Teams are entitled to bad seasons, and every team — even the worst of the worst — is going to have the occasional good run. But it all comes down to expectations against results, and for these teams, the end result wasn’t good enough. These are the biggest disappointments of the 2016 MLB season:
Getty ImagesBart Young
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are 0-61 trailing after eight innings this year. That’s about all you need to know about the Giants' 2016, but there’s so much more. Like the fact that the Giants had an .882 winning percentage on games they led going into the ninth inning this season — the major-league average is 96 percent. That’s what 30 blown saves will do to a team.
The Giants took the best record in baseball at the All-Star Game and turned that into an abysmal second half, posting a .391 winning percentage going into the weekend — a second-half drop that will be the largest by a first-place team in major-league history.
On July 12, the Giants were expected to win 96 games. They’ll likely end the year 10 games shy of that — a swing that spans the entire curve of a playoff graph.
The worst part for the Giants: The big additions to the rotation — the guys who were supposed to bring the even-year magic to the Bay — were pretty good. Johnny Cueto is rightfully in the running for the Cy Young Award and Jeff Samardzija was rock solid (though not necessarily spectacular.) It was the known commodities that failed San Francisco down the stretch. Even if the Giants end up with a wild card spot, they have to be considered disappointments.
MLB Photos via Getty ImagesBrad Mangin
You could see it building — this was supposed to be the year. If not for a horrific start, it might have been. The Astros got it together for a bit in the middle of July — they even looked poised to win the AL West — but it was a mirage.
The Astros — one of the preseason favorites to win the World Series, will finish just above .500.
Getty ImagesJon Durr
Kansas City Royals
The defending World Series champions weren’t necessarily picked to repeat, but they were supposed to be in the thick of the playoff race. That never really happened — the Royals were never particularly bad, but they weren’t all that good either.
All season, baseball waited for the collective magic to happen — the Royals were due for a run — but it never really came. There’d be some strong stretches, but when the pitching was going, the bats were quiet. When the bats were hitting, the pitching was nowhere to be found.
If not for one of — if not the singular — best bullpens in baseball, it could have looked a lot worse.
TNS via Getty ImagesKansas City Star
Chicago White Sox
It all started so well. The starting pitching was there. The bats were there. Even the bullpen was present. At one point in May, the White Sox had a 70 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Then the bullpen collapsed. Then the bats fell asleep. And finally, after weeks of holding on for dear life, the starting rotation went under. The rest of the year, it was Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and the inconsistents. The funny thing is, they were expected to be a .500 team at the start of the season, and thanks to a nice final month, they are poised to finish at just about .500.
But don’t let the start and end points confuse you: There was nothing calm about 2016 on the South Side.
Getty ImagesDylan Buell
The three other teams in the National League West are taking turns at failing to live up to the hype. Last year, it was the Padres — this year, it’s the Diamondbacks. Best of luck to you in 2017, Colorado.
What a debacle the Diamondbacks were this year. It must have been the uniforms.
The Diamondbacks made two huge additions to their rotation before the 2016 season — moves that had people talking playoffs — adding Shelby Miller via trade and Zack Greinke via free agency. Miller was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball and Greinke saw his ERA go from 1.66 to 4.37. The other members of the rotation didn’t step up, the defense was one of the worst units in baseball, and the bats, while not necessarily bad, weren’t good enough to cover up for all the ills.
The Diamondbacks might be better than decent next season — seriously — but they went big this year and came up massively short, exposing a lot of problems with the organization.