2017’s Potentially Most Disappointing Teams

Updated: January 2, 2017

On Friday we took a look at 2017’s potentially most improved baseball teams so today we’ll took at those most likely to drop off in 2017 and disappoint their fanbases.

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Again, for this project we used FanGraphs’ Projected Standings page and simply subtracted the 2017 wins by the 2016 wins. The projected standings page takes each team’s depth chart and individual player WAR projections from ZiPS and converts them into a potential record. We’ll take a look back at this later this offseason when the PECOTA projections come out.

The first thing you’ll notice about this list is that four of the first five (and seven of the first nine) teams on this list were 2016 playoff teams. Regression is always expected after a playoff year because a playoff year often features career years from certain players. That said, this is still a bit surprising and 2017 looks like it could be a year of parity in the middle.

2016 2017 Projected Full Season
Team W L W L +/-
Rangers 95 67 82 80 -13
Orioles 89 73 76 86 -13
Brewers 73 89 63 99 -10
Cubs 103 58 95 67 -8
Blue Jays 89 73 82 80 -7
White Sox 78 84 71 91 -7
Nationals 95 67 90 72 -5
Indians 94 67 91 71 -3
Mets 87 75 84 78 -3
Mariners 86 76 83 79 -3
Tigers 86 75 83 79 -3
Royals 81 81 79 83 -2
Padres 68 94 66 96 -2
Cardinals 86 76 85 77 -1
Yankees 84 78 83 79 -1
Phillies 71 91 70 92 -1


The first team on this list is not really a surprise if you paid attention last season, the Texas Rangers at -13. The 2016 Rangers were one of the “luckiest” teams in history as they had an MLB record 36-11 record in one-run games. There is nothing in the history of baseball research that shows that as being anything other than luck. Last year’s Pythagorean record had them at 82-80 and without any major moves this offseason, this year’s has them at that same record. While they’ve been linked to Mike Napoli, he’s not likely to move the needle too much for them. This is a good core with Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, but this team is just lacking around the edges and I see luck going against them in 2017.

The next team is another one that blew away all of 2016’s projections. The Batlimore Orioles got a near perfect year from closer Zach Britton that will be hard to repeat as well as a career year from Mark Trumbo who is not likely to be back. Manny Machado is one of the best young players in the game, far too often overlooked, but he is not enough even with Chris Davis hitting dingers every day. The starters leave a lot to be desired and it’s hard to imagine everything going just right again. We’ll probably go under on this one again depending on any big offseason moves.

The Cubs one feels wrong. The projections have Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo taking a big steps back in WAR which just feels wrong. I don’t buy this one.

Toronto, on the other hand, feels right on. You can’t lose Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista while only replacing them with Kenrys Morales and expect to be at the same level. They still have one of the best hitters in the game in Josh Donaldson, but the offense will look a lot different than the scary one we’ve seen the past couple of years. Steve Pearce is an interesting pick-up and could be a great hitter for them. Still, there are dropoffs coming from Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki; and the pitching staff can’t possibly outperform expectations any more than they did last season. 2017 could see a lot of new playoff teams in the American League.

Chicago is the most obvious drop-off as the White Sox sold on Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, two of their best players. They are expected to make a move for Jose Quintana as well is they get a good offer and that should decimate the 2017 club. That said, I think they’ll be competitive as they got such great packages back for those players that they could be frisky. Not a playoff team, but a tough 73-ish win team.

The Nationals and Indians are going to be tough again. This is just a couple of wins difference and nothing to really worry about. The Nationals added Adam Eaton who will be great for them. The Indians added Encarnacion and will get Michael Brantley. I’d put them with the Cubs in projections I just don’t agree with.

While the Mets are the Mets. Who knows what will happen with them. Maybe all the starters will be healthy and they’ll be great. Maybe they won’t and they’ll be pretty good. They are a tough team to peg. 83 wins feels safe.

One last team I want to mention is the Seattle Mariners as I just don’t agree with the projection at all. (And that’s not just because I am wearing a Robinson Cano shirt right now.) The Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz trio is one of the most dangerous in baseball and as long as they are healthy this team will compete. The projections are bearish on Danny Valencia, Dan Vogelbach, Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger. I feel good that at minimum one of these guys will break out this year. They are also less than optimistic on starters James Paxton and Felix Hernandez. Paxton because they don’t believe in his improvements last year and Hernandez because he’s coming off a career worst season. I believe in the former and am expecting a bounce back after a dedicated offseason from the latter. The Mariners should compete with the Astros for the AL West this year.

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One Comment

  1. Dangerous Dean

    January 5, 2017 at 12:01 am

    Fangraphs has said the Rangers would fold each of the last several years. Other than the injury-plagued year in 2014 (when Texas had more injuries before the Break than any other MLB team in history had endured in a FULL season), Texas has won the division. So keep hating, Fangraphers.

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