Report Card Grades for Every MLB Team 2 Months into 2021 Season

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IJune 2, 2021

Report Card Grades for Every MLB Team 2 Months into 2021 Season

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    Time for more report card grades.

    Things have changed quite a bit since I last did this at the start of May. Some MLB teams responded to slow starts by getting hot, while others have been mired in mediocrity or woefulness.

    Let's take a closer look at how the 30 clubs stack up through the first two months. As was the case last time, grades were assigned by weighing outlooks against preseason expectations. Some teams got a bump or took a hit if May proved especially consequential.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Yikes.

    Yep, that's how we're starting things. One word that feels appropriate for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who went 5-24 in May.

    On the one hand, Arizona is banged up. Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver and Taylor Widener—the team's three best pitchers—are on the injured list. Two of the team's top hitters, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kole Calhoun, are also on the IL.

    The D-backs are manufacturing runs. Carson Kelly (.952 OPS) is having a whale of a year. But Arizona is having a tough time making up for all the injuries in the pitching staff.

    The rotation ranks 27th with a 5.09 ERA, while the bullpen is 26th (4.90). Yes, the injuries have been debilitating. Truthfully, though, every club is dealing with setbacks.

    Grade: D-

Atlanta Braves

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    Tami Chappell/Associated Press

    Things sure are getting tough for Atlanta.

    Huascar Ynoa is still out for another month-plus after breaking his hand punching a bench in the dugout, and Mike Soroka may be out for the year. Marcell Ozuna—who was already expected to be out six weeks with two broken fingers—was arrested on aggravated assault strangulation and battery family violence charges Saturday and could face a suspension under MLB's domestic violence policy.

    Still, the Braves are fighting. Atlanta went 13-12 in May, and Austin Riley put up spectacular numbers (1.005 OPS). Dansby Swanson quietly had a strong month as well (.876 OPS), while Freddie Freeman is due for better luck given his .231 batting average on balls in play. Ronald Acuna Jr. is still having an MVP-caliber year.

    Can the bullpen make gains? The unit ranks 23rd with a 4.69 ERA. Perhaps the arrival of Shane Greene will make a difference. Atlanta needs the depth. 

    Grade: C+

Baltimore Orioles

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Orioles went 5-23 in May. Regression was likely for the Orioles, but the going has gotten tough.

    There have been positives. Trey Mancini (.869 OPS) has made a triumphant return from cancer. Cedric Mullins (.829 OPS) could be a building block or trade asset, while shortstop Freddy Galvis (.793 OPS) will surely be the latter. Anthony Santander has looked good since coming off the IL with a .924 OPS in 11 games. 

    However, like the D-backs, the O's are not getting anything out of their pitching staff. The rotation has been brutal outside of John Means (4-1, 2.05 ERA). Closer Cesar Valdez had an excellent April but had an 11.57 ERA in May and has blown four saves. Left-handers Paul Fry (2.25 ERA) and Tanner Scott (3.38 ERA) have been assets, as has Cole Sulser (1.83 ERA). But there isn't a lot of quality.

    All told, the pitching woes will make this a tough season for Orioles fans.

    Grade: D-

Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Whereas some hot starters have since cooled, the Boston Red Sox have mostly sustained their momentum.

    The lineup remains a force to be reckoned with, especially with Hunter Renfroe hitting .319 with a .938 OPS in May. The bullpen is still holding strong, as well. Matt Barnes (2.63 ERA, 12 saves) has been elite at the back end, while Garrett Whitlock (13 G, 24.1 IP, 1.85 ERA) gives the Red Sox a multi-inning weapon.

    Moreover, the rotation continues to plug away. Eduardo Rodriguez has struggled as of late, but perhaps an uptick in velocity will pay off.

    Boston has the fourth-best run differential (plus-45) in the American League. The Red Sox are showing why they're legitimate contenders in the AL East.

    Grade: A

Chicago Cubs

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs were hardly hot starters, but they were as good as any club in May. Chicago went 19-8 with a plus-46 run differential. That's elite.

