23 biggest reasons baseball was the best in 2023

Author Avatar

Staff Writer

Joined: Nov 2016

December 31st, 2023

Baseball delivered in a big way in 2023 – as it always does. It was a season that strengthened the resumes of stars, and introduced impactful rookies who quickly joined those ranks. We witnessed historic firsts, said farewell to fan favorites and were enthralled at every turn. In short, baseball was the best, yet again.

Here are 23 of the biggest stories of the 2023 season.

Texas Rangers, road warriors

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Rangers’ run to the title was their unblemished postseason road record. That’s right, the Rangers played 11 road games this October and November and did not lose a single one. Prior to this season, the best road record in a single postseason was 8-0 by the 1996 Yankees. How do you go 11-0 away from home? A plus-42 run differential on the road certainly helps. That was the highest in a single postseason. The prior record was plus-33, set by the 2018 Red Sox. Before these Rangers, no team had won more than nine consecutive road games, even spanning multiple postseasons.

We have to talk about the manager. With the ‘23 Fall Classic, Bruce Bochy has won 17 postseason rounds, which broke a tie at 16 with Tony La Russa for the second-most postseason rounds won among managers, behind only Joe Torre’s 19. Bochy has won four World Series titles, one of just six managers to reach that mark. He joined Casey Stengel (seven), Joe McCarthy (seven), Connie Mack (five), Walter Alston (four) and Torre (four). He became the fifth to win at least one with multiple teams, joining Sparky Anderson (1975-76 Reds, 1984 Tigers), Bucky Harris (1924 Nationals, 1947 Yankees), La Russa (1989 A’s, 2006 and ’11 Cardinals) and Bill McKechnie (1925 Pirates, 1940 Reds).

C-o-r-e-y spells MVP, again

With his World Series MVP Award, Corey Seager joined some rarefied air. He became the fourth to win two World Series MVPs, along with Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson. And including his 2020 NLCS MVP nod, he’s the third with three postseason MVP Awards, joining Orel Hershiser and Dave Stewart. Seager was the first shortstop with three homers in a single World Series. And his six career World Series homers are three more than any other shortstop.

Reliever Will Smith became the first player to appear on a World Series roster in three straight seasons for three different World Series-winning teams (though he did not pitch in the 2022 Fall Classic). In fact, Smith was the first player in MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL history to appear in at least one game (regular or postseason) with three different championship teams in three consecutive seasons.

Adolis García homered in five straight games from ALCS Game 4 through World Series Game 1, tied for the second-longest streak in postseason history, behind only Daniel Murphy, who did so in six straight for the Mets in 2015. García had an RBI in seven straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in a single postseason, behind only Ryan Howard’s eight-game streak in 2009. He became the third player with multiple RBIs in four consecutive postseason games, joining Giancarlo Stanton (2020) and Reggie Sanders (2005). All of those RBIs added up, too. García had 22, passing David Freese (21 in 2011) for the most RBIs in a single postseason. García played 15 games, while Freese played 18.

How about the postseason performance by rookie Evan Carter? He was on base 30 times, the second-most times reaching base safely before turning 22 in a postseason career behind Andruw Jones’ 34 across 31 games from 1996-98. Carter reached in all 17 games, tied for the sixth-longest streak to start a postseason career — and that’s active, entering his next postseason performance. Carter hit nine doubles, the most by a player in a single postseason.

Ketel Marte had at least one hit in each of his first four career postseason games entering 2023. He extended that to a 20-game postseason hitting streak over the course of the D-backs’ run, setting a record previously held at 17 by Manny Ramírez (2003-04), Derek Jeter (1998-99) and Hank Bauer (1956-58). And Marte did it to start his postseason career. Even though the hit streak ended in World Series Game 5, Marte has reached base in all 21 postseason games he has played. That’s tied for the second-longest on-base streak to start a postseason career, behind only 1966-71 Boog Powell (25).

Evan Longoria, who was back in the Fall Classic for the first time since 2008, became the fourth player with a World Series hit at both age 23 or younger and 38-plus, joining Eddie Murray, Pee Wee Reese and Willie Mays. His Game 1 hit was his first World Series hit in 5,748 days, with the prior being Oct. 27, 2008. That is the longest span of days between World Series hits, per STATS. Longoria became the first position player to appear in the World Series at least 15 years after his last trip.

The Orioles (110 losses), D-backs (110) and Rangers (102) had the three worst records in MLB in 2021. Those three teams all made the postseason this year, and two ended up meeting in the World Series. This was the first time that multiple 100-loss teams from the same season have made the playoffs either one or two years after that century-mark season. Let alone three, as 2021 produced. Narrowing the list down further, the D-backs became the third team in MLB history to go from a 110-loss season to a playoff berth in a three-season span, joining this year’s Orioles and the 2013-15 Astros.

Of the three teams noted above, the Orioles had the added distinction of eclipsing the 100-win mark. They became the first team in MLB history to go from a 110-loss season to a 100-plus-win season in a three-season span. They also haven’t been swept in the regular season since 2022, two series before they called up Adley Rutschman. Teams enter each series trying to win the series, but even just avoiding being swept is worth noting. The Orioles have gone 91 straight regular-season series without being swept, a streak they’ll carry into 2024. That’s the third-most consecutive series of multiple games without being swept, per the Elias Sports Bureau. They trail only the 1942-44 Cardinals (125) and 1903-05 Giants (106).

