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Grading Every MLB Team Through the First 2 Months of the Season

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2017

Grading Every MLB Team Through the First 2 Months of the Season

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    With two months of the regular season in the books, it's time to pull out our red pens and start handing out grades for what we've seen from each of baseball's 30 teams so far.

    Teams are graded on four categories: offense, starting rotation, bullpen and defense. Each category carries an equal weight—and we'll translate every letter grade into a numerical mark (just like they did in college), using The Princeton Review's GPA Conversion Chart as a guide.

    After grading each team on the four categories, we'll add up its scores up and come up with a final grade, one that encompasses all four categories.

    Did your favorite team pass? Did anyone fail? Am I as tough a grader as my seventh-grade science teacher Mrs. D'Amato?

    There's only one way to find out.

     

     

    *Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs and are current through games of June 1.

Arizona Diamondbacks (23-36)

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    A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt.
    A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt.Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Offense: C- (1.5 points)

    After A.J. Pollock (.316 BA, .920 OPS) and Paul Goldschmidt (.303 BA, .884 OPS), the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup has been rather underwhelming. The team's collective .304 on-base percentage, tied with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds for 25th in baseball, leaves much to be desired.

     

    Rotation: D (1)

    Arizona's rotation made huge strides in May, lowering its collective ERA on the season by more than a full run to a still-outrageous 5.00. While manager Kirk Gibson's decision to add Josh Collmenter (4-2, 3.50 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) was one of his better ones, Collmenter isn't the ace the group needs.

     

    Bullpen: B- (1.8)

    A pair of former starters, Trevor Cahill and Oliver Perez, have found their calling as relievers. Along with Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler, the bullpen has been the Diamondbacks' biggest strength. While the team allows too many inherited runners to score (31 percent), it's only four percent over the league average. 

     

    Defense: D (1)

    Only six teams have committed more errors than the Diamondbacks, with Martin Prado (10) and Chris Owings (nine) leading the way. Despite that, advanced metrics are kinder than I am, grading the team out as just below average with a minus-2.3 UZR/150 and minus-3.0 DRS.

     

    Overall: D (5.3 total/4 categories = 1.35)

    Improved outfield defense has played a part in Arizona finding more success without Mark Trumbo (18-18), its biggest offseason addition, than with him (4-17). But playing .500 ball isn't going to get Arizona out of the hole that it dug for itself, and this club just doesn't have the arms needed to get the job done.

Atlanta Braves (31-25)

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    Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward.
    Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Offense: D- (0.5 points)

    One of only three teams to not score 200 runs, Atlanta's offense is maddening. Justin Upton (.955), Freddie Freeman (.908) and Evan Gattis (.815) are the only regulars with an OPS above .700, an absurd statistic for a lineup that has as much talent as Atlanta's does. Jason Heyward showed signs of life in May (.284/.373/.404), and the Braves desperately need him to build on that success.

     

    Rotation: A+ (4)

    Missing key pieces in Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen hasn't stopped Atlanta's starters from staking their claim to the title of best rotation in baseball. Led by Julio Teheran (1.83 ERA, 0.93 WHIP), the Braves rotation has posted the major league's lowest ERA (2.92) and fourth-lowest WHIP (1.17).

     

    Bullpen: A (4)

    Sure, the Braves bullpen doesn't have earth-shattering numbers on the season (3.15 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), but no bullpen in baseball does a better job at keeping inherited runners on base than it does. Only 17 percent of inherited runners find their way across home plate against Atlanta's relief corps.

     

    Defense: A (4)

    Even with Andrelton Simmons playing well below his historic level of defense a season ago, Atlanta has been solid in the field. The Upton brothers and Heyward comprise what may be the best defensive outfield in baseball.
     

    Overall: B (3.13)

    The Braves are an offensive hot streak away from putting serious distance between themselves and the rest of the NL East.

Baltimore Orioles (28-27)

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    Nelson Cruz.
    Nelson Cruz.Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Offense: B (3)

    Nelson Cruz (.315 BA, 20 HR, 52 RBI, 1.057 OPS) is having an MVP-caliber season, leading baseball in home runs and RBI. Six Baltimore Orioles regulars have an OPS above .700, while the team's .735 OPS with runners in scoring position is the eighth-best mark in baseball.

     

    Rotation: D (1)

    Mediocre is the only fitting adjective when describing Baltimore's starting rotation. Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez (4.15 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) are the only members of the group with ERAs below 4.50 and WHIPs below 1.40. Ubaldo Jimenez's May success (3.19 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) needs to continue.

     

    Bullpen: B (3)

    Darren O'Day, Zach Britton and Ryan Webb have been excellent, with Britton perhaps finding his calling as the team's closer in place of the injured Tommy Hunter. Orioles relievers have done an excellent job at holding inherited runners on base, with only 23 percent finding their way home. 

     

    Defense: A (4)

    While not at the same level as it was a season ago, Baltimore's defense remains a strength. J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones continue to provide Gold Glove-caliber defense at premium positions, but questions about Matt Wieters' ability to catch due to his injured elbow cast a cloud over the rest of the season.

     

    Overall: B- (2.75)

    A dangerous lineup, solid bullpen and excellent defense give Baltimore a chance in a wide-open AL East. But the rotation remains a serious concern and an area that the club needs to look at strengthening as the trade deadline draws near.

