Which Playoff Teams Will Miss Out Next Year?

We run a lot of chats and live-blogs around here, and I find that there’s one particular question that consistently comes up every September and October. By that late in the season, either the entire playoff field has been determined, or it’s been almost determined, and there are always people wondering which playoff teams we think are due to struggle in the following summer. People seem to love teams in transition — those transitioning from bad to good, and those transitioning from good to bad. Maybe especially those transitioning from good to bad.

I’m going to tell you right here: This post isn’t about my opinions. I haven’t thought this question all the way through, and I probably won’t until we’re at least a part of the way through the winter. As far as my work responsibilities are concerned, the 2016 season is still alive, and I need to mostly focus on that. But I wanted to run this post for you, because I’d love to see what the audience thinks. At the end of this post is a poll, a poll that allows for multiple answers. I want to see which playoff teams the community thinks *won’t* make the playoffs in a year. I love to crowdsource, and it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done it.

Before we get to the poll, of course, I’ll list the 10 playoff teams from 2016, along with a few sentences about what could lie ahead. I want to remind you again that the poll will allow multiple answers. I’m repeating this because our polls almost never do that, and I don’t want people to vote with the wrong idea about what they’re doing. Onward! To the playoff teams!

Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have so much star power. An incredible amount of star power, scattered throughout the lineup. And not enough people have caught on to the fact that Aaron Sanchez is also a star, now, and Marcus Stroman is getting there. Most of the important parts of the pitching staff are in position to come back. There’s just, you know, the matter of the impending free agents: Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and, less importantly, Michael Saunders. (And I’ll count Brett Cecil, I guess.) The Blue Jays are going to have some difficult decisions to make very soon, and even though I know you could say that same thing about literally every organization in professional sports, that doesn’t make it wrong! It just makes it unfulfilling and pointless.


Sure, they might seem almost invulnerable as the near-term future goes. And also as the medium-term future goes. It might seem like they have the ideal blend of youth, talent, intellect, and resources. But you know what many of the Cubs are? Friends. You know what friends sometimes engage in? Moderately dangerous behavior. Last December I went with some friends to a trampoline gym. Totally innocent. Three of the four of us came away injured within quite literally 11 minutes, and the worst injury of the lot was a torn ACL. There can be downsides to excellent chemistry. People without friends stay home and do nothing.


The Dodgers have a lot of similarities to the Cubs. Highly-touted front office, absurd amounts of money, high levels of talent in the majors and below. As such, the Dodgers are another organization that would appear to be almost bulletproof. But they’re not short on relatively important free agents, like Kenley Jansen, Joe Blanton, Rich Hill, and Justin Turner. They probably can’t bring all of them back, even if they wanted to, and 29 other teams are going to be searching for help in the months ahead. The Dodgers can’t do everything they want.


The Giants just barely hung on, and then they were ultimately destroyed by the very thing that tried to blow up their entire second half. Because of the way the last few months happened, it’s being taken as a virtual guarantee that the front office will bring in one of the available high-profile closers. That is far easier said than done. Midseason trades depleted the prospect depth. The important players are poised to return, and they’ll get a full year of Matt Moore, which is something. The infield looks strong and complete with a regular Eduardo Nunez. The 2016 Giants weren’t *just* the second-half 2016 Giants.


It’s anyone’s guess how much is left of Michael Brantley’s bothersome shoulder. For all I know now it’s just a scarred, empty skin sack. But, I mean, look at what the Indians just accomplished without Michael Brantley. They got a tremendous second-half boost from Andrew Miller, and Miller remains under contract as arguably the best reliever in the game. There are impending free agents, yet not among the most critical pieces. Francisco Lindor is going nowhere. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, Cody Allen — they’re going nowhere. Though the Indians might be limited by their budget, right now they don’t seem like they’re in position to have to spend huge.


I mean, who knows, right? This season threatened to destroy all their pitching. Next season might promise to bring it all back. Steven Matz could be good to go. Jacob deGrom? Good to go. Noah Syndergaard, good to go. Totally unbiased sources say Matt Harvey should be good to go. Even Zack Wheeler is still out there, indicating that if he has his druthers, he’ll be good to go. There’s so much here to dream on, even if 2016 did just show how much can go wrong. The big challenge has to do with Yoenis Cespedes, the anchor of the lineup, and a guy who is a total lock to opt out of his deal. The Mets don’t have an internal replacement for that. And they could also be losing Neil Walker. I don’t think there are many more volatile teams, at this point in time.


