MLB Teams You Can Already Stick a Fork in After 2015 Season's First Month
Is it fair to claim that a team is finished just one month into the season? Probably not.
But it's safe to say that a handful of MLB organizations are already looking ahead to 2016.
Organizations like the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies had little expectations to begin with this season and have proven why with their play to begin the year. Others, like the the Texas Rangers, have underachieved in potential bounce-back seasons.
And the Milwaukee Brewers? Yikes.
Let's explore why each of these teams is already headed for the cellar in the season ahead.
Current Record: 8-16
Projected Record: 71-91
After winning just 67 games in 2014, the Texas Rangers were a potential bounce-back candidate this season.
But with the loss of ace Yu Darvish to a season-ending injury, those postseason aspirations are already beginning to fade. Texas is eight games under .500 as we enter May.
Surprisingly enough, the rotation hasn't been a complete wreck.
Texas starters rank 18th in ERA and 21st in WAR. Nick Martinez and Colby Lewis have been bright spots, but the depth of the staff remains a huge concern going forward. Yovani Gallardo is a possible trade candidate and the rest of the cast leaves little to be desired.
The bigger disappointment has been the club's offense, which ranks in the bottom of most offensive categories. That includes Prince Fielder returning to his previous best by hitting .348 with a weighted runs created plus of 141.
But Fielder aside, there has been absolutely no production from anyone else in the lineup. Of the players that have played more than 15 games, only Fielder and Mitch Moreland are posting a wRC+ of over 100. The Rangers did acquire Josh Hamilton, but what can you really expect from the former American League MVP at this stage in his career?
With a depleted rotation, the Rangers will need to score runs to put together any type of winning streak. With little offensive production, Texas is headed for another dreadful season at the bottom of the AL West.
Current Record: 9-17
Projected Record: 65-97
The Philadelphia Phillies entered 2015 with extremely low expectations, and the club is proving why so far this season.
Philadelphia sit at the bottom of the NL East behind the worst offense in all of baseball. The Phillies are averaging under three runs per contest and are hitting a lowly .219 through 25 games.
What do you expect when the light-hitting Freddy Galvis and Rule 5 draft pick Odubel Herrera are the club's best performers? Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere and Carlos Ruiz all have a wRC+ below 70.
B/R's own Joel Reuter gave the Philadelphia offense an F though April.
"Anemic does not quite do the Philadelphia Phillies offense justice to this point, as they rank dead last at 2.74 runs per game and have scored one run or fewer on seven different occasions," Reuter said.
The Phillies also rank at the bottom of the league in terms of starting pitching. Aside from Aaron Harang, there's nothing worth mentioning in terms of Philadelphia starters.
That includes Cole Hamels, who has posted a 4.14 ERA in six starts. With the Phillies struggling, Hamels will once again find himself at the forefront of trade discussions throughout the summer.
The Phillies obviously need to rid themselves of some of their aging contracts, but that's going to be easier said than done. The success of this season should be judged by how much the club can recoup from their current stable of overpaid players, not the team's record at the end of the year.
Current Record: 10-14
Projected Record: 74-88
The Arizona Diamondbacks are three games under .500, but the Snakes haven't looked as anemic as they did in 2014.
Still, Arizona's roster isn't ready to compete in the loaded NL West, and a big reason why is one of the worst bullpens in baseball.
Diamondbacks relievers rank 27th in ERA and strikeouts per nine innings through April. The 35-year-old Brad Ziegler continues to enhance his trade value, but the rest of the group is finding it difficult to get hitters out.
That's a shame, because Arizona starters have overachieved to begin 2015. The Diamondbacks rank in the top half in baseball in starters' ERA. Top youngster Archie Bradley has been especially impressive despite a scary incident that pushed him to the DL.
Offensively, there's a massive hole at catcher between Tuffy Gosewisch and Jordan Pacheco. But with Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo and Yasmany Tomas, the Diamondbacks suddenly have one of the more dangerous power combos in the league.
There's positive signs in Arizona, but it's hard to believe some of those good starts will continue into the summer. Playing most of their games in the competitive NL West won't help either:Arizona already has a losing record in division play.
Current Record: 12-13
Projected Record: 73-89
The Atlanta Braves began the season with a 5-0 record, but have gone 6-13 in the 19 games since.
While many pundits expected a long season for the rebuilding Braves, nobody expected the rotation to struggle as much as it has. Atlanta ranks 21st in starters' ERA.
Julio Teheran and Alex Wood each have an ERA higher than 4.00 and are averaging under six innings per start. Eric Stults has been exactly what you would expect, and the Trevor Cahill experiment has gone so badly that he's already been replaced by prospect Mike Foltynewicz.
The Braves also have issues in their pen, as the club has very few arms it can count on to get the ball to Jason Grilli in the ninth. With Grilli's trade candidacy increasing with every good outing, that bullpen figures to become even worse by season's end.
Surprisingly, the Atlanta offense has done its job in the early-goings. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has stuck with a platoon system: the Braves have 13 hitters that have played in 10 games or more.
But we're talking about names like Kelly Johnson, Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski here. While those guys are proven pros with something left in the tank, they are hardly the makings of an elite offensive unit.
We've seen the real Atlanta Braves over the final days of the month. Nobody expected them to contend this season, and they'll be well out of the playoff picture by the end of the summer.
Current Record: 7-18
Projected Record: 72-90
The good news for every other team on this list? Well, you could be the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee's 7-18 start to the season is the worst mark in MLB.
The biggest problem facing the Brew Crew is a lack of pitching talent throughout the organization. Aside from Jimmy Nelson and Wily Peralta, there's little to get excited about in terms of young hurlers. The rotation has been especially hurt by the struggles of Kyle Lohse, who had been one of the most consistent pitchers in the NL up until this season.
It doesn't get much better at the dish. The Brewers rank 27th in runs scored an have the third-highest strikeout percentage in the league. Adam Lind is the only everyday player with an OPS higher than .720.
Sure, injuries to Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy have hindered any Milwaukee momentum, but that can't mask the lack of major league-ready talent on the roster. 2015 has begun so poorly that Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is wondering if it's time to blow up the club's roster and start anew.
"If the losing continues, it will be time to reassess the future of the club," said Haudricourt. "Nobody at Miller Park Way wants to think about a rebuilding plan as painful as the one the Cubs undertook, but stepping back might be the best option for the long term."
Players like Gomez, Lucroy, Lohse and Jean Segura are all potential trade candidates that would be attractive options for needy teams this summer. Regardless of the way the organization chooses to go, the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers will continue to be among baseball's worst.
Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs.