With so many surprises to pick from, the Orioles, Reds and Marlins remain shockingly good. All three can’t possibly make the MLB Playoffs, right guys?
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What a wild ride the first half of the MLB season has been. At the All-star break, surprises abound throughout the league. We have the entire AL East above .500 for starters. The poor Boston Red Sox are five games over .500, with a +27 run differential, and have essentially no chance to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the entire AL Central is .500 or worse. Out West, Texas continues to hold off Houston in perhaps a changing of the guards.
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A similar storyline is trying to develop in the NL West. Arizona and Los Angeles have gone back and forth and are in a figurative tie at the break. The Diamondbacks are attempting to unseat the LA behemoth that has dominated for years. That would be the unlikeliest NL storyline if it wasn’t overshadowed by another story in the very same division! Add in three teams that are playing way over their heads in Miami, Baltimore, and Cincinnati, and we have too many questions with not enough sample size to answer. How many will keep playing great? Will they make the MLB Playoffs?
Will Greatness Continue Into MLB Playoffs?
Todd Salem: Orioles Must Fall
What’s the wildest story of the season, outside of three surprising winners? Look to the NL West! The over-the-top spending spree by San Diego has led to a 43-47 record. The Padres, along with the Mets, were supposed to be the toasts of the league. Instead, both have floundered beyond belief. The Braves are instead at the zenith of the NL, but the toast of the league mantle belongs to either Cincinnati or Miami. They, along with the Orioles, are bringing a youth revolution into the league, and I’m all for it.
There are still a lot of games left to play though. We can’t crown the Reds, Marlins, or Orioles as 2023 darlings unless they continue to play well and make it into the postseason.
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Which brings me to our Opening Day post back in March. I cited the quality of a team’s Opening Day starter as a simple barometer as to whether they would actually have a chance to compete during the season. The teams that I eliminated before a game had even been played: Oakland, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Detroit, Washington, Boston, and…Baltimore.
I mean, at worst I went 6-for-8, right? As stated above, even though the Red Sox have been good, they pretty much are eliminated, having already fallen into last place and nine games back of the division lead. That makes me 7-for-8. Now about those Orioles.
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Baltimore has been splendid. It is an overwhelming favorite to make the playoffs with 54 wins already banked. But this team is ready for a crash back to earth. Despite having the third-most wins in the sport, the Orioles are projected to be below .500 the rest of the way. That’s because of a number of factors. Baltimore is playing over its head. This team is 14-9 in one-run games, plus they’ve already faced the AL Central a whopping 25 times, winning 18 of them. To top it all off, Baltimore just doesn’t have the pitching to hold up another two and a half months.
If you think I’m just trying to talk myself into going 8-for-8, don’t worry. I’ll admit defeat on the Orioles. They have already performed well enough to prove me wrong. But I don’t believe they are good enough to be a true title contender. Nor, for that matter, are Cincinnati or Miami. These have been super fun first-half teams. It takes more than that to sustain winning over a six-month time frame.
Dan Salem: Reds and Marlins Playoff Bound
Evaluating teams after half a season is too damn hard and full of unsustainable, yet flashy leaders to anoint. We do this in the NFL, but when it’s only nine of seventeen games, everyone is able to temper their expectations. My New York Jets were dominant through nine games last year, then promptly fell on their faces to end the season with a losing record. Unfortunately for Baltimore, I too envision a similar outcome for their season.
There is no way the Orioles make the postseason, right? I suppose I’m a bit biased, because Baltimore making it means the Yankees are more likely to be sitting at home. But I can confidently state that all of Baltimore, Miami and Cincinnati are not making the playoffs. The Reds will make the postseason, because if they don’t hang on to the division title, they will certainly grab one of three wildcard spots in the National League. The Marlins are in a similar situation, leading all NL wildcard teams by three games at the break. Its a close race, but with four teams all needing to overtake Miami, they are in a great spot to keep playing into the MLB playoffs this season as well.
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This leaves Baltimore on the outside looking in, assuming they cool off and are overtaken by either New York or Boston. I’m not sure how you can eliminate the Red Sox, who are only two games out of a playoff spot and three of the teams ahead of them are in their own division. This gives all of the AL East a great shot to make the playoffs, because they play one another. Only Houston and Seattle appear to be serious competition. If I had to pick just two of the four AL East teams not named Tampa Bay to qualify for the postseason, I’m choosing the Yankees and Blue Jays. But this does not mean things will be easy or as expected.
I’ve nearly talked myself into backing Baltimore, but I can’t do it. New York will be getting healthy and should pull ahead of them. Toronto is a scary team to support, which is why I’m not ready to count out Boston, or even Seattle for that matter. The team I truly want to see elevate themselves is the Los Angeles Angels. This may be the final season that Trout and Ohtani play together, so a playoff berth would be wonderful. You went an easy 6-8 with eliminations based upon the opening day starting pitcher, which is absurd but awesome. Technically speaking, you’ll likely end up 8-8 which means you’ve discovered a new method for betting baseball. Congrats!
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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