The Yankees' bats and the Brewers' bullpen have put them in the top 10 of our latest Power Rankings. But why are Bryce Harper and the Nationals falling?
The 2018 season has featured an endless series of rain outs, and snow outs, and a game being cancelled because of falling ice chunks. Through all the weather woes, teams have played somewhere between 19 and 26 games. How do they stack up after four weeks? (All stats current entering play on April 26.)
30. Cincinnati Reds (Last Week: 30)
Joey Votto woke up this week! He hit his first home run of the season Tuesday and mashed No. 2 on Wednesday. Even so, having the worst pitching staff according to fWAR along with a horrendous offense (bottom eight in runs scored and wRC+) means this team is well on its way to 100 losses.
29. Chicago White Sox (LW: 26)
The South Siders are in the middle of a serious youth movement, which means there are plenty of growing pains ahead. There have been encouraging signs from one of the players they got from the Nationals in the big Adam Eaton trade from 2016, though just not from the name everyone probably expected: 24 year-old Reynaldo Lopez. The righty has a 1.50 ERA across 24 frames in his four starts and has only given up two homers. If he can lower his walk rate (5.63 per nine) closer to what he’s done throughout his time in both the majors and minors—roughly half that rate—Lopez may anchor this staff through the end of the year.
28. Miami Marlins (LW: 25)
Of the Marlins’ seven hitters with at least 70 plate appearances, only one—Justin Bour—has a slugging percentage above .400. It’s going to be a long year for Jeter’s bargain bunch.
27. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 24)
This is how Manny Machado ranks across the major leagues in the following categories.
HR: tied for 3rd
fWAR: tied for 5th
Machado will soon be rich enough to pay for everything “straight cash, homey,” but will another club take the risk of only having him as an end-of-season rental and acquire him before the trade deadline?
26. Kansas City Royals (LW: 28)
The Royals have been terrible at home, only giving the K.C. faithful the joy of seeing one victory in nine games. They have an OPS of .678 and an ERA of 5.56 at Kauffman Stadium.
25. Texas Rangers (LW: 23)
As if losing All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus to injury weren’t sad enough, the reeling Rangers had to put future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre on the disabled list with a hamstring injury this week. Losing both these guys when you’re already in the bottom third of the league in OBP is a huge blow.
24. San Diego Padres (LW: 22)
Amid what appears to be another losing season, the Friars can at least hang their hats on being top five in bullpen ERA. Lefty closer Brad Hand is striking out batters at a rate of 13.86 per nine.
23. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 29)
Tampa Bay has won six of its last seven games to surge all the way to ... fourth place in the AL East. The current hot streak is primarily due to the Rays’ hitting: They’re averaging nearly seven runs a game over that stretch, led by first baseman C.J. Cron’s four homers in that span.
22. Detroit Tigers (LW: 27)
Former top-100 prospect Jeimer Candelario is living up to the hype early on in 2018. The third baseman is Detroit’s best hitter with a .290/.359/.548 slash line and 13 extra-base hits.
21. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 13)
This was the week the Buccos came back down to earth. After getting off to one of the most surprising starts to the season, Pittsburgh completely collapsed, losing five in a row, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the in-state rival Phillies.
20. Minnesota Twins (LW: 10)
Like Pittsburgh, Minnesota has fallen apart, dropping six straight to the Rays and Yankees while being outscored 55–22. Twins hurlers haven’t been able to keep the ball in the yard, allowing 16 home runs during the losing streak.
19. San Francisco Giants (LW: 20)
The Giants had trouble scoring in 2017, finishing second-to-last in the National League behind the Padres with 639 runs. To address these woes they went out and got former All-Stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria in the offseason. The results? Both have an OPS+ under 100, and San Francisco is on pace to score 100 fewer runs than last season. Yikes.
18. Colorado Rockies (LW: 16)
Nolan Arenado was penalized five games for going after Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo and inciting an old-fashioned brawl two weeks ago. Since returning from the suspension, he’s slashed an unbelievable .476/.560/.905 with three home runs and seven RBIs in six games.
17. Seattle Mariners (LW: 18)
Put Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger on the list of under-the-radar April All-Stars. After being limited to 96 games due to injury in 2017, Haniger is off to a scorching-hot start. Among AL hitters, Haniger is fifth in slugging, third in home runs, second in RBIs, and sixth in OPS+.
