If the playoffs began today, here’s how they’d look

May 23rd, 2023

We're nearly two months into the 2023 regular season, which gives us enough of a sample size to reflect on the standings and what the postseason bracket would look like if the playoffs began today.

The early part of the season has brought plenty of surprises, including the Rays' historic start to the season, the Rangers occupying first place in the AL West and the Orioles having the second-best MLB record. On the flip side have been teams like the Cardinals and Padres, two playoff teams from 2022 who have significantly underperformed their expectations in '23.

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


Byes: Rays (1) and Rangers (2)

Wild Card Series matchups

Yankees (6) at Twins (3)

Astros (5) at Orioles (4)

Just missed: Red Sox (2.5 games out), Angels (3), Blue Jays (3.5)

While they've slowed down a bit from their early-season pace, the Rays are still the best team in the Majors with a 35-14 record. Their collective 138 wRC+ would be an AL/NL record for a single season, surpassing the '27 Yankees (125). The Rangers are playing great baseball on both sides of the ball and are one of the biggest surprises of the season. Even without and for extended periods of time, the Rangers continued their success and have positioned themselves well for the playoffs.

At 25-23, the Twins are the only team above .500 in the AL Central and have the worst record of any team leading its division. The O's have the second-best record (31-16) in Majors and are within striking distance (three games) of the Rays in the AL East. An eight-game winning streak has propelled the Astros to just one game behind the Rangers in the AL West. The Yankees have more than stayed afloat despite major injuries and have been led by 's recent power surge.

Division Series matchups

Yankees (6) or Twins (3) at Rangers (2)

Astros (5) or Orioles (4) at Rays (1)

The Rays have baseball's best offense and the second-lowest ERA (3.39) in the Majors. Unsurprisingly, their overall dominance has them on pace to win 116 games this season. What's perhaps most fascinating about the rest of this field is the two teams holding the top spots in the AL. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, the last time that either the Astros or Yankees didn't hold one of the top two records in the AL was in 2016 when neither team made the playoffs.


Byes: Braves (1) and Dodgers (2)

Wild Card Series matchups

Mets (6) at Brewers/Pirates (3)

Brewers/Pirates (5) at D-backs (4)

Just missed: Marlins (1 game out), Giants (1.5), Phillies (2.5)

The Braves and Dodgers being on top in the NL is hardly surprising. Both teams have had firm control of the league over the last half-decade and that has not changed in 2023. Atlanta has a superb collection of talent headlined by and , who are arguably the top two position players in the NL in '23. The Dodgers, despite major offseason changes, a slow start to the year and some huge injuries, are still going strong and lead the NL West by 1.5 games.

The rest of the NL playoff picture might be a revolving door for the remainder of the year. Unlike the AL, the NL has a lot of question marks outside of their top two teams. Due to the lackluster performances from the Cardinals and Padres -- two playoff teams from '22 -- there are a lot of question marks and a lot of teams hovering right around .500. For perspective, the last-place A's are the worst team in the AL and 19 games back of a playoff spot. The Rockies, who have the worst record in the NL, are only five games back.

Division Series matchups

Mets (6) or Brewers/Pirates (3) at Dodgers (2)

Brewers/Pirates (5) or D-backs (4) at Braves (1)

According to the FanGraphs playoff odds, the Braves and Dodgers have better than a 90% chance of making the playoffs. Beyond them, the only three NL teams above 50% are the Mets (63%), Brewers (61.3%), and Padres (56.5%). This essentially reinforces the point made before: There's not a whole lot of certainty beyond the top teams in the NL right now. The picture should clear up in the months to come, but for now the NL playoff picture looks like an unknown.

Who's out from last year?

Blue Jays, Cardinals, Guardians, Mariners, Padres, Phillies

Half of last year's playoff teams are currently on the outside looking in. The good news is that pretty much all of these teams still have a real shot at making the playoffs. The Cardinals, who are the furthest back of a playoff spot at 4.5 games, still have a chance at the postseason, especially in the NL Central. Despite their poor start, the Guardians are only four games back in an AL Central division that looks winnable.

Who's new this year?

Brewers, D-backs, Orioles, Pirates, Rangers, Twins

Of the new teams in the playoff mix, the Twins (76.9%) and Rangers (68.4%) currently have the highest odds to make the postseason, according to FanGraphs. The O's, who own one of the best records in the Majors, are under 50% due to a hyper-competitive AL. Out of this group, the Pirates have the lowest playoff odds at 14.1%.