Believe it or not, we’re already more than a month into the 2017 MLB season, which we can now say is enough time to grasp each club’s true identity. There has been no shortage of surprising starts to this year’s campaign, whether that be for the better or the worse. The Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Minnesota Twins sit among those who have defied expectations while the Cubs, Giants and Blue Jays have been on the wrong side of the equation. With that, let’s see where they all stack up.
30. Atlanta Braves (13-21)
A six-game losing streak last week and a 2-7 stretch have sunk the Braves back to familiar territory: last place. Only the Padres own a worse record in the majors than Atlanta, but the Braves play in a division where only one team currently owns a winning record. At least they have a nice new stadium going for them.
29. San Diego Padres (14-25)
A new season, the same sad tune. After playing .500 ball the first few weeks of the season, the Padres have lost eight of their last ten contests and have fallen into last place in both the NL West, with an MLB-worst 14-25 record. Will Myers’ 10 homers are something to cheer about, but San Diego certainly isn’t cheering about a -65 run differential – also a major league worst.
28. Miami Marlins (14-22)
The Marlins certainly seem incomplete after suffering unspeakable tragedy towards the tail end of the 2016 season, and a 2-8 record in their past 10 games have now put them in danger of falling into the cellar of the NL East. Tyler Moore’s 3-run pinch-hit homer made for a nice storyline in Sunday’s victory over Philadelphia though, as has the offensive production of Marcell Ozuna, who leads the team in homers, batting average, and RBIs.
27. Philadelphia Phillies (14-21)
After nearly taking the lead in the NL East in the opening weeks, the Phillies have tapered off significantly en route to falling six games under the .500 mark. The boys from the City of Brotherly Love have lost eight of 10, but that’s not entirely unexpected when you have to face the Nationals seven times in that stretch. A more agonizing stat: six of the Phillies last 13 losses were in one-run contests. For what it’s worth, Philadelphia is just six runs below breaking even in the run differential, despite their record.
26. Kansas City Royals (16-21)
The Royals only managed to plate 89 runs in approximately one month of play, to give you an exact sense of how rough a road it has been for the Kansas City offense. In an all too similar situation to Miami, the Royals lost one of their top throwers to a tragic accident in the offseason, so a slow start to the 2017 season wasn’t exactly a shock with all things considered. Nonetheless, the Royals have won four straight and now seven of their past ten, so perhaps Ned Yost’s squad is finally figuring things out after a disastrous first few weeks.
25. Seattle Mariners (17-21)
The Mariners looked like they might content for the last place in the American League with a dismal opening two weeks of the season. Alas, they turned it around and managed to get back the .500 mark last week, only to get swept by Toronto in four games this weekend. Pitching has by far been the Achille’s heel for Seattle, as they sit exactly even in run differential despite owning a top-10 total of 182 runs on the season. The Mariners pitching staff’s 4.63 ERA is the sixth worse in the majors, while the team’s 13 quality starts are one spot worse at 27th in all of baseball.
24. Oakland Athletics (16-21)
Oakland hit its stride just a week ago with back-to-back walk-off wins against Detroit at home, but hit a wall this weekend by getting swept at the hands of the Texas Rangers, falling back to five games under. 500. The A’s, as the case with the Rangers, Angels, and Mariners, are still difficult to figure out considering many of their games played have come against opponents in a division that features four teams below the .500 mark, but 18 quality starts among the Oakland pitching staff nonetheless gives them a top-10 ranking in that category.
