MLB is filled with teams that have an extensive history. While each team has its own legions of dedicated supporters, some have wider fan bases that extend across the US. Of course, teams like the LA Dodgers and NY Yankees are always heavily favored and discussed amongst baseball enthusiasts. Other teams are often overlooked, despite their records or accomplishments. As the 2021 season rapidly approaches the midway point, let’s take this opportunity to take a look at some of the more underrated teams this year.
Toronto Blue Jays
Starting off is Canada’s only MLB franchise, the Toronto Blue Jays. This already makes them a bit of a dark horse and leads them to receive less coverage in the US compared to some other teams. They also have a tough division where they are overshadowed by historically significant teams like the Red Sox and Yankees as well as the talented Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite all of this adversity, the Blue Jays are a very solid group. Hyun-Jin Ryu is a dominant pitcher that you don’t hear enough about. Ross Stripling is another great starter, but the Blue Jays have shown that they lack the necessary depth at times. On offense, Vladimir Guerrero jr., Cavan Biggio, Teoscar Hernandez, and Bo Bichette combine to make an excellent batting lineup.
San Diego Padres
Of course the Padres are always discussed in the MLB picks and parlays, and Fernando Tatis Jr. may be the most popular player in the game today. So how is it that they are an underrated pick? Well, the club started out the season at the top of the power rankings and as every analyst’s favorite team. A few lost games later and the Padres suddenly find themselves being called “overrated.” The A’s, Astros, Giants, and White Sox have become the bandwagon picks, leaving the Padres to find their footing and make the necessary midseason adjustments.
That being said, the team is now hovering around the 8th place position in the power rankings but this changes day to day. No one can deny the strength of the lineup here between Machado, Tatis Jr., O’Grady, Darvish, and numerous others. While there is a lot of talent on this team, analysts still don’t think the Padres have what it takes to overcome the Dodgers or the Giants in the immensely competitive NL West.
It’s not often you hear the Cleveland Indians mentioned alongside the Cubs, or the Dodgers, but this team has proven that they have the talent to compete against anyone. The controversial decision to part with shortstop Francisco Lindor is still a shadow that hangs over the team but despite this they have managed to keep the wins coming at a steady pace.
As far as pitching goes, The Indians are known for having a skilled lineup and an excellent farming system. Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber is arguably the best pitcher in the league depending on who you ask and his recent injury has been detrimental. Aaron Civale has also been sidelined with a finger injury, alongside Zach Plesac. Even with these crucial pitchers out, The Indians have made due and utilized their depth.
Sure, it’s no secret that the Indians have always relied heavily on their pitching core. While this season is no different, a string of injuries and lineup changes have demanded more from their offense. With Lindor gone, several players have emerged to fill the void left in the batting lineup. Shortstop Amed Rosario has been exceptional thus far with 4 HRs and a .270 BA, as have Eddie Rosario, Josh Naylor, and Cesar Hernandez with 11 HRs.
Of course, Jose Ramirez is still the best slugger on the team and heavily underrated in the league. He currently stands with 16 HRs and a .262 average. If he was a part of a bigger market team, you would be hearing his name mentioned a lot more often. Cleveland is a team that has everything they need to be a major playoff contender and even claim the AL Central. With some of their most important players due to return soon, they could be looking even better. The Indians are finally getting some respect as they steadily climb the rankings.