One of the enduring and appealing modes of sports games is Franchise Mode because of the ability to take control of a franchise and determine its fate. While most use their favorite team, some sports gamers seek a different challenge.
Some want to engage in a long-term rebuild to shape the team with their ideal pitching, batting, and defensive philosophies. Others want to take teams on quick rebuilds, jumping from team to team, and leaving a trail of championships in their wake.
This article is for these types of sports gamers. Below, you will find a list of franchises that are all in some level of rebuild. Five are from the American League, and five are from the National League.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (National League West)
- Rank: 20th
- Notable Ranking: Defense (11th)
- Best Players: Ketel Marte (CF, 85 OVR), Madison Bumgarner (SP, 83 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Blake Walston (SP, 73 OVR)
- Team Budget: $97 million
The worst team for much of the 2021 season, which includes a 17-game losing streak, Arizona does have a decent roster of players that’s headed by All-Star Ketel Marte and former two-time World Series champion Madison Bumgarner. Blake Walston is an 18-year-old southpaw with an A-grade in Potential, which means that he should be the ace that you build around in future seasons.
The team’s Speed and Defense ratings are in the top half of the MLB, but are offset by the paltry Power rating. So, you will need to target and develop some power hitters throughout the system, but this will be hampered by the budget slightly. Still, winning more games will bring in more revenue through attendance, concessions and merchandising, and sponsorships.
2. Baltimore Orioles (American League East)
- Rank: 26th
- Notable Ranking: Speed (4th)
- Best Players: Cedric Mullins (CF, 87 OVR), John Means (SP, 84 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Adley Rutschman (C, 70 OVR)
- Team Budget: $51.50 million
A team in the midst of a half-decade rebuild and the worst team of the 2021 season, which included a 19-game losing streak, Baltimore has the unfortunate situation of being in the same division as perpetual contenders Boston, New York, and (somehow) Tampa Bay, along with a resurgent Toronto team.
All-Star Cedric Mullins leads a lineup that can hit and has speed, yet he and John Means alone cannot overcome the pitching and defensive deficiencies. Adley Rutschman is the best catching prospect in real life and in-game, and some consider him to be the best prospect in the MLB system. With an A-grade in Potential and at 21-years-old, he should be the backstop that you pair with Means to build the rotation.
With catcher being a premium position, hold onto Rutschman. The budget is indicative of a rebuilding team, so this will be a long-term rebuild. Do you have the patience for this challenging situation?
3. Chicago Cubs (National League Central)
- Rank: 28th
- Notable Ranking: Power (23rd)
- Best Players: Willson Contreras (C, 86 OVR), Adbert Alzolay (SP, 75 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Chase Strumpf (2B, 68 OVR)
- Team Budget: $116 million
A situation where the team is ranked so low yet has a higher budget: this is due to the Cubs’ success over the previous six years (including a World Series title in 2016) and in-season trades of stalwarts (and big contracts) Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Craig Kimbrel.
Optimistically, Willson Contreras is a defensively-adept catcher and power bat who is entering his prime at 28-years-old (catchers don’t age in-game like in real life). Adbert Alzolay is the youngest Major League-ready pitcher with the highest potential, but that gives you an idea of the rotation’s lack of depth.
Chase Strumpf is only rated at 68 overall, but he has an A-grade in Potential, plays an important position at second base, and already has above-average ratings in defense – so he should grow into a Gold Glove-caliber player.
The expanded budget does allow you to aim for quick fixes to the Major League level, namely to the rotation and outfield. That, and the mediocre division, should help to accelerate your rebuild of the Cubs.
4. Cleveland Baseball Team (American League Central)
- Rank: 24th
- Notable Ranking: Contact (28th)
- Best Players: Jose Ramirez (3B, 93 OVR), Shane Bieber (SP, 91 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Emmanuel Clase (CP, 78 OVR)
- Team Budget: $61.50 million
The soon-to-be Guardians boast one of the best position players and pitchers in the game, yet ranked low in many categories. While their Speed is ranked second, Cleveland’s Contact rating is third-to-last, and in baseball, speed works best when you reach base.