23. San Francisco Giants (14-25)
Like their Bay-Area counterparts, the Giants are hard to figure out after looking like anything but a preseason playoff contender the first month. As recently as last week, the Giants owned the worst record in baseball, but some benefit of the doubt has to be given with Denard Span, Hunter Pence, Madison Bumgarner, Jarrett Parker, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Mark Melancon all suffering injuries (some significant and some freakish) already this season. Those pitchers who are healthy have been extremely inconsistent, but series wins over the Dodgers and Reds have been promising, as was Brandon Belt’s multi-home run weekend after struggling significantly out of the gate. The current three game win-streak could be a sign that this team (which has the potential) is finally in its groove, but it could very well just be a fluke too.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates (16-22)
The Pirates are indeed last in the NL Central, but hey, it’s the NL Central. Six games back of first place amidst the loss of Starling Marte due to a PED bust isn’t the worst scenario in the world when you consider who you have to go against in your division. It’s even more impressive considering that Pittsburgh sits in the bottom five in the league in nearly all batting statistics, and those woes at the plate are likely offset by the starting rotation’s 21 quality starts, the fourth-best in the majors. Ivan Nova has kept his ERA down to just 2.48 while Gerrit Cole has tallied a team-high 47 strikeouts.
21. New York Mets (16-20)
Have the Mets returned to being the Mets that we all knew circa 2007-2014? Well, the loss of Noah Syndergaard to injury and Matt Harvey’s recent suspension due to a violation of team rules certainly hasn’t helped the pitching staff’s morale any more, as the unit surrendered 11 runs both Saturday and Sunday and owns a MLB worst 5.07 ERA. A 16-20 record is somehow good enough for second place in the NL East, but that’s only further evidence of how much this team has underachieved this early on. In the meantime, the Mets need to stop the bleeding of a four-game skid that began with a blown save against a Giants squad that previously hadn’t overcome a ninth-inning deficit since 2015.
20. Toronto Blue Jays (17-21)
After suffering a barrage of injuries to some of their best players right out of the gate, the Jays finally seem to be figuring things out – escaping the cellar of the MLB. Toronto completed a four-game sweep of Seattle this weekend with a Kevin Pillar walk-off homer Sunday and has now won five straight, including eight of its last 10 games. Pillar leads the team with a .314 batting average, but Justin Smoak has also been a big part of Toronto’s offensive surge, leading the team with seven homers and 23 RBIs on the season. Watch out for the Jays as this team continues to get healthier and healthier. And oh, did we mention they get a home series against the lowly Braves this week?
19. Chicago White Sox (17-18)
The White Sox sit below .500, but benefit from playing in the weakest division in baseball – only 2.5 games behind the first place Twins. Avisal Garcia has been the bread and butter of the offense, leading the Sox in long balls (6), batting average (.344), and RBIs (25). Yet, it’s the pitching that has really stood out for the South Side of Chicago, as the Sox’ 3.53 team ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and .232 BAA are all within the top six in the majors.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (19-21)
The Rays have been a hit and miss team thus far, but a series win over the Red Sox on the road this weekend pointed to the club’s ability to compete with some of the top teams in the league – punctuated by a 11-2 rout at Fenway Park on Sunday. Led by Chris Archer, Tampa’s pitching staff owns the 5th best ERA in baseball at 3.65, while the bats have brought home a tied 11th-best 180 runs. Corey Dickerson has been one of the most consistent batters in the lineup hitting .340, while Logan Morrison has demonstrated his power with 10 home runs already on the year.
17. Detroit Tigers (18-18)
The only team at exactly .500 in the league, a 5-4 road-trip and the return of J.D. Martinez from injury certainly isn’t a bad thing for a Tiger squad that sits just two games out of first place in the AL Central. Of course, back-to-back walk-off losses to the A’s just over a week ago still sting, and that ultimately bumped up Justin Wilson to the role of closer for Detroit. He struck out the side his first save opportunity, alleviating any fears to be had with the bullpen for now.
16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (19-21)
Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar have provided some great offense for the Angels, but the Angels will be without the third for two to four weeks after it was announced Monday that Escobar suffered a strained hamstring over the weekend. Escobar is not alone, as Mike Trout also aggravated his hamstring in the weekend series win over the Tigers, but won’t be needing any time on the DL. Trout’s 11 homers and .352 batting average have helped many forget that the Angels sit in the bottom third of the league when it comes to runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, though that could all change with the potential that the team’s lineup has demonstrated in recent years.
