A quarter of an MLB season—40 games, give or take—isn’t that long in cosmic baseball terms. The sport operates on razor-thin margins: The difference between a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter, said the baseball philosopher Crash Davis, is a hit a week. And it takes time for the bounces, breaks, and calls to even out. But usually by this point, teams’ preseason expectations, underlying talent, midseason statistics, and position in the standings have coalesced to form a coherent pennant race. Things do get weird sometimes (last year, in a fit of mid-pandemic hysteria, I bumped the Orioles from 30th to 11th in my first midseason update). But that’s generally the exception.
This year, however, is just an unadulterated mindfuck. The Royals started 14-7, but then lost 11 games in a row. The A’s started 0-6, then won 13 games in a row; their run differential is only 12 runs better than Minnesota’s, but the A’s are in first place and the Twins are last. The Dodgers are first in the NL in OPS+ and second in runs per game, and their rotation’s been great. But thanks to a 1-6 record in extra-inning games and a 4-11 record in one-run games, L.A. is in third place. So what should be the best team in the NL is now floating a couple of games over .500, like the last orange slice in a bucket of jungle juice, hours after the cops broke up the party.
It’s a mess! At the risk of undermining the multiple thousands of words coming next, I briefly considered just throwing darts at a printout of the MLB standings to order my quarter-season power rankings. This is not that order. Or maybe it is—I bet you can’t tell.
1. Chicago White Sox
These White Sox have two middle-of-the-order hitters on the injured list for the next few months, are starting Billy Hamilton on a part-time basis in center field, and are getting worse production from nominal ace Lucas Giolito than any other pitcher in their rotation. And yet they’re in first place in the AL Central, with the best record in the American League and the best run differential in all of baseball. Just like they drew it up.
It helps that absent Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez, just about everyone else in the lineup is producing. That includes Yasmani Grandal, who’s hitting .132 but walking in more than a quarter of his plate appearances, as if he’s conducting a science experiment to see whether it’s possible to get his wRC+ higher than his batting average; and Yermín Mercedes, a minor league DH nobody had heard of two months ago, who’s hitting like prime Frank Thomas. Coming into the season, the White Sox were set up to rely heavily on two hard-throwing rookies (Garrett Crochet and Michael Kopech) and two talented starters who’d burned off their prospect hype (Carlos Rodón and Dylan Cease). They needed at least two of those four pitchers to be effective to contend, and fortunately all four have been awesome so far.
Chicago has had an easy schedule through the first quarter of the season—the White Sox have played just 17 games against teams with records over .500, lowest in the AL. But good teams beat up bad teams, and they’ll be happy to have banked these wins when tougher competition comes around.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
It feels weird to rank a third-place team second in all of MLB, particularly when that team recently went through a 4-14 stretch. But these are strange times, and if you put a gun to my head and asked me which club was going to end the season with the most wins … well, first of all, that’d be just about the strangest crime in history. But despite their wonky start, the Dodgers would be my pick.
First of all, they’ve arrived at their current situation in strange circumstances. The aforementioned weirdness in one-run and extra-inning contests speaks for itself, and while this bullpen isn’t exactly the 1990 Reds, it also isn’t bad enough to sink a team that’s second in the NL in runs scored per game and first in wRC+, with an elite starting rotation that’s been producing elite results. That, combined with a ludicrous list of injuries—just as Cody Bellinger looks close to returning, Corey Seager breaks his hand—has cost the Dodgers a shot at the all-time wins record and left them so short on bench depth they’re trying to wring the last bit of production out of Albert Pujols.
Second, the Dodgers have weathered that losing streak without doing too much damage to their position in the standings. As of this moment, they’re in a playoff spot and sit just two games out of first place in the NL West and the no. 1 seed in the National League. Both FanGraphs and PECOTA still give the Dodgers the highest playoff odds in baseball, and for good reason.
3. Boston Red Sox
I don’t trust this team yet. Too much of this offense has been carried by J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers. And too much of Boston’s run prevention rests on guys like Nick Pivetta and Martín Pérez, who are outpitching their respective DRAs by about a run and a half. Not to mention they’ve played the Orioles 10 times and yet somehow have yet to face the Yankees. I thought it was against league rules to go six weeks without a Red Sox–Yankees series.
