Some teams made it to the MLB Postseason this year but many, many did not. This is an attempt to find the best bad team this season produced.
There are few prizes as hard to attain as the World Series trophy. The common complaint about the format of the playoffs is actually the perfect argument for why the World Series is so satisfying to win: 162 games across six months all comes down to a handful of games in the fall.
Usually, the best team wins. Baseball is not like football where there’s a one-and-done sense of sudden death in the postseason. The playoffs are designed to replicate what teams go through in the regular season to ensure that the best team averaged over the course of a string of games is indeed the better team. Sometimes there are twists of fate that change the course of history, but more often than not the prestige of winning the World Series rests on the idea that on a long enough timeline your team was the best one.
But what happens if the opposite of good teams were fighting for a crown. Wouldn’t it more interesting to see which mummified clubhouse could claw its way out of the grave and finish an otherwise forgettable season with some sense of pride?
We took the worst teams in baseball and tossed them into a pressure cooker of their own in order to determine who the best bad team was this year. Taking into account analytical data, sabermetrics, and that all important gut feel that baseball fans both love and hate, we simulated a postseason featuring the worst teams this year to determine who would wear the crown of thorns. The simulator took into account current rosters, statistics from this season, and things like home field advantage, and put each game through a full nine innings. And, because this is Baseball Hell so let’s have some fun, all injuries were healed and players that got hurt during the year suddenly found themselves healthy. If Tris Speaker, Joe DiMaggio, and John McGraw have to sit in the bleachers and watch what bad modern baseball looks like, we can’t be sending anything but the best of the worst.
Just because your team finished in the basement doesn’t mean October baseball is meaningless. Here’s what happened when we took the worst teams this year and sent them on a journey through the seven circles of baseball hell.
Welcome to the End of the World Series.
The AL Central was a historically bad division this year, so it’s not real surprise that it produced three teams vying for the End of the World Series.
While the quality of baseball wasn’t what you’re looking for out of a postseason game, it was at least thrilling. White Sox starter James Shields didn’t last through the second inning, allowing four runs on seven hits. Michael Kopech was able to throw three scoreless innings but got lit up in the fifth and was yanked. Things weren’t much better for the Tigers, who watched Francisco Liriano go five scoreless innings before Ron Gardenhire decided bullpenning was needed to preserve his starters for an LDS showdown in Baltimore. Because Gardenhire is who he is — a manager who was routinely plot twisted in the postseason while with the Twins, the bottom fell out as soon as Zac Reininger came out and knocked the lock off the floodgates. The Detroit bullpen, which had a below average FIP of 4.29 thanks to awful defense behind it, couldn’t stop the bleeding.
This was a gross game, but one that was the kind of car wreck you couldn’t take your eyes off of. If we had to watch two very bad teams try to outsmart each other and fail miserably, this was the perfect game for that.
For all of the love Boston gets for winning so many games, the American League was not great. Far too many people have overlooked just how good the National League was, even if that definition has to be flexible.
Where the AL Wild Card here featured two teams that were very clearly bad, the NL Wild Card has two teams that both won more than 70 games. Together, the Mets and Giants both have records better than six American League teams with New York nearly getting to 80 wins. If there was a matchup that could come close to producing good baseball in the Upside Down it’s this game.
That’s why it’s no wonder the matchup between Madison Bumgarner and Jacob deGrom didn’t feel like a Wild Card game between two bad teams. Wilmer Flores batted in two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after a pitchers duel that produced only a Brandon Crawford home run on the scoreboard. It’s fitting, though, that both of these seemingly stacked rosters landed here. The Mets have three of the best starters in baseball yet limped into the consolation bracket, while the Giants failed to make something out of an offseason push to acquire veterans for a postseason run. Both teams were supposed to be so much better than they are and landing here highlights just how much they underachieved.