20 September 2020

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MLB 2020: July Recap

*Written the morning of August 2nd. Stats and record may have changed by the time this is published*

It’s been a bit chaotic, but the MLB Season has made it through it’s week and a half stint in July. Teams played only 8 or 9  games at most, and some were stuck playing only 3. Needless to say, there’s something to say about all 30 teams both good and bad.

American League East

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Boston Red Sox (3-7, last place in the AL East)

The Boston Red Sox made headlines the past offseason for trading their superstar Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, and not having him is showing to be very significant. Their hitting core has been abysmal and most of their main core who was projected to help make a strong lineup has not been doing well. Michael Chavis, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, and JD Martinez have all had very bad starts. The bright spots of their hitting has been Christian Vazquez (T-2nd with 4HR, .333 AVG, 212 OPS+), Jackie Bradley Jr (.320 AVG.), and Kevin Pillar (.423 AVG, 200 OPS+). 

Unfortunately for them, their hitting isn’t the only thing they’ve been struggling with. They have a big pitching problem on all fronts. During their world series run just 2 years ago, they had an elite rotation of Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez. Of those 5, Sale (Tommy John Surgery), Price (Packaged in the Betts trade), Porcello (Free Agency), and Rodriguez (COVID-19) are all gone for the season leaving Eovaldi to anchor a pitching staff that has been doing nothing but struggle this past year. Martin Perez (5.06 ERA), Ryan Weber (11.57 ERA), Matt Hall (10.13 ERA), and Zach Godly (6.14 ERA) have not been performing well. 

The Red Sox bullpen hasn’t fared much better. It was the Sox’ biggest struggle in 2019 and they did nothing to fix it. Brandon Workman (2 SV) is their closer and he showed how good he was last season, but he’s been having his struggles to start the year. The rest of the bullpen is still having a hard time.

If the Red Sox want to improve and possibly make a wild card spot, they will need their entire team to start playing better, and they need their star players to start playing better than they currently are. 

Tampa Bay Rays (4-6, 4th place in the AL East)

Tampa was off to a pretty hot start but are now on a 5 game losing streak (2 vs ATL and getting swept by BAL). They’ve been pretty mediocre so far. Their hitting has been full of under the radar guys who nobody was expecting to be any good. Ji-Man Choi (112 OPS+), Brandon Lowe (1.002 OPS), Willy Adames (.872 OPS), Jose Martinez (.819 OPS), Joey Wendle (.304 AVG, 130 OPS+), and Mike Brosseau (.500 AVG) being the main players. Some of the hitters essential to their core like Mike Zunino, Yandy Diaz, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Kevin Kiermaier, and Mannuel Margot are gonna need to start producing more for the Rays to be as successful as they can be.

What has been successful is the Rays pitching, both their bullpen and starters. The Rays are synonymous with taking any pitcher and turning their careers around, thus making them the best pitching organization in baseball. They have the second best rotation in baseball with Ryan Yarbrough (1.54 ERA, 274 ERA+), Tyler Glasnow (137 ERA+), and Yonny Chirinos (0.00 ERA). Their two big name pitchers, Charlie Morton and Blake Snell haven’t been in their best forms through their first two starts but have been relatively successful for the most part. Their bullpen which is the best in baseball has once again become super filthy. They have 4 guys with above average ERA+ (Average being 100) being Oliver Drake (214), Jalen Beeks (107), Ryan Thompson (275), Jose Alvarado (184). They also have 4 other relievers with ERAs of 0.00; Nick Anderson, Aaron Loup, Chaz Roe, and Diego Castillo.

I have no doubt that the Rays will be able to bounce back and be top contenders for the AL East. But they will need the players who are struggling at the start to pick it up. Especially their hitters, since they have more than enough covered in the pitching department.

Toronto Blue Jays (3-4, 3rd place in the AL East)

The young Blue Jays had an electric start to the season. Taking opening day against the Rays and nearly winning game 3, and then taking 2 of 4 against the Nationals. What’s fueled them so far has been their young hitting core. Their big names from 2019 have been struggling to start the year, especially in the series vs Washington, with Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. all having a bad 4 game stretch during that time (Bichette didn’t play 3 of 4 due to a hamstring issue). They relied on their other guys to help them out and those other guys did very well. Teoscar Hernandez (T-2nd 4HR, .321 AVG), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.318 AVG), and Danny Jansen (128 OPS+) helping lead the hitting.

