(Image Credit Arizona.SBNation.com)
The other day Fangraphs.com 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…
- 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.
- 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.