MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams Early in 2022

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMay 13, 2022

MLB Report Card Grades for All 30 Teams Early in 2022

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    Cleveland's Jose Ramirez
    Cleveland's Jose RamirezDavid Dermer/Associated Press

    The 2022 Major League Baseball season is nearly 20 percent completed (five out of 26 weeks), which is the perfect time for some early report card grades.

    Marks for each team are based on how their play has compared to preseason expectations. (Win totals via DraftKings.) In other words, if both the Dodgers and Orioles were .500, rather than both getting a C, the former would get an F and the latter would get an A.

    Furthermore, grades are based on a 50-50 combination of actual record and pythagorean record—aka the expected record based on year-to-date run differential—compared against their preseason win total.

    Picking the Cleveland Guardians as a random example, their expected win total was 75.5. Their actual winning percentage is .500, while their pythagorean winning percentage is .533, for an average of .517, or a pace of 83.7 wins. That's 8.2 victories better than expected and good for a B on the curve ranging from negative-32 to positive-25.

          

    Statistics and records current through the start of play Thursday and are courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles

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    Arizona's Merrill Kelly
    Arizona's Merrill KellyAlex Brandon/Associated Press

    Arizona Diamondbacks: A

    They're still nowhere close to leading the loaded NL West, but who could have guessed that the Diamondbacks and their preseason win total of 66.5 would be sporting a winning record more than 30 games into 2022?

    They've done so in spite of a lineup that is collectively hitting below the Mendoza Line. Daulton Varsho (.245, 6 HR, 3 SB) has been solid, but this team is otherwise relying entirely upon its pitching staff. And with the way Merrill Kelly, Zac Gallen and Madison Bumgarner have been slinging the pill, it's working out better than anyone expected.

                

    Atlanta Braves: D-

    I feel like a broken record with this disclaimer over the past few weeks, but no one is throwing in the towel on the Braves. They started just as slowly last year, and this time they had to soldier through the first 19 games without star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (torn ACL recovery).

    There's a ton of season left for them to right the ship.

    But there's also no question that the first five weeks of this World Series defense have not gone according to design, saddled with a sub-.500 record in spite of 16 games played against the lowly Reds (four), Nationals, Marlins, Cubs and Rangers (three each). Given their schedule and expectations, they should be at least six games above .500.      

                

    Baltimore Orioles: B

    The Orioles aren't doing well compared to the league average. Even with a recent stretch of seven wins in 10 games, they're still five games below .500. However, the O's (62.0) and the A's (69.5) were the only AL teams with preseason win totals below 73.5. And compared to that "clearly the biggest dumpster fire in the league" expectation, they're doing quite well.

    What's most impressive about their better-than-expected start is that star hitter Cedric Mullins is just starting to heat up, while star pitcher John Means will miss the entire season because of Tommy John surgery. Rather, youngsters Austin Hays (OF), Ryan Mountcastle (1B) and Bruce Zimmermann (SP) have emerged as possible shining lights at the end of the long rebuilding tunnel.

Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox

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    Chicago's Jason Heyward
    Chicago's Jason HeywardDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Boston Red Sox: F

    1965 is the last time the Red Sox finished a season of more than 60 games with a winning percentage of .425 or worse, but they are at .355 and just lost one of their most valuable players to date, Michael Wacha, to the IL. It's been a month since they last won a series, and even that was a two-out-of-three against Detroit.

    And if you thought last year's trade deadline fire sales from the Cubs, Nationals and Rangers were a spectacle, buckle up if Boston doesn't recover soon. J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Enrique Hernandez, Christian Vazquez, Wacha and several others will be unrestricted free agents after this season. And while both Xander Bogaerts and Chris Sale have full no-trade clauses, they both also have player opt-out clauses after this season and might be willing to waive the former clause to jump off this sinking ship.

              

    Chicago Cubs: D+

    Four Cubs are making at least $10 million this season. Jason Heyward has three RBI in 24 games. Wade Miley has pitched just three innings. And Kyle Hendricks (4.38 ERA) and Marcus Stroman (5.13 ERA) have woefully disappointed atop the rotation.

