Why they can: There’s no denying the talent this Yankees team possesses. From Aaron Judge having a historic season, to Gerritt Cole finally looking like Gerritt Cole again - they have the pieces to make a deep October run. A team that lives and dies by the home run has the ability to out-slug every other postseason team in the MLB. The Yankees haven’t reached the World Series since 2009 — something Yankees fans are not used to and something that every baseball fan anticipates changing.
Why they can’t: With the exception of Aaron Judge’s season, this year was a major disappointment for the Yankees. After starting out with a 56-21 record through June, the Yanks looked like the best team in baseball. Follow that up with a 23-31 record in July and August, that quickly changed. This team is so one-dimensional on offense and if they don’t hit home runs they lose. Cold October air and some of the best arms going against them in the playoffs will make it tough to stick to what they’ve done all season.
Something a pessimistic Yankees fan would say: “This team over-performed this season. We saw who they really were in July and August and that was clearly not a World Series team. If this team wins it all this year, I’ll give up gabagool for the rest of my life!”
Why they can: Probably the most surprising playoff team this season. ESPN gave the Guardians a projected record of 77-85 with a 15% chance of making the playoffs. All they did was go out and own the AL Central with a record of 92-70, finishing 11 games above the highly favored White Sox. They are also coming off two marathon wins against the Rays where their starting pitching shined. The Guardians, who have the youngest average age of players in the MLB, have made doubters eat their words all season long and in the playoffs, all you need is a little chip on your shoulder to make a run.
Why they can’t: No one expected this team to be THIS good. Sure, they played in the worst division in baseball and got to beat up on some bad teams like Detroit and Kansas City, but there are no teams like that in the playoffs. They get to face the Yankees in the ALDS - a team they went 1-5 against this season… Yikes.
What a pessimistic Guardians fan might say: “Still not in love with the name. It’s gonna take some getting used to. Oh, you want to talk about playoffs? Yeah, we don’t stand a chance.”
Why they can: THE LONGEST PLAYOFF DROUGHT IN MAJOR AMERICAN SPORTS IS OVER. But the job isn’t finished for the Mariners. The Mariners have the 5th youngest roster in all of the MLB and these youngsters can PLAY. They bolstered the rotation in the offseason adding 2021 Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and again at the trade deadline, acquiring Luis Castillo from the Reds. Don’t sleep on the Mariners - a very likable team with a very exciting style of play. That exciting style of play was showcased when the M's overcame an 8-1 deficit to knock off the Blue Jays and advance past the Wild Card round. They take on the Astros in what will sure be an exciting series.
Why they can’t: As mentioned before… THESE GUYS ARE YOUNG. The bright lights and added postseason pressure may be too much for some of these players who just became old enough to legally buy a beer over the last calendar year. They also get the Astros in the ALDS, a team that has had their number all season long and is believed by many to be the best team in the American League.
Something a pessimistic fan might say: “We ended the drought, we beat the Jays…. Let’s not get greedy”
Why they can: Houston is determined to win a title that is not tainted by scandal and cheating claims. They have quieted the doubters all season long, recording their 4th 100+ win season in the last 5 years. Their two best hitters come in two totally different sizes, with Yordan Álvarez coming in at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, and José Altuve coming in at a whopping 5-foot-6, 165 pounds. They placed second and fourth in OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) respectively across the entire league in 2022. They also get the Mariners in the ALDS, a team they went 12-7 against in the regular season.
Why they can't: Let’s be honest, the last thing any baseball fan wants to see is the Astros win it all in 2022. With the entire baseball world rooting against them, its hard to imagine the baseball gods letting this team have a parade come November. Not to mention, their best pitcher is almost 40 and has a career 5.68 ERA when pitching in World Series games.
Something a pessimistic Astros fan might say: "Ugh idk about this year. We don’t have any trash cans or buzzers… WE’RE DOOMED!”
