The 2023 Best-Case Scenarios for Every MLB Team

Zachary D. RymerMarch 19, 2023

The 2023 Best-Case Scenarios for Every MLB Team

0 of 30

    Wouldn't it be something if Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani tasted victory in the playoffs?
    Wouldn't it be something if Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani tasted victory in the playoffs?Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Every team in Major League Baseball will open the 2023 season with hopes that everything will go just right. Fat chance, right?

    Right, but that doesn't mean we can't ponder the best-case scenarios for all 30 teams in the meantime.

    We've spotlighted both a player-specific and a team-oriented scenario for each team. The former concerns potential breakouts, rebounds and trades. The latter concerns optimistic, yet generally realistic outcomes. Not everyone can win the World Series, after all.

    We'll go one team at a time, proceeding in alphabetical order by city.

    Note: All over/under win totals for 2023 are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1 of 30

    Madison Bumgarner
    Madison BumgarnerHarry How/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 74-88

    2023 Over/Under: 74.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: They trade Madison Bumgarner

    With an extension for speedy rookie Corbin Carroll done, the next bit of business the Diamondbacks would ideally accomplish is a trade of Bumgarner. This will probably only happen if the veteran lefty dramatically improves on the 84 ERA+ he posted in the first three seasons of his five-year, $85 million deal, but, hey, stranger things have happened, right?

    Team-Oriented: They achieve a winning record

    Perhaps there's an angle from which the Snakes look like a wild-card contender, but it's a long shot. For a team that lost 110 games as recently as 2021, simply achieving a winning record would do for a step forward. And if Carroll lives up to his status as the favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year, the odds of it happening will be that much better.


2 of 30

    Ronald Acuña Jr.
    Ronald Acuña Jr.Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 101-61

    2023 Over/Under: 94.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Ronald Acuña Jr. turns the clock back to 2019

    Atlanta was able to win the World Series in 2021 even without Acuña, and then 101 games last season sans a fully functional version of him. But with Dansby Swanson having followed Freddie Freeman out the door, Acuña turning the clock back to 2019—wherein he came three stolen bases short of a 40/40 season—is more necessity than luxury.

    Team-Oriented: They win the NL East and the World Series

    Even if Acuña isn't the Acuña of four years ago in 2023, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which either of these goals is out of reach for Atlanta. There are surely other projections out there, but the ones at FanGraphs notably tab Atlanta not just as the favorites in the NL East, but the top contender to win it all with a 15.5 percent chance to claim the World Series title.

Baltimore Orioles

3 of 30

    Adley Rutschman
    Adley RutschmanMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 83-79

    2023 Over/Under: 76.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Adley Rutschman wins the AL MVP

    Is this too much pressure to heap on a guy who's played all of 113 games in the majors? Nah. Rutschman was an elite player for most of his rookie year in 2022 and he generally trafficks in Realmuto-ian levels of doing everything well as a catcher. He seems destined to win an MVP sooner or later. Why not sooner?

    Team-Oriented: They claim a wild-card berth

    No thanks to continued penny pinching on ownership's part, this isn't as likely as it should be following the Orioles' 83-win breakout last season. Another step up is nonetheless possible, particularly if Rutschman does his thing and top prospects Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez do theirs as American League Rookie of the Year contenders.

Boston Red Sox

4 of 30

    Chris Sale
    Chris SaleAP Photo/Gerald Herbert

    2022 Record: 78-84

    2023 Over/Under: 78.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Chris Sale pitches like a seven-time All-Star again

    Sale has largely been a non-factor since inking a $145 million extension four years ago, particularly as injuries have limited him to all of 11 starts since 2020. But given how good he's looked in spring training—in two starts, he's pitched five shutout innings on three hits, no walks and seven strikeouts—the Red Sox have a tangible reason to dream big.

    Team-Oriented: They claim a wild-card berth

    As hard as it is to anticipate the Red Sox to improving on last year's performance, projections at FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus call for them to at least finish around .500. The leap from there to wild-card contention is not a large one, and it'll be that much likelier to happen if Sale indeed turns the clock back to his All-Star days.

