Mid-April Report Card Grades for All 30 MLB Teams
A team's win-loss record early on during the season is not always the best indicator of how the team has performed, simply because it is such a small sample size to work with.
With that in mind, what follows is a breakdown of all 30 MLB teams so far this season, looking at three main areas:
- Offense: who has shined and who has struggled among the projected regulars, as well as a look at how the team has hit as a whole.
- Pitching: who has shined and who has struggled among the projected rotation and key relievers, as well as a look at how the team has pitched as a whole.
- Overall: a look at how the team has performed compared to expectations entering the season and its outlook moving forward.
All three areas were then graded, with a grade of "C" representing a team performing at league average in the case of offense and pitching or right around expectations in the case of overall performance.
R/G: 3.82 (23rd in MLB)
BA: .252 (T-11th in MLB)
Slugger Paul Goldschmidt has picked up right where he left off last season, with nine extra-base hits and a .909 OPS. The team has also gotten a nice season from rookie shortstop Chris Owings (.320 BA, .730 OPS), who beat out Didi Gregorius for the job this spring
Newcomer Mark Trumbo leads all of baseball with six home runs and is second with 18 RBI, but he has also struck out 17 times and is hitting just .209.
ERA: 6.14 (30th in MLB)
SP ERA: 7.82 (30th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.90 (17th in MLB)
The team's starters have combined for a jaw-droppingly awful 7.82 ERA so far, as all five starers have an ERA over 5.00. The Diamondbacks have a grand total of two quality starts on the year, and it may not be long before they call for Archie Bradley.
The bullpen has been decent. New closer Addison Reed is 3-of-3 on saves opportunities with a 2.57 ERA, and middle relievers Joe Thatcher, J.J. Putz and Brad Ziegler have all pitched well. Will Harris (9.72 ERA) and Oliver Perez (6.14 ERA) have been hit hard, though.
Record: 4-13, fifth in NL West
For a team expected to have an outside shot at contention for an NL wild-card spot, the Diamondbacks are off to a disastrous start, and it's not going to get any better until they figure out the starting rotation.
R/G: 4.23 (14th in MLB)
BA: .247 (15th in MLB)
The Atlanta Braves' offense has looked good so far, with Freddie Freeman (1.236 OPS), Justin Upton (1.092 OPS), Evan Gattis (.939 OPS) and Andrelton Simmons (.965 OPS) all off to hot starts. Their 20 home runs on the season are currently tops in the NL.
Now if they can just get outfielders B.J. Upton (.180 BA, .526 OPS) and Jason Heyward (.160 BA, .611 OPS) going, they could have one of the better offenses in the National League.
ERA: 2.72 (third in MLB)
SP ERA: 1.80 (first in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.75 (22nd in MLB)
For as hard as they were hit by injuries this spring, with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy lost for the season and Mike Minor on the DL, the Braves have thrown the ball incredibly well.
All five starters have an ERA under 3.00, and late-spring signing Aaron Harang (2-1, 0.96 ERA) has been perhaps the biggest surprise in baseball so far. Their bullpen has been shaky, but closer Craig Kimbrel (5-of-5 SV, 1.59 ERA) has again been an anchor in the ninth.
The Ervin Santana signing may wind up being the biggest move though, as the right-hander has allowed just one run in 14 innings of work over his first two starts.
“We were lucky that he was still out there because I don’t know what we would have done,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told Paul Hagen of MLB.com. “We were kind of down for a little bit and for (the front office) to (sign him) was tremendous.”
Record: 9-4, first in NL East
Considering that many expected the Braves to limp along through the first month of the season while their pitching got healthy, their start has been fantastic. They continue to have the Washington Nationals' number, in particular, as they are 5-1 against them already this season.
R/G: 4.08 (T-17th in MLB)
BA: .264 (seventh in MLB)
The Baltimore Orioles entered the season with what looked to be one of the better offenses in baseball on paper, but they have been middle of the road to this point. Matt Wieters (1.034 OPS), Nelson Cruz (.842 OPS) and Chris Davis (.798 OPS, 8 RBI) are off to nice starts, but the rest of the starting lineup has yet to hit its stride.
Getting Manny Machado back once he finally returns from knee surgery will be a boost, but the team needs guys like Adam Jones (.240 BA, .658 OPS) and Nick Markakis (.246 BA, .552 OPS) to pick it up.
ERA: 4.23 (21st in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.64 (25th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.48 (T-14th in MLB)
Shaky starting pitching was the Orioles' biggest issue last season, and things have not been any better here in the early going this season.
Chris Tillman (3 GS, 0.84 ERA) has been terrific, but newcomer Ubaldo Jimenez (3 GS, 7.31 ERA) has been terrible, and opponents are hitting .316 against the team's starters. New closer Tommy Hunter (3-of-4, 4.50 ERA) has allowed a run in each of his past two outings.
Record: 6-7, fourth in AL East
Despite shaky starting pitching and a lineup that has yet to hit its stride, the Orioles have still managed to win some games here in the early going. The offense should sort itself out, but the pitching looks like a legitimate area of concern once again.
Boston Red Sox
R/G: 3.36 (26th in MLB)
BA: .245 (T-16th in MLB)
The highest-scoring offense in baseball last season, the Boston Red Sox have not been nearly as potent at the plate in the early going this season. They are piling up plenty of hits but hitting just .194 with runners in scoring position.
Mike Napoli (.903 OPS, 9 RBI) and Grady Sizemore (.308 BA, .870 OPS) have been the standouts at the plate, while star second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.236 BA, .527 OPS) has been slowed by a wrist injury.
