Goodbye, Spring Training, hello regular season. Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is this Thursday, March 30 and fans of all 30 teams have at least a little bit of hope, as everybody still has a shot at the playoffs. Today, we are taking a look at four teams who did not make the playoffs in 2022 that will be interesting to watch as they fight for a postseason berth this year. We are not saying these teams will make the playoffs, but rather that they should be intriguing for one reason or another this season after missing the postseason last year. All futures odds are sportsbook consensus odds provided by Action Network.
Baltimore Orioles (+10,000 to win the World Series, +360 to make the playoffs)
The Orioles were arguably the biggest story of the 2022 MLB season. The franchise that lost the most games in baseball from 2017-2021 was picked by everyone in to be horrible once again. Then they lost their best starting pitcher after two starts and were pretty bad the first two months of the season.
the feel-good team of the season
But then they took off. The hitting improved dramatically as the season went on and the bullpen was the best in baseball. The Orioles fell just short of the playoffs, but finishing 83-79, they were the feel-good team of the season.
Most doubt that they can make the jump to the playoffs this year. In fact, most projections have them with a losing record. It doesn’t help that they are in a really tough division and that they didn’t add much via free agency. The bullpen will have to prove that 2022 wasn’t a fluke. But the O’s have young star Adley Rutschman at catcher, a core of young players from the best farm system in the game, and a front office that has finally showed that it knows what it’s doing after years of hopelessness. Even if Baltimore takes a step back this year, the future looks bright.
Milwaukee Brewers (+3,500, -105)
The Brewers missed the playoffs by one game in 2022 after four straight years battling in the postseason. This year looks like the same as last: pitching should be great, the hitting is a question mark. But the NL Central should be weak, so it won’t take much improvement to see the playoffs again. In fact, this is the only team of the four that bookmakers predict will make the postseason.
as good as a top three as there is in MLB
The starting rotation is the strength of the team: 2021 Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes and All-Stars Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta are as good as a top three as there is in MLB. Josh Hader is gone, but Devin Williams, another All-Star, looks primed to settle in as Milwaukee’s newest shut-down closer. And the Brewers tend to fill in the bullpen quite well.
It might be another season of wondering if Christian Yelich will ever resemble anything close to his former MVP self, but the Brewers have a slew of young outfielders ready to contribute. Garrett Mitchell will be in his first full season and both Sal Frelick and Joey Weimer – both of whom can rake – are waiting in the wings. The best hitter in their farm system, Jackson Chourio, may see some action later in the year.
This could be a precarious season, though, as Burnes, Woodruff, Rowdy Tellez, and Willy Adames hit free agency after the 2024 season, so if the Brewers are lagging behind as the trade deadline approaches, difficult decisions will need to be made.
Los Angeles Angels (+4,000, +169)
I root for a team that has barely ever had any sort of postseason success, so there is a form of fan torture in that, but it has got to be awful being an Anaheim Angels fan. Despite having the best two players in baseball – Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout – the Angels have missed the playoffs for eight straight years. They haven’t even had a winning record with both of those guys on the roster (Ohtani has been on the team for five seasons). Goes to show that one or two players can’t carry a team in the sport of baseball.
And this is the final season of Ohtani’s contract.
the Angels had one of the worst records in the league in one-run games
The Angels have a pretty good starting rotation though, adding Tyler Anderson in the offseason. The bullpen, however, was a major problem last year and is supposed to bad again this year. One symptom of the weak relief corps: the Angels had one of the worst records in the league in one-run games. If the bullpen can improve even a little bit – and relievers can certainly be unpredictable year to year – more of those close games can swing in their favor and they could make a push at a Wild Card berth. Winning a division with defending World Series champs the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners is probably too much to ask.
Texas Rangers (+5,000, +190)
Behind the Angels in the 2022 AL West standings were the Texas Rangers, who landed with a thud after inking two big free agents in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
With a new general manager and new skipper in three-time World Series winner Bruce Bochy, the Rangers have completely revamped their starting rotation, acquiring Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom. If the starters stay healthy (and that’s been a question mark lately with deGrom), Texas will be in the playoff race, but like the Angels, they shouldn’t really be expected to be up there with Houston and Seattle.
The Rangers ran below expectations last year, as well, winning nine fewer games than their stats would have predicted. So, again like the Angels, if the Rangers can get the ball bouncing their way a little more this year, some of those losses could reverse in a hurry.