MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams at the End of April
What a wild first month it's been in the 2019 Major League Baseball season.
There's still a lot we don't know about MLB's 30 teams as April comes to a close. But at this point, we know enough to dish out some grades for how they're handling the new season so far.
These grades are naturally tied to teams' records, but we also considered the minutiae of how teams have achieved their records. Offense, defense, starting pitching, relief pitching and, in some cases, strength of schedule were all considered. The more good things that could be said about a team, the better.
We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Note: Some advanced statistics are current through Wednesday, April 24.
Record: 15-11, 2nd in NL West
After going 62-72 in the final five months of 2018 and losing Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock over the winter, the Arizona Diamondbacks are doing a tad better than expected.
They mainly have their lineup to thank. David Peralta, Christian Walker and veteran newcomer Adam Jones are off to terrific starts, and the team as a whole has upped its runs per game from 4.3 in 2018 to 5.4 per game thus far in 2019. And the D-backs have an .807 collective OPS to back it up.
Arizona also has some bright spots on the mound. Veteran ace Zack Greinke is recovering from a slow start, and newcomer starters Luke Weaver and Merrill Kelly and closer Greg Holland are looking like fantastic gets.
Altogether, there are good reasons why these Diamondbacks have quietly put together such a strong record, not to mention a plus-24 run differential.
Record: 12-12, 3rd in NL East
The Atlanta Braves may only be .500, but it ought to be some comfort to them that they've scored 10 more runs than they've allowed.
Their run production has been on point. Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. is leading with a .981 OPS, yet Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis have also had a hand in forming the team's outstanding .807 OPS and 5.2 runs per game.
Similar to the Diamondbacks, however, Atlanta's run prevention hasn't been quite as impressive.
Injuries and ineffectiveness (particularly relating to free passes) are fueling a high rate of turnover in their pitching staff. To boot, the team's defense hasn't been as efficient as it was in 2018. These are serious problems that need solving.
Record: 10-16, 5th in AL East
For a team that lost 115 games in 2018 and came into 2019 with a historically anonymous roster, dare we say the Baltimore Orioles have been better than expected?
If nothing else, they have some legit individual success stories. Trey Mancini and Renato Nunez are breaking out as sluggers to be reckoned with, and even Chris Davis has come around since his hitless start. Pitching-wise, David Hess and John Means have had their moments.
But enough with the niceties. Ultimately, this is a team that's allowed 47 more runs than it's scored and is nine games under .500 since a 4-1 start.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 11-15, 4th in AL East
On paper, these are largely the same Boston Red Sox who romped to 108 wins and a World Series championship in 2018.
But on the field...well, the only fitting word is "yikes."
The Red Sox have been outscored by 32 runs to this point, and the blame for that doesn't belong to any one player or collective. Their offense has a modest .712 OPS. Their pitching has a 5.44 ERA. Their defense has an MLB-low efficiency rating.
This is hardly the first World Series hangover, yet the Red Sox seem determined to illustrate the platonic ideal of the term. It's damn hard to watch.
Record: 12-11, T-2nd in NL Central
It's early yet, but it's already been a tale of two seasons for the Chicago Cubs.
They started out 3-8 amid all sorts of questions about their offense, defense and pitching. Now, they're riding a 9-3 stretch over their last 12 games, in which they've outscored opponents 51-27.
On the whole, however, the big picture still vaguely resembles mediocrity. The Cubs have struggled to find consistent offense outside of Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and (surprisingly) Jason Heyward. And while their starters (3.58 ERA) have held their own, relief pitching (4.91 ERA) and defense have been sore spots.
Of course, this is all just background noise right now. And it'll stay that way if the Cubs keep winning games.
Chicago White Sox
Record: 9-14, 4th in AL Central
Signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper might have made 2019 more than just another rebuilding year for the Chicago White Sox, but that didn't pan out.
Yet this season hasn't been without silver linings. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada are breaking out together with a combined .965 OPS, 10 home runs and 11 stolen bases. For his part, Carlos Rodon is finally looking the part of a No. 1 starter.
But that's really about it.
Chicago's offense has largely sputtered out of the gate, and its pitching is saddled with a 5.44 ERA. In particular, they must be disappointed Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito haven't followed Anderson's and Moncada's fine breakout examples.
Record: 10-14, 5th in NL Central
The Cincinnati Reds spent a chunk of their offseason trying to improve their starting pitching. It's paying off.
After posting a 5.02 ERA in 2018, Reds starters are rocking a 3.15 ERA out of the gate. Luis Castillo has dazzled with a 1.23 ERA, and the chance the Reds took on Sonny Gray has thus far resulted in a 3.65 ERA. Both pitchers are also racking up strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Reds bullpen shouldn't be overlooked. It has a 3.39 ERA despite the slow start of closer Raisel Iglesias.