NL Cy Young Blake Snell had 186 strikeouts and just 19 runs allowed in his final 23 starts. He became the first pitcher with at least 170 strikeouts and fewer than 20 runs allowed in a 23-game span (since 1901). Snell had a 1.20 ERA in those starts. The only other pitchers with an ERA that low in a single-season 23-start span (since earned runs became an official stat in both leagues in 1913)? Bob Gibson in 1968, Grover Alexander in 1915, Walter Johnson in 1914 and Dutch Leonard in 1914.

Gerrit Cole put an exclamation point on his 2023 unanimous AL Cy Young campaign in his final start of the season, throwing a two-hit shutout. He became the first Yankee with multiple shutouts allowing two hits or fewer in a season since David Wells in 1998. It was Cole’s ninth start of the 2023 season of at least six innings with three or fewer hits allowed. That’s the most such starts in a season in Yankees history.

A year after 62, Aaron Judge’s home run production was still record-setting. He had two three-homer games this season, becoming the first player in Yankees history with two such performances in a season. Judge ended the season with 37 homers in 106 games played. That’s the most home runs by a player in a season where he missed at least 50 of his team’s games.

Historic feats from Acuña

When unanimous NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 30th home run of the season, he became the first player in MLB history with at least 30 homers and 60 stolen bases in a season. While the round-number feat is 30 homers and 60 stolen bases, Acuña was already in an exclusive club the moment he got to 29 homers and 59 stolen bases, which nobody else had ever done. But he didn’t stop there, finishing with 41 home runs and a Braves’ modern-era record 73 stolen bases, making him the first and only member of the 40-homer, 70-stolen base club.

Historic leadoff-spot production, times three

Acuña’s 41 homers were the most out of the leadoff spot in a season. Mookie Betts had 39, tied for second-most out of the leadoff spot in a season, with George Springer in 2019 and Alfonso Soriano in 2006. But that’s not all. Betts finished with 107 RBIs, the most RBIs out of the leadoff spot in a season (RBIs became official in 1920). Acuña was right behind with 106, next on the list. Before ‘23, there had been two 100-RBI leadoff hitters: Charlie Blackmon (103 in 2017) and Darin Erstad (100 in 2000). This season gave us three, with Betts, Acuña and Marcus Semien’s 100 on the dot.

The dynamic, unanimous NL Rookie of the Year, Corbin Carroll became the first rookie in MLB history with at least 20 homers and 50 stolen bases in a season. He ended up with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases, raising the bar even higher. It was the fourth time a player had at least 25 home runs and 50 stolen bases in a season at age 23 or younger, along with Hanley Ramírez (2007) and César Cedeño (1973 and ’74)

Yet another electric rookie was Gunnar Henderson, the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year. At 22 years and 52 days old on Aug. 20, Henderson became the youngest player in Orioles/Browns history with four extra-base hits in a game. Henderson was the 12th-youngest player since 1901 with four extra-base hits in a game and youngest since Miguel Cabrera in 2005. It was the 44th individual game since 1901 with multiple doubles, a triple and a home run. The last player to do it before Henderson was David Wright on June 23, 2013. Just a sample of what he did in his rookie campaign.

Betts made 77 starts in right field, 62 at second base and 12 at shortstop. Betts became the first player since 1900 to make at least 60 starts each at both second base and in right field in a season, per Elias. Betts had three games where he recorded an outfield assist in a game he started at second base, the most such games in a season in the last 50 seasons. The only players with even two such games in a season in the last 50 seasons were Skip Schumaker in 2010 and Tony Phillips in 1999.

The Braves won the NL East again, marking their sixth consecutive division title. The team has won 23 division titles overall, two more than any other franchise since divisions were established in 1969. Along the way, they hit 307 home runs, tying the 2019 Twins for the most in a season in MLB history. In related news, they set a single-season record by slugging .501 as a team.

For the second straight year, Shohei Ohtani reached 10 wins and hit at least 15 home runs. He’s the only player to do that in a single season, let alone two seasons. And 15 homers is the low limit – he had 34 in 2022 and hit 44 in ’23. The next-most homers hit in a season by a player who won at least 10 games as a pitcher is 11, by Babe Ruth in 1918. Ohtani hit .372 with a 1.220 OPS in games he pitched in this year, the highest OPS by a player in games he pitched since at least 1901, with a minimum of 60 such plate appearances. In November, he became the first player to win multiple MVPs unanimously.

Luis Arraez was traded to the Marlins and just kept doing what he does, hitting for average. With a 2022 AL batting title for the Twins and a ‘23 NL one for Miami, Arraez became the second player since 1900 to win a batting title in both leagues, joining DJ LeMahieu. He became the first player to win a batting title in consecutive seasons with different teams since Benny Kauff in 1914-15 in the Federal League.

With his 25th homer of the season, Julio Rodríguez became the first player in MLB history with at least 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in each of his first two seasons of his career. In 2022, he became the first to reach those marks in his first MLB season, meaning he was also the first to have the chance to do this a second time in his second season. He ended up with 32 homers and 37 stolen bases. He became just the fourth player with a 30-30 season in his age-22 season or younger, joining Ronald Acuña Jr. (2019), Mike Trout (2012) and Alex Rodriguez (1998). Julio and Alex are also the only two Mariners to record a 30-30 season – at any age.

The Rays were the fourth team in MLB history to start at least 13-0, and the first since the 1987 Brewers started 13-0. Before that, it was the 1982 Braves (13-0) and 1884 St. Louis Maroons (20-0). The Rays trailed at the end of just six of 117 innings through those first 13 games. They were the third team all-time to trail at the end of six or fewer of their first 117 innings of a season, joining the 1884 Gothams (six of first 117) and 1884 Maroons (none of first 117), according to Elias.


0 %

User Score

0 ratings
Rate This