We’ve looked a few times recently as some of the World Series contenders for the 2022 Major League Baseball season, which begins Thursday. Today, let’s examine the teams at the bottom of the rung on MLB win totals.
MLB Regular Season 2022
Baltimore Orioles (62.5 Wins)
The Orioles have finished with a losing record for five straight seasons and won just 52 games last year. This team is going to stink again, but there is help on the way as Baltimore has the best farm system in the league led by catcher Adley Rutschman, the No. 2 overall prospect in the sport and an AL Rookie of the Year candidate
However, the former No. 1 overall pick will not start the season in the majors due to an elbow injury suffered this spring. The positive news is that he has resumed hitting and throwing activities, marking Rutschman’s biggest step forward since a right triceps strain shut him down at the outset of big-league camp.
“I don’t think [he’ll] be ready for either Opening Day, but it’s going smoothly, and — fingers crossed — I think he’ll be out and playing in a matter of weeks,” GM Mike Elias said on Monday. “He missed Spring Training, so we’ve got that to worry about, but I think it’s going well and I think he’ll be playing real baseball games in April.”
The Orioles have a few good big-league players in Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, Trey Mancini, Austin Hays, and John Means. Last year, Mullins broke through for 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 159 games with the Orioles. Means started the 2021 campaign on a tear, going 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA and a 0.796 WHIP through the season’s first 52 games. He also tossed a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners on May 5, striking out 12 in the effort. A strained left shoulder sidelined Means for some time. Subsequently, he was not able to truly regain this dominant form when he returned to the mound. Pick: Over 62.5 wins.
Pittsburgh Pirates (64.5 Wins)
The Pirates are 149-235 over the last three seasons. One would think that with three consecutive last-place efforts (finishing 22, 15 and 34 games back) ownership would try to spend a little bit of money in hopes of improving the roster but that didn’t happen yet again.
Pittsburgh has the NL Rookie of the Year favorite in shortstop Oneil Cruz but he will start the season in the minors. A towering, 6-foot-7 shortstop, Cruz put together a solid spring training, going 5-for-15 with two home runs in Grapefruit League play, but manager Derek Shelton said the team believes Cruz needs a little more experience before being called up for good. Cruz hit a home run in October during a brief big-league cameo.
“It was a development decision,” Manager Derek Shelton said. “There’s still room for development and still things that we feel he can maximize on.”
Pittsburgh’s best player is outfielder Bryan Reynolds, although there’s talk he could be traded by Opening Day. He brushed off a forgettable 2020 and evolved into one of the game’s best all-around players. Reynolds hit .302/.390/.522 with 24 home runs. He didn’t grade out well by defensive runs saved, but he was in the 96th percentile for outs above average. Pick: Under 64.5 wins.
Arizona Diamondbacks (66.5 Wins)
The Arizona Diamondbacks were supposed to be around .500 last year. PECOTA had them at 79-83, but finishing last in the NL with a 5.11 ERA and 13th in OPS at .692 was the recipe for the Diamondbacks’ horrible record of 52-110. The Diamondbacks were two games over .500 and two games out of the NL West lead a month into 2021 before hitting a wall. An 8–50 stretch ensued.
Offensively, the team just couldn’t compete. Arizona only scored 4.2 runs per game and allowed 5.5. Of the top 15 in plate appearances, only four hitters graded above average by wRC+.
The Snakes had only three pitchers start more than 15 games last year in Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, and Merrill Kelly and used 16 starters total during the season. The hitting suffered as well. Ketel Marte played in just 90 games. Marte hit .318/.377/.532 with 14 home runs around a series of hamstring injuries. When healthy, expect Marte to be about a 140 wRC+ hitter with 25-30 homers and around 5.0 WAR in value.
The team at least spent a bit of money this offseason in locking up Marte through 2027. Marte, 28, is entering the final guaranteed season on the five-year, $24 million extension he signed in March 2018. That contract will pay Marte $8 million in 2022 and includes club options for 2023 ($10 million) and 2024 ($12 million). The new extension guarantees those club option years at slightly different salaries, and includes $51 million in new money.
Pick: Under 66.5 wins.