Chicago Cubs

5 of 30

    Cody Bellinger
    Cody BellingerChris Coduto/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 74-88

    2023 Over/Under: 77.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Cody Bellinger turns the clock back to 2019

    This was also the best-case scenario for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2021 and 2022, but, alas, it just didn't happen. Meanwhile, Bellinger is just 6-for-28 in spring training. Yet as reasons for hope go, well, he's still only 27 years old and purportedly fully healthy. The Cubs can look back at his MVP-winning, 47-homer season in 2019 and think, "Maybe..."

    Team-Oriented: They win the NL Central

    Is this aiming too high? In context of the Cubs' over/under and projections for a sub-.500 season, yeah, probably. But then again, the Central is the weakest of the three divisions in the National League. And if the Cubs get enough power from Bellinger and fellow newcomer Dansby Swanson, they'll have more than just great run prevention going for them.

Chicago White Sox

6 of 30

    Yoán Moncada
    Yoán MoncadaFrank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    2022 Record: 81-81

    2023 Over/Under: 83.5 wins

    Player-Specific: Yoán Moncada carries over his World Baseball Classic performance

    After three seasons of mostly bad hitting, it feels like forever ago that Moncada was looking like a future MVP contender back in 2019. But shades of that season have been very much apparent as he's gone 8-for-19 with four extra-base hits for Cuba at the World Baseball Classic, so perhaps 2023 will be Moncada's grand comeback to superstardom.

    Team-Oriented: They win the AL Central and a playoff series

    Though the White Sox don't project to be much better than the Cubs, they play in a similarly weak division and would seem to have the stronger roster. If they get better seasons out of not just Moncada, but also Luis Robert Jr., Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn, the South Siders can even win a playoff series for the first time since the 2005 World Series.

Cincinnati Reds

7 of 30

    CINCINNATI, OHIO - OCTOBER 03: Hunter Greene #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on October 03, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 62-100

    2023 Over/Under: 65.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Hunter Greene picks up where he left off

    It was just plain weird to watch the National League's most prolific thrower of 100 mph fastballs pitch to a modest 101 ERA+ in 2022, but it was when fewer people were looking that Greene turned a corner. By pitching to a 0.78 ERA with 37 strikeouts against seven walks in September, he set himself up nicely for a proper breakout in 2023.

    Team-Oriented: They avoid last place

    Are the Reds going to finish ahead of the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals or Milwaukee Brewers? Almost certainly not. OK, fine, absolutely certainly not. But they might at least beat out the Pittsburgh Pirates, particularly if top prospect Elly De La Cruz arrives and immediately becomes still another ultra-talented young player for the club to build around.

Cleveland Guardians

8 of 30

    José Ramírez
    José Ramírez Adam Glanzman/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    2022 Record: 92-70

    2023 Over/Under: 86.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: José Ramírez wins the AL MVP

    Doesn't this just feel destined to happen? Ramírez is usually in the running for the AL MVP, having finished in the top six of the voting five times in the last six seasons. And now he doesn't have to worry about the shift when batting left-handed, which is a potentially major development given how often he did have to worry about that in 2022.

    Team-Oriented: They win the AL Central and the World Series

    The Guardians won the AL Central last year, so doing it again in 2023 should be the quote-unquote easy part. Getting to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2016, much less winning it for the first time since 1948? Less so. But if there's one reason for extreme optimism, it's that the Guardians may mesh with MLB's new rules better than any other team.

Colorado Rockies

9 of 30

    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantAP Photo/Ashley Landis

    2022 Record: 68-94

    2023 Over/Under: 65.5 wins

    Player-Specific: Kris Bryant turns the clock back to 2016

    The first season of Bryant's seven-year, $182 million contract only served to further denigrate the deal's bad reputation, as back and foot injuries rendered him capable of playing in only 82 games. But the 2016 NL MVP has looked good in spring training, going 7-for-23 with three home runs. At least for now, the Rockies can indulge themselves in outrageously high hopes.

    Team-Oriented: They avoid last place

    Look, the Rockies aren't good. They might even be the worst team in MLB. But if they get what they bargained for out of Bryant and top prospects Ezequiel Tovar and, eventually, Zac Veen, give fans still more things to root for, there's a non-zero chance that the Rox will at least overcome the Diamondbacks in the NL West.

