The World Series is over, and the Kansas City Royals are basking in the glow of baseball’s greatest achievement. Nine other postseason teams came up short. Next year, all ten – including those Royals – will be hard at work again, trying to get back to the postseason. Can they do it? Well, not all of them. Here are four 2015 MLB playoff teams that might miss the 2016 postseason.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015, and it’s probably good that they got it done when they did. Las Vegas has already soured on the championship squad: they’re 18-1 to win next year’s World Series, the worst odds of any 2015 postseason team. The Royals have some departing free agents, the most notable of whom is star LF Alex Gordon (he will almost certainly decline his player option). They’ll also lose the rental players that helped them get over the top (SP Johnny Cueto and 2B Ben Zobrist). Combine that with a rising division that includes the improving Minnesota Twins and the retooling Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, and you have a Royals team that’s likely to take a step back in 2016.
New York Yankees
The Yankees are always a threat to make the postseason, because they are always a threat to make the moves that put them in contention. But is 2016 really going to be the year they do that? The 2015 Yankees were fueled in part by a surprise season by Alex Rodriguez, but A-Rod is a year older now. The Yankees have some exciting young talent (like 1B Greg Bird), but they may still be a year or two away from serious contention. If the Blue Jays can stay solid, the Yankees may find themselves in another Wild Card battle in 2016. This time around, they may not come out on top.
Baseball is so cruel. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a great baseball team for years now, but they’ve been constantly exiled to the Wild Card Game because they’re stuck in the same division as the Cardinals. Now, the landscape of the NL Central may finally be changing – but it’s the Cubs that look ready to unseat the Cardinals, not the Pirates. The Cubs have a ton of young players under control, and the Cardinals look (almost) as dangerous as ever. With those two as neighbors, the Pirates could easily be pushed to third in the Central – and, if they’re not careful, out of the playoff picture entirely.
There are more American League teams on this list than National League ones, because the American League looks a lot less predictable right now. The young Houston Astros settled for a Wild Card spot last year, but they’re an improving team and seem likely to grab the division crown away from the 2016 Texas Rangers. If that happens, Texas will have to battle with the other Wild Card candidates (like those Yankees we talked about up there) to grab one of the two Wild Card spots. Can they do it? We think this one could go either way. Texas overachieved this year, but they’ll be arguably better next year with Yu Darvish back. Texas will be an interesting team to watch, and we’re not sure they’ll make it back to October.