Five non-playoff teams who could make leap, including Carlos Correa and the Twins

MLB Playoffs 2023 format, key dates, predictions,MLB postseason predictions

As Major League Baseball’s exhibition season draws near, baseball enthusiasts are eagerly waiting for the upcoming predictions from experts who attempt to predict the future of the sport. This is when people start analyzing the various factors that could influence the game and make predictions about the teams that will succeed or fail in the playoffs. In this week’s discussion, we will focus on identifying the teams likely to experience a shift in their fortunes, either positively or negatively, during the playoffs.
Although the new playoff format is too new to make a definitive assessment of the year-to-year turnover rate, historical data reveals that it was common for at least three and up to five teams to drop out of the playoffs each year. While it is uncertain if this trend will continue in the future, for now, we will use this as a guide.
Considering this, we have compiled a list of the top five teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season but are most likely to qualify this year. We’ve ranked these teams based on their perceived likelihood and provided a summary of what happened to them last year, why this year could be different, and what the top projection systems (PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus, ZiPS from FanGraphs, and SportsLine) predict for their chances.

1. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins
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What happened in 2022: Last season, the Minnesota Twins were at the top of the American League Central division for over 100 days, even holding the lead in September. However, their season ended on a sour note, losing 8 out of their last 10 series, resulting in a third-place finish with 78 wins.

 Reason for optimism in 2023: Carlos Correa, who previously had an outstanding season leading the Minnesota Twins in OPS+, unexpectedly returns to the team. The rotation, which ranked 19th in ERA last season, is expected to improve with the addition of Pablo López and Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda expected to play full seasons after their acquisitions last year. Injuries play a significant role in a team’s success, and it’s generally expected that teams who were either extremely lucky or unlucky in this aspect will eventually even out. While the Twins have players like Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis, who have a history of missing games, it’s hard to ignore that they had the second-highest number of injured player days in the league last year. While there’s still a chance of injuries this year, it’s reasonable to assume that the Twins will have a better injury record than last year, which could improve their chances of success.

Over the last three years, the AL Central division has always seen a new victor. This year, both PECOTA and ZiPS are betting on the Twins to take the crown with projected win totals of 88 and 83, respectively. With such favourable predictions, Minnesota seems poised to continue the trend of new champions in the division. However, according to SportsLine, the Twins have only a 20.7% chance of making it to the postseason, so the road to victory may be somewhat smoother.

2. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers team

What happened in 2022: Despite winning the highest number of games in the National League (86), the Brewers were unable to secure a spot in the postseason last year. This unfortunate reality brought an end to their impressive streak of four consecutive playoff berths, which was a record for the franchise. After the season, the team’s top executive, David Stearns, decided to step down from his position. Although his departure came shortly after the season’s end, it’s been said that the decision was not related to the team’s postseason results.

Reason for optimism in 2023: Despite the departure of their top executive, David Stearns, the Brewers don’t seem to be hitting the reset button just yet. They held on to key players such as shortstop Willy Adames and pitchers Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, although there have been some minor issues with Burnes regarding his contract. The team did make some moves, letting go of productive hitters Hunter Renfroe and Kolten Wong, and bringing in newcomers Jesse Winker and William Contreras to fill the void. The Brewers also have a promising crop of young players, including Brice Turang and Garrett Mitchell, who are expected to start the year on the big-league roster. There are even more quality prospects waiting in the wings, like Sal Frelick and Jackson Chourio, who could potentially make their debut later in the season. While the Chicago Cubs have improved this offseason, the NL Central is still expected to be a two-team race, according to experts. PECOTA and ZiPS both predict the Brewers to be strong contenders, with projected win totals of 88 and 84, respectively. SportsLine gives the Brewers a decent chance of making the postseason, with odds of 52.8%.

3. Los Angeles Angels

3. Los Angeles Angels
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What happened in 2022: The Angels continue to struggle, having missed the postseason for eight years in a row now. To make matters worse, they have yet to win a single season when Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout have been on their roster. Despite the incredible talent on their team, they have been unable to translate it into success on the field.

Reason for optimism in 2023: The Los Angeles Angels have again entered the new season with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout in their lineup. These two players are expected to give them a significant advantage over other teams. The team’s General Manager, Perry Minasian, was busy during the winter trying to assemble a competent supporting cast around the two stars. This offseason, Minasian brought in Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Drury, and Gio Urshela to beef up the team’s batting lineup and Tyler Anderson and Carlos Estévez to bolster the pitching staff. However, despite these efforts, whether the team can turn things around this season remains unclear. The Angels have been accustomed to disappointment in recent years, leaving fans wondering whether this season will be any different. Nevertheless, there is some hope for improvement. Teams that performed poorly or well in one-run games are typically expected to balance out the following year, and the Angels had one of the worst records in one-run games last season, suggesting they could improve in this area.

As the Angels enter Ohtani’s walk season, there’s a sense of optimism that this could finally be the year they break their postseason drought. Projection systems like PECOTA and ZiPS see them improving from last year, with PECOTA even projecting them to finish second in the AL West with 86 wins. SportsLine gives them a 21.1% chance of making the postseason, so it’s still a bit of a long shot, but there’s reason to believe this could be a better year for the Angels.

4. Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers team
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What happened in 2022: After signing top free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last winter, the Rangers had high expectations but ultimately underperformed with a disappointing fourth-place finish and a 68-94 record. As a result, both the general manager, Jon Daniels, and the skipper, Chris Woodward, were let go.

Reason for optimism in 2023: After a disappointing season, the Rangers were determined to make some changes during the winter. They brought in Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and Jake Odorizzi while keeping Martín Pérez in the mix to bolster their starting rotation – which was ranked sixth-worst in the league. While there are concerns about potential injury risks among the new additions, the Rangers hope to rely on some of their top prospects, such as Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, Cole Winn, and Owen White, to add some depth. Additionally, the Rangers had a stroke of bad luck last season, winning nine fewer games than they should have based on FanGraphs’ BaseRuns metric. This suggests that the Rangers could be in for a better season this year, especially considering that teams with this kind of misfortune often perform better the following year.

Despite a busy offseason, the Rangers might still be a long shot for a playoff spot. They acquired several pitchers, including Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and Jake Odorizzi, to address the sixth-worst rotation in baseball, and kept Martín Pérez. They also have promising prospects in Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, Cole Winn, and Owen White to bolster their depth. The Rangers were the unluckiest team last season, according to FanGraphs’ BaseRuns, winning nine fewer games than expected. However, despite the improvements, projection systems like ZiPS and PECOTA have them winning around 78 to 83 games, placing them in third or fourth place in the division. SportsLine gives them a 26.7% chance of making the postseason.

MLB spring training schedule 2023

5. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles team
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What happened in 2022: The Orioles pleasantly surprised everyone with a successful season earlier than anticipated. Their young talent and ability to recognize underappreciated players and modifications made to the left-field wall (nicknamed “Waltimore”) contributed to their achievements. They won 83 games, which is the most they have won since 2016, and came close to clinching a wild-card spot.

Reason for optimism in 2023: The Orioles are relying on their young talent, with Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, and Colton Cowser expected to contribute this season. Returning lefty starter John Means over the summer will also strengthen their rotation. While the Orioles made few moves in the offseason, their ability to find and develop underappreciated players has been impressive. However, projection systems aren’t optimistic, with PECOTA and ZiPS predicting a decline and a last-place finish. SportsLine also gives Baltimore a low 4.4% chance of making the playoffs.

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