But the Sox are here, almost directly contradicting the logic behind ranking the Dodgers second, because it’s hard to argue with their results: They’re tied for the second-best record in the AL and have the third-best run differential. (This, in concert with Chicago’s impressive start, illustrates the hegemony of socks over all other articles of clothing. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have never been so proud.) There’s also the fact that unlike Chicago, the Red Sox have managed to build a lead over a division in which everyone—including the Yankees, who have recovered from their troubling early-season swoon—is playing pretty well.
4. San Diego Padres
It’s been a bumpy start for San Diego. Fernando Tatis Jr. was teetering on the verge of a catastrophic shoulder injury, and then he—along with about half the starting lineup—landed on the IL due to COVID protocols. Blake Snell is having trouble finding the strike zone, Tommy Pham is slugging .235, and Ha-Seong Kim is hitting .190/.247/.286.
And yet the Padres are in a virtual dead heat with the Dodgers in the NL West race. The two most talented teams in the National League stumbled out of the gate, but nobody’s raced far enough out in front to take full advantage.
5. Houston Astros
A common criticism of modern baseball offense is that you don’t see teams manufacturing runs anymore—that it’s all about hitting home runs instead of bunting, and hit-and-runs, and so forth. (Critics often conveniently forget to trace this style of play further back than the early-2000s Athletics, when Earl Weaver was espousing “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer,” but that’s an argument for another time.) The reality is that a modern sequential offense does have those elements—they just look a little different. The Astros won pennants in 2017 and 2019 by stringing hits together. (Though the trash can thing didn’t hurt.) Sure, everyone in the lineup had at least some power, but the strength of those teams was the absence of any easy outs in the batting order.
We’re seeing that again in Houston’s lineup this year. Yes, they’d rather have George Springer in center field than Myles Straw, but of the 11 Astros with at least 50 plate appearances this season, eight have a wRC+ of 115 or better, and nine are striking out at or below the league-average rate of 24.1 percent. The result: the best teamwide wRC+ in the game (120), by far the lowest strikeout rate (18.6 percent), and more runs scored per game (5.25) than any other team in the American League.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
I’m not really sure what else we were supposed to expect. Jack Flaherty got beat up on Opening Day but has won his past seven starts. Yadier Molina is starting fights and slugging almost .600. Nolan Arenado has taken to playing at sea level quite nicely, hitting .300/.353/.563. And the Cardinals are getting a few breaks. Right-hander John Gant is walking 7.1 batters per nine innings, but his ERA (1.83) calls to mind the work of American singer-songwriter John Grant. The chorus to Grant’s song “GMF” goes: “I am the greatest motherfucker that you’re ever gonna meet / From the top of my head to the tips of the toes on my feet.”
All told, the Cardinals are 23-18, with the biggest lead over second place (two games) of any division leader in the NL. Same as it ever was.
7. New York Yankees
The world seemed about to end on April 18, when the Yankees were 5-10 and in last place in the AL East. Since then, the Yankees have gone 17-8, and Giancarlo Stanton, who was getting booed just about every plate appearance in mid-April, has hit .350/.416/.638 with basically a league-average strikeout rate. Most first-month-of-the-season things that look fluky turn out to be fluky.
8. San Francisco Giants
Children of the ’90s are Having A Moment in pop culture right now, from Girls5Eva to Hanson’s run on The Masked Singer to that Medium article that coined the phrase “Geriatric Millennials.” It’s a good time to be in your mid-30s, particularly if you wear a black-and-orange baseball cap to work. The Giants have ascended to first place in the NL West because their Elder Millennials, much like chicken that’d get you sent home from Top Chef, aren’t quite as cooked as everyone thought.
At 34 years young, Brandon Crawford is on pace to hit 40 home runs. Johnny Cueto, one of the best pitchers of the 2010s, is off to his best start in five years at the age of 35. Evan Longoria, also 35, is hitting .241/.346/.420; his 117 OPS+ would better any full-season mark he’s posted since 2016. And the 34-year-old Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey, who opted out of the 2020 season, has jump-started his Hall of Fame case by hitting .382/.466/.685. Posey had drifted off the radar somewhat as the Giants went from dynastic power to expensive also-ran, but this guy was one of the two or three best position players in the world at his peak, and he’s playing like it once again.
9. Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto is hanging with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, despite getting basically nothing from top free agent signing George Springer and top pitching prospect Nate Pearson. It helps when one of the most talented young hitters in the league puts it all together.
The player comparison I keep wanting to make for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is Bryce Harper. Harper is the better all-around athlete, but the two have a similar combination of bat control and strike zone judgment, and they’re among the most hyped hitting prospects to come through MLB in the past decade. Harper was a very good player in his first three big league seasons, but not the second coming of Ted Williams that he was supposed to be. Then, at age 22, he found that extra gear, hit .330/.460/.649, and was the unanimous NL MVP.
Vladito has been an above-average hitter early in his career, but now, at age 22, he’s hitting .319/.440/.609. So just keep that comparison in your back pocket if he keeps this up through award season.
10. New York Mets
This year’s NL East race is interesting to watch because it involves four big-market teams with championship aspirations and demanding fan bases. And all four have face-planted to one extent or another to start the season, which means everyone’s freaking out.
Take the Mets, for instance. This is a pretty bad defensive team that was going to need to score a lot of runs to compete, but basically their entire starting lineup has underachieved. That includes their two big offseason acquisitions: Francisco Lindor (71 OPS+) and James McCann (46 OPS+). The Mets are scoring a mere 3.58 runs per game, which is 28th in MLB. And with Jacob deGrom and Carlos Carrasco on the IL, the pitching staff isn’t exactly bulletproof either.
But they’re in first place! And not just because the division’s been a meat grinder—the Mets are just a game behind the Dodgers and two games out of the no. 1 seed in the NL. Context is important in a pennant race. Maybe your team sucks, but it’ll be OK as long as they suck a little less than the teams chasing them.
11. Oakland A’s
It turns out that this will not be the year that A.J. Puk and Jesús Luzardo are both healthy all season. But fear not: The A’s just keep finding pitchers. Cole Irvin, last seen getting drummed out of literally the worst bullpen of all time, has a 3.02 ERA in eight starts. (Neither he nor the A’s care that his DRA is double that at the moment.) And James Kaprielian—the former UCLA ace and first-round pick who, thanks to multiple injuries, threw just 29 1/3 competitive minor league innings across his first four seasons—just earned his first MLB win. What a time to be alive.
12. Philadelphia Phillies
Another team that feels like a disaster but remains very well situated in the standings. The front three of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin has been very good—as has the talented but frustrating Vince Velasquez. Since joining the rotation on April 23, Velasquez has posted a 2.84 ERA and held opponents to a .200 batting average in five starts. Andrew McCutchen, who looked washed in late April, has caught fire in May, and the bullpen (22nd in ERA- and 23rd in win probability added) has been merely pretty bad, rather than world-historically bad, which is what sunk the Phillies last year.
But let’s talk about J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper. They’re the Phillies’ two biggest stars, and the team’s two highest-paid position players—and both have overperformed their contracts so far this year: Realmuto is hitting .294/.400/.486, which is just a silly line for a catcher in this day and age, while Harper is hitting .307/.436/.561. Remember that MVP season I mentioned earlier? This is as close as Harper’s come to matching that performance.
Both Harper and Realmuto are currently out of the lineup with minor injuries: Realmuto to his wrist, Harper to his shoulder. If they recover quickly and fully, that’s no big deal. But it’d be tough to imagine the Phillies staying in the pennant race if even one of those two is out long term. The bad bullpen and the inability to cobble together even mediocre center field production are known weaknesses, but they’re survivable with both Harper and Realmuto healthy and producing. Less so without them.
13. Tampa Bay Rays
Tyler Glasnow has a reputation for being a two-pitch pitcher—someone with an absolutely elite fastball and curveball, but nothing else. This season, however, he’s throwing a slider about 30 percent of the time. On paper, it’s his worst pitch; opponents are batting 54 points higher off the slider than his four-seam fastball, which is unusual. But because opponents have to cover the possibility of a third pitch, it’s made Glasnow’s curveball—already a don’t-watch-it-with-your-parents-in-the-room jaw-dropper—practically unhittable.
