Sunday, November 28 2021

The 2021 Major League Baseball regular season wrapped up on Sunday with the league getting through a full 162-game schedule a year after the pandemic-shortened 2020.

There were some big surprises in 2021, like the San Francisco Giants winning 107 games to outlast the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. Other teams like the Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and San Diego Padres fell well short of expectations.

With the postseason field set, it’s time to look back on every team’s regular season and how things went. Only 10 teams advanced, but there’s plenty to talk about with the other 20, from those who just missed out to those who were finished by July.

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Here’s every team’s report card for the 2021 regular season:

American League East

Tampa Bay Rays: The AL champions didn’t skip a beat in 2021, cruising to the league’s best record with plenty of help from rookies such as Wander Franco and Shane McClanahan. Don’t forget that the Rays lost ace Tyler Glasnow (2.66 ERA in 14 starts) to injury in June. … A+

The Rays finished with the best record in the American League -- 100-62.The Rays finished with the best record in the American League -- 100-62.

The Rays finished with the best record in the American League — 100-62.

New York Yankees: Making the postseason is really all that counts, right? It was a roller coaster of a year in the Bronx, including a stretch from in August and September that saw a 13-game winning streak followed by 11 losses in the next 13. Their only day in first place was April 6. … B+

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox returned to the playoffs in year two after trading Mookie Betts, and that’s not something we expected to see – especially if the Blue Jays were going to be good. Chris Sale’s return after Tommy John surgery gave the team a boost. … A-

Toronto Blue Jays: Won 91 games and came up one short of a spot in the wild-card game, but there’s a list of things to love. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.311, 48 HR, 111 RBI) became one of the best hitters in baseball. Free agent signings Marcus Semien (45 HR, 102 RBI) had a historic year. Robbie Ray, re-signed in the offseason after a 2020 trade, may win the Cy Young. Bo Bichette, etc. … A-

Baltimore Orioles: Cedric Mullins had the first 30-30 season in franchise history and the 27-year-old really could be a star to lead the Orioles into their next era. Trey Mancini returned after cancer and nearly won the Home Run Derby. Otherwise, 2021 was an unmitigated disaster, and fearing the worst, fans aren’t sure either of those players will be with the team next season. … F

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Romped to the club’s first division title since 2008 despite injuries limiting outfielders Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez to a combined 123 games. There was only one particularly notable Tony La Russa incident. … A+

Cleveland: Cy Young winner Shane Bieber was limited to 16 starts but the team still won 80 games in the club’s final season before getting a rebrand. Cleveland got some positive returns from Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, acquired in the Francisco Lindor trade. … C+

Detroit Tigers: This year was a huge step forward for the Tigers, and don’t be surprised if they’re in the race as soon as next year. Detroit lost Spencer Turnbull (who threw a no-hitter in May) to Tommy John surgery in early June, but the rotation’s 4.17 ERA ranked in the top half of the AL. … B

Kansas City Royals: Salvador Perez hit 48 home runs and Whit Merrifield stole 40 bases for the 74-88 team that finished fourth in the division. Bonus points for being one of the only teams that tried to improve last offseason. … C

Minnesota Twins: The Twins were expected to battle with the White Sox atop the AL Central, but things went south quickly for the two-time defending division champions. They sold off at the deadline, including ace Jose Berrios, who wouldn’t have been a free agent until after 2022. … F

AL West

Houston Astros. Houston took over first place on June 21 and never looked back, cruising to the postseason for a fifth consecutive season. Kyle Tucker (30 HR .917 OPS) had a breakout season and Yordan Alvarez (33 HR, 104 RBI) bounced back after a lost 2020. The Astros put the rest of the AL on notice that their window isn’t shutting anytime soon. … A+

Seattle Mariners: Lasted until the final day of the regular season, but the postseason drought dating back to 2001 goes on. That was all in spite of players’ public issues with management. Mitch Haniger hit 39 HR with 100 RBI after missing nearly two years due to a series of serious injuries and surgeries, which was a great story. Ty France and J.P. Crawford had good years, but Seattle would have liked to see more from other young hitters … B+

Oakland Athletics: Stayed in the hunt and finished with 86 wins, but are disappointed to miss the postseason after three consecutive trips. Not that a few more wins would have changed anything, but Oakland may choose to blow up its core this winter. … B-

Los Angeles Angels: They hung around .500 all year without Mike Trout, which is impressive, but never factored into the playoff race. It was the club’s sixth consecutive losing season as Trout got another year (and injury) older and $245 million man Anthony Rendon played just 36 games. Shohei Ohtani is great. … C

Texas Rangers: The Rangers went 60-102 for the club’s first 100-loss season since 1973. They were no-hit twice before Memorial Day, but hey, they drafted Jack Leiter … F

