The exhibition season of Major League Baseball will formally begin in a few days. That indicates that the time of the spring when forecasters make predictions about anything and everything the sport has to offer is almost approaching. We’re attempting to predict which teams will have a change of fortune in the playoffs this week.
We know from the past that it was typical to see at least three and on average five teams tumble from the bracket. The new playoff system is still too young to draw conclusions regarding the average year-to-year change rate. Although there is no assurance that this will still be the case in the future, we will continue to follow this rule until we get additional proof.
In light of this, you’ll see our rating of the five non-playoff teams from the previous season that we think stand the best chance of making the field in October below. These teams are ranked according to perceived likelihood, and we’ve also provided a brief overview of what happened the previous year, some reasons why this year might be different, and what the best projection systems (Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA, FanGraphs’ ZiPS, and SportsLine) have to say about their chances.
1. Minnesota Twins
What happened in 2022:More than 100 days, including one night in September, saw the Twins share first position in the AL Central. On their way to 78 victories and a third-place finish, they went 2-8 in their final 10 series.
After an amazing first season in Minnesota, when he led the Twins in OPS+, Carlos Correa unexpectedly returned. Pablo López should help a staff that finished 19th in ERA last year, along with Tyler Mahle (acquired via the trade deadline) and Kenta Maeda receiving full seasons (Tommy John surgery). In terms of injuries, it’s typically safe to expect that teams that were extraordinarily lucky (or bad) in the health area will regress to the mean. The Twins could be considered an exception because they work with Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis. There is a lot of room between a spotless injury log and what they did last season, when they lost the second-most days to the IL of any club, as both players are prone to missing time. Additionally, after this winter, it’s difficult to ignore the possibility that Correa’s ankle will start to bother him.
What projection systems say: In each of the previous three years, a different champion of the AL Central was crowned. The Twins have a decent chance of continuing that streak according to PECOTA (88 wins, first place) and ZiPS (83 wins, tied for first). Minnesota has a 20.7% probability of making the postseason, according to SportsLine.
2. Milwaukee Brewers:
What happened in 2022: Among all the NL teams that did not go to the postseason, the Brewers won the most games (86). Their four-year string of straight postseason appearances, the longest in franchise history, was broken by that unpalatable truth. After the season, top executive David Stearns announced his resignation, ostensibly for unrelated reasons.
Reason for optimism in 2023: Stearns’ call was not interpreted by the Brewers as a cue to start over. They kept Willy Adames at shortstop, along with Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes as starters (although they later irritated Burnes over a little amount of money). They did move their two most productive hitters from last season, Hunter Renfroe and Kolten Wong, and they’ll try to replace their production with newcomers Jesse Winker and William Contreras. To their credit, the Brewers do have room for internal development. Brice Turang and Garrett Mitchell, two prospects, should begin the season on the big-league roster. The likes of top-five prospect Jackson Chourio and previous first-round pick Sal Frelick could also be promoted by Milwaukee at a later date. (Chourio is more likely a late-season arrival, if at all this year.) Although the Chicago Cubs made progress this offseason, the NL Central still appears to be a two-team fight.
What projection systems say: The Brewers are once more in the heart of the Central competition according to PECOTA and ZiPS. ZiPS predicts 84 victories and a second-place finish; the former predicts 88 victories and a division championship. Milwaukee has a 52.8% chance of making the postseason, according to SportsLine.
3. Los Angeles Angels
What happened in 2022: The Angels have now gone eight years without making the postseason. Furthermore, they have yet to record a winning campaign while using both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
Reason for optimism in 2023: Ohtani and Trout are still employed by the Angels, which is meant to give them a broader berth than the typical team. Perry Minasian, the general manager, tried to assemble a capable supporting cast once more over the winter. This time, it entailed putting Gio Urshela, Hunter Renfroe, and Brandon Drury in the starting order as well as adding Tyler Anderson and Carlos Estévez to the pitching staff. Will it be sufficient? That’s the never-ending query for a franchise that is used to giving “nope” as a response. Another reason to believe that things will get better is a tried-and-true statistical finding that teams that do particularly well or poorly in one-run games typically balance out the following year. Last season, the Angels played like a 63-win club in one-run games despite having one of the poorest records in the majors.
What projection systems say: The season of Ohtani’s walks could be this one. PECOTA projects the Angels to win 86 games and place second in the AL West, while ZiPS predicts 83 victories and third place. SportsLine assigns Los Angeles a 21.1% postseason probability.
4. Texas Rangers
What happened in 2022: The Rangers were let down by their winter spending after signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, two of the top free agents available. With a 68-94 record, Texas came in fourth place. Chris Woodward, the captain, and general manager Jon Daniels were fired.
Reason for optimism in 2023: Another hectic winter was the Rangers’ response to their disappointing season. In an effort to upgrade the sixth-worst rotation in baseball, they kept Martn Pérez and added Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and Jake Odorizzi. The Rangers may have more depth in the shape of top prospects Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, Cole Winn, and Owen White. Nevertheless, there is a lot of injury danger among those five pitchers (not to mention Jon Gray). Another thing to keep in mind is that the Rangers had the worst luck in the majors last year, winning nine fewer games than predicted. according to BaseRuns on FanGraphs. You’d be right to believe that teams with that kind of awful luck (and it’s not always simply luck) are likely to have a better season in the future.
What projection systems say: The Rangers are anticipated to significantly improve, which is wonderful news. The bad news is that they might not be able to qualify for their first postseason appearance since 2016. ZiPS predicts they will win 83 games; PECOTA predicts 78. Depending on your preferred situation, that would be either third or fourth place. L.A. has a 26.7% probability of making the postseason, according to SportsLine.
5. Baltimore Orioles
What happened in 2022: Because to a combination of their young talent that arrived earlier than anticipated, their skill for spotting and developing undervalued or untapped talent, and the modifications they made to the left-field wall, the Orioles were born a year earlier than anticipated (“Waltimore”). They ended just a few games behind the last wild-card slot with 83 wins, the highest for the team since 2016.
Reason for optimism in 2023: This season, additional gifted youths like Grayson Rodriguez and Colton Cowser, among others, are set to join Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. John Means, a left-handed starter, should return to the Orioles at some point this summer, improving their rotation. They took a passive approach to the offseason, signing just Kyle Gibson, Cole Irvin, Adam Frazier, and James McCann, so any expansion will have to come from within. Nonetheless, even if they left chicken on the bone this winter, it’s impossible to dismiss the core they’re establishing or their aforementioned ability to locate players on the cheap.
What projection systems say: The Orioles are predicted to regress and finish last by PECOTA (74 wins) and ZiPS (78 wins). In other words, if we had relied entirely on projections for this essay, the Boston Red Sox – not the Orioles – would have been one of these five clubs. Baltimore’s chances of making the postseason are 4.4%, according to SportsLine.