ERA: 3.57 (12th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.00 (15th in MLB)
RP ERA: 2.68 (seventh in MLB)
With Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront throwing the ball fairly well against the rival New York Yankees their last time out after rough starts to the season, the Red Sox rotation looks to be in good shape moving forward.
Closer Koji Uehara has been slowed by a sore shoulder, while newcomers Burke Badenhop (7 IP, 7.71 ERA) and Edward Mujica (3.1 IP, 10.80 ERA) have struggled. However, the bullpen as a whole has been one of the better ones in the AL, and those guys should sort things out before too long.
Record: 5-9, fifth in AL East
Expectations were high for the defending champs entering the season, even after they lost a handful of key contributors in the offseason. They are off to a poor start, though, and a lack of clutch hitting has been perhaps the biggest culprit.
R/G: 3.92 (21st in MLB)
BA: .241 (21st in MLB)
The Cubs offense has been about as good as expected this season as the team continues what has been a full-scale rebuild and waits on a handful of terrific position player prospects, led by Javier Baez, to make their way to Chicago.
Two core pieces looking for bounce-back seasons in Starlin Castro (.300 BA, .787 OPS) and Anthony Rizzo (.319 BA, .878 OPS) are off to great starts, though, and if they can keep it up, it would be a major boost for the team moving forward.
ERA: 4.17 (18th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.06 (18th in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.36 (18th in MLB)
The trio of Jeff Samardzija (1.29 ERA), Jason Hammel (2.63 ERA) and Travis Wood (2.92 ERA) have thrown the ball very well, much better than their combined 2-2 record through seven starts suggests.
However, Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva have been bad, and the team can't get Jake Arrieta back healthy soon enough. Closer Jose Veras has already been yanked from the ninth-inning role, with a group led by Pedro Strop taking over for the time being. But even with those struggles, this looks like an improved bullpen over last season.
Record: 4-8, fifth in NL Central
With Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo hitting and Jeff Samardzija looking like an ace, the important pieces are performing. This was not a team that was expected to contend this year, and it could have an awfully hard time winning series with any sort of consistency.
Chicago White Sox
R/G: 5.86 (1st in MLB)
BA: .276 (2nd in MLB)
Ahead of only the lowly Miami Marlins in runs scored last season, the Chicago White Sox are off to a torrid start at the plate to kick off 2014, as they are currently the highest-scoring team in baseball.
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez (.415 BA) leads a group of seven everyday player with a an OPS of .820 or higher, and my preseason pick for AL Rookie of the Year, Jose Abreu (.909 OPS, 4 HR, 14 RBI), is looking awfully good here in the early going.
ERA: 5.15 (28th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.50 (T-23rd in MLB)
RP ERA: 6.53 (30th in MLB)
Chris Sale (3-0, 2.66 ERA) and Jose Quintana (2.37 ERA) have thrown the ball well atop the rotation, while free-agent addition Maikel Cleto (6.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER) and Daniel Webb (7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) have been great out of the bullpen. However, everyone else has fallen in somewhere between slightly below average and terrible to this point.
Their 6.53 bullpen ERA is astoundingly bad, and when you take away the solid numbers of Cleto and Webb, the rest of the group has a combined 9.35 ERA on the year.
Record: 8-6, second in AL Central
The White Sox's offense has been better than anyone could have ever hoped over the first two-plus weeks of the season, and with newcomers like Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton in the mix, they have a chance to be an above-average group all year. The pitching staff is bad, though, and they have to do something about the bullpen.
R/G: 3.86 (22nd in MLB)
BA: .248 (14th in MLB)
The Cincinnati Reds' best hitter this season has been catcher Devin Mesoraco (1.565 OPS, 3 HR, 9 RBI), and he has only played six games after starting the season on the disabled list. The only other regulars hitting over .300 are Brandon Phillips (.328 BA, .764 OPS) and Joey Votto (.327 BA, 1.014 OPS).
Shortstop Zack Cozart (42 AB, .095 BA, .279 OPS) has been perhaps the least productive everyday player in baseball, while Billy Hamilton (.159 BA, 2 SB) and Jay Bruce (.152 BA, 13 K) are both still trying to get things going as well.
ERA: 3.76 (15th in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.24 (ninth in MLB)
RP ERA: 5.18 (25th in MLB)
Outside of Homer Bailey (3 GS, 8.16 ERA), the Reds' starting rotation has been fantastic so far this year. The biggest surprise has been Alfredo Simon (15 IP, 1.20 ERA), who spent all of last season in the bullpen but moved to the rotation to fill in for the injured Mat Latos.
The bullpen is without Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall, and they have been sorely missed. Jonathan Broxton returned last week, and he will look to shore up the back of the pen. Rookie Nick Christiani (2.84 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) may wind up being a key arm this year.
Record: 5-9, fourth in NL Central
The talent is there for the Reds to return to the playoffs after a disappointing early exit last year, but talent on paper has not led to results on the field so far this year. The starting pitching will continue to be strong, but the offense needs to get things going.
R/G: 4.69 (ninth in MLB)
BA: .245 (T-16th in MLB)
The Cleveland Indians returned essentially the same lineup they employed last year, with the only major change being the addition of David Murphy in right field. They tied for fifth in MLB in runs scored last year and have been strong offensively once again this year.
No one in particular is having a monster season, but the team has been able to score runs when it needs to. Nick Swisher (.185 BA), Carlos Santana (.186 BA) and Asdrubal Cabrera (.188 BA) are all off to a slow starts, however.
