The MLB 2023 playoffs are shaping up to be even more interesting this year, as there will be 12 teams competing instead of the usual 10. As summer winds down and we approach the Major League Baseball playoffs (starting October 3), things are looking good if you’re an Atlanta Braves fan.
Of course, having the best overall team is hardly a guarantee of playoff success. A look back at the 2006 World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals (5th best in the National League that year) is a good reminder that anything can happen.
Here’s a look at some of the teams to pay attention to heading into October 2023.
Your Best Bets for October
The Atlanta Braves
Atlanta is one of the most consistent teams in the league, having dominated the National League’s East Division since 2018 (they won the World Series in 2021). This year, the hitting power of Sean Murphy and Matt Olson have contributed to one of the most impressive batting squads in franchise history. Not only are they heading into October leading the way in on-base percentage, OPS, and home runs (seven players with over 20 home runs this season), but that scoring power is bolstered defensively on the mound with Spencer Strider leading the NL in ERA.
Last year’s World Series champs are heading into October with a robust roster of heavy hitters, including Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez. With the arm of Justin Verlander (2022 Cy Young winner) and a deep lineup of starters like Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier, the Astros are well-stacked. The Astros may not be your favourite team, but there’s no denying their talent.
Los Angeles Dodgers
When it comes to hitting power, look no further than the pairing of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. The team has established itself as a powerful contender that has been gaining momentum since the All-Star break. Many insiders believe this may be the team that can take down the mighty Braves. However, it remains to be seen whether their young bullpen can provide the necessary defense to win the final game of the World Series.
As the only MLB team never to make the World Series, could 2023 be Seattle’s lucky year? The team has shortened the odds significantly in recent weeks and is only getting stronger. Seemingly inspired by the outstanding play of star center fielder Julio Rodríguez and pitchers Luis Castillo, George Kirby, and Logan Gilbert (all top 10 for ERA in the American League), the club seems to be firing all cylinders at the best possible time.
With four players selected to the starting lineup of this year’s All-Star game, including Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Josh Jung, and Jonah Heim, the Texas Rangers have the right mix of young and veteran talent for an extended postseason run. Dependable players like first baseman Nathaniel Lowe (the 2022 Louisville Silver Slugger Award recipient) and outfielder Adolis García round out a team that could go all the way.
Tampa Bay Rays
Despite a rough patch in July, Tampa Bay has proven they know how to win. However, the team has suffered major losses in the pitching department due to the injuries sustained by Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs, and Shane McClanahan. Does the team have the support it needs to make the most of a wild card spot? Only time will tell.
Sitting atop the American League East Division, the Orioles dugout is filled with talented young players with the potential to go the distance. Hitters like Anthony Santander and rookies Adley Rutschman (an MVP contender) and Gunnar Henderson have all proven their worth during the regular season.
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