What’s been exciting for the Jays has been their new, revamped pitching staff. Led by their new ace Hyun-Jin Ryu (struggling in his first 2 starts), they have Matt Shoemaker (1.50 ERA), Tanner Roark (1.85 ERA), and Trent Thorton (2.25 ERA). What’s been their most important asset to the pitching has been their top prospect Nate Pearson. Pearson (MLB’s 8th  overall prospect) pitched brilliantly in his MLB Debut vs Washington pitching 5 shutout innings. He’s gonna be a valuable asset moving forward and if the Blue Jays want to try and make a wild card spot this year, they’re gonna need him. The bullpen has been solid so far, but they will need to get their closer Ken Giles (forearm) back from injury if they want some consistency. Anthony Bass (1 SV) has been solid so far, but they will also need Shun Yamaguchi (0-2, 36.00 ERA) to play a lot better too.

The Blue Jays could surprise people this year, and have an outside chance at a wild card this year, but the question will be about whether or not they can play with enough consistency to do it.

Baltimore Orioles (5-3, Second in the AL East)

If you were to have told me back when there was no threat of a pandemic that the Orioles would be in second place in the division at the start of August, i’d have given you some pretty weird looks. Now sure, it’s only a small sample size and they’re playing a bit over their heads but it’s an amusing scene to see nonetheless. The Orioles have 8 (yes 8) players with an above average OPS+ (The average is 100). Pedro Severino (190), Hanser Alberto (209), Jose Iglesias (229), Rio Ruiz (207), Dwight Smith Jr.(125), Chance Sisco (129), Anthony Santander (119), and Renato Nunez (130). Chris Davis even has one singular hit so that’s a bonus too.

Their pitching is as expected: It sucks. John Means was supposed to be their ace but he missed time due to injury, and in his first start back, he got shelled by the Yankees. The only starting pitcher doing well is Alex Cobb, who if he’s still doing well in a month could be moved at the deadline, which would be the best case scenario. Their bullpen has suspiciously been good. I say suspiciously because Miguel Castro, Mychel Givens, and Shawn Armstrong are not the first three guys you’d guess to have ERAs of 0.00. 

The Orioles shouldn’t be anywhere close to the top of the division and will probably go back to the bottom as the season goes on. But seeing them in this spot does seem pretty funny. Granted, it’s only been 7 games so of course everything is a bit inflated to start off.

New York Yankees (7-1, First in the AL East)

The Yankees are playing at the level everyone expected them to be at. They are an absolute machine that is stopping at nothing until they win. All of their bats have been performing at an elite level. They are led by Aaron Judge (T-2nd with 4 HR, 194 OPS+, 1.074 OPS), Giancarlo Stanton (1.160 OPS, 225 OPS+), Gio Urshela (.916 OPS, 157 OPS+), and DJ LeMahieu (.385 AVG, .923 OPS, 159 OPS+). Those 4 are just scratching the surface of the amount of talent this team has. Gleyber Torress has been a bit slow but still performing well, and Luke Voit has also been doing well. Bret Gardner (.063 AVG, 43 OPS+) is having some early season struggles just one year after setting a career high in home runs, but the biggest red flag is for Gary Sanchez (.56 AVG, -38 OPS+). Needless to say, a negative OPS+ is kinda bad. In this case that’s 138% worse than the average hitter. It’s only been 7 games so I wouldn’t worry about it that much but he cannot afford to let it go down anymore.

The Yankees also have a nice starting rotation. They haven’t been the best rotation in baseball like Yankee fans will try and convince you, but they still are good. Gerrit Cole has been ok so far. People will say that Cole was amazing for pitching a complete game his first start but that complete game was only 5 innings due to weather and he had only 3 strikeouts. J.A. Happ and James Paxton haven’t been any better with them both dealing with immense struggles their first times out, with Paxton only going 1 inning giving up 3 runs and Happ with 4 innings and 4 runs. Masahiro Tanaka looked good in his first start back after a concussion he suffered during summer camp. The bullpen looks just as disgusting as ever with Adam Ottovino, Chad Green, and Zack Britton all performing as advertised. Losing Tommy Kanhle to injury (forearm and likely Tommy John Surgery) sucks but they have Aroldis Chapman coming back (Covid).

The Yankees are a very good team and they know that. They’re essentially already locked in for a playoff spot but all they need is for their rotation and Gary Sanchez to figure out what their problems are and fix them. Like every Yankee team, it’s World Series or bust, especially after getting Gerrit Cole.

