Keep an eye out for these five teams in 2023.
This year’s expanded postseason produced some fantastic stories, from the Mariners finally breaking their postseason drought (21 years) to the Phillies riding their first playoff berth since 2011 all the way to the World Series. However, an expanded postseason raises expectations: With so many teams in the playoffs, it’s probably best if your team doesn’t spend too much time looking in. Playoff droughts of more than two decades, such as the one Seattle is currently experiencing, are unlikely to occur again.
So, as we enter a new offseason, we look at five teams that missed the playoffs this year but appear poised to make a significant run at them in 2023. They may have come up short this year, but the signs are promising for next year. What they do this offseason has the potential to put them over the top.
You could really go with either the Brewers or the Cubs here, the two National League Central teams that seem primed to contend in 2023 that aren’t the Cardinals, but the Cubs will need to make some aggressive offseason moves to make this list. As usual, the Brewers are the favorite due to their pitching. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, and Freddy Peralta are a formidable foursome on their own, and keep in mind that all four are still under 30 years old. Despite the disappointment of the Josh Hader trade, the bullpen remains strong, led by Devin Williams.
The offense is the question, as it always is with the Brewers. While Christian Yelich may be who he is right now (good OBP, not much power), they’ve demonstrated an ability to find value in veteran hitters, particularly power hitters like Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe. The new balanced schedule for 2023, however, means they won’t have a disproportionate number of games against the Reds and Pirates to boost their record. However, someone has to win this division, and if it isn’t the Cardinals, the Brewers appear to be the best bet. But let’s wait and see what the Cubs do, if anything.
Are the Giants the most intriguing offseason team? The Giants are a team with a massive fan base in a massive market, with an extremely intelligent front office and a long history of winning, that is coming off a disappointing season and is highly motivated to make a big splash this offseason… and, for what it’s worth, has quite a few gaps to fill. The main question is whether they can persuade Aaron Judge (born and raised in Northern California) to come out west, but even if they can’t, they should be able to sway just about everyone else.
They need to get younger and more athletic, and there could be plenty of free-agent shortstops to choose from. More to the point, attendance at Oracle Park was down this year, and it appears that the Padres have surpassed the Giants in their pursuit of the dreaded rival Dodgers. Two years ago, the Giants won 107 games. This is a team that wants to win. The Giants appear to be willing to go to any length to ensure that they do so in 2023.
Yes, it is time. The patience of Orioles fans over the last half-decade began to pay off in 2022 (the Orioles finished three games out of the playoffs! ), and it should all pay off in 2023. They’ll have Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson for the entire season, and that’s just the beginning. Grayson Rodriguez will be in the rotation soon, and the Orioles could add another starter or two: General manager Mike Elias has stated that now is the time to make some big moves.
The Orioles arrived in baseball like a freight train in 2022, and, like the Astros and Cubs in 2015, the years in the wilderness appear to have been well worth it. The American League East remains a difficult division, but it is no longer as intimidating as it once was. The Rays appear shaky, the Yankees have a slew of problems, and the Red Sox… well, we’ll get to that in a minute. However, you could argue that the Orioles and Blue Jays are the best two teams in this division right now. This is the year that Orioles fans have been anticipating. It should be the first of many.
The Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are a team in transition, with free agent Xander Bogaerts potentially leaving a lineup that already appeared to have many holes. However, this is a team that is primed to be aggressive this offseason. The Sox will almost certainly have to be. There are some young players on the way, but most, with the exception of (hopefully) Triston Casas, aren’t quite ready. They are in need of outfielders, a shortstop, and starting pitchers. No need to worry! But these are the Red Sox, and they’re led by a front office that appears to have a lot to prove to their fan base.
A last-place finish, as the only team in the division with a losing record, should motivate the Red Sox to be more aggressive in the offseason. There are some parallels to the Giants here: a team with a disgruntled fan base but a savvy front office that needs to turn heads and get people excited. The Red Sox can get there.
The White Sox
The vibes for the White Sox in 2022 were negative from the start. They were plagued by injuries, Tony La Russa struggled with his health and seemed to be under constant scrutiny, and their fans spent the majority of the season hoping for a turnaround that never came. At the very least, the end of 2022 is the best news White Sox fans could ask for. But there’s even more reason to be optimistic. This year’s lineup should be healthier, and the White Sox should get a useful addition in outfield prospect Oscar Colas, who finished a fantastic season in the Minors by hitting.387 for a week in Triple-A.
The rotation is deeper than that of most teams, and they should be able to add strategically if necessary. And it’s not like the AL Central is getting stronger. Someone will be able to take advantage of the majority of the teams in this division spinning their wheels. It was Cleveland last year. This time, it could be the White Sox. The vibes must be much better.