Champaign Central Chronicle

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Champaign Central Chronicle

Champaign Central Chronicle

MLB Playoffs: Take October

MLB Playoffs: Take October

The month of October is a special one, especially with the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs happening. The 6 best teams in the National and American leagues (NL and AL) clash to see who is the best in the world. In order to be considered one of the best teams, you gotta have some strengths, but no team is perfect, so here are the strengths and weaknesses of each playoff team.


Atlanta Braves: The Braves are by far the most impressive team in the playoffs with their amazing offense led by right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr, who had one of the best seasons as a hitter, being the only player in history to have 40 home runs along with 70 stolen bases. Not to mention first baseman Matt Olson, who has 54 home runs. To add to their amazing offense, their pitching staff is decent as well. So what’s the kicker for Atlanta? Well, in the 2000’s they haven’t been very good in the playoffs. Yes, they won the World Series in 2021, but from 2000-2021 they only won series 3 out of the 13 times that they’ve been in the playoffs. Also, they have some injury questions with a few of their pitchers that could prove to be concerning.

Baltimore Orioles: After a long 7-year drought from the postseason, three of those seasons having over 100 losses, the Orioles are back once again. They have built up their roster through the draft, getting players like Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutchsman who have proven to be stars for Baltimore. While their batting may be dangerous, their pitching is a definite weakness with 3 of their starting pitchers having over a 4.00 ERA. Also, they are without star rookie closer Felix Bautista, as he is going to need to undergo Tommy John surgery. Another weakness is their youth and overall inexperience in the playoffs. Being able to handle the pressure of opposing fans booing you and not wanting to let your team down is a constant throughout the regular season, but the postseason boosts it up to the max. The only way you can get used to that pressure is playing in it and only a few of the Orioles players have been in the postseason.

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LA Dodgers: The Dodgers continue to make the playoffs as this is their 11th straight year of postseason baseball. While it wasn’t as legendary as last year’s 111 win season, this team was still amazing with players Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, J.D. Martinez and Freddie Freeman having over 100 RBIs. The weakness that Dodgers have though is that their best starting pitchers are injured. Dustin May, Walker Buehler, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, all pitchers who are very talented are injured for the postseason and most likely a good chunk of the 2024 season as well.

Houston Astros: After almost not even making the wild card towards the end of the regular season, the reigning World Series champions are once again back in the playoffs as the 2 seed. They were able to make this surge thanks to Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve becoming hot. Also, getting Justin Verlander back was a huge help to their pitching staff, which led to their weakness. The Astros’ pitching has not been as good in years past, with a couple of their starters having over a 4.00 ERA. They have a couple of trustworthy pitchers in their bullpen, but overall it has not been the best throughout the year.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers just fell short of the playoffs last year, but thanks to a lackluster NL Central this year, they won the division and made it in as a 3 seed. What pushed them to the title is by far their starting pitching, with 4 of them having under a 4.00 ERA. Their bullpen is also very good, with only one pitcher there having over a 4.00 ERA. This team excels at pitching, but falls short in their batting. Only Christain Yelich, William Contreras, and Mark Canha have a .800+ OPS, which means that they aren’t getting on base and they’re not scoring runs a lot. This point is further exemplified with their RBI leader being Willy Adames with 80 RBIs. 

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are back in the playoffs after missing it the past couple of years. The Twins are a lot like the Brewers as their division, the AL Central, is also very weak and they were able to win it with a 87-75 record. Their explosion into the postseason was partially due to rookie Royce Lewis having a .920 OPS. Their pitching is also decent and players Max Kepler and Byron Buxton have also been good at the plate. What they struggle with though is the rest of their offense outside of the players already listed, especially with their RBI leader being Kepler with 66 RBIs. Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies broke their 11-year playoff drought last year by sneaking into the newly added 6th seed and now they’re the 4th seed. They have a very explosive lineup with players like Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Nick Castellanos, Trea Turner, J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber with all of them having 20+ home runs. Their home stadium, Citizens Bank Park, is also a very hostile place to play for opposing teams in the playoffs, with one rival NL coach telling the Phillies manager Rob Thompson that, “Playing in your stadium, the way you guys played and the electricity from the fans, it was four hours of hell.”. Their pitching has been pretty rocky over the season, especially with the bullpen in the last month of the season.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays were very dominant this year and looked unbeatable in the first couple of months, especially with the help of Yandy Diaz, Randy Arozarena, Isaac Paredas and Josh Lowe. Their pitching has also been really good, with pitchers like Tyler Glasnow and Zach Eflin really stepping up. While I did say their pitching has been really good, it’s going to be a setback with a couple of big injuries with their ace Shane McClanahan and Drew Rausmussen out for the playoffs. Also, the legal trouble rookie Wander Franco has found himself in, really set back this team a lot. 

