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LOD’s 2023 Regular Season Recap and Postseason Predictions

It’s hard to believe the 2023 regular season has come to an end!  Thank God, postseason baseball has arrived and it’s sure to bring surprises to fans.  David and Brian take a look back at the season that was and a look ahead at who has the best path to win the World Series.  We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride and we are looking forward to what the Postseason brings!

Brian Koss, Managing Editor

  • Most Surprising Team:  Going into the season, I was high on the Braves, Brewers and Dodgers in the NL.  I also had high expectations for the Rays, Orioles and Rangers in the AL.  When I looked at the Arizona Diamondbacks at the beginning of the season, I saw a potential for improvement.  However, I didn’t predict they’d make the Postseason.  I’ll say they’ve surprised me the most.
  • Most Disappointing Team: No doubt for many of us, it’s the New York Mets.  Sorry, David!
  • AL/NL MVP:  I’m going with Corey Seager over Shohei Ohtani.  While Othani would have been a shoe-in without the injury, I’d personally prefer the award go to a player who helped lead their team to division title.  And, come on, Ronald Acuna Jr. has put together one of the most productive seasons of all-time.  Yes, 40+ HRs / 70+ stolen bases puts him in a category of his own.  Add in 200 hits, over 100 RBIs, a .336 BA and over .1000 OPS.
  • Comeback Player of the Year: How can’t it be Cody Bellinger?!  The former Rookie of the Year and NL MVP hit .210 last season and hit .310 this year with 96 RBIs.  If the Cubs don’t sign him to a multi-year deal, there’s gonna be give other teams that will.  Great to see him get his swing back.
  • Most Underrated Player of the Year:  If you’re looking for a player that had an incredible season that flew under the radar, take a look at Bobby Witt Jr.  He joined the 30 HR / 50 SB club in just his second season in the big leagues.  The Royals have superstar in the making.
  • Rookie of the Year:  Speaking of  30/50 guys, Corbin Carroll put up 25 HR / 54 SB for the DBacks.  He’s the run away favorite for NL ROY.  Look at the Orioles Gunnar Henderson on the AL side.
  • Cy Young Award:  Looks like the clear front-runners for the Cy Young include Gerrit Cole (AL) and Blake Snell (NL).  Both have had excellent seasons for teams who missed the Postseason.
  • Postseason Predictions:  Give me an Atlanta Braves over any AL team in the World Series.  Earlier in the season, I’d have picked the Rays, but the downfall of Wander Franco and some injury concerns has me inclined to think it’s no longer Tampa Bay’s year.  I like the Orioles, but give me the Houston Astros out of the AL.  They flew under the radar a put this year, got Justin Verlander back in a trade later in the season.  The band is back together and ready to win the AL.  Still, I’ll take the Braves in six games in the Fall Classic.

 