National League East

New York Mets (3-7  Last in the NL East)

When I was making my preseason analysis of each team, people called me crazy for saying the Mets were a mediocre team at best. After their July it has become apparent that I wasn’t too far off. Playing the Braves for 7 of their first 9 games doesn’t help but their issues were clearly exposed. They have a good lineup with guys like Robinson Cano (.393 AVG, 1.009 OPS, 190 OPS+), JD Davis (.320 AVG, .953 OPS, 173 OPS+), Jeff Mcneil (.300 AVG), Brandon Nimmo (158 OPS+), and Michael Conforto (.313 AVG, 145 OPS+) leading the charge. Unfortunately for them, some of the big name guys they need like Wilson Ramos, Amed Rosario, and 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso have all had slow starts to the year. Yoenis Cespdes was supposed to be a big savior to this lineup and he’s chosen to opt out. If the Mets are gonna succeed this year, they’re gonna need them all to start playing better, especially Alonso. Another thing costing this team is that they are being very anti-clutch. They can’t hit in times with runners in scoring position and it’s costing them chances to win games

What’s been costing the Mets is something that people always seem to be surprised by even though it costs them nearly each year for the past few years: The pitching. Jacob deGrom has been good as he’s expected to be but whenever he pitches, he always gets little to no run support. Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello have both had bad starts and they are essential to that rotation since Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are both out with injuries. 

The only bullpen pitcher with an above average OPS+ (100) is Seth Lugo (117). All of their big name relievers like Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Delin Betances, and Justin Wilson have been underachieving this year especially Diaz, who is supposed to be a lights out closer. This bullpen has already hilariously blown two games against the Braves and it looks like they won’t be the last ones for them either.

I know it’s easy to make fun of the Mets, but they’ve not looked good this year and their wins have been against the weak pitching of the Red Sox. Even in their other win on opening day, the Mets offense lacked any offensive power. If things keep going this way, it’s gonna be a long season in Flushing.

Philadelphia Phillies (1-2 4th in The NL East)

The Phillies were a team that was looking good despite losing a series to the Marlins. However, because the Marlins decided to be idiots, the Phillies haven’t been able to play for a week now. The only reason they’re in 4th place is because positions are based on percentages, and they have a .333 win percentage after only 3 game (though the Mets losing 5 in a row moved them up a spot). In those 3 games, the Phillies didn’t look good at all. The only real performers were Didi Gregorius (2HR, .364 AVG, 1.371 OPS, 276 OPS+) and Jay Bruce (.958 OPS, 164 OPS+) Everyone else was looking pretty underwhelming for the most part. The pitching looked somewhat good. Zach Wheeler had a really good first start for the phillies and the bullpen was good. The problem is that you can’t assume any of this can be taken accurately because they got screwed out of playing thanks to the Marlins. The Phillies did nothing wrong and making any opinion on them wouldn’t be fair to them.

Washington Nationals (3-4, Third in the NL East)

The reigning World Champions started the season 1-4 which if they want to repeat as champions, should be as close to 19-31 as the team can get this year (even though the correct math would be for them to go 7-11). The team was dealt a big blow losing Juan Soto (Covid) and their hitting looked weak against their 4 games vs the Blue Jays. That being said, they have some great hitters in the lineup. Mainly Starlin Castro (.360 AVG, .905 OPS, 146 OPS+), Adam Eaton (121 OPS+), Victor Robles (.304 AVG, 128 OPS+), and Carter Kieboom (.444 AVG, 187 OPS+). Most of their other bats like Trea Turner, Howie Kendrick, Eric Thames, Kurt Suzuki, and Asdrubel Cabrera have been solid so far, but need to perform better.

What the Nationals exceed at best is their starting rotation. They have the best rotation in Baseball and they’ve all performed as advertised. Max Scherzer (21Ks in 12.2 Innings, 160 ERA+), Patrick Corbin (1.42 ERA), Austin Voth (132 ERA+), and Erick Fedde (126 ERA+). World Series MVP Stephen Strasberg has been out with a right hand nerve issue but as seen above, Erick Fedde has filled in his spot and is doing very well. What surprised me the most was the Nats’ bullpen. It was the worst in baseball last year and now it’s one of the best. Ryne Harper (acquired in a trade with Minnesota in the offseason) has been an absolute stud so far. Daniel Hudson (1 SV) Tanner Rainey (247 ERA+), Javy Guerra (198 ERA+), and Sam Freeman (0.00 ERA) have all been performing very well too. 

The Nationals have the weekend off since they can’t play Miami, so having the time off lets them get Soto (Covid), Kendrick (Back), and Strasburg (Hand) back from injuries and be back at full strength as the season moves forward.

Miami Marlins (2-1 Tied for Second Place in the NL East)

The Miami Marlins don’t deserve to be in second place. They won 2 of 3 vs Philadelphia and then decided to go to a strip club and all got Covid causing both them and the Phillies to be shut down for a week. They’re only in second because they have a .667 winning percentage. The thing is they were playing good. Magneuris Sierra, Corey Dickerson, Jesus Aguilar and Miguel Rojas were all off to really good starts. Sandy Alcantara had a fantastic opening day performance and Brandon Kintzler looked like a great closer. The problem is that they decided to be idiots and ruin the pace of the season for multiple teams. They’ll most likely be at the bottom of the division soon and they honestly kinda deserve it this time.

