There's a question that has been rooted deep in my brain for years, though I've always known it would take a Herculean effort to answer it: What was the greatest Major League Baseball season of all time?
I don't mean an individual player's historic year. I mean a season that has everything: star players putting up superstar seasons, exciting playoff races, surprising teams, a spectacular World Series. All of it.
It was sometime in June that I realized the 2023 season was shaping up to be something special. Shohei Ohtani was dominating at the plate and on the mound -- perhaps on his way to the most awe-inspiring individual season of all time, even better than his previous two awe-inspiring seasons. Ronald Acuna Jr. was hitting for average, hitting for power and running wild on the bases. Luis Arraez was chasing .400. The Atlanta Braves were on their way to record-setting power numbers. The Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers -- who all had losing records in 2022 -- were sitting in first place in their respective divisions.
Enter Elly De La Cruz. The 21-year-old, 6-foot-5 rookie joined the Reds in early June and became an immediate sensation with his breathtaking range of talents, from crushing a 458-foot home run for his first in the big leagues to recording the fastest home-to-third time in the majors this season.
Off the field, the new rules were a hit among fans, players and pundits. Attendance was up across the league. In late June, during the peak of the Elly frenzy, the Reds drew over 126,000 fans for a three-game series against the Braves, the highest-attended three-game series ever at Great American Ball Park. TV ratings were up. Social media engagements were up. The Atlantic ran a cover story titled: "How Baseball Saved Itself."
Yes, there's plenty of baseball to be played, but it feels safe to say 2023 will be a great season. Could it actually be the greatest season ever? Let's take a deeper look.