15. Texas Rangers (19-20)
After suffering significant bullpen issues courtesy of Sam Dyson in the early going, the Rangers have found their groove and have now won six straight, rising from last place in the AL West to just a game shy of the .500 mark. Texas connected for walk-off homers in consecutive contests last week, the first from Mike Napoli and the second from Joey Gallo. Speaking of Joey Gallo, his 12 homers and 27 RBIs lead the team. On another high note, Yu Darvish is having an impressive start to the season with a 2.96 ERA, part of a team effort that has led the Texas pitching staff to a MLB-best 24 quality starts through six weeks.
14. Cincinnati Reds (19-18)
Less than two weeks ago, the Reds had shocked everyone by taking over the lead in the highly competitive NL Central Division, but a 3-1 series loss to the lowly Giants over the weekend did Cincinnati no favors as the Cardinals and Brewers took care of business elsewhere to pass the Reds in the standings. That said, the Reds can smile at Joey Votto’s performance at the plate, reaching base safely in 16 of the past 18 games. The Reds offense has been steady in nearly all categories for that matter, ranking 4th in slugging percentage and second in batting average, while plating a 10th best 181 runs on the season.
13. Chicago Cubs (18-19)
Is the World Series hangover rearing its ugly head once again? At one game below the .500 mark, the Cubs look far from the curse-breaking squad that they were a year ago at this point, starting off 2016 with a brilliant 27-9 record through May 17 last year. The Cubbies weren’t helped at all by a loss in an 18-inning marathon against the Yankees last week, nor a double-header against the Colorado Rockies. Chicago has lost seven of its last ten games and only has a +2 run differential – enough to warrant some serious concern in Wrigleyville. Chicago will have a chance to catch a break this week when they face the Reds at home, who have lost three straight.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (21-18)
Are the Diamondbacks for real? It would appear so. Paul Goldschmidt has been the force at the plate that many feared he would be, already having launched 10 homers with 32 RBIs on the season. More telling though is that Arizona ranks within the top 10 in the majors in almost every pitching and batting statistic. The D-Backs’ 189 runs are the fifth most in the majors, while over on the mound, Zack Greinke owns a 2.79 ERA and Robbie Ray has 59 strikeouts. Not too shabby, especially after the pitching woes that Arizona faced a year ago.
11. Milwaukee Brewers (21-17)
Yet another surprise – the Milwaukee Brewers have used their power at the plate to catch many off guard and stay just one game back of St. Louis for the lead of the NL Central. The Brewers may be dead last in quality starts and WHIP, but that might not matter much when you’ve plated an MLB second-best 203 runs with a .475 team slugging percentage. Eric Thames has played a big role in that, sitting at 13 homers and batting .315 for the Crew. The Brewers now have the luxury of playing the MLB-worst Padres this week, giving them a great chance at snagging the outright lead in the division.
10. Cleveland Indians (19-17)
The defending AL Champions haven’t been exactly brilliant, largely due to a slumping offense. No Indian is batting over .300, though Francisco Lindor has shined with eight homers on the season. The pitching has been stellar for Cleveland, and that may very well be the only reason they are currently floating above the .500 mark. Having dropped four of their past six contests, the Tribe will be desperately looking to turn things around when they host Tampa this week.
9. Boston Red Sox (19-18)
Boston was blown out at home Sunday in an 11-2 loss to Tampa, but the Red Sox still remain a force to be reckoned with, batting .270 as a team with a .342 on base percentage. Xander Bogaerts is batting a nice .339 while Mookie Betts has connected for a team-high six dingers, plating 25 runs so far on the season. The Chris Sale acquisition has also been a big bonus for Boston this season, as Sale owns a 2.15 ERA with 4 wins and a whopping 85 strikeouts.
8. Minnesota Twins (19-15)
The Twins, who finished dead last in the American League one year ago, are by far the biggest surprise of the season thus far, jumping out to a 19-15 record to take sole-possession of first place in the AL Central. It’s even more astonishing considering Minnesota sits mid-pack in both batting and pitching numbers, but third-baseman Miguel Sano has made a name for himself by leading the club with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. No player is batting over .300 in the Twin Cities, but whatever they are doing is clearly working for now, even if the result is a -3 run differential. One interesting stat: the Twins are 11-5 away from Target Field. Who needs home field advantage?
