MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams at 2019's Midway Point
It may seem like the 2019 Major League Baseball season just started yesterday, but it's already halfway over.
That makes this a good time for a fresh assessment of how all 30 of the league's teams are doing.
We've issued report card grades for each club. We weighed each team's record but also the finer details of how these records came to be. Offense, pitching, defense and, in some cases, strength of schedule were considered. The fewer nits to pick, the better.
We'll proceed in alphabetical order by city.
Record: 42-41, 3rd in NL West
The Arizona Diamondbacks are only a game above .500 despite also having a plus-51 run differential, so there is indeed a case that they've been victimized by bad luck.
The effort has been led mainly by Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, yet Arizona's average of 5.2 runs per game has been a true group effort. On the pitching side, Zack Greinke is turning in another terrific season. Merrill Kelly, Robbie Ray, Greg Holland and Yoan Lopez have also excelled.
There is, however, a noticeable lack of depth around Arizona's bright spots. That's been exposed amid a 22-28 run since May 5, as well as in a 23-33 record against clubs with .500 or better records.
To these ends, it's not necessarily bad luck that's landed the D-backs in their current position.
Record: 48-34, 1st in NL East
The Atlanta Braves suffered a sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies out of the gate, and they were four games out of first place in the NL East as recently as May 9.
They're 30-14 since then. This is primarily thanks to Freddie Freeman and the rest of the club's loaded offense. Its average of 5.4 runs per game ranks second in the National League.
Now, the Braves must get their pitching squared away. There have been positive developments here and there—e.g., Mike Soroka's rise and the signing of Dallas Keuchel—but even the staff's modest 4.26 ERA gives it too much credit. A surprisingly mediocre defense hasn't been much help either.
All the same, there isn't any doubt that the Braves are the best team in the NL East.
Record: 22-58, 5th in AL East
For the Baltimore Orioles, pretty much the only thing that matters this season is the health of their farm system.
That's where there's good news. We had their system ranked at No. 19 in MLB going into spring training. Since then, the strong debut of 2018 first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez and the selection of 2019 first-rounder Adley Rutschman have helped boost it to No. 13.
As for the big club, well, it's no accident that it's headed for a second straight season of at least 115 losses. There simply hasn't been enough offense around Trey Mancini and Pedro Severino, and rookie left-hander John Means is the lone bright spot in a pitching staff that's allowing home runs at a record pace.
In this context, Baltimore's already good farm system still needs to get a whole lot better.
Boston Red Sox
Record: 44-38, 3rd in AL East
In 2018, the Boston Red Sox won 17 of their first 19 games en route to 108 wins and a World Series championship. This year, they lost 13 of their first 19 games.
They've gotten on track with a 38-25 record since then. Chris Sale and David Price have mostly looked the part of high-priced aces. Xander Bogaerts has led Boston's offense to 5.4 runs per game.
The Red Sox are nonetheless still struggling to recapture the dominance of their 2018 season. Among the reasons for that are Nathan Eovaldi's injury absence (elbow), regression from Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and a Craig Kimbrel-less bullpen with a penchant for blowing saves.
These problems have been especially noticeable when the Red Sox have played winning teams, against whom they have just an 18-24 record.
Record: 44-37, 1st in NL Central
It hasn't even been a tale of two seasons for the Chicago Cubs. It's been more like three:
- First 11 G: 3-8
- Next 28 G: 22-6
- Last 42 G: 19-23
The one constant has been a vulnerable bullpen that needs the newly signed Craig Kimbrel to bring a sense of order. Otherwise, the Cubs need greater offensive consistency around Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and for Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish to pull their weight in the team's rotation.
But as frustrating as the Cubs' season has been, the big picture looks good. Their plus-63 run differential suggests they deserve better than their record, which is a good look relative to their difficult schedule.
Chicago White Sox
Record: 37-41, 3rd in AL Central
The Chicago White Sox aren't there yet, but their rebuild is clearly nearing its end.
The South Siders must be thrilled with the development of infielders Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada, as well as the more recent momentum of slugger Eloy Jimenez. He's a little older, but 29-year-old catcher James McCann also looks like a keeper.
There are bigger questions regarding Chicago's pitching staff, but Lucas Giolito isn't one of them. He was one of baseball's worst pitchers in 2018. Now he's one of its best.
Of course, the lack of depth around these guys explains both the White Sox's record and their minus-65 run differential. They've also needed eight wins against the lowly Kansas City Royals to form their 18-14 record against AL Central clubs.
Record: 36-42, 5th in NL Central
The Cincinnati Reds have a plus-40 run differential despite their record, so they can and perhaps should claim the honor of Major League Baseball's most luck-starved team.
Granted, things have evened out for the Reds amid a 35-34 stretch since April 9. Doing the heavy lifting have been Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and the rest of a dramatically improved pitching staff. The Reds have gone from a 4.63 ERA in 2018 to a 3.65 ERA this season.
