With the final weekend of the 2023 MLB regular season beginning to wind down, the baseball world shifts its focus to the MLB playoffs. This is undoubtedly the most exciting time of the year, and this year’s postseason doesn’t look any different. With that in mind, let’s take a complete look at the playoff picture.
First Round Byes
Here is where we find the cream of the crop in both leagues. These four teams won’t have to worry about the Wild Card round, and will secure home-field advantage in the division series.
In the AL, the Orioles and Astros earned first-round byes. The Orioles were easily the best team in the AL this year, being the only team to win more than 100 games. They’re followed by the Astros, who are now a familiar face in the postseason.
In the NL, two familiar faces in the Braves and Dodgers earn the two byes. Both of these teams have gone on deep playoff runs recently, and both figure to be a threat to win it all this year.
MLB Playoffs Matchups
In the second year under the new MLB playoffs format, there will be two Wild Card series in each league. Each series is a best-of-three, with all three games being hosted by whichever team has home-field advantage. Here are those series.
Toronto Blue Jays (89-73) @ Minnesota Twins (87-75)
Texas Rangers (90-72) @ Tampa Bay Rays (99-63)
Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78) @ Milwaukee Brewers (92-70)
Miami Marlins (84-77) @ Philadelphia Phillies (90-72)
2023 MLB Playoffs Storylines
Where are the Yankees?
One of the biggest storylines all season long was New York’s fall from prominence. The Yankees were still near the Wild Card race towards the end of the year, but they didn’t sniff the playoffs once for the final couple months of the season. The AL looks a little different this October without the Yanks.
New Faces On the Block
This season saw a lot of teams accelerate their rebuilds to new heights. In the AL, the Orioles made a massive jump, finishing with the best record in the entire league — a steep climb from their 2022 campaign. The Rangers flurry of moves over the past couple of years paid off, as well, as they finished with the second-best record in the AL.
In the National league, there were a lot of familiar teams, but the Diamondbacks and Marlins each found their way back into October baseball. The Reds and Cubs were also in the race throughout the year, but barely missed the cut.
Seeing all these new teams in the playoffs will be very exciting. We’ll see if any of them can pull off an upset.
Will the Twins Finally Win a Playoff Game?
Ready for an absolutely flabbergasting stat? The Minnesota Twins have lost their last 18 MLB playoffs games! Their last playoff win came in 2004, against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Minnesota doesn’t seem like the biggest threat right now. Although they won their division, Minnesota’s 87-75 record would leave them sitting out of the playoffs if they were in the Wild Card race. Because of this, the Blue Jays will come into Minnesota looking like the favorite to win the series. The Twins will have home field advantage, though.
This year might not be the easiest, but it seems like a decent chance for Minnesota to end this drought.
Will This be the Year the Braves Dynasty Starts to Take Over?
The Braves underwent a massive rebuild over half a decade ago, and it’s already reaped some massive rewards. Atlanta made two straight NLDS appearances in 2018-19, and nearly beat the Dodgers in the 2020 NLCS. They followed that up with a World Series title in 2021.
After a disappointing exit in 2022, Atlanta looks like the clear #1 threat for the World Series crown right now. They look dominant in nearly every way, and should be easy favorites in the NL. If they win a World Series this year, could this be the beginning of a dynasty?