Now, the Reds simply need to hit. Though they've been doing more of it since an ice-cold start to the year, their offense's collective .200/.274/.368 batting line makes one's eyes burn. Star newcomer Yasiel Puig has been especially disappointing.
Record: 14-10, T-1st in AL Central
There must be something in the water in Ohio, because much of what was just said about the Reds also applies to the Cleveland Indians.
In addition to lapping the field in strikeouts per nine, Trevor Bauer and Cleveland's starting rotation are putting up a solid 3.43 ERA. Tribe relievers have a 3.66 ERA in their own right.
Yet the Indians still have a roughly even run differential. Such is life with an offense that's mustered a .636 OPS and 3.8 runs per game.
Cleveland's lack of offensive depth could well result in this issue being more or less permanent. In that event, the Indians will certainly need more from veteran starters Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber, who have a 5.94 ERA between them.
Record: 11-14, T-4th in NL West
Because of Coors Field, it takes special statistics to quantify just how good or bad the Colorado Rockies offense is at any given time.
To this end, weighted runs created plus (wRC+) sees the current Rockies offense as the worst in franchise history by a wide margin. Rockies hitters are slugging just .392 with their all-time worst strikeout rate.
At least Colorado's pitchers are doing their part. Starters German Marquez and Jon Gray and relievers Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw have been particularly effective, and the team's 4.18 ERA is darn good by Rockies standards.
As for when the offense might come around, it's notable that Nolan Arenado and company are already on it.
Record: 12-12, 3rd in AL Central
Raise your hand if you expected the Detroit Tigers to be a run-prevention specialist in 2019.
The Tigers are down from a 4.58 ERA in 2018 to a 3.74 ERA this year. Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull are leading the charge with frequent displays of nasty stuff, but the unsung hero in this effort is Detroit's defense. It's tied for sixth in MLB in efficiency.
Alas, Detroit's offense hasn't come together as nicely. It's averaged only 3.3 runs per game, in part because it's produced an MLB-low 14 homers all season. Christian Yelich has that many on his own.
Still, a solid pitching-led attack sure beats the 98-loss duds the Tigers have been in each of the last two seasons.
Record: 15-10, 2nd in AL West
The Houston Astros are one of the American League's best teams even though they haven't really gotten going yet.
That's fair to say based on a number of factors, including how their offensive output is lagging behind their actual performance. Though they've scored a solid 4.8 runs per game, luminaries such as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and George Springer have driven the team's OPS to an MLB-best .842.
The Astros have also played more efficient defense than any other American League team, while their pitchers have punched out 9.7 batters per nine innings en route to a 3.61 ERA.
Altogether, the 10-game winning streak the Astros went on between April 5 and 16 is a better reflection of their true quality than their 5-10 record on either side of it.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 8-17, 5th in AL Central
If the Kansas City Royals are to be praised for anything, it's that their lineup isn't entirely unwatchable.
Hunter Dozier is in the midst of a long-awaited breakout with a 1.106 OPS, and Alex Gordon, Adalberto Mondesi and Whit Merrifield round out a strong core around him. Speed is also killing for the Royals, as they lead MLB in stolen bases.
Yet the Royals have allowed 18 more runs than they've scored. Apart from Brad Keller and a rejuvenated Ian Kennedy, there's not a lot to like about a pitching staff with a 5.29 ERA. They've also played surprisingly inefficient defense.
What we have here is a team that's only moderately improved following a 104-loss season.
Los Angeles Angels
Record: 10-16, 5th in AL West
Somewhat quietly, and despite the best efforts of Cody Allen to undermine it, the Los Angeles Angels have deployed a quality bullpen in 2019.
With Ty Buttrey and Hansel Robles at the tip of the spear, Angels relievers have racked up a 3.62 ERA and whiffed 10.2 batters per nine innings.
Now, all the Angels need is the rest of a functioning team. Thanks to the absences of Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani, offense has been largely nonexistent outside of super-duper-star Mike Trout. Meanwhile, the team's reworked starting rotation has fallen flat with a 6.06 ERA.
It's a good thing Trout is being paid well, because he's not any closer to having the quality of a contender around him.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 16-11, 1st in NL West
On either side of the ball, it doesn't get much better than the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup.
Dodgers pitchers have only put up a 4.28 ERA, but their staff nonetheless leans positive. They simply need more out of Walker Buehler and Kenta Maeda, which isn't too much to ask.
It also bears mentioning that the Dodgers have played a fairly difficult schedule to this point. That casts their record and their general performance in an even better light.
Record: 8-17, 5th in NL East
Not too long ago, the Miami Marlins had Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto in the same lineup.
Things are a little better on the mound. Per FanGraphs wins above replacement, Caleb Smith and the rest of Miami's young rotation have actually out-pitched their modest 4.08 ERA. In the bullpen, rookie Nick Anderson has fanned 22 of the 45 batters he's faced.
