As the month of September rolls along, we’re counting down to the end of the MLB regular season and following all the races to reach the 2023 postseason.
The 12 teams in the 2023 playoffs, all listed below, have clinched their tickets to October. Still up for grabs on Sunday are the AL West title and the final seeding in both wild-card standings.
(All numbers current through play Saturday.)
What's next: The Braves became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2023 postseason with a win over the Pirates on Sept. 10, and then they claimed their sixth consecutive division title with a win over the Phillies on Sept. 13. Owners of baseball's best record, the Braves will be the NL's top seed, guaranteeing them a bye to the NLDS and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. With the way the Braves have been playing this year, it's safe to say the NL playoffs run through Atlanta.
How they got here: To put it bluntly, the Braves have been far and away the best team in MLB this season. With a nearly 20% chance of winning the World Series, per FanGraphs, and a do-everything star in Ronald Acuña Jr., the Braves have pitched and hit and slugged and defended their way beyond even the highest expectations for this year.
Clinched: NL East title, No. 1 seed
Why you should root for them:They're becoming baseball's new final boss.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
What's next: In a season in which many expected the Dodgers to take a step back after a quiet offseason, they have instead continued to do what they do: Cruise past their NL West foes and into the postseason picture. With an extra-innings win Saturday against the Mariners, the Dodgers clinched a ticket to the playoffs and their 10th division title in the past 11 years. They'll be the No. 2 seed in the NL bracket, with a bye to the NLDS.
How they got here: This Dodgers' season has been anything but smooth, but once again, their depth has carried them through. Injuries abound in the starting rotation, leaving questions about who will pitch for L.A. in the postseason. Those questions have been only further complicated by Julio Urias' recent arrest for felony domestic violence and the news that Walker Buehler won't return this season.
Clinched: NL West title, No. 2 seed
Why you should root for them:They make bad players good.
What's next: After taking the lead in arguably baseball's strongest division in July, the Orioles clinched their first AL East title since 2014, along with a bye to the ALDS and hosting duties through the AL playoffs, with a win over the Red Sox on Thursday. The Orioles will be the top seed in the AL postseason bracket.
How they got here: One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2023 season, the young, fun, confident Orioles surged to the top of the American League on the strength of a young core blossoming into stars simultaneously. The Orioles haven't been swept in a series since May 2022, a span that encompasses catcher Adley Rutschman's entire big-league career.
Clinched: AL East title, No. 1 seed
Why you should root for them:They don't know how to lose.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
What's next: The Rays weren't able to catch the Orioles for the AL East title and instead settle for the American League's top wild card. For a team that could still win as many as 100 games this season, there is a lot to be optimistic about in October.
How they got here: The Rays started 2023 as hot as any team in recent memory, jumping to an early lead in their division with a 13-0 start. Injuries (particularly to the rotation), attrition and Wander Franco's legal situation have since taken a toll, but Tampa Bay has remained one of the AL's top teams.
Clinched: AL wild card, No. 4 seed
Why you should root for them:They've never won a World Series.
What's next: It was division-title-or-bust for the Twins, as some team had to win the moribund AL Central. Minnesota clinched the division and the No. 3 seed in the AL postseason bracket with a win Friday against the Angels. The Twins will host a wild-card series — and at least won't have to face the Yankees this year.
How they got here: The Twins led their division for most of the season on the strength of a bolstered pitching rotation led by Sonny Gray and Pablo López. On the offensive side, however, there's much left to be desired, as Carlos Correa hasn't found his stride, and Byron Buxton is injured yet again.
Clinched: AL Central title, No. 3 seed
Why you should root for them:They're the underdoggiest underdogs.
What's next:With the Cubs' loss Tuesday, the Brewers clinched the NL Central title and wild-card hosting duties. Milwaukee held off the Cubs and the Reds to take the division and will be the No. 3 seed in the National League playoff bracket.
How they got here: The Brewers have continued to do what they do best this season, with dominant pitching from both the rotation and the bullpen backed up by juuuust enough offense. The three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta — with a Devin Williams chaser — has led the way in a division race that has been Milwaukee's to lose for a while now.
Clinched: NL Central title, No. 3 seed
Why you should root for them:Maybe because you're a Mets fan.