Detroit Tigers

10 of 30

    Spencer Torkelson
    Spencer TorkelsonAP Photo/Paul Sancya

    2022 Record: 66-96

    2023 Over/Under: 70.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Spencer Torkelson lives up to the hype

    Of the many gut punches the Tigers took last season, arguably none knocked their wind out quite like Torkelson, formerly their No. 1 pick and No. 1 prospect, struggling so bad that he had to be sent down in July. Yet it's too soon to assume there isn't a great major league hitter in him somewhere and he's looked, well, somewhat better this spring.

    Team-Oriented: They avoid last place

    It was tempting to tease that the Tigers could even chase a winning record this year, but they probably wouldn't be ready for that even if the balanced schedule didn't figure to hurt them. But they can at least aim higher than last place in the AL Central, which they notably managed to avoid in 2022 even though they had the worst offense in the league.

Houston Astros

11 of 30

    DETROIT, MI -  SEPTEMBER 13:  Hunter Brown #58 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the second inning at Comerica Park on September 13, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 106-56

    2023 Over/Under: 95.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Hunter Brown is the new Justin Verlander

    We're exaggerating, of course. Asking Brown, who has all of two major league starts to his name, to emulate a future first-ballot Hall of Famer is asking too much. But given that he's a supremely talented right-hander with three plus pitches, Brown might at least do his part to ensure that the Astros don't miss Verlander after he left via free agency.

    Team-Oriented: They snap MLB's drought of back-to-back champions

    That the Astros are the favorites to win the AL West pretty much goes without saying, but history is working against their chances of repeating as World Series champs. Nobody has done that since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees. Like records, though, droughts are made to be broken. And these Astros, well...they're really good, plain and simple.

Kansas City Royals

12 of 30

    Bobby Witt Jr.
    Bobby Witt Jr.AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    2022 Record: 65-97

    2023 Over/Under: 69.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: They extend Bobby Witt Jr.

    Witt still had areas in his game in need of fine-tuning last season, so it's that much more impressive that he nonetheless hit 20 homers, stole 30 bags and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. The Royals should absolutely want to extend him before he really figures it out, so they'd better get more serious about the idea than they have been.

    Team-Oriented: They avoid last place

    The Royals might be a better bet for a winning season than the Tigers, but there aren't any projections that cast that possibility as especially likely. But they might at least leapfrog the Tigers in the AL Central standings, especially if Witt is successful in executing the aforementioned fine-tuning.

Los Angeles Angels

13 of 30

    Shohei Ohtani
    Shohei OhtaniRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 73-89

    2023 Over/Under: 81.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: They extend Shohei Ohtani

    Yeah, right...right? The only true two-way star in MLB history is coming up on free agency, but the interview that Angels owner Arte Moreno did with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated paints a picture of a guy who knows precisely what he has in Ohtani. Maybe, just maybe, he'll pony up $500 million or whatever to keep him around for the long haul.

    Team-Specific: They claim a wild-card berth and a playoff game

    The Angels haven't had a winning season since 2015, but that could change now that they have actual depth around Ohtani and fellow MVP winner Mike Trout. Making it into the postseason by way of the wild card is a reasonable goal, and the same goes for what would be the franchise's first playoff win since back in 2009.

Los Angeles Dodgers

14 of 30

    Miguel Vargas
    Miguel VargasHarry How/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 111-51

    2023 Over/Under: 95.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: IF Miguel Vargas wins the NL Rookie of the Year

    With Bellinger and Turners Trea and Justin having left via free agency, the Dodgers offense was looking undermanned even before Gavin Lux tore his ACL in February. It's step-up time for a number of their regulars, including Vargas in his rookie season. The Dodgers badly need him to be the guy who put up a .915 OPS at Triple-A last season.

    Team-Oriented: They defend their NL West title and win the World Series

    It's been "World Series or bust" for the Dodgers for a decade now, but less so now after they took their foot off the gas over the winter. With the San Diego Padres projected to seriously challenge them for the NL West crown, it would be quite the triumph if the Dodgers held them off and ultimately win their second World Series in the last four seasons.

Miami Marlins

15 of 30

    Jazz Chisholm Jr.
    Jazz Chisholm Jr.Eric Espada/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 69-93

    2023 Over/Under: 76.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Jazz Chisholm Jr. wins the NL MVP

    In the context of how he's only played in 205 games and hasn't quite achieved superstardom, Chisholm was an unexpected pick for the cover of MLB The Show 23. The talent is there, though, and in MVP-caliber measures to boot. The Marlins really only need him to stay healthy, in which case his superstar breakthrough is as good as certain.

