In the modern realm of Major League Baseball, franchise effort and championship aspirations are all relative. And within this environment where pleasing your fans often takes a backseat to process fetishization, just six teams have qualified for the playoffs each of the last three seasons.
You can probably guess most of them: The big-bucks and title-hungry Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, for sure, along with the Houston Astros, as they ride out the wave of collected talent from an innovative and occasionally nefarious regime. The upper-middle-class Atlanta Braves are in this group, as are the Oakland Athletics, who still employ Billy Beane, David Forst and Bob Melvin, who go a long way toward covering for an invisible and seemingly disinterested ownership group.
As for No. 6? Well, say hello to the Milwaukee Brewers, who have mastered the art of the late-winter surprise.
It comes not in the form of a March snowstorm but rather a patient and relatively stealth acquisition of a difference-making talent. Thursday, they added their 2021 model, Gold Glove-winning outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who per multiple reports has agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal.
When Bradley joins the Brewers, they will employ three All-Stars, three Gold Glovers and one MVP in an outfield that, from left to right, will go Christian Yelich-Lorenzo Cain-Bradley.