MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams Entering July
If you blinked, you might have missed the first half of the 2018 Major League Baseball season.
July is just about here, and teams across the league are roughly halfway through their 162-game schedules. That makes now as good a time as any to re-evaluate all 30 teams with fresh report cards based on their strengths, weaknesses and generally how they're faring as the stretch run nears.
We'll go in alphabetical order by city.
Note: Stats are accurate through play on Wednesday, June 27.
Record: 46-34, 1st in NL West
The Arizona Diamondbacks seemed to be on their way out of the National League playoff picture in May. They went 8-19, tying the Chicago White Sox for the month's worst record.
Instead, the D-backs bounced right back in June.
They're 18-7 this month, and it's mostly thanks to an offense that's come roaring back to life with a .782 OPS and 5.9 runs per game. At the heart of this is Paul Goldschmidt snapping out of his own slump with a 1.248 OPS and 10 home runs.
Meanwhile, Arizona's other strengths are holding true. Its starting rotation has weathered a rash of injuries, and its bullpen has an MLB-best 2.53 ERA. Both units have been aided by a defense that's tied for fifth in efficiency.
All told, the D-backs are proof that one bad month does not a good team break.
Record: 45-34, 1st in NL East
They were surprising at first, but it should be clear by now that the Atlanta Braves aren't going anywhere.
Sure, their offense isn't as dangerous now as it was at the beginning of the season. But pointing this out is more of a nitpick than anything else. Even in a relatively slow June, they've still managed a .724 OPS and 4.7 runs per game.
In the meantime, Braves starters have hit their stride with a 3.18 ERA in June. Breakout stars Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb have refused to slow down, and Anibal Sanchez is enjoying an impressive post-prime renaissance.
Ultimately, the only real worry has to do with Atlanta's bullpen. It's pitched a fair amount of innings. If Arodys Vizcaino's shoulder inflammation and the pen's 5.10 ERA in June are any indication, fatigue may be setting in.
Record: 23-56, 5th in AL East
If anyone is waiting for a report that leads with "The Baltimore Orioles have turned a corner," it's time to give it up.
The Orioles have not been—nor ever will be—good this season. They're simply a bad team. Both their record and their putrid minus-117 run differential are what happens when a club can't hit, field or pitch.
The only area in which the Orioles have shown even a modicum of hope recently is on the mound. Their pitchers have posted a 4.62 ERA in June, which was actually pretty good by their standards.
Trouble is, this is mostly thanks to Dylan Bundy, who's now on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. And it hasn't been good enough to account for an offense that's even pulled Manny Machado into its vortex of futility. He has a .603 OPS in his last 20 games.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 54-27, 1st in AL East
Although the Boston Red Sox have had trouble holding on to first place in the AL East, that has more to do with the New York Yankees refusing to back down than anything else.
Led by Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, Boston's offense has been so good that even a "down" month of June has still consisted of a .774 OPS and five runs per game. The Red Sox have also enjoyed a bullpen that's rarely faltered en route to a 3.10 ERA.
More recently, the Red Sox have benefited from Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello living up to the hype. The three have combined for a 2.81 ERA in June.
Record: 43-35, 2nd in NL Central
For all their problems, the Chicago Cubs still boast the National League's best run differential at plus-83. That should eventually bring them good fortune.
For now, through, the "problems" the Cubs have are indeed real.
They've fallen into a rut with just a 6-11 record in their last 17 games. Such is life when a supposedly high-powered offense falls into a slump. And with Kris Bryant now on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, Cubs hitters face a tall task of getting things going again.
Still, the Cubs have avoided total ruin. That's a credit to their strong pitching and even stronger defense, the latter of which ranks No. 1 in efficiency. Together, these have contributed to a life-saving 3.58 ERA in June.
On balance, the Cubs are in a weird place: not as good as they should be but not as mediocre as they look.
Chicago White Sox
Record: 28-51, 4th in AL Central
The Chicago White Sox's 12-14 record in June isn't much on its own, but it denotes progress for a team that went 16-37 through the first two months of 2018.
After posting ERAs north of 5.00 in April and May, White Sox pitchers have gotten down to a 3.71 ERA this month. This is mainly the work of three guys who figure to still be around when the White Sox are ready to contend again. Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Covey have teamed up for a 3.54 ERA.
The future of Chicago's offense, however, remains murky.
White Sox hitters have fallen into disarray since a strong start to the year, and it's only getting worse. The team's monthly OPS has gone from .736 to .714 to .647.
