In sports, we tend to focus most of our attention on the teams and the players who are the best and will be competing for championships. But what about the teams at the bottom?
We thought it’d be a good idea to take a closer look at some of the worst teams in baseball this year. Why are they so bad? What has gone wrong for them? Perhaps most importantly, what does the future look like for them?
By this point in the season, we have a good idea of what MLB teams just don’t measure up to the rest of the league. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the 10 worst MLB teams in 2021 so far.
10. Miami Marlins
It’s a little bit of a mystery why the Marlins are so bad this year. Miami’s young pitching has been exceptional, even with Sixto Sanchez still sidelined. The crazy thing is that the Marlins have a positive run differential on the season and yet they finished June 11 games under .500. The kicker is that not only does Miami have the best run differential in the NL East but the Marlins have the fifth-best run differential in the National League.
In some ways, they look like a potential playoff team. But the Marlins haven’t hit and have been held back by a few injuries to key everyday players. But at 11 games under .500, they are among the 10 worst teams in baseball this year.
9. Los Angeles Angels
It’s been another hard-luck season for the Halos.
Even with Shohei Ohtani getting serious consideration for MVP honors, the Angels are under .500 and don’t appear to be a team that will be playing meaningful games in August and September. Obviously, the injury to Mike Trout hasn’t helped matters. But even before Trout got hurt, the Angels weren’t going anywhere.
As usual, offseason additions to the starting rotation have failed to work out. Alex Cobb and Jose Quintana haven’t added much while Dylan Bundy is having a dreadful season. Even Andrew Heaney is struggling. To their credit, the Angels can hit better than most teams, but not enough to overcome a rotation that’s been terrible.
8. Colorado Rockies
To their credit, the Rockies are only terrible about half the time. Colorado finished June 28-16 at home, which is rather impressive and should be enough to make them a halfway decent team. However, the Rockies have gone 6-31 away from Coors Field, which is mind-blowingly bad.
The Rox have more than enough capable hitters to be at least average offensively without benefitting from the thin air in Denver. But that’s not how things have played out this year. Colorado’s lineup simply hasn’t hit on the road, which has completely negated the team’s strong home record.
7. Kansas City Royals
The Royals get a little credit because they played well during the first month or so of the season. For a little while, it even looked like Kansas City might be one of the surprise teams in baseball this year and hang around in the playoff race. Alas, it was not meant to be for KC.
Whit Merrifield has been too unreliable, leaving Salvador Perez and Carlos Santana as the team’s only reliable hitters. Meanwhile, the team’s young rotation hasn’t developed as the Royals would have hoped. Danny Duffy has had a resurgent year, but the Royals haven’t found any other answers in their rotation, which has held them back and put them in a race to avoid finishing last in the AL Central.
6. Minnesota Twins
The Twins are probably the biggest surprise on our list, at least based on preseason expectations. Until recently, nobody but Nelson Cruz and Byron Buxton were hitting, and for the most part, it’s been just Cruz by himself with Buxton on the IL for large chunks of the season.
Of course, it’s been Minnesota’s pitching that has been the biggest disappointment. Jose Berrios has done his best to lead the rotation while Michael Pineda had been good before going on the IL recently. But the rest of the rotation has been subpar with Kenta Maeda and J.A. Happ both pitching to an ERA over 5.00. Some of the youngsters who pitched well last season haven’t been able to keep it going, taking the Twins out of the AL Central race early.
5. Detroit Tigers
It’s no surprise that the Tigers are among the worst teams in baseball this year. They are still very much in the rebuilding phase.
For the most part, they've struggled as expected, although they’ve shown intriguing signs of life at times. The problem is that outside Akil Baddoo and Casey Mize, most of Detroit’s standout players are only under contract for another year or two, which means the Tigers might be looking to trade those players this summer, indicating that they aren’t that far along in the rebuilding process.
4. Texas Rangers
In fairness, the Rangers weren’t exactly expected to be serious contenders in the AL West this year. But Texas is dangerously close to having the worst record in the American League, which was not in the team’s plans for their first season in front of fans in their new ballpark.
Adolis Garcia has come out of nowhere to become one of the team’s best hitters but received little support outside of Joey Gallo. Pitching-wise, it’s been an unmitigated disaster outside of Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy, who will probably be traded this summer. The Rangers are getting nothing from veterans like Jordan Lyles and Mike Foltynewicz, which is why they’ve dropped straight to the bottom of the AL West while waiting for some of their younger pitchers like Dane Dunning and Kolby Allard to find some consistency.
3. Baltimore Orioles
We knew things would be bad in Baltimore this year, but perhaps not this bad. Even after sweeping the Astros to close out June, the Orioles are on pace to win just 54 games this year, which is how many games they won in 2019. That essentially means they’ve made no progress in two years.
To be fair, Cedric Mullins looks like a keeper, but other than him, Ryan Mountcastle, and Trey Mancini, the Orioles are still struggling to find players who they can build around. It’s the same story with the pitching staff with John Means, who’s now on the IL, being the only legitimate building block for the future.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are another team under the category of “we saw this coming.” The franchise has done nothing but sell pieces and try to rebuild since the middle of the 2019 season.
Veteran Adam Frazier has been a bright spot, which will likely make him a trade chip this summer. That means young outfielder Bryan Reynolds is the only real reason for the Pirates to have optimism moving forward. With the possible exception of J.T. Brubaker, Pittsburgh’s pitching has also been dreadful in 2021, leaving them with a lot of work to do in the years to come, even if their winning percentage will be considerably better than last year’s shortened season.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are undoubtedly the worst team in the majors this year, and frankly, it’s not even close.
On paper, they don’t look nearly as bad as their record would indicate. But the D’Backs were snakebitten by the injury bug early in the year and never seemed to recover. They have just two pitchers who have made more than eight starts this year, giving 13 different pitchers a start at the midway point in the season. That more or less sums up Arizona’s struggles this year despite Ketel Marte, Carson Kelly, and a few others having strong seasons when they haven’t been on the IL.
Losing 17 straight games is almost unfathomable, but it happened to the D’Backs, who were 3-24 during the month of June, taking them straight to the bottom.
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