The Major League Baseball postseason is nearly here, and that means we're that much closer to participating in everyone's favorite pastime: eviscerating crucial October decisions that go wrong.
To hold us over, how about we take a closer look at a few boneheaded choices from the regular season?
We picked out nine decisions in particular that are deserving of scrutiny. These involve trades that teams did or didn't make, as well as player usage decisions that have backfired. We also set our sights on a cluster-mess born out of the 2021 draft, along with one all-time misfire on the part of the league office.
To clarify, anything that happened during the 2020-21 offseason was off limits. Matters that have roots in spring training, on the other hand, were fair game.
We'll start with those and then go in no particular order from there.
The Rockies Hold on to Trevor Story
After the Colorado Rockies traded Nolan Arenado in February, the odds of Trevor Story remaining in Denver throughout the season seemed close to nil. Yet there he is, still in Denver.
In the Rockies' defense, the two-time All-Star shortstop hasn't exactly upheld his previous value throughout 2021. He had just a .665 OPS during spring training, and so it's gone during the regular season as he's put up a .770 OPS (i.e., a 97 OPS+).
It's nonetheless baffling that Story didn't immediately follow Arenado out of town. Especially knowing that he stayed put because Jeff Bridich, then the Rockies general manager, didn't want to commit to a rebuild in spite of the Arenado trade.
That stance should have imploded once Bridich stepped down in April, but the shift of the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver actually tightened the club's grip on Story. It effectively wasn't until the July 30 trade deadline that Story finally landed on the block, but the Rockies ultimately declined offers for him.
The whole ordeal understandably left Story "confused" and has almost certainly guaranteed his departure as a free agent this winter. If so, the Rockies will have to hope that the compensatory draft pick they'll gain by way of the qualifying offer will eventually justify their decision-making.
The Reds Find Out That Eugenio Suarez Is Not a Shortstop
After their shortstops combined for an MLB-low minus-0.3 rWAR in 2020, the Cincinnati Reds rightfully had it in mind to upgrade at the position over the winter.
What's more, the Reds were reportedly aiming high. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, at one point they were considering Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons on the free-agent market and Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story on the trade market.
The Reds' first mistake was not following through on their interest in those players. But for the purposes of this exercise, an even bigger mistake was their choice to move ahead with Eugenio Suarez at short.
Though Suarez found his footing in the majors as a shortstop in 2014 and 2015, he only played there in an emergency capacity after moving to third base full time in 2016. His rustiness was immediately apparent on Opening Day when he made a pair of errors, which unfortunately set the tone for the weeks to come.
Mercifully, the Reds abandoned the Suarez experiment for good in May. The damage he did at the position is nonetheless seen in a .660 OPS and minus-10 outs above average, not to mention the Reds' 14-17 record in 31 games with Suarez as their starting shortstop.