MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams at the End of AugustAugust 30, 2020
MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams at the End of August
As August cedes to September, we're past the halfway point of the 2020 MLB season. The trade deadline countdown clock hits zero on Monday at 4 p.m. ET, and the stretch run of this weird, wild, truncated season officially begins.
This seems like a good moment to hand out grades to all 30 teams, keeping two things in mind:
- We're grading on a curve. Wins, losses and stats such as run differential matter, but it's much worse for a presumed contender to be struggling than it is for a rebuilding club.
- Grades are based on performance through Saturday, August 29. They can and will change depending upon how teams perform in the season's final month.
The Arizona Diamondbacks added a few key pieces this offseason, including outfielders Kole Calhoun and Starling Marte and left-hander Madison Bumgarner, with designs on contending in the National League West.
Instead, the Snakes sit in last place in the division with a minus-27 run differential.
Bumgarner is reportedly close to returning from a back injury, but even if he looked more like the workhorse the D-backs thought they were signing and less like the guy who posted a 9.35 ERA in four starts, it would offer Arizona little more than hope for next season.
Then again, hope for next season is about all the Diamondbacks have to hang their hats on at this point.
Atlanta holds a relatively narrow two-game lead in the National League East, but the club's plus-21 run differential is easily the best in the division.
The recent return of star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (5 HR, .902 OPS) from a wrist injury should help jolt an offense that's also gotten top-notch production from first baseman Freddie Freeman (5 HR, .975 OPS) and designated hitter Marcell Ozuna (8 HR, .904 OPS).
Atlanta lost young right-hander Mike Soroka to season-ending Achilles surgery, so it should try to add another starter before the deadline to support ace Max Fried.
But Atlanta has a solid lineup, a strong bullpen and the talent to count itself among the Senior Circuit's top tier.
The clock might be striking midnight on one of the game's coolest Cinderella stories.
The presumed doormats of the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles spent much of the season's first month-plus looking like a serious playoff contender. But after dropping eight of their last 10, the O's are beginning to fade.
And their minus-18 run differential indicates that a sub-.500 record and fourth place in the division is exactly where they belong.
Still, there have been positives aplenty for Baltimore, including an offense that has posted a respectable 13th-ranked .753 OPS thanks to potential future building blocks such as 25-year-old outfielder Anthony Santander (10 HR, .924 OPS) and 25-year-old catcher Chance Sisco.
The club should spend the rest of the season giving reps to emerging talent such as recently called-up first baseman/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle with an eye on the future.
Boston Red Sox
Not much has gone right for the Boston Red Sox in 2020, but nothing has gone more wrong than the pitching staff, which ranks dead last in baseball with a 6.08 ERA.
Any hopes the Sox had of competing this season—despite the trade that sent franchise right fielder Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February—quickly fizzled.
Boston has traded away other pieces, including closer Brandon Workman, and now appears headed for a full-scale retool, if not outright rebuild.
There's talent to build around, such as shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, but this is a steep fall for a franchise that hoisted a Commissioner's Trophy in 2018.
The Chicago Cubs sit in first place in the NL Central. They look like a safe bet to make the postseason, if not win the division outright.
Yet their offense ranks 18th with a .740 OPS, and their pitching staff checks in at 17th with a 4.58 ERA. The bullpen ranks 28th with a 5.68 ERA. Their plus-four run differential is fine but far from great.
Third baseman Kris Bryant is working his way back from finger and wrist injuries. Assuming he returns and improves upon the .177 average he posted in 62 at-bats, it would be a boost for the Cubbies.
As things stand now, they look like one of the more precarious division leaders in either league.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox were a popular preseason pick to make noise in this shortened season, and so far, they've more than lived up to the hype.
With a core of up-and-coming stars led by outfielders Luis Robert (8 HR, .902 OPS) and Eloy Jimenez (11 HR, .998 OPS), among others, plus veterans such as first baseman Jose Abreu (12 HR, 1.006 OPS), the offense leads baseball with an .824 OPS.
The pitching staff, meanwhile, checks in sixth with a 3.66 ERA and got a no-hitter from emerging ace Lucas Giolito on Tuesday.
The White Sox appear to be firing on all cylinders with eight wins in their last 10 games, and they are playing like the kind of club no one wants to face in a short postseason series.
The Cincinnati Reds boosted their offense with offseason additions such as outfielder Nick Castellanos and entered the 2020 season with a strong starting rotation and the overall talent to compete in the NL Central.
Despite sitting under .500 as August draws to a close, the Reds are intent on staying that competitive course, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
That means, Heyman added, Cincinnati won't trade right-hander Trevor Bauer before the deadline despite his impending free agency and will instead hope "to get hitters and relievers to play to their abilities."
The hitters rank 19th with a .736 OPS, while the relievers rank 22rd with a 5.17 ERA. Improvements in both areas would indeed bolster the Reds' chances.