Atlanta Braves (7-3 Tied for First Place in the NL East)

The Braves are so far performing as they were expected to. Sure, they got to play the Mets a lot to start the year, but in those games they’ve looked really good. The hitting is led by Dansby Swanson (.382 AVG, 1.064 OPS 189 OPS+), Freddie Freeman (132 OPS+), and Marcell Ozuna (.367 AVG, 1.253 OPS. 240 OPS+). Having Travis D’arnaud back (Covid) has already shown his impact in the lineup helping with an epic comeback vs the Mets. Unfortunately, the Braves big names like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies have both been struggling to start the year. The pitching has looked solid so far, with Mike Soroka (1.59 ERA) and Max Fried (2.31 ERA) have both been very good while others like Sean Newcomb and Kyle Wright haven’t look good so far. Mike Foltynewicz was DFA’d immediately after a bad start vs Tampa. The bullpen on the other hand has looked good so far, with only Touki Toussaint being the real outlier. Everyone else has been very good to start off. 

The Braves have shown they’re good, but they’ll still need their big names to step it up after their slow starts. On a good pace for the division already.

American League Central

Kansas City Royals (3-7, Last Place in the AL Central

The Royals are unsurprisingly at the bottom of the league. They’re in the midst of a tank year so there were never any expectations for them to begin with. Their hitters aren’t very flashy or exciting, minus Whit Merrifield (.324 AVG, 1.024 OPS, 183 OPS+) who the Royals need to trade for a big return to help with their rebuild and Jorge Soler (.953 OPS, 168 OPS+). Ryan O’Hearn (.333 AVG, .819 OPS) is showing some good signs at being a part of the Royals’ future. They also have some pretty unimpressive pitching with the only exciting pitcher being top prospect Brady Singer who’s been good so far. 

It might feel like this team’s section is a bit rushed, but there really isn’t anything that impressive about this team. They were expected to tank and are so far accomplishing that. Royals fans need to wait a few more seasons before their top draft picks and prospects make it to the show. Otherwise they need to keep tanking.

Detroit Tigers (5-5 4th Place in the AL Central)

How? Just how are the Tigers doing so well? The Tigers are a team that should be tanking in the basement of the league and are instead beating a team as good as the Reds. They’re a team of guys who are playing way over their heads right now. Jacoby Jones (.423 AVG, 1.349 OPS, 269 OPS+) in particular is the main cause for this. Other guys like Jonathan Schoop (.300 AVG, .903 OPS, 146 OPS+), CJ Cron (127 OPS+), and Austin Romine (.316 AVG, 143 OPS+) are all helping carry this team to victory. Literally nobody else on the team, both hitting or pitching is even good. I’m just surprised at how a team like this is standing up to a team like the Reds and beating them as consistently as they are. Do I think they’ll keep this up? No. I firmly believe the Tigers will go back to tanking but at least they have guys that’ll be tradable at the trade deadline

Cleveland Indians (5-5 3rd Place in the AL Central) 

I’ll admit that I expected this team to crumble on themselves but so far they’ve been pretty good. The hitting on this team has been very underwhelming. The only effective hitters on the team are Jose Ramirez (.375 AVG, 1.099 OPS, 203 OPS+) who has gone back to his MVP form, and Cesar Hernandez (.300 AVG). Unfortunately those are the only two guys who’ve been hitting well. Oscar Mercado and Jordan Luplow both have negative OPS+, and Franmil Reyes has an OPS+ of 29. They need Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana to be hitting better since both of them have been league average so far. 

What they lack in hitting however, they excel in pitching. I personally wasn’t buying in to the Indians’ rotation but after seeing them in action I realized how wrong I was. Look no further than Shane Bieber. Bieber has 27 strikeouts in 14 innings and hasn’t given up a single run yet. He is easily the front runner for AL Cy Young right now and he’s only the beginning for this staff. They have Carlos Carrasco (120 ERA+), Mike Clevinger (11 Ks in 11 Innings), Zach Plesac (3 hits in 8 innings), Adam Civale (155 ERA+), and Adam Plutko (155 ERA+). They also have had a lockdown bullpen with only their closer Brad Hand (2 SV) having given up any runs so far.

I still don’t buy into this team and I think that in the long run the White Sox will finish better than the Indians. I just think that something is gonna give with this pitching and August will be a big test for them moving forward.

