We’re just over a week into the season and when there are still over 150 games left, of course, anything can still happen. As with every season, we have early surprises, both good (Seattle), and bad (Boston). Some juggernaut teams are struggling early and for some, the issues may be temporary, but for others, it may be time to start taking the struggles seriously.

 

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (5-1): The Phillies have the most dangerous lineup in baseball and they have the starting pitching to compete with anyone come playoff time. If it wasn’t for a late-game collapse by the bullpen the Phillies would be 6-0 and we would be talking about them breaking 2001 Mariners (and 1906 Cubs) 116 wins record. Phillies fans are already calling for Craig Kimbrel after just one loss, if they improve their bullpen, look out.
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (6-2): Everyone thought the Yankees were going to lead baseball in home runs. Well, it looks like the Dodgers will be the ones to crack 300 this season. 21 home runs through eight games, they’re on pace to hit over 400 this season, smashing the Yankees record last season of 267. Wait until Clayton Kershaw comes back, the Dodgers should crack 100 wins no problem.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays (6-2): Unlike our first two teams in the rankings, the Rays are all about pitching. They have only allowed 13 runs in eight games. The offense may become an issue down the road, but if the Rays keep pitching this way, only scoring three runs a game will be enough. Look for them to make a big trade this summer to add one or two big bats to their lineup and make them a legit World Series threat.
  4. Seattle Mariners (7-2): Rebuilding? Maybe not. After sending Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to the Mets, many thought the Mariners were already throwing in the towel this season, but clearly, they are not going down without a fight. The Mariners offense has been one of the best in the league so far this season. Their pitching though leaves much to be desired. It will be interesting to see how the Mariners approach the trade deadline if they manage to stay in playoff contention come July.
  5. Milwaukee Brewers (7-1): The Brew Crew have the best record in baseball, but they just as easily could have one of the worst. With a run differential of only +6, the Brewers have had their fair share of close calls. Five of their wins have been by one run, and the other two have been by two and three runs. I’m not entirely sold on this team just yet, but it is hard to ignore a 7-1 record, no matter how close the games are. Finding a way to win is the name of the game, and the Brewers are doing just that.
  6. New York Mets (5-2): Jacob deGrom keeps breaking records and somehow is looking even better than he did last season when he won the Cy Young Award. The offense in New York is looking the best it has since their World Series run in 2015. By taking their focus off the long ball and instead focusing on opposite field hitting, the Mets have put themselves into the top 10 in the league in both runs and hits per game. If the offense can keep producing runs, the starting pitching will certainly get them into the playoffs, the bullpen though might be a different story.
  7. Atlanta Braves (4-3): After starting the season 0-3 (against the Phillies), the Braves have won four straight and are showing the league just how good they are, as well as how good the Phillies are for sweeping them to start the season. The offense in Atlanta has been great, the pitching not so much. Once starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and reliever Darren O’ Day return, the Braves pitching should pick up and make this a team that nobody will want to play in September/October.
  8. Minnesota Twins (4-2): The Twins are the early leaders in the AL Central, a division that will most likely only get one team into the playoffs, but should be a close division all season, especially with the Indians offense struggling so badly at the moment. The Twins offense and pitching have both been slightly above average, but nothing has really stood out so far this season. A balanced team is a tough team to beat.
  9. Oakland Athletics (6-5): The A’s have the third best run differential in the AL. They took 3-out-of-4 from both the Red Sox and the Angels this season, and while both of those teams are having rough starts to the season, maybe that has something to do with how good the A’s actually are? The pitching has been pretty good and Khris Davis already has five bombs. Who else will step up and help the A’s make another playoff push this season?
  10. San Diego Padres (5-3): The Padres have the record I would expect them to have at this point in the season, however, I thought it would be due to Manny Machado and the offense, not the pitching. The Padres have the 10th best ERA in baseball, but their offense hasn’t been that great, only averaging 3.5 runs per game. If Fernando Tatis Jr. can be as good as projected, the Padres can certainly make a splash come playoff time. If their pitching can stay consistent, the Padres can be a better team than expected this season.
  11. Washington Nationals (3-3): The Nationals have won three of their last four and have only played the Phillies and the Mets so far this season, so it is hard to judge just how good this team really is at the moment. The loss of Trea Turner for an extended period of time is a huge blow, but it is hard to count out a team with a pitching rotation as good as this one. Make no mistake, this Nationals team will be competing for a title in baseball’s toughest division.
  12. Texas Rangers (5-3): Before the start of the season, many would say the Rangers have one of the toughest schedules over the first week of the season. Hosting the Cubs and Astros before heading out to L.A. to take on the Angels seemed like a tough start to the season, but all three teams have been off to rough starts. The Rangers have been able to score without much issue, but their pitching will need to get a lot better if they want to get into the playoffs.
  13. St. Louis Cardinals (3-4): The Cardinals have been in a lot of close games so far this season (six of seven games decided by two runs or less). They have been an average team offensively, but their pitching has not been very good. If they want to give the Brewers a run for their money this season, the Cardinals pitching will have to improve greatly.
  14. Detroit Tigers (5-3): The Tigers pitching has been incredible, their offense, incredibly bad. They are second in the league in ERA (2.25) and 29th in runs scored (2.1) per game. Is the offense going to get better, or will the pitching slip? Whichever happens first will be what will decide this season for the Tigers.