Cleveland can pitch. Its starters, led by ace Shane Bieber, pace baseball in ERA (2.95), WHIP (1.06) and strikeouts (226). Its relievers rank third in ERA (2.38) and are tied for the lead in WHIP (1.00).
It's no surprise, then, that Cleveland finds itself in a race for first place in the AL Central.
There are hitters on the team, too. The left side of the infield sparkles as usual behind shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez.
But Cleveland ranks 26th with a .687 OPS and has gotten particularly subpar production from the outfield, which has been a problem for some time.
Sometimes, pitching is enough to make a run. While not punchless, Cleveland might need to hope this is one of those times.
After an 11-3 start, the Colorado Rockies have gone 6-13 and sunk to third place in the NL West.
With the 16-team postseason format, the Rox could still make the playoffs. But their pitching staff, a surprising strength early, now ranks 19th with a 4.74 ERA.
And despite playing their home games at Coors Field, they rank 12th with a .754 OPS.
Shortstop Trevor Story (9 HR, .988 OPS) and outfielder Charlie Blackmon (.362 AVG, .938 OPS) join third baseman Nolan Arenado (7 HR, .794 OPS) to form a solid core. A wild-card spot is within their reach, but the early highs have collided with recent lows for Colorado.
The rebuilding Detroit Tigers have been respectfully competitive thus far, and good for them. But they should entertain no illusions about contending now in a top-heavy AL Central division, especially with a minus-22 run differential.
Instead, the Tigers should continue developing their young talent, including right-hander Casey Mize and southpaw Tarik Skubal.
And they should assess what other pieces on the current roster, such as 28-year-old center fielder JaCoby Jones (.880 OPS), will still fit down the road.
Any winning they do along the way in 2020 should merely be viewed as a bonus.
The Houston Astros are on track to make the postseason for the fourth straight year. But are they still a member of the AL elite? That's far less certain.
Ace Justin Verlander (forearm) is still on the shelf. Closer Roberto Osuna (elbow) and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez (knee) are lost for the season. Other key players, like third baseman Alex Bregman (hamstring), are also on the IL.
At the moment, Zack Greinke is the only postseason-tested ace on the staff, and the offense ranks a so-so 11th with a .758 OPS, while second baseman and three-time batting champion Jose Altuve is hitting a scant .211.
Add the fact that many opposing players and fans are actively rooting against the 'Stros in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal that rocked the franchise and provides a constant distraction, and you've got the makings of a club in trouble.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are in last place in the AL Central, which is no great surprise. They were supposed to be a rebuilding club, and that's what they've been.
The trade that sent veteran reliever Trevor Rosenthal to the San Diego Padres on Saturday for outfielder Edward Olivares and a player to be named was exactly the type of move the Royals should be making.
K.C. shipped out a player on an expiring contract and added young talent for the future. That's the formula.
It might lead to more losing now, but it should set the franchise up to compete later (and Rosenthal can always be re-upped in free agency).
Los Angeles Angels
Another Los Angeles Angels season, another year of Mike Trout's prime wasted on a non-playoff team.
The Angels have struggled in nearly every facet of the game in 2020, but the biggest culprit has been a starting pitching staff that ranks 28th with a 6.06 ERA.
Despite signing star third baseman Anthony Rendon during the offseason, and even with 16 teams going to the dance, the Halos won't be invited.
Their offseason directive is clear: Do what it takes to add pitching while hoping Shohei Ohtani returns to health and youngsters such as outfielder Jo Adell develop quickly.
Even a player of Trout's caliber can't wait forever.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the most complete team in baseball, featuring a balanced lineup, a deep starting rotation and a strong bullpen.
Mookie Betts (11 HR, .982 OPS) has been everything L.A. hoped he would be when it acquired him from Boston, and he's got a star-studded supporting cast behind him. Clayton Kershaw has a 1.80 ERA and a sterling band of young arms to support him, including flame-throwing (and flame-haired) rookie sensation Dustin May.
Not surprisingly, the Dodgers have the best record in either league and by far the best run differential at plus-85.
If we were crowning a champion right now, the answer would be obvious. We aren't, of course, and injuries and slumps can hit at any time. Plus, the Dodgers will be forced to navigate the pinball-machine vagaries of this new, expanded postseason.
At the moment, though, the franchise's first title since 1988 is within reach.
After a COVID-19 interruption caused them to miss games and reshuffle their roster, the Miami Marlins have returned as surprise contenders in the NL East.
The Fish are managing to hang around .500 behind an emerging young core. And they've debuted some exciting talent, including 22-year-old right-hander Sixto Sanchez, who has a 2.25 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings over his first two big league starts.
The Marlins rank 12th overall with a 4.21 ERA, though their offense checks in at No. 28 with a .670 OPS. Add their minus-eight run differential, and logic dictates they shouldn't be a playoff team.
