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(Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
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MLB Postseason Predictions

October Baseball is here. The postseason field is set, and the Wild Card Series kicks off on Tuesday, October 3rd. With the expanded field of 12 coming into play for the second year, there are more teams that have a chance to win it all. Four teams have received first round byes (The Braves, Dodgers, Astros, and Orioles), with the remaining 8 teams playing in the best-of-three WC Series. Following the conclusion of the WC Series, the American League Division Series (ALDS) and the National League Division Series (NLDS) begin on Saturday October 7th. The American League Championship Series (ALCS) begins on Sunday October 15, and the National League Championship Series (NLCS) starts on Monday October 16, with the World Series rolling out on Friday October 27. For these postseason predictions, we will be predicting which teams will win the American League and National League pennants, and which team will take it all home in 2023. 

Ethan Ignatovsky 

American League pennant winner: Toronto Blue Jays

Most people expect the best regular season teams to go on and make the World Series, but that’s not how things always work out. Anything can, and will, happen in October baseball. Of course, it makes the most sense to pick a team like the Astros to make it all the way through the American League bracket and into the World Series, but if there is going to be an upset, the Toronto Blue Jays have a great shot at being the team to do it. The team from up north has had a bit of a disappointing season, their offense wasn’t as good as was expected, but it was by no means bad. The Toronto bats were tied for fifth in the American League in wRC+, fourth in walks, and were the third best at balls in play. Brandon Belt, a two time World Series winner, and George Springer, a former World Series MVP, bring not only playoff experience, but success as well to the lineup. Matt Chapman, Dualton Varsho, Kevin Keirmaier and Alejandro Kirk are some of the best defenders at their positions and it makes sense that FanGraphs shows them to be the second best defending team in the American League. They also have extremely underrated pitching, holding the second best ERA in the league and the fifth best FIP. 

As for who they’ll have to go through, the Minnesota Twins don’t pose too much of a threat with their middling offense. In the ALDS they’ll have to make it through the Astros, and conventional thinking would back Houston. However, many said the same about Atlanta and Philadelphia a year ago. While the Phillies gashed the Braves with their power, the Blue Jays can overcome an underperforming Astros pitching staff. Finally, in the ALCS, whether it be an inexperienced Baltimore Orioles team or a Texas Rangers squad with fifth worst bullpen ERA in the AL (4.77), I’ll back the Jays. Tampa could pose more issues, but seeing a team double-digit times will keep the Rays from springing anything on Toronto. With the Rays suffering injuries throughout the roster, Toronto would get the edge in that matchup.

National League pennant winner: Atlanta Braves

I know I was just supporting the underdogs in the Toronto Blue Jays, but I really can’t see who else could make it out of the National League besides the Atlanta Braves. They have the best offense in the NL by a wide margin, leading in home runs and wRC+, nine points ahead of the second closest team. Their lineup is like murderers row, with the NL home run leader in Matt Olson, the OPS+ and stolen base leader in Ronald Acuna Jr, as well as All-Stars Ozzie Albies, Sean Murphy, Austin Riley, Marcell Ozuna and Michael Harris II. All but two of their everyday players have an OPS+ of over 110. Their pitching might not be top of their league like the offense, but it’s definitely not a hinder. The pitching staff is second in the NL in FIP and they strike their opponents out more than any other team in the league. They play winning baseball and have experience at this stage with six consecutive playoff appearances, including the 2021 championship. 

The Braves receive a first round bye due to owning the best record in the NL. In the NLDS they’ll play either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Miami Marlins. Last year the Phillies knocked the Braves out of the playoffs, and while that could very well happen again, this Braves offense is just too powerful this year. If it’s Miami, then their pitching might be able to keep it close, but their offense is pitiful compared to the Braves. In the NLCS, they’ll play either the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, or the Milwaukee Brewers. If it is either the D-Backs or the Brewers it should be a mismatch that favors the Braves in sheer talent alone. The most likely opponent is the Dodgers, who have struggled to finish the job in the playoffs recently. Yes, they won the 2020 World Series and I’m not trying to take that away from them, but in a 162 game regular season year they have not been able to win a World Series despite having some of the most talented players in the game in recent years. For these reasons, Atlanta is the overwhelming favorite to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.

World Series winner: Atlanta Braves

In the World Series, in five games, I believe the Atlanta Braves will win. This goes back to my opinion that the Braves are just too dominant, their offense looks unstoppable, and while I do think the Blue Jays pitching is extremely good, it won’t be enough to stop Atlanta’s offense.

Brooklyn Cohen

American League Pennant Winner: Baltimore Orioles

On paper, this should be the obvious pick. The Baltimore Orioles finished the regular season with the best record in the American League, and the second best record across MLB. Despite only finishing the season with a two-game lead over the second place Rays, the Orioles maintained a strong pace all season. However, they will have to contend with the Houston Astros, who are a perennial powerhouse team. Also, the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays, one of whom the Orioles will play in the ALDS, could put pressure on the Orioles. But, with the production from Adley Rutschman, Ryan O’Hearn, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, and Gunnar Henderson, as well as strong pitching, they appear to have the tools needed to take down any of those teams. The Orioles split their season series with the Astros, split with the Rangers, and took the season series from the Rays 8-5. I think the team is strong enough to overcome any fight put up by any other team, and has the emotional motivation that just might push them over the edge. This is a club that lost 110 games just two seasons ago, and managed to turn it all around, now having a chance to quiet all the doubters and prove that their success this season was legitimate. 