Boston Red Sox (27-29)

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    Koji Uehara.
    Koji Uehara.Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    Offense: C- (2.25)

    Baseball's most explosive offense a season ago has gone quiet, its 227 runs scored on the season the ninth-highest in the American League (14th-highest in baseball). The Boston Red Sox haven't been able to adequately replace Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup, where Dustin Pedroia is miscast as a leadoff hitter and neither Jackie Bradley Jr. nor Grady Sizemore is able to produce as Ellsbury's replacement in center field.

     

    Rotation: D (1)

    How bad have things gotten for Boston's rotation? Opponents are hitting .275 against the group—20 points higher than they are against the Colorado Rockies. After John Lackey (3.27 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and Jon Lester (3.45 ERA, 1.23 WHIP), things are a mess. Jake Peavy has been mediocre, while Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront have been awful. It may be time to see what some of the club's young arms can do.

     

    Bullpen: A (4)

    Veterans Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica have struggled, but the rest of the bullpen has been outstanding. Only Atlanta does a better job of holding inherited runners on base than Boston, and Koji Uehara (0.76 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 11-for-11 SV) continues to prove he's the best closer in baseball.

     

    Defense: B (3)

    Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia provide above-average defense up the middle, but the rest of Boston's defense has been average at best.

     

    Overall: B- (2.56)

    Finding a true leadoff hitter and/or an upgrade in center field would do wonders for Boston's offense, as would adding an established starter to bolster a shaky rotation. As was the case with Baltimore, however, Boston still has as good a chance as any team to take control of the AL East.

Chicago Cubs (20-34)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Offense: D- (0.5)

    The Chicago Cubs rank 26th in runs scored (207) and slugging percentage (.366) and 28th in batting average (.233) and on-base percentage (.300). While Starlin Castro (.272 BA, .754 OPS) and Anthony Rizzo (.267 BA, .864 OPS) have been solid, the rest of the lineup has been underwhelming.

     

    Rotation: B- (2.5)

    Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija have been excellent, delivering 17 quality starts in 23 chances. The pair figures to bring Chicago a nice return when they're moved at the trade deadline. Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood, however, have delivered quality starts less than half the time they take the mound (10-of-22).

     

    Bullpen: B+ (3.75)

    The emergence of Hector Rondon (1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 6-of-7 SV) has solved the team's ninth-inning woes, while former starters Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez look like building blocks for the team's future relief corps. The group's .225 batting average against is the fifth-lowest mark in baseball.

     

    Defense: B (3)

    Chicago's defensive numbers—a .983 fielding percentage and 35 errors—are right in line with the major league average this season. 

     

    Overall: C+ (2.4)

    The rebuilding process is growing old in Chicago, but given the patchwork roster that manager Rick Renteria inherited, that the Cubs sit in last place, 14 games under .500, shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

Chicago White Sox (29-29)

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    Jose Abreu.
    Jose Abreu.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4)

    Fourth in the American League (and fifth in baseball) with 267 runs scored, the Chicago White Sox's offense has been tremendous, especially when runners are in scoring position. Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez, Marcus Semien, Dayan Viciedo and Adam Dunn all have an OPS above .800 in those situations, a major reason why only Colorado (.790 OPS) has performed better with ducks on the pond than the White Sox.

     

    Rotation: D (1)

    Chicago's rotation has pitched to the third-highest ERA (4.81) and WHIP (1.44) in baseball. Walks are a major issue for the group, which trails the Toronto Blue Jays by only two free passes for the most in baseball.

     

    Bullpen: D (1)

    No bullpen in baseball has issued more walks than the White Sox (111), which makes the group's .234 batting average against—tied for the eighth-lowest in the game—far less impressive than it should be.

     

    Defense: C- (1.75)

    The White Sox don't have an above-average defender at any position in their starting lineup, with Jose Abreu flashing the most reliable glove among the team's regulars. Reserve outfielder Moises Sierra has provided a boost when he gets a chance to play.

     

    Overall: C- (1.94)

    That the White Sox have played .500 baseball is more a testament to how good their lineup has been than anything else. The team's rotation and bullpen need serious work before the club can be considered a serious contender.

Cincinnati Reds (26-29)

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    Johnny Cueto.
    Johnny Cueto.Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Offense: D- (0.50)

    Only the San Diego Padres have put fewer runs on the board than Cincinnati, something that was unfathomable heading into the regular season. While injuries to Jay Bruce and Joey Votto haven't helped things, only Todd Frazier (.269 BA, 10 HR, .827 OPS) has risen to the occasion and picked up some of the slack.

     

    Rotation: A- (3.75)

    Led by Johnny Cueto (1.68 ERA, 0.76 WHIP), Cincinnati's rotation has posted the lowest WHIP (1.13), third-lowest opponent's batting average (.227) and fourth-lowest ERA (3.17) in the game. Cueto, Alfredo Simon and Mike Leake have all pitched to sub-3.00 ERAs, with quality outings in 27 of their combined 34 starts.

     

    Bullpen: C (1.0)

    Jonathan Broxton, Aroldis Chapman and Sam LeClure have been outstanding, but the Reds bullpen leaves much to be desired after that trio. Reds relievers have pitched to a 4.41 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, numbers that rank among the worst in the game. Given those numbers, that they've kept 74 percent of inherited runners from scoring is beyond surprising.

     

    Defense: A (4.0)

    Cincinnati has arguably the best defense in baseball, with only Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick struggling to make big plays with their gloves.

     

    Overall: C+ (2.3)

    Despite their offensive issues, the Reds' starting rotation and stellar defense have kept them within shouting distance of a playoff spot in the National League. If key pieces of the lineup—namely Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips—can get going, the team could make some serious noise over the next few months.