    There might be better ways to sum up how things have gone sideways on the North Side of Chicago, but that's the most succinct. What little hope the Cubs had of being a sleeper playoff team in 2022 seems to have already gone out the window.

                 

    Chicago White Sox: D

    Ten days ago, this would have been an F, if not an F-minus. However, a recent six-game winning streak fueled by lights-out pitching brought the White Sox back to life in a hurry.

    For a team that was supposed to win the AL Central by an 11-game margin, though, 2.5 games back in the division with a barely .500 record isn't exactly a great success.

    In Chicago's defense, injuries have played a big part in this disappointment. Lance Lynn (knee) hasn't pitched yet. Yoan Moncada made his season debut Monday. Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn and AJ Pollock have each missed more than a dozen games. Not a full deck to say the least. Nevertheless, it's a bit staggering to see that this has been one of the most anemic offenses in the majors.

Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians and Colorado Rockies

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    Colorado's C.J. Cron
    Colorado's C.J. CronDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Cincinnati Reds: F-

    The Reds did recently take two out of three against the Pirates and followed that with a convincing 10-5 home win over the Brewers. That doubled their season win total from three to six in the span of about 56 hours. Bravo.

    Sadly, however, they could win each of their next 12 games and would still have a winning percentage below their preseason projection.

           

    Cleveland Guardians: B

    Are we deep enough into the season to have a legitimate conversation about how good the Guardians' bats are? Early on, the numbers were inflated by the four-game stretch against Kansas City and Cincinnati in which they scored 44 runs. But we're almost one-fifth of the way through the schedule, and they still have five viable threats to win the AL batting title.

    The pitching has let those bats down a bit with a 4.05 ERA. But Cleveland looks like a legitimate candidate to win the AL Central. Not bad for a team that was supposed to rival Kansas City for last place.

              

    Colorado Rockies: B

    Little did we know that when the Rockies lost Trevor Story as a free agent to the Red Sox, they packaged their losing ways with him like some kind of $140 million Trojan horse. Because while Boston's season has been a nightmare, Colorado has gotten out to one of the better starts in franchise history.

    Are we buying Chad Kuhl as a Cy Young candidate, C.J. Cron as one of the game's best sluggers or Daniel Bard as one of the most reliable closers? And are we worried about the minus-29 run differential and the fact that the Rockies benefited from playing 22 consecutive games against the sub-.500 Phillies (seven games), Cubs (four), Reds (three), Nationals (three), Tigers (three) and Rangers (two)?

    Yeah, OK, fine, the impending regression to the mean could be a swift kick in the pants. Or the Rockies could be a fascinating playoff contender for the next four-plus months. Either way, it's been a solid start.

Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals

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    Houston's Alex Bregman
    Houston's Alex BregmanDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Detroit Tigers: F

    The Tigers looked competent early on. They went 1-2 against each of the Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees, but that was respectable, given those teams' preseason expectations. They also won a series at Kansas City and opened their series against Colorado with a 13-0 victory to improve to 6-7the game in which Miguel Cabrera got his 3,000th hit. It seemed like they might build on last season's strong finish.

    But then the wheels fell off, and they lost 13 of the next 15 games. That feel-good rout of the Rockies was the last time this offense looked even remotely good, and the pitching hasn't been any better, save for Tarik Skubal. It's quickly shaping up to be another long summer in Detroit.

            

    Houston Astros: B-

    No team has been better over the past two-and-a-half weeks than the Astros. They've won 12 of their last 14 games, and even the two losses came at Toronto by one run each against excellent starting pitchers (Kevin Gausman and Jose Berrios). In 13 of those 14 games, Houston's pitching staff held the opposition to three runs or fewer. Impressive stuff.

    Unfortunately, they started 7-9, which is half of the grade. You can't skip class and/or bomb exams for the first half of the semester and expect an A-plus just because you dug yourself out of an early hole. And for a team that opened the year as basically co-favorites with Chicago, New York and Toronto in the AL, a 19-11 record is par for the coursemaybe a stroke better.

                

    Kansas City Royals: F

    Save for Andrew Benintendi, the Royals cannot hit. And when the only guy who can get hits is getting singles on 90 percent of those hits, it's hard to score runs.