But while it's not all bad, there's only so much we can do to excuse an 8-17 record and a minus-47 run differential.
Record: 13-13, 4th in NL Central
Christian Yelich is doing just fine. The reigning National League MVP has a 1.231 OPS and 13 homers.
The rest of the Milwaukee Brewers? Less so.
They've largely struggled to scrape together offense outside of Yelich and newcomer Yasmani Grandal, thanks to slow starts by Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun and especially Jesus Aguilar. To boot, both Milwaukee's starters and relievers bear responsibility for the team's NL-worst 5.35 ERA.
In the Brewers' defense, however, having had to tackle the most difficult schedule of the young season hasn't made things easier. It's good on them that they've weathered the storm as well as they have.
Record: 13-9, T-1st in AL Central
Whatever you do, don't sleep on this Minnesota Twins offense.
It's posted an .826 OPS and scored 5.5 runs per game. Though Jorge Polanco's superstar breakout is at the center of it all, the Twins are also getting plenty from Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, Jonathan Schoop, Willians Astudillo, Mitch Garver and, refreshingly, Byron Buxton.
Of course, Minnesota's competition has been on the weak side. There's also work to be done on the mound, where Twins pitchers have a pedestrian 4.73 ERA.
New York Mets
Record: 13-11, 1st in NL East
Pitching was supposed to be the hallmark of the 2019 New York Mets. In actuality, they've fallen flat with a 5.15 ERA.
Granted, it hasn't helped that Mets pitchers have had the NL's least efficient defense behind them. But beyond that, guys like Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Familia simply haven't been sharp. Even Jacob deGrom has been rendered mortal by ineffectiveness and, lately, an elbow injury.
The Mets offense is the primary reason they're in first place. Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto have supplied the power. Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis have also pitched in.
Even still, it's ultimately difficult to shake the notion that the Mets are worse than their record indicates.
New York Yankees
Record: 14-11, 2nd in AL East
The New York Yankees probably had higher hopes for the start of their 2019 season, yet they are to be commended for doing as well as they are.
Michael Baumann of The Ringer found that the Yankees presently have a historic amount of talent on the injured list. This has forced them to confront opponents with second-stringers from top to bottom most nights.
It's working because the home runs (42 so far) are still coming and because the pitching staff has held strong with a 3.90 ERA. In particular, Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino and the rest of the back end of New York's bullpen is as dangerous as ever.
The obligatory "yeah, but" is that the Yankees have also had the benefit of MLB's easiest schedule. Regardless, the commendation stands.
Record: 14-13, 3rd in AL West
Though their starting rotation was never much to look at, the 2018 Oakland Athletics won 97 games because of a powerful offense, a great defense and a lockdown bullpen.
So far in 2019, Oakland's rotation is now downright hard to look at. It has a 5.02 ERA, as well as one of the league's lowest strikeouts-per-nine rates.
The A's haven't been able to make up for these struggles in other departments. Their bullpen has been shaky outside of Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino and Yusmeiro Petit. Despite the efforts of Matt Chapman and Khris Davis, Oakland's offense has yet to recapture the explosiveness it showed in the second half of 2018.
Still, a .500 record doesn't necessarily indicate that the 2018 formula is broken. The A's simply need to apply it better.
Record: 13-12, 2nd in NL East
The Philadelphia Phillies won seven of their first nine games, yet only six of the 16 they've placed since then.
Philly's offense has been slumping of late, and the Phillies must also worry about how inefficiently their guys have played defense. That's been no help to a collection of pitchers thrown into a bit of disarray by staff ace Aaron Nola's struggles.
On the plus side, the lineup the Phillies constructed around $330 million man Bryce Harper has mostly gotten the job done. The Phillies are also in good hands whenever Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez or Hector Neris is on the mound.
The individual parts are there. The Phillies simply need to coalesce.
Record: 12-11, T-2nd in NL Central
Not that it's any real surprise, but these Pittsburgh Pirates don't hit much. Only Josh Bell and Colin Moran are off to good starts, and the team as a whole is scoring just 3.3 runs per game.
But man, can they pitch and field.
The Pirates boast a collective 3.36 ERA that's partially fueled by a strong 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a low home run rate. It also helps that their defense ranks in the top 10 in efficiency and has allowed a .197 batting average on ground balls.
The Pirates will eventually need to hit more for this warm start to become a hot finish. But for now, let's appreciate their masterclass in run prevention.
San Diego Padres
Record: 14-11, 3rd in NL West
The San Diego Padres have a winning record despite allowing 13 more runs than they've scored, so good luck has played a quantifiable role in their early success.
The process of balancing the scales must start in the batter's box. Rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been as advertised. But Manny Machado has started slow, and the whole San Diego offense has produced only 3.4 runs per game.