Call it a hunch, but fixing the White Sox's offense may not be as simple as calling up slugging prospect Eloy Jimenez.
Record: 34-46, 5th in NL Central
The Cincinnati Reds can't be mistaken for a good team, but they've become more competitive since replacing Bryan Price with Jim Riggleman in the manager's chair.
The Reds are 31-31 under Riggleman, who must have done something to energize the team's bats. Under Price, they had a .619 OPS. Under Riggleman, that figure is up to .767 overall and .814 for June. Notably, no team has gotten on base this month at a better rate than Cincinnati's .368 clip.
Meanwhile, Reds pitching has also gotten better as the season has moved along.
Tyler Mahle has emerged as a much-needed rotation rock with a 2.30 ERA in June. And even in regressing from their previous dominance, the bullpen trio of Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes and Amir Garrett has still mustered a 2.70 ERA for the month.
Again, the Reds aren't a good team. But at this point, they're easily the best of MLB's six last-place teams.
Record: 44-35, 1st in AL Cental
Sure, they're in first place, but the Cleveland Indians ought to be running away with the AL Central. They're the only good team in the division, and they've played one of the easiest schedules in baseball.
But if nothing else, the Indians aren't in danger of losing their division lead.
They finally seem to have their bullpen problem figured out. Following ERAs of 4.30 in April and 8.01 in May, Indians relievers are down to a 2.93 ERA in June. They've found a keeper in Neil Ramirez, who's unscored upon in his last 14 outings.
Cleveland is also still getting good work out of its starting rotation, led by Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger. And while consistency continues to elude the team's offense, it's safely past the ugly .688 OPS it posted in the season's first month.
All the Indians must do is hold course, and a third straight AL Central title will be theirs.
Record: 38-42, 4th in NL West
As Cleveland's bullpen rises, Colorado's falls.
Although it's not the reason, the Rockies bullpen is a big reason why the team has fallen into an 8-16 swoon in June. Here are the key figures:
- Record: 1-9
- ERA: 8.14
- Win Probability Added: Minus-3.78
There's plenty of blame to go around, including for the guys making the big bucks. Collectively, Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee have a 10.08 ERA in June.
To make matters worse, Rockies starters have also hit the skids with a 5.75 ERA for the month. So even though the Rockies offense has finally started to hit like a proper Rockies offense with a .780 OPS in June, it hasn't been enough.
Altogether, this season is providing a familiar Rockies story: It's hard to scrounge enough pitching to keep the wins coming.
Record: 36-45, 3rd in AL Central
The Detroit Tigers have been better than expected, but their current eight-game losing streak is a regression that was a long time coming.
The Tigers have played one of the easiest schedules of any team in MLB, and, among other things, it's allowed them to beat up on the White Sox to the tune of an 8-1 record. Against everyone else, they're just 28-44.
The Tigers have recently been looking the part of such an inept team on both sides of the ball. Their pitchers have a 4.89 ERA in June. Their hitters, a .637 OPS. The latter is a slump that figures to last without Miguel Cabrera, who was lost for the season with a ruptured biceps tendon on June 13.
Even before their eight-game skid, the Tigers had allowed 23 more runs than they scored. Now, their overall run differential is at minus-58. Both that and their record figure to keep getting worse.
Record: 54-28, 1st in AL West
It seemed like just a matter of time before the Houston Astros went on an explosive run. Sure enough, they suddenly ripped off 12 wins in a row in the middle of June.
The driving force behind that was an offense that blew off some steam with a .938 OPS and 7.2 runs per game. With Jose Altuve, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Evan Gattis, Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel all hitting well, the Astros should keep raking even without Carlos Correa, who hit the DL with back stiffness Thursday.
In the meantime, the Astros also have an MLB-best 2.85 ERA that belongs mainly to its tremendous starting pitching staff and lockdown defense. More recently, even their bullpen has been getting in on the fun with a 1.94 ERA in June.
The Astros don't just have an intimidating record to show for all of this. They also have a plus-174 run differential that's far and away the best in MLB.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 25-55, 5th in AL Central
Officially, the Kansas City Royals aren't the worst team in Major League Baseball. They're a game-and-a-half ahead of the Orioles in that race.
But, realistically? Yeah, they're that bad.
They were 20-36 even before the calendar turned to June, and this month has sent them reeling with a 5-19 record. Their offense has been a complete no-show, posting an MLB-worst .555 OPS and scoring fewer than four runs in 20 of 24 games. Their pitching is tracking toward a third straight month with an ERA over 5.00.