Tyler Glasnow, Wicked 85mph Curveball.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 4, 2021
Ohtani K Strut. pic.twitter.com/JkhsUBS6Cr
Glasnow has thrown 122 curveballs this year, and batters who have swung at it have missed it 58.7 percent of the time, the highest percentage in baseball for any pitch that’s been thrown at least 100 times. Just three of Glasnow’s curveballs have gone for hits, and opposing batters have a .069 wOBA and .074 expected wOBA against the right-hander’s hook. It’s already one of the prettiest pitches in the game, and now it might be the most effective.
How is this team basically tied with the Yankees and Astros in the standings while sporting such a bad offense? Cleveland is 14th in the AL in team wRC+ (83) and dead last in all of baseball—including the 15 teams that have to let pitchers hit—with a .281 OBP. José Ramírez is an absolute monster, Franmil Reyes has huge power, and that’s more or less it.
Well, as you might expect from a team with Shane Bieber on the roster, Cleveland’s pitching staff is quite good: third in the AL in both ERA- and strikeout rate. The bullpen is third in all of baseball in win probability added and first in ERA-, which is useful in close games. And it helps that this team has an uncanny ability to hit in the clutch. In high-leverage situations, Cleveland’s team wRC+ is 12th in the league. And in what Baseball-Reference defines as “late and close” situations (“seventh or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck”), Cleveland’s OPS is 10 percent better than league average. In such situations, Ramírez is 6-for-15 with four home runs, and Josh Naylor is 9-for-17. While club ownership mulls over new nicknames for the team, they should consider the Manual Transmissions, in honor of this team’s clutch performance.
15. Atlanta Braves
I’m not sure how many people remember the 2005 Michael Bay movie The Island, starring Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, and Sean Bean. The premise involves a facility in which the rich and famous can have clones made of themselves, but the clones are designed to be killed and have their body parts harvested should the original human suffer illness or serious injury.
I don’t know that some tech CEO or hereditary oil baron has a facility like that in some remote desert, but I strongly suspect it. And if I’m right, and the evil billionaire in charge is reading this, can we borrow your clone farm to grow a spare Ronald Acuña Jr.?
Just in the past month, Acuña has missed time with an abdominal injury, taken a pitch off his hand that nearly broke a finger, and busted up his ankle running through first base, in an incident that looked quite like the play that knocked Harper out of action for six weeks back in 2017. If we’re going to have clone farms, let’s at least use them for good.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
Outstanding pitching, headlined by Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, coupled with the worst offense, by wRC+, in all of baseball. Sort of like what you’d get if Cleveland moved northwest and had a clutch performance level that was more like Kevin Orie than Robert Horry. (It rhymes, don’t worry about it.)
17. Washington Nationals
Years ago, Bill James invented a statistic called game score to judge a starting pitcher’s performance. The way it works is that pitchers start with a score of 50 and above, and gain points for recording outs—particularly by strikeout—and lose points for allowing base runners and runs. A complete-game shutout with double-digit strikeouts, for instance, will get up to 90 or even 100 points. Shohei Ohtani’s nightmare first start last year, in which he allowed five runs and didn’t retire a single batter, was a 21.
On April 15, Patrick Corbin allowed 10 runs in a two-inning start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. That performance earned him a game score of 3, the second-worst start of the 2021 season so far. Five days later, Corbin pitched six scoreless innings, striking out five and not allowing a walk. This is what my high school English teacher used to call “a microcosm.” The Nationals have been maddeningly inconsistent this season, but they’re also one of the many teams that’s underperformed its potential. Corbin’s been bad, Stephen Strasburg and Will Harris have been hurt, and Josh Bell’s .219 OBP would seem to indicate that the Nats remain one corner infielder short after Anthony Rendon’s departure two offseasons ago.
But the Nats are still within touching distance of the Mets, and they have more talent than most of the teams standing between them and a playoff spot. Maybe I’m too bullish on this team because I’m assuming that Strasburg, Harris, and Juan Soto can take up the baton from Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, but I can’t count them out just yet.
18. Miami Marlins
I’ve referred to the NL East race as a four-team competition, but the only team in the division with a positive run differential through Saturday’s action is the fifth team, the Miami Marlins. And that’s with Sixto Sánchez on the shelf, Jazz Chisholm and Starling Marte in and out of the lineup, and Brian Anderson the third baseman hitting like Brian Anderson the pitcher, or Brian Anderson the broadcaster. I expect Miami to fade (or for one or more of the Mets, Phillies, Braves, or Nats to get their act together), but for now, the Marlins are still hanging around.