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Lost Ronald Acuña Jr. days before the All-Star break, and then went 44-28 in the second half to win a fourth consecutive division title. The front office deserves a ton of credit for making all the right moves at the deadline, especially landing veteran outfielders Adam Duvall (16 HR, 45 RBI with Atlanta) and Jorge Soler (14 HR, 33 RBI with Atlanta) … A-

Philadelphia Phillies: They stayed in the NL East race until the last few days of the season, and Zack Wheeler had a Cy Young-caliber season. The bullpen will get another overhaul this winter, but what is it going to take to put this team over the top? … B-

New York Mets: There’s a lot to unpack here. The Mets were in first place for three months but there was always an underlying sense of dread that played out in the end . Of course, it was complete with some trademark self-inflected organizational controversies. Michael Conforto (now a free agent), Dom Smith and Jeff McNeil failed to deliver on offense. Steve Cohen and Franciso Lindor would have liked their first years in Queens to go better, but they were without the best pitcher on the planet, Jacob deGrom, for half the season. … D+

Shortstop Francisco Lindor had a .230 average and 20 home runs in his first season with the Mets.Shortstop Francisco Lindor had a .230 average and 20 home runs in his first season with the Mets.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor had a .230 average and 20 home runs in his first season with the Mets.

Miami Marlins: Technically disappointing considering Miami’s trip to the NLDS in 2020, but this Marlins team did about as well as expected. Sandy Alcantara established himself as a bonafide ace (3.19 ERA in 33 starts) and rookie left-hander Trevor Rogers was an All-Star, posting a 2.64 ERA in 25 starts. Shortstop Jazz Chisholm proved that he’s an everyday player. … C-

Washington Nationals: It’s hard to remember now, but the Nats went 19-9 in June (shoutout Kyle Schwarber) and were 40-39, just 2.5 games back in the NL East on July 1. They’d go 8-18 in July, quickly became sellers and ultimately gutted the team at the deadline. But there was no need to trade shortstop Trea Turner, who had another year before free agency. Instead, Washington punted on 2022 as well. … D

NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers: It wouldn’t be surprising if four Brewers (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta and Josh Hader) end up getting Cy Young votes. The rotation’s 3.13 ERA was second-best in baseball. The May trade for Willy Adames was one of the best early-season deals in recent memory, with the shortstop going on to post an .886 OPS with 20 HR, 58 RBI and 99 games for Milwaukee. The division title comes with former MVP Christian Yelich (.736 OPS) continuing to struggle with injuries. … A+

St. Louis Cardinals: A 17-game winning streak in September sure changes the narrative, huh? They are in the postseason. St. Louis had a nice mix of veterans and young players who delivered in the clutch but again, that winning streak covered up a lot of the team’s issues from the first five months. … B+

Cincinnati Reds: If the Cardinals hadn’t caught fire, the Reds may have wound up with the NL’s second wild-card spot. Cincinnati won 83 games and stayed in the hunt until the final week while Joey Votto had a renaissance and Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos started the All-Star Game. … B

Chicago Cubs: Things started off so well! The Cubs were in first place as late as June 24 and we weren’t sure whether they would sell off or commit to one last run with the core. In the end, the Cubs traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, among others, in one of the more dramatic firesales in history. They had some fun after the break, namely Frank Schwindel hitting .338 with 13 homers and 40 RBI in 56 games, but what a bummer 2021 turned out to be. … D+

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates had two players – Adam Frazier and Bryan Reynolds – start in the All-Star Game and Ke’Bryan Hayes could dethrone Nolan Arenado for a Gold Glove at third base this year. Otherwise, the only thing of note was that The 2018 Chris Archer Trade got even worse this year with Shane Baz debuting for the Rays. … F

NL West

San Francisco Giants: A lot of people (this writer included) are eating crow with Gabe Kapler likely to be the unanimous NL Manager of the Year after his 107-win Giants outlasted the Dodgers in one of the greatest division races in baseball history … A+

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers’ streak of eight division titles comes to an end through no real fault of their own. Los Angeles went 50-21 in the second half only to come up a game short of their rivals to the north. They went 9-10 against the Giants in the regular season. … A

San Diego Padres: Certainly dealt with some injuries, but just like the Mets, the Padres were consumed by a slow collapse before things came apart entirely in September. Bafflingly, San Diego gave Jake Arrieta four starts (with a 10.95 ERA) in a pennant race. … D

Colorado Rockies: Things could have been worse! Coors Field ended up hosting the All-Star Game but they didn’t trade Trevor Story at the deadline (much to his surprise) and will settle for a compensation pick if he signs elsewhere this offseason. …C-

Arizona Diamondbacks: The team’s 110 losses weren’t the most in franchise history, so this season will be quickly and easily be forgotten. … F

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB regular season team grades: Rays dazzle, while Mets collapse

Source: Yahoo Sports


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