Which team most needs to win the World Series?
A few years ago, I adapted a Bill James formula to answer this question. The idea is that the more success a franchise accumulates without winning it all, the more the pressure builds for the organization. The more intense the pressure, the more intense the celebration when the team actually wins.
The system is built on the year-by-year accumulation of "pressure points." There are three ways to compile pressure points:
1. Not winning the World Series.
2. Not winning a pennant.
3. Having a "good" season (defined as .500 or better in this adaptation of the James system) without winning a pennant or title.
The first two factors build up each season a team doesn't accomplish one of those feats, but the counter rolls back to zero if it crosses the threshold. The third factor is based on the past 25 years only and doesn't ever quite roll back. It just looks at how frequently a team is good, which is roughly defined as being in the postseason conversation. (A lower bar to clear than it once was because of playoff expansion.)
The idea is to capture a kind of "knocking on the door" dynamic, one that isn't there if a team is merely out of the running year in and year out. There's pressure in that, too, but a different kind of pressure.
Finally, the James system has been adapted with an "urgency" factor based on how many pending free agents each team has and how much value (by bWAR) those walk-year players provided to the team in 2023.
The last time we ran these numbers was just prior to the 2019 postseason. The top two teams then were the Nationals and Dodgers, who proceeded to win the next two World Series. Thus, it's a good time to take another look.
Here is a ranking of this year's playoff contenders by pressure points, followed by a list of the teams out of the running. The rankings include the 17 teams that have nonzero chances at getting into the 2023 postseason.