Cleveland Indians (27-30)

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    Corey Kluber.
    Corey Kluber.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Offense: B (3.0)

    Carlos Santana (.159 BA, .628 OPS) and Nick Swisher (.211 BA, .639 OPS) have been major disappointments, while Jason Kipnis missed nearly all of May with an injury, yet the Cleveland Indians have managed to score 242 runs, good enough for fifth in the AL and ninth in baseball.

     

    Rotation: D- (0.75)

    Cleveland's starting staff has been among the worst in baseball, despite a strong showing by Corey Kluber, who has supplanted the struggling Justin Masterson as the ace of the rotation. Only three teams have seen their rotations pitch to a higher ERA than Cleveland's 4.62 mark.

     

    Bullpen: A- (3.75)

    Despite being one of the most heavily worked bullpens over the first two months of the season—Cleveland's 180.2 innings of relief are the fourth-most in the game—the Indians bullpen has performed admirably. The group has limited only 21 percent of inherited runners to score while pitching to the eighth-lowest ERA (3.14).

     

    Defense: D- (0.5)

    For as poorly as the rotation has performed, the biggest reason for Cleveland's losing record is the team's inability to make plays in the field. Whether you use traditional stats or advanced metrics, Cleveland grades out as the worst defensive club around.

     

    Overall: D (2.0)

    Only a half-game out of last place in the AL Central, Cleveland has been one of the more disappointing teams in baseball through the season's first two months.

Colorado Rockies (28-28)

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    Troy Tulowitzki.
    Troy Tulowitzki.Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    The only lineup in baseball with an OPS above .800 (.803), Colorado leads the National League in runs scored (279), the third-highest total in the game. Troy Tulowitzki continues to put up MVP-caliber numbers (.350 BA, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 1.111 OPS), while Justin Morneau has been rejuvenated by the thin air at Coors Field (.299 BA, 10 HR, 34 RBI, .876 OPS).

     

    Rotation: C- (1.75)

    While Colorado's starting rotation has shown improvement from seasons past, the Rockies still don't have enough quality pitching to support their powerful lineup. After Jordan Lyles and Jorge De La Rosa, the rotation has been mediocre at best.

     

    Bullpen: C- (1.75)

    Just like the rotation, Colorado's bullpen features a couple of standout performers (Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino), but the rest of the group has disappointed.

     

    Defense: A (4.0)

    Defensively, few teams can compete with the left side of Colorado's infield, where Tulowitzki and the injured Nolan Arenado have provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at premium positions. Only the St. Louis Cardinals have more defensive runs saved (39) than Colorado's 31.

     

    Overall: B- (2.80)

    Whether the Rockies look to the farm system (prospects Eddie Butler, Jonathan Gray and Daniel Winkler could all see time in Colorado before season's end) or go outside of the organization, Colorado needs to bolster the pitching staff if it hopes to remain in contention.

Detroit Tigers (31-22)

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    Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
    Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    As we've come to expect from them, the Detroit Tigers have one of baseball's premier offenses. Paced by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, the first-place Tigers rank fourth in baseball with a .754 OPS and 10th with 242 runs scored on the season.

     

    Rotation: B (3.0)

    Detroit still has one of the better starting rotations around, and its 3.67 ERA is good enough to crack the top 10 in baseball. But Justin Verlander's awful May (5.54 ERA, 1.54 WHIP), along with the struggles of Drew Smyly and Robbie Ray, knocks the overall grade down a notch.

     

    Bullpen: D (1.0)

    Only three teams have seen their bullpens allow inherited runners to score at a higher rate than Detroit's 34 percent. That's not entirely surprising given the group's mediocre numbers (4.32 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) and Joe Nathan's struggles in the ninth inning (5.23 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, four blown saves).

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    Age has finally caught up with Torii Hunter, who advanced metrics have as the worst right fielder in baseball with a minus-31 UZR/150 and minus-11 DRS. Cabrera and Ian Kinsler have been solid on the right side of the infield, but Detroit is no better than an average defensive club.

     

    Overall: B- (2.5)

    You can't argue with first place, so Tigers fans are sure to scoff at a B-minus grade. But a flawless roster, this is not.

Houston Astros (24-34)

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    George Springer.
    George Springer.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    The Houston Astros' offense has gotten a big jolt from top prospect George Springer, who leads the club in home runs (10) and OPS (.844). While the Astros rank last in the AL with 212 runs scored, their .694 OPS ranks 19th in baseball, with four regulars, including Springer, posting an OPS above .700.

     

    Rotation: C (2.0)

    Led by Dallas Keuchel (6-3, 2.70 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), Houston's rotation has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season. Astros starters rank 15th in ERA (3.84) and WHIP (1.21) and 11th in opposing batting average (.250).

     

    Bullpen: D- (0.50)

    Houston's bullpen is among the worst in baseball, one of three to allow at least 20 home runs through the first two months of the season. With the worst ERA in baseball (4.75) and an equally inept 1.45 WHIP (27th), the team's relievers have done nothing to support the its surprising rotation.

     

    Defense: D (1.0)

    Aside from part-time first baseman Jesus Guzman, the Astros don't have a player that grades out as an above-average defensive player. The team's minus-24.2 UZR/150 is the worst in baseball by a wide margin.

     

    Overall: D (1.38)

    While the Astros are still years away from contending, things aren't as bad as they've been in recent seasons. There's reason for optimism in Houston for the first time in quite a while.