But in 2020...who knows?
The Milwaukee Brewers rank 15th with a 4.51 ERA. They rank 27th with a .678 OPS. They're under .500 and have a minus-25 run differential.
They also play in a deep division where only the Pittsburgh Pirates have waved the white flag on a postseason run.
Oh, and despite clubbing eight home runs, superstar outfielder Christian Yelich is hitting .202.
So why believe in the Brew Crew? There is all-world closer Josh Hader, who has a 1.86 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 9.2 innings and probably isn't going anywhere despite trade rumors.
Aside from that, though, there isn't too much to get excited about here.
The Minnesota Twins are locked in a tight race with the White Sox and Cleveland atop the AL Central. It'll be one of the more entertaining divisions to watch down the stretch.
Anything can happen, but the Twinkies look like the most complete of the three teams, even if they'll need to fend off pitching-rich Cleveland and the exciting young ChiSox.
They've got powerful bats, including ageless designated hitter Nelson Cruz (13 HR, 1.098 OPS). Their pitching staff ranks seventh with a 3.75 ERA, thanks in no small part to surprise star Randy Dobnak (3.12 ERA).
The Twinkies lack a postseason-tested ace, and every team could use more offense and more bullpen arms. But they've got fewer flaws than most contenders, and a real shot to make a deep October run to chase their first title since 1991.
New York Mets
Like many clubs in the NL East, and the Senior Circuit as a whole, the New York Mets are in a weird place. They're under .500 but squarely in the mix for one of the NL's eight playoff spots.
Yet without Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery) and Marcus Stroman (opt-out), Jacob deGrom has had to shoulder the starting-pitching load. He has a 1.80 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 35 innings and could win a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award.
But he can't continue to carry the Mets by himself. And much of the rest of the pitching staff has been uneven, as evidenced by the club's 13th-ranked 4.30 ERA. The offense has helped pick up the slack with a .790 OPS, sixth-best in the game.
But nothing about the Mets' record or minus-11 run differential suggest anything other than mediocrity.
New York Yankees
It's a familiar refrain for the New York Yankees: Injuries are testing their depth and threatening to derail their season.
Yankees currently ailing or on the injured list include: right fielder Aaron Judge (calf), designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), shortstop Gleyber Torres (hamstring/quad), left-hander James Paxton (forearm), left-hander Zack Britton (hamstring) and third baseman Gio Urshela (day-to-day with a bone spur in his elbow).
For those keeping score at home, that's half of the starting infield, the team's two biggest sluggers and key members of the starting rotation and bullpen.
No wonder the Yanks have lost five of their last six and slipped four games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East standings.
If New York can get healthy and stay that way, it can ride its potent lineup, loaded pen and ace Gerrit Cole deep into the postseason. Right now, though, that's a big "if." And while it might seem unfair to ding a team's grade because of injuries, here we are.
The Oakland Athletics rank third in MLB in ERA (3.51) and first in bullpen ERA (1.87). They're ninth in runs scored (164) and are tied for eighth in home runs (47).
Third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson have led the way with a combined 20 homers, while closer Liam Hendriks has 23 strikeouts in 16.1 innings with a 1.10 ERA. Young lefty Jesus Luzardo looks like an ace in the offing.
The A's are a mostly complete team, and their first-place standing in the AL West and plus-36 run differential back that up.
Will this be the year small-market Oakland translates its regular-season success into a deep October push? Stay tuned.
The Philadelphia Phillies got back to .500 after winning five straight and now sit two games out in the NL East. They're in the thick of the playoff mix.
Credit an offense that ranks fourth in baseball with a .795 OPS and is fronted by right fielder Bryce Harper (7 HR, 1.045 OPS) and catcher J.T. Realmuto (9 HR, .912 OPS).
And credit the Phillies front office for moving to upgrade a suspect bullpen by acquiring right-handers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree in a deal with the Red Sox on Aug. 21.
With Zack Wheeler (2.58 ERA) fronting the rotation and backed by Aaron Nola (3.00 ERA), the Phillies have the pieces to make a push.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have won the fewest games of any team. They have a minus-48 run differential. A season that wasn't supposed to go well...hasn't.
Pittsburgh fans haven't even gotten to enjoy the emergence of right-hander Mitch Keller, who was sidelined by an oblique issue after just two starts.
A lack of top-tier trade chips exacerbated by injuries and underperformance has thus far prevented the Pirates from adding any top prospects before the deadline.
Basically, this season has been the definition of a dud for the Bucs.
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres have blossomed into full-fledged playoff contenders behind a lineup anchored by shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (13 HR, 1.022 OPS) and third baseman Manny Machado (11 HR, 1.012 OPS) and a starting rotation fronted by Dinelson Lamet (2.35 ERA) and Zach Davies (2.61 ERA).
