It’s Thanksgiving Week! Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is a great holiday, albeit one that’s lessened a little bit because it doesn’t actually feature any baseball. And the best part about it is that it’s a day specifically set aside to reflect on what we are thankful for: What we have in our lives that matters, what we’re grateful to have. It’s nice that way. There should be more days like that.
So, today at The Thirty, it’s that old Thanksgiving chestnut: A look at what each of the 30 MLB teams has to be thankful for. Maybe it’s a player, maybe it’s a concept, maybe it’s a mood, maybe it’s just a vibe. But they’ve got things to be grateful for. They can give thanks.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: They get to spend all of 2022 at home
It has been since 2019 -- a really long time ago now! -- that the young, exciting Blue Jays have gotten to play all 81 of their home games in Toronto, which is, you know, the city they’re supposed to play in. In '22, home will be home again.
Orioles: Adley Rutschman is almost here
The anticipation has lasted longer than some Orioles fans might have wanted, but their phenom catcher is surely arriving in 2022. By all accounts, he’s worth the wait.
Rays: They just won 100 games for the first time in team history
For all the Rays talk this year, this fact was sort of glossed over: Tampa Bay just had the best regular season in its history. That’s a good place to start, yes?
Red Sox: Chris Sale will finally be back at full strength next year
We saw glimpses of the old Sale at points in 2021, but he will be as rested as a pitcher can get next year.
Yankees: They are still very good and poised to improve
The Yankees haven’t reached the World Series since 2009, and there are clear holes on the team, and also some stars. This is a good free-agent class, and the path to improvement is there via free agency. The Yanks know how to make that formula work.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians: The new name is here
A new era has dawned, and with that comes excitement and the possibility of real renewal.
Royals: Salvy is still here
Salvador Perez somehow seems to keep improving as a hitter, and he has secured his spot as an all-time Royals legend ... and one of the best players in the sport.
Tigers: The wait is over
No one is sure exactly which moves the Tigers will make this offseason, but they’re clearly making some moves (they already signed Eduardo Rodriguez), building off a 2021 season that, at last, showed some real signs of a breakthrough.
Twins: 2021 is over
This might sound like a dark thing to be thankful for. But then you remember what 2021 was really like for the Twins.
White Sox: The winning culture is finally installed
The White Sox were too young to win, then they didn’t know “how” to win. Now, they’ve breezed into the postseason. Time for the next step: postseason success. It’s actually been a logical progression so far, all told.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani play for this team
The Angels obviously need a lot of pitching, but jeez: If you can’t be grateful for having these two guys on the team, what can you be grateful for?
Astros: They have more proof of dominance
They’ll never silence the haters, but with their 2021 World Series appearance, the Astros have moved another year away from the sign-stealing scandal ... and another year in which they looked, as always, like one of the best teams in baseball.
A’s: Any rebuilding period will be brief
The A’s appear to be setting up for a bit of a retooling period. But most teams have a down half-decade when they rebuild. Oakland never takes that long.
Mariners: The streak is about to end
Maybe it’s in 2022. Maybe it’s a year after that. But the Mariners are building something, and it’s about to come to fruition. Seattle fans have been waiting since 2001 for a return to the postseason, and their patience is about to pay off.
Rangers: Some new faces are coming
The Rangers need a reason to get their fans excited, and there are rumors they’re willing to spend this year. They have plenty of options to choose from.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: They won the World Series!
Did you miss this? I hope not. It was very exciting. The Braves won the World Series!
Marlins: So much young pitching
The Marlins may have the best rotation in the NL East, and they go six or seven deep with young pitchers. The offense needs help, but this is a great place to start.
Mets: They have a leader now
It took longer than anyone would have liked, but the Mets have a new general manager in Billy Eppler and a clear direction. It may not be much, but it’s better than they were before.
Nationals: Juan Soto
The Nats have a lot of other things to figure out, but they have Juan Soto, and that’s multiple must-watch at-bats every game.
Phillies: Bryce Harper
The Phillies have a lot of other things to figure out, but they have Bryce Harper, and that’s multiple must-watch at-bats every game.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: This is the best sustained era in franchise history
We’ll see if they end up getting that elusive World Series title, but it wasn’t that long ago that the Brewers were going multiple decades without reaching the postseason. Now, we all expect to see them there every year.
Cardinals: That defense
Defense never slumps (so they say), and when you’ve got a whopping five Gold Glovers, that’s a terrific thing to build a team around.
Cubs: Wrigley is eternal
The team is retooling, but this is still the best place in the world to go see a baseball game ... or just to walk outside on a cold autumn Chicago night.
Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes is healthy
A wrist injury derailed what should have been his first full season, but he showed in his 2020 cameo that he can be the franchise cornerstone that Pittsburgh needs.
Reds: Joey Votto
The Reds are in a period of transition, but the eternal delight that is Joey Votto is still here, and what a gift that is for the rest of us.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Things will get better
Sometimes you have a year when nothing seems to go right. The 2021 season (110 losses) was like that for Arizona. But this team has a recent history of defying preseason expectations, and there is nowhere to go but up.
Dodgers: They can win 106 games and still feel like a disappointment
That’s a pretty great place to be at as a franchise: to put together a historically great season and still bum out your fans.
Giants: The glory that was the 2021 season
The NL Division Series loss to the Dodgers (specifically the way it ended) was an undeniable bummer. But seasons in which you win 107 games when even the most optimistic prognosticators had you winning 20 fewer than that are incredibly special. This team has earned the fans’ trust.
Padres: There are still stars everywhere
The Padres were a huge disappointment in 2021, but they’re still packed to the gills with talent, starting, of course, with Fernando Tatis Jr., who is still a transcendent superstar. They’re going to be just fine.
Rockies: A fantastic fan base
The Rockies ended up as a top-10 attendance team in 2021, despite a sub-.500 record. Someday, this team is going to win a lot, and when it does, Rox fans will be able to say they were there the whole time.