Jose Ramirez should remain planted at third for years to come as he’s only 28-years-old, and Shane Bieber should helm the rotation at 25-years-old, and is yet to reach arbitration. Emmanuel Clase is currently closing, but do not overlook his A-grade in Potential; he could be a top-five closer in baseball for your franchise.
You will still need to bolster the lineup and the bullpen, especially, because you will need to score runs and then get to Clase to win some games. The low budget makes it unlikely that you can trade for immediate fixes, so this is another long-term rebuild, but some of that might be mitigated by the division.
5. Detroit Tigers (American League Central)
- Ranking: 22nd
- Notable Ranking: Defense (30th)
- Best Players: Eric Haase (C, 84 OVR), Casey Mize (SP, 77 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Spencer Torkelson (1B, 70 OVR)
- Team Budget: $117.50 million
A surprising team in the 2021 season, Detroit has been in a rebuild for years, and their ranking in-game indicate as much. The Tigers rank last in the MLB in defense in The Show, meaning that your top priority should be to develop and acquire (with a nice budget) defensive-minded players.
The second catcher listed as Best Player, Eric Haase, does not have the best defensive ratings. That said, he is a power hitter with above-average Speed (64), particularly for a primary catcher. Casey Mize is not the highest-rated pitcher, but at 22-years-old with an A-grade in Potential, he should be who you build your rotation around as the ace.
Spencer Torkelson has an A-grade in Potential to couple with his 70 Overall, and he has the added benefit of playing third base and all three outfield positions. He should develop into a middle-of-the-lineup bat for your team. If played right, this (along with Chicago) could be a short rebuild thanks, in part, to the division.
6. Miami Marlins (National League East)
- Ranking: 23rd
- Notable Ranking: Contact (18th)
- Best Players: Trevor Rogers (SP, 89 OVR), Jazz Chisholm (SS, 75 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Sixto Sánchez (SP, 77 OVR)
- Team Budget: $73.50 million
A team that always seems to be rebuilding – except when they win the World Series, like they did in 1997 and 2003 – the Marlins did make the playoffs in last year’s COVID-shortened season. However, this year has been another losing season for Miami, though, there have been flashes.
Trevor Rogers has been a revelation as the ace of the rotation and has an A-grade in Potential in The Show 21, so the 23-year-old should only improve. Jazz Chisholm is not the highest-rated position player, but his combination of age (23), Potential (A), and position (shortstop) make him the heart and soul of the lineup and defense. The highly touted Sixto Sánchez should slot in right behind Rogers as a formidable one-two punch at the top of the rotation.
One thing to notice with the Marlins is that many of the position players are into their 30s, so aim to develop and acquire (when possible) younger players. Their Power ranking is also bottom tier, so targeting power hitters should also be a priority. Playing in the same division as Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia does present a different challenge altogether, so keep that in mind.
7. Minnesota Twins (American League Central)
- Ranking: 25th
- Notable Ranking: Power (11th)
- Best Players: Jorge Polanco (SS, 79 OVR), Randy Dobnak (SP, 79 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Jordan Balazovic (SP, 69 OVR)
- Team Budget: $136 million
A team that has seen many playoff battles (and losses) over the past two decades, Minnesota entered the season with high hopes, only to tumble below mediocrity. While Byron Buxton is inarguably the best player on the team, with Josh Donaldson just behind him, Buxton is a free agent after this season, and you cannot guarantee that he will re-sign with you in-game. Meanwhile, Donaldson is 35-years-old, so his prime is behind him.
Jorge Polanco plays second and third base in addition to shortstop and is under contract for two more seasons. Taylor Rogers is one of the best closers in the league, but his contract expires after this year, so Randy Dobnak is your best pitcher as he is signed for four more years and has a B-grade in Potential. Jordan Balazovic is who you should build as your future ace with an A-grade in Potential at just 21-years-old.