At this point, the Royals have allowed 152 more runs than they've scored. That's the worst margin in MLB by 35 runs.
Los Angeles Angels
Record: 41-40, 4th in AL West
Mike Trout is doing just fine, thank you very much.
Although the 26-year-old superstar has been slowed by a sprained finger, he's still rocking a 1.103 OPS with 23 home runs and an MLB-high 6.6 wins above replacement. Just another year at the office for arguably the best player in MLB history.
The rest of the Los Angeles Angels? Not so much.
They're 18-26 since May 11. Their problems include an offense that's managed a .694 OPS even with Trout's heroics, as well as a pitching staff that's hit a wall with a 5.39 ERA over the last 16 games.
The loss of two-way star Shohei Ohtani to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament has been a blow to both units, and he's only close to returning as a hitter. As a result, the Angels' 2018 season is following a familiar storyline: Trout just doesn't have enough help.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 43-36, 2nd in NL West
The Los Angeles Dodgers hit a nadir when they fell to 16-26 on May 16.
They're 27-10 since then, including 17-6 in June alone.
The big difference for the Dodgers lately is that their offense has finally awoken from its early-season snooze. Cody Bellinger has found his hitting stroke again and, with plenty of help from breakout star Max Muncy, has done his part to propel the Dodgers to an .855 OPS in June. That ties the Astros for the best in MLB.
The Dodgers have also enjoyed a 3.06 ERA during their 37-game hot stretch. Ross Stripling has been pitching like an All-Star, and Kenley Jansen has allowed just 12 hits, three walks and three runs in 21.1 innings.
This doesn't completely erase the struggle the Dodgers endured earlier in the year. It does, however, more than make up for it.
Record: 32-49, 5th in NL East
After exiting May with a 20-36 record, life has been a little better for the Miami Marlins in June. They're a respectable 12-13 for the month.
Some of this is a result of an offense that's steadily been turning its initial futility into water under the bridge. Things started with a .630 OPS in April. Now, the Marlins have a decent .712 OPS in June, courtesy of strong hitting by usual suspects like J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour and Derek Dietrich.
The Marlins have also been getting good work out of their bullpen, which has a 3.15 ERA in June.
Alas, they're still struggling to get consistent work out of their starters. They have an MLB-worst 5.78 ERA in June and a 4.76 ERA overall.
That's been no help to the Marlins' record, much less their run differential. At minus-112, it's 50 runs worse than any other team in the National League.
Record: 46-33, 1st in NL Central
Although it hasn't knocked them out of first place, the Milwaukee Brewers have hit a bump in the road with a 10-12 record in June.
Two of their major strengths have short-circuited. First, a bullpen that was dominant through the first two months has regressed to a just-OK 3.67 ERA. Second, an offense that raked with a .776 OPS in May is down to a slightly-less-awesome .732 OPS. Apart from breakout star Jesus Aguilar, none of Milwaukee's regulars are hot.
Still, neither unit has been downright bad. And despite their struggles this month, at least the Brewers have continued to enjoy excellent defense while also getting their starting pitching on track. Their rotation has a 3.30 ERA this month.
The biggest threat to Milwaukee's NL Central supremacy will come not from within but from without. It's just 19-21 against winning teams, and the National League has plenty of those.
Record: 34-42, 2nd in AL Central
Bit by bit, the Minnesota Twins are getting better as the season moves along. They've gone from 9-15 in March and April to 13-15 in May to 12-12 in June.
Their pitching has stabilized, going from a 5.10 ERA through May 3 to a 3.75 ERA in 49 games since then. Jose Berrios has done the bulk of the heavy lifting, with a little help from Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn. The club's bullpen, meanwhile, has bent but hasn't broken.
A big problem, however, is that the Twins can't get their offense to be anything more than mediocre. Miguel Sano's bat was supposed to be a buffer against bad times, but he earned a demotion to Single-A. Now the times are generally only good when Eduardo Escobar (.890 OPS) and Eddie Rosario (.918 OPS) are hitting.
New York Mets
Record: 32-46, 4th in NL East
The New York Mets are now 21-45 since starting off hot with an 11-1 record. The bulk of that damage has been done this month, as their 5-19 record ties them with the Royals for the worst in MLB.
The injury bug gets its share of the blame for what has befallen the Mets. They currently have Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Juan Lagares and quite a few others on the DL. It's hard to win games under circumstances like those.
But beyond that, the Mets just aren't doing anything well.
