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2021 Fantasy Baseball: A Deep Dive into the 3 Worst Pitching Teams from 2021

The Baltimore Orioles had it rough.

MLB: OCT 02 Orioles at Blue Jays Photo by Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What I mean by “worst” are the teams that averaged out to the lowest ranking across: hits, home runs, strikeouts, batting average, and barrels. There are factors that play into each of those – ball park, team defense, etc.. so I will try to address some of those as we look into these three teams.

Minnesota Twins (average ranking 25.4)

Overview: The Twins had a solid set of closers but no true star power in terms of starting pitchers. Kenta Maeda once filled that spot, but he struggled mightily in 2021. Injury bugs hit the relievers and Bailey Ober emerged as a shining light on the staff.
Key Starters: Joe Ryan, Michael Pineda, Bailey Ober
Closers/Setup: Taylor Rogers, Alex Colome, Tyler Duffey
A bit of perspective (theme: no help from defense; kept pitches in zone)

  • Minnesota was third in the league in errors with 107 – that’s a lot.
  • Bottom 10 in the league in walks issued
  • Sixth fewest hit batters in MLB.
  • Three complete games pitched was the third most in MLB.

The Negative (theme: pitchers got clocked)

  • The Twins had the second most Barrels and third most HRs
  • The AL Central was not good this year. They were the only division with four teams under .500
  • Relievers allowed the second most homers in MLB
  • Allowed second most homers with two strikes.
  • Every starter not named Jose Berrios or Michael Pineda struggled
MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks (avg ranking 27.2)

Overview: The Diamondbacks had a solid set of starters. Zac Gallen had a great 2020 season, Madison Bumgarner still works, and Merrill Kelly also had an electric 2020 with a 2.59 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. But all of them seemed to struggle in 2021.
Key Starters: Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver
Closers/Setup: Tyler Clippard, J.B. Wendelken, Noe Ramirez
A bit of perspective (theme: no help on defense or division)

  • Arizona was fourth in the league in errors with 100 – that’s a lot.
  • They pitched just 385 innings while ahead, second fewest in MLB.
  • NL West had San Francisco and LA, oh and the other two were the stacked San Diego and Colorado’s park.
  • Had the third most intentional walks in league

The Negative (theme: Pitchers got hit too much)

  • The Diamondbacks allowed the second most Hits, second highest BA, and third fewest strikeouts
  • They came out of the gate bad, allowing the most homers pre All-Star break.
  • No pitcher with more than 50 innings pitched had a sub-4.00 ERA.
Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles (avg ranking 29.8)


Overview: The Orioles led a lot of pitching categories but on the wrong side of the spectrum. John Means continues to be a highlight with his 3.62 ERA, 134 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP, but there was not a lot else to be excited about here.
Key Starters: John Means, Zac Lowther, Bruce Zimmerman
Closers/Setup: Tyler Wells, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser
A bit of perspective: (theme: no help from park; not a great team)

  • Camden Yards is the fourth most hitter-friendly park
  • The Orioles had 100 double plays, second fewest in MLB.
  • They pitched just 385 innings while ahead, second fewest in MLB.
  • The AL East is tough – four teams with 90+ wins and RS/RA + differential

The Negative (theme: couldn’t get the K)

  • The Orioles were 25th in errors – they had very few comparatively.
  • The Orioles were second to last in strikeouts
  • Most of their closers had an ERA above five
  • Top 10 in walks issued
  • Relievers allowed second most HR in MLB.
  • At 17.5 pitches per inning pitched, Baltimore’s starters couldn’t get off the mound.

In a nutshell:

Baltimore and Minnesota were bad. I think Arizona, while not great, has some promising pieces and were a bit unlucky with errors and a tough division.