1 Word to Describe Every MLB Team Thus Far

Brandon Scott@@brandonkscottFeatured Columnist IApril 15, 2022

1 Word to Describe Every MLB Team Thus Far

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    One week of baseball is way too small a sample size to draw meaningful conclusions.

    That's why it makes sense to use as few words as possible to describe each team a week into the season. 

    How about just one word?

    Have some fun with this exercise as your favorite team comes up and see how our descriptions land. Also, feel free to drop your one-word descriptions at the end. 

    First, let's see how all 30 teams are performing relative to expectations.

American League East

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Baltimore Orioles: Deflating

    As if it wasn't bad enough that the 1-5 Orioles started their first six games with the worst-performing offense in baseball, they lost their best pitcher Wednesday night. 

    John Means started feeling tightness in his arm in the third inning of Wednesday's loss against the Brewers and was pulled after four innings. The team said he was taken out as a precaution, but Means is one of the Orioles' few bright spots. 

    Any worries about his health are heightened on a team that offensively had the highest strikeout percentage and scored the fewest runs through its first six games.

            

    Boston Red Sox: Boring

    The Red Sox started their season losing three out of four games against the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers and then won the last two games of the Detroit series. 

    So far, the most exciting thing to happen for the Red Sox is having Alex Cora manage a shaky bullpen to help salvage their series finale at Yankee Stadium. 

    Boston's team stats are average to below average, both pitching and offensively. The team should hope these series coming up against the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays are a little more exciting.

          

    New York Yankees: Steady

    There are some early concerns for the Yankees. Jordan Montgomery was pulled from his first start Sunday with a swollen knee and had fluid drained from it before throwing a bullpen session Wednesday. His Friday start is worth monitoring. 

    Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who the Yankees traded for instead of going after Carlos Correa, is off to a slow start. And their ace, Gerrit Cole, has been touched up in his first two outings. 

    But there is no reason to overreact to any of this. 

    The top and the heart of the Yankees order is producing. They lost a one-run game to Boston despite outhitting their rival 11-5. And their losses to Toronto were more about the Blue Jays.

           

    Toronto Blue Jays: Excellence

    Toronto boasted the second-highest OPS in the American League after six games. True to form, the Blue Jays also led MLB with 11 home runs. 

    Part of that is thanks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is becoming a perennial AL MVP candidate before our eyes. His three-home run performance Wednesday against the Yankees, which included taking Cole deep twice, is one of the early highlights of the season. 

    As a team, the Blue Jays had taken two of three from the Texas Rangers and then two of three from the Yankees before losing Thursday night's finale.

    It's unclear whether the Blue Jays can live up to expectations, but so far they have been excellent.

           

    Tampa Bay Rays: Disappointing

    This is not to overreact after seven games, but it's the only way to describe going 4-3 against the Orioles and Oakland Athletics to start the season before facing the Chicago White Sox. 

    In what is sure to be a competitive division race throughout the season, it's necessary to take advantage of opportunities against the Orioles, possibly the league's worst team, and the A's, who just traded away most of their good players. 

American League Central

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Chicago White Sox: Resilient

    The White Sox have experienced some of the worst injury luck early on. They began the season without starting pitcher Lance Lynn, third baseman Yoan Moncada and relievers Joe Kelly, Garrett Crochet and Ryan Burr. They put right-handed starter Lucas Giolito (abdominal strain) and outfielder A.J. Pollock (right hamstring strain) on the injured list Tuesday. 

    Chicago also avoided a scare after Eloy Jimenez fouled a pitch off his ankle. Jimenez is feeling better now but said he couldn't walk the night it happened. 

    With all of this, the White Sox are 4-2 after taking two of three against the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners. There is enough talent here to withstand some injuries.

           

    Cleveland Guardians: Surprising 

    Let's not make too much of beating up on the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds, but Cleveland has done so in impressive fashion. 

    The season started with back-to-back losses at Kansas City before the Guardians unleashed 17 runs on 22 hits for an emphatic first win. 

    And they've kept it up. Cleveland followed that with back-to-back 10-run performances against the Royals and Reds and then beat Cincinnati again 7-3.

    Raise your hand if you had the Guardians leading baseball in hits, runs, RBI, OPS and run differential after six games. 

            

    Detroit Tigers: Flat

    The Tigers dropped two straight series to start the season against the White Sox and Red Sox. That should be expected considering both are better teams. 

    This four-game series against the Royals should be more interesting and serve as a better measuring point for Detroit. The Royals and Tigers are both young. They have two of the top four prospects in baseball as key pieces of their teams this year. 

    For now, the Tigers rank 21st in OPS and 17th in WHIP, so there is plenty of work to be done.

           

    Kansas City Royals: Shaky

    This mainly refers to their pitching. 

    After five games, the Royals' staff boasted the highest ERA and second-highest WHIP in baseball, mostly because of the Guardians hitting them up for 27 runs in two games. 

    Their starters hold the third-highest ERA in baseball. 