    Joc Pederson (.841 OPS) and Ian Happ (.915 OPS) have been gathering momentum since brief stints on the IL. Those guys in particular are making the lineup that much more dangerous, particularly with Kris Bryant (1.016 OPS) asserting himself as an MVP candidate.

    One of the most encouraging aspects of the month, though, was the development of the bullpen. The Cubs have found some players in the relief unit, from Keegan Thompson and Tommy Nance to Justin Steele (on the IL) and 2020 National League MVP vote-getter Ryan Tepera.

    How will the rotation hold up? Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies rebounded from poor first months, and Adbert Alzolay has the makings of a future staple. Will the regression monster come for Jake Arrieta as it did Trevor Williams?

    Chicago's performance in June could provide some clarity as to whether it will buy or sell come July.

    Grade: B+

Chicago White Sox

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    Matt Marton/Associated Press

    The team on the South Side of Chicago is having its share of success, as well.

    The White Sox chugged past another mini-scandal involving the unwritten rules and have played winning baseball. The rotation is still setting the tone, with Carlos Rodon (1.98 ERA), Lance Lynn (1.37 ERA) and Dylan Cease (2.98 ERA) dominating this season and Lucas Giolito posting a 2.41 ERA in six May starts.

    Meanwhile, Jose Abreu drove in 27 runs in May. Yoan Moncada has an unsustainable BABIP (.422) but is still a productive hitter and could have even more success once he finds his power stroke. Chicago gets runners on (its .343 OBP leads the majors) and gets them home, often finding run support for its dominant arms.

    The numbers don't lie: The White Sox had the second-best run differential in baseball (plus-80) entering Tuesday. They are winning and winning big.

    Grade: A+

Cincinnati Reds

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Reds are still hitting, thanks mostly to MVP-caliber showings by Nick Castellanos (1.143 OPS) and Jesse Winker (1.007 OPS).

    However, a few things are infringing on what otherwise might be a promising season. The first is Luis Castillo's struggles. The Reds ace is 1-8 with a 7.22 ERA in 11 starts. Cincinnati also just lost Jeff Hoffman to the IL, though Wade Miley continued his strong season with a win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.

    The glaring issue is the bullpen. It simply has not found consistency outside of Tejay Antone, though Amir Garrett had a strong .547 opponents' OPS in May.

    It's a shame, really. The Reds seem to have the capacity to contend in the NL Central, especially with the lineup producing as it has. But the absence of quality pitching in the middle innings has been immensely frustrating.

    Grade: C

Cleveland

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Cleveland put together a 17-12 mark in May and is holding steady in the AL Central. It also has the inverse problem of the Reds.

    Manager Terry Francona's club has excelled in run prevention thanks mostly to a team defense that ranks sixth in outs above average as well as a dominant bullpen that ranks fourth with a 2.85 ERA. The rotation has also fared well, with Aaron Civale (3.57 ERA), Zach Plesac (2.78) and Shane Bieber (3.64) eating innings.

    As per usual, though, Cleveland is not getting much in the way of offense. It's been an uphill battle to score runs, and things should be every bit as challenging with Franmil Reyes (.846 OPS) on the IL.

    Still, Cleveland is just 3.5 games behind Chicago and tied for the second wild-card spot. 

    Grade: B

Colorado Rockies

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The Colorado Rockies don't do much of anything at a high level.

    They rank 10th in the NL in OPS and 13th in the NL in ERA. They do rank 11th in MLB in outs above average, so that counts for something.

    Rockies fans never had much reason for optimism this season, even before Nolan Arenado was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals in February. Colorado has a shortage of quality pitching depth, particularly at the back end of the bullpen.

    All that's left to do now is wait for the endless stream of Trevor Story trade rumors to roll in.

    Grade: D

Detroit Tigers

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Detroit Tigers are another club that had little reason for optimism entering the campaign. There are a couple of things, however, that Tigers fans can take solace in.