People tried to paint last offseason as a disaster, and, certainly, it didn’t go the way the Nationals hoped, but it sure as hell worked out, in large part thanks to Daniel Murphy. Now the team might be losing Wilson Ramos and Mark Melancon. Those losses would hurt, but it helps to have, say, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez ready to pitch in for cheap. It gives the front office flexibility, and there remains an outstanding core here, especially if Bryce Harper improves on what’s been a disappointing five months.


I’m still not entirely sure how the Orioles survived the whole season with the starting rotation they had, but it’s officially now a part of major-league history. And as the Orioles move forward, they know they have Chris Tillman, and both Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy showed a good amount of growth. Even Wade Miley is a fine No. 4, results in Baltimore be damned. Almost every other team in baseball would love to have Manny Machado as the best player on its roster. Annoyingly for the team, Matt Wieters is again an impending free agent. Mark Trumbo, too. The higher parts of the farm system objectively suck. And given the Orioles’ divisional context, you have to think about their competition. They’re likely to have a tough schedule, once more, and that works to their disadvantage.


Do we need to go over this again? There’s a core in place, and pick-ups Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress remain under control. Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo might be poised to get extended opportunities, and it stands to reason there’s plenty of growth potential there. The front office has already indicated it intends to strengthen the rotation behind the terrific top two. Yet you also can’t just count on the Rangers being able to bring back Ian Desmond or Carlos Gomez. It doesn’t look like the team is going to have that much in the way of financial flexibility, and based on some early projections, the Rangers look a good deal worse than the rival Astros. Those numbers didn’t matter in 2016, but then, 2016 is effectively over, as the AL West goes.

Red Sox

So many good players. The most recent of them, of course, being Andrew Benintendi. Between him, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr., next year’s Red Sox outfield might cost a combined $3 million. They should generate at least 10-12 WAR. Yoan Moncada is getting closer and closer, which could provide some relief from the almost unavoidable return of Pablo Sandoval. The big issue here really is just the effect of David Ortiz’s retirement. He was probably the best hitter in the game this past season, which made him the biggest part of the Red Sox’ league-leading offensive attack. They’ll need a number of players to pick up the slack, and they’re likely to need health from Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez in the rotation. The foundation is awesome, but any structure can be ruined by a big enough earthquake.

And so, you’re left to vote. Which of these teams do you think will miss out on the playoffs a year from now? The poll allows for multiple answers. Do you want to select multiple answers? Good news! The poll allows for that.

Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Art Vandelay
7 years ago

I definitely expected the Orioles to be on top, but I didn’t expect the Rangers and Giants to be getting so many votes. Especially the Giants; I don’t really get that one.

7 years ago
Reply to  Art Vandelay

I voted Giants. You can get to the post-season with the division win or 2 WC spots, and I think they’ll still be behind the Dodgers, so 1/3 of their paths are gone.

7 years ago
Reply to  Bubba

My thinking is that if Giants miss out on the division (which is probably the most likely outcome) then they’ll be in a tough spot with several other Wild Card contenders (Cardinals, Pirates, NL East runner-up, etc.). It’ll be a case of too many solid teams and not enough spots.

7 years ago
Reply to  Fernando

This was may thinking too. That, and the Giants have a had a really strong run health-wise from the front end of their rotation for a long while. If that changes (Cueto’s elbow concerns this last off-season come to fruition, or the innings catch up to Bum/ he gets punched at some point) the season could spiral in a hurry. Posey’s power should bounce back though, and the offense should see better production in general, so it’s a tough call.

7 years ago
Reply to  minisidd

catch up to Bum/ he gets punched at some point

Where is Odor?

7 years ago
Reply to  Art Vandelay

Probably for the same reason they were the favorites this year. Next year is an odd year and they don’t make the payoffs in odd years. As for the Rangers it’s probably because if you watch them you don’t say “oh there’s a playoff team” part of that may be because it’s the Rangers and much like the football team they share a parking lot with, what can go wrong will go wrong with them. And yes I am a life long Rangers fan so I know exactly how that goes.

7 years ago
Reply to  Art Vandelay

The Giants have been in the 80’s in wins 4 straight years and it’s not clear why they should be better next year