ERA: 4.45 (24th in MLB)
SP ERA: 5.19 (27th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.27 (10th in MLB)
Losing Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir was not expected to be a huge blow for the Indians rotation, with Corey Kluber capable of taking another step forward and Danny Salazar poised to break out. However, the only starter with an ERA under 5.00 right now is Zach McAllister (2.31 ERA), as the rest of the staff has struggled to find consistency here early.
The bullpen was shaky last season, but it looks to be an improved group this year after some offseason overhauling. New closer John Axford has gone 4-of-5 on save chances and has a 4.50 ERA over seven appearances on the season.
Record: 6-7, T-third in AL Central
The Indians have an uphill battle ahead of them in their efforts to return to the postseason, but with a plus offense with room to improve and a talented rotation that only needs to find consistency, their best baseball is likely still ahead of them.
R/G: 5.13 (fourth in MLB)
BA: .295 (first in MLB)
The Colorado Rockies' offense has been terrific once again this season, with surprise star Charlie Blackmon (.468 BA, 1.171 OPS) leading the way at the plate.
Troy Tulowitzki (.357 BA, 1.003 OPS), Michael Cuddyer (.340 BA, .985 OPS), Carlos Gonzalez (.944 OPS) and Justin Morneau (.790 OPS) have all been terrific as well, and this is a group that should put plenty of runs on the scoreboard all season long.
ERA: 4.78 (27th in MLB)
SP ERA: 5.38 (28th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.81 (15th in MLB)
The Rockies took a step forward from 2012 to 2013 with their starting pitching, but it was still a clear weakness. That led them to acquire Brett Anderson, Jordan Lyles and Franklin Morales this offseason.
The staff has struggled once again, and Anderson recently landed on the DL with a broken finger after pitching well over his first three starts. Getting him healthy, Jhoulys Chacin back from injury and Jorge De La Rosa (3 GS, 9.69 ERA) on track will be key. The bullpen has been improved, though, behind the additions of LaTroy Hawkins and Tommy Kahnle.
Record: 7-8, third in NL West
New season, same story for the Rockies, as their offense is among the best in baseball but their starting rotation has struggled mightily. There is some potential here for this team to make a run at contention if the pitching comes around, but it hasn't been there so far.
R/G: 4.00 (20th in MLB)
BA: .253 (10th in MLB)
Second in MLB in runs scored last season, trailing only the Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers are off to a slow start by comparison this season. Part of that could have to do with trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers and losing both Andy Dirks and Jose Iglesias to injury.
Their 10 home runs on the season are tied for 25th in all of baseball, and while guys like Austin Jackson (.860 OPS) and Victor Martinez (.802 OPS) are off to good starts, superstar Miguel Cabrera (.225 BA, .654 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI) has yet to hit his stride.
ERA: 3.59 (13th in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.00 (t-seventh in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.94 (24th in MLB)
Even with the trade of Doug Fister, the Tigers still have one of the best starting rotation in all of baseball. Aces Justin Verlander (21 IP, 2.57 ERA) and Max Scherzer (20 IP, 2.70 ERA, 25 K) are both off to good starts, and the team has yet to use fifth starter Drew Smyly the way the schedule has fallen.
New closer Joe Nathan (1-of-3 SV, 9.64 ERA) has been dealing with "dead arm" here in the early going and has struggled as a result, as the bullpen has been an early season mess once again.
Record: 6-4, first in AL Central
Despite a shaky bullpen and a slow start by Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers are still on top of the AL Central standings. Chances are they won't run away with the division this season, with it as a whole looking stronger than last year, but they still look like the team to beat.
R/G: 2.86 (T-29th in MLB)
BA: .185 (30th in MLB)
Second baseman Jose Altuve (.269 BA, .685 OPS) is the only regular in the Houston Astros lineup hitting over .250, while platoon first baseman Jesus Guzman (.269 BA, .808 OPS, 2 HR) has been decent as well.
The rest of the lineup has been a mess, and that includes offseason addition Dexter Fowler (.237 BA) and last year's best hitter, Jason Castro (.179 BA). What few chances they have had have been squandered, as they are hitting an MLB-worst .165 with runners in scoring position.
ERA: 4.33 (22nd in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.78 (14th in MLB)
RP ERA: 5.32 (27th in MLB)
Veteran Scott Feldman (3 GS, 2-0, 0.44 ERA) has been one of the best offseason acquisitions leaguewide so far, and the rotation as a whole has been vastly improved from the group that posted a 4.72 ERA (28th in MLB) last season.
The team added some veteran pieces to the bullpen as well, but while Matt Albers (5.1 IP, 1.69 ERA) and Chad Qualls (4.2 IP, 3.86 ERA) have been solid, the pen as a whole looks like one of the worst in baseball once again.
Record: 5-9, fifth in AL West
Not much was expected from the Astros entering this season, as avoiding another 100-loss season seemed like a realistic goal. The offense has been dreadful, but the starting pitching has been a nice surprise. At this point, a 5-9 record puts them on pace for a 58-104 record, so I'd say they are right about where they were expected to be.
Kansas City Royals
R/G: 3.00 (28th in MLB)
BA: .237 (24th in MLB)
A slow start to the season offensively was the Kansas City Royals' undoing last season, and they have stumbled out of the gates once again here in 2014. Catcher Salvador Perez (.325 BA, .913 OPS) has continued his ascent to stardom, and Lorenzo Cain (.342 BA) has been great, but the rest of the lineup has disappointed.
The fact that the team has only two home runs through 432 plate appearances is borderline shocking, but then again, this is not a team that relied on the long ball last season, either. Former All-Star Billy Butler (.143 BA, .367 OPS) has been in the biggest funk of anyone here over the first few weeks.