    The rotation has been strong, ranking 11th in fWAR. More importantly, youngsters Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal were terrific in May. Mize had a 1.74 ERA and .490 opponents' OPS in five starts, while Skubal had a 3.33 ERA in five starts with 4.3 strikeouts per free pass.

    But the pitching performances have been all but wasted by an offense that ranks 14th in the AL in OPS. At least Spencer Torkelson is in the farm system.

    Grade: D+

Houston Astros

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Houston Astros boast the third-best run differential (plus-57) in the AL and one of the best offenses in baseball.

    Houston is getting contributions from up and down the lineup, and fans have to be encouraged with Kyle Tucker, who is up to a .779 OPS after posting a .610 OPS in April. Yordan Alvarez has an .869 OPS in his return from last year's knee surgeries.

    It's ominous for opponents considering some of the stars, notably Alex Bregman (.843 OPS, 6 HR) and Carlos Correa (.833, 8), have yet to maximize their slugging output. Also, Framber Valdez is back, giving the Astros more comfort in the rotation after Lance McCullers Jr.'s shoulder issue.

    That said, injuries in the bullpen are highlighting a lack of depth in what was already a fairly shallow group. The unit ranks 22nd in ERA (4.55) and doesn't have dependable late-game options outside of Ryan Pressly, who blew his first save Saturday.

    Grade: B

Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Royals seemed to be spiraling with an 11-game losing streak early in May, but they have fought back.

    Kansas City went 10-6 from May 14 to the end of the month. Left-hander Kris Bubic emerged as a dependable rotation option as Danny Duffy (forearm) hit the IL. Kyle Zimmer has become an effective option in the bullpen alongside Scott Barlow and Jake Brentz, which has made a difference for that relief corps in light of Josh Staumont's struggles before he was placed on the IL.

    Additionally, shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has looked brilliant in his return from a right oblique injury, hitting .360 with three doubles and a pair of homers through 26 plate appearances. But he left Monday's game with a left hamstring injury.

    Still, the Royals don't have a ton of slugging, especially with Jorge Soler (.570 OPS) struggling. Kansas City ranks first in the AL in stolen bases, but that won't mean much if it can't get steady traffic and drive the ball. It should also be said that the rotation is a wild card, with Brady Singer enduring a tough May (6.66 ERA).

    The Royals deserve credit for battling, though it remains to be seen how long they can stay competitive.

    Grade: B-

Los Angeles Angels

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Remember when the Los Angeles Angels got off to a 7-3 start? It feels like a distant memory.

    The Halos have struggled to stay relevant in the AL West. Mike Trout's right calf injury has soured matters further, though the Angels' primary issue has remained the same for years now.

    Los Angeles' arms are providing little to no value save for two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani (2.72 ERA). The staff ranks last in the majors with a 5.06 ERA.

    Alex Cobb (3.78 ERA) has been a good acquisition, but it has hardly mattered because Jose Quintana (7.22 ERA), Dylan Bundy (6.49 ERA), Griffin Canning (5.40 ERA) and Andrew Heaney (5.24 ERA) have all struggled. The bullpen has also struggled, as the unit sorely misses young right-hander Chris Rodriguez, who is out with right shoulder inflammation.

    There's not much to be encouraged about for Angels fans; even Anthony Rendon (.617 OPS) is struggling in what has been an injury-marred season. At least Ohtani (15 HR) and Jared Walsh (12) are clear bright spots and franchise cornerstones.

    Grade: D+

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are probably still the best team in baseball. They have the third-best run differential (plus-73) in MLB and the deepest collection of talent.

    Still, L.A. has been puzzling. The Dodgers started 13-2 before going 5-15 in their next 20 games. They then won 12 of their next 13—only to lose four of six, including three straight at home to the San Francisco Giants.

    It's been strange for the Dodgers, though the positives outweigh the negatives. The rotation is terrific. Max Muncy (.995 OPS) is an MVP candidate, while Chris Taylor (.889 OPS, 6 SB) has quietly been brilliant. Gavin Lux made big gains in May and homered five times.