Chicago White Sox (5-4 2nd place in the AL Central)

 The White Sox are a team that should be better than their record suggests. They have a really good lineup with some really good hitters. Luis Robert (MLB’s NO. 3 overall Prospect) has lived up to the hype (.364 AVG, 1.014 OPS, 181 OPS+). Their guys from last year are also still performing well. These guys are Eloy Jimenez (.381 AVG, 1.153 OPS, 218 OPS+), Yoan Moncada (.345 AVG, .941 OPS, 165 OPS+), and Leury Garcia (.321 AVG, .923 OPS, 157 OPS+). Tim Anderson was even doing well before he went down with an injury (groin). The hitters that have been struggling have been the hitters they picked up in the offseason: Jose Abreu (Re-signed), Yasmani Grandal, and Edwin Encarnacion have all been underwhelming so far.  What’s holding the White Sox back is their pitching. The only effective starter so far has been Dallas Keuchel (3.32 ERA) but everyone else has not been good, both starters and bullpen. Lucas Giolito is looking like his 2019 was a fluke, and top prospect Dylan Cease hasn’t shown any good progress either.

I believe that the White Sox will rebound and be a lot better, but as of right now, they’re in a tough spot but it’s a spot that they can easily climb out of if they can get their bats rolling a bit more, and their pitching can be better.

Minnesota Twins (7-2 1st place in the AL Central)

The Twins are playing exactly as we assumed by being a top team in the AL, but their offense hasn’t been as big as we first thought. Using the eye test, you’d think they were a lot better than their stats suggest (I was surprised too). The big name they got is Nelson Cruz (.333 AVG, 1.127 OPS, 211 OPS+) but aside from him, nobody else’s stat lines are big and flashy. Everyone else has below average, or bad hitting stats, particularly Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, and Josh Donaldson. I do believe they’ll all get better as the season continues but for now I wouldn’t say they’re the best offense in the AL. 

What has been working for them is their pitching. I had faith in this staff unlike a lot of people and they’ve been performing very well. Kenta Maeda (1.64 ERA, 264 ERA+), Randy Dobnak (1.00 ERA, 435 ERA+), Rich Hill (0.00 ERA), and Homer Bailey (125 ERA+) have all been very good to start. Oddly enough, Jose Berrios, their ace has been their worst pitcher so far but I think he’ll settle in to be a lot better than his current 7.00 ERA. They also have a sneaky good bullpen that’s been very good so far. Taylor Rogers (3 SV) is continuing his dominance as a great closer in the game. Everyone else in the bullpen, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Cody Stashak, and Tyler Duffy have all been very good.

The Twins may be winning their division now, but they need their offense to start picking it up. Many of their big names haven’t been performing at the elite level they’re expected to be at and the Twins will need them to if they want to finally beat the Yankees. 

National League Central

Pittsburgh Pirates (2-7 Last Place in the NL Central)

The Pirates are about where they’re expected to be, dead in the basement of the NL Central. The entire lineup has been very bad so far except for one guy, Colin Moran. Moran has taken the league by storm, leading the league in Home Runs (5) and having a 1.260 OPS and a 239 OPS+. He is the only reason this team is even relevant right now. Josh Bell, who was the teams’ big star in 2019 has failed on repeating his great season from last year. Their pitching is also in pretty bad shape as none of the pitchers for starters or relievers have been any good. The Pirates know their tanking (that’s why they changed manager and GM in the offseason) so they’ll probably be here in the bottom for the rest of the season and a while to come.

St. Louis Cardinals (2-3 4th place in the NL Central)

Nice job Cardinals, you saw what the Marlins did and decided that you wanted to have a team covid outbreak too. Now you’ve put your team in jeopardy of missing significant time. The Cardinals were looking good to start off. Their big gunners were Tyler O’Neil (145 OPS+), Tommy Edman (130 OPS+), and Paul Goldschmidt (.316 AVG, 140 OPS+). The rest of the lineup wasn’t that impressive after those three. In terms of pitching, Jack Flaherty (173 ERA+) and Adam Wainwright (1.50 ERA, 298 ERA+) were off to good starts, but they both only got one start and it’s hard to tell when the other guys have all had 2 or 3. The rest of their rotation hasn’t fared better with Carlos Martinez having a bad return to the rotation to start off. The bullpen is good for the most part, but big name pieces like Andrew Miller, and Kwang-Hyun Kim struggled to start. This team better hope their covid incident isn’t as bad as Miami’s or they’re in big trouble, especially since they’re in a division where anyone can win it. 

Cincinnati Reds (4-5 3rd Place in the NL Central)

I optimistically said the Reds were gonna beat the Dodgers and be the NL team in the World Series. Unfortunately, after seeing how this team started the year, I’m starting to have doubts. The thing is, everything I praised about this team ended up being good. The hitting got a big boost from Mike Moustakas (.357 AVG, 1.223 OPS, 231 OPS+) and Nick Castellanos (.375 AVG, 1.213 OPS, 231 OPS+). Joey Votto was doing well too (136 OPS+) before he was recently placed on the IL (Covid). These guys are just scratching the surface of how good the offense for them has been. Nearly everyone has been productive offensively. 

