In an era of baseball with distinct haves and have-nots, the have-nots were especially bad last year. Three teams lost 105 games or more. That stat is doing a favor to the Royals, who lost 103. All of this is to say the title of Biggest Loser in 2020 is very much up for grabs, even in a season of 60 games. Who’s your pick?
It’s tough to knock off the “champ.” The Tigers were six games worse than the Orioles last year. Think about that. Their starting pitchers won 23 games, tying the historically bad 1962 Mets and the 1981 Mets–in a strike-shortened season–for the fewest ever. They beat a winning team on the road just five times.
The good news is Detroit has some promising arms on the way. Just not soon enough.
It has to be the Orioles, right? Opposing front offices can’t even name the players on that pitiful roster. And they reside in the only division (the AL/NL East) that is home to four teams that made the playoffs last year: the Yankees, the Rays, the Braves and the Nationals. If local bars are allowed to stay open, it seems they will have plenty of opportunities to come up with sad drink specials.
Potential 60-game weirdness aside, Baltimore is remarkable in that it will quite possibly be worse than it was last season. Of the Orioles’ top six players by WAR from 2019, three are no longer in town. (Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy were both traded this winter; Andrew Cashner still made the club’s final top six despite being dealt last July.) The Orioles did make some additions over this offseason—José Iglesias and Wade LeBlanc—but those aren’t solid guarantees, and so if you looked at last year’s team with a .333 winning percentage and wondered if it could possibly get worse… this might be your answer.
The Tigers, Orioles and Mariners are all really bad. B-A-D, bad. But I’m going to pick the Marlins. The NL East has four teams genuinely taking aim at the division title–not to mention the talented AL East clubs that will now see the Marlins in 2020–and they’re all circling games against Miami as We Can’t Possibly Lose This One. It’s hard to come up with reasons the club won’t be awful again in 2020.
The Orioles are worse than they were last year, after losing Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy this offseason, and the circumstances now are far more challenging for a team with nothing to play for except their paychecks (save for the inexpensive players who already received full prorated pay). That’s certainly not enough to fuel an underdog story in 2020.
Plus, the Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays are all better than they were a year ago, and Baltimore will also have to face the Braves, Nationals, Phillies and Mets for its interleague slate. To quote a recent text I received from someone who follows the Orioles closely, “I would not be surprised if they go 0-60.” Sheesh.
The Orioles should reclaim the mantle of baseball’s worst team after briefly surrendering the title to the Tigers in 2019. The American League East remains a nightmare for bottom feeders, with the Yankees and Rays looking like playoff locks. The Blue Jays should even make additional strides, adding Hyun-Jin Ryu to a powerful collection of young bats. Now the O’s will have to face a bunch of competitive NL East teams, too. Good luck.
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