The quarter mark of the MLB season represents a time of reflection and thoughtful analysis.
That, or it gives us yet another opportunity to rank every team according to how each has fared through 40-plus games.
In either case, there’s certainly some value in breaking down how each team is playing this season. With more than a quarter of the season in the books, we’re starting to get a pretty clear indication of which squads will be hanging around in September and October.
There’s still plenty of baseball left to play, but the perennial bottom-feeders and top-tier teams in the majors aren’t likely to experience much movement in the final three-quarters of the season. Every team in the middle, however, still has time to prove it deserves to be in the latter category.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at current rankings for each MLB squad and break down what each has done lately to earn its spot.
1. Texas Rangers
I’m starting to believe Texas is one of the most well-run organizations in all of professional sports. The Rangers just keep producing, and with prospects like Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
2. New York Yankees
The mark of a good team is the ability to overcome adversity and still come out on top. The Yankees have done that this year in fighting through several major injuries to post one of the best records in the majors—and they may just be getting started.
3. St. Louis Cardinals
It takes a combination of offense, starting pitching and relief pitching to be an elite team. St. Louis has all three, and the Cardinals are firing on all cylinders at this point in the season.
4. Cincinnati Reds
As good as Cincinnati’s bats have been at times this year, it’s the Reds’ pitching that has really made its mark. With top-five marks in ERA (3.37), quality starts (26) and WHIP (1.18), it’s no surprise the Reds are hanging with the red-hot Cardinals in the NL Central.
5. Cleveland Indians
There isn’t a hotter team in baseball right now, and one has to wonder if the Indians are actually capable of losing a ballgame in the ninth inning. With yet another walk-off win and a series sweep of the Seattle Mariners Monday, Cleveland improved its record to 18-4 in the last 22 games.
6. Boston Red Sox
Boston struggled in early May, but it seems to have hit its stride since dropping nine of 11 from May 3 to May 14. In the following five contests, the Red Sox outscored opponents 33-14 and walked away with five big victories.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona’s starting pitching has been masterful thus far, and with so much discord in the NL West, the Diamondbacks are starting to look like the team to beat following the quarter mark of the season.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates
I almost don’t want to say anything positive about the Pirates for fear of jinxing what could be their first winning season in 21 years. Suffice it to say Pittsburgh is playing tremendous baseball right now and aren’t far off the pace of the Cardinals in the NL Central.
9. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are who we thought they were. Despite a couple bad stretches in April, Atlanta has won five of its last seven and has a chokehold on the NL East. If the Braves’ bats reach their full potential, this will be an extremely dangerous team.
10. Detroit Tigers
There’s almost nothing more that needs to be said. Cabrera is on pace to shatter his 2012 Triple Crown numbers, and he’s single-handedly keeping the Tigers afloat in an AL Central with which the Indians are trying to run away.
11. Colorado Rockies
Colorado surprised a lot of people with its hot start, and while they aren’t playing at that level right now, taking three of four from the Giants is nothing to sneeze at. If the Rockies can duplicate that feat against San Francisco this weekend, they will be in good position to claim the lead in the NL West.
12. Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore’s recent struggles against the Padres and Rays are troubling, especially with series against the Yankees, Nationals and Tigers on the slate in the next two weeks. If the Orioles don’t turn it around quickly, the AL East will be extremely difficult to traverse.
13. Washington Nationals
Lofty expectations have tarnished what Washington has done this season, but don’t expect one of the National League’s best squads to hover around the .500 mark for very long. There’s nothing scary about the Nationals’ schedule in the coming weeks, save for short series with San Francisco and Atlanta.
14. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays desperately need their pitching to come around in the final three-fourths of the season. With a 4.34 team ERA and just 22 quality starts to match, Tampa Bay’s potent offense is simply going to waste.
15. San Francisco Giants
With series losses to both Colorado and Toronto, San Francisco missed out on a big opportunity to take hold of the NL West. The Dodgers may be floundering, but there’s no shortage of teams willing to take advantage of a wide-open division.
16. Oakland Athletics
Oakland has leveled off after a fantastic start, dropping 10 contests since the beginning of May. Things are starting to look up again after a series sweep of the Royals, though, and a win over Texas Monday night was enough to instill confidence that the A’s can still compete for an AL West title.
17. Kansas City Royals
A pre-season favorite to come away with the AL Central, Kansas City has fallen victim to some big first-quarter performances from the Indians and Tigers. The talent is there, but the Royals have to start putting it all together in a hurry.
18. San Diego Padres
The Padres are a perfect example of a team with tons of potential and not enough established talent to put it all together. It’s still very early, though. With a little more experience and a quite a bit of luck, San Diego could make some waves before the season ends.
19. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies should be incredibly thankful for their starting pitching. With an offense that ranks in the bottom five of the league in most major categories, it could be a lot worse for Philadelphia right now.
20. Chicago White Sox
It’s hard to win games with a .240 team batting average and .293 OBP, but at least Chicago’s pitching has allowed it to remain competitive. Chris Sale has been absolutely dominant of late, and he’s well on his way to a 20-win season if his first-quarter performance continues.
21. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have come up well short of expectations this season, but it’s hard to write off a $120 million-plus roster that has suffered from some bad injury luck. Los Angeles won’t be at the bottom of the NL West for very long.
22. Minnesota Twins
Minnesota’s bullpen has been its saving grace this year, but it’s hard to maintain a corps of relievers that has to put in so much work. If the Twins’ starting rotation doesn’t pick up the slack, it’s going to be a long year in the Twin Cities.
23. Los Angeles Angels
At some point, Los Angeles’ bats have to turn things around. An offense with so much firepower can’t continue coasting, especially with Texas running away with the division.
24. Seattle Mariners
Good teams find ways to win ballgames and bad teams seem to stumble upon ways to lose. With a costly ninth-inning error on Monday, the Mariners joined the latter group in getting swept by the surging Indians at Progressive Field.
25. Chicago Cubs
Don’t look now, but the Cubs could actually be putting something together. With seven wins in their last 12 games (including two series victories), Chicago is starting to claw its way up in the NL Central standings.
26. Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto may be the most disappointing team in baseball at this point in the year. Despite a huge offseason and lofty expectations, the Blue Jays have nothing more to show for it than an 18-26 record.
27. New York Mets
There have been several bright spots for the Mets this season. Unfortunately, there haven’t been quite enough of them to get over the hump. Still, the solid play of David Wright and dominance of Matt Harvey are encouraging signs.
28. Milwaukee Brewers
It has been all about the pitching for the Brewers this season—and almost all of it has been bad. With a team ERA of 4.57 and a WHIP of 1.37, the Brewers will only go as far as their pitching will allow.
29. Miami Marlins
Miami’s offensive rankings aren’t even a little encouraging. The Marlins rank dead last in almost every statistical category, including runs (117), batting average (.220), OBP (.282) and slugging (.317). With numbers like that, their minus-69 run differential isn’t the least bit surprising.
30. Houston Astros
Houston has actually showed signs of life in the last week with three wins in five games, but the Astros can’t erase their 13-32 record with a few good showings. Until Houston can string together multiple weeks of good baseball, it will likely remain at the bottom of every list.