National League Pennant Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

For the first time in a while, the Dodgers aren’t entering the postseason as the favorites. That title belongs to the Atlanta Braves, and for good reason. The Braves won 104 games and have an absolutely stacked lineup. If the Dodgers and Braves make it to the NLCS, it will be an electric series. Although they lost 4 of 7 games to the Braves this season, I think the Dodgers have the tools to top the Braves and claim the NL pennant. Not coming into the postseason as the favorites might actually help the Dodgers this year. After multiple seasons of being the favorites and falling short (included, but not limited to 2022- NLDS loss to the Padres, 2021- NLCS loss to the Braves, 2019- NLCS loss to the Nationals, 2018- World Series loss to the Red Sox, and 2017- World Series loss to the Astros), it’s time for the Dodgers to beat the favorites and prove all the doubters wrong. This Dodgers team wasn’t supposed to come in first in the NL West, and they did (with a 16 game lead over the second place D-Backs). They weren’t supposed to win more than 90 games, but they did (100 games won). The team defied the expectations for their season, relying heavily on the 1-2 punch of Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, along with the amazing seasons from J.D. Martinez, Will Smith and Max Muncy, James Outman and Jason Heyward. Although the pitching has been their weak spot all season, as they only have one starting pitcher on the roster who broke Spring Training, they got outstanding rookie production from the likes of Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan, the former of which will likely be the NLDS Game 2 starter. This team isn’t as strong up-and-down the lineup as they have been in the past, but that’s okay. They have the tools needed to upset their competition. I think it’ll take 6 or 7 games, but the Dodgers can top the Braves and take another trip to the World Series, their fourth in the last seven years. 

World Series Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

In the potential World Series matchup of the Orioles and Dodgers, I see the Dodgers downing the Orioles pretty handedly. The Dodgers won the season series against the Orioles, winning two out of three games at Camden Yards. The Dodgers have the tools and the experience to put away any threat the Orioles may pose. In a year that they weren’t the favorites, I think the Dodgers have all that they need to take home another World Series trophy. 

Noah Chavez

American League Pennant Winner: Houston Astros

Experience is the name of the game come playoff time, and in the AL, no team has more of it than the Houston Astros.  After the Texas Rangers held the top spot in the AL West, a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the final days of the season helped Houston clinch their sixth division title in the last seven years.  Although the team has been filled with inconsistent performances throughout the year from some of their stars, they did just enough to earn a bye into the American League Division Series.  Offensively, they have two of the best hitters in the game in Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker, and with the late-season resurgence of José Abreu, the Astros look to have a lethal lineup heading into October.  Even with a pitching staff filled with a lot of youth, Justin Verlander has been performing well down the stretch, sporting a 7-3 record since his mid-season reunion with Houston.  While closer Ryan Pressly has not looked like his usual dominant self in the last few months, he has plenty of familiarity with the bright lights of the playoffs, as does Bryan Abreu and Hector Neris.  

After the late-season snatch of the AL West title, Houston will get some much needed rest before their first playoff series against either Minnesota or Toronto.  While the Blue Jays may have enough to sneak by the AL Central-winning Twins, Houston would simply out-hit Toronto in an offensive-filled ALDS.  On the other half of the AL bracket, Baltimore has been the class of the AL all year long, but the lack of playoff experience will hinder them.  A five-game series against either Texas or Tampa Bay is certainly winnable, but eventually, the youth-filled team may finally meet their match once they face Houston.  Even with home-field advantage in a possible ALCS matchup, the Orioles might still be a year away from a World Series appearance.

National League Pennant Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

Even after experiencing numerous key injuries along the way, the Los Angeles Dodgers still managed to win 100 games and finish with the second-most runs scored in all of baseball.  All offseason long the Dodgers had their doubters, with the up-and-coming Padres looking like World Series favorites, but L.A. has proved yet again that they are the class of the division.  Clearly, the Atlanta Braves will be the toughest task for this Dodgers team, but L.A. lot different from the past years.  Mookie Betts is having his best full season since his trade from Boston, while Freddie Freeman has been scorching hot all year.  This veteran heavy lineup sees J.D. Martinez and Max Muncy as the biggest power threats in the heart of the order, and rookie James Outman has been electric ever since his poor performances in the months of May and June.  The pitching will be the biggest question mark, but young starters Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan have risen to the occasion since their call-ups.  Buoyed by eventual first-ballot Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles has a lot of confidence in the arms that they have and will look to get their second World Series title in the last four years.

Although an exciting NL West division showdown between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers would make for an interesting NLDS, the Milwaukee Brewers have a strong pitching staff that can mow down any lineup and will look to do so against Arizona, even without Brandon Woodruff for the first round.  L.A. might not have the pitching talent that the Brewers have, but the clear offensive advantage will help the Dodgers make their sixth NLCS in the past eight seasons. They likely will see a rematch of their 2020 and 2021 NLCS opponents, the Atlanta Braves, who have outpaced every other team in baseball all year long.  Either the Marlins or Phillies will have a tough time taking a series against Atlanta, but if the injuries of Charlie Morton and Max Fried continue to linger, it may be just the edge that the Dodgers need to head back to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2020.

World Series Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

Six years removed from the 2017 seven-game thriller, the Dodgers can finally get their revenge, this time beating the Astros in six games.  The offense will show out against the shaky and exhausted Houston pitching staff, while Freddie Freeman continues his spectacular season and caps it off with a World Series MVP.

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