One does not have to dig too deep through annals of baseball history to find examples of teams who have followed up a sub-.500 season with a trip to the World Series the very next year. In fact, in each of the past three seasons, there have been teams who have enjoyed bounce-back campaigns ending with a trip to the Fall Classic. While the New York Mets fell just short of baseball’s ultimate prize last year, the 2014 San Francisco Giants and 2013 Boston Red Sox both won the World Series just one year after finishing below .500. The Mets and Giants both enjoyed double-digit win increases over the prior year, while the 2013 Red Sox improved by a remarkable 28 games over their 2012 season. No that is not a typo, in 2012 Boston finished with a dismal 69-93 record, only to bounce back the very next season to cap off a 97-win regular season with a World Series crown.
In an era of high-profile players regularly changing teams via free agency or trades, baseball has an ever-changing landscape where teams can improve drastically year to year. Coupled with an influx of young stars and front office personnel using a more analytical approach, teams are capable of quick turnarounds. In looking at last season’s standings, it is tough to imagine any of last year’s clubs with losing records making a run, but recent history tells us otherwise.
Let’s take a look at four teams who struggled last year, but are capable of making it to the 2016 World Series.