MLB is a highly competitive league, and every once in a while, it surprises us with Cinderella stories and disappointing squads.
The 2021 Minnesota Twins and the Miami Marlins would definitely fall in the second category, especially the former.
Both clubs were expected to contend this season, but instead, they find themselves in last place of their respective divisions.
Here is why they have the potential to be MLB postseason contenders next season.
2. Minnesota Twins
The 58-75 Twins are, surprisingly, in last place in the American League Central.
They were expected to compete for the division lead with the Chicago White Sox, but lots of things went wrong.
Their best player, Byron Buxton, suffered a hip injury in May that kept him out of action for months.
Their best pitcher, Kenta Maeda, struggled right out of the gate and could never fully right the ship, finishing the year with a 4.66 ERA before the announcement that he underwent Tommy John surgery this week.
Their second-best pitcher, Jose Berrios, was traded at the deadline once the team realized it wouldn’t go anywhere.
As a result, the 2021 season, at one point, turned into a player development-centered one rather than a competitive one.
Since they will likely get Buxton from the start and retain Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and other contributors, plus youngsters Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, and Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota is expected to contend in 2022.
Additionally, they have a good shot at re-signing Cruz this offseason, since he will become a free agent and the player said he would definitely be open to a reunion.
The Maeda loss hurts (he will be out until late 2022 or early 2023), but Minnesota could definitely be better in 2022.
Twins fans might look at the twins being more disastrous than they really are.
Yeah, this season was a total bust. But there’s no reason why in 2022 they can’t win 85+ games. That’s with or without buxton.
This ain’t the 2012 twins
— twinsguy8 (@Twinsguy8) August 18, 2021
1. Miami Marlins
The Marlins, currently 55-78, are last in the National League East.
However, if everything goes their way next year, they could be contending for a Wild Card spot.
They have assembled some of the most impressive organizational pitching depth.
Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Trevor Rogers have pitched like aces this season, and the team also has Elieser Hernandez, Zach Thompson, Cody Poteet, Nick Neidert, Edward Cabrera, and Braxton Garrett ready for the bigs.
Prospect Max Meyer could also be ready to help next year.
Oh, and the team swung an impressive deal over the deadline, sending two months of Starling Marte to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for several years of impressive, but inconsistent lefty Jesus Luzardo.
ALL of those pitchers (and more like Thompson, Garrett, and Neidert) will compete to crack the Marlins rotation in 2022.
Loaded at the position.
— jeremy taché (@jeremytache) August 29, 2021
With their pitching depth alone, the Marlins are in position to make a lot of noise in 2022, even if their 2021 was a bitter disappointment.
They could flip some of those impressive young pitchers for bats, or be more active in MLB free agency.
Either way, they should be a lot better next year.