What's next: With the NL East long since spoken for, the Phillies comfortably led the NL wild-card standings for much of the season. And with a walk-off in extra innings Tuesday, they clinched the NL's top wild card and hosting duties in the first series of the playoffs. Given their run to the World Series last year, be prepared for Philadelphia to again make some noise from wild-card position.
How they got here: Buoyed as usual by a strong cast of hitters, the Phillies are following the familiar formula of prolific home-run power and just enough pitching. Their bullpen will be the question come playoff time, but after a slow start, Trea Turner has gotten scorching hot at just the right time.
Clinched: NL wild card, No. 4 seed
Why you should root for them:They have loads of star power.
What's next: Did you see the Marlins coming? We certainly didn't. Nonetheless, the Marlins surged back into the NL wild-card mix and clinched their spot in the postseason on Saturday.
How they got here: The Marlins have never really been in contention for the NL East, but they've stayed in the middle of the NL pack overall for most of the season. And now, led by Luis Arraez's bat, the surprising Marlins just might make their way into the postseason.
Clinched: NL wild card
Why you should root for them: You like old-school batting metrics.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
What's next: After the Orioles won the AL East title and the Rays nabbed the top AL wild-card spot, the Blue Jays were jockeying for wild-card position with all three teams in the AL West. With the Mariners' loss to the Rangers on Saturday, the Blue Jays secured their place in the postseason picture.
How they got here: Toronto started the season with hopes of contending for a division title, but while the season hasn't entirely gone off the rails, this team never really seemed to be in the division picture. With the Rays and Orioles making the AL East a two-horse race, the Blue Jays are instead competing with most of the AL West for entry into the wild-card field.
Clinched: AL wild card
Why you should root for them: The remaining schedule could work in their favor.
What's next: With a sweep of the Mariners last weekend (plus the Astros being swept), the Rangers took back the lead in the AL West and are heading toward their first division title since 2016. With their win Saturday over the Mariners, they secured their place in the postseason. Still up for grabs, however, is the AL West title and the bye to the ALDS that comes with it.
How they got here: After a speedy and expensive rebuild, the Rangers came out of the gate hot this season and led the division in much of the early going, thanks largely to an offense that looked unstoppable. Then came a late-summer swoon that allowed the Astros and Mariners to catch up in the standings. Now it looks like these three teams will battle it out until the very end of the regular season.
Clinched: AL playoff spot
Why you should root for them: They only know how to win big.
What's next: The Astros chased down both the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners to retake their usual place atop the AL West late in the season before the Rangers edged them once again. This division will be decided Sunday — and it goes through Houston until proven otherwise — but at the very least, the Astros secured their spot in the playoffs with a win Saturday over the Diamondbacks.
How they got here: The Astros started slowly this year and were out of the playoff picture for much of the first half, but after reacquiring Justin Verlander and getting some key players back from injury this summer, baseball's favorite villains have looked like their usual selves and aren't a team anyone wants to face in October.
Clinched: AL playoff spot
Why you should root for them:They can't quit MLB's worst catcher.
What's next: In a very crowded NL wild-card picture, the Diamondbacks inched their way up and ahead of the fray in recent weeks. A September sweep of the Cubs helped Arizona move into the No. 5 playoff seed with just a few weeks to go, and they clinched their spot in the postseason with the Reds' loss Saturday.
How they got here: Led by NL Rookie of the Year candidate Corbin Carroll and Cy Young contender Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks have surprised many by contending ahead of schedule this season. They actually led the NL West in much of the season's first half before a summer slump set them back of the Dodgers. Still, Arizona is primed to make the postseason one year after finishing fourth in the division.
Clinched: NL wild card
Why you should root for them:If you like stolen bases.
PLAYOFF BRACKET IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY
AL wild-card round:
No. 6 Astros at No. 3 Twins
No. 5 Blue Jays at No. 4 Rays
NL wild-card round:
No. 6 Marlins at No. 3 Brewers
No. 5 Diamondbacks at No. 4 Phillies
Astros/Twins at No. 2 Rangers
Jays/Rays at No. 1 Orioles
Marlins/Brewers at No. 2 Dodgers
D-backs/Phillies at No. 1 Braves