Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Extra Innings: The 2023 postseason makes no sense

The MLB playoffs surprise us yet again as the top five teams all exit early.

extra innings-henry blickenstaff

I’m starting to feel like a broken record when I say that baseball is unpredictable, but this postseason has surpassed anything I’ve ever seen. Any and all trends that were established in the regular season have been firmly shattered this October. Here are just a few crazy things that have happened in the 2023 playoffs.

First off, the five teams with the best regular-season records — the Atlanta Braves (10458), the Baltimore Orioles (10161), the Los Angeles Dodgers (100–62), the Tampa Rays (99–63) and the Milwaukee Brewers (92–70) — went a combined 1–13 in the playoffs. The fact that none of these teams even made it to their league’s championship series is crazy enough. But to combine for one win? That’s unheard of. Delve a little deeper, and you’ll be even more dumbfounded.

The Braves had a historically great offense this year, scoring a league-best 947 runs this year and tying the MLB record for team home runs in a season with 307. So it only makes sense that they would manage only eight runs in four National League Division Series games. Game one was the first time Atlanta had been shut out at home since Aug. 28, 2021. 

The Orioles outperformed expectations and finished with the best record in the American League. One of the keys to their success was consistency: They hadn’t been swept since May 2022. That’s 91 straight series without getting swept. So it only makes sense that the Texas Rangers would sweep them right out of the playoffs.

For their part, the Dodgers got exactly the matchup they wanted in the division series. Prior to the series, the Arizona Diamondbacks had won only 11 of their last 49 games at Dodger Stadium. So it only makes sense that the Snakes would take both games on the road and proceed to complete the sweep at home. The Diamondbacks became just the fourth team in MLB history to reach the championship series with a negative run differential.

Arizona wasn’t the only team to defy the odds. The Rangers held the AL West lead for 160 days this year, but let it slip away in the last series of the season by losing three of four to the Seattle Mariners. After a devastating end to the regular season, their path to the AL Championship Series was blocked by the 99-win Rays and the 101-win Orioles. So it only makes sense that they’d sweep both of those teams.

What I mean to say is — baseball makes no sense. And all of this craziness raises a question: What is the point of the postseason? Is it to pick the best team, or is it to provide the most entertainment?

I’m not sure where on that justice-to-entertainment spectrum I fall, but I think it’s closer to justice than where the current format is. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good upset, but underdogs making runs should be the exception rather than the rule. That’s what makes those stories special. MLB should either have fewer playoff teams or make the series longer — much longer. Because if these playoffs have proven anything, it’s that baseball makes absolutely no sense, especially in a short series.