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The 2023 MLB season continues to unfurl in customary gradual fashion. While it's still relatively early out there, we're nevertheless coming up on the quarter mark of the regular season. That somewhat notable looming checkpoint plus negativity as a first principle yields what follows, and what follows is a ritual condemnation of the most disappointing teams of the 2023 campaign thus far. 

Before we begin, let us first define our terms. These are teams that enjoyed some level of success in 2022 and figured to be frontline contenders in 2023 but have thus far fallen well shy of expectations. With those criteria laid out, let us declare these four following teams to be the most disappointing of the season to date. They'll be listed in no particular order, just as the gods of partial measures intended.  

1. New York Yankees

Coming off a 99-win season in 2022 and a spot in the ALCS, the Yankees brought back generational slugger Aaron Judge on a massive contract and also sprung for frontline rotation help in Carlos Rodón. Despite the baseline of talent, however, the Yankees right now are near .500, in last place in the American League East, and a full 10 games behind the magma-hot Rays

So what gives? The lack of lineup depth is being exposed, particularly while Judge is on the injured list with a hip injury (they presently rank 24th in MLB in runs scored and OPS), and the rotation outside of ace Gerrit Cole has been a major disappointment. Very much related to that last point is the fact that Rodón, thanks to forearm and the back problems, has yet to throw a pitch that counts for his new squad. Compounding matters is that the AL East at present is pretty easily the toughest division in baseball. Moving forward, a lot is riding on getting real contributions from Rodón at some point, but right now there's no timeline for his return. 

Current playoff odds according to the SportsLine Projection System: 56.4% (Playoff odds for all 30 teams are updated daily on our standings page.)

Cause(s) for optimism: Judge gets back soon, barring setback. If they can remain in range of playoff position, then an active trade deadline is a real possibility. Also, the present working assumption is that Rodón will be a contributor at some point in 2023. On offense, the Yankees to date have been one of the most unlucky of teams when it comes to turning quality contact at the plate into runs scored. That should correct in the weeks to come. 

2. Houston Astros

The reigning World Series champs barged to a 106 wins last season. Yes, they lost 2022 AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to the Mets via free agency, but rotation depth has been their signature for some time. The thing about pitching depth is that you have it until you don't, and right now Houston doesn't have it. Most notably, Luis Garcia will miss the rest of the season because of Tommy John surgery. As well, Lance McCullers Jr. has been sidelined all regular season with an elbow strain, and José Urquidy in also on the injured list with shoulder discomfort. That's left Dusty Baker's team stretched very thin in the rotation. As well, free-agent addition José Abreu has struggled badly thus far, and that raises concerns even across a small sample for a 36-year-old first baseman who showed signs of power loss last season. Alex Bregman also has yet to find his level. 

Current playoff odds according to the SportsLine Projection System: 69.4%

Cause(s) for optimism: The rotation will get healthier soon enough as long as McCullers and Urquidy remain on schedule, and star second baseman Jose Altuve is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a thumb fracture suffered during the World Baseball Classic. More broadly – and as you can see just above – this team still projects as the best in the division. At the level of the run differential, the Astros this season have out-played their record by two full games. 

3. Philadelphia Phillies 

The Phils after parting ways with manager Joe Girardi surged and thrived under Rob Thomson and wound up making the postseason for the first time since 2011. On top of all that, they won the pennant for just the ninth time in franchise history. After the splash addition of free agent shortstop Trea Turner, expectations were high for 2023. 

At this juncture, however, Philly is solidly under .500 and way behind the juggernaut Braves in the NL East. The big issue has been a pitching staff that right now ranks 26th in MLB with an ERA of 5.03 (Taijuan Walker and Craig Kimbrel have been particularly disastrous thus far). As well, Turner hasn't produced in line with expectations thus far, and the Phils were without their best player, Bryce Harper, for the first month of the season. On top of that, slugging first baseman Rhys Hoskins was lost in spring training to a knee injury that may cost him all of 2023. 

Current playoff odds according to the SportsLine Projection System: 53.0%

Cause(s) for optimism: Harper is back well ahead of schedule from Tommy John surgery, and is flashing vintage form at the plate in the early going. Tandem aces Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are trending upward after some early out-of-character struggles. 