    While the Royals have a nice collection of young arms, they will be searching to finally find that level of consistency to meet expectations. 

    They won't be able to rely on 38-year-old Zack Greinke as an ace. So it's important for Brad Keller, who was solid in his first start this year, to have a bounce-back season and to see some progress from the youngsters.

          

    Minnesota Twins: Lackluster

    Sure, it's a long season, but this isn't what the Twins had in mind. 

    They enter a four-game series against the Red Sox after being swept and outscored 14-2 in two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Twins might have been on the wrong side of a perfect game if the Dodgers had old-school sensibilities.

    First baseman slugger Miguel Sano failed to get a hit in those first six contests, going 0-for-19.

    As a team, Minnesota is batting just .181. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks were worse after six games. The Twins also carried a league-high seven errors through that time.

American League West

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    Houston Astros: Evolving

    Remember when the Astros were one of the better offensive teams in baseball? They still might be, but that's not the case through their first six games. 

    Houston ranked second in OPS last season, but the team is 17th to start this one. The only significant change to the lineup was losing Carlos Correa and replacing him with rookie Jeremy Pena.

    With Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez still at the top of the lineup, they should be just fine offensively. 

    But the Astros' identity might be in their pitching with Justin Verlander back leading the way. Their pitching staff recorded a 1.69 ERA in 53.1 innings, the lowest in baseball.

             

    Los Angeles Angels: Uninspiring

    Somewhat surprisingly, the Angels' pitching has been the least of their problems. 

    Their rotation is often a huge question mark, and it was no different this offseason. But the six starters were fine against the Astros and Miami Marlins.

    Where the Angels have fallen short early is defensively. They are one of 10 teams with four errors or more on the season. 

    The Angels have also struggled offensively, which was expected to be their bread and butter. Shohei Ohtani is batting .160, Mike Trout is at .200 and Anthony Rendon is hitting .118.

             

    Oakland Athletics: Scrappy

    It seemed clear from the offseason that Oakland was punting on 2022. But here the A's are at 4-3 after outplaying the Tampa Bay Rays to win three out of four on the road. 

    Their first 10 games are on the road, all against playoff-caliber teams. They dropped their first two games against the Phillies but have won four of their last five games since. 

    There is nothing particularly exciting about the A's, especially since they traded away all of their good players. They are just grinding it out with timely hitting and solid all-around baseball. 

           

    Seattle Mariners: Streaky

    So far, this has not been the team that took the AL for a ride at the end of last year and threatened to end the longest playoff drought in baseball. 

    The Mariners are just plain streaky right now. They opened the season with back-to-back wins against the Twins and then followed that up by losing four straight to the Twins and White Sox before taking the series finale at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

    Jarred Kelenic woke up from his slump with a home run and a stolen base in a 2-for-4 performance at the plate Thursday. He started a dreadful 1-for-15. 

           

    Texas Rangers: Expensive

    This will be a fair though tongue-in-cheek way to describe the Rangers for as long as they remain one of the worst AL teams with all of the money they are spending.

    Success wasn't going to come overnight by just writing a few expensive checks, but it certainly puts a level of immediate scrutiny on Texas. 

    The Rangers' ERA was the third-highest in baseball as of Thursday, which was predictable, while the offense has performed right about average.

    The Rangers' payroll is under league average this year, but that half-a-billion-dollar investment this offseason stands out until they get good.

National League East

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    Atlanta: Calm

    The defending World Series champions were not too worried about starting the season 3-5, the first seven games on a home stand.

    They are still looking for their first series victory after splitting four with the Cincinnati Reds and dropping two out of three against the Washington Nationals, neither of which is expected to be in the mix for the postseason.

    There are reasons for optimism, despite losing to lowly teams. Max Fried escaped serious injury after being drilled by a comebacker Wednesday, and he's still getting outs on weak contact. 

    Prior to Thursday's 0-for-4 performance, third baseman Austin Riley was following his 2021 breakout year with an 8-for-25 start with two doubles and a pair of home runs. 

    Losing 12-1 to the San Diego Padres on Thursday night wasn't a good look, but it will take worse than that to rattle the champs.

            

    Miami Marlins: Subpar

    The Marlins made moves to show they wanted to be competitive this year and just have not been that so far. 

    They picked up their second win of the season Thursday in their first home game - a series-opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. Before that, Miami dropped two of three to the San Francisco Giants and was swept in a two-game interleague series against the Angels. 

    Miami ranked toward the bottom in most offensive categories going into the Phillies series, despite efforts to make significant improvements at the plate. 

           

    New York Mets: Legitimate

    The Mets' offseason wasn't just hype, or simply throwing money at their problems. Already, this looks like it could be the best team in the National League. 

    Their 5-2 record was the best in baseball going into Thursday's slate of games. The Mets also boasted the NL's highest run differential (+15). 

    The Mets look like a complete team, with the second-lowest WHIP (.95) and fifth-highest OPS through their first seven games. 

    This rotation suffered a tremendous loss when Jacob deGrom was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right scapula, but the Mets are doing just fine without him, at least for now.

