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Picking teams to root for in the 2023 playoffs

The Mets didn’t come close to making the playoffs, but some playoff outcomes would be preferable to others.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

The 2023 Mets didn’t come close to making the playoffs, and if you’re tuning out entirely, we get it. But there are certain playoff outcomes that are more desirable than others given the field of twelve teams that are in these playoffs, which are set to begin today with Game 1 of the Wild Card round. Let’s run through all of the options briefly here.

The fun

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles lost 110 games just two years ago, and while their ownership situation leaves a lot to be desired from a fan’s perspective, the players on the field had a completely unexpected 101-win season. They have a few young hitters who were excellent this season, and after giving Kyle Gibson the Opening Day start, their pitching staff wound up featuring four starters who were better than Gibson in ERA. Kyle Bradish was the standout there, finishing third in the American League with a 2.83 ERA. Presumably he’ll get the start in Game 1 of the ALDS, which will feature the Orioles thanks to the bye they earned.

Minnesota Twins: Thursday marks the 19-year mark since the Twins’ last win in a playoff game. They also haven’t won a playoff series since they advanced to the ALCS in 2002. With the Yankees having failed to make the playoffs, they might have a chance here, and the Mets and Twins have shared the careers of Johan Santana, Bartolo Colón, Michael Cuddyer, Trevor May, Doug Mientkiewicz, Mike Pelfrey, and Carlos Gomez, among others. Carlos Correa has struggled mightily this year following the winter saga that almost saw him join the Mets, but Royce Lewis will get to play, albeit in a limited capacity, in the Wild Card round. Long a highly-touted prospect, he was outstanding when healthy this season and was something of a master of the grand slam.

Toronto Blue Jays: Did you know that Brandon Belt spent this season playing for the Blue Jays? He hit really well for them, too. There weren’t any standout hitters here, but Toronto features a bunch of players who were above league average by wRC+ this year, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. Old friend Chris Bassitt fared well in his first season north of the border, and if you were among the Mets fans who strongly preferred that the team sign Kevin Gausman before the 2022 season, well, this is where he’s pitching now.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks lost 110 games in 2021 and went just 74-88 last year, but they would be a fun Cinderella team in these playoffs. Corbin Carroll had an excellent rookie season, Ketel Marte had his healthiest and best season since 2019, and Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly were very good starting pitchers. Arizona hasn’t won a playoff series since 2007. Tommy Pham netted the Mets a prospect at the deadline and has been getting regular playing time since he landed in Arizona.

Milwaukee Brewers: David Stearns runs the Mets now, but he was very involved in building the Brewers’ team that is making its fifth playoff appearance in the last six years, even with his decision to step down as president of baseball operations following the 2022 season. Corbin Burnes wasn’t quite on the Cy Young level this year, but he’s one of the better pitchers in the game. Christian Yelich had a nice season, hitting 19 home runs and stealing 28 bases. And perhaps most importantly, Mark Canha is on the roster, and he’s put up a 120 wRC+ since the Mets traded him to Milwaukee.

The acceptable

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are still very much the Rays. $/WAR shouldn’t be the main goal of a sports season, but what the Rays are able to get out of their roster given the constraints with which they choose to operate is impressive.

Texas Rangers: Jacob deGrom’s absence makes the Rangers a lot less appealing from the perspective of a Mets fan, and even Max Scherzer isn’t likely to throw a pitch in the playoffs unless the team makes it pretty deep into these playoffs. Like the Orioles, they lost over 100 games just two years ago, and just last year, they lost 94 games. Corey Seager might have been the best hitter in baseball this year when healthy.

The somewhat annoying

Miami Marlins: The Marlins’ history of spoiling things for the Mets is what makes them annoying here. It’s kind of funny that they finally weren’t picked by experts to have a good season this year and then wound up having one. If you were told that an NL East team absolutely had to win it all this year, though, they’d be the preferred choice.

The ‘enough already’

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers churned out another very successful season, and Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman led the away at the plate. Clayton Kershaw was still very good when he took the mound, and Bobby Miller stepped up and became the Dodgers’ second best start this year. Dustin May got off to a great start but suffered a season-ending injury fairly early on, and Noah Syndergaard started the season in the rotation but struggled mightily before getting traded to Cleveland for fellow former Met Amed Rosario. Starting pither Julio Urías is on administrative leave following an arrest for alleged domestic violence, which means he’s not participating in these playoffs.

Houston Astros: Much of the team that was involved in baseball’s most significant cheating scandal in recent memory has moved on, and a bunch of people who were involved in that scheme are playing or working throughout the league. Yordan Alvarez wasn’t around for that scandal and is among the best hitters in baseball, but the Astros won the World Series last year. Combined with their tainted 2017 title, that makes them one of just four teams to win the World Series two or more times this century.

The disastrous

Philadelphia Phillies: The Mets’ rivalry with the Phillies hasn’t been nearly as intense ever since the Ryan Howard/Chase Utley era ended in Philly. But the easy-to-hate Bryce Harper is on the roster, they’re still the Phillies, and seeing Zack Wheeler succeed wouldn’t really offset the rest of the experience.

Atlanta Braves: No explanation is really needed here. The Braves winning it all is the worst-case scenario.


Who’s your team in the 2023 playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Baltimore Orioles
    (56 votes)
  • 0%
    Houston Astros
    (0 votes)
  • 6%
    Minnesota Twins
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    Tampa Bay Rays
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    Texas Rangers
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Toronto Blue Jays
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    Atlanta Braves
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Philadelphia Phillies
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Miami Marlins
    (0 votes)
  • 11%
    Milwaukee Brewers
    (15 votes)
  • 3%
    Arizona Diamondbacks
    (4 votes)
  • 10%
    (14 votes)
130 votes total Vote Now