The 2023 Major League Baseball regular season is fast approaching. Spring training games are fun in their own way, though the novelty wears off quickly and I think we’re all eager for meaningful MLB baseball. Justin Verlander in New York, Jacob deGrom in Texas, Trea Turner in Philadelphia, Xander Bogaerts in San Diego…there are a lot of faces in new places this season.
As always, each MLB team will face a different amount of pressure in 2023. Pressure is unquantifiable but you know it when you see it, and you definitely know it when you feel it. Some teams feel pressure to win. Others feel pressure to simply make progress and get out of the rebuilding phase. And other teams feel a different kind of pressure entirely.
With the 2023 season on the horizon, let’s rank the 30 MLB teams based on the amount of pressure they feel to win this year’s World Series.
These teams are in the rankings because we have to count to 30. Expectations are very low this season (except maybe inside the walls of Colorado’s front office) and no one realistically expects a World Series run from these clubs. For them, a successful season involves taking steps toward contention, mostly by integrating young players into the lineup. Pressure to win the World Series? Nah, not at all. Pressure to make progress? Definitely.
Three teams improved by at least 20 wins from 2021 to 2022 and the D-Backs and O’s are two of them (the third ranks No. 1 in these rankings). These are two up-and-coming clubs with a lot of young talent that, unfortunately for them, are stuck in divisions with several big spenders, making the path to contention difficult. I would have liked to see these two teams do more this offseason, particularly the Orioles, but they’re heading in the right direction. If all goes according to plan, these teams will move up these rankings next year.
The Rays are in a tier of their own. They get graded on a curve — the Rays don’t have to do much more than show up and spell their name correctly to be hailed as geniuses — and are touted as a consistent winner even though the two most successful seasons in franchise history ended with a World Series loss. At some point Tampa has to win a title. I don’t think the Rays feel much pressure to do it right now, but they should. The “look how smart we are!” act only lasts so long when the trophy case is empty.
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