Kansas City Royals (26-30)

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    James Shields.
    James Shields.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Offense: D- (0.50)

    The Kansas City Royals' offense has been nonexistent for much of the season. The Royals struggle to put runs on the board, ranking 14th in the AL with 213 runs scored (one more than last place Houston) and have hit only 24 home runs (four more than Baltimore's Nelson Cruz). Cleanup hitter Billy Butler (.249 BA, 1 HR, .601 OPS) has been one of the team's biggest underachievers.

     

    Rotation: C (2.0)

    The Royals' veteran-laden rotation has been solid, with a combined 4.02 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. James Shields, Jason Vargas and rookie Yordano Ventura have combined for a 3.40 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.

     

    Bullpen: D- (0.50)

    Don't be fooled by the bullpen's 3,66 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, for what was supposed to be the strongest part of Kansas City's roster has actually been a liability. No team in baseball has seen its bullpen allow more inherited runners (45 percent) to score than the Royals. 

     

    Defense: A (4.0)

    If there's one thing the Royals do well, it's defense. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain/Jarrod Dyson and Norichika Aoki comprise one of the game's premier defensive outfields, while Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer have provided above-average defense as well.

     

    Overall: C- (1.75)

    Few teams have been as disappointing as the Royals, who were picked by many (including yours truly) to take control of the AL Central this season.

Los Angeles Angels (30-26)

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    Jered Weaver.
    Jered Weaver.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    Despite missing Josh Hamilton for more than a month and getting a less-than-Mike Trout-esque performance out of the youngster, the Los Angeles Angels find themselves with baseball's fourth-highest scoring offense. The Angels rank ninth in on-base percentage (.324), fourth in slugging percentage (.422) and fifth in OPS (.746).

     

    Rotation: A (4.0)

    Remember when the Angels didn't have enough starting pitching? With baseball's fifth-lowest WHIP (1.18) and eighth-lowest ERA (3.62), that's no longer the case. Veteran mainstays Jered Weaver (2.99 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) and C.J. Wilson (3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) have been especially impressive.

     

    Bullpen: D (1.0)

    Los Angeles relievers have been an overwhelming disappointment, with 41 percent of inherited runners making their way home and the 27th-worst ERA (4.41) among major league bullpens.

     

    Defense: A (4.0)

    Only four teams have committed fewer errors than the Angels, who have baseball's second-highest UZR/150 (14.9) and ninth-most DRS (11).

     

    Overall: B (3.25)

    The Angels are playing like the team we expected them to perform like a season ago. Hamilton's eventual return to action will only make an already dangerous club even more of a threat to the rest of the American League.

Los Angeles Dodgers (30-28)

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    Yasiel Puig.
    Yasiel Puig.Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    The National League's third-highest scoring offense (247 runs scored) ranks among baseball's 10 most productive across multiple categories. Yasiel Puig (.347 BA, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 1.055 OPS) is putting up MVP-caliber numbers, while the resurgent Dee Gordon (.280 BA, .702 OPS) leads baseball with 34 stolen bases.

     

    Rotation: A (4.0)

    If you want to know how good the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation has been, consider this: Statistically speaking, Clayton Kershaw (3.28 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) has been the group's weakest link.

     

    Bullpen: D (1.0)

    With a 3.96 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, Dodgers relievers have left much to be desired. A pair of former All-Star closers, Chris Perez and Brian Wilson, have been two of the biggest culprits, pitching to a combined 5.90 ERA and 1.66 WHIP, surrendering six of the bullpen's 15 home runs on the season.

     

    Defense: D (1.0)

    Puig and Juan Uribe have been Los Angeles' only two mainstays in the lineup to provide above-average defense. Both Hanley Ramirez (minus-25.8 UZR/150, minus-10 DRS) and Matt Kemp (minus-30.7 UZR/150, minus-11 DRS) have become defensive liabilities at shortstop and in center field, respectively.

     

    Overall: B (2.50)

    A lack of quality relief pitching and shaky defense finds the Dodgers staring at the largest deficit of any second-place team in their division, trailing the San Francisco Giants by seven games for the NL West lead.

Miami Marlins (28-28)

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    Giancarlo Stanton.
    Giancarlo Stanton.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    The Miami Marlins' offense was supposed to be a work in progress this season, not one of baseball's most productive. But the Marlins rank among the leaders in nearly every offensive category, including OPS and runs scored (sixth), slugging percentage (seventh) and home runs (ninth). A healthy Giancarlo Stanton (.311, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 1.020 OPS), is finally having the MVP-caliber season we've long expected.

     

    Rotation: B+ (3.5)

    Losing Jose Fernandez for the season would be a death blow to more than a few rotations around baseball, but the Marlins continue to deliver quality starts. Henderson Alvarez (2.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), Tom Koehler (3.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) and Nate Eovaldi (3.36 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) have all been better than anyone expected.

     

    Bullpen: D (1.0)

    Miami's bullpen hasn't been quite as effective as the rotation, with a 3.96 ERA that ranks 20th in baseball and the game's highest WHIP (1.48). Closer Steve Cishek (2.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11-of-12 SV) has been the group's lone bright spot.

     

    Defense: C+ (2.50)

    The strength of Miami's defense is in the outfield, where Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna have all been above-average defenders. 

     

    Overall: B- (2.75)

    That Miami is playing .500 baseball a year after losing 100 games is remarkable, but a shaky bullpen, so-so defense and the loss of Fernandez are all significant concerns.