The biggest asset to the Reds is their pitching. Their staff is the third best in the MLB and they’ve been dominant so far. Their ace Sonny Gray has been dominating the league since moving to Cincy (.71 ERA, 635 ERA+, 20Ks). They also have Luis Castillo who’s been league average so far, and Trevor Bauer (1.42 ERA, 326 ERA+) to cap off their big 3. What’s been holding them back and costing them games is their bullpen. All of their big name relievers like Raisel Iglesias (2 SV), Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, and Brooks Raley have not been good so far and are costing them games. I especially don’t trust Raisel Iglesias as the closer anymore because like last year, he gives up a lot more runs than a closer should. If the Reds want to be the top dogs they’ve been projected to be, than the bullpen is gonna need to be a lot better. If the 2019 Nationals proved anything it’s that the Reds at least have a shot if things don’t change.

Milwaukee Brewers (3-3 2nd place in the NL Central)

Congrats Brewers, not only do you have to suffer from a team being idiots and causing a covid outbreak, but you also get to be incredibly mediocre in only the span of 6 games. When I say they are mediocre, all you have to do is look at how they’ve been during games. One game they’ll be outsourcing their opponents by a lot, and then the next they’ll be scoring nothing. Keston Hiura (137 OPS+), Ben Gamel (.974 OPS, 166 OPS+), and Orlando Arcia (121 OPS+) have been good so far, but they’ve suffered two big hits. One, is that Lorenzo Cain, who was a veteran leader for the team chose to opt out of the season after having a good start. The second is the Brewers’ MVP Christian Yelich who has been very bad to start the year. He started the season 1-27 and he’s supposed to be the team’s best player. So far, the pitching has also been pretty average. Brandon Woodruff (1.59 ERA, 274 ERA+) and Adrian Houser (1.80 ERA, 251 ERA+) have both been good starters, but everyone else including the bullpen hasn’t shown enough consistency. For this team to be better, they need their hitters (especially Yelich) to step it up big time, and for their pitchers to be more consistently good.

Chicago Cubs (7-2 1st in the NL Central)

The Chicago Cubs are starting this season well. Exactly as they’ve done the past few years. They still have a really good lineup, with all but two (Kris Bryant and Jayson Heyward) having above average hitting stats. They have 3 guys in their lineup that have an OPS over 1.000. Ian Happ, Wilson Contreras, and Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez has an OPS of .908. They even have had really good starting pitching. Kyle Hendriks threw a complete game shutout on opening day. Yu Darvish has started out well so far. Jon Lester, Alec Mills, and Tyler Chatwood have all also pitched well.  The problem for the Cubs is their bullpen. This cubs bullpen is hilariously bad, and it’s even worse than what it was last year (and it was very bad last year too). In particular, this Craig Kimbrel guy they’re paying 13 Million a year to be the closer. He’s been bad. In fact calling him bad would be an understatement. Not to mention that every other arm they have in there has had struggles to start the year so far. 

I don’t buy what the Cubs are trying to sell. Yes they have a good team but it’s essentially the same team that had a hilarious collapse last year. How long can they go with this bad bullpen? How long can the pitching keep it up? Only time will tell for now.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels (3-7 Last Place in the AL West)

Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani, center, of Japan, and Mike Trout, right, head to the dugout after Ohtani’s two-run home run off Minnesota Twins pitcher Jose Berrios (not shown) in the third inning of a baseball game Monday, May 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. Twins catcher Jason Castro, left, looks on. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The Angels are going about exactly as everybody expected them to. Great hitting only to be ruined by very bad pitching. I could honestly end this whole section right there but there’s not really much else to say. David Fletcher (.394 AVG, .967 OPS, 177 OPS+), Mike Trout (131 OPS+), Anthony Rendon (143 OPS+), and Jason Castro (132 OPS+) have been great hitters. The rotation has been good to start off. Dylan Bundy (153 ERA+), Griffin Canning (129 ERA+), and Andrew Heany (157 ERA+) all have been performing well so far but every other pitcher has been bad so far. Unfortunately, Shohei Ohtani has been struggling both on the mound, and in the batter’s box. The Angels are not expected to be good even though they are trying their hardest to. What they need to is either pray the pitching turns around, or watch Mike Trout miss the playoffs yet again.