The Friars' biggest weakness was a bullpen that ranked 24th with a 5.31 ERA and lost closer Kirby Yates to season-ending elbow surgery.
San Diego helped address that deficiency by acquiring Rosenthal (3.29 ERA, 13.8 K/0) from the Royals and could make further moves before the deadline.
The Padres may not catch the Dodgers in the division, but they'll be a club to watch come playoff time.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have hung around the playoff race this season and recently reeled off a seven-game winning streak that got them within a game of .500.
They subsequently lost three straight, however, and are tussling with the Diamondbacks for last place in the NL West.
Center fielder Mike Yastrzemski (7 HR, .984 OPS) has been a revelation, and holdovers from the even-year championship era such as shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt have chipped in. But the Giants are still a rebuilding team.
They should keep giving reps to catcher and top prospect Joey Bart and see what other members of the current roster will help them win in a couple of years while awaiting the fruits of a farm system president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has worked to rebuild.
The Seattle Mariners aren't the last-place team in the AL West thanks to the Angels. But they are a rebuilding team buried well below .500.
The future is bright in the Pacific Northwest with a farm system we ranked No. 2 in the game. Center fielder Kyle Lewis (7 HR, .952 OPS) has offered a glimpse of that bright future with a superlative rookie campaign that could earn him AL Rookie of the Year honors.
The M's haven't gone on an unexpected run, but they haven't done anything to derail their plans. And Lewis' superlative showing is a decidedly positive development.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are in the NL playoff race, yet they're under .500 with a minus-one run differential. An earlier COVID-19 interruption left St. Louis playing catch-up and makes its season thus far difficult to read.
The pitching staff ranks second in the NL with a 3.65 ERA behind ace Jack Flaherty (1.93 ERA), left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (1.08 ERA) and veteran Adam Wainwright (2.88 ERA), among others.
Paul Goldschmidt anchors the lineup with his .969 OPS, but overall, the offense ranks 24th with a .696 OPS.
The Cards appear to have the arms, if not the bats, to remain relevant. One season after winning the division, however, their playoff hopes are far from assured.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are dealing with key injuries to relievers Ryan Yarbrough (groin), Nick Anderson (forearm) and Jalen Beeks (Tommy John surgery), as well as catcher Mike Zunino (oblique) and starting pitcher Charlie Morton (shoulder), among others.
Yet the Rays have claimed first place in the AL East with a plus-34 run differential. Second baseman Brandon Lowe (10 HR, 1.010 OPS) leads an offense that's tied for 10th with a .763 OPS, while the pitching staff ranks fourth in the game with a 3.62 ERA.
The Rays need to return to health, particularly in the bullpen. But they're in an excellent place at this point in the season—ahead of the Yankees and on a clear postseason trajectory.
The Texas Rangers have lost eight of their last 10 games. They're buried under .500 with a minus-53 run differential, the second-worst in baseball.
A season that began with hopes of playoff contention took an inauspicious turn when right-hander and big offseason acquisition Corey Kluber went down with a shoulder injury in July. Since then, things have crumbled in Arlington.
At this point, the Rangers need to jettison what assets they can ahead of the trade deadline and try to restock their No. 21-ranked farm system.
That may mean waving goodbye to ace right-hander Lance Lynn, though Texas could opt to hang on to him for now since he's signed through 2021.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays have battled some adversity in 2020. After hitting .361 with 1.063 OPS in 14 games, shortstop Bo Bichette went down with a knee injury in mid-August. The Jays also lost touted young right-hander Nate Pearson after four starts and closer Ken Giles after two appearances, both to forearm issues.
All three are working their way back. In the meantime, Toronto has battled above .500 and sits in third place in the AL East, just a half-game behind the Yankees.
Outfielders Teoscar Hernandez (12 HR, 1.010) and Randal Grichuk (9 HR, .936 OPS) and first baseman/designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (5 HR, .827 OPS) have helped key the offense, and the Jays added right-hander Taijuan Walker from the Mariners to stabilize the starting rotation.
If they get healthy, the Blue Jays will be a youthful postseason force. But credit them for rolling with the IL hits so far.
The Washington Nationals sit six games under .500 and in last place in the crowded NL East. Co-ace Stephen Strasburg is also out for the season after undergoing surgery to deal with carpal tunnel syndrome. That's the bad news.
The good news is the Nats employ one of the game's most exciting young hitters in outfielder Juan Soto (9 HR, 1.212 OPS) and a dominant No. 1 starter in Max Scherzer, who has fanned 55 in 37.1 innings.
The slow start and the Strasburg injury give Washington less-than-ideal odds of repeating as champions. But with Soto slugging after beginning his season in COVID-19 limbo and Mad Max dealing, don't count the Nationals out just yet.
All statistics current as of Saturday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.