The MLB season is still young, as only a month and a half have passed since opening day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start pointing out some underachieving teams.
The Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels should be playing better than what they have shown so far, and are starting to be left behind in their respective divisions.
Two Underachieving Teams With Notorious Concerns In 2021
1. Minnesota Twins
In a surprising turn of events, the Minnesota Twins, which were (well, are) expected to content for the AL Central crown, are in last place of the division with a 12-23 record.
The Twins are, before Thursday’s games, a whopping ten games behind the Chicago White Sox.
It doesn’t help that their best player, Byron Buxton (.370/.408/.772, 2.4 Wins Above Replacement) is currently injured and without a timetable to return.
Buxton was placed on the injured list on May 7 with a Grade 2 hip strain, and his return isn’t imminent.
— Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) May 7, 2021
The Twins badly need his contributions on the field, as he is far and away their best player (Nelson Cruz is ranked second in WAR with 1.0).
Additionally, it also doesn’t help that the Twins’ best starting pitcher on paper, Kenta Maeda, hasn’t been consistent in the early going.
Maeda has a 5.08 ERA in 33.2 innings, constantly leaving his slider in the fat zone of the plate to be punished by opposing batters.
Late-inning reliever Alex Colome blew game after the game when he was in the closer role earlier in the season, and cost the Twins several victories.
While the Twins should be better, especially if they get Buxton back soon, they have dug themselves into a huge hole.
2. Los Angeles Angels
Yet again, the Los Angeles Angels have Mike Trout, the best player of his generation, on their active roster.
However, and yet again, the Los Angeles Angels are failing to field a team that can compete for a playoff spot.
As a result, a team that has Trout and Shohei Ohtani is currently in last place of the AL West division.
The Angels currently sit in last place in the AL West despite All-Star caliber performances by Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
How disappointing would it be for them to miss the playoffs again? pic.twitter.com/wW06DaYeWS
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 12, 2021
To make matters worse, the Angels have the worst pitching so far in the American League (before Thursday’s games), allowing a total of 202 runs.
It doesn’t help that the star trade-market acquisition, Raisel Iglesias, has already blown multiple saves, but the Angels need to start surrounding Mike Trout with better players.
It’s not conceivable that Trout has only advanced to the postseason only one time in his career, in 2014.
Trout is already 29, and his only playoff appearance came when he was 22.
The good news for the Angels is that there is still plenty of time to right the ship, as it is still mid-May and they aren’t that far behind in the standings, at 16-20 (six games behind the divisional leaders, the Oakland A’s).
But Iglesias will need to find his best form, Ohtani will need to stay healthy, and role players, especially pitchers like Quintana, Andrew Heaney, Alex Cobb, and Dylan Bundy, will have to perform better.