               

    Philadelphia Phillies: Unfulfilling

    Disappointing is already taken, but think along the same lines. Actually, it's worse than the Rays if you consider how the Phillies' lineup was billed as a potential juggernaut after signing Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in free agency. 

    It hasn't quite translated into this high-powered offense the public was expecting. It's not an awful offense by any stretch, ranking seventh in both wRC+ and OPS. 

    But they were held to just 12 runs in 36 innings, with three losses over four games against the A's and Mets. Their pitching isn't doing Philly to many favors either, ranking 20th in ERA going into Thursday's game.

                

    Washington Nationals: Inconsistent

    They opened with three straight losses to the New York Mets, then took two of three against Atlanta before starting this series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

    It's been a mixed bag of results, but it's mostly bad. The Nationals were tied for the third-worst run differential going into Thursday with the second-highest ERA and third-lowest OPS. 

National League Central

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Chicago Cubs: Solid

    The Cubs are off to a strong 4-2 start. What stands out most about them is Japanese newcomer Seiya Suzuki, who extended his hit streak to six games Thursday night. 

    This is not a remarkable team in any facet. But the Cubs were convincing in the opening series against the Milwaukee Brewers, considered to be the class of the division, and have taken advantage of playing their most recent games against the Pirates and Rockies, winning two of the last three.

          

    Cincinnati Reds: Outmatched

    The only losing team on the Reds' schedule this month is defending World Series champion Atlanta, against which the Reds went 2-2 to open the season.

    Every team Cincinnati plays this month is better record-wise.

    The Reds are doing well just having the two wins under their belt. They entered Thursday night's game ranked next-to-last in wRC+ (66), ahead of only the Arizona Diamondbacks.

          

    Milwaukee Brewers: Unexpected

    The Brewers are known for their pitching, and the last two outings from Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes reinforces this. 

    After going 1-3 in their first four games against the Cubs and Orioles, the Brewers have rattled off three straight wins against the Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. 

    It is alarming (for as much as it can be a week into the season) that the Brewers have the highest walks-per-nine-innings-pitched ratio (5.65) and the second-most walks in baseball behind the Nationals.

         

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Interesting

    What the Pirates are doing off the field by signing their key players to extensions is just as interesting as anything they have done on the field. 

    Inking Ke'Bryan Hayes for eight years, $70 million could soon become a bargain if he stays healthy and plays to his potential. Bryan Reynolds commemorated his two-year extension with two hits, including a two-run blast, and two walks.

    The Pirates are 3-3 with an even run differential as of Friday. It could be a lot worse in Pittsburgh.

         

    St. Louis Cardinals: Nostalgic

    Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina are doing their retirement tour together. Adam Wainwright might be right there with them.

    Pujols on Tuesday hit his first home run since returning to the Cardinals. He and Molina both had hits in Thursday's loss to the Brewers, with Wainwright striking out seven but giving up four runs. 

    The Cardinals (3-2) had not been tested much prior to the Brewers series. They went 3-1 against the Pirates and Royals, with two games rained out. 

National League West

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Beer

    The Diamondbacks only have two wins, but they wouldn't even have that without Seth Beer. 

    He hit a three-run, walk-off homer against the San Diego Padres, which also happened to be National Beer Day. How poetic. 

    Then his RBI single in the 10th inning of Wednesday's game against the Astros set up Ketel Marte's game-winning sac fly. 

              

    Colorado Rockies: Overachieving

    The Rockies are tied for the sixth-lowest ERA and the seventh-highest OPS through six games. They took two out of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers to open the season and then swept the Texas Rangers on the road before falling to the Cubs on Thursday. 

    Reality will eventually catch up to the Rockies, but for now they are tied for the division lead.

               

    Los Angeles Dodgers: Balanced

    The Dodgers have the fifth-highest OPS and fifth-lowest ERA. At this point, they don't really have any weaknesses. 

    Their roster was already touted as possibly the game's best. Then Clayton Kershaw flirted with a perfect game until management, some might argue, got in his way. 

    The Dodgers started the season with disappointment in Colorado but responded by dominating the Twins.

                 

    San Diego Padres: Encouraging

    The Padres beat the defending World Series champions 12-1 on Thursday. They're 5-3 overall after dropping their season opener against Arizona and two of three against the Giants. 

    San Diego's pitching is tied for the sixth-lowest WHIP despite losing Blake Snell to the 10-day injured list. Snell was pulled from what would have been his first start Sunday after experiencing adductor tightness. 

    Offensively, the Padres are top 10 in OPS and have drawn the most walks of any team in baseball (36).

               

    San Francisco Giants: Historic

    The Giants are 4-2 and playing good ball to start the season. They took two out of three in the series against the Marlins and Padres. 

    Their pitching staff has the second-highest WAR, per FanGraphs, and third-lowest ERA.

    But the Giants' most significant news so far came after first base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected from Tuesday's game against the Padres, allowing Alyssa Nakken to substitute in his place. Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field during a major league regular-season game. 

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