Trouble is, their offense hasn't kept up. Joey Votto, 35, looks past his prime, and Eugenio Suarez and Yasiel Puig have also turned in disappointing seasons. As a result, only two NL clubs have scored fewer runs per game.
From here, the Reds may have little choice but to sell at the July 31 trade deadline.
Record: 44-36, 2nd in AL Central
The Cleveland Indians lost a handful of impact hitters over the winter, and their pitching staff has since been afflicted by injuries to Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger.
And yet they're hanging around in the AL Central and wild-card races. The lion's share of the credit for this goes to a Brad Hand-led bullpen that's quietly gone from a 4.60 ERA in 2018 to an MLB-low 3.39 ERA this season.
Rotation-wise, Trevor Bauer and Shane Bieber have done their part to hold things together. And as time goes on, the Tribe's offense is getting stronger around Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana.
Granted, the Indians have benefited from a weak schedule, and their record is supported by a relatively modest plus-24 run differential. Nonetheless, they're better than they've gotten credit for.
Record: 42-39, 2nd in NL West
The Colorado Rockies endured a brutal start to their season, but a 39-27 showing since April 14 has allowed them to climb right back into the NL wild-card race.
Sort of like in 2018. However, how they're doing it is something of a head-scratcher.
An offense that relied too heavily on Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story in 2018 really hasn't changed much in 2019—and indeed may even be worse. No thanks to Kyle Freeland's fall from grace, the Rockies have also endured worse pitching than they had a year ago.
Record: 26-50, 4th in AL Central
The Detroit Tigers were off to an 8-4 start once upon a time. But that might as well be ancient history, as reality has caught up and punished them with an 18-46 mark since then.
As they rebuild, the Tigers can breathe easy knowing that Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull look like cornerstones for their starting rotation. Shane Greene won't stick around in their bullpen for long, but he has oodles of trade value for the Tigers to cash in.
This season is reinforcing what the Tigers already knew coming into it: There's work to be done.
Record: 50-32, 1st in AL West
The Houston Astros are only 12-12 in June, which has opened the door for the Texas Rangers to sneak up on them in the AL West race.
But if there's a team worth worrying about, it's not this one.
Although their offense has been slowed by injuries to George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, it's still a well-rounded unit that ranks third in the majors with an .813 OPS. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have dominated atop a pitching staff with a solid 3.89 ERA. The majors' most efficient defense has also helped.
And lest anyone think the Astros have had it easy, a whopping 32 of their wins have come against .500-or-better teams.
Kansas City Royals
Record: 28-53, 5th in AL Central
Although only the Baltimore Orioles have a worse record, the Kansas City Royals can at least tout a minus-60 run differential that points to some bad luck.
More specific positives include Hunter Dozier's offensive breakout, as well as Whit Merrifield's ongoing performance as one of baseball's most overlooked stars. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy are having nice turn-back-the-clock seasons.
But that's mostly it. The Royals don't pitch, hit or field very well, and chances are they're only going to get worse as they strip their major league roster of trade assets.
On the bright side, that will be of use to a farm system that needs a lot of work.
Los Angeles Angels
Record: 42-40, 4th in AL West
The Los Angeles Angels have mastered the art of just sort of hanging around. They went 80-82 in each of the last two seasons, and they're on track for yet another .500-ish year.
On a positive note, the Angels boast a quietly excellent lineup. Mike Trout is enjoying yet another stellar season, and he's gotten strong support from Shohei Ohtani, Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin. As a bonus, the Angels are a top-five team in defensive efficiency.
It's too bad this Angels offense needs to do better than that to balance out the team's pitching. They've been held back largely by a starting rotation that's been as hapless as its 5.22 ERA suggests.
Unless the Angels can fix that, they figure to once again be an also-ran in the AL West and wild-card races.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 56-27, 1st in NL West
The Los Angeles Dodgers are on pace to win 109 games, so what could they have to complain about?
Their bullpen was the obvious answer in the earlier stages of the season, but it's since gotten its act together with a 2.85 ERA in June. Even Joe Kelly, who was awful out of the gate, has gotten in on the fun lately.
Otherwise, the Dodgers have Cody Bellinger pacing an offense that leads the NL with an .820 OPS. They're also enjoying a starting rotation with an MLB-best 2.86 ERA, albeit with some help from the NL's most efficient defense.
Altogether, they sure look the part of the best team in Major League Baseball.
Record: 30-49, 5th in NL East
The Miami Marlins weren't supposed to be anything more than a punching bag this season, yet they've been punching back of late:
- First 41 G: 10-31
- Last 38 G: 20-18
The Marlins are surging because of their starting pitching, which has posted a 3.20 ERA (second in MLB) since May 17. Caleb Smith, Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Richards have been solid all season, while Jordan Yamamoto has more recently played the part of a rookie sensation.