7. St. Louis Cardinals (21-15)
After a sluggish start, the Cardinals have finally found their stride by winning eight of their last 10 to take the lead in the NL Central. Mike Leake has dominated on the mound with a 1.94 ERA and four wins, while Matt Carpenter has been his normal self at the plate with eight homers and 24 long-balls. Yadier Molina joined the party on offense with two homers in a 5-0 win over the Cubs Sunday, as the Cards took the series from the defending champs, 2-1. That will give St. Louis plenty of confidence entering another big series against Boston this week.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (22-16)
Los Angeles may not be good at hitting against lefties from what we’ve seen, but that hasn’t stopped the Dodgers from jolting out to six games above the .500 mark, winning seven of their last nine games. Clayton Kershaw has already reached six wins while posting a 2.43 ERA, and that’s been a big reason why the Dodgers lead the majors with a 3.30 team ERA and WHIP of 1.19. Things have been near as good at the plate for the Boys in Blue, already reaching 190 runs on the season as of Sunday. Look no further than Cody Bellinger, yet another successful Dodger rookie who is batting .300 with five homers and 14 RBIs on the year.
5. Baltimore Orioles (22-14)
The Orioles encountered their first hiccup of the season this weekend, getting swept by the lowly Royals en route to a four-game skid. Yet, they remain a comfortable eight games above .500 and just half a game back of the Yankees for the lead in the AL East standings. Dylan Bundy has had quite a start on the mound with a 2.26 ERA and five wins, but the offense could use a boost, as no player is batting .300 for the O’s. Nonetheless, Manny Machado has provided considerable offense with nine long-balls and 22 RBIs through 36 games. He’ll need to keep it up as Baltimore heads to Detroit this week.
4. Colorado Rockies (24-15)
Could this be the year that things finally click for the Rockies? Series wins against Arizona and Chicago last week, though both at home, were nonetheless impressive, as Colorado continued to exert its power at the plate. The Rockies have plated nine runs or more in five contests since May 5, and Mark Reynolds has played a big role in that. By big role, we mean 12 home runs, 33 RBIs, and a .326 batting average on the season – all of which lead the team. Colorado’s 187 runs scored ranks seventh in the majors.
3. New York Yankees (22-13)
The Bronx Bombers are back, folks. Sure, they didn’t show up for Derek Jeter’s retirement party on Sunday, but anything is fair game when you face the best team in all of baseball. The Yankees are off to their best start in more than half-a-decade, punctuated by 14 homers and 29 RBIs from Aaron Judge and a .338 batting average from Starlin Castro. Sitting at .456 in team slugging percentage and 201 runs on the season, New York has the power to beat up on even the best pitching staffs in the majors. While we don’t want to jump to any conclusions, look out for the Yankees to make a serious run at a 28th title this October.
2. Washington Nationals (24-13)
The Yankees are powerful, but nobody can match the power that we’ve seen in our nation’s capital these past six weeks. The Nationals sit atop the majors in nearly every statistical category at the plate, owning an major-league best 221 runs scored, .282 team batting average, .358 on-base percentage, and .487 slugging percentage. The Nat’s also house the top three RBI leaders in all of baseball, to show just how concentrated the power has become in D.C. And no, Bryce Harper is not leading the charge. That would be Ryan Zimmerman, who is batting an otherworldly .385 with 13 long balls and 36 RBIs on the season. On a side-note, Max Scherzer has 70 strikeouts, which is pretty darn fantastic.
1. Houston Astros (26-12)
They’re back. The Astros are the best team in baseball, and they proved it with a series win over the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend, striking for at least 10 runs both Saturday and Sunday. They’ve already tallied 180 runs on the season, thanks to the bats of George Springer, Marwin Gonzales, and Josh Reddick, and it doesn’t appear their production will be slowing down anytime any soon. Speaking of production, Dallas Keuchel has rebounded from a dismal 2016 season with a 1.69 ERA and six wins already, while Lance McCullers Jr. has already racked up 57 strikeouts. Houston, we have lift-off.