One Storyline To Watch For Each Non-Contending MLB Team

The calendar has flipped to September and that means everyone in the baseball world will be looking at the playoff races that may come down to the season’s final day. However, while the teams in the race will get the most attention, there are still other teams. Despite their worse records, non-contending teams are still playing and all have very interesting players and storylines to watch in the season’s final month.

A Storyline To Watch For Every Non-Contending Team

Here is one reason for you to watch each non-competitive team. For these purposes, a non-competitive team is defined as a team more than five games out of the playoff picture.

Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert Is Officially A Superstar

Let’s face it, this season has been a disaster for the White Sox. Many thought they would be battling for the AL Central crown but instead have been not just mediocre, but legitimately bad. Despite that, the Sox still roster one of the best young players in the sport.

Luis Robert in his first proper full season, has shown that he is one of the most dynamic talents in the game. He is top 10 in MLB in home runs and slugging, and with his elite center field defense, he is tenth in the Majors in fWAR at 5.1. Robert is practically a lock to receive MVP votes this year and if the White Sox were competitive he would likely be a finalist.

With all the things that have gone wrong on the south side and all the players who have been slumping this season, you can still tune in to White Sox games to watch one of baseball’s brightest rising stars.

Cleveland Guardians: Brilliant Rookie Starters

The Guardians might be the most recent addition to the list of non-competitive teams. They made their push to catch the Twins through the waiver wire but it didn’t work out. That isn’t to say there is no reason to watch them though. Cleveland boasts one of the best young rotations across the sport with three-fifths of their starting staff being rookies.

Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, and Gavin Williams are all extremely impressive arms with great stuff who have also managed to effectively get outs in the big leagues. All three have thrown at least 70 innings and have ERAs less than 4.00. This is also not to mention that they are also all 24 years old and younger. While this may not be their year, this staff looks like it will be one of the league’s best for years to come.

Colorado Rockies: Solid Position Player Development

While the Rockies have not been good this season, no one went into the season expecting them to be any better. This is especially true since they suffered several injuries to the pitching staff. One thing that has gone well has been the development of some solid young position players.

With Ezequiel Tovar and Brenton Doyle becoming two of the best defensive players in the sport and Nolan Jones becoming one of the biggest power threats around, this has become an interesting team to watch. While Tovar and Doyle don’t provide much offensively, they are the top two players in the majors by Fangraphs defensive runs who aren’t catchers and provide excellent defense up the middle. Doyle in particular is the speedy center fielder Coors Field has always needed. Combining that with Jones’ elite power and potential, the Rockies will be an exciting watch for the remainder of the season.

Detroit Tigers: Saying Goodbye To A Legend

This has always been a development year for the Tigers. A team who are in the midst of a long rebuild and this year finally saw some of their top prospects take the next step in the majors. That isn’t the reason to watch this team though, that would be the last hurrah for Miguel Cabrera, a living baseball legend playing out the final season of his Hall of Fame career.

With over 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, Cabrera is one of the greatest hitters of his generation and one of the best right-handed hitters in history. He has a chance to finish his career 23rd all-time in home runs and 17th all-time in hits. Most importantly, just getting some last looks at the legend before he retires is cause enough to watch Tigers games.

Kansas City Royals: An Ace In The Making

This section could easily have been about Bobby Witt Jr., but everyone knows how good he has been this season. What many don’t realize is they have a young arm who looks like he could become an ace. Since being acquired from the Rangers for Aroldis Chapman on July 15, Ragans has by far the lowest ERA in the majors at 1.51 and is tied for the highest fWAR with Tyler Glasnow. His stuff is incredible and he excels at getting strikeouts and preventing any sort of hard contact.

After being a first-round pick by the Rangers in 2016, Ragans struggled in his first stints in MLB but once he was dealt to the Royals he became a completely different pitcher, going from mediocre to utterly dominant and it has been possibly the best story of the Royals‘ season.

Los Angeles Angels: Ohtani’s Pursuit of 50

Things are fairly bleak in Anaheim since the ill-advised decision to go for it at the deadline the Angels have been one of the worst teams in the league. This led to them dumping salary by releasing many of their key players and trade acquisitions via waivers and the Angels now fielding a less-than-inspiring roster but they are still a worthwhile watch for one reason.

That reason’s name is Shohei Ohtani. While he won’t be pitching anytime soon, he is still hitting and still pursuing the first 50 home run season in Angels franchise history. In his (probably) final season with the Angels, Ohtani is putting together another MVP season and likely a unanimous one despite his injury. His pursuit of 50 home runs and the history of his season will make him and the Angels must-watch television for the rest of the year.