If the Marlins only had functional hitters (NL-low 3.5 runs per game) and relief pitchers (5.02 ERA), they'd be a team to watch even more closely. But since they don't, they at least know what they need as they continue their rebuild.
Record: 43-38, 2nd in NL Central
The Milwaukee Brewers are only a game behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central race despite having a minus-six run differential.
Frankly, the Brewers need more from hitters not named Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas or Yasmani Grandal, and ditto for pitchers not named Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies or Josh Hader. They've also played uncharacteristically sloppy defense.
All this is especially true right now, as the Brewers have gone 11-12 and been outscored by 20 runs in June. This is essentially the regression that they've had coming all season.
While this is going on, it's hard to look at the Brewers and see anything resembling the club that won 96 games and survived to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series last season.
Record: 52-28, 1st in AL Central
The Minnesota Twins weren't favored to win the AL Central this year, but then the dingers started happening.
An offensive barrage like that can help a team overcome plenty of shortcomings, and the Twins do have a few in their pitching staff around standouts such as Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Taylor Rogers. Another nit to pick is with regard to their schedule, which has been one of the easiest in the majors.
All the same, 52 wins and a plus-109 run differential have to come from somewhere. Which, again, dingers.
New York Mets
Record: 37-45, 4th in NL East
The New York Mets entered the season with good vibrations, which only got better amid a 9-4 start.
The true version of this Mets club has since shown up and wrecked everything with a 28-41 record.
This team isn't so bad offensively, mainly because Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith have been quite good. Yet the pitching has coughed up a 4.84 ERA, no thanks to numerous regressions—especially by Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz—and bad defense.
New York Yankees
Record: 52-28, 1st in AL East
It is nonetheless a feat that the Yankees have been so good despite not being even close to 100 percent healthy all season. To wit, they're still missing Luis Severino and Dellin Betances, and Giancarlo Stanton landed back on the injured list as quickly as he came off it.
The Yankees have soldiered on largely on the strength of their Gary Sanchez- and DJ LeMahieu-led offense, which is once again specializing in home runs. Their bullpen has also been better than its 4.01 ERA, particularly where Aroldis Chapman and Adam Ottavino are concerned.
If this is what the Yankees can do while banged up, may the baseball gods help the rest of MLB if/when they get healthy.
Record: 43-39, 3rd in AL West
The Oakland Athletics stumbled early, but they've come around with a 29-20 record since May 3. They've also done some of their best work (27-22) against winning teams.
If it seems like the A's have nonetheless been doing worse, that may be because things haven't been working for them like they did in 2018.
In winning 97 games last season, they relied on a powerful offense, a great defense and a shutdown bullpen. Only their defense is still elite, as their offense and bullpen have both had rockier times. That's exposed a starting rotation that was never meant to be a strength.
And yet the A's are comfortably over .500 with a solid plus-40 run differential despite basically fumbling the season's first month. That's proof that their formula isn't broken beyond repair.
Record: 43-38, 2nd in NL East
The Philadelphia Phillies had a share of first place as recently as June 11, but a 10-14 record for this month and a plus-four overall run differential reveal them for the mediocre team they are.
Such is life when a team doesn't excel at anything. The Phillies lineup hasn't been the juggernaut they were expecting, and their run prevention has suffered from hittable pitching and middle-of-the-road defense.
Above all, what ails these Phillies are the stars who were supposed to elevate them. Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto haven't lived up to the hype that accompanied their winter arrivals. Likewise, Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta haven't been co-aces.
That the Phillies are 22-20 against winning clubs proves they're not total frauds, but they should be better.
Record: 38-41, 4th in NL Central
Judging from their record, the Pittsburgh Pirates don't seem to be a terrible team.
There are also specific standouts to point to. Chief among them are breakout slugger Josh Bell and overlooked rookie sensation Bryan Reynolds. Likewise, Felipe Vazquez and Francisco Liriano have kept Pittsburgh's bullpen from being a disaster.
Yet Bell and Reynolds haven't gotten much help offensively, and the guys with the bats are also responsible for MLB's least efficient defense. Especially in tandem with Jameson Taillon's elbow injury and Chris Archer's struggles (5.56 ERA), that's been no help to a pitching staff with a 4.98 ERA.
To be fair, it's commendable that the Pirates have overachieved despite their difficult schedule. But particularly in light of their minus-54 run differential, there's no question that they have indeed overachieved.
San Diego Padres
Record: 40-40, 4th in NL West
One could point to the San Diego Padres' minus-27 run differential as evidence they've overachieved, but a good counter is their respectable 20-20 record against winning clubs.
The Padres must be thrilled with how Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Eric Hosmer have congealed into a strong offensive core. And it's one that can almost certainly be better.