19. Cincinnati Reds
The ideal team for this season’s theme of Opposite Day. Wade Miley threw a no-hitter 10 days ago, but Luis Castillo’s ERA is tickling 8.00. Jesse Winker’s batting average is almost as high as Joey Votto’s and Eugenio Suárez’s put together. And Tyler Naquin, who could barely stick in Cleveland’s outfield over the past five years, is slugging over .500. It makes sense that Cincinnati has turned out to be a somewhat frustrating .500 team so far this year; I just didn’t expect them to take this path to that destination.
20. Chicago Cubs
A lot of the Cubs’ mysterious ailments from last season have gone away. Kris Bryant is on pace to hit 44 home runs. Javy Báez’s OBP is still a hair under .300, but adjusted for environment, his overall offensive production is comparable to what it was in 2019. And Craig Kimbrel, after being unable to find the strike zone for two years, has an ERA of 1.15. He hasn’t been perfect—he’s blown two saves and took another loss in an extra-inning game—but in his other 13 appearances, he’s given up only three hits total.
Unfortunately, that’s created space for a whole new series of problems to crop up—specifically, a huge step back from the rotation. Like, “highest opponent batting average and second-worst ERA- in baseball” huge. To invoke a baseball truism: It’s not what you want.
21. Seattle Mariners
For about 20 years the Mariners have swung between 65 wins a year and 85, always seemingly two years away from bringing up the prospects that will turn into the next A-Rod and Griffey Jr. And then something always happens to screw it up. The Erik Bedard trade, the Jesús Montero ice cream incident, the mysterious Chone Figgins Disaster of 2010-11. So what will make Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert (and Kyle Lewis, Emerson Hancock, George Kirby, Julio Rodríguez, and so on) different from previous would-be saviors?
I don’t know, but Seattle’s luck has to change eventually, right?
22. Kansas City Royals
So maybe I jumped the gun when I called the Royals surprise contenders three weeks ago. Kansas City had the best record in the AL when that column ran on April 29; since then, they have the worst record in the AL and have been outscored by 36 runs in 17 games. Over a long enough timeline, every player or team regresses to the mean; sometimes, they regress to the mean all at once.
23. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels looked promising over the first week or so of the season, and there are still reasons for optimism: Shohei Ohtani is having the season everyone’s been waiting for since he came over from Japan four years ago. (Side note: Ohtani’s in his fourth big league season already!) Jared Walsh (.338/.411/.571) looks like an absolute monster hitter. And Mike Trout is on pace for the best season of his career—and by extension, the best season of anyone’s career except for Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and one or two other guys.
But the Angels are already five games under .500, with a minus-47 run differential, because none of the other parts are working. It’s incredible how this always happens. It’s a minor tragedy that Trout cannot get a productive supporting cast around him, and not just for the obvious reason that the best player in the world knows he’s going to be home in time for pheasant hunting season each October. Imagine if this was happening to anyone other than the most affable, easygoing star player in baseball—if someone with a habit of expressing frustration or dropping spicy quotes (like Kevin Durant or Aaron Rodgers) had watched the first nine and a half years of his career go by with just one playoff appearance. The Angels might not find such behavior entertaining, but almost everyone else would.
24. Minnesota Twins
About 10 teams with big preseason expectations have tripped coming out of the gate, or walked under a ladder, or left a Ouija board in the clubhouse too long. The Twins are the only one of those that’s probably too far behind to fix things. The Nationals famously started 19-31 the year they won the World Series, which isn’t that much worse than Minnesota’s 13-25 campaign to date. But the reason we all know that number is that almost nobody comes from that far back and makes the playoffs.
Yes, it’s a fluke that the Twins are a game under .500 in nine-inning games but 0-11 in seven-inning double-headers and extra-inning contests. It’s unfortunate (but not unforeseeable) that Byron Buxton got hurt while it looked like he was putting together an MVP-caliber season. It stinks that they’re already underperforming their run differential by four games, which extrapolated over a full season would make them one of the least lucky teams of all time.
None of that means that the Twins, a team that looked like it should have been a couple of games better than the White Sox over 162 games, is going to be 10 games better than the White Sox over 120 games.