Milwaukee Brewers (34-23)

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    Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathan Lucroy.
    Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathan Lucroy.Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Offense: B (3.0)

    The Milwaukee Brewers rank 12th with 237 runs scored but struggle to get on base consistently, with a .312 on-base percentage that ranks 20th. Carlos Gomez (.313 BA, .962 OPS), Jonathan Lucroy (.317 BA, .850 OPS) and Ryan Braun (.327 BA, .962 OPS) have paced the Brew Crew's offensive attack.

     

    Rotation: A (4.0)

    Led by Kyle Lohse (2.92 ERA) and Wily Peralta (2.73 ERA), Milwaukee's starting rotation has been one of the best in baseball. Collectively, the group ranks seventh in both ERA (3.54) and WHIP (1.22).

     

    Bullpen: B (3.0)

    Francisco Rodriguez has reestablished himself as one of baseball's premier closers, successfully converting 17 of 19 save opportunities while pitching to a 2.93 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Only two members of the bullpen, the currently injured Jim Henderson and Wei-Chung Wang, have pitched to an ERA above 3.50.

     

    Defense: B+ (3.50)

    Milwaukee's overall defense has been solid, with the Brewers ranking 10th with 31 errors committed, sixth with 20 DRS and ninth with a 3.9 UZR/150.

     

    Overall: B+ (3.38)

    The Brewers have slowed down a bit after their scorching start to the season but remain one of the National League's best. With only seven games separating them from last year's three playoff teams from the NL Central—Cincinnati, St. Louis and Pittsburgh Pirates—the race for the division should be an interesting one to watch.

Minnesota Twins (26-28)

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    Phil Hughes.
    Phil Hughes.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    While Brian Dozier has grabbed headlines as one of baseball's breakout stars over the season's first two months, the Minnesota Twins' offense has been eerily silent. The Twins rank 18th in runs scored, 21st in OPS and 24th in batting average. Three-time AL batting champion Joe Mauer has largely been a non-factor, hitting .267 with a .682 OPS.

     

    Rotation: D (1.0)

    Phil Hughes has been the stud I predicted he'd be back in November, going 5-1 with a 3.23 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, walking only eight batters while striking out 50. After Hughes, the rotation has been awful, as the unit's combined 4.93 ERA and 1.47 WHIP are second only to Arizona as the worst in baseball.

     

    Bullpen: B- (2.75)

    Minnesota's bullpen has been solid, pitching to a 3.64 ERA (14th in MLB) and 1.23 WHIP (sixth), allowing only 29 percent of inherited runners to score while converting 70 percent of save opportunities.

     

    Defense: D (1.0)

    Advanced metrics rate Aaron Hicks, Jason Kubel and Joe Mauer as major defensive liabilities, with only Eduardo Escobar and Trevor Plouffe among the team's regulars coming out as above-average in the field.

     

    Overall: C- (1.75)

    That the Twins find themselves only two games below .500 and less than six games out of first place in the AL Central is quite remarkable considering the disaster that the team's starting rotation has been.

New York Mets (27-29)

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    David Wright and Curtis Granderson.
    David Wright and Curtis Granderson.Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

    Offense: D (1.0)

    The New York Mets rank 20th in runs scored, 21st in on-base percentage, 27th in batting average and OPS and 30th in slugging percentage. Curtis Granderson, the team's big offseason addition, is hitting .200 with six home runs, 24 RBI and a .666 OPS. Only two players—40-year-old Bobby Abreu and Eric Campbell, both part of platoons in right field and at first base, respectively, have mustered an OPS above .800.

     

    Rotation: B (3.0)

    Despite being without the ace of the staff, Matt Harvey, the Mets rotation has been solid, ranking 14th in ERA (3.83) and 12th in WHIP (1.28). Both Dillon Gee (2.73 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) and Jonathon Niese (2.74 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) have been outstanding, while prospect Jacob deGrom (2.42 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) looks like another keeper.

     

    Bullpen: B- (2.75)

    New York loses points for the disaster that has been the ninth inning, with the Mets converting only 58 percent of their save opportunities. But the group has also been highly effective when it comes to keeping inherited runners at bay, doing so 88 percent of the time, the second-best mark in baseball.

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    Only New York's outfielders, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr., have been above-average with the glove. David Wright, with a pair of Gold Glove awards on his resume, has been mediocre at best.

     

    Overall: C- (2.19)

    The Mets' offensive woes have wasted some strong pitching performances, as has the team's sketchy ninth-inning situation, which hopefully can be solidified by former starter Jenrry Mejia. But it's going to take continued success on the mound, along with a new approach at the plate, for things to change.

New York Yankees (29-26)

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    Masahiro Tanaka.
    Masahiro Tanaka.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    The New York Yankees rank 10th in batting average (.256), 13th in slugging percentage (.390), 14th in on-base percentage (.319) and 15th in runs scored (230) despite getting little production out of their big offseason acquisitions, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and the injured Carlos Beltran. A non-roster invitee to spring training, Yangervis Solarte, has been the team's most valuable (and productive) bat.

     

    Rotation: D+ (1.50)

    After Masahiro Tanaka (2.06 ERA, 0.95 WHIP), New York's starting rotation is a mess. While Chase Whitley (2.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) and David Phelps (3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) have performed admirably, the Yankees need Hiroki Kuroda and the injured CC Sabathia to be far better than they have been.

     

    Bullpen: B- (2.5)

    Yankees relievers have pitched to a 3.99 ERA (20th) and 1.29 WHIP (12th) but lead baseball with 214 strikeouts. That's due largely in part to Dellin Betances and Adam Warren, who have struck out 86 batters in just over 64 innings of work.

