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Which 'tanking' team will build a winner first: the Reds, Padres, Braves, Phillies or Brewers?

Dan Szymborski enlists the aid of the ZiPS projection system to see into the future of five rebuilding franchises. ESPN Illustration

While there have always been franchises in baseball rebuilding for the future, the act of rebuilding itself -- explicitly absorbing short-term losses to further long-term goals -- remains controversial. But what is undeniable is that many of the most successful teams in baseball preceded their runs with a stretch of rebuilding or, less charitably, tanking.

The 2015-2016 Chicago Cubs became one of the best teams in baseball, their fallow years allowing them to focus on assembling the farm system and putting off the big-ticket contracts until contention was more realistic. While the 2016 Houston Astros have been disappointing, the 2015 team that came close to knocking off the eventual World Series champions had lost 111 games just two years prior. And where would the Kansas City Royals be without a series of deals that landed them Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Wade Davis, among others, years after Zack Greinke departed?

Right now, there are arguably five teams in baseball voluntarily going through the full tear-down-and-rebuild process: the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres. While the goal is the same for all five teams, the overarching strategy and approach to their respective rebuilds is quite different. To help answer who will get to the promised land quicker than the rest, I've enlisted the aid of the ZiPS projection system.