    Lo and behold, Kansas City has one of the worst run differentials in the bigs and has not won consecutive games since April 19-20. Zack Greinke has gone at least five innings in each of his six starts, has yet to allow more than three runs in a game and has zero wins to show for it. In fact he's 0-2, with both losses coming in 1-0 shutouts.

Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins

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    Los Angeles' Reid Detmers
    Los Angeles' Reid DetmersRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Los Angeles Angels: A+

    It's safe to say the Angels have answered any questions we had about their pitching staff before the season began. Noah Syndergaard has looked great in his first few starts post-TJ surgery. Young starter Patrick Sandoval has a 2.03 ERA. Younger starter Reid Detmers just threw a no-hitter against the Rays. Shohei Ohtani is, of course, outstanding. And the bullpen has been solid.

    And yet, the bats have been better, with Mike Trout and Taylor Ward battling each other for first place in the AL in several categories, while Ohtani, Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh and Anthony Rendon have each done a fair amount of damage.

    The Angels will probably want to trade for a middle infielder before the deadline, but they have World Series potential even if that doesn't pan out.

             

    Los Angeles Dodgers: A+

    Yes, the Dodgers were expected to be the best team in the preseason, and by a considerable margin. Some books had their win total (97-100) at seven more than the second-highest team. As such, you might think they deserve a C for being as good as expected.

    But they have been better than expected. Much better.

    A plus-78 run differential just 29 games into the season is bananas, and their winning percentage (.690) puts them on pace for around 112 victories. And that's with most of their batters underperformingsome of them drastically so. MLB's all-time record for single-season wins (116 by the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners) could be in jeopardy.

            

    Miami Marlins: C+

    It's a shame we waited until five weeks into the season to do this instead of giving out the grades on the morning of May 1, because that delay cost the Marlins (12-8 then, 2-9 since) a full letter.

    As is, slightly below .500 is exactly what was expected from the Marlins this season. Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Pablo Lopez have been sensational, but the team as a whole is right on course.

Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and New York Mets

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    Minnesota's Byron Buxton
    Minnesota's Byron BuxtonBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Milwaukee Brewers: A-

    Say this much for the Brew Crew: They have been opportunistic. As of Thursday morning, the highest batting average among the 12 Brewers with the most plate appearances was Christian Yelich's .259. And yet, also as of Thursday morning, they had the most runs scored in the National League.

    And when they get a lead, they rarely blow it. Josh Hader is a perfect 12-for-12 in save chances, while setup man Devin Williams has two saves and nine holds in 13 appearances. Even with two-time All Star Brandon Woodruff sputtering through his worst season in the majors (5.97 ERA), Milwaukee is right there with the two L.A.s and the two N.Y.s in the conversation about this season's top teams.

            

    Minnesota Twins: A

    While Milwaukee has the most dominant closer in baseball, Minnesota might have the shakiest. Emilio Pagan has already walked 10 batters in 8.2 innings. If the Twins are still in the playoff hunt 2.5 months from now, there's little question what they'll be looking to upgrade at the trade deadline.

    Outside that, though, things are looking great in the land of 10,000 lakes, even with Miguel Sano (.093 batting average) struggling before landing on the IL with a torn meniscus. Byron Buxton has looked like an MVP when healthy, and with the exception of Dylan Bundy getting shelled for nine runs in his last start against the Orioles, the starting rotation has been rock solid. The White Sox are charging hard, but the Twins remain the surprising team to beat in the AL Central.

                 

    New York Mets: A

    As is the case with the Dodgers, perhaps the scariest thing about the Mets' early success is that there's still plenty of room for improvement.

    Eduardo Escobar is a much better hitter/slugger than he has shown. Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor are also both hitting well below their career batting averages, and Marte has been nowhere near his usual level of excellence on the basepaths. And then there's the allure of Jacob deGrom possibly returning from a shoulder injury in June.

    The Mets already have a six-game lead in the NL East, and they might be considerably better a month from now. By no means are we crowning them the division champs in mid-May, but it's not hard to envision this race being over by early September.