16. Atlanta Braves (LW: 17)
Top prospect Ronald Acuña got his call to the big leagues Wednesday, going 1-for-5 with a run scored in his debut for a Braves team that’s been competitive despite being in the middle of a serious rebuilding effort. But there’s a different Atlanta youngster we just can’t get enough of: switch-hitting second baseman Ozzie Albies. The Braves’ 21-year-old star leads the NL in runs scored, has mashed seven home runs and carries an OPS+ of 156.
15. Washington Nationals (LW: 8)
Bryce Harper’s been in a slump since April 10, seeing his batting average drop from .333 to .260 and his OPS decrease by more than 300 points. Not surprisingly, the Nats are only 5–9 in that time.
14. Oakland A’s (LW: 21)
Whether you measure it by runs scored, wRC+ or fWAR, the A’s have one of the very best offenses in the game. Jed Lowrie has been a beast, but don’t sleep on Matt Chapman. The young third baseman has hit five home runs with an 158 OPS+, and he’s one of the best defensive players in the league too.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 9)
The Dodgers have done little more than hover around .500 throughout April. L.A. will need lineup regulars like Corey Seager (89 OPS+), Yasiel Puig (41 OPS+) and Chris Taylor (96 OPS+) to step up as the weather gets warmer if this club wants to meet its World Series expectations.
12. Chicago Cubs (LW: 15)
If the Cubs plan on not ceding control of the NL Central to the Brewers or Cardinals, they’re going to need much more from the starting rotation. Chicago starters have a 4.98 ERA on the season, and until Monday, none of them had gone into the seventh inning of a ballgame. Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana have been dreadful, walking a combined 5.03 per nine.
11. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 19)
For as much inked was spilled criticizing rookie manager Gabe Kapler for his pitching decisions, the Phillies have one of the most formidable starting rotations going right now. Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta and Aaron Nola each have an ERA+ of at least 153.
10. Cleveland Indians (LW: 7)
Not enough good things can be said about Cleveland’s rotation. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer have been the most dominant quartet in the majors, with each boasting an ERA under 2.50 and a WHIP of 1.10 or less.
9. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 6)
Blue Jays vs. Yankees and Red Sox: 4–6, -12 run differential
Blue Jays vs. rest of their schedule: 10–3, +40 run differential
Toronto’s dream of a turnaround season isn’t dead yet; it’s just been shocked into reality. The Jays can definitely fight for the AL’s second wild card, but maybe folks should slow down on those division crown aspirations.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 11)
Tommy Pham continues to make the most of his big league opportunity. He leads Cardinals hitters in batting average, OBP, runs, stolen bases and fWAR.
7. New York Yankees (LW: 12)
The Yanks are back in the top 10 thanks to an MLB-leading 36 dingers, with 16 from Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius alone. They’ve been able to carry the lineup while first-year Bronx Bomber Giancarlo Stanton keeps swinging and missing at everything in sight (37 strikeouts in 103 plate appearances).
6. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 14)
The Brew Crew has ridden an eight-game winning streak to first place in the NL Central. Milwaukee’s bullpen is a big reason why, as Wednesday’s win over the Royals extended the pen’s scoreless streak to 28 innings. Brewers relievers have a 2.47 ERA and are striking out 10.62 batters per nine innings.
5. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 5)
Trout and Ohtani. Ohtani and Trout. Yes, the Halos have two players doing extraordinary things that make them must-see TV even when their games go into the wee hours of the morning on the east coast. But Andrelton Simmons doing Ozzie Smith-type stuff at short is worth your time too. This year he’s been great at the dish as well with a .318/.396/.471 line.
4. New York Mets (LW: 3)
Noah Syndergaard gets most of the love in the Mets rotation, so this week we’re highlighting Jacob deGrom’s stellar season.
2–0, 2.53 ERA, 32 IP, 40 K, 8 BB, 1.03 WHIP, 153 ERA+, 1.1 fWAR
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 4)
Back to playing every day after missing the better part of the last two seasons, A.J. Pollock is putting up All-Star numbers once again. He’s hitting .280/.341/.585 with 14 extra-base hits, including five home runs, and has also swiped six bags in seven tries.
2. Boston Red Sox (LW: 1)
Brock Holt has done a great job filling in for the injured Xander Bogaerts at shortstop: In his 11 starts since the latter went on the DL, he’s hit at a .381/.409/.571 clip. Bogaerts is due back any day now, so Holt will return to being mostly a backup. Manager Alex Cora will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup though.
1. Houston Astros (LW: 2)
As expected, these Astros are a juggernaut. They rank in the top 10 in MLB in all of the following: batting average, runs scored, home runs, OPS, strikeout-per-nine rate, ERA, and WHIP. The championship repeat campaign is going swimmingly.