    Team-Oriented: They claim a wild-card berth

    The Marlins are looking up at three superior teams in the NL East, but that doesn't necessarily preclude them from securing a wild card. Their starting rotation has a danged electrical current running through it, so they only need Chisholm and comeback candidates Jorge Soler and Avisaíl García to elevate their offense to the level of "good enough."

Milwaukee Brewers

16 of 30

    Christian Yelich
    Christian YelichAP Photo/Jon Durr

    2022 Record: 86-76

    2023 Over/Under: 85.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Christian Yelich turns the clock back to 2018-19

    Yeah, yeah. This has been the hope for the last three seasons, and Yelich came up short each time in posting a pedestrian 107 OPS+ and greatly diminished power numbers. But he came into camp in a good place, and it's showed as he's put up a 1.014 OPS with two home runs and two doubles. Fingers crossed, Brewers fans.

    Team-Oriented: They win the NL Central

    Though the Cardinals ended up winning the division with a seven-game advantage last season, the Brewers held a share of first place as late as Aug. 5. The two clubs now look like they're roughly on the same level at the outset of 2023. Especially if Yelich indeed plays like an MVP again, the Brew Crew getting their revenge thus isn't the most outlandish goal.

Minnesota Twins

17 of 30

    Byron Buxton
    Byron BuxtonBrace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 78-84

    2023 Over/Under: 83.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Byron Buxton finally stays healthy

    Goodness, what a difference this would make for the Twins. Because when Buxton—who's put up a 137 OPS+ with a 162-game average of 41 home runs since 2019—is in the lineup, they win. That simple. The problem is that he hasn't been in the lineup more than 100 times since 2017, so the caution they've taken with him this spring is understandable.

    Team-Oriented: Win the AL Central and get past the Yankees

    The Twins will be hard-pressed to take down the Guardians in the AL Central, but they have enough talent for the task. Harder would be getting past the Yankees, who've won 16 out of 18 head-to-head playoff contests since 2003, should the two clubs meet in the postseason. Even if they achieved nothing else in the playoffs, having achieved that would be enough.

New York Mets

18 of 30

    Justin Verlander
    Justin VerlanderAP Photo/Lynne Sladky

    2022 Record: 101-61

    2023 Over/Under: 91.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: They get 60-plus starts out of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer

    With José Quintana out until July with a rib injury and Edwin Díaz likely out for the whole year after knee surgery, it's now that much more crucial that the Mets get all they can out of Verlander and Scherzer. They have no choice but to hope, as you have to go back to the 2013 Yankees to find the last team that got 60-plus starts out of two 38-and-over pitchers.

    Team-Oriented: They win the NL East and the World Series

    The Mets only missed out the division title last year because Atlanta narrowly won the season series, so getting revenge on that front is within the realm of possibility even sans full seasons from Quintana and Díaz. But the real goal is to win the franchise's first World Series since 1986, for which the odds are somewhere between good and very good.

New York Yankees

19 of 30

    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeNew York Yankees/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 99-63

    2023 Over/Under: 94.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Aaron Judge hits 60 home runs again

    The Yankees technically had an elite offense in 2022, scoring an AL-high 4.98 runs per game. But Judge pretty much did it all by himself, ranking first in MLB in batting runs whereas no other Yankee even cracked the top 40. As the front office didn't make any new additions to the lineup over the winter, another 60-homer season from Judge would be most welcome.

    Team-Oriented: They win the AL East and the World Series

    Another AL East title would also be nice, but let's not kid ourselves. For a team that boasts 27 World Series championship, not having even been to the Fall Classic since 2009 is something resembling an outrage. The Yankees fortunately have the talent to finally end the drought...if they can avoid further injury trouble, that is.

Oakland Athletics

20 of 30

    Esteury Ruiz
    Esteury RuizAP Photo/Ashley Landis

    2022 Record: 60-102

    2023 Over/Under: 60.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Esteury Ruiz wins the AL Rookie of the Year

    Ruiz was the key piece of the trade that sent Sean Murphy out of town, as he joined the A's fresh off a minor league season in which he swiped...[checks notes], that really does say 85 stolen bases. He's also had a decent spring, striking out only four times to go with three steals and 11 runs batted in. In him, Oakland might just have something.