Texas Rangers (3-5 4th in the AL West)

The Rangers are a team that I said would be either very dangerous or very weak. Unfortunately, it’s the latter. The Rangers only have two players on their team that are performing any good this year. For the hitting, it’s unsurprisingly Joey Gallo (.927 OPS, 161 OPS+) who keeps doing nothing but mash baseballs into the stands of the new (and amazing looking) Globe Life Field. For the pitching, it’s been all Lance Lynn (0.00 ERA) posting up great numbers and establishing that 2019 wasn’t a fluke for him. The Rangers will probably keep being a sub mediocre team going forward and there isn’t much to look forward to for their future, considering that this year is gonna determine their new direction

Seattle Mariners (4-6 3rd in the AL West)

The Mariners are in a rebuilding year but some of their big names have been showing some good signs of development. Mainly JP Crawford (.364 AVG, .994 OPS, 184 OPS+) and most surprisingly, rookie Kyle Lewis (.444 AVG, 1.111 OPS, 216 OPS+) who has taken the league by storm and is an early Rookie of the Year candidate. The pitching side hasn’t been great, but it has at least one bright side being Marco Gonzales (2.52 ERA, 171 ERA+). Aside from that there’s nothing else really there. The Mariners are continuing their rebuild so they’ll probably be winning less games than they’ve been to start the season. It should also be expected for the Mariners to be active during the trade deadline, like they have been for the past few trade seasons. 

Oakland Athletics (5-4 Tied for first place in the AL West)

The Oakland Athletics may be tied for first in their division, but they haven’t looked very impressive. Most of there guys have just been very ok and league average stat wise. Their big stars haven’t been all that big for them so far this season. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson both haven’t had their bats be consistent enough for the A’s and most of their depth hasn’t been performing well either and 3 of their players have a negative OPS+. Their pitching has been what’s carrying them so far this year and it’s been pretty good. Frankie Montas (3.00 ERA, 139 ERA+) has been their best starter but none of the other starters have been that impressive so far. What has been their biggest asset is their strong bullpen. 6 of their guys all have ERAs of 0 and a combined Bullpen ERA of 2.12. The Athletics seem like they’ll improve as the season progresses, but they need their bats to start swinging better sooner rather than later. 

Houston Astros (5-4 Tied for first place in the AL West)

Everyone knows about the Astros and why they’ve been under close watch this year. If you’re a fan of karma, then you may be happy with how things have been going for the Astros. Needless to say, it’s been a bad scenario for them. All of their star players and big names have been struggling and if it’s related to what we think, than it’s a bad sign for the team. Jose Altuve (.188 AVG), Alex Bregman (.188 AVG), and George Springer (.172 AVG). Even for a normal team having three guys batting these averages is bad enough but with what’s possibly at stake for the Astros, it’s even worse. At least they have Michael Brantley (.393 AVG, 1.076 OPS, 200 OPS+) who was not on the cheating team still playing well.

Speaking of being worse, the Astros lost all their pitching. They already lost significant arms in the offseason but not doing anything about it is coming back to haunt them. Their pitching staff is being anchored by two 37 year olds, Justin Verlander and Zach Greinke. Verlander is down with an injury (Forearm) and will be out for a while. None of their other starters (including Greinke) have done well to start the season. Their bullpen has delt with so many injuries (including just today with Roberto Osuna) that their entire bullpen consists of rookies. Literally every bullpen arm they have right now is a rookie. But they did sign 43 year old Fernando Rodney this past week so they’ll be fine (no they won’t).

The Astros are in a bad situation right now. If their hitting really did rely on cheating to win, and their pitching can’t handle all the pressure, than this team may not be as strong as everyone thought.

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks (3-7 Last in the NL West)

The Arizona Diamondbacks, a team expected to be an under the radar playoff contender is now at the bottom of the division. The D-Backs issue is that only three of their hitters have been showing up when they need. As expected, the two Martes, have been leading the way with Ketel Marte(.343 AVG, .886 OPS, 143 OPS+) who was 4th in NL MVP in 2019 continuing where he left off and Starling Marte (124 OPS+) who was their big hitting acquisition this past offseason, Their other big hitter is Christian Walker (.323 AVG, 128 OPS+) who is also continuing off a great 2019. 

The pitching has been this team’s biggest problem so far, with the only effective pitchers being Zac Gallen (2.70 ERA, 165 ERA+), Merrill Kelly (1.70 ERA, 384 ERA+), and their closer Archie Bradley (2.45 ERA, 190 ERA+, 2 SV). None of the other pitchers they have have been lights out and they have some trouble with the bullpen. The Diamondbacks have a good enough team to rebound and compete for a playoff spot but if this start is a sign of how things will go, it’s not looking good for them.

San Francisco Giants (5-5 4th in the NL West)

The Giants are a team that should be a lot worse than they actually are, but to everyone’s surprise they are doing somewhat well when you look at how everyone expected them to play. They have two main players in basically carrying them through the first part of the season. Mike Yastrzemski (.400 AVG, 1.328 OPS, 276 OPS+) is showing that his great rookie season in 2019 was far from a fluke, and a big breakout season for Donovan Solano (.448 AVG, 1.123 OPS, 216 OPS+) The team’s pitching is pretty bad and all of the guys they have, both starters and bullpen. I expect the Giants to regress in the level they play at since I doubt they stay at .500 for much longer, let alone the entire season. They surprised us last year, so anything’s possible in a 60 game season.

