Year in and year out, the upper tier and lower tier of teams in MLB establish their positions relatively early in the season.
There are always a few teams who separate themselves as the worst of the worst, and today, we’re going to try to figure out which team takes the cake so far this year.
Let’s start with the three nominees.
The Baltimore Orioles certainly deserve a look here.
They enter Wednesday with the worst record in all of baseball at 17-31, although there are two teams with worse run differentials.
It should be noted that the Orioles have played the third-toughest schedule to this point.
It’s hard to argue with certainty that this is the worst team in the league when they’ve played some elite competition thus far.
Having said that, the Orioles don’t do anything particularly well. They have rotation, bullpen, and lineup woes.
The rotation is easily the most embarrassing area of the roster, however.
Three of the team’s five starting pitchers have ERAs of 6.00 or higher, and four of the five starters have ERAs of 5.59 or higher.
John Means’ breakout season can’t be denied, however, and he might be the biggest reason the Orioles won’t be deemed the worst team in baseball in this article.
John Means has 8.9 WAR since 2019. Only six pitchers have had more WAR in that span pic.twitter.com/5fwor0FPOS
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) May 25, 2021
Means is rocking a 1.79 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 3.48 FIP this year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a league-worst minus-79 run differential and a record of 18-29 despite having played the 13th-easiest schedule.
Truthfully, the Pirates’ starting pitching staff deserves most of the blame.
Pittsburgh has four everyday hitters with above-average OPS+ marks.
They also have a surprisingly good bullpen featuring six players with ERAs below 3.50 (minimum 10 appearances).
When you get to the rotation, however, you see why this team is struggling so badly.
JT Brubaker has been the team’s best starting arm this year, and he has a 4.20 ERA.
After Brubaker, you’ve got Tyler Anderson, who has a 4.73 ERA.
Then things get messy.
You’re not going to win many games with a rotation like that.
The Detroit Tigers are just one game better than the worst-in-MLB Orioles and also have the second-worst run differential at minus-62.
Perhaps worst of all, they’ve played the easiest schedule out of all the teams mentioned so far.
This Tigers team has just two players with an OPS over .811.
Surprisingly, Detroit’s starting pitching staff has several solid arms.
The bullpen is in brutal shape, though.
The Tigers have the worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 5.78.
The Tigers' inability to find bullpen options during the rebuild hasn't been ideal.
5 of the 9 current MLB relievers were either signed, drafted or acquired during the Dave Dombrowski era.
Those 5 include the team's 2 best relievers: Gregory Soto & Michael Fulmer
— Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild) May 25, 2021
There is very little depth there and it’s the biggest area of concern moving forward for this franchise.
All things considered, it’s hard not to choose the Tigers as the worst MLB team around.
The kicker is the fact that they’ve played a relatively easy schedule yet still look like they don’t belong on the same field as their opponent some nights.
Detroit does have a handful of players whose contracts will expire at the end of the season, so Tigers fans will hope that the team can flip those players into some prospects at the deadline.NEXT: Why The Reds Should Not Consider A Full Rebuild