Miami Marlins: The Marlins have found their way back into the playoffs thanks to a late season surge and the cold spot the Chicago Cubs hit. Their season was defined by Luis Arraez hitting for a .400 average in the first half of the season and still ending with an amazing .354 average. Although they had Arraez and other batters hitting for high averages, they weren’t able to get runs across with an addition of a mediocre pitching staff giving them a -54 run differential on the season. This is the worst run differential of all of the teams in the playoffs, with the closest one being the Diamondbacks with a -15 run differential.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers were so close to winning the AL Central, but the Astros would not be denied. This outstanding year was led by their shortstop, Corey Seager, who has a 1.013 OPS on the season. This wasn’t just the Seager show either; they have two players with 100+ RBIs and with a few others close to that mark. So how did this team not win their division? Well, their very hyped up pitching staff didn’t live up to expectations with only one of their pitchers in their rotation having under a 3.00 ERA and the rest of them having over a 3.50 ERA.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks were one of the teams that came out of almost nowhere at the start of the season and they were able to build up on that early fire and make it back into the playoffs. This team was led by rookie outfielder Corbin Caroll who’s making an outstanding case for winning rookie of the year with a .868 OPS. They also have Christain Walker with over 100 RBIs and Zac Gallen and Merril Kelly with under a 3.50 ERA. Although they have these star players, baseball is a game that requires more than 4 players to win a championship. Although other players can get hot at the right times, if any of these players goes cold it could spell disaster for the Diamondbacks’ season.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays seem like they should be better with players like Vladmir Guerrero Jr, George Springer and Bo Bichette being big all star names. Their pitching is also pretty good, with 4 of their starting rotation pitchers having under a 4.00 ERA, but none of them under 3.00. While it isn’t just Guerrero Jr, Springer and Bichette leading the team, they have other players there that can produce. It just seems like they don’t perform in the big moments and it’s hard to think of them playing hard in the biggest moment of the season, the playoffs.


    Wild Card:

#5 Rangers (2) @ #4 Rays (0)

The Rangers dominated in the Rays home stadium, only letting up 1 run in the 2 games they played. The Rangers also scored 11 total runs with big games from Corey Seager and a very welcome surprise for Rangers fans, Evan Carter, who got on base six times out of his eight plate appearances. The Rays played very disappointing baseball, but what might’ve been even more disappointing was the attendance at game 1. Only 19,704 fans showed up, which is the lowest attendance, excluding the pandemic season, since the 1919 World Series. The Rangers play the Orioles next, which we’ll see if they can continue their red-hot postseason so far.

#6 Blue Jays (0) @ #3 Twins (2)

The Twins have a very similar story compared to the Rangers here, only allowing the Blue Jays to score 1 run in the 2 games they played. Now their offense wasn’t as electric as the Rangers as they scored only 5 runs in the series, this could be taken as a positive for the Twins showing off their grit, which is very much needed in the postseason. Now the Twins go down to Houston to play the Astros, which they’ll need to show off more of that grit in order to beat the reigning World Series champions.

 #4 Diamondbacks (2) @ #3 Brewers (0)

The Diamondbacks offense easily broke through the Brewers pitching staff, which looked to be the best in the postseason with Corbin Carrol, Christian Walker and even Ketel Marte all scoring 2 RBIs in the 2-game series. Even though the Brewers pitching didn’t help the offense at all, as the Brewers scored the most out of all losing teams with 5 runs, it could’ve been even more, but their offense couldn’t capitalize on every situation.The Diamondbacks now play their division rival, the LA Dodgers, and look to keep their hot bats alive.

#5 Marlins (0) @ #4 Phillies (2)

The Phillies absolutely dominated their division rivals who had a good matchup against Phillies like Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber with a bunch of lefty pitchers, but the Phillies were able to get over the hump and scored 11 total runs. One of the best moments of the playoffs came from game 2 of the series too, with Bryson Stott, walking up to bat with the whole stadium singing his walk-up song, then crushing a ball to hit only the 2nd grand slam in Phillies history.  The Phillies go down to Atlanta now to face their rivals, the Braves, for a rematch of last year’s divisional series match up.


 Divisional Series:


 #5 Rangers (3) vs #1 Orioles (0)

The Rangers keep their hot streak alive and stay undefeated in the playoffs after a huge upset over the Orioles. Seager and Carter continued their playoff dominance, but the hero was Mitch Garver who had 5 RBIs in game 2 which gave them the runs they needed in an 11-8 victory. The Orioles go home, but they still have all of their young stars, so don’t be surprised if they make a run next year after this learning experience. 

#3 Twins (1) vs #2 Astros (3)

The Astros hung on despite the Twins fans chanting, “We want the Astros”, which obviously didn’t go well for them. Yordan Alvarez shined in this series along with pitcher Framber Vladez having a really good outing to start off the series. Like the Orioles, the Twins go home, but they should be able to build upon their roster focusing around young Royce Lewis.


League Championship Series


#5 Rangers (4) vs #2 Astros (3)

The Rangers were explosive in this in-state rivalry series, especially with Adolis Garcia hitting 5 home runs against the Astros alone. Corey Seager and Evan Carter also had really good games. The Astros won’t become back to back World Series champions, but the biggest thing for the Astros is that their legendary manager, Dusty Baker, is retiring. The hunt for a manager to fill the big shoes that Baker is leaving behind will be hard, but that’s exactly what the Astros management needs to do to get back to where they want to be.

#6 Diamondbacks (4) vs #4 Phillies (3)

The Diamondbacks continued their Cinderella run, upsetting the Phillies especially after winning the last 2 games of the series in Philadelphia. Ketel Marte and Corbin Caroll had monster games, but it was the centerfielder, Alek Thomas, who came up really clutch in game 4 when the Phillies were up, but Thomas hit a huge 2 run home run that eventually won them the game. The Phillies, shocked after losing to the Diamondbacks, will have a few big questions: will they keep superstar playoff pitcher, but the average regular-season pitcher, Aaron Nola? Will Bryce Harper continue to play first base? If so, will they re-sign Rhys Hoskins after his season-ending ACL tearing injury? 


World Series Preview

#6 Diamondbacks vs #5 Rangers

We are in for a fun series here with both teams having high scoring offenses with a couple of great pitchers, so there’s going to be a little bit for everybody. The key to the Diamondbacks is can they shut down Adolis Garica’s insanely hot bat, and if not, can they outpace him along with the other Rangers stars. The key for the Rangers is can they avoid the signature Diamondbacks comeback which they have managed to do many times this postseason alone. Either way, a legendary series is upon us, who do you have winning the World Series this year and did you expect it

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