David Conde, Executive Editor

  • Most Surprising Team:  I have to agree with Brian, I did not see the D-Backs getting into the postseason. They are that team that seems to be close enough but end up without the cigar. But who truly saw the Baltimore Orioles winning 101 games and taking the AL East crown? They have not finished in first since 2014 and have not won 100 games since the 1980 season, when they won 100 games. So to see them take the Division, even after the Rays started the season 20-0, is huge in my book.
  • Most Disappointing Team: So I know I can agree with Brian again and pick my Mets, but after the Edwin Diaz injury during the WBC, something felt wrong and yes now we know what happened next. Even though the Mets looked good on paper, you could not really translate that to on field winning. Too many holes surfaced throughout this year, but the most disappointing team for me is the San Diego Padres.  They built a team around power, speed and pitching, and unfortunately just like the Mets, they failed to show up. I have no doubt in my mind that the Padres would’ve dethroned the Dodgers. I truly did not see this collapse coming.
  • AL/NL MVPAL: Not much difference here as Brian and I tend to agree a lot when it comes to this game, as I do agree with the choice for Corey Seager over Ohtani. And his reasoning is exactly mine, to me it doesn’t matter if you are the greatest ball player on the planet, and I understand you can’t win the game all by yourself, but if a guy has a great season and his team also excelled and made the postseason, that says a lot about not only his leadership skills but doing the things needed to win. Seager finished second in the league with a .327 batting average, 42 doubles, and struck out just 88 times in 477 at bats. NL: When it comes to the NL, what player stood out and had the most impact on their team, well two guys stick out to me and they come from the best team in baseball in 2023, the Atlanta Braves.  Both Matt Olson and Ronald Acuna Jr. had huge seasons. Olson launched a career high 54 home runs and drove in the most in his career at 139. As for Acuna, he matched his 2019 season with 41 home runs, but his 159 games played, 217 hits, 35 doubles, 106 RBIs, 80 walks, 73 stolen bases and .337 batting average were the best in his career.  Not to mention, he struck out only 83 times in 642 at bats. That is impressive right there for a power threat. As much as Olsen’s season was huge for his new team, Acuna Jr takes the award for his video game season.
  • Comeback Player of the Year: I will pick another Brave for this award, Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna signed with Atlanta in 2020 and after the shortened season where he hit 18 home runs and batted .338, he resigned with Atlanta for 2021 but appeared in only 48 games due to injury. In 2022, he played in 124 games, but struggled at the plate hitting just .226, even though he did hit 23 home runs. But this year is the one all Braves fans have been waiting for as he is a key component to their NL Division crown.  With 29 doubles, career high 40 home runs, while also driving in 100 runs, he looks to be back to the days that pitching to him is a nightmare for pitchers.
  • Most Underrated Player of the Year:  I will be biased on this one and still naive to the reason he has been snubbed for the All Star Game the last two seasons. The Mets Francisco Lindor has put up big numbers the last two seasons, has been a leader on the Mets in his three year tenure and still does not get the credit he deserves as one of the best shortstops in the game. He had 19 home runs at the break and finished the season with the lead NL Lead with 31 dingers and second in all of baseball at his position.
  • Rookie of the YearNL: Honorable mention should be Mets Francisco Alvarez, with his 25 home runs and 63 RBIs in 382 plate appearances. Truly the catcher of the future for NY.  But there is no doubt that Corbin Carroll will be picked as the overall winner. With 30 doubles, 10 triples, 25 home runs, 76 RBIs and 54 doubles, is truly a magnificent season and a postseason appearance coming up. AL: There is no way I can disagree with Brian on the AL ROY pick, because where would the Orioles be with Gunnar Henderson. Yes he had other help with winning the division, but he was as consistent as they come, both in the first and second half of the season. Big time numbers (100 Runs, 143 Hits, 29 doubles, 9 triples, 28 home runs, 82 RBI, 10 stolen bases) for a big time rookie, also heading into the postseason.
  • Cy Young AwardAL: I am going another way with this one, as the Blue Jays Chris Bassitt was brought to be the forefront of Toronto’s starting pitching staff and he won the most games on the team with 16, threw 200 innings for the first time in his career, had a career high 186 strikeouts, and was 8-3, with a 2.89 ERA in the second half of the season, helping the Blue Jays to land a spot in the postseason. NL: Ideally, you win 20 games, you need to win the CY Young award. The Braves Spencer Strider finished the 2023 regular season at 20-5, with a 3.86 ERA, while leading the majors with 281 strikeouts in 186.2 innings. Enough said.
  • Postseason Predictions:  So everyone will pick the Braves, because they are just the best team in the majors in 2023, they are that strong, but I have seen them be the best and still not fulfill their destiny in the past, so I will throw a wrench on this one and say that the Dodgers will represent the NL in the Fall Classic. The AL looks to be up for grabs as the Astros, Rays and Rangers could be the front runners, but I think the Orioles are riding such a hot hand and they will turn it up when it counts. I like the Orioles in 6 games over the Dodgers.

Brian is the Managing Editor at Legends on Deck and Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. He's been writing about baseball at LOD since 2017. He grew up in the Detroit area and is a lifelong Tigers fan. However, he shares some affinity for his son George's favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Brian also has a particular interest in the amateur side of the game, including high school, college and collegiate summer league baseball. Brian and George also love collecting and selling baseball cards. You can find them selling on eBay (@Kossball) or posting on George's Instagram (@Kossball). Brian lives in Horizon West (Winter Garden), Florida with his wife (Grace), three daughters and George the Card Kid. You can also reach him at brianmkoss@gmail.com

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