The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Peanuts and Cracker Jack #10: 2023’s Biggest Surprises

Peter Philpott
The MLB’s 2023 season brought many wonders. Perhaps the biggest one was the Texas Rangers. Led by all-star veterans like Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, the Rangers went all the way to win the World Series, after starting the postseason as a Wild Card.

Welcome to the end of the 2023 season! The Texas Rangers are the World Series champions, and we experienced quite the riveting postseason, but the upsets and triumphs of the October playoffs were not the only surprises of this MLB season.

From electrifying comebacks to disappointing defeats, let’s talk about some of the biggest shocks of the 2023 season.

1: All is well in Arlington

It’s one thing to go from a 110-loss season, then an over .500 season, to winning your division, like the Orioles did. To lose 94 games in 2022, then proceed to make the World Series the following year, is a whole other ball game (pun intended.) But the Texas Rangers did it.

The obvious difference is the manager; Bruce Bochy, coming out of a successful stretch with the San Francisco Giants, clearly made some changes in play style; the team batting average went up 20 points. But the Rangers did something unique that was like no other team this season.

Their style of effectively combining young stars with talented veterans was essential to their success, especially in October. Third baseman Josh Jung (age 25) and outfielder Leody Taveras (24) both hit .266, and catcher Jonah Heim, even though he’s 28, took the league by surprise, becoming an All-Star and hitting .260.

While the performance of young guys was astounding, the veterans pulled everything together. Corey Seager (29) had an All-Star year we won’t forget for a long time, batting .327 and hitting 33 home runs. Marcus Semien (32) and Mitch Garver (32), hit over .270, which are outstanding for a league average of .240.

The Rangers’ run in the postseason was something special. They swept both the Rays and the Orioles to reach the American League Championship Series (ALCS), then pulled off a spectacular series win over the seemingly perennial AL champion Houston Astros. Frankly, their 4-1 World Series victory wasn’t all that much of a shocker.

2: The rise (and fall) of the Baltimore Orioles

In 2022, the O’s were just above .500 (83-79), but a stacked AL East division shoved them out of the postseason. This was already a dramatic contrast to their absolutely catastrophic 2021 season, where they lost an abhorrent 110 games.

But this year, they nearly flipped that record around, winning 101 games. It was a result of good management, team spirit, and a young player force of Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman. Second only to the Atlanta Braves, the Orioles made a great run. One that won’t be remembered for its ending result, but for its story of miraculous recovery.

And it was this incredible record that made the end of the O’s season so surprising. Swept, in three games, in the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Rangers, a swift end that unjustly tells the story of a historic season.

3: Big Apple? More like big disappointments

Coming out of a season where star outfielder Aaron Judge broke the American League single-season home run record of 62 (the MLB record if you eliminate steroid users,) people expected bigger things from the New York Yankees. Instead, the Bronx Bombers finished fourth in the AL East.

Paired with the fact that they made it all the way to the ALCS last year, everyone predicted that they would go a long way. They didn’t even make it to the postseason.

But the Mets surprised us too. They combined two Cy Young award winners (for being best pitcher,) Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, and it should’ve made a difference. But before the end of the season, both were at different teams.

Where did both of them end up? Texas. Verlander moved back to Houston, and Scherzer was traded to the Rangers.

The New York teams’ failure to capitalize on huge budgets and star-studded lineups is comical. The Mets and Yankees have the number one and two spots for highest payrolls respectively, and four of the top six highest paid players played in the Empire City. But still, both teams failed.

4: The bigger they are, the harder they fall

The World Series featured two Wild Cards. The mysterious, disappointing disappearance of the regular season’s top teams certainly shocked many. So what were the fates of those premiere squads?

The fifth place Milwaukee Brewers: swept in the Wild Card series by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The fourth place Tampa Bay Rays: swept in the Wild Card series by the Rangers.

The third place LA Dodgers: also swept by the Diamondbacks, in the NLDS.

The second place Orioles: swept by the Rangers in the ALDS.

The first place Braves were the only ones who put up a fight, winning a game but losing 3-1 in the NLDS to the Philadelphia Phillies.

It’s remarkable how poorly these teams performed, even though the postseason was remarkable as a whole. Six out of 11 postseason series were a sweep.

But in the fall of these dominant regular seasons came the emergence of teams closer to the midfield: the Diamondbacks, the Phillies, the Rangers, the Twins. All exceeded expectations at the cost of those top teams.

It was certainly a special season. Who knows what could change in 2024. With hope provided by the rebuilding squads of Texas and Baltimore, low field teams like the Detroit Tigers or Kansas City Royals could have the chance to replicate their recovery. Maybe even our Colorado Rockies could have a shot at the postseason in a couple of years, even after such a low season, where they lost a franchise-high 103 games.

It’s entertaining to see other teams succeed other than the usual league champions. This season was inspirational for low-tier teams, and a signal that maybe the MLB might be shifting. Cheers to 2024.

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About the Contributor
Peter Philpott
Peter Philpott, News Editor & Outreach Coordinator
Hey there! My name's Peter, I'm a junior, and I'm the USJ's News Editor and Outreach Coordinator. I believe that the first amendment is incredibly important, and as journalists we have the right and the duty to uphold it. I am very passionate for news reporting, from small, local issues, to major politics or systemic change topics. This is why I love political/breaking news reporting, and one day I hope to be an investigative journalist. I also enjoy artistic photography in my free time. My position as Outreach Coordinator gives me the opportunity to connect to other newspapers, businesses, and families in the community to grow our reach and get our coverage in the hands of more people. I play trumpet and mellophone and I am part of Creek's Marching Band. I'm enthusiastic to inform this school on the happenings of our community, from Capitol Hill to the quad. Also, check out my column, Peanuts and Cracker Jack, where I talk about in-depth baseball!

To contact me by email, access my portfolio, or view my photography Instagram account, click the respective buttons below.

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