Take away that 11-1 start, and the Mets would be on pace to lose 110 games. Nuff said.
New York Yankees
Record: 52-26, 2nd in AL East
As is so often the case, the New York Yankees have been the anti-Mets.
They started off with a disappointing 9-9 record through their first 18 contests. They've gone 43-17 since, and they've racked up an MLB-best 25-10 record against winning teams along the way.
The Yankees pitching has led the way with a 2.98 ERA during this stretch. Staff ace Luis Severino has done his part, as has the most unhittable bullpen of them all. Yankees relievers lead everyone with a .601 OPS allowed.
The scary part is the Yankees haven't really gotten their offense going yet. They've managed "just" a .779 OPS and "just" five runs per game over their last 60 games. A lineup with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the middle can surely do better.
For now, though, what the Yankees are doing is obviously plenty good enough.
Record: 43-38, 3rd in AL West
Every time it seems like the Oakland A's are about to bow out of the AL playoff race, they manage to bounce right back into it.
So it goes these days, as the A's have won nine of their last 11 games. Their lineup gets the lion's share of the credit for that. It's put up an .808 OPS and scored 6.4 runs per game.
Led by Matt Olson, Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis and, when healthy, Matt Chapman, Oakland's lineup has quietly been one of baseball's best for the better part of the season. And not just on offense, either. The A's are tied with the Diamondbacks for fifth in defensive efficiency.
Throw in a quality bullpen with a 3.45 ERA, and all the A's are missing is a dependable rotation. They've used more starters than all but one team, and all it's gotten them is a 4.50 overall ERA. That's no way to compete with the powers that be in the AL.
Record: 42-36, 2nd in NL East
For explanations why the Philadelphia Phillies have hit an 11-13 lull in June, start with their pitching.
Their hurlers had put up a 3.40 ERA through the first two months of 2018. They've slipped to a 5.00 ERA this month, in which Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and, especially, Jake Arrieta have all hit a wall.
Even with the resurgence of Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies don't have enough offense to withstand a slump like this on the mound. Their collective OPS has been hovering in the low .700s in all three months of the season so far.
Still, the Phillies deserve to be cut some slack. Their struggles in June are at least partly due to their schedule. The Rockies are the only club they've faced this month with a losing record.
Once they get past this stretch, they should get back to racking up wins with good pitching and just enough offense.
Record: 38-42, 4th in NL Central
The Pittsburgh Pirates peaked at nine games over .500 (26-17) back on May 17. They're just 12-25 since, during which they've gone from first place in the NL Central to deep in fourth place.
Pirates pitchers have managed a 4.40 ERA in this stretch. With enough offense, such a figure would be survivable.
Whether the Pirates had enough offense was always debatable, however, so perhaps it's no surprise that theirs has cratered. It has just a .636 OPS in June, and everyone not named Gregory Polanco has fallen into a slump.
But perhaps more than anything, the Pirates' recent slump may be a case of their schedule catching up to them. They've played a tough one of late, and it's added to one of the worst records (16-29) against winning teams of any club in MLB.
San Diego Padres
Record: 36-47, 5th in NL West
The San Diego Padres were showing signs of life for a while there, going 17-10 between May 18 and June 15. It seemed then like they might be able to play spoiler in the NL West race.
Now, not so much. They're just 2-9 in their last 11 games.
The best reason to watch the Padres is their pitching. They have a couple of solid starters in Tyson Ross and Joey Lucchesi, and Brad Hand leads one of the more underrated bullpens in the league.
What they don't have is a great pitching staff, however, and that's precisely what they need to have any hope of making up for their lineup.
In all, the Padres are still quite a few pieces away from sustained success.
San Francisco Giants
Record: 42-39, 3rd in NL West
The San Francisco Giants fell to five games below .500 back on May 29. Then came a 17-9 stretch that's rescued them from the brink.
Their pitching has led the way with a 2.68 ERA. Having Madison Bumgarner back has helped, but he's just one part of a suddenly dependable rotation that also features Chris Stratton, Andrew Suarez, Derek Holland and Dereck Rodriguez.
The Giants bullpen has also been cleaning up of late. Its 2.20 ERA in June is the best in the National League.
Of course, questions remain. The Giants rotation is a motley crew that doesn't inspire too much confidence. Elsewhere, their bullpen will miss Hunter Strickland (hand) and their offense will miss Evan Longoria (also hand). As it is, the latter isn't an overpowering unit.