    That doesn't even account for Mookie Betts, who is hitting just .247. Cody Bellinger just returned from the IL on Saturday, and Corey Seager is still sidelined with a fractured right hand.

    The bullpen is a swing unit of sorts. Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen and Victor Gonzalez make for a strong group at the back end, and Jimmy Nelson was dealing before suffering right forearm inflammation. If the Dodgers find some more players who can throw in high-leverage spots, they'll be mighty tough to beat.

    Grade: A-

Miami Marlins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Miami Marlins had the best run differential (plus-10) in the NL East entering play Tuesday. Did anyone see that coming?

    The quality of the pitching staff isn't surprising, though Trevor Rogers' outstanding year-over-year improvement has been spectacular (6.11 ERA in 7 GS to 1.87 in 11), as has the brilliance of a bullpen that ranks sixth in ERA (3.54).

    But Miami's excellence on the bump is practically negated by an offensive group that ranks 14th in the NL in OBP and 13th in OPS. Jazz Chisholm Jr. (.836 OPS, 9 SB) is a clear bright spot, but Jesus Aguilar (9 HR) and Starling Marte (.937 OPS) are more likely to be traded than remain run-producers for a team that could struggle to make the playoffs.

    It might be time to call up Jesus Sanchez, who is tearing up Triple-A with seven homers and a 1.214 OPS.

    Grade: C+

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Let's start by acknowledging the obvious: The Milwaukee Brewers can pitch.

    Brandon Woodruff (1.27 ERA and 0.69 WHIP) has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Corbin Burnes (2.24 ERA, 0.73 WHIP) is still throwing at a high level, while young right-hander Freddy Peralta (2.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) has been nearly as dominant.

    The bullpen is also turning a corner, with Devin Williams looking more like himself in May (.543 opponents' OPS). Josh Hader (0.83 ERA, 12 SV) remains one of the top relief arms in the game.

    However, the Brewers are still struggling to generate offense. Milwaukee ranks 25th in runs per game with 3.8 and 26th in OBP and is one of the most strikeout-heavy teams in baseball (27th).

    The trade for Willy Adames (.969 OPS in 10 games) is paying dividends, but the Brewers need Christian Yelich (.741 OPS) and Lorenzo Cain (.672 OPS) to offer more production.

    Grade: B+

Minnesota Twins

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Twins have played decent baseball as of late, winning eight of their last 11 games to close out May. Perhaps they can get back into the playoff chase.

    Still, there's no ignoring that this has been the most disappointing team in baseball.

    The offensive production has been strong, though Nelson Cruz had a mere .663 OPS in May and Josh Donaldson hit just .222. Not to mention, injuries have deprived the Twins of Byron Buxton and Max Kepler.

    However, Minnesota is still scoring runs, with Mitch Garver (.840) mashing and young outfielders Trevor Larnach (.845 OPS) and Alex Kirilloff (.719) showing promise.

    The rotation, though, has been rough. Jose Berrios (career-best 3.36 ERA and 1.09 WHIP) is having his best season, but neither Matt Shoemaker (5.90 ERA) nor J.A. Happ (5.24 ERA) has provided consistent quality. Kenta Maeda (5.27 ERA) was hardly pitching like last year's AL Cy Young runner-up before landing on the IL.

    The bullpen has also been poor, ranking 24th in ERA (4.72). Minnesota is just 2-8 in extra-inning games and probably doesn't have the depth to get around the rotation's deficiencies.

    Grade: F

New York Mets

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    It's true the New York Mets are as banged up as any team in baseball. It's also true they weren't hitting much even before players such as Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil went down.

    The big offseason acquisitions, Francisco Lindor and James McCann, have sub-.600 OPSes. Dominic Smith is slugging just .333 with only two homers. Interestingly, Jonathan Villar (6 SB) and Tomas Nido (.803 OPS) have provided a bit of a spark lately.

    Fortunately for Mets fans, a tremendous staff continues to save the day. The rotation ranks first in ERA (2.72), while the bullpen is first in fWAR.