ERA: 3.17 (seventh in MLB)
SP ERA: 2.58 (third in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.78 (23rd in MLB)
Aside from Bruce Chen (3 GS, 6.30 ERA), the Royals rotation has been terrific so far this season. Rookie Yordano Ventura (2 GS, 0.69 ERA) looks like a stud in the making, and newcomer Jason Vargas (3 GS, 1.64 ERA) has done a great job replacing Ervin Santana.
The bullpen, which led the AL with a 2.55 ERA last season, has taken a big step backward, though. Closer Greg Holland has converted all four of his save chances, and Aaron Crow has thrown four scoreless innings spanning six appearances, but the pen as a whole has been a mess.
Record: 5-7, fifth in AL Central
After breaking through for their first winning season since 2003 last year, anything short of their first postseason berth since 1985 would be a disappointment for the Royals this season. The offense has to snap out of it, and their bullpen is a lot better than it's shown so far.
Los Angeles Angels
R/G: 5.57 (second in MLB)
BA: .245 (T-16th in MLB)
Despite the fact that they have just two regulars hitting over .300 in Mike Trout (.317 BA, 1.019 OPS) and Josh Hamilton (.444 BA, 1.286 OPS), the Los Angeles Angels have been one of the best offenses in baseball here in the early stages of the season.
The team will be without Hamilton for six to eight weeks after he injured his thumb, and it will need to avoid a slide at the plate as a result. Albert Pujols has finally started to pick things up over the past week or so, but the left side of the infield in Erick Aybar (.191 BA, .541 OPS) and David Freese (.170 BA, .465 OPS) has been a black hole from a production standpoint.
ERA: 4.43 (23rd in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.01 (16th in MLB)
RP ERA: 5.31 (26th in MLB)
Tyler Skaggs (2 GS, 2.40 ERA) and Garrett Richards (3 GS, 2-0, 2.84 ERA) have been the two best starters in what already looks to be a significantly improved Angels rotation. Ace Jered Weaver (3 GS, 0-2, 5.79 ERA) has been consistently mediocre through his first three starts and will need to pick his game up.
The bullpen is still rough, though, with key guys like Ernesto Frieri (1-of-2 SV, 5.68 ERA), Kevin Jepsen (11.25 ERA) and Joe Smith (6.00 ERA) all struggling early. That needs to be sorted out, because with an improved rotation and solid offense, this is a team with a chance to contend.
Record: 6-8, fourth in AL West
This looks like a better Angels team than we've seen the past two seasons, due in large part to an improved starting rotation. But with the Oakland A's looking strong once again and the Texas Rangers' best baseball still ahead of them, the Angels will need to step things up if they hope to remain in the hunt for a division title.
Los Angeles Dodgers
R/G: 4.57 (T-10th in MLB)
BA: .255 (ninth in MLB)
For all of the superstar talent in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup, it is veteran Juan Uribe (.379 BA, 1.00 OPS) and second baseman Dee Gordon (.372 BA, .972 OPS) who are off to the best starts of anyone this year.
Adrian Gonzalez (.975 OPS, 5 HR, 14 RBI) has done plenty of damage in the middle, while Yasiel Puig (.256 BA) and Andre Ethier (.213 BA) have yet to get things rolling. And their catchers have combined to hit just .140/.232/.160 on the year.
ERA: 3.12 (sixth in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.00 (T-seventh in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.29 (11th in MLB)
Losing Clayton Kershaw for an extended period of time would be a dagger for most teams, and the Dodgers certainly need him back healthy long-term, but they have thrown the ball well without him so far this year.
Dan Haren (3 GS, 2-0, 2.04 ERA) has stepped his game up in his absence, while Hyun-Jin Ryu (4 GS, 2-1, 2.57 ERA) and Zack Greinke (3 GS, 3-0, 2.76 ERA) have been great once again as well. The bullpen has not been quite as dominant as expected, though, and closer Kenley Jansen is just 4-of-6 on save chances with a 4.50 ERA.
Record: 9-5, T-first in NL West
Considering the injury to Kershaw and the slow starts from key guys like Puig and Jansen, the Dodgers have still looked like one of the best teams in the National League here in the early going. There are some things to shore up, but there is no reason to think this team won't be in the running for the NL pennant come October.
R/G: 4.87 (seventh in MLB)
BA: .273 (T-fourth in MLB)
After ranking dead last in team batting average and runs scored last season, the Marlins went to work this winter, adding a handful of veteran pieces in an effort to improve their offensive attack. No one will confuse them with the '27 Yankees, but they are no doubt an improved team at the plate this year.
Slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.328 BA) looks like he may have turned a corner offensively, while a healthy Giancarlo Stanton (.317 BA, 1.003 OPS) currently leads all of baseball with 21 RBI. First baseman Garrett Jones (.228 BA, 24 K) is the only regular really struggling.
ERA: 4.20 (20th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.39 (20th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.88 (16th in MLB)
Starting pitching was a strength for the Marlins last season, and it has a chance to be once again this year with so many young arms. However, outside of Tom Koehler (3 GS, 2-1, 1.89 ERA) no one is off to a particularly good start.
Jose Fernandez was dominant in his first two outings before turning in the worst start of his career last time out. The fifth-starter spot is also an issue with Jacob Turner sidelined. The bullpen has been solid overall, and closer Steve Cishek is 2-of-2 on save chances in four scoreless innings of work.
Record: 6-9, fifth in NL East
After a hot start to the season that had the Marlins looking like they could surprise some people, they dropped eight in a row before finally winning again Tuesday. The talent level is there for this team to finish well ahead of last season, with an outside chance to make a run at third place in the division, but the Marlins are still far from being a contender at this point.
