- After going an MLB-low 19-41 in 2020, Pittsburgh Pirates favored to post the fewest wins in baseball once again
- Following the trade of all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies are also in the conversation, along with Baltimore, Texas and Detroit
- Read on for an in-depth look and a best bet for the lowest win total over/under for the 2021 MLB season
If a minimum of 50 wins can be considered the benchmark between simply a bad season and a historically woeful one, then it doesn’t look like there will be any repeats of the 47-win 2018 Baltimore Orioles or 2019 Detroit Tigers in 2021, let alone the 20-win Cleveland Spiders of 1899.
However, after just 19 wins in a pandemic-shortened 60-game season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are favored to be at the bottom of the MLB barrel once again this year, with the team’s average over/under being pegged at just 58.5 games in the opening MLB win totals.
On the bright side, that is still considerably better than the 47 games won by either the Orioles or Tigers a few years back, two teams that are also predicted to be down in the mire once again.
Lowest 2021 MLB Win Totals
|Team||Average Win Total|
Win totals above are the average across online sportsbooks as of Feb. 22, 2021.
Doubts In Detroit
Even forgetting the anomaly of last season’s 60-game sprint, the Detroit Tigers have been the worst club of the above five in the three seasons between 2017-19. In each of those years, they posted an average of just 58.33 wins per season. The Tigers have fallen a long way in the nine years since Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer pitched them to a second World Series appearance in six years.
Detroit’s 47-win campaign in 2019 was the second-worst season in team history, marginally behind the 43 wins posted by the 2003 club. Ron Gardenhire, the skipper who led the club the past three years, has retired, making way for A.J. Hinch.
A.J. Hinch has been named the 39th manager in @tigers history.
The Astros won 100+ games in each of Hinch's last 3 seasons as manager, tied for the longest streak of 100-win seasons in MLB history.
Hinch also caught 27 games for the Tigers in 2003. pic.twitter.com/NRGH1zZYda
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 30, 2020
The World Series-winning manager of the Houston Astros has a lot of work in front of him, but there is hope on the horizon. Breakout seasons from Willi Castro and Jeimer Candelario injected some life into the squad, which also has a generational slugging talent on the way in the shape of No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson.
Here's video of 2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson playing third base at spring training
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) February 22, 2021
But for a team that has posted a winning percentage of .395, .395, .290 and .383 each of the last four seasons, to reach .413 or higher, which is what 67 wins translates to, might be a bit of a stretch.
Losing a player who averaged over 124.2 RBI in the five full seasons before last season’s pandemic-shortened affair would be hard for almost any team in the majors. For the Colorado Rockies, who are never about to be confused with the Yankees, Dodgers or even the Cardinals – Arenado’s new home – it has a seismic impact.
Rockies just traded a 5x All Star and 8x Gold Glover in Nolan Arenado for:
• Austin Gomber: relief pitcher/spot starter
• Luken Baker: Cards' No. 23 prospect (.264 BA in minors)
• Jhon Torres: Cards No. 9 prospect
• possibly two more lower level minor leaguers + money pic.twitter.com/5GVf64yEqv
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) January 30, 2021
Irrespective of the effect on the box score, the trade left players and fans wondering exactly what the plan in Colorado is. In particular there is the question of winning, and whether there will be any? Three seasons ago, the Rockies were a playoff team with all-stars such as Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. Now just the latter pair remain, and Story is a free agent at year’s end.
The Rockies have 3 players ranked in top 20 by MLB network. Arenado 13, DJ LeMahieu 14, Trevor Story 16. Oh, I forgot.
— Woody Paige (@woodypaige) February 18, 2021
The bright spot for the Rockies is the team’s youthful rotation, headed by the likes of German Marquez and Kyle Freeland. But it didn’t fare well last year, with a 5.59 ERA the worst in the NL.
Walking the Plank
The Pirates may have a very good team … at some point in the years to come. That comes with the territory when you trade a trio of Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon for a pool of 11 prospects. Of course, it doesn’t help that the team was already the worst in baseball with a 19-41 record.
Tyler Anderson isn’t flashy, but he’s pretty reliable: Career 4.65 ERA/4.45 FIP. 4.37 ERA/4.36 FIP last year with SFG, was with Rockies before that. A potential decent trade deadline candidate… always helps that he’s left-handed
— Pirates Talk (@PITPiratesChat) February 16, 2021
The recent arrival of Tyler Anderson should give the rotation some much-needed veteran presence after the losses of the winter. However, he will have to go above and beyond his 4.37 career ERA mark for the team to not see a sizeable drop-off in last year’s team mark of 4.74.
Ke'Bryan Hayes went 5-for-5 last night.
The kid can hit. pic.twitter.com/zy7FvvN33s
— Pirates (@Pirates) September 27, 2020
The hope will be that the rotation and bullpen are serviceable, and young players like Ke’Bryan Hayes take a massive step forward in their development.
Best of the Worst
Look for the Tigers to continue to disappoint fans, even if they are allowed back into Comerica Park at some point in 2021.
Pick: Detroit (under 67.0)