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    Advanced metrics have never liked the Yankees' defense, and that doesn't change this season, with New York ranking 20th in UZR/150 (minus-4.1) and 27th in DRS (minus-27). The outfield tandem of Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki have been the team's most reliable defenders.

     

    Overall: C (2.0)

    That the Yankees sit with a winning record and trail Toronto by less than four games in the AL East has more to do with the parity that exists in the game than anything the team has done remarkably well.

Oakland A's (35-22)

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    Sonny Gray.
    Sonny Gray.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    Baseball's highest-scoring offense does a better job of anyone else when it comes to getting on base, leading the way with a .340 on-base percentage and more walks (250) than any other club. When the Oakland A's aren't walking, they're sending the ball over the fences, with the third-highest home run total (66) so far.

     

    Rotation: A (4.0)

    Oakland trails only Atlanta when it comes to ERA (3.00) and WHIP (1.14), a surprise when you consider that the A's are missing two key pieces of the rotation, A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, both out for the year. Sonny Gray (2.45 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) continues his ascent into baseball's elite, while reliever-turned-starter Jesse Chavez (2.78 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) has been one of baseball's biggest surprises.

     

    Bullpen: B (3.0)

    The A's have the worst save conversion rate in baseball (50 percent) and allow 34 percent of inherited runners to score, but Oakland's bullpen has also pitched to the third-lowest WHIP (1.09) and fifth-lowest ERA (2.78). Deposed closer Jim Johnson, the team's second-highest-paid player behind Yoenis Cespedes, is the only member of the bullpen with an ERA above 3.00 (6.55) or a WHIP above 1.25 (1.95).

     

    Defense: B (3.0)

    Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss are the only two regulars that advanced metrics grade as below-average defensive players, while the A's 38 errors and .982 fielding percentage come in just below the major league average.

     

    Overall: A- (3.5)

    Oakland is one of baseball's most complete teams, so it should come as no surprise to find it sitting atop the AL West with the American League's best record.

Philadelphia Phillies (24-30)

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    Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.
    Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.Elsa/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    Despite strong showings from veterans like Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies lineup has been one of baseball's least productive. The Phillies rank in the bottom third of baseball in nearly every offensive category, including on-base percentage (20th), OPS (21st) and runs scored (24th).

     

    Rotation: C (2.0)

    Philadelphia's rotation has been average at best, sitting 17th in ERA (3.95) and 26th in WHIP (1.40). After A.J. Burnett and the injured Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez have done little to stand out from the pack.

     

    Bullpen: D (1.0)

    Oft-maligned closer Jonathan Papelbon has been Philadelphia's most reliable reliever, converting 13 of his 14 save opportunities while pitching to a 1.61 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Along with Mike Adams (2.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and Mario Hollands (3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), the trio has been the best Philly has to offer. The rest of the bullpen has been pretty forgettable, ranking 24th in ERA (4.06) and 21st in WHIP (1.35) while allowing 32 percent of inherited runners to score.

     

    Defense: D (1.0)

    Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins remain excellent defenders up the middle, but the rest of the roster leaves much to be desired when it comes to fielding their position.

     

    Overall: C- (1.5)

    Stop me if you've heard this one before: Philadelphia needs to tear things down and begin the rebuilding process in earnest.

Pittsburgh Pirates (26-30)

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    Andrew McCutchen.
    Andrew McCutchen.Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Offense: C+ (2.3)

    Pittsburgh gets on base fairly consistently (.322 on-base percentage) but struggles to score runs, its 212 mark the fourth-lowest total by any team. Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen (.307 BA, .898 OPS) continues to shine, while newly acquired Ike Davis (.287 BA, .801 OPS) seems to have found a home with the Pirates.

     

    Rotation: C- (1.75)

    The magic that the Pirates worked last season has worn off, as the rotation ranks 26th in ERA (4.53) and 22nd in WHIP (1.37). Francisco Liriano (4.62 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) has been a shell of the pitcher he was, with Charlie Morton (3.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) and Gerrit Cole (3.80 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) the only bright spots.

     

    Bullpen: B (3.0)

    With the sixth-lowest ERA (2.85) and ninth-lowest WHIP (1.24), Pittsburgh's relievers have done their part in trying to keep the Pirates in games. Tony Watson (1.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 11.08 K/9) has developed into one of the game's premier setup men.

     

    Defense: D (1.0)

    While the Pirates rank seventh with 17 defensive runs saved, only three teams have committed more errors than Pittsburgh's 44. After Josh Harrison, Starling Marte and Jordy Mercer, the Bucs don't have an above-average glove at any position.

     

    Overall: C (2.0)

    It's been a disappointing season in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates don't look anything like the team that captured the baseball world's hearts during their run to the playoffs a season ago.

San Diego Padres (26-31)

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    Andrew Cashner.
    Andrew Cashner.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Offense: D- (0.50)

    No team in baseball has been as inept at the plate as San Diego's. The Padres rank last in multiple categories, including batting average (.226), OPS (.642) and runs scored (184). Seth Smith (.309 BA, 6 HR, 20 RBI, .967 OPS) has been the lone bright spot amid a sea of despair.

     

    Rotation: C (2.00)

    Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross have both pitched to ERAs below 3.00, while Ian Kennedy's 3.42 mark gives the Padres a trio of starters having excellent seasons. But things fall apart after that, and the team's collective 3.81 ERA and 1.30 WHIP rank 15th in baseball—not great, but not terrible either.