The larger budget of the Twins – thanks to players like Donaldson and Kenta Maeda signing as free agents – does help if you want to make the changes and be ready to contend next season. The Defense is highly ranked (with Buxton manning center field), but the Pitching ranking needs to improve to alleviate the pressure on the defense; target both starters and relievers. The budget and the division should help make this a fairly quick rebuild.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (National League Central)
- Ranking: 29th
- Notable Ranking: Power & Pitching (30th & 30th)
- Best Players: Bryan Reynolds (CF, 86 OVR), David Bednar (CP, 76 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Ji-Hwan Bae (SS, 68 OVR)
- Team Budget: $69.50 million
A small-market team, Pittsburgh has yet to recapture the glory of Andrew McCutchen’s prime, but they have good talent on the team. Bryan Reynolds plays a key position in center field and has a high contact rate. Ke’Bryan Hayes should become your own version of Nolan Arenado with better speed.
David Bednar is young at the age of 24 and has a B-grade in Potential, so you just might have your future ace already on staff. The South Korean Bae is young at 20-years-old, plays a premium position at shortstop, and even though his hit tool is light, he is already a plus defender with incredible speed and an A-grade in Potential. He and Hayes should form the left side of your infield for years.
The small budget will always make acquiring quick fixes an issue. This will be particularly difficult when seeking to improve a league-worst Pitching and Power rating. It may be better to focus the budget on developing and re-signing talent within the organization, but in any case, this will be a difficult and long-term rebuild, even while playing in the National League Central.
9. Texas Rangers (American League West)
- Ranking: 27th
- Notable Ranking: Contact (29th)
- Best Players: Isiah Kiner-Falefa (SS, 83 OVR), José Leclerc (CP, 81 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Kolby Allard (SP, 76 OVR)
- Team Budget: $68.50 million
A team that seemingly has not recovered from José Bautista’s home run in 2015, the Rangers have been mired in a rebuild that recently saw them jettison fan-favorite and stalwart Joey Gallo to the Yankees. While an impressive first in Speed ranking, they rank near the bottom in both Contact and Power and, as mentioned previously, speed is best used when on base.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa is entering his prime with a B-grade in Potential and has strong defensive ratings at a premium position, while also able to play catcher (another important position), second base, and third base. José Leclerc has been the Rangers’ primary closer for several seasons, and is still just 27-years-old with a B-grade in Potential. So, he should remain your closer for several seasons. Allard is a young pitcher at the age of 23 with a B-grade in Potential, so he might be your future ace.
The small budget makes it hard to compete in a division with Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle, so be prepared for a semi-long rebuild.
10. Washington Nationals (National League East)
- Ranking: 30th
- Notable Ranking: Contact (20th)
- Best Players: Juan Soto (LF, 94 OVR), Stephen Strasburg (SP, 87 OVR)
- Sleeper Player: Victor Robles (CF, 79 OVR)
- Team Budget: $135.50 million
Helmed by two of the most highly-touted prospects ever in Juan Soto and Stephen Strasburg, Washington is two seasons removed from a World Series victory, yet only a month removed from trading longtime ace Max Scherzer and Trea Turner – both fan-favorites.
Soto is still just 22 years of age with an A-grade in Potential, so he will be one of the best outfielders in the game for many years. Strasburg is 32-years-old, the end of his prime, but has a B-grade in Potential and is signed for five more seasons; he should ace the rotation for at least two more seasons.
Victor Robles, though sent down to AAA recently in real life, is speedy with Gold Glove-caliber defense, and his A-grade in Potential at his young age of 23 should (hopefully) lead to an improved hit tool sooner rather than later.
With a large budget, it will be rather easy to make trades and signings to shore up second-to-last rankings in Power and Pitching, and those should be your top priorities. Still, as the 30th-ranked team of 30, Washington is going to need a lot of time and effort to achieve the rebuild.
All ten of the teams listed represent different challenges in rebuilding, but they all share one thing in common: the rosters just do not have enough talent. Flex your GM muscles and become a legend as you develop a dynasty in The Show 21.
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