This year's MLB playoff format will include the largest field ever for a full season, with 12 of the 30 teams (40%) retaining title hopes. For the other 60%, the start of the 2022 postseason means the start of the offseason.
For these 18 clubs, the focus is now on 2023 and beyond. And as they chart a course that they hope will get them into the top 40%, it begins with one key question. It's one of many to be asked, of course, but all journeys must begin with the choosing of a direction.
Here is the key question each non-playoff team will be -- or at least should be -- asking in the days to come. (Note: Our initial list had 15 teams on it; we've been adding more as they are officially eliminated.)
Arizona Diamondbacks: How close are we?
Maybe Arizona needs another season as a proof of concept, but under new pitching coach Brent Strom, the formerly pitching-deprived Diamondbacks seem to have miraculously become a potential run-prevention juggernaut. They aren't there yet, to be sure, but the development of Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen into an elite one-two rotation punch is a great foundation on which to build. The team defense was outstanding as well. How much of all this was real, and how much was a blip? If it was real, the Diamondbacks would appear to be one or two big hitters away from making a run at a wild-card spot next season. We'll get a solid indication of how Arizona views its run-prevention gains by the way it approaches this winter on the hitting side.