins were a team that took the league by surprise this season sneaking into the wild card. The pitching was the strength, even in a down year from ace Sandy Alcantara. The offseason trade for contact hitter Luis Arraez paid dividends for Miami, as it has struggled on the offensive side in recent years. Arraez won the NL batting title hitting an outstanding .354. Some of the lineup feels shaky, but they brought in bats Jake Burger and Josh Bell at the deadline to bolster it. The Marlins, who suspiciously finished 33-13 in one-run games, have a tough test at Philadelphia.  

#6 Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)

The Diamondbacks have a young core of players centered around Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll. Many thought the Padres and Giants would be the west teams vying for a wild card spot, but the D-Backs snuck up and played solid baseball throughout the season. The starting staff is solid and commanded by ace Zac Gallen, but the bullpen could struggle facing playoff lineups. This team can definitely be scrappy in the postseason, while embracing its young identity.

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Poly-Sci major with minors in Marketing and Journalism, planning to attend law school post-grad