  15. Cleveland Indians (4-3): Much like the Tigers, the Indians have had been struggling on offense and have been saved by their pitching (other than Corey Kluber). Trevor Bauer is a darkhorse Cy Young winner this season and him and Mike Clevinger look to be the team’s new best pitchers, over Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.
  16. Chicago White Sox (3-3): Yoan Moncada is off to a great start this season and White Sox fans have to be loving it. If Moncada and the White Sox offense can keep up this production, they will be an interesting team to keep an eye on come September. If they want to find their way into the playoffs they will have to find a way to get better pitching and improve on their team ERA of 5.12.
  17. Pittsburgh Pirates (3-3): The Pirates have allowed the third least runs per game in the league and their 2.25 ERA is tied for the second-best in baseball. Their batting average allowed is best in baseball (.171.), but their offense has been holding them back. 3.5 runs per game aren’t going to cut it, but perhaps this series against the Reds can help the Pirates get their offense on track.
  18. Baltimore Orioles (4-3): The Orioles started the season 4-1, including winning two-out-of-three against the Yankees. O’s fans had to be loving it, especially since most people expected the Orioles to be the worst team in baseball this year. Well, maybe they won’t be the worst team this season, but they are still going to finish in the bottom third of baseball this season. 18th will probably be the highest ranking they get this season, sell your stock while it is at an all-time high.
  19. New York Yankees (3-4): Putting the Yankees one spot behind the Orioles was on purpose. Although the season series is split 2-2, the advantage goes to the Orioles since many would have expected them to lose three if not all four of those game. Injuries have been a problem for the Yankees so far this season. They will get better as the season goes on and almost certainly will make the playoffs. Buy Yankee stock while it is low because it will only go up as the season progresses.
  20. Houston Astros (3-5): Chicago Cubs aside, the Astros have probably been the biggest letdown so far this season. Their offense has been bad and even in the three games they won, they didn’t look very good. 28th in the league in runs per game is something new to the Astros over the past five years. The pitching is where we expected it to be (7th in ERA), so once the offense starts clicking we will see the same Astros we are used to seeing.
  21. Toronto Blue Jays (3-6): The pitching in Toronto has been a great surprise, the offense, a great letdown. The Blue Jays are near the bottom in most categories offensively, but their pitching is in the top 10 in most major categories. It is only a matter of time before the Red Sox and Yankees start playing good baseball again, and with the way the Rays are playing, there just aren’t enough wins to go around. The Blue Jays, along with the Orioles, will be the ones to pile up the losses in the AL East as the season progresses.
  22. Colorado Rockies (3-5): Splitting a series with the Miami Marlins is usually not a good sign. Now the Rockies are finally at Coors Field this season, but they have to play two tough series against the Dodgers and Braves and they already lost their first game against the Dodgers. A struggling offense isn’t going to keep up with the Dodgers, especially the way they are hitting home runs. Colorado could be in for a long season.
  23. Arizona Diamondbacks (4-4): A 4-4 record with the 4th most runs per game in baseball must mean the pitching is bad, right? Correct. As good as the offense has been, the pitching has been worse, second to last in the league in ERA with a whopping 7.25. The Diamondbacks pitching is 28th or worse in ERA, WHIP, K/9, HR allowed and BAA. No offense can make up for that kind of pitching.
  24. Boston Red Sox (2-7): The Red Sox just lost to the Diamondbacks 15-8. What is going on up in Beantown? World Series hangover? Maybe. Much like the Diamondbacks, the Red Sox pitching is near the bottom of the league in every major category. Not to mention their fielding percentage is fourth worst in baseball. Drink some water and take some Tylenol, it is time to get rid of this hangover and start playing baseball.
  25. Los Angeles Angels (2-6): The Angels should be ashamed of themselves for wasting all of Mike Trout’s prime years on a team that can’t find a way to win. If they had any respect for Trout they would send him to a team that can surround him with the talent he deserves to play with. The best player in baseball will once again have a long season that features more losses than wins. At least he can spend October counting his money while he is at home watching the playoffs.
  26. Chicago Cubs (1-6): The Cubs offense has been good so far this season, 6th most runs per game in the league. Their pitching has been the worst in baseball by a mile. The worst ERA, WHIP and BAA in the league, the Cubs pitching looks like a Minor League team so far this season. Their offense will continue to put up runs, but until they find out what is wrong with their pitching, the Cubs will not be winning very many games.
  27. Kansas City Royals (2-4): After starting 2-0 the Royals have lost four straight. Averaging five runs a game isn’t a bad thing, but any pitching staff that still features Homer Bailey isn’t a very good one. By the time the year is over, their pitching will cost them a lot more games than their offense wins for them.
  28. San Francisco Giants (2-6): The Giants are having a hard time scoring so far this season, but on a bright note, their pitching staff has been pretty decent. Holding the Dodgers to 13 runs in three games is nothing to be ashamed of with the way they have been hitting the ball. Maybe the Giants can find a way to be in playoff contention come September and give Bruce Bochy an entertaining final season, although it seems unlikely.
  29. Miami Marlins (2-6): There is talent on this young Marlins roster, so maybe the near future will be bright for this team. This season probably won’t be that bright though. With how good the Phillies, Mets, Braves and Nationals are expected to be this year, the Marlins will probably lose 100+ games this season, but the same could be said with a few other teams in the league as well. It’s not so much that the Marlins are a bad team, they just aren’t good enough to compete with the league’s best team on a daily basis. Maybe they could go .500 in the AL Central?
  30. Cincinnati Reds (1-6): The Reds won their season-opening game against the Pirates and everything looked good, for one day. Since that game, the Reds have only scored six runs in six games, including four shutouts. The only bright side has been their pitching, which has the league’s sixth-best ERA. Not only do they have the least runs in baseball, but they are last in the Majors in OBP, SLG, AVG, OPS and SB. The Reds are on pace for a historically bad offensive season.

 

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