    Team-Oriented: They finally resolve the stadium situation

    We can talk all the live-long day about how the A's might avoid another 100-loss season, or even just last place in the AL West. But even more than that, what matters is how soon the A's can figure out whether they're staying in Oakland or moving to Las Vegas. Until they do that, the future of the franchise will retain an amorphous, blob-ish shape.

Philadelphia Phillies

21 of 30

    Nick Castellanos
    Nick CastellanosAP Photo/David J. Phillip

    2022 Record: 87-75

    2023 Over/Under: 88.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Nick Castellanos turns the clock back to 2021

    When and in what condition Bryce Harper returns from Tommy John surgery are up in the air. What's for sure is that his absence puts even more pressure on Castellanos to put a bad 2022 behind him and live up to his $100 million contract. That he's only 5-for-31 in spring training isn't the best sign, but he's at least made good swing decisions.

    Team-Oriented: They get back to the World Series and win it this time

    Unless Harper makes a miraculous recovery, it's hard to bank on the Phillies challenging Atlanta or New York for the NL East title. But even if they get in via the wild-card again, their deep offense, ace-led rotation and improved bullpen will make them a threat for another World Series run. This time, the idea would obviously be to win it.

Pittsburgh Pirates

22 of 30

    Bryan Reynolds
    Bryan ReynoldsRich Schultz/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 62-100

    2023 Over/Under: 68.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: They extend Bryan Reynolds

    Reynolds seems like a reasonable fellow, as he's requested a trade from the Pirates but also left himself open to signing an extension. Extending the two-time All-Star would almost certainly cost the Pirates upward of $100 million, which is territory on which the franchise has never tread. But, hey, we're talking best-case scenarios here.

    Team-Oriented: They avoid last place

    With Reynolds alongside Ke'Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz in the lineup, the sneaky-good Mitch Keller atop their rotation and the elite David Bednar in their bullpen, the Pirates have some good pieces. Not enough to pursue a winning record, mind you, but enough to give a third straight 100-loss season a wide berth.

San Diego Padres

23 of 30

    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 89-73

    2023 Over/Under: 93.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Fernando Tatis Jr. wins the NL Comeback Player of the Year

    A performance-enhancing drug suspension? And a shoulder surgery? And two wrist surgeries? And a position change? That's an awful lot to overcome, even for a player as talented as Tatis. That he's only 6-for-28 in spring training isn't a great omen in this regard, but it's still folly to presume he doesn't have an epic comeback in him.

    Team-Oriented: They win the NL West and the World Series

    Nearly two decades have past since then Padres last won the NL West back in 2006, but they're arguably the favorite to do so this year. And why stop there? If Tatis can be himself again, the Padres are going to have more than enough star power to pursue what would be their third World Series appearance and first ever championship.

San Francisco Giants

24 of 30

    Michael Conforto
    Michael ConfortoAP Photo/Ashley Landis

    2022 Record: 81-81

    2023 Over/Under: 81.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Their bet on Michael Conforto pays off

    The Giants tried for Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa over the winter, only to end up with Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto. Disappointing in the moment, perhaps, but Conforto has looked very much like the guy who used to star for the Mets in posting a 1.033 OPS and four home runs in spring training. More of that is exactly what the Giants offense needs.

    Team-Oriented: They claim a wild-card berth and win a playoff series

    With two elite-looking teams in their way, settling for a wild-card berth is a more practical outcome for the Giants than winning the NL West. As it would be their ticket to a best-of-three series, it would actually only make it easier for them to collect their first a playoff series win—no, the 2016 NL Wild Card Game doesn't count—since the 2014 World Series.

Seattle Mariners

25 of 30

    Jarred Kelenic
    Jarred KelenicChris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    2022 Record: 90-72

    2023 Over/Under: 87.5 Wins

    Best-Case Scenario: Jarred Kelenic makes good on his breakout tease

    It was tempting to size up Julio Rodríguez's MVP chances here, but what the Mariners really need is another big bopper to support the reigning AL Rookie of the Year in the lineup. Kelenic has always had the talent to be that guy, and he's teasing that he's ready to be via a 1.290 OPS in spring training. It may not count, but it sure feels meaningful.

