MLB's biggest disappointments: Mets and Padres collapsed under weight of lofty expectations

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The 2021 Major League Baseball season has presented plenty of positive memories.

The Mariners trying to break a 20-year playoff drought. Shohei Ohtani emerging as a two-way MVP candidate, with Salvador Perez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. offering equally historic performances.

That’s all well and good, but for this exercise, we’re focusing on the inverse. It can be easy to harp on the shortcomings and failures over the course of 162 games. But for every success or heartwarming story, there is an equal and opposite disappointment, causing some players and teams wanting to leave 2021 behind.

From unmet expectations to fruitless efforts, here are the biggest disappointments from this year:

The Mets signed Francisco Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract prior to the season.
The Mets signed Francisco Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract prior to the season.

New York Mets

These are facts: The Mets hired Jared Porter as general manager in December and in January was fired for sending unsolicited, lewd photos to a foreign female reporter in 2016. The acting general manager, Zack Scott, bungled the trade deadline, watched a first-place team crumble and then fell asleep behind the wheel of his car, intoxicated, in the wee hours of a morning. And he was at the new owner’s house that night for a team event. Their former manager, Mickey Callaway, joined Porter on the ineligible list for his own sexual harassment allegations; Callaway’s actions had earned a reputation across the league, yet he wound up managing the Mets for two years.

All of this has happened under the watch and hiring process of Sandy Alderson, team president and the man Steve Cohen entrusted to steady the guide his nascent ownership.

Now for what actually took place on the field. The $341-million shortstop, signed to that extension on the eve of Opening Day – ultimately wiped out due to coronavirus positive cases (maybe that was a sign) – basically had the worst start imaginable. The all-lifetime ace, in his prime, pitched brilliantly while mostly looking uncomfortable and missed half the season, robbing him a chance at history. The once-young core under team control for the foreseeable future is another year older, another year less productive, and no longer under team control in some cases. There goes another missed postseason with a "win-now" attitude and, finally, a matching payroll.

One more fact about the 2021 New York Mets. They will finish with a losing record. They will be the first team in major league history has spent as much time (103 days) in first place and finished with a losing record.

Mike Trout didn't play after May 17 due to injury.
Mike Trout didn't play after May 17 due to injury.

Los Angeles Angels

Aside from Shohei Ohtani, the best player in baseball, the Angels have once again managed to disappoint. They deserve ire for being a drain on Ohtani's greatness.

The organization has gone seven straight years without a postseason appearance. The last time they won a playoff game was 2009. Mike Trout played in 36 games (still had a 195 OPS+ and made the All-Star team, king). But a lost year for the one of the sport’s greatest in his prime? That’s brutal.

Manny Machado and the Padres had lofty expectations coming into 2021.
Manny Machado and the Padres had lofty expectations coming into 2021.

San Diego Padres

Kind of the Mets of the West Coast, complete with in-house drama. The “superteam” fell apart quickly, giving way to the true heavyweight of the division up the California coast in the Giants and Dodgers. A popular postseason pick in March, the Padres took a step back in 2021.

Josh Donaldson is in the second year of his deal with the Twins.
Josh Donaldson is in the second year of his deal with the Twins.

Minnesota Twins

The White Sox were eventually going to catch them, but the Twins returned a roster resembling the division champs from the year prior. The success did not replicate. Last place in the Central? Yeesh.

A Nationals fan looks on during a September game in Washington.
A Nationals fan looks on during a September game in Washington.

Washington Nationals (and Chicago Cubs, sorta)

Parentheses for the Cubs because a selloff was certainly in the cards during spring training, but they too came out of the gates hot and in first. They cooled off rather epically, and everyone was gone in short order. The expected slog since hasn’t been prettier.

Meanwhile, the Nationals had legitimate aspirations in what ended up being a wide open National League East. What happened was shipping anyone with a pulse, including Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers, who are 40-13 since Aug. 1 and somehow in second place. Less than two years after a World Series, the rebuild is on in D.C.

Matt Chapman is hitting .211 through 150 games after finishing in the top-10 in MVP voting in 2018 and 2019.
Matt Chapman is hitting .211 through 150 games after finishing in the top-10 in MVP voting in 2018 and 2019.

Oakland Athletics

Bob Melvin and the front office deserve credit for building the A’s into a place where just missing the playoffs is considered a disappointment. Their peripheral statistics are actually near the top of the league. It didn’t translate to enough wins.

Every bit of news regarding their stadium situation appears ominous, and the East Bay does not deserve another major sports league desertion. Blame ownership for that one.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mets, Padres top MLB's biggest 2021 disappointments