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Three Underdogs That Could Make an Impression in MLB This Season

21-05-2024



2023 was the year of the underdog in American sports. On the gridiron, the Detroit Lons defied their lowly preseason expectations to reach the playoffs where they would secure their first postseason victory in over 30 years before ultimately falling in the NFC Championship game. On the court, the eighth-seed Miami Heat thrilled everybody as they eliminated the heavyweight Milwaukee Bucks and the heavily favored Boston Celtics to reach the NBA Finals. And on the diamond, things were no different.

Both teams that made it to the World Series were huge underdogs before the postseason got underway. The Texas Rangers were the fifth seed in the American League, and no one fancied them to win the championship for the first time in franchise history. However, they swept the top-seed Baltimore Orioles before defeating the heavyweight Houston Astros by four games to one to punch their ticket to the finals.

Over in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks were in the midst of their own Cinderella story. They were the sixth seed in their respective league, but they managed to defeat some heavy hitters. They swept both the Milwaukee Brewers and the tournament favorite Los Angeles Dodgers, before defeating the rejuvenated Philadelphia Phillies to reach the World Series for the first time in 22 years. Ultimately only one of the underdogs could walk away with the trophy however and that was an honor that went to the Rangers, sparking seems of unbridled joy in the Lone Star state.

As the 2024 season progresses, several underdogs could follow in both last year`s finalists` footsteps. Let`s find out who they are.

Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners have had a promising start to the 2024 season and at the time of writing, they currently sit atop the AL West mountaintop with an impressive 25 wins against just 22 losses. Their current position in their division is even more impressive when you see which teams are directly behind them in the standings: the reigning champion Rangers and the dominant force in baseball in recent years, the Houston Astros.

Their recent victory against the rock-bottom Colorado Rockies saw them hit a season-high ten runs, something which the bookies have certainly sat up and taken notice of. Online MLB betting lines have slashed odds on them winning the World Series down to +1200, but that is still only good enough for seventh in the odds list. Offensively, the Mariners have been led by power hitters like Julio Rodríguez and Ty France.

The former has continued to build on his previous Rookie of the Year campaign and currently leads his team in home runs. On the mound, Logan Gilbert has emerged as a reliable ace, often pitching deep into games and providing much-needed stability to the rotation. Last term, the Washington state side missed out on the playoffs altogether. This year, reaching the postseason for just the second time in the last 23 years is the bare minimum.

San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres have also made a decent start to the new campaign and are currently well positioned in the West, sitting in second place. The Dodgers are the only team ahead of them, while they are currently ahead of last year`s World Series runner-up Diamondbacks. Fernando Tatis Jr. continues to be the face of the franchise, dazzling fans with his combination of speed, power, and defensive prowess. Manny Machado and Juan Soto have provided substantial support, making the lineup one of the most feared in the league. On the pitching front, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove have been dependable starters, each delivering quality starts with regularity.

Last year was a roller-coaster, to say the least. Despite having one of the highest payrolls in the league, they underperformed and shockingly failed to make the playoffs. However, the experience gained during a challenging season seems to have steeled the team for the current campaign. Now, they are gunning for a return to the postseason, and they may well be still flying under the radar, with some outlets pricing them as long as +6500 for glory.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays continue to defy expectations in 2024, maintaining their frugal reputation and consistently performing above their modest payroll. They are currently in contention in the stacked AL East currently sitting in third place behind the record-champion New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. Wander Franco has been phenomenal, living up to his hype as one of diamond’s brightest young stars. His all-around play has been a linchpin at the Trop, while pitcher Shane McClanahan has taken another step forward, establishing himself as a bona fide ace with a string of impressive outings.

In 2023, the Rays made it to the postseason but were eliminated in the early rounds. Nevertheless, they have had a consistent presence in the playoffs over the past few years and that makes them a reliable team to bank on as the current campaign progresses.



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