    Noah Syndergaard's setback was tough, but the Mets have the quality to account for the loss. The bats, though, will need to start producing. A plus-six run differential isn't impressive for a team that is six games over .500.

    Grade: B

New York Yankees

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The New York Yankees entered play Tuesday averaging the same runs per game (3.7) as the Orioles. That's not good, especially given how prolific the Bronx Bombers were in each of the past two seasons.

    Aaron Judge (.951 OPS) is producing at an MVP level. The Yankees, however, surprisingly rank 13th in the AL in slugging. Boppers such as Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres haven't added much in that department, nor has DJ LeMahieu. Luke Voit is back on the IL with a right oblique injury.

    New York is staying competitive because of a better than expected rotation in addition to a bullpen that ranks third in ERA (2.82). The offense needs to get on track in a hurry.

    Luis Severino is making strides toward his return, but Corey Kluber will be out a while with a strained right shoulder. New York cannot continuously rely on the staff to bail it out, or it will get burned.

    Grade: B-

Oakland Athletics

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The Oakland Athletics still stood atop the AL West at the end of May despite having a minus-11 run differential and an offense that ranked 18th with 4.1 runs per game.

    Oakland is getting an ace-type season from Chris Bassitt (3.21 ERA), and Cole Irvin (4.12 ERA) and Sean Manaea (3.86 ERA) have also been effective. Frankie Montas looked better in May (3.18 ERA), and James Kaprielian can be, if nothing else, a flex arm.

    The A's are getting excellent bullpen work especially from Yusmeiro Petit (3.10 ERA), Jake Diekman (2.82 ERA) and Deolis Guerra (0.95 WHIP), with Lou Trivino holding down the closer role. Journeyman righty Burch Smith (2.93 ERA) has also been valuable.

    Can the bats bring more thunder? Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano were brilliant in May, while Matt Olson (13 homers) keeps hitting the ball out of the yard. However, the A's are still waiting for Matt Chapman (.656 OPS) to get hot, and the same goes for Sean Murphy (.693 OPS).

    A's fans should be pleased especially because of the pitching performances the team has received thus far. This will be a dangerous club if the bats get going.

    Grade: B+

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Phillies might be third in the NL East, but at minus-33, they have the worst run differential in the division and fourth-worst in the NL.

    The Phillies rank just 11th in the NL in OPS, but the bats are not the heart of the issue. After all, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and Bryce Harper have OPSes over .820, while Odubel Herrera (.730 OPS) at least gives the Phils serviceable play in center field.

    The rotation isn't the issue, either. Zack Wheeler (2.52 ERA) is an ace, and Aaron Nola (3.10 xERA) and Zach Eflin (3.53 xERA) have strong peripherals. There could be more depth at the back end, but it's not the greatest concern.

    No, the primary source of angst is a bullpen that ranks 25th in ERA (4.78). Every time it seems the Phillies have found a diamond, they fall apart. Look no further than Sam Coonrod, who had given up just two runs all season before giving up seven runs in his last 3.1 innings in May. 

    The Phillies cannot afford to keep losing games in the middle and late innings. Philadelphia also ranks in the top third in runners left on base. That's a trend that can't continue, either, especially since—unlike some of the teams above the Phils on that list—the offense is having a hard time scratching runs across.

    Grade: C

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    It's no surprise the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the worst teams in baseball and entered Tuesday's action with the worst run differential (minus-78) in the majors.

    The Buccos have an anemic offense that ranks last in runs per game (3.4) and has been without rookie sensation Ke'Bryan Hayes basically all season. Those issues are all the more glaring when considering Pirates starters rank 29th with a 5.25 ERA, and left-hander Tyler Anderson endured a horrendous May (5.76 ERA). 

    The Pirates do have some bullpen arms (hat tip to Richard Rodriguez and his 1.61 ERA) who could generate interest ahead of the trade deadline.

    Grade: D

San Diego Padres

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    What a month for the San Diego Padres.