     

    Bullpen: A (4.0)

    San Diego's strength lies in the bullpen, where Padres relievers have allowed only 22 percent of inherited runners to score while pitching to a 2.27 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, arguably giving the Padres the best bullpen in baseball.

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    San Diego's defense has been average, committing 40 errors (tied for the eighth-most with Texas) but sitting tied with Kansas City with six defensive runs saved, the 11th-best mark in baseball.

     

    Overall: C (2.1)

    The Padres' lack of offense has been quite surprising—and equally disappointing—costing the team a chance to contend in the early part of the season.

San Francisco Giants (37-20)

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    Buster Posey.
    Buster Posey.Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    Offense: B+ (3.25)

    The San Francisco Giants' offense ranks fourth in home runs (63), seventh in runs scored (251) and 10th in slugging percentage (.405), but the Giants are near the bottom of baseball when it comes to batting average (.246, 20th) and on-base percentage (.309, 22nd). Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval have been slowly coming around, while the team has gotten almost no production from the middle of the infield.

     

    Rotation: A (4.0)

    The Giants rank sixth in ERA (3.28) and eighth in WHIP (1.21), no surprise given San Francisco's penchant for producing quality starting pitching on a yearly basis. Tim Hudson (1.75 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) has been on fire for two months, overshadowing the strong starts by his fellow rotation mates.

     

    Bullpen: A (4.0)

    Co-owners (along with San Diego) of the lowest bullpen WHIP (1.07) and sole owners of the third-lowest bullpen ERA (2.51), Giants pitching doesn't let up at any point of the game.

     

    Defense: B- (2.75)

    If the Giants have a weak spot, it's in the field, where Brandon Crawford, Brandon Hicks and Pablo Sandoval have been average at best when it comes to flashing the leather.

     

    Overall: A- (3.50)

    It shouldn't be a surprise to find the team with baseball's best record coming out with one of our highest grades. San Francisco does everything fairly well, and the team will only get stronger when injured pieces like Brandon Belt and Santiago Casilla get back on to the field.

Seattle Mariners (28-28)

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    Felix Hernandez.
    Felix Hernandez.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Offense: C- (1.75)

    The Seattle Mariners have seen an uptick in run production, sitting 17th in baseball with 228 runs scored, but the team's .234 batting average (27th), .296 on-base percentage (29th) and .365 slugging percentage (24th) leave much to be desired. The Mariners don't have a batter with an OPS above .800, and only two regulars—Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager—get on base more than 34 percent of the time.

     

    Rotation: B (3.0)

    Seattle's rotation ranks 13th in ERA (93.7) and fifth in WHIP (1.19), no small feat when you consider that, for much of the season, it's been Felix Hernandez and little else. Taijuan Walker has yet to pitch, James Paxton was limited to two starts and Hisashi Iwakuma has made only six starts thus far. Roenis Elias (3.53 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) and Chris Young (3.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) have been pleasant surprises.

     

    Bullpen: B (3.0)

    Seattle's bullpen has been solid, pitching to the seventh-lowest ERA (3.05) while keeping 75 percent of inherited baserunners from scoring. The group's WHIP (1.32, 18th) is a bit on the high side, but it's hard to argue with a 71 percent conversion rate on save opportunities, the eighth-best mark in baseball.

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    Both traditional stats and advanced metrics show the Mariners to be an average defensive club, so that's what we'll call them—average defenders.

     

    Overall: C+ (2.44)

    Seattle's struggles at the plate have squandered some excellent pitching performances and keep the Mariners from rising above fourth place in the AL West.

St. Louis Cardinals (30-27)

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    St. Louis' offense has been scuffling, with only Matt Adams and Yadier Molina posting an OPS above .800 and the Cardinals' combined mark of .686 ranking 22nd in baseball. More concerning is the team's inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Last year, St. Louis led baseball with an .865 OPS in those situations; this year, it's dropped to .658, good enough to be ranked 25th.

     

    Rotation: A (4.0)

    Adam Wainwright (2.32 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) and Michael Wacha (2.45 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) have led the way for one of baseball's premier starting rotations. Cardinals starters have the third-lowest ERA (3.17) and WHIP (1.17), with only one member of the group, Jaime Garcia, pitching to an ERA above 4.00.

     

    Bullpen: B- (2.75)

    Trevor Rosenthal has gotten back on track after a rough start to the season, converting 16 of 18 save opportunities, while his bullpen mates have kept 75 percent of inherited runners from crossing home plate, tied for 11th-best in baseball. The unit's 3.81 ERA is inflated, but its 1.22 WHIP more is in line with how the group has performed as a whole.

     

    Defense: A (4.0)

    Few teams are as defensively sound as the Cardinals, who have committed the third-fewest errors (27) so far this season.

     

    Overall: B+ (3.2)

    It'll take another month of strong play to erase the team's slow start from memory, but things are looking up in St. Louis.

Tampa Bay Rays (23-34)

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    Alex Cobb.
    Alex Cobb.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    The Tampa Bay Rays' 217 runs scored on the season rank 22nd in baseball, a result of slow starts by some of the team's key bats. Evan Longoria (.265 BA, .697 OPS), Ben Zobrist (.253 BA, .696 OPS) and the injured Wil Myers (.227 BA, .666 OPS) have all scuffled at the plate, leaving the Rays without the firepower they need.