R/G: 4.14 (T-15th in MLB)
BA: .251 (13th in MLB)
With Ryan Braun (.791 OPS, 3 HR, 10 RBI) back from suspension and Aramis Ramirez (.351 BA, .864 OPS, 12 RBI) back healthy, the Milwaukee Brewers lineup got significantly better without the team making any major offseason additions.
Carlos Gomez (.333 BA, 1.022 OPS) remains a budding superstar, Jonathan Lucroy (.872 OPS) continues to fly under the radar as one of the better offensive backstops in the game and Mark Reynolds (.808 OPS) has been a solid contributor despite a .208 batting average.
ERA: 2.25 (first in MLB)
SP ERA: 2.60 (fourth in MLB)
RP ERA: 1.42 (first in MLB)
The Brewers rotation looked strong following the addition of Matt Garza, and there was potential for it to be one of the better staffs in the NL, but it's safe to assume no one expected the rotation to be quite this good. This group has turned in 10 quality starts in 14 games, and all five starters have an ERA under 3.50.
The bullpen has been the best in baseball so far, allowing just 22 hits and six runs in 38 innings of work while walking just eight and striking out 46.
Record: 10-4, first in NL Central
It's fair to assume the Brewers won't keep up their current pace, but they have the pieces to be legitimate contenders for a playoff spot. The pitching is for real, and the offense is just two years removed from leading the NL in runs scored. Things could not have gone much better for this team over the first two-plus weeks.
B/R MLB lead writer Zachary Rymer put it perfectly in a recent article:
The Brewers still have a long way to go before clinching anything. But since they've made things easier on themselves with their early win streak, and since they have enough talent to keep regression from killing their season altogether, hey, why not them?
R/G: 5.38 (third in MLB)
BA: .238 (T-22nd in MLB)
Despite their relatively low .238 team average, the Minnesota Twins have managed to rank third in the MLB in scoring here in the early going, thanks in part to a .254 average with runners in scoring position that is good for ninth overall.
Veteran Jason Kubel (.357 BA, 1.009 OPS) has turned things around nicely in a return to Minnesota, while Chris Colabello (.836 OPS, 15 RBI) has been another surprise contributor. The team has three regulars hitting under .200, though, and it's hard to imagine it keeps up its current run-scoring rate.
ERA: 5.46 (29th in MLB)
SP ERA: 5.52 (29th in MLB)
RP ERA: 5.36 (28th in MLB)
The fact that the starting rotation is struggling is bad news for a Twins team that ranked dead last in the MLB last season with a 5.26 starter's ERA. They shelled out big free-agent money on Ricky Nolasco (5.50 ERA) and Phil Hughes (7.20 ERA), and their return on investment has not been good so far.
Kyle Gibson (2 GS, 2-0, 1.59 ERA) has been a pleasant surprise, but every other starter has an ERA north of five, and what was a solid bullpen last year has struggled, with All-Star closer Glen Perkins (3-of-4 SV, 6.00 ERA) among the biggest culprits.
Record: 6-7, T-third in AL Central
The Twins threw some money at the pitching staff in the offseason in an effort to put a more competitive team on the field, but this is still a franchise with an eye on the future, as its talented farm system pushes ever closer to making a big league impact. The offense is not going to continue to carry them all year, and a last-place finish in the AL Central looks like a very real possibility.
New York Mets
R/G: 4.50 (12th in MLB)
BA: .226 (28th in MLB)
Given their overall inability to consistently hit the ball, it's somewhat surprising to see the Mets rank 12th in the majors in runs per game at this point, but they have found ways to push runs across in bunches, with six games of six or more runs scored.
Juan Lagares (.314 BA, .816 OPS) and Lucas Duda (.841 OPS) have been the standouts thus far, while newcomer Curtis Granderson (.170 BA, .610 OPS) and catcher Travis d'Arnaud (.154 BA, .506 OPS) have scuffled early.
ERA: 4.49 (25th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.50 (23rd in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.47 (19th in MLB)
Even without Matt Harvey, the Mets starting rotation was expected to be a plus this season, but that has not been the case to this point. Jenrry Mejia (3 GS, 2-0, 2.81 ERA) and Jon Niese (2 GS, 3.46 ERA) have been solid, but the other three starters have an ERA of 4.50 or higher.
The bullpen lost closer Bobby Parnell early, but it has done a nice job piecing things together behind the trio of Gonzalez Germen (10.1 IP, 0.87 ERA), Kyle Farnsworth (6.2 IP, 1.35 ERA) and Carlos Torres (2-0, 8.2 IP, 2.08 ERA). Jose Valverde has gone 3-of-4 on save chances with a 4.26 ERA in taking over as closer.
Record: 7-7, third in NL East
The Mets have an eye on making some serious noise next season, and while they were not expected to contend this year, some improvement over last year's 88-loss performance seemed reasonable. They sit at .500 right now, and if the rotation can step things up a bit, the team could make a run at maintaining that mark all season.
New York Yankees
R/G: 3.77 (24th in MLB)
BA: .273 (T-fourth in MLB)
Two of three big offseason additions to the offense are off to nice starts, with Jacoby Ellsbury (.362 BA, .870 OPS) and Carlos Beltran (.311 BA, .969 OPS) both hitting the ball well. The same can't be said for catcher Brian McCann (.205 BA, .603 OPS), though he has started to show signs of life the past few games.
The big story here has been unheralded prospect Yangervis Solarte, who won a roster spot with a strong spring and has hit .357/.413/.500 over 42 at-bats playing second and third base.
