Spring training is underway, which means World Series projections have begun. While most people are focusing on the race for first, though, there’s another competition: the race for last.
Here’s a look at the five teams that will be battling it out for the dubious honor of being the worst team in baseball this season.
Regular season wins total: over/under 66.5
The Cubs are in awful shape on both sides of the field. Starting with the offense, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is a centerpiece at the plate but still has some growing to do. He’s got a bright future, but the Cubs will struggle to score runs — especially since the batting lineup sorely misses a true leadoff hitter. From a pitching perspective, the coin flip for the No. 1 starter between Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija isn’t encouraging to anyone. With a payroll around $90 million, the Cubs will not be getting a good return on their investment this year.
New York Mets
Regular season wins total: over/under 73.5
The Mets are not expected to be the worst team in their division according to the baseball odds, but don’t be surprised if they give the Miami Marlins a run for that distinction. Promising ace Matt Harvey will miss a chunk of the season with Tommy John surgery, and the batting order has question marks up and down it. It won’t help that the Mets are in a division with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, both of which are expected to be World Series contenders.
Regular season wins total: over/under 70.5
The Twins haven’t won more than 66 games for three straight seasons, and that streak could stretch to a fourth year. Justin Morneau is gone, but that will allow Joe Mauer to move to first base and preserve his career. The onus is on Josmil Pinto to make progress from his 2013 call-up behind the plate. The Twins have a new front-line starter in Ricky Nolasco, who shockingly became the biggest free agent acquisition in franchise history (from a financial perspective). While he showed some good stuff in Miami, he still was inconsistent. If this is what the Twins are hanging their hats on, they’re in trouble … again.
Regular season wins total: over/under 69.5
The Marlins have the lowest payroll in the majors at around $42 million. That’s not a good thing. The offense should be brutal, as Miami ranked last in the major offensive categories last year. The Marlins had only two players with double-digit homers: Justin Ruggiano, who is now with the Cubs, and Giancarlo Stanton, who has had injury issues (along with the rumors that he just wants to leave). The pitchers have potential, as All-Star Jose Fernandez looks like one of the league’s brightest young stars. Still, he can start only once every five games, and Miami’s offense is simply terrible.
Regular season wins total: over/under 62.5
According to the MLB odds at Bovada, the Astros are the biggest long shot at 200-1 for 2014. Only Miami has a lower payroll than Houston, which is at $48 million. The Astros do have an intriguing offensive trio in Chris Carter, Matt Dominguez and Jeff Castro, who are between 24 and 27 years old and all hit 20 homers or more last year. However, the issue is that their pitching will be horrendous. When Scott Feldman is the Opening Day starter, a team is in trouble. The Astros will have a good chance to defend their crown as the worst team in MLB once more.