2023 MLB postseason likely to have a strange look without Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals

MLB’s 2023 October postseason is likely to have its strangest look since the three-division alignment was adopted in 1995. No New York Yankees, no St. Louis Cardinals, and possibly no Boston Red Sox.

Baseball hasn’t celebrated a postseason without at least one of those three teams in championship contention since before the playoffs were expanded from four teams to eight in 1995.

The last postseason that did not feature any of those three perennial contenders was 1993, when only winners of the four divisions qualified. That year, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS, while the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. In the World Series, Toronto won onJoe Carter’s Game 6 walk-off home run.

The Yankees finished second in the seven-team AL East and were seven games behind the Jays that season. The Red Sox were fifth.

The Cardinals finished third in the NL East, 10 games behind the Phillies.

Since the postseason was expanded in 1995, the Yankees have qualified 24 times (that’s every year but 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016). The Red Sox have made it 13 times, including 2008, 2013 and 2016, and the Cardinals have qualified 17 times, including in 2014.

As August turns to September, Boston is the only one of the three that remains in contention for October play this year. The Red Sox entered the weekend at 68-60, but in fourth place in the AL East and 3.5 games behind the third Wild Card qualifier, presently the Houston Astros.

The Yankees are walking dead. They started the weekend 1-10 in their last 11 games and 16-30 since July 1. The Cardinals started 10-19 and have never been in contention.

Naturally the absence of perennial postseason entries creates room for fresh ones, and that’s particularly been the case on the American League side. The Baltimore Orioles, whose reputation has risen as the Yankees and Red Sox have receded, are in line to make their first postseason appearance  since 2016.

That was also the last time the Texas Rangers qualified for postseason play. Toronto eliminated both of them, taking out Baltimore in the Wild Card game and then eliminating Texas in the division round.