4. San Diego Padres

The Pads made the NLCS last season, and expectations in 2023 are even higher given the signing of Xander Bogaerts, the return of Fernando Tatis Jr, and the promise of Juan Soto's first full season in San Diego. At the moment, however, the Padres are around .500, in third place in the NL West, and lugging around a negative run differential. 

As for specific issues, Manny Machado hasn't yet found his level at the plate, offensive production from the catcher position has been fairly terrible, and three core members of the rotation – Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, and Michael Wacha – have put up poor overall numbers this far. Also playing a role is that the Padres to date have played the fourth-toughest schedule in all of MLB as measured by opponents' average win percentage.  

Current playoff odds according to the SportsLine Projection System: 63.0%

Cause(s) for optimism: Musgrove is certainly better than this. As well, his current ERA of 6.75 is being blown up by a one-off start in the altitude of Mexico City (in his other two starts, he's allowed a total of four earned runs in 10 innings). Juan Soto appears to be finding himself at the plate lately, and it's hard to imagine the Machado will continue being the below-average hitter he's been thus far in 2023. As well, the remaining schedule for San Diego figures to be a bit less demanding. Thus far, Padres opponents have an average win percentage of .532. The rest of the way, however, that current figure falls to .485. 

5. New York Mets

You know all about Steve Cohen's sky-scraping payroll. Throw in the Mets' 100-win season in 2022, and expectations for 2023 were also, you know, scraping the sky. Right now, though, the Mets are a game under .500 and well back of the Braves in the NL East race, and their opponents have outscored them by 10 runs this season. Broadly speaking, not much has gone well for the Mets, as presently the offense ranks 12th in the NL in OPS, and the pitching staff places 11th in the NL in ERA. 

The staff has been waylaid by injuries, including, most notably, the WBC knee injury suffered by lockdown closer Edwin Díaz that may keep him out all season. Co-ace Justin Verlander just recently returned from the IL, and fellow starters José Quintana and Carlos Carrasco are also out with injury. On top of all that, Max Scherzer has generally struggled, both before and since his suspension for use of banned "sticky stuff." Scherzer's 38, so you have to wonder whether his decline phase is at least setting in, particularly given how he's fallen short of his usual standards at the command-and-control level. In the lineup, catcher, third base, and right field have been wastelands thus far. 

Current playoff odds according to the SportsLine Projection System: 74.0%

Cause(s) for optimism: Verlander's only one start into his return, and his presence will presumably stabilize a rotation very much in need of that. Decline, particularly for great players, is rarely linear, so perhaps Scherzer will find a way out of his struggles at some point. The back end will also presumably get healthy. On another level, Cohen is so heavily invested that he figures to mandate an active deadline. That may help the Mets address lineup holes and rotation depth. Starling Marte has been a bit unlucky at the plate thus far. While the division race may get out of hand quickly, recall that there are still three wild-card berths in each league. 

6. St. Louis Cardinals 

Last and most assuredly least are the defending NL Central champs. Their historically awful start to the season has been driven by the pitching staff's struggles to prevent runs and, in a related matter, put away hitters in two-strike counts. Such are their struggles that the front office has very awkwardly made a scapegoat out of catcher and signature offseason addition Willson Contreras. Elsewhere, Nolan Arenado has been lost at the plate all season, and a bottleneck in the outfield and at DH has prevented too many players from getting regular reps at the plate. On top of all that, Oli Marmol's team has struggled to protect the few late-inning leads that have come their way. 

Current playoff odds according to the SportsLine Projection System: 39.5%

Cause(s) for optimism: It can't get any worse, right? Adam Wainwright's return to the rotation may help matters (he looked much sharper than his line from his first start back from the IL would suggest), and the slick-fielding Dylan Carlson may be seizing the center field job and giving some much needed certainty to that situation. Back to the pitching staff, some bad luck on batted balls may correct moving forward. More broadly, the NL Central still profiles as a fairly weak and thus winnable circuit, even though the Cards have dug an imposing early hole for themselves.