25. Texas Rangers
It’ll be a while before the Rangers are interesting in the sense that they might make the playoffs, but they are already interesting from a roster-construction perspective. Nick Solak was a very good college prospect, but there were questions about whether he could play the infield in the majors, so he bounced around a bit in the minors before landing in Texas. Willie Calhoun was too small to be a corner outfielder and not quick enough to play second, but he could always hit in the minors. Isiah Kiner-Falefa caught a bit as a rookie, then won a Gold Glove at third base, and then this offseason the Rangers not only moved him to shortstop, they traded 11-year incumbent Elvis Andrus to make room for him.
Modern MLB teams have access to the best batted-ball data ever, and fewer balls are being put in play ever. Fit—i.e., “we need a second baseman”—doesn’t matter that much anymore, particularly for a team that has more to gain by evaluating young hitters than by eking out marginal wins. Over his four-year Rangers career, Kiner-Falefa has played four defensive positions, plus DH. Solak and Joey Gallo have played five, plus DH. Just get the eight best all-around players you can find, and figure out where to play them later.
26. Baltimore Orioles
Not to diminish the fine work that John Means and Cedric Mullins are doing for a pretty forgettable Orioles team, but the most important professional baseball story in the state of Maryland right now is taking place in Bowie, some 28 miles south of Baltimore. There, Adley Rutschman, the no. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and the best prospect in the game not named Wander Franco, has a .444 OBP in his first 11 games at Double-A. I think that makes him basically ready for the big leagues, right?
27. Arizona Diamondbacks
Is Madison Bumgarner … back? In nine starts last year, his first in Arizona, Bumgarner posted a 6.48 ERA—which actually flattered his 9.04 DRA and 88.4 mph fastball velocity. But eight starts into 2021, Bumgarner’s fastball velo is up two and a half mph, his ERA and DRA are both in the low-to-mid 4.00s, and he’s thrown a (seven-inning, but it still counts to me) no-hitter. And that’s including a three-start span to start the season in which Bumgarner’s ERA was in double digits. Since April 18, Bumgarner is 4-1 in five starts with an ERA of 0.90, an opponent OPS of .370, and 34 strikeouts against just two walks in 30 innings.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
Bryan Reynolds has had an odd career so far. But since he’s a center fielder who was acquired in the McCutchen trade in 2018, perhaps it was always destined to be so.
Bryan Reynolds, 2019-21
Basically, Reynolds has had two seasons in which he hit like George Springer, thanks to an unsustainably high BABIP, but they were sandwiched around one in which he hit like he was wearing a blindfold, thanks to an unsustainably low BABIP. That isn’t entirely the product of luck—his expected wOBA has jumped around as well—but trading a franchise icon goes down a little better when his replacement is hitting like Reynolds is now.
29. Colorado Rockies
Arenado: gone. Trevor Story: will be gone soon. Charlie Blackmon: slugging .344. Basically the entire pitching staff, apart from Jon Gray: hurt, bad, or both. It’s a bad time in Denver. But the thing that’d worry me most, if I were a Rockies fan, is the sentiment that ESPN’s Jeff Passan expressed when GM Jeff Bridich left the club last month.
Executives have long seen the Rockies job as a potential goldmine -- a place in which a creative GM could leverage the inherent advantages and mitigate the issues that have long plagued players there. It's a gig for a thinker.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 26, 2021
Question is: Is that what owner Dick Monfort wants?
Basically: A smart GM could fix this team, but the owner might not want a smart guy. That’s a huge bummer, and perhaps an implacable obstacle to the Rockies being successful in the next several years.
30. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers, as has been the case for about four years, are rebuilding. And the success of said rebuild will depend on their impressive stable of homegrown pitchers: Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, and whichever Vanderbilt guy Detroit picks third in July.
Even now, the Tigers’ rotation has been pretty solid in terms of run prevention, but they’re not striking anyone out. Detroit has five pitchers with four or more starts, an ERA+ of 100 or better, and fewer than nine strikeouts per nine innings; there are only 35 such pitchers in all of baseball. The team also has three of the eight MLB starters with four or more starts, an ERA+ of 100 or better, and a K/9 below seven. I have no idea what this means long term, but the Tigers are already 12 games under .500 and completely out of the playoff picture, and I had to write something about them.
Advanced stats current through Saturday’s games.