When Derek Jeter traded Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, there was an uproar in Miami. The team had no face, no players to even consider a winning season was a possibility. The Marlins were picked by experts everywhere to be the worst team the 2018 MLB season had to offer and maybe even one of the worst teams of all time.
But this is not an article to bash the Marlins. Entering July 4th, the Marlins are a reasonable 35-51 and aren’t even the worst team, judging by standings, in their own division. The rebuild stance that the Marlins and Jeter are taking is not uncommon and a 100-loss team (what the Marlins are on pace to be) is expected every once in awhile. What is NEVER expected and should NEVER be tolerated are so many teams trying so hard to lose games it becomes bad for baseball.
For the first time, baseball officially has a tanking problem. I’m not talking about teams like the Marlins, who have promising young stars and are building through a young farm system while still putting up a fight at the big league level. I’m talking about teams like the Orioles, White Sox, and Royals. None of those three teams have passed 30 wins entering July 4th. The Orioles especially have been the laughing stock of the league, piling up just 24 wins in their first 83 games. At this pace, the Orioles will lose 116 games, something that is sure not to put bodies in seats and have fans glued to the TV. Not to mention, Baltimore’s best player, Manny Machado, should be gone by the end of the month, making the team even worse.
The White Sox aren’t hopeless like the Orioles are, but they still aren’t giving their fans much. Chicago has young players currently in the majors, most notably Yoan Moncada, and one of the best farm systems in the game. Nonetheless, Chicago is also on pace for well over 100 losses and their best player, Jose Abreu, could also be out the door by the end of July.
The Royals are in the same sad boat. On pace for over 100 losses and doing nothing to make remember they won the World Series just three years ago. Their best player Mike Moustakas should be on a new team come August, and they are making no effort to put up a fight in their division.
The Cleveland Indians lead the AL Central at 47-37. Of those 47 wins, three have come against Baltimore, eight against Chicago, and five against Kansas City. Of those 37 losses just five have came against those three teams. The Indians have 21 more games against divisional foes Chicago and Kansas City, and each team will likely have their best players gone for the significant portion of those games. Anything can happen in baseball, but who wants to watch a three-game series in August in which Corey Kluber is matched up against someone who should be pitching in AA?
If the MLB wants to make their games more entertaining, something needs to be done about teams on pace to lose nearly 120 games. The talent between a team like the Red Sox or Yankees blows away the talent of division rival Baltimore. Commissioner Rob Manfred has to forget the pitch clock and start thinking of ways to make Chicago White Sox games more exciting to attend and to watch. If these teams can’t become entertaining, or even put up a fight against a half decent team, the game we all love is in trouble.