New York Yankees: The New Wave of Yankees

This has been one of the Yankees‘ worst seasons in recent memory and it is the product of years of non-sustainable roster construction. Finally, after falling out of contention and being around the .500 mark this late in the season for the first time in decades, a change needed to be made. That change is on full display this September.

Rookies Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and Everson Pereira have shown their ability to bring more youth and athleticism to a Yankees position player group that sorely needs it. Dominguez looks like he may be the next Yankees superstar and Volpe looks like he will be manning shortstop in the Bronx for a long time. Those two, plus Pereira in left field provide a great core up the middle for the Yankees to build their next new-look contender. Before that happens, though, Yankees fans will be able to watch them gel as they play together at the highest for the first time down the stretch.

New York Mets: Regrouping for 2024

After spending ludicrous amounts of money in the offseason on aging players, the Mets‘ season has collapsed to the point where they became the deadlines biggest sellers. Now with many of their stars and key pieces playing elsewhere, the Mets are attempting to regroup to once again be competitive in 2024.

This team still has good veteran players and a very good group of rookies that has re-energized the clubhouse led by Kodai SengaFrancisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Ronny Mauricio. Senga looks like he may be their ace next season, Alvarez looks like one of the best young catchers in the sport, and top prospect Mauricio has been very good in his limited time in the big leagues. While Baty has struggled in his rookie season, he is a very promising young player who should be good in future seasons.

Those players with the remaining core of veterans from last season hope to finish strong and carry that momentum into next season.

Oakland Athletics: Zack Gelof

The season has been bleak for the Oakland A’s, With the impending move of the team to Las Vegas and the sub-par product on the field, there really isn’t so much to be excited about in Oakland right now. Luckily, there has been one bright spot for the A’s this season. Zack Gelof has been one of the best rookie hitters in the majors since he was called up. In fact, among rookies with at least 200 plate appearances, he is third in wRC+ at 136 behind only Kerry Carpenter and Corbin Carroll. Having one of the game’s best rookie hitters is reason enough to give the A’s some attention as the season winds down.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Youth Development

The Pirates are in the midst of a long rebuild, a very long rebuild. At the beginning of the season this year it looked like there was some promise in Pittsburgh, but they are still a few steps away from being a contender again. This September is more about the development of the young players on the roster.

First-overall pick Henry Davis and starters, Mitch Keller and Johan Oviedo are all in critical years of their development. As are third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes and outfielder Jack Suwinski. Those five look like they could be the future of this team, but first, they need to get acclimated to the big leagues in 2023.

San Diego Padres: The Stars Need To Gel

Everyone expected the Padres to not only compete for the NL West title but also the National League Pennant. That has not been the case this year as the numerous stars the Padres have brought in have not yet been able to figure out how to play as a team.

Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Juan Soto, and the newly signed Xander Bogaerts have failed to work together and figure out how to win close games. It isn’t clear why that group hasn’t figured it out but maybe they can play well to close out the season to give the front office and the fans some confidence going into next season.

St. Louis Cardinals: The End Of An Era

After this year, the Cardinals will enter a new phase of their franchise. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina already retired last year and now Adam Wainwright, the last remaining member of those championship Cardinals teams, will retire at season’s end. While this season has not gone the way Cardinals fans or Wainwright had hoped, they will still be saying goodbye to one of the greatest pitchers to ever wear their uniform.

Wainwright has had a down year, but that isn’t unexpected considering he is 42 years old and has thrown tons of innings for this team in the last three seasons. In the end, it doesn’t matter how effective he’s been, he will always be remembered as a Cardinals great and his retirement signals the end of a great era of Cardinals history.

Washington Nationals: The Future Looks Good

The Nationals have been very active in the trade market over the last few years. Dealing great players like Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Josh Bell for a plethora of good young players and prospects. Through these trades, the Nationals have expedited their rebuild and now have a clear core of future contributors that looks like it will be a winner soon.

These trades have given them their starting shortstop CJ Abrams, catcher Keibert Ruiz, right fielder Lane Thomas, and starting pitchers Mackenzie Gore and Josiah Gray. That plus several good homegrown talents make the Nationals a very exciting young team that will look to turn the corner in the next couple of seasons. But for now, just enjoy watching these guys figure it out at the big league level together.

While pretty much everybody in the baseball world will be focused heavily on the playoff races down the stretch, there is still lots of entertaining baseball to watch from the non-contending teams around the league. Whether it be up-and-coming stars, or legends come and gone, every team in the league still has some interesting storylines to offer as the season winds down.

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