The Circuit 2023 MLB Awards & Playoff Predictions
October is here and so are the playoffs! Can the Braves run the table from March to November? Can Houston repeat? And can the Orioles win it all before they’re even ready??? Find out! Circuit Artwork **Couple things before we begin** 1- RIP to Tim Wakefield, a local legend here in New England. 2- Shohei Ohtani is going to sign with the Seattle Mariners this winter. I'll brag about this in my preseason post next spring! After one of the fastest seasons in MLB history (god BLESS the pitch clock), we have finally reached October and it is time for the playoffs! But before we dive into my playoff picks, let’s start with a few things I got right and more importantly, what I got wrong. 3 Things I Got Right… Getty Images The Braves Are the Best Team in Baseball… These guys are awesome. They’re loaded for bear in every aspect of the game, and them being the best team in the sport is no surprise to me. One of the few predictions I made that turned out well! The Red Sox Would Finish in the Basement… Life in the AL East is tough, man. The Orioles won 100 games, the Rays had a great season with spare parts, and the Blue Jays once again slept-walked into the playoffs. The Sox have some intriguing young talent, but they just aren’t there yet. The Cubs Would be Much Improved… The Cubs have a lot of talent, and honestly should be better than they are. However, they had a low over/under and I jumped all over it. Swanson and Bellinger are champions who were great additions for them, and this is a team to watch in 2024. And now… 3 Things I Got Wrong… Getty Images The Orioles Would Take a Step Back… It seems like every time we get a fun young team that exceeds expectations, the following season they take a step back before they take another step forward. Nope! This Orioles team blew me away with their poise, and they are set up to be dominant for years to come (until all these young guys are Red Sox and Yankees 7 years from now). The Cardinals Were Good… Wow! What an embarrassment. Now that Pujols, Molina and Wainwright are all gone, it’s time to take a long look in the mirror as the Reds and the rest of the NL Central are getting younger and better. The Mariners Would Win the American League Pennant… Welp, I tried to sneak this one past you in hopes you would just scroll to the playoff picks. They gave me hope in September! But as it turns out, this was the young team that took a step back before taking (hopefully) a big step forward next year (would certainly help if they sign Ohtani this summer). Now let’s see how I did on my over/under predictions from the preseason! AL East: 2-3 Getty Images 1- Baltimore Orioles (O/U 77.5= UNDER) 101-61 2- Tampa Bay Rays (O/U 88.5=OVER) 99-63 3- Toronto Blue Jays (O/U 92.5= OVER) 89-73 4- New York Yankees (O/U 94.5= OVER) 82-80 5- Boston Red Sox (O/U 77.5= UNDER) 78-84 AL Central: 4-1 Getty Images 1- Minnesota Twins (O/U 83.5= OVER) 87-75 2- Detroit Tigers (O/U 69.5=OVER) 78-84 3- Cleveland Guardians (O/U 87.5= UNDER) 76-86 4- Chicago White Sox (O/U 83.5= OVER) 61-101 5- Kansas City Royals (O/U 68.5= UNDER) 56-106 AL West: 1-4 Getty Images 1- Houston Astros (O/U 96.5= UNDER) 90-72 2- Texas Rangers (O/U 82.5= UNDER) 90-72 3- Seattle Mariners (O/U 88.5 OVER) 88-74 4- Los Angeles Angels (O/U 81.5= OVER) 73-89 5- Oakland Athletics (O/U 59.5= OVER) 50-112 NL East: 3-2 Getty Images 1- Atlanta Braves (O/U 95.5= OVER) 104-58 2- Philadelphia Phillies (O/U 89.5= UNDER) 90-72 3- Miami Marlins (O/U 75.5= UNDER) 84-77 4- New York Mets (O/U 88.5= UNDER) 74-87 5- Washington Nationals (O/U 59.5= OVER) 71-91 NL Central: 3-2 Getty Images 1- Milwaukee Brewers (O/U 85.5= UNDER) 90-72 2- Chicago Cubs (O/U 77.5= OVER) 83-79 3- Cincinnati Reds (O/U 65.5= UNDER) 82-80 4- Pittsburgh Pirates (O/U 67.5= OVER) 76-86 5- St. Louis Cardinals (O/U 89.5= UNDER) 71-91 NL West: 1-4 Getty Images 1- Los Angeles Dodgers (O/U 96.5= UNDER) 100-62 2- Arizona Diamondbacks (O/U 75.5= UNDER) 84-78 3- San Diego Padres (O/U 93.5= OVER) 82-80 4- San Francisco Giants (O/U 80.5= UNDER) 79-83 5- Colorado Rockies (O/U 65.5= OVER) 59-103 Hey I did well in the AL Central! The rest not so much. 14-16 is bad, no doubt. Only record more disappointing than mine is San Diego’s. At least I do well in NFL over/unders! Now let’s get to the awards! American League MVP: Corey Seager (Texas Rangers) Getty Images I fully understand Ohtani will win this award because everyone thinks he has to win. But I simply refuse to give the MVP award to a guy who couldn’t make the playoffs. Seager had a great season at the plate, and was the driving force behind the Rangers resurgence. He was top 5 in batting average and home runs, so I give it to Seager. American League Cy Young: Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) Getty Images Cy Young is an award I’m a little more willing to give to someone who missed the playoffs, since they only impact the team every 4-6 days. Cole was in the top 5 in the AL in wins, ERA, strikeouts and quality starts, and no one on playoff teams really stepped up and took it from him. American League Rookie of the Year: Gunnar Henderson (Baltimore Orioles) Getty Images Who else would this be? He was fantastic for the best story in baseball. A great young piece of the best young core in baseball. American League Manager of the Year: Brandon Hyde (Baltimore Orioles) Getty Images I gave this award to him last year for surprising everyone and