MLB: Top 5 “Worse Than You Think” Teams for 2021 Season
With spring training games right around the corner, it is time for some MLB fans to start getting overinflated expectations. As reliable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, we are about to start hearing a lot of statements that give false hope. These statements range from “he’s in the best shape of his life” to “they’ve really had a great spring”.
Then for the next few months, that’s all we will hear about until realization sets in that their team does indeed, stink. Of course, there’s a lot of reasons that fans could have overinflated expectations about their team like branding. So without further adieu, these are the top five MLB teams that will be worse than you think.
This is one of those MLB teams that gets inflated based on history. That’s in addition to an arrogant fanbase that gets way more to cheer about than they deserve. There’s a decent amount of pop in the projected 2021 starting lineup for Boston that can definitely give fans false hope. Names like J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Hunter Renfroe can do some damage at the plate. Obviously, the lineup must be more well-rounded if they want to be contenders.
Seven of the top eight teams in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) made the playoffs in 2020, two of those seven played against each other in the World Series. Boston’s rank last year? They ranked 20th in defensive efficiency which was masked by an even more dismal bullpen. Although manager Alex Cora made it clear they were going to “focus on defense” this is something that Red Sox fans have heard before to no avail. Also while we are talking about the manager, he is going to have an uphill battle with his players after his involvement in the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
Yes, baseball’s unlovable losers take the second spot on this list. With fans being allowed at Spring Training this season, the backlash that Houston avoided last season playing in front of no crowds will now be given to them. Granted these are professionals and are able to tune out boos and stuff for the most part. There is still a psychological effect that is left on this team. This will come into play when fans are allowed in some MLB ballparks this season.
Also, this team lost a lot of offense in their lineup with George Springer leaving in free agency. That could impact them. They also have an aging starting rotation they will need to keep an eye on. Sure, this team still has star power like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman but pop in the lineup isn’t going to do much. Especially, when your starting pitching and bullpen keep putting runners on base. Yes, last season the Astros were able to take advantage of the larger playoff field. And they found that chip that was on their shoulder. People forget however that the team went 29-31 and were playing uninspired baseball for the majority of last season.
Yet another MLB team that’s fanbase ends up with overinflated expectations they talk themselves into nine times out of ten. The “Cubbies” of Chicago are going to end up being the second team in town with the Chicago White Sox looking dangerous. In their early season projections, MLB has the Cubs ranked 15th overall headed into 2021. It’s important to note that although they have some stars still with the team like Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, and Kyle Hendricks they still lost a few as well. Though not a player, the voice of Theo Epstein in the office will no longer be heard which puts the Cubs in a very bad position going forward.
Going into 2021 the Cubs are sort of leaning that some magical pixie dust will fly from Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendrix to the rest of the arms on the team which is a very tall ask. On top of that, the losses of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, Yu Darvish, Kyle Schwarber, and Victor Caratini will not return. Losing them turns the Cubs from a competitor to a team that can only hope to take advantage of a weakened division.
This storied MLB franchise seems to have made a decent amount of noise this offseason. Mainly by holding the Colorado Rockies hostage and stealing their franchise player and millions of dollars on top of it. This is another one of those situations where the names in the lineup will fool a lot of fans and even some members of the media. The Cards will make people think they may make the postseason and make some noise when they get there. For now let’s focus on one, Nolan Arenado. The newest Cardinal is someone they had their eye on for some time and is not exactly the star people believe him to be.
It’s fairly common knowledge that at a higher altitude stadium like Coors Field there are a lot more balls that leave the park than normal. In case you’re curious about his career Nolan Arenado has only had two seasons hitting above .250 in the past five years away from Coors Field. His numbers at home? In that same stretch, he has only had one season where he was below a .300 batting average. Obviously, one player does not make the team. But, one of the oldest pitching staffs and projected starting lineups in baseball, St. Louis should just go ahead and pencil in Bruce Springsteen’s song “Glory Days” for their theme this year. This team is relying on a starting rotation that is trying to re-find their ace stuff they had during their younger years.
There had to be at least one controversial pick in this, why not the defending champions. We know what we saw last year in a shortened season with the offensive firepower and the great pitching, etc. There is a reason that Major League Baseball has not had a repeat champion since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees. There is something that mentally happens to a team after they finally win a World Series after waiting so long, just ask the previously mentioned Chicago Cubs.
It’s easy to finally take a sigh of relief as a team that was outright cheated of championships in 2017 and 2018. Could that happen this year for Los Angeles? It’s not such a far-fetched conclusion.
The other thing the Dodgers will have to worry about is their path to a division title. It may not be as simple this year with the amount of money the San Diego Padres have spent this offseason. In addition to all of that, the key to the Dodgers’ success these past five or so years have been culture and consistency. Now they add notorious hot head Trevor Bauer to a team with overinflated egos going into 2021. Let’s just say I hope baseball has “The Last Dance” type of film crew with this team this year. Will the Dodgers miss the playoffs? Probably not. Is this team prime to be upset by a team that does sneak into the last spot? Absolutely.
Of course, this list isn’t an absolute a week before Spring Training. There are a billion things that could happen to any one of these teams that could make them meet their fans’ unrealistic expectations. One thing is certain, it’s a good thing MLB baseball is back. Play Ball! Be sure to keep an eye out right here for all your MLB coverage.
Who do you think was left off this list? Leave a comment below.
Follow Corey on Twitter @CoreyDecker11