New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies

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    Philadelphia's Bryce Harper
    Philadelphia's Bryce HarperAdam Hunger/Associated Press

    New York Yankees: A+

    The Yankees have had the best pitching staff in the American League, and that's not open for debate. Nestor Cortes has been all sorts of awesome. Gerrit Cole has recovered beautifully from a rough start to the tune of a 19.0 IP, 14 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 25 K line over his last three games. Aroldis Chapman just allowed his first run of the season Wednesday yet still converted the save. And the middle relief crew led by Clay Holmes and Michael King has been outstanding.

    And, to put it lightly, they've got bats, too. Aaron Judge is leading the majors with 10 home runs, with Anthony Rizzo (nine) just behind him. Giancarlo Stanton is also up to seven blasts, and goodness knows Joey Gallo, Gleyber Torres, Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu can crush a baseball.

    The Yankees were expected to win the AL East (or at least finish in a close second to Toronto), but with a plus-52 run differential and the best record in the majors, they've been significantly better than expected.

            

    Oakland Athletics: C

    Paul Blackburn sitting at 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA after entering 2022 with a career ERA of 5.74 has been a most unexpected positive development for the A's. That also goes for Dany Jimenez emerging as a legitimate closer as a 28-year-old rookie and Sheldon Neuse looking the part of a guy who needs to be in the starting lineup every day.

    Save for those three bright spots, though, the sledding has been as tough as expected for the A's. They started out better than OK, but a nine-game losing streak at the hands of Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Minnesota has knocked them into the basement of the AL West. And with an entire team payroll ($48.1 million) just barely more than what the Mets are paying Max Scherzer this season ($43.3 million), it's likely they'll stay in that basement the rest of the way.

            

    Philadelphia Phillies: C-

    The Phillies really should be better than 14-17. And I'm talking analytically, not anecdotally.

    As of Wednesday morning, they were top-10 in FanGraphs WAR in both team batting and team pitching. The only other teams in that club were the Mets and Yankees. But while the Mets were 11 games over .500 and the Yankees were 13 games over .500, the Phils were saddled with a most disappointing sub-.500 record.

    Every night, it seems like they either win big or lose in agonizing fashion, with more of the latter than the former. And if their luck is going to turn, it better happen soon. Their next 26 games are against the Dodgers, Padres, Mets, Giants, Brewers, Angels and Braves.

Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants

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    San Diego's Mackenzie Gore
    San Diego's Mackenzie GoreGregory Bull/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Pirates: C

    Ke'Bryan Hayes is in the way-too-early-to-seriously-be-talking-about-it mix for the NL batting title with a mark of .320, and at least Jose Quintana is pitching well (2.70 ERA) as the lone veteran presence in a young rotation. But the Pirates are already well on their way to a seventh consecutive season missing the playoffs.

    One fun footnote on the first month-plus of the season, though, is that the Pirates did win one of the most bizarre series of all time. They took three out of four at Wrigley Field in late April, despite getting outscored 29-12. But the end of that series was the last time they had a .500 record.

                

    San Diego Padres: B+

    It's remarkable how far two star batters can carry a team. San Diego's third-best batting average belongs to backup catcher Jorge Alfaro at a meager mark of .226, but the Padres are eight games above .500 thanks to Manny Machado (.383) and Eric Hosmer (.367) doing their best "Atlas with the celestial sphere on his shoulders" impression.

    Pitching has been a big key, too, with starters Joe Musgrove and Mackenzie Gore and closer Taylor Rogers leading the way on that front. But it's remarkable what the Padres have accomplished without a single appearance from Blake Snell (groin) or Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist). As great as the Dodgers have been, the race for the NL West crown should be a fascinating one for a second consecutive year.

             

    San Francisco Giants: A

    Don't count the Giants out of that NL West race, either. Carlos Rodon (4-1, 1.80 ERA, 13.6 K/9) is their only player out to a particularly strong start, yet they are 19-12 overall and were alone in first place in the division at the end of April.

    San Francisco entered play Wednesday tied with Milwaukee for the most runs scored in the NL. No one on the team has even reached 1.0 batting WAR on FanGraphs in what has been a major "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" situation. Perhaps Evan Longoria's return from a finger injury (season debut Wednesday) will give the Giants even more of a boost.

Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays

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    Tampa Bay's Yandy Diaz
    Tampa Bay's Yandy DiazPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Seattle Mariners: D+

    The Mariners have three legitimate 2022 All-Stars in Ty France, J.P. Crawford and Logan Gilbert, and highly touted rookie Julio Rodriguez has looked way better in May than he did for most of April. All four of those guys are 27 years old or younger, so they represent exciting building blocks. (22-year-old Jarred Kelenic is in that club, too, though he is struggling.)

    Even with that quartet thriving, Seattle has disappointed. The Mariners were projected for around 84 wins, but they are four games below .500. The good news is they are the only team that has not yet faced a team that is in last place in its division, so maybe they can turn a corner when the schedule lightens up.

               

    St. Louis Cardinals: B

    This feels like a harsh grade for the Cards, who are a few games above .500 and just two games behind a very good Brewers team in the NL Central. But the sixth-best record in the NL is just ahead of what was expected from them in the preseason, when projected win totals put them in a dead heat with both the Phillies and Giants for the NL's sixth and final playoff spot.

    Certainly Nolan Arenado has been better than anticipated, and Miles Mikolas looks better than ever. Rookie Juan Yepez has also gotten out to a scintillating start since getting called up a little over a week ago. But if we had done a preseason forecast of every team's record after 30 games, St. Louis at 17-13 is one that just about everyone would have gotten within a one-game margin.

             

    Tampa Bay Rays: C+

    See: St. Louis, but with a much worse run differential.

    Tampa Bay's 19-13 record isn't the least bit surprising. The Rays have won at least 55 percent of their games in each of the past four seasons and had a preseason win total of 89.5. Their winning percentage puts them on pace for 96 wins. (Although, their pythagorean winning percentage says just 78 wins.)

    That projection should improve if and when Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Lowe start hitting better, or if and when pitchers Shane Baz (elbow) and Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) return from the 60-day IL. But, for now, it's business as usual in Tampa.

Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals

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    Washington's Juan Soto
    Washington's Juan SotoAlex Brandon/Associated Press

    Texas Rangers: C-

    Here's your random fun fact for the day: Before Wednesday's 8-2 loss to the Royals, the Rangers were one of just three teams (along with the Yankees and Dodgers) who had yet to lose a game by six or more runs. Two of those three teams are borderline locks for the postseason and the other is likely headed for a sub-.500 season, as was expected five weeks ago. However, Texas has been competitive on a nightly basis.

    In other words, if Marcus Semien (.165 BA, 0 HR) ever decides to start hitting the ball in 2022, the Rangers could mess around and go on a tear.

                    

    Toronto Blue Jays: D

    If the season ended today, Toronto would be in the playoffs as the AL's No. 6 seed. That's better than missing the postseason, of course, but it's a far cry from what was expected from one of the top preseason candidates to win the World Series.

    A big part of the problem is that the rotation has been extremely hit-or-miss. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah have been great, but Jose Berrios, Yusei Kikuchi and Hyun Jin Ryu have been major disappointments. (At least Ryu's poor start can be attributed to a forearm injury.) Toronto has allowed at least six runs in 10 games, losing nine of them.

    The Blue Jays still might be World Series good, but they had better stop getting shelled every third game.

                  

    Washington Nationals: D

    We expected a down year in the nation's capital, but not this down.

    The Nats' bats have been respectable, most notably those of Josh Bell, Yadiel Hernandez and Juan Soto. During a recent nine-game West Coast road trip, they batted .328 as a team and averaged 6.4 runs. But they still went just 4-5 on that trip and are sitting at 11-21 overall thanks to some atrocious pitching.

    Josiah Gray (3.45 ERA) and Erick Fedde (3.90 ERA) have been OK, but $23.4 million for Patrick Corbin's 6.06 ERA, $35 million for Stephen Strasburg to not yet pitch this season and $15 million to Max Scherzer to pitch for the Mets sure is a lot of wasted funds. $12 million for Nelson Cruz to bat .174 isn't exactly what they had in mind either.

             

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