Yet as the season goes along, it's only becoming clearer that the Padres still need to figure out their pitching. Their starters began strongly, but they've hit a wall with a 5.73 ERA in June. Closer Kirby Yates notwithstanding, their bullpen has been an issue all season.
But while it's an imperfect step, the Padres' 2019 season is nonetheless proving to be a solid first step out of their rebuild.
San Francisco Giants
Record: 34-46, 5th in NL West
After mustering a few sporadic beeps in 2017 and 2018, the San Francisco Giants' dynasty has finally flatlined in 2019.
The primary cause of death is an offense that's scored fewer runs per game than every NL club except the Miami Marlins. Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik aren't the hitters they used to be, and no young guys have filled the void.
To give credit where it's due, the Giants' Will Smith-headed bullpen has done its share to keep games interesting. It's too bad that Madison Bumgarner has also slipped past his prime, and that the club's rotation has a 5.26 ERA.
Factor in a minus-97 run differential and the majors' No. 22 farm system, and this organization badly needs to start rebuilding.
Record: 37-48, 5th in AL West
The Seattle Mariners' season is technically one big 84-game chunk. In practicality, it breaks down like this:
- First 15 G: 13-2
- Last 70 G: 24-46
The Mariners always had some sort of regression coming, as there was no way that their 2.4 home runs and 7.8 runs per game through their first 15 contests were sustainable.
In fairness to guys like Daniel Vogelbach, Domingo Santana and Omar Narvaez, the sheer ugliness of Seattle's slide isn't all on the bats. The club lacked a functional pitching staff and defense from the beginning. These problems have shown via a 5.56 ERA over the last 70 games.
The Mariners are simply a bad team. And following trades of Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce, they might only get worse.
St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 40-39, 3rd in NL Central
The St. Louis Cardinals are essentially the Philadelphia Phillies of the NL Central.
They should be a good team, given how much star power they have. But they're not, largely because said stars have performed below expectations. We're looking at you, Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, Dexter Fowler, Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha.
Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 46-35, 2nd in AL East
The Tampa Bay Rays were always going to need their run prevention to carry them in 2019. And for the most part, it has.
The Rays lead MLB with a 3.28 ERA. Feeding into that have been fantastic seasons by the likes of Charlie Morton and (when healthy) Tyler Glasnow, as well as a defense that's tied for fourth in efficiency.
But no thanks to Glasnow's absence with forearm inflammation and Blake Snell's slump, cracks have begun to form, as the Rays have put up a pedestrian 4.36 ERA in June. That's shifted pressure onto the club's offense, which has been slowly regressing.
Granted, the Rays' formula isn't so much breaking as it is being challenged. And from an overall perspective, it's reassuring that they have such a good record and a plus-81 run differential despite a tougher schedule than what the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have faced.
Record: 45-36, 2nd in AL West
After losing 95 games and finishing in last place in 2018, the Texas Rangers were supposed to be an afterthought in the 2019 AL West race.
Not so much, as it turns out. That has a lot to do with how Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence (surprisingly) have paced the Rangers offense to 5.5 runs per game. Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, meanwhile, have held together a pitching staff that's noticeably short on talent and depth.
The sustainability of Texas' success is a question mark precisely because of said pitching staff, not to mention the AL's least efficient defense. And yet the team's ERA is getting better by the month.
To this end, the Rangers aren't necessarily overachievers. They're more like a team that's taking its time settling into being genuinely good.
Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 29-52, 4th in AL East
The Toronto Blue Jays went a respectable 14-14 through April 28. Then came a wake-up call that's pushed them into a 15-38 rut.
Where the Blue Jays are now is about where anyone could have expected them to be. This was always going to be another rebuilding season. There are obvious holes in the club's lineup and pitching staff, which have combined to form an ugly minus-89 run differential.
Yet there are positives for the Blue Jays to accentuate. Cavan Biggio has found immediate success, while fellow super-rookie (and Hall of Fame offspring) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has found some of his own since a slow start. Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles have at least been fun to watch as they've built their trade value.
Besides, the Blue Jays haven't had it easy. Only 21 of their games have been against losing clubs.
Record: 40-40, 3rd in NL East
The Washington Nationals hit bottom when the New York Mets swept them in a four-game series between May 20 and 23. That dropped them to 19-31 and 10 games out of first in the NL East.
They're 21-9 since then.
Not all of Washington's faults—e.g., its MLB-worst 6.35 bullpen ERA and poor defense—can be forgiven. Yet the Nats have lately been resembling the team they were supposed to be. Their offense has bested six runs per game since May 24, and Max Scherzer has paced their rotation to a 3.49 ERA.
This could be too little, too late with regard to the NL East and wild-card races. But if nothing else, the Nationals are salvaging some dignity.