ERA: 4.18 (19th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.48 (22nd in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.48 (T-13th in MLB)
Masahiro Tanaka (2 GS, 3.21 ERA, 11.6 K/9) and Michael Pineda (2 GS, 1.50 ERA) have both thrown the ball well for the Yankees, but it's been a mixed bag for Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova so far. Veteran CC Sabathia (19 IP, 6.63 ERA) continues to struggle, though; he's eating innings but is simply not the pitcher he used to be.
The bullpen has done an admirable job with David Robertson on the shelf, as Shawn Kelley has gone 3-of-3 on save chances and Dellin Betances (4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 8 K) looks like he has the potential to be a dominant setup man.
Record: 7-6, second in AL East
The injuries to the infield are concerning, as are the continued struggles of CC Sabathia, but this still looks like a more talented team than the one that won 85 games last season. It will be interesting to see what this team looks like a month from now, but it has to be relatively happy with its play so far.
R/G: 4.57 (T-10th in MLB)
BA: .245 (T-16th in MLB)
The fourth-highest-scoring team last season, despite a .254 team average, the Athletics are again finding ways to score, despite the fact that no one outside of Alberto Callaspo (.368 BA, .968 OPS) is having a standout season.
That said, Jed Lowrie (.862 OPS, 15 BB) has shown a terrific eye at the plate, and Josh Donaldson (.746 OPS, 3 HR) has started to turn things around after a slow start to the year. The only major question mark here is right fielder Josh Reddick (.098 BA, .293 OPS), as he has been terrible so far.
ERA: 2.52 (second in MLB)
SP ERA: 2.44 (second in MLB)
RP ERA: 2.66 (sixth in MLB)
Despite losing Jarrod Parker for the season and having A.J. Griffin open the year on the DL as well, the Athletics starting rotation has done a phenomenal job this year. It leads all of baseball with 11 quality starts in 14 games, and the trio of Sonny Gray (0.95 ERA), Jesse Chavez (1.35 ERA) and Scott Kazmir (1.40 ERA) have been among the best starters in baseball so far.
Manager Bob Melvin quickly pulled the trigger on removing Jim Johnson from the closer's role when he struggled early, but the A's have enough talent around him to be just fine moving forward.
Record: 10-4, first in AL West
With the best record in the American League, and tied for the best record in baseball, the A's have gotten off to a terrific start this year. The offense remains unimpressive on a player-by-player basis but terrific as a unit, and the starting rotation looks like the real deal.
R/G: 4.77 (eighth in MLB)
BA: .273 (T-fourth in MLB)
Behind veterans Chase Utley (.489 BA, 1.393 OPS) and Jimmy Rollins (.844 OPS), the Phillies offense has been one of the best in baseball so far this season.
That is despite the fact that Carlos Ruiz (.225 BA, .692 OPS), Ryan Howard (.224 BA, .794 OPS) and Cody Asche (.189 BA, .610 OPS) have all struggled at the plate. For what it's worth, Howard does have two doubles, three home runs and a decent .345 on-base percentage.
ERA: 4.59 (26th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.05 (17th in MLB)
RP ERA: 5.53 (29th in MLB)
The Phillies have gotten a decent performance from their rotation across the board this season, as Cliff Lee (2-1, 5.50 ERA) is the only starter with an ERA over 4.00, but they will still be happy to welcome back left-hander Cole Hamels once he's healthy.
The bullpen, on the other hand, has been a disaster, as only the White Sox relief core has a higher ERA on the season. Closer Jonathan Papelbon is 3-of-4 on save chances with a 5.06 ERA over six appearances.
Record: 6-7, fourth in NL East
Entering the season, it looked like a third-place finish was the best the Phillies could hope for in 2014, and that is likely still the case. The offense has been much better than expected, but the rotation has fallen short of expectations and the bullpen is a disaster.
R/G: 4.07 (19th in MLB)
BA: .231 (T-25th in MLB)
No everyday player is hitting over .300 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they have shown some solid pop so far, as their 19 home runs are good for second in the National League. Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez have five each, and Travis Snider has three.
Alvarez (.170 BA) and shortstop Jordy Mercer (.158 BA) both need to pick things up in the batting average department, and with the pitching not quite as sharp as it was last year, the offense as a whole needs to step up and pick up the slack.
ERA: 3.70 (14th in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.29 (19th in MLB)
RP ERA: 2.60 (fifth in MLB)
Who would have guessed that Edinson Volquez (14 IP, 1.29 ERA) would be the Pirates' best starter through the first few weeks of the season? No one has really struggled other than Wandy Rodriguez (0-2, 7.31 ERA), but the rotation has not been as dominant as it was last year, either.
The bullpen has been a plus once again, though, as every reliever except for long-man Jeanmar Gomez (8.1 IP, 6.48 ERA) has an ERA under 4.00 on the season. Closer Jason Grilli is 4-of-5 on save chances with a 1.50 ERA.
7-7, third in NL Central
After breaking a 20-year playoff drought last season, the Pirates have the talent to make a return trip this year and for the foreseeable future. They have not played particularly well here in the early going, though, as their offense has scuffled and their rotation has struggled to find consistency.
San Diego Padres
R/G: 2.86 (T-29th in MLB)
BA: .231 (T-25th in MLB)
The San Diego Padres' offense has been terrible this season—it's as simple as that. Four key bats in the middle of their order, Yonder Alonso (.226 BA), Will Venable (.224 BA), Jedd Gyorko (.160 BA) and Chase Headley (.160), have a combined two home runs and 17 RBI on the season.
Shortstop Everth Cabrera (.340 BA, .805 OPS) has looked good in his return from a PED suspension last year, and a healthy Yasmani Grandal (.333 BA, .825 OPS) again looks like the catcher of the future, but this offense won't do the pitching staff any favors.