    Team-Oriented: They win the AL West and win the World Series

    It may not show in their over/under or their projections, but the Mariners are dangerous. Especially if Kelenic does break out, in which they'll have a strong offense in support of a pitching staff that's deep and brimming with nasty stuff. And if they can beat the Astros for the AL West title, they could beat anyone in a quest for a World Series title.

St. Louis Cardinals

26 of 30

    Jack Flaherty
    Jack FlahertyMegan Briggs/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 93-69

    2023 Over/Under: 88.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Jack Flaherty turns the clock back to 2019

    The Cardinals have the bats with which to defend their NL Central title. But the arms? That depends on a lot of things, including whether Flaherty can right his ship after three straight injury-marred seasons. The Cardinals need him to pitch like he did in '19, when he earned Cy Young Award votes after logging a 2.75 ERA over 196.1 innings.

    Team-Oriented: They win the NL Central and a playoff series

    Some might have loftier expectations for the Cardinals, up to and including the franchise's first World Series championship since 2011. Ours are obviously more muted, though we won't disagree that they're the favorites to win the NL Central. After that, it would be good enough if they so much as made it out of the wild-card round after three straight failures to do so.

Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    Wander Franco
    Wander FrancoVaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 86-76

    2023 Over/Under: 88.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Wander Franco wins the AL MVP

    The Rays effectively bought high on Franco when they extended him for a club-record $182 million after his sensational debut in 2021. Alas, injuries and extended slumps resulted in him hitting a wall in 2022. But lest anyone forget, he had a 78-game stretch between '21 and '22 in which he hit .326 and placed among MLB's most valuable hitters. The MVP upside is there.

    Team-Oriented: They win the AL East and the World Series

    It wasn't just Franco, as Brandon Lowe was also mostly a non-factor in the Rays offense last year. That they won 86 games anyway speaks to how talented they were otherwise and likewise points to a high ceiling for 2023. A return the club's 100-win form of 2021 and a trip to its second World Series in the last four years are in the cards.

Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    Jacob deGrom
    Jacob deGromAP Photo/Charlie Riedel

    2022 Record: 68-94

    2023 Over/Under: 82.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Jacob deGrom turns the clock back to 2018-19

    The Rangers didn't dish out $185 million in hopes that deGrom wouldn't be himself again, so him immediately adding to his growing injury collection in February wasn't a great start. All the same, the two-time Cy Young Award winner remained about as dominant as ever when he pitched last year. As for his health, well, maybe he's overdue for another full season.

    Team-Oriented: They claim a wild-card berth

    The Rangers are in the same boat as the Angels: better, but still probably not good enough to make a play for the AL West title. They're nonetheless a candidate to have the single biggest swing in wins from 2022 to 2023, in which case they could even find themselves hosting one of the AL's two wild card series.

Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 30

    José Berríos
    José BerríosMaddie Meyer/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 92-70

    2023 Over/Under: 91.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: José Berríos turns the clock back to 2021

    The Blue Jays should hit and defend with the best of 'em in 2023, but how well they'll pitch depends largely on Berríos rebounding from a baffling fall slip to a 5.23 ERA last season. The two-time All-Star got off to an OK start in spring training, but fingers must be crossed after he lasted just one inning in his lone start for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

    Team-Oriented: They win the AL East and the World Series

    The Blue Jays trailed the Yankees by as many as 16.5 games last season, only to close the gap to seven by the end of the year. If Berríos is himself again, they'll have everything they need to keep the momentum going long enough to win the division. From there, they'd have a clear shot at returning to and winning the World Series for the first time in 30 years.

Washington Nationals

30 of 30

    Patrick Corbin
    Patrick CorbinG Fiume/Getty Images

    2022 Record: 55-107

    2023 Over/Under: 60.5 Wins

    Player-Specific: Somebody actually trades for Patrick Corbin

    Corbin has pitched to a 70 ERA+ over the last three seasons and he still has just about $60 million remaining on his six-year, $140 million contract. Actually being able to trade him is thus a fool's hope at this point. It's nonetheless one that the Nationals had last year, and they don't have much choice but to have it again in 2023.

    Team-Oriented: They lose fewer than 100 games

    As much as we'd like to end this thing on an optimistic note, the Nationals were prime candidates for a 100-loss season even before they lost top prospect and rotation candidate Cade Cavalli to Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Coming in under that mark is thus yet another fool's hope that they have no choice but to have for 2023.

    Stats courtesy of, Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.