    The Friars went 19-9 with a whopping plus-66 run differential in May despite myriad injuries and absences. Fernando Tatis Jr. went nuclear with a 1.264 OPS, nine homers and eight stolen bases. Tommy Pham had a respectable .797 OPS after starting with a .503 mark, while Jake Cronenworth had an .811 OPS and displayed outstanding glove work.

    Of course, the pitching staff still drives the team's success. The rotation ranks sixth in ERA (3.14) despite Blake Snell's 5.55 mark through 11 starts. Yu Darvish (2.16 ERA) and Joe Musgrove (2.08 ERA) are horses, while Ryan Weathers (1.31 ERA entering Tuesday's start) is giving the Friars even more quality. Dinelson Lamet is continuing to build back.

    The bullpen has been even better than the rotation with the best ERA (2.39) in baseball and the second-best xFIP.

    The Padres are playing inspired ball and living up to the preseason hype.

    Grade: A+

San Francisco Giants

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    All that talk of the San Francisco Giants fading has yet to come to fruition. They had the best winning percentage in the NL through the first two months.

    The makeshift rotation full of expiring contracts is still shining. Kevin Gausman (1.40 ERA) is a Cy Young Award candidate. Alex Wood (2.44 ERA) is one of the most underrated free-agent signings of the offseason. Logan Webb had a .480 opponents' OPS and 3.48 ERA in May.

    It's not just the rotation, though. The Giants rank ninth with 4.8 runs per game and third in the NL in slugging. The vets are still leading the way. Buster Posey has a 1.009 OPS, and Brandon Crawford (.863 OPS) and Evan Longoria (.869 OPS) are also punishing baseballs. Oh, the Giants are also third in outs above average.

    If there's a weakness, it's the bullpen. San Francisco ranks 25th in xFIP, though it is 15th in ERA (4.01). Submariner Tyler Rogers (1.63 ERA) is fun to watch.

    The Giants have put the rest of the NL West on notice: They are hungry to make a playoff run.

    Grade: A+

Seattle Mariners

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Mariners ended May with a winning record despite the fourth-worst run differential in the AL.

    Seattle's offense ranks 23rd in runs per game and last in batting average, OBP and OPS. That's not sustainable.

    Moreover, a bullpen that once held the best ERA in baseball has fallen to 11th and is dealing with injuries to Kendall Graveman, Drew Steckenrider and Erik Swanson.

    On the plus side, the M's got strong months from Yusei Kikuchi and Justin Dunn. The latter posted a .563 OPS against and 2.52 ERA in five starts. That's good news with Marco Gonzales coming off the IL on Tuesday.

    The M's, like the Royals, deserve just due for finding ways to win. However, the offensive numbers are ugly, especially given the young and developing pitching staff.

    Grade: C+

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Cubs caught the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of May and took two of three against the Redbirds in the first series between the teams.

    Cardinals fans have reason to be encouraged, though. Tyler O'Neill (12 homers, .925 OPS) has been a star, and the offense has upside if Paul Goldschmidt (.695 OPS) breaks loose from his struggles. Still, the lineup needs to generate steadier traffic on the bases.

    The rotation has been effective, and Miles Mikolas' latest injury (while unfortunate) would not have seemed to have as big an impact considering John Gant's success (1.81 ERA) as a starter. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Katie Woo of The Athletic reported Jack Flaherty suffered a "significant" oblique injury. Pretty tough for St. Louis to lose an ace of his caliber at this juncture.

    Additionally, the bullpen is a group to be worried about. It ranks 19th in ERA and is last in xFIP and walk rate. The free passes are especially concerning.

    St. Louis is right in the thick of it, as expected. However, the offense needs more production, and the bullpen needs to resolve the command issues before they come back to bite the Cardinals. Any arms filling in for Flaherty will also need to provide innings.

    Grade: B

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The tables have turned for the Tampa Bay Rays.

    The Rays went into May with a depleted pitching staff and an uninspiring lineup that struggled to generate baserunners. They enter June with better health and an offense that is one of the best in baseball.

