National Pastime Has Potential Problem – National League

Will Venable

(Image Credit

The other day projected their 2016 regular-season results for all of Major League Baseball and the six worst records for both run differential and won-lost standings were all owned by teams…that play in the National League.

The Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds, Padres and Rockies are by their metrics supposed to be…well…not good.

Jayson Stark of ESPN pointed out if for some reason these far-off projections are spot-on…

  1. It would be the first season ever – since the formation of the American League – the six teams with the worst records in baseball would all come from one league.
  2. Even more significantly it would mean only nine teams would be fighting for five playoff spots in the NL.

Jayson has talked to a number of executives in both Leagues and there is concern Major League Baseball is heading towards the other major sports in terms of teams tanking seasons in order to rebuild for the future. Some baseball teams apparently feel others are doing that already.

The Houston Astros have been blessed with being the spark that created this brush fire of criticism, having stripped their payroll to the bone and averaging 108 losses a year for three years. That entitled them to be the first baseball club ever to hold the first draft pick three years in a row.

Next thing you know…the Astros go from 111 losses to a playoff spot in a couple more seasons.

Here in Philadelphia the bottom fell out simply as a case of hoping as stars aged they could stay at the top of their games.  Collectively, they did not.  The strategy supremely failed and the shelves are now bare as far as finding new ingredients for immediate success right now.

In the case of each of those other NL franchises mentioned to project poorly in 2016 it’s a mixed bag as well. In any case I am not convinced the scenario of the Houston Astros is going to become a new strategy for success going forward because, as Commissioner Rob Manfred was quoted in Jayson’s article…

“Obviously, you don’t want to have too many teams in a rebuilding cycle at one time in one league and I accept that. But the fact of the matter is, when you have 30 teams, it’s not unusual that you have five or six in a rebuilding cycle. I think if you look back historically that would not be a number that’s out of line.”

“I believe all our teams are pursuing strategies over some period of time to make them a winner. And occasionally those strategies involve rebuilding. Our teams don’t tank.”

You have the realities of the market (code for money you have available and/or willing to spend) as well as who is on roster and down on the farm (system). But to be honest, as far as the baseball draft is concerned as long as you have a good development system you should be able to do well with anyone drafted early on.

The Houston Astros moved a number of veterans to acquire a slew of prospects and it worked out. It took a few years and a lot of losses. But they moved to acquire assets in their process.

This is the final year of the current collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the players. I am positive both sides will be keeping a close eye on how teams in disarray try to find their way back to a better day.

I know from living in a city where the pro basketball team literally announced they were going to stop trying for awhile what tanking really is all about. Trust me…the Houston Astros did not tank.

It certainly does look like there are some bad baseball teams in the NL in 2016.

Let’s watch their player movements and determine their final rankings…before we accuse any of tanking.

That is a word that should not be “pitched” around lightly.




About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside the City of Brotherly Love. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen of our United States and Canada (twice). Addicted from birth to Television/Movies/Sports. Took three years of French and got credit for two of 'em.
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21 Responses to National Pastime Has Potential Problem – National League

  1. Laura says:

    How can they ignore the Marlins?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. aFrankAngle says:

    I’m not happy that the Reds got the #2 pick in this year’s draft … so, damn it, they are going for #1 in 2017!

    Yes, Houston was quite the success story. History is full of other teams trying the same thing, yet unsuccessfully. On the other hand, 2016 will tell us if the Astros are real or was 2015 an anomaly.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. George says:

    There has been some talk about the National League adopting the DH when the new CBA comes around next year. That may help a bit but so much of this stuff is cyclical in sports, divisions and leagues. It’ll be interesting to see if the purists win out or if the players union which supports the DH jobs, will win out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love tradition, but I also feel the DH has its place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well…it’s been around so long in the AL it should be in the other if they insist on keeping it…especially with the scheduling now. Universally in or out if it stays…I say.


      • That’s a good argument and I see your point, Bruce. I guess what I like about the American League is that it tends to do more of the experimentation, while the National League holds tightly to tradition. All this lends variety to baseball. Not that baseball doesn’t have its faults.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. SportsChump says:

    Is this why there’s been talk about bringing the DH to the National League?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. ChgoJohn says:

    Ix-nay! IXNAY! Whatever it takes to get the Cubs to the World Series is a good thing, even if it means that half the league has to tank. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Troy Sparks says:

    What happened to your Phillies after 2011, Bruce? I’m genuinely not ribbing you! I don’t pay a lot of attention to baseball outside of what the Cardinals (and sometimes those darn, nasty Cubs in hopes of their demise!) are doing. Everything seems to have just fell out after that year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Troy, it really is as simple as they gave massive contracts to a bunch of aging veterans who all fell apart at once. They have been trying specifically to get rid of Ryan Howard but the contract was too much to take on…oh, and he’s not good either. Cliff Lee sat at home last year and made more money than Disney did. Left a useless GM in charge as well. New blood in place now on the upper floors. Hope springs eternal!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. garym6059 says:

    I really have zero idea why the Reds want a high draft pick if history is any indication. We will pass up on sure fire talent just to draft somebody we can “sign” instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The draft to me Gary comes down to either taking a college star you can plug in at AA immediately or taking a high school star and molding him from scratch. Either way your farm system is only as strong as the guys developing the players. Picking guys in the first place…talent proven or teachable talent.

      Liked by 1 person

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