squeaking over .500. Why in the world would I not give it to him again this year for winning over 100 games!? Hyde has been sensational for this organization, and feels like he has some championships in his future. National League MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves) Getty Images With all due respect to Mookie Betts, the idea that this would go to anyone other than Acuna is insane. Acuna just created the 40-70 club, and is the best player on one of the best teams we’ve seen this century. Give him the damn award! National League Cy Young: Spencer Strider (Atlanta Braves) Getty Images Gallen was really close for me, but Strider has been so dominant this year, and the fact that he just set a franchise K’s record for a team that had Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine pitch for them is really saying something. National League Rookie of the Year: Corbin Carroll (Arizona Diamondbacks) Getty Images Elly de la Cruz is a better player, and was infinitely more fun to watch than Carroll. But Carroll did lead Arizona to the playoffs, and since I’m not giving Gallen the Cy Young, I’ll give Carroll the nod here. But don’t get it twisted; Cruz is better. National League Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker (Atlanta Braves) Getty Images They won 104 games and dominated everyone from March to September. And I’ll say it again; they won 104 games. The time has come! Let’s make some playoff predictions! AL Wild Card: Getty Images 6 Toronto Blue Jays def 3 Minnesota Twins 2-0 4 Tampa Bay Rays def 5 Texas Rangers 2-1 Sorry Minnesota fans, your incredible postseason losing streak will continue for one more year. The Blue Jays feel like they are the Phillies of this year; the underachieving team that got in as a wild card and goes on a run. That run starts with a clean sweep in the Twin Cities. And with the other series, if deGrom and Scherzer were healthy I would go with Texas here. But they aren’t, so I’m not. It doesn’t matter who is on the Rays and who isn’t on the Rays, the Rays just win. And they continue that at home against the fading Rangers. NL Wild Card: Getty Images 3 Milwaukee Brewers def 6 Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0 4 Philadelphia Phillies def 5 Miami Marlins 2-0 Had the Cubs gotten in, I would have picked them over the Brewers. But since the Diamondbacks got in, I’ll go with Milwuakee. They have a solid pitching staff and are just always so sound in their fundamentals. Arizona is young and won’t quite be ready for this moment. Miami is a great story, especially considering all the crap they went through this last week with rain delays and Mets shenanigans. But midnight is about to strike with Cinderella, and the Phillies are destined for an epic showdown with Atlanta in the next round. ALDS: Getty Images 1 Baltimore Orioles def 4 Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 6 Toronto Blue Jays def 2 Houston Astros 3-1 The Rays are the ultimate name-on-the-front-means-more-than-the-name-on-the-back team. McLanahan gone. Franco gone. And yet, they just keep rolling. Unfortunately they are going up against a team of destiny in Baltimore, and I’ll take the Orioles in this thrilling back-and-forth series that goes the distance. And this is the classic example of why they should re-seed in the second round; The highest seed should play the lowest seed, but that’s not how they do it and the Astros are going to suffer because of it. Houston has felt off all year long, and for the first time since 2016, they will fail to make the ALCS. NLDS: Getty Images 1 Atlanta Braves def 4 Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 2 Los Angeles Dodgers def 3 Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 The Braves and Phillies might be the two best teams in baseball, which is why it’s so sad that we will only get them in a 5 game series. Harper & Turner vs. Acuna & Olson is a great matchup, but in the end the Braves just have too much talent for the Phillies to overcome. I don’t believe the Dodgers are as good as everyone else does, but I think they are far better than Milwaukee. Give me the Dodgers in a clean sweep. ALCS: Getty Images 6 Toronto Blue Jays def 1 Baltimore Orioles 4-1 The Orioles will win the World Series in the next 3 years. I firmly believe that. But it won’t be this year. Toronto feels like the classic baseball team that gets into the playoffs after a season of mixed returns, only to get scorching hot in October and will run through the American League en route to the World Series (like Philadelphia in 2022). NLCS: Getty Images 1 Atlanta Braves def 2 Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 The Braves are the better team, and I’m not convinced Los Angeles can even get this series to go this far. But I’ll say 6 so Atlanta can finish them off at home and celebrate another pennant with their fans. World Series: Getty Images 1 Atlanta Braves def 6 Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 (WS MVP: Spencer Strider) Everyone will be on the Blue Jays bandwagon in this one, and I guarantee we get a Vlad sr. first pitch in game 3. But in the end, the talent in Atlanta is way too much for the Blue Jays to overcome. Behind 2 dominant wins from Strider, the Braves will celebrate their 2nd title in 3 years! There you have it! Let’s see how well I did as the playoffs go on, and make sure to come back next spring for my (hopefully improved) 2024 MLB predictions!