    Tampa Bay ranks fifth in the majors in runs per game. Austin Meadows had a .976 OPS and clubbed eight homers in May. Ji-Man Choi has a 1.023 OPS in 13 games after coming off the IL. Joey Wendle is hitting over .300 with an .884 OPS. The Rays also rank third in the AL in stolen bases.

    However, the most encouraging developments come from the pitching staff. Rich Hill dominated in May with a .456 OPS against and 0.78 ERA in six starts. Young left-hander Shane McClanahan has a 3.29 ERA through six starts, while Tyler Glasnow (2.57 ERA) is pitching at an ace level.

    Plus, the bullpen is healthier. Pete Fairbanks is back and has a 1.64 ERA through 11.0 innings. Andrew Kittredge (1.11 ERA) and Ryan Thompson (2.22 ERA) are both excelling, and J.P. Feyereisen has a 1.50 ERA in five appearances after coming over from the Brewers in the Willy Adames trade.

    The Rays are rolling and exhibiting tremendous balance. They also lead the majors in outs above average. Maybe that's why they won 16 of 17 to finish May.

    Grade: A+

Texas Rangers

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Texas Rangers might not be too competitive, but Adolis Garcia (.911 OPS) has been a supernova through the first two months. Making Isiah Kiner-Falefa the full-time shortstop was a sound decision as well.

    What wasn't expected was that Kyle Gibson would string together a 2.24 ERA through 10 starts before going on the IL. However, as anticipated, the rotation has struggled, ranking 28th in fWAR.

    The bullpen hasn't been spectacular, but Ian Kennedy (1.86 ERA) is making himself a top trade asset. Left-handers John King and Brett Martin have also been strong.

    This hasn't been as bad a season for the Rangers as the record might indicate. The rotation was always going to struggle, but Texas is finding positional building blocks and has trade assets to move at the deadline.

    Grade: C

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Phil Long/Associated Press

    Toronto Blue Jays fans have to feel frustrated.

    The Blue Jays offense ranks fourth in runs per game and third in OPS+. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1.065 OPS) is realizing his potential. The $18 million investment in Marcus Semien (13 homers, eight steals) is paying off. And George Springer has only played four games!

    Yet the Blue Jays—with a plus-42 run differential—headed into June two games above .500 and 6.5 games back of the Rays.

    There has been a large weight on the bullpen. It has been strong for the most part, ranking seventh in ERA. However, Blue Jays relievers also rank 21st in walk rate. That has made for late-game struggles.

    Nonetheless, Toronto can be encouraged by a better month from Ross Stripling, and Robbie Ray is putting together quality starts despite being peppered by the long ball. Hyun Jin Ryu (2.62 ERA) is fantastic, while the Blue Jays might have a gem in Alek Manoah.

    The record doesn't tell the whole story for Toronto. The run differential indicates the Blue Jays will have positive regression to a friendlier win-loss mark.

    Grade: B+

Washington Nationals

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Washington Nationals are running out of time as they hope to avoid being sellers by the deadline.

    Washington ranks 24th in runs per game even though it's 11th in OBP. The Nats have a .698 OPS with runners in scoring position and a .151 average with a runner on third and two outs. Washington also has a .657 OPS in situations deemed "late and close."

    Trea Turner (.846 OPS) and Ryan Zimmerman (.903) have been the only bats worth applauding. Juan Soto is slugging .387, and Josh Bell is hitting .207 with a .268 OBP.

    The rotation hasn't been very helpful in keeping the team in games. Max Scherzer (2.34 ERA) has been terrific, but Patrick Corbin (6.23 ERA) and Joe Ross (5.40 ERA) have not. Stephen Strasburg is having more issues. The bullpen ranks 14th in ERA—nothing to beam about.

    There hasn't been much to encourage Nats fans. Washington needs to right the ship if it hopes to stave off tough deadline decisions.

    Grade: D+

            

    All stats via Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant or FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate prior to the start of play Tuesday.

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