And yet, the Giants may have already done enough. From where they're standing, at least the NL wild-card race doesn't figure to run away from them.
Record: 50-31, 2nd in AL West
The Seattle Mariners recently ran into a reality check at the hands of the Red Sox and Yankees, who left the them in a 3-7 heap over a 10-game stretch.
Even still, the Mariners aren't dead.
The best thing they have going for them is their 25-11 record in one-run games. Although the sustainability of that strains believability, they have just the right ingredients to keep it up. They have the best high-leverage offense (.859 OPS) of any team, and leads are safe with Edwin Diaz.
Even the Mariners' alleged weak link has a saving grace. Their starting rotation won't intimidate anyone, but it doesn't easily self-destruct. To wit, it has an MLB-low walk rate of 1.8 per nine innings in June.
Are the Mariners overachieving? Probably, yes.
But are they good anyway? Also, yes.
St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 42-37, 3rd in NL Central
If nothing else, the St. Louis Cardinals are set on the mound.
Their starting rotation has been excellent from day one en route to an NL-best 3.36 ERA. And now, their bullpen is finally coming around. It has a 3.27 ERA in June, and it may be able to keep that up if Greg Holland continues to pitch like his old All-Star self.
And yet, it may all be for naught if the Cardinals can't get more out of their offense.
It started with a .709 OPS in March and April, and it's moved on to a .714 OPS in May and, surprise, a .714 OPS in June. There are good individual parts, such as Jose Martinez, Matt Carpenter and, recently, Marcell Ozuna. But there's also dead weight, such as Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong.
If the Cardinals don't fix this, they may be permanently stuck in also-ran status.
Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 39-40, 3rd in AL East
Why won't the Tampa Bay Rays go away? Mainly because they're too good at pitching the ball.
It helps that they have Blake Snell. With a 2.31 ERA through 17 starts, the left-hander is a leading contender for "The Best Pitcher Nobody Knows About" award.
When Snell's not on the mound, manager Kevin Cash is quite good at mixing and matching arms. As MLB.com's Mike Petriello noted, the Rays lead everyone in several major categories (including ERA) since they started Sergio Romo, a career reliever, in back-to-back games on May 19 and 20.
Now, if only the Rays could hit. They have just a .668 OPS during their run of dominant pitching. That's kept their record from taking off, as they're just 18-18 in their last 36 games.
Since additional offense isn't readily available, the Rays don't figure to rise above the level of "interesting."
Record: 36-46, 5th in AL West
The Texas Rangers were as far as 13 games under .500 back on May 21. At that point, both their offense (.677 OPS) and their pitching (4.80 ERA) were letting them down.
Well, now they're better. Sort of.
The Rangers have clawed back to life with an 18-15 record over their last 33 games. They've done so mainly by way of a .767 OPS at the plate, an effort that's been led by a positively scorching Shin-Soo Choo.
And yet, it would be a stretch to say the Rangers have gotten hot. They can't get their pitching (4.46 ERA) to be anything more than mediocre. Such is their penance for not having many capable arms in either their rotation or their bullpen.
As a side note, this also helps explain why the Rangers have been so out of their element (18-32) against winning teams.
Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 37-43, 4th in AL East
The Toronto Blue Jays had a horrible May, going 9-19 and allowing 54 more runs than they scored.
They've otherwise been competitive this season, including the past month. Despite still allowing more runs than they've scored, they've gone 12-12 in June.
The Blue Jays have hit well on either side of May, and they haven't even needed Josh Donaldson to reach a pinnacle with a .768 OPS this month. They've also gotten some good starts out of J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez.
But for all these positive developments, Toronto pretty much buried itself for good in that fateful May. Both the AL East race and AL wild-card race are out of reach, leaving them little choice but to sell at the trade deadline.
Record: 41-37, 3rd in NL East
All of a sudden, the Washington Nationals can't hit.
They exited May with a .736 OPS and an average of 4.4 runs per game. Not great but respectable numbers for an offense that had been lacking a handful of injured stars.
Now, guys like Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton are back, but Bryce Harper has fallen into a deep freeze and the Nationals can't buy any hits or runs. Their June figures include a .635 OPS (worst in the NL) and 3.5 runs per game.
This may be rubbing off on Washington's vaunted pitching staff, which has gone from a 3.21 ERA before June to a 4.75 ERA during June. Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle have been fine. Everyone else? Less so.
By all rights, the Nationals have enough talent to be a World Series contender. But if they don't shape up, even making the playoffs will be a challenge.