At least the Padres pitching has been better than expected. Their bullpen was always going to be good, but even they may not have expected a 3.41 ERA from their starters. The guys on the mound have also benefited from a low-key excellent defense.
If their offense can snap out of it, the Padres will indeed have a strong foundation for contention.
San Francisco Giants
Record: 11-14, T-4th in NL West
The San Francisco Giants didn't have a run-prevention problem amid their 89-loss 2018 season, but they nonetheless must be thrilled with what they're getting in 2019.
The Giants boast a 3.20 ERA, and not just because Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija have turned their clocks back a few years. Their bullpen leads the majors with a 2.48 ERA. They've also been playing strong defense, particularly in the outfield.
But as most anyone could have predicted, the offense simply hasn't been there. Only Brandon Belt is having even a remotely good year, and they've scored only 3.1 runs per game.
If this doesn't change, the countdown to a summer sell-off will continue unabated.
Record: 17-11, 1st in AL West
It didn't look like the Seattle Mariners were building something special over the winter, but they apparently knew something others didn't.
They've jetted out to an excellent start almost entirely because of their offense. It's about as deep as they come, as numerous contributors have added to the team's MLB-high 57 home runs.
With this much offense, the Mariners merely need their other departments to be good enough. So far, so good. Their starters have avoided beating themselves with an MLB-low walks-per-nine rate. Between Brandon Brennan, Anthony Swarzak and Roenis Elias, their bullpen isn't without bright spots.
The Mariners' early dominance may only last as long as their dingers do. But since the dingers just keep coming, perhaps that's not a prophecy of doom.
St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 15-9, 1st in NL Central
The St. Louis Cardinals own the National League's best record despite having had to tackle one of the most difficult schedules of the early season.
They've mainly hit themselves to this position. With loads of help from newcomer Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna and Paul DeJong, the Cardinals offense boasts an .823 OPS and an average of 5.7 runs per game.
On the other side of the ball, FanGraphs WAR casts doubt on whether the Cardinals pitchers have been as reliable as their 4.18 ERA would indicate. The team's defense, which has played more efficiently than any other to this point, has certainly helped with that disparity.
So though the Cardinals aren't perfect, there are good reasons why they're this good.
Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 16-9, 1st in AL East
Albeit with help from a soft schedule, the Tampa Bay Rays have the best record and the best run differential (plus-40) in MLB. So they must be pretty good.
Above all, they don't suffer runs gladly. They lead the majors with a 3.07 ERA, mostly because reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and their other starters have dominated with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.14 ERA.
Rays pitchers have also benefited from the top-10 defense behind them, and the guys who wield the gloves can also hit a bit. The Rays have a solid .792 OPS and score an average of 4.8 runs per game.
Perhaps the only reason for concern is Tampa Bay's bullpen, which has shown some cracks amid a heavy workload. But for now, that's less of a flaw and more of a nit to pick.
Record: 12-12, 4th in AL West
Some of the Texas Rangers are worth praising.
Joey Gallo, for instance, is taking his game to new heights with a 1.043 OPS and eight home runs. Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo are also having strong offensive seasons.
Mike Minor, meanwhile, now has a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts dating back to the 2018 All-Star Game. The Rangers are also getting strong relief work out of Shawn Kelley, who they picked up off the free-agent scrapheap in January.
But as a collective, the Rangers don't offer much reason for excitement. Their .500 record and minus-15 run differential are what happens when a merely good offense mixes with mostly poor pitching and defense.
Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 11-14, 3rd in AL East
At long last, super-duper prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will debut with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.
Toronto's offense sure needs his help, as not many bright spots have emerged outside of Justin Smoak, Freddy Galvis and Rowdy Tellez. Hence the team's .672 OPS and 4.0 runs per game.
A better story is the Blue Jays rotation, which has improved from a 5.14 ERA in 2018 to a 3.42 ERA this year. Matt Shoemaker will be missed, but Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez can keep going. Elsewhere in the run-prevention department, the Blue Jays have also enjoyed good relief work (3.65 ERA) and defense.
If this sounds like a team that's better than its record, well, Toronto's positive run differential (plus-two) only add more credence to the notion.
Record: 11-12, 4th in NL East
To see what's eating the Washington Nationals, look first at their bullpen.
Its 7.07 ERA is the worst in MLB, and that's the fault of pretty much everyone not named Sean Doolittle or Kyle Barraclough. Neither this nor Washington's poor defense has helped a Max Scherzer-led rotation that's mostly held up its end of the bargain.
About the only thing keeping the Nationals afloat is their offense, which is averaging 5.4 runs per game. The catch is that Anthony Rendon has had to do much of the heavy lifting on his own; nobody else is even close to keeping up.
The Nats at least have a plus-seven run differential, but their record doesn't necessarily mislead about how rough a season it's been so far.