Why they can: The Phillies have a lineup that instills fear in every Major League pitching staff. Harper, Schwarber, Castellanos, Realmuto, Hoskins, I mean they are STACKED. Their rotation is nothing to sneeze at either. Headlined by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, that’s as good of a 1-2 punch as you could ask for. If not for injuries and managerial woes, this team could’ve competed for an NL East title but will settle for a wild card to clinch their first postseason appearance since 2011. After sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis in the Wild Card series, the Phillies are set to square off with NL East division foes Atlanta Braves - a team they are very familiar with playing.
Why they can’t: Much like the Blue Jays, the Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi during the middle of the 2022 season. Girardi and his experience managing ball games in October is something I’m sure Philly fans would want as their team takes on a veteran Braves team who won it all last season. Also… when is the last time a Philadelphia sports team went to any sort of championship or Finals?? That city has had some tough luck in the playoffs in recent years
Something a pessimistic fan would say: “We might not get a World Series but the Super Bowl and NBA Championship is as good as ours! Have you seen Jalen Hurts and the birds? M-V-P!! Also Embiid and Harden are the modern-day Kareem and Magic! Mark my words!”
Why they can: I mean… did you see how they quite literally stole the NL East from the Mets? This might be the hottest team in baseball, and not just over the past week or so. Since the start of June, Atlanta has gone 78-34… that’s just ridiculous. The Braves will look to become the first team to win back-to-back World Series since the Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000.
Why they can't: The Phillies await the Braves in the second round of the playoffs and Atlanta hasn’t necessarily dominated that team over the regular season, losing 8 of 19 games against their division rival. Even if they make it out of that round, the Dodgers will most likely be waiting for them in the NLCS. The road to the ring is much tougher this year than last.
Something a pessimistic Braves fan would say: “Eh we got ‘em last year and we got the NL East from those Mets. And they aren't even in the playoffs anymore! This season was a win in my book. I don’t see us making it out of the NLCS. I mean, have you seen those Dodgers?”
Why they can: Everyone knows what the Padres did at the trade deadline this year. They blew up the farm and acquired names like Juan Soto, Josh Hader, Brandon Drury, Josh Bell - I mean the list goes on. All those transactions were for this purpose. Sure the Padres might have “snuck” into the playoff picture, making their first playoff appearance since 2006, but with the level of talent on this team they can easily make a run to their first World Series appearance since 1998, and their first World Series championship in franchise history. Not to mention, they are coming off a series win against the favored New York Mets in which they looked VERY good. Great starting pitching and timely hitting is all you need to go deep into the postseason, and the Padres displayed what they can do over the weekend.
Why they can’t: Even after all the deadline deals, San Diego drastically underperformed, never really quite living up to the hype and expectation set on them. The major blow came when the face of their franchise Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs while rehabbing from injury, resulting is a suspension that will keep him sidelined until the middle of next year. They also take on the Dodgers in the next round - a team that is better on paper in every aspect. It’ll be an uphill battle for the Padres.
Something a pessimistic Padres fan might say: “Sure we beat the Mets, but the Dodgers Different story? Everyone who comes to San Diego regresses. Juan Soto has been absent, Josh Hader has been absent… except Machado. We love Machado. Maybe him and Tatis Jr. will actually play a full season together in 2023. Maybe.”
Why they can: The Dodgers have been the gold standard in baseball for the last decade or so, winning 10 straight division titles. They won 111 games (most in MLB) and have the highest run differential (+329) by any regular season team since the start of the divisional era (1969). They are the World Series favorites and have the shortest odds for a reason.
Why they can't: History is not on LA’s side. Dating back to the literal 1800s, only 5 MLB teams have surpassed 110 wins in the regular season. Only one of those teams went on to win the World Series (1998 Yankees). The Dodgers will prepare for the postseason for the 10th straight year, but only won the World Series once in that span, and it was a 60-game COVID-shortened season. That “Mickey Mouse” ring means a lot less when its your only won in the last 10 years despite making the playoffs literally every year.
Something a pessimistic Dodgers fan might say: "This team is built for the regular season. Postseason choke artists. What do you mean we have the shortest odds!?”