ERA: 3.02 (fifth in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.35 (10th in MLB)
RP ERA: 2.40 (third in MLB)
The biggest takeaway on the pitching side of things so far is that Andrew Cashner (3 GS, 1.29 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 22 K, 21 IP) is really, really good. Just ask the Tigers, who managed just one hit and struck out 11 times against him in a complete-game shutout his last time out.
The rest of the rotation has been hit and miss, but the staff remains vastly improved over last season's. Closer Huston Street has converted all four of his save chances over five scoreless innings, and the bullpen as a whole has been one of the best around.
Record: 6-8, fourth in NL West
The Padres have the pitching to make things hard on the rest of the NL West, but their offense has been absolutely terrible this year. If the aforementioned foursome of hitters can flip the switch and start hitting, this team could surprise some people, but as long as the Padres are averaging under three runs of offense per game, they are going to struggle.
San Francisco Giants
R/G: 4.93 (sixth in MLB)
BA: .252 (T-11th in MLB)
The onus of carrying the team has fallen on the pitching staff the past several seasons for the San Francisco Giants, but their offense has looked very good here in the early parts of the season.
Five regulars are hitting over .275, with Michael Morse (.976 OPS), Angel Pagan (.386 BA, .935 OPS) and Brandon Belt (.919 OPS, 5 HR) leading the way. Middle-of-the-order bats Pablo Sandoval (.164 BA, .579 OPS) and Hunter Pence (.193 BA, .586 OPS) have started off slowly, though.
ERA: 3.49 (ninth in MLB)
SP ERA: 4.43 (21st in MLB)
RP ERA: 1.89 (second in MLB)
Tim Hudson (3 GS, 2-0, 2.35 ERA) has been a terrific pickup so far, and the incumbent duo of Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain should be just fine. However, the back of the rotation with Tim Lincecum (7.20 ERA) and Ryan Vogelsong (8.00 ERA) could be a legitimate cause for concern.
The bullpen has again been one of the best around, as closer Sergio Romo has converted all three of his save chances, and Santiago Casilla (10 IP, 0 ER) and Javier Lopez (7 G, 2.2 IP, 0 ER) have both been great.
Record: 9-5, T-first in NL West
A shaky back end of the rotation and slow starts from a pair of key hitters is all that keeps the Giants from earning an "A" here, but there is a lot to like about how they have opened the season. The additions of Tim Hudson and Michael Morse look like fantastic moves to this point, and a plus offense could make this team scary.
R/G: 4.08 (T-17th in MLB)
BA: .230 (27th in MLB)
Despite the additions of Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison this offseason, the Seattle Mariners' offense has still gotten off to a slow start this season. Cano (.320 BA, .746 OPS) and Dustin Ackley (.295 BA, .803 OPS) are the only regulars hitting over .260.
Kyle Seager (.146 BA, .520 OPS) and Morrison (.150 BA, .377 OPS) in particular have struggled, while guys like Justin Smoak, Mike Zunino and Brad Miller will be counted on to turn things around as well.
ERA: 2.85 (fourth in MLB)
SP ERA: 2.84 (fifth in MLB)
RP ERA: 2.85 (eighth in MLB)
The offense may be a disappointment, but the pitching staff has far exceeded expectations, especially considering Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker opened the season on the DL. The trio of Felix Hernandez (3 GS, 3-0, 2.11 ERA), Roenis Elias (3 GS, 2.16 ERA) and James Paxton (2 GS, 2-0, 2.25 ERA) has been fantastic.
New closer Fernando Rodney is 3-of-3 on save chances, and the duo of Joe Beimel and Dominic Leone have combined for 12.1 scoreless innings.
Record: 7-6, second in AL West
The Mariners came back to earth a bit after a hot start, and a lot of that had to do with some offensive regression. The pitching staff has been very good and should only be better when it returns to full strength, but the ongoing offensive struggles of this franchise remain a concern.
St. Louis Cardinals
R/G: 4.14 (T-15th in MLB)
BA: .243 (20th in MLB)
After setting the all-time mark last season with a .330 team average with runners in scoring position, the St. Louis Cardinals are off to a much slower start in the clutch this year, with a .220 average in those situations. A number of key players are off to slow starts, as Matt Adams (.370 BA, .941 OPS) and Yadier Molina (.340 BA, .957 OPS) are the only regulars hitting over .270 so far.
Last year's RBI machine, Allen Craig (.143 BA, .352 OPS), is off to a very slow start, while newcomer Jhonny Peralta (.182 BA) is finally coming around after a rough start to his time with the team as well.
ERA: 3.45 (eighth in MLB)
SP ERA: 2.91 (sixth in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.66 (21st in MLB)
With Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn both pitching well their last time out after slow starts, and the trio of Adam Wainwright (2.57 ERA), Michael Wacha (1.89 ERA) and Joe Kelly (0.79 ERA) looking very sharp here early, the Cardinals rotation is in great shape.
The bullpen has been shaky, with new closer Trevor Rosenthal converting all four of his save chances but also picking up a loss and posting a 7.36 ERA so far. His struggles aside, it's been a solid group, and there's no reason to think he won't get back on track.
9-5, second in NL Central
The consensus best all-around team entering the season, the Cardinals have managed to start the year off well, despite a slowly developing offense and some bumps along the way in the bullpen. Once the bats heat up, there's no reason to think this team won't be the class of the NL once again.
Tampa Bay Rays
R/G: 3.21 (27th in MLB)
BA: .223 (29th in MLB)
Expected to be an improved group with full seasons of Wil Myers and David DeJesus, the Tampa Bay Rays are instead off to a dreadful start at the plate this season.