San Diego Padres (6-4 3rd in the NL West)

The San Diego Padres started off very well. All aspects of their team are pointing in the right direction with how their rebuild has gone. Their hitting is incredibly talented, featuring Fernando Tatis Jr. (.976 OPS, 170 OPS+), Tommy Pham (124 OPS+), and Trent Grisham (1.021 OPS, 180 OPS+) all of whom have shined so far this year for San Diego. They also were getting some great production out of Eric Hosmer (.500 AVG, 1.583 OPS, 334 OPS+) before he got injured (Stomach). 

The pitching for the Padres has been a very good asset, more so the starters than the relievers. Chris Paddack (1.64 ERA, 269 ERA+), Dinelson Lamet (1.80 ERA, 245 ERA+), Zach Davies (3.60 ERA, 127 ERA+), and Garrett Richards (3.38 ERA, 131 ERA+). What scares me a bit is there bullpen, which was projected to be really good, but has struggled a bit to start the season. Mainly Emilio Pagan, who was supposed to be their big acquisition this offseason. If the Padres can continue their great hitting, and their bullpen can get their act together, than the Padres have a great shot at making the playoffs this year, and finally seeing their rebuild start to payoff.

Colorado Rockies (7-3 tied for 1st place in the NL West)

The Rockies have been the MLB’s biggest surprise team this year. Everybody thought they were gonna fall because of bad pitching, but it’s been the exact opposite for them so far. Their pitching has been their greatest asset. All four of their starters have had great starts to this season. Kyle Freeland (1.50 ERA, 290 ERA+), Antonia Senzatela (3.60 ERA, 126 ERA+), Jon Gray (2.61 ERA, 167 ERA+), and German Marquez (1.54 ERA, 282 ERA+). Not only have their starters been very good, but their bullpen has also been very good. 

Oddly enough, it’s been the hitting core for the Rockies that’s been their weakness so far. The main leaders for them have been Trevor Story(.385 AVG, 1.346 OPS, 272 OPS+) , Charlie Blackmon (.333 AVG, 130 OPS+),  and Matt Kemp (.333 AVG, 1.278 OPS, 255 OPS+). I expect it to be a lot better as time goes on, with big names like Nolan Arenado, Daniel Murphy, and David Dahl all getting more time at Coors Field as the season goes on. If the Rockies can keep up their current pace with the pitching and get their hitting to improve, they might shock the world and end up in the playoffs. They’re already tied with the Dodgers for the division right now so nothing’s stopping them from trying.

Los Angeles Dodgers (6-2 tied for 1st place in the NL West)

Our final team to discuss is the LA Dodgers, who’ve been hyped to be the best team in baseball, and they’re surely playing like it. They have been strong in every asset in the game and they will take down anyone that stands in there way. Their great hitting is as strong as advertised with Max Muncy (144 OPS+), Corey Seager (.361 AVG, 1.116 OPS, 207 OPS+), and AJ Pollock (.391 AVG, 1.244 OPS, 241 OPS+) leading the way. Mookie Betts has only been passable so far and hasn’t been extremely elite like he was hyped and now being paid to be like. Cody Bellinger, the reigning NL MVP, has been pretty bad so far to start the year and if the Dodgers are gonna be the elites of the NL, they’re gonna need him to be playing like his 2019 season.

The pitching has been just as good as their hitting. Their two top pitchers, Walker Buheler and Clayton Kershaw have been ok and injured respectively. But the other three starters they have are dominating like the other two would normally. Ross Stripling (2.82 ERA, 150 ERA+), Dustin May (2.45 ERA, 179 ERA+), and Julio Urias (2.35 ERA, 190 ERA+) all have dominated so far. Their bullpen is just as deadly with tons of guys having 0 ERAs, and one guy in particular, Brusdar Graterol has been absolutely filthy with every pitch he throws. He touches 100 MPH without even trying.

Like at the start of the season, anything we say about the Dodgers means nothing until the playoffs. They’re essentially guaranteed to win their division since they’re in an entire tier of their own. I still have doubts that they’ll succeed in the playoffs but that’s a discussion for another day. Long story short: The Dodgers are really good and are gonna try and destroy anyone in their way.

Current Playoff Picture:

AL: 

  • Yankees, Orioles
  • Twins, White Sox, Indians, Tigers
  • Astros, Athletics

NL:

  • Braves, Marlins
  • Cubs, Brewers
  • Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Giants

Still a long way to go. Season is about 1/6 done already so a lot of teams gotta start moving

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