The postseason field is set. The question now is who will come away with the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Baseball has a tendency to be unpredictable. Last year, the Braves, Mets and Dodgers won more than 100 games in the National League. The Cardinals joined Atlanta and Los Angeles as the three division winners. None of the three even reached the NLCS. Instead, it was the 87-win Phillies beating the 89-win Padres in the NLCS to head to the World Series. Of course, it was the 106-win Astros that wound up winning the World Series, so it wasn’t exactly a huge underdog that came away with the title.
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This year, there are some clear favorites. The Braves and Dodgers have once again dominated the National League, while the Astros came away as one of the top teams in the American League. But there are plenty of new faces in the field as well, with the Orioles, Twins, Rangers, Marlins, Brewers and Diamondbacks all making the playoffs after missing the dance a year ago.
To help preview some of the uncertainty, Sporting News has produced a model that simulates the entire MLB postseason 10,000 times. The model then tallies the winners of each series, then seeing how often the teams win each series to calculate the win probabilities. The model results are based on production during the season by each team. It does not take into account injuries to the teams that might impact the results.
Here’s a look at how the model sees the 2023 MLB postseason shaking out.
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MLB playoff picks, predictions 2023
Twins vs. Blue Jays
- Win probability: 56%, Twins
The Twins have not won a playoff game since 2004. But coming into the 2023 postseason, this is a team clicking on all cylinders that finished the season with a stout pitching staff and a well-rounded lineup. The Blue Jays have the feeling of a sleeping giant with a ton of talent on offense and a standout pitching staff with Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios. But in Minneapolis for three games, the Twins seem well poised to snap this 18-game losing streak.
Rays vs. Rangers
- Win probability: 56.2%, Rays
In the early part of 2023, it looked like the Rays and Rangers could be a potential ALCS matchup, not a wild card matchup. But the Rays have been battered by injuries and the Rangers have been inconsistent down the stretch. Even if in the wild-card round, this still looks like a potential slugfest between two explosive
Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
- Win probability: 53.4%, Brewers
There could not be a battle of more opposite teams. The Brewers have the worst offense in the postseason, per the model. The Diamondbacks have the worst pitching in the postseason. On the flip side, Milwaukee’s pitching staff is a dangerous group, particularly in a three-game series, while Arizona’s lineup has dangerous batters throughout. The model is giving the edge to the pitchers.
Phillies vs. Marlins
- Win probability: 58.2%, Phillies
Both on paper and in the eyes of the model, this appears to be the most lop-sided matchup. Though Miami’s pitching staff has some talent, the lineup is underwhelming. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has a strong group of starters, headlined by Zack Wheeler, and an offense with some authoritative bats.
Orioles vs. Rays/Rangers
- Win probability vs. Rays: 53.2%, Rays
- Win probability vs. Rangers: 51.7%, Rangers
- Series win probability: 48%, Orioles
This will be as unique a result as you will see from the model. The Orioles would be underdogs against either the Rays or the Rangers, though only slightly. The Rays have been bombarded by injuries and hurt by the absence of Wander Franco, and the Rangers have slid near the end of the season.
So why is Baltimore the favorite to make it out of the ALDS? That would be because it is guaranteed to be in the ALDS, and that’s more that can be said for either Tampa Bay or Texas. The Orioles are also only slight underdogs against either the two wild-card teams, so it wouldn’t take much for them to flip the odds.
Astros vs. Twins/Blue Jays
- Win probability vs. Twins: 50.6%, Twins
- Win probability vs. Blue Jays: 50.7%, Astros
- Series win probability: 50.7%, Astros
No matter the opponent, the Astros are going to have their work cut out for them. It’s not hard to see why. Minnesota has an outstanding pitching staff that can shut down any team. Toronto has a lineup that has the talent to keep up with anyone.
Like with Baltimore, Houston gets the overall advantage because it will be there, while the Twins and Blue Jays each have to battle it out to reach the next round. The Astros also have home-field advantage, which contributes to its overall edge.
Braves vs. Phillies/Marlins
- Win probability vs. Phillies: 55.4%, Braves
- Win probability vs. Marlins: 60.9%, Braves
- Series win probability: 57.6%, Braves
The Braves are heavy favorites against anyone they play in the NLDS. The model sees the Phillies as being a heavier threat than the Marlins, whose lineup would have a harder time keeping up with the firepower in Atlanta, whereas Philadelphia has the thump needed to hang in the series.
Either matchup could be interesting. The Marlins have a well-rounded rotation that could be well positioned to slow down the Braves. The Phillies have the bats to keep up in a slugfest. But the Braves have been a juggernaut, and it’s hard not to pick them to move on.
Dodgers vs. Brewers/Diamondbacks
- Win probability vs. Brewers: 57.9%, Dodgers
- Win probability vs. Diamondbacks: 59%, Dodgers
- Series win probability: 58.1%, Dodgers
The model sees the Braves as the best team in baseball, but it has the Dodgers as a slight favorite to reach the NLCS. That should be viewed more as an indictment on the opposition Los Angeles will face in the NLDS rather than a suggestion the Dodgers are a better team than Atlanta.
The Brewers would give the Dodgers a tougher time. That pitching staff is exceptional, and it could be capable of quieting a dangerous Dodger lineup. But it also lacks the lineup thump, grading out as the worst offense in the field. The Diamondbacks grade out as the worst pitching staff in the field, but have a significantly better offense than Milwaukee. Whichever team gets there, they’ll have all they can handle.
|Team||ALCS win odds|
The American League race is wide open. Every team has at least a 10 percent chance to win the pennant, and only the Astros find themselves with odds above 25 percent.
It’s no surprise that the Astros and Orioles sit at the top. Having that first-round bye gives them a path none of the other four teams have. It’s also hardly surprising the Rays, who finished with the second-best record in the American League, are better than the Twins, the division winner with the fewest victories.
Still, don’t sleep on Minnesota. That pitching staff gives the squad a decent chance against every team in the field, and makes it a serious threat in the American League.
|Team||NLCS win odds|
The National League certainly appears to be a two-team race. The Braves and Dodgers are miles ahead of any other team in the Senior Circuit, with the 16.7 percent gap between the Dodgers and Phillies being larger than the gap between the top and lowest teams in the American League.
Still, the model is certainly not counting out the Phillies to repeat as National League champions. It also sees the Brewers and Diamondbacks as both being ahead of the Marlins, due almost entirely to the model viewing the Dodgers as a slightly easier opponent compared to the Braves.
But let’s be clear: the model thinks anyone other than the Braves or Dodgers would be a shocking development.
|Team||World Series win odds|
If you’re a runaway to win one of the two pennants, chances are you’re going to be ahead in the World Series odds as well. Half the battle is just getting there, and the model thinks the Braves and Dodgers are the two most likely teams to get there.
But the model would also favor the Braves or Dodgers in a World Series matchup against any team. These teams have overpowered opponents all season, and it’s easy to see that continuing into the postseason.
No team feels completely out of it. Even the Marlins have a 2.8 percent chance. But it is worth considering that the Braves, Dodgers and Astros, the last three teams to win the World Series, combine to account for 51.5 percent of the final World Series winners.
MLB playoff model odds