If the playoffs started today, these would be the matchups

July 12th, 2023

As we have reached the All-Star break, we have a large enough sample size to reflect on the standings and what the postseason bracket would look like if the playoffs began today.

There have been the good surprises: teams like the Reds, Rangers, Marlins, Orioles and D-backs have performed beyond even the most optimistic of projections. On the other side are teams such as the Cardinals, Mets and Padres, who either haven't gotten things going or are in such a big hole that the playoffs feel unlikely.

Here’s a look at what the postseason would look like if it opened today.

All stats are as of the All-Star break.


Byes: Rays (1) and Rangers (2)

Wild Card Series matchups

Astros (6) at Guardians (3)

Blue Jays (5) at Orioles (4)

Just missed: Yankees (1 game out of WC), Red Sox (2 games out of WC), Twins (0.5 games out of AL Central)

The Rays have fallen off a bit since their record-setting 13-0 and 27-6 starts, but they still lead the AL and are on pace for 101 wins, which would set a franchise record, besting their 100-win season in 2021. It's been a dominant effort on both sides of the ball for Tampa Bay. The Rays have an MLB-high nine players with at least nine home runs, and they lead MLB in both runs allowed per game (3.84) and run differential (+149). The Rangers, meanwhile, continue to defy expectations with an offense that averages 5.84 runs per game, most by any team since the 2007 Yankees (5.98). As a result, Texas is the first team since the 1976 Reds to have five position players start the All-Star Game.

At 45-45, the Guardians find themselves in playoff position as a result of the lackluster play by most of the teams in the AL Central. No division winner has ever had a .500 or worse record, putting Cleveland in position to make a unique type of history. The only team with fewer losses than the Orioles is the Braves, but Baltimore still finds itself as the top Wild Card team due to sharing a division with the Rays. The defending World Series champions in Houston have bounced back from an underwhelming 17-17 start to surge into playoff position, but they will have to contend with the likes of the entire AL East in the extremely competitive Wild Card race, as the division is on pace to be the first ever to have every team finish with a winning record (note that the Divisional Era began in 1969).

Division Series matchups

Astros (6) or Guardians (3) at Rangers (2)

Blue Jays (5) or Orioles (4) at Rays (1)

Largely due to unexpectedly great starts from the Rangers and Orioles, the AL playoff picture looks different than it has in years past. Though Tampa Bay is still the top seed for now, both Texas (no World Series wins ever) and Baltimore (last WS win in 1983) are in position to potentially make history. With how tight both the Wild Card and division races are, though, there's likely to be plenty of turnover in the coming weeks. In addition to the previously mentioned Wild Card race, none of the AL's division leaders has a cushion of more than two games.


Byes: Braves (1) and Dodgers (2)

Wild Card Series matchups

Giants (6) at Reds (3)

D-backs (5) at Marlins (4)

Just missed: Phillies (0.5 games out of WC), Brewers (0.5 games out of WC, 1 game out of NL Central)

The underachievers in the NL, such as the Cardinals, Mets and Padres, have created openings for a plethora of newcomers. The Braves remain at the top with their usual dominance on both sides of the ball. They've been led by Ronald Acuña Jr.'s prolific pace to set potential power/speed records and Sean Murphy's ascension to a new level. Similarly to the Astros, the Dodgers had underwhelming starts of 13-13 and 39-33, but have turned it around and gotten in position to win the NL West for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons.

Beyond the top two teams -- who have played each other in the NLCS in two of the past three seasons -- there is a whole lot of uncertainty. Arizona has been one of baseball's surprise teams thanks to top-level performances from Corbin Carroll and Zac Gallen, as the D-backs are on pace for their first playoff berth since 2017. Miami finds itself 14 games over .500 in no small part thanks to Luis Arraez's chase for .400, but the Marlins have not made the playoffs in a 162-game season since winning the 2003 World Series. The Reds won 12 straight games in June to surge into first place in the NL Central, but it remains to be seen how their rookie-laden lineup including , and will handle the playoff race. The Giants had an excellent 18-8 June to put themselves right in the playoff mix, but watch out for the Phillies, who started 25-32 but have since surged in an eerily similar way to their 2022 season that began with a 21-29 record and ended with an NL pennant.

Division Series matchups

Giants (6) or Reds (3) at Dodgers (2)

D-backs (5) or Marlins (4) at Braves (1)

This is Atlanta's league to lose, as they have outscored their opponents by 147 runs; the Dodgers are the only other team in the NL with at least a +50 run differential (standing at +76). If the Dodgers and Giants did play in the NLDS, that would be the second playoff matchup in the history of this storied rivalry, following a classic five-game NLDS won by Los Angeles in 2021 -- the only playoff series all-time between two teams that won at least 105 games in the regular season.

Who's out from last year?

Cardinals, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Yankees

As of now, exactly half of the 12 teams from last year's playoff field are in this year's postseason bracket: the Astros, Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Guardians and Rays. Of the teams currently on the outside looking in who made it last year, the Phillies and Yankees are the closest to a playoff position. The Cardinals are the furthest behind, sitting 11 games back of an NL Wild Card spot.

Who's new this year?

D-backs, Giants, Marlins, Orioles, Rangers, Reds

Of all the potential newcomers in the playoff field, the Orioles and Marlins have the highest current playoff odds according to FanGraphs, with both teams registering above 70%. Out of those six teams, the Reds are by far projected with the lowest playoff odds, at 34.2% (each of the others are at more than 55%).