     

    Rotation: D (1.0)

    Injuries to Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore haven't helped things in Tampa Bay, where the Rays' once-mighty rotation has looked quite ordinary. After Alex Cobb (2.93 ERA, 1.04 WHIP), the Rays don't have a starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.00. The group's 4.28 ERA (22nd) and 1.36 WHIP (21st) are among the worst numbers that the franchise has seen in years.

     

    Bullpen: C- (1.75)

    A mediocre rotation has resulted in an overworked bullpen. Tampa Bay relievers lead baseball with 198.2 innings of work, a reason why the group's ERA (4.03, 22nd) and WHIP (1.31, 17th) are as high as they are.

     

    Defense: B (3.0)

    If there's a bright spot in Tampa Bay, it's that manager Joe Maddon still has his squad playing sound defense—at least according to traditional statistics. Only three teams have committed fewer errors than the Rays, but advanced metrics show the team with a minus-18 mark in the DRS column.

     

    Overall: C- (1.94)

    Tampa Bay is 11 games under .500 and nearly as many games behind Toronto in the AL East. If things don't change soon, we could see the Rays become one of the first sellers of the season.

Texas Rangers (29-28)

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Offense: B+ (3.25)

    The Texas Rangers are without their starting catcher (Geovany Soto), first baseman (Prince Fielder) and second baseman (Jurickson Profar), and yet they have managed to remain one of baseball's most dangerous lineups. The Rangers rank 12th in runs scored (238) and OPS (.717),  third in batting average (.266) and sixth in on-base percentage (.329).

     

    Rotation: D (1.0)

    Injuries have decimated the Rangers rotation, leaving Yu Darvish (2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) floating in a sea of mediocrity. With three-fifths of the team's expected starting rotation (Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Martin Perez) on the shelf, the rotation has performed as expected—poorly. Rangers starters sit 23rd in baseball with a 4.39 ERA, last in the game with a 1.47 WHIP.

     

    Bullpen: C- (1.75)

    Despite the bullpen's bloated 4.13 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, Rangers relievers have allowed only 24 percent of inherited runners to score, putting them in a three-way tie for the eighth-best percentage in the game. Alexi Ogando (5.84 ERA, 1.86 WHIP) has been one of the team's biggest disappointments.

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    With so many injuries, the Rangers have been forced to turn to inexperienced youngsters to fill key positions. That only lends itself to below-average defense.

     

    Overall: C (2.0)

    That the Rangers have a winning record despite having so many key pieces on the disabled list is a testament to the job that manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels have done with the roster.

Toronto Blue Jays (34-24)

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    Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
    Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Offense: A (4.0)

    Only Oakland has scored more runs than Toronto, which has powered its way to first place in the AL East. The Blue Jays lead baseball with 83 home runs, nine more than second-place Colorado and 17 ahead of Oakland's 66, second in the American League. Edwin Encarnacion (.271, 19 HR, 50 RBI, .974 OPS) and Jose Bautista (.311, 14 HR, 40 RBI, 1.000 WHIP) are leading the way, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

     

    Rotation: B- (2.75)

    Mark Buehrle (2.10 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) is pitching as well as he ever has, while a healthy Drew Hutchison (3.88 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) is starting to live up to the hype that surrounded him only a few years ago. The rest of the rotation has held its own, with the group's combined 3.77 ERA ranking 12th in baseball, its 1.35 WHIP 19th.

     

    Bullpen: D (1.0)

    Few bullpens in baseball have been as inept as Toronto's, which has pitched to the worst ERA (4.69) and second-highest WHIP (1.47) in the early part of the season. Despite those ugly numbers, Blue Jays relievers have allowed only 30 percent of inherited runners to score and converted 73 percent of their save opportunities, the latter tied for the sixth-best mark in baseball.

     

    Defense: C (2.0)

    Advanced metrics grade the Blue Jays out as a below-average defensive club (minus-16 DRS), but traditional stats say they're better than that, committing the fifth-fewest errors in the game.

     

    Overall: C+ (2.44)

    Toronto's offense has carried the club into first place in the AL East, but the rest of the starting rotation and bullpen are going to have to step up if the Jays hope to stay there.

Washington Nationals (27-28)

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    Stephen Strasburg.
    Stephen Strasburg.Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Offense: C (2.0)

    While the extended absences of Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman have been a major factor, the Washington Nationals' offense simply hasn't performed as expected in 2014. The Mets have scored as many runs as the Nationals (222), while only one of the team's regulars, Adam LaRoche, has an OPS above .800.

     

    Rotation: C (2.0)

    Stephen Strasburg (3.15 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) has maintained his place among the elite starters in the game, but the rest of Washington's ballyhooed rotation has not. What was once an extraordinary group looks rather ordinary, with a 3.74 ERA (11th) and 1.31 WHIP (18th). Jordan Zimmermann (4.07 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) and the injured Gio Gonzalez (4.62 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) have been two of the team's bigger disappointments.

     

    Bullpen: B (3.0)

    No bullpen in baseball has pitched to a lower ERA (2.19) than Washington's, which has the fourth-lowest WHIP (1.17) and fifth-highest save conversion percentage (73 percent). Only two members of the group, Jerry Blevins (4.15) and Ross Detwiler (5.01), have an ERA above 2.40.

     

    Defense: D- (0.50)

    Only the Cleveland Indians have committed more errors than Washington (46), and not one of the team's everyday players grades out as an average defender, much less an above-average one, using advanced metrics.

     

    Overall: C- (1.88)

    Despite the injuries that have struck Washington, the Nationals have too much talent to be sitting below .500 and in third place in the division. It's been a disappointing start in our nation's capital.

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