A 162-game MLB season is an awfully long time to exclusively root for one team going nowhere fast, especially if that franchise has missed the playoffs in at least five consecutive years—or is very publicly making plans to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas. (Please be kind to all the A's fans in your lives.)
If you're a fan in such a situation and you want a "backup" team for 2023, or if you're a brand-new fan of Major League Baseball looking for a favorite team to adopt—first of all, welcome to the party!—we're going to help you pick your bandwagon squad.
There are three basic rules when choosing your bandwagon team:
Cannot be one of the five most recent World Series champions. (Adios, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox. Though, if you really want to start rooting for one of the worst teams in baseball, the Nationals would be happy to have you in their corner.)
Cannot be the evil empire, unless you live in NYC. (Adios, New York Yankees.)
And from the remaining options, the team must be fun to watch and preferably a viable candidate to reach the postseason. (Let's discuss.)
There's also an unspoken rule that your bandwagon team absolutely cannot play in the same division as your primary rooting interest, nor can it be a team that eliminated your primary rooting interest from the postseason at any point in the past decade. However, we cannot exactly account for that for each reader, so you'll have to figure out which of these teams are options to become your secondary club.
We'll be identifying the top bandwagon option from each of the six divisions, so up to five of the six could appeal/apply to you.
AL East: Baltimore Orioles
What Makes Them Fun: All of the stolen bases
Among American League teams, only Tampa Bay has a higher on-base percentage than Baltimore's .343 mark. And when the Orioles get baserunners, they give 'em the green light, sporting 25 stolen bases through 19 games. Most of that damage comes from Cedric Mullins (nine) and Jorge Mateo (eight), who are battling each other and New York's Anthony Volpe for the league lead in that department. But six other O's have attempted at least one stolen base. Always the potential for something to watch.
Postseason Potential: Tangible, but slim
The lineup is good enough to vie for a wild-card spot, and the pitching could get there if rookie Grayson Rodriguez starts living up to the hype and/or if John Means (Tommy John surgery) can get back on the mound before it's too late to matter. But welcome to the most frustrating part about being an Orioles fan: Realizing that they reasonably could be a playoff team with maybe one or two savvy deadline deals, but knowing that "spending money to try to win a title" simply isn't something this franchise does.
Jersey to Buy: Adley Rutschman OR Gunnar Henderson
Both youngsters made their MLB debuts in 2022 and have been near everyday staples in the lineup thus far in 2023. And neither one will even sniff free agency until at least half a decade from now, which is always a reassuring thought when shelling out some hard-earned money for a jersey. But even if you only intend on bandwagoning Baltimore for 2023, Rutschman and Henderson are already two of the most valuable players on the roster. Put one of those names on your back, some crab fries in one hand and a Natty Boh in the other and you'll fit right in at beautiful Camden Yards.