The trio of Matt Joyce (.344 BA, 1.057 OPS), Evan Longoria (.308 BA, .802 OPS) and Ben Zobrist (.280 BA, .870 OPS) has been good, but no one else on the team is hitting over .240 on the year. Myers in particular has been disappointing, hitting just .217 with two extra-base hits.
ERA: 3.54 (10th in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.75 (13th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.12 (ninth in MLB)
The Rays starting rotation was a clear strength heading into the season, but Tommy John surgery for Matt Moore and an oblique injury to Alex Cobb has left them scrambling to fill out the staff. Making matters worse, Chris Archer was shelled his last time out. At this point, David Price is the only starter the team can truly rely on.
The reworked bullpen has been solid at least, as new closer Grant Balfour has converted all four of his save chances over 4.2 scoreless innings.
7-7, third in AL East
Many people, myself included, picked the Rays to win the AL pennant this season. Obviously, we are still very early in the season, but this has not been the complete team top to bottom that many expected it to be. The offense has to get on track, and Alex Cobb needs to get healthy stat.
R/G: 3.64 (25th in MLB)
BA: .258 (eighth in MLB)
With the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo in the offseason, as well as a full year of Alex Rios, who was acquired in August, the Texas Rangers looked like perhaps the best offense in baseball heading into the season.
However, injuries to Jurickson Profar and Geovany Soto during the spring and Adrian Beltre here recently have left them struggling to score runs. Fielder is hitting just .185 with one home run, and the team's only regular hitting over .300 is Elvis Andrus at .309.
ERA: 3.86 (16th in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.54 (11th in MLB)
RP ERA: 4.50 (20th in MLB)
The Rangers rotation has also been shorthanded to open the year, with Derek Holland out until midseason and Matt Harrison sidelined indefinitely. That said, Robbie Ross (3 GS, 1.00 ERA) has been terrific filling one of those spots, and the duo of Yu Darvish (15 IP, 0.00 ERA) and Martin Perez (3 GS, 2-0, 2.70 ERA) has been very good once again.
The bullpen has been shaky, though, converting just two out of four save chances. It is without Ross and Tanner Scheppers, who have moved to the rotation, and Joe Nathan, who is now in Detroit.
7-7, third in AL West
It's hard to fault the Rangers for their slow start given how many injuries they have had to deal with, and truth be told, if they can limp through the first couple months of the season around .500, they would probably be happy with that. Their best baseball is undoubtedly still ahead of them, provided they can avoid further injury and get some guys healthy.
Toronto Blue Jays
R/G: 4.36 (13th in MLB)
BA: .238 (T-22nd in MLB)
Losing Jose Reyes to a hamstring injury in the first game of the season was no doubt a blow for the Toronto Blue Jays, and their offense as a whole has gotten off to a slow start, though they have begun to pick things up here of late.
It's a talented group, and with Melky Cabrera (.323 BA, .903 OPS) looking like a strong bounce-back candidate the Jays have a chance to be really good. Guys like Brett Lawrie (.132 BA), Colby Rasmus (.217 BA) and Edwin Encarnacion (.241 BA) need to pick things up, though.
ERA: 3.56 (11th in MLB)
SP ERA: 3.69 (12th in MLB)
RP ERA: 3.35 (12th in MLB)
Starting pitching was the biggest question mark for the Blue Jays entering the season. But after Drew Hutchison and Dustin McGowan both turned in terrific starts last time out, things are looking up for the staff. Mark Buehrle (3-0, 0.86 ERA), meanwhile, has been phenomenal through his first three starts.
The bullpen has been without closer Casey Janssen, but Sergio Santos (4-of-4 SV, 18.6 K/9) has stepped up in his absence. Now, the team just needs to get Brandon Morrow (5.52 ERA) and R.A. Dickey (5.30 ERA) on track in the rotation.
Record: 8-6, first in AL East
After the massive disappointment that was last season, many criticized the Blue Jays for not being more aggressive this offseason, especially on the pitching side of things. So far, they look to have been right to stay in-house, as the staff has thrown the ball well of late. Now, the team just needs the offense to step up and it could make some serious noise in the AL East.
R/G: 5.07 (fifth in MLB)
BA: .274 (third in MLB)
Despite slow starts from Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond, the Nationals' offense has been one of the best in baseball. And now that Harper has gotten hot (.340 BA, .900 OPS), the offense has a chance to be even better.
Losing Ryan Zimmerman to a fractured thumb hurts, as he was off to a nice start, but that allows Anthony Rendon (.345 BA, 1.008 OPS) to slide back to his natural position and gives Danny Espinosa (.300 BA, .864 OPS) another chance at regular at-bats.
ERA: 4.04 (17th in MLB)
SP ERA: 5.06 (26th in MLB)
RP ERA: 2.52 (fourth in MLB)
The starting pitching has been nowhere near as good as expected for the Nationals, as Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.50 ERA) is the only starter with an ERA under 4.50. Stephen Strasburg (6.00 ERA) and Jordan Zimmermann (5.27 ERA) have both been roughed up more than once, and Doug Fister has yet to throw a pitch for the Nationals while battling a sprained lat.
At least the bullpen has been good, with close Rafael Soriano converting both of his save chances and four relievers throwing at least four innings without allowing a run.
Record: 8-6, second in NL East
As bad as their starting pitching has been, the Nationals have to like the way they have started the season. The pitching will no doubt come around, and if the offense can keep hitting like it has, the Nats have a chance to be awfully good. That said, sitting at 8-6 with the 26th-best starting pitching ERA is about as unlikely a start as you could have predicted for this team.
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