The summer is in full swing and so is the 2016 MLB season. With the flashiness of the hitting streaks of Jackie Bradley Jr and Xander Bogarts behind us, its time to shift our focus to what really matters. With June halfway over, find out if your team rose or fell in this week’s rankings.
30. Atlanta Braves (18-45)
Previous Ranking: 29
At this point, its pick your poison to decide which team is in the last spot. The Twins and Braves are both awful and have been outscored by a combined total of 215 runs. Atlanta selected Ian Anderson, a right-handed high school pitcher from Shenendehowa, NY, with the third overall pick in the MLB draft, to the dismay of many of their fans who wanted the Braves to take a premier college bat. It seems the Braves cannot make anyone happy these days.
29. Minnesota Twins (20-43)
Previous Ranking: 30
Former Yankee Eduardo Nunez has emerged as one of the best shortstops in baseball. The Twins shortstop is hitting .327/.357/.514 which puts him fifth in the AL in batting average. However, due to the Twins being an absolute dumpster fire, many experts have suggested the Twins will try to trade Nunez before this season is over.
28. Cincinnati Reds (25-39)
Previous Ranking: 28
On Friday night the lowly Reds became just the second team in the history of major league baseball to use 25 pitchers during the season’s first 61 games. To say Cincinnati’s pitching has been a revolving door would be the understatement of the year.
27. Oakland Athletics (27-36)
Previous Ranking: 26
Before their victory Sunday over Cincinnati, the A’s had dropped seven straight including four losses against the Reds and Brewers. Marcus Semien’s power has certainly been a bright spot, but Oakland currently finds itself stuck in the cellar of the AL West.
26. San Diego Padres (26-39)
The Padres had to feel somewhat satisfied watching their former ace, James Shields, get shelled against the Nationals in his first start as a Chicago White Sox. Remember the name Fernando Tatis Jr, a 17-year old shortstop who the Padres acquired in the Shields trade.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (29-37)
Previous Ranking: 25
According to the CBO (Chief Baseball Officer) of the Diamondbacks, Tony La Russa, Arizona does not intend to sell off their assets at the July 31st deadline. The D-Backs continue to rank in the bottom five in team ERA, despite the resurgence of Zach Greinke, who has an ERA under four in June.
24. Anaheim Angles (27-37)
Previous Ranking: 24
I mean you could put all the blame you want on manager Mike Scioscia, who I admit may have to be removed from his duties as manager, but I doubt anyone could succeed with this current roster. Injuries have forced many of their regulars out of the lineup and the players who are healthy, like right hander Jared Weaver, throw their fastball slower than many high school pitchers.
23. Milwaukee Brewers (30-34)
Previous Ranking: 22
Although the Brewers did perform admirably this weekend by splitting a four game set against the defending NL champion Mets, it is hard to overlook the main attraction of the Brewers and lightning rod Ryan Braun. Rumors have circulated that the Brewers and NL West leading Giants have begun to discuss a potential deal involving Milwaukee’s star. It seems that Braun’s departure from Milwaukee is not a question of if, it is a question of when.
22. Colorado Rockies (30-33)
Previous Rankings: 21
Closer Jake McGee is still recovering from his blown save this weekend against the Padres. Literally. The Rockies closer gave up four in the ninth, including a go-ahead, three-run homer to slugger Wil Myers. To make matters worse, McGee now finds himself on the 15-day DL with a sprained MCL.
21. Tampa Bay Rays (29-32)
Previous Ranking: 20
Figuring out the Tampa Bay Rays is like trying to do your taxes without a calculator. Tampa Bay has a +2 run differential but is under .500. They have slugged the third most homers in all of baseball, but still are 20th in runs scored, and to top it off, after losing 11 out of 13, the Rays rebounded to win five of their next seven. It is anyone’s guess to formulate the direction of this team moving forward.
20. Houston Astros (30-35)
Previous Ranking: 23
One step forward. Two steps back. Houston had been playing better baseball of late and were winners of 11 of their last 13 entering this past week. However, the Astros dropped five out of seven against Tampa Bay and Texas which was culminated by another dreadful start by former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel. At 3-9, Keuchel certainly has to be in the running for the biggest disappointment of the season thus far.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (30-34)
Previous Ranking: 15
I told everyone two weeks ago that it was going to be difficult to sustain the brand of baseball the Phillies had been playing. With a -69 run differential, it is clear that Philadelphia’s excellent April and May record was mostly fool’s gold. They got their chance against the two best teams in the National League these past two weeks, the Nationals and the Cubs, and went a disappointing 1-12.
18. Chicago White Sox (32-32)
Previous Ranking: 11
It is hard to believe that just one month ago, we were talking about the White Sox being one of the best teams in all of baseball. Since then, they have been in complete free fall and have dropped 13 of their last 17. James Shields’ opening act with the White Sox was worthy of tomato tossing, as the newly acquired right hander was rocked for seven earned runs in just two innings pitched.
17. Miami Marlins (33-31)
Previous Ranking: 16
Giancarlo Stanton is mired in one of the worst slumps of his major league career. The normally deadly Stanton is currently below the Mendoza line at .192 and has struck out 79 times in 193 at-bats, which is the third most strikeouts of any position player in the National League.
16. New York Yankees (31-32)
Previous Ranking: 18
Not one, not two, not three, but four Yankee first basemen now find themselves on the disabled list in a year that has been unkind to every New York first baseman. This time the victim was Chris Parmelee who suffered a grade 2 hamstring strain in a victory over the Angels. Despite the problems the Yankees have had at first base, the inconsistent play of Brian McCann, Alex Rodriguez, and Brett Gardner should be the Yankees’ biggest concern.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (32-31)
Previous Ranking: 5
The Pirates are another team that looked like one of the best teams in baseball just a short time ago. Fast forward two weeks and the Pirates have lost 10 out of 13, catcher Francisco Cervelli and ace Gerrit Cole could be lost for extended time, and they now stare down a gauntlet in which 22 of their next 25 games are against the Mets, Cubs twice, Giants, Dodgers, and Cardinals. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
14. Detroit Tigers (32-31)
Previous Ranking: 19
So it turns out the Yoenis Cespedes deal was not one-sided after all. Tigers right hander Michael Fulmer, who the Mets sent to Detroit along with Yankee Luis Cessa at the trade deadline last July, has won five straight starts and currently extended his scoreless innings streak to 28.1 scoreless innings Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
13. Kansas City Royals (33-30)
Previous Ranking: 10
It is becoming clear that the Royals are simply nowhere near as good as they were last year when they won the World Series. After winning six straight, Kansas City proceeded to drop seven in a row including a four game sweep at the hands of the division leading Cleveland Indians. In five out of the seven games of the losing streak, the defending World Champions scored four runs in 45 innings.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers (33-32)
Previous Ranking: 13
In the words of legendary announcer Vince Scully, “You ever seen a one-man band?” Well, Dodgers’ second baseman Corey Seager is hitting .280/.339/.508 with 14 homers and 35 RBIs and has been able to keep the Dodgers above .500. If he is not the starting shortstop in San Diego this July, there should be an investigation.
11. Seattle Mariners (34-29)
Previous Ranking: 9
After losing five out of six to the first place Rangers, it is clear that Seattle has some work to do to reach the top of the AL West agin. Now five games back, Seattle’s most recent struggles have been reflected off of a sharp decline offensively, where they’ve hit .237, struck out 48 times and have scratched out just 27 runs in the past eight games.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (35-31)
Previous Ranking: 17
First baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is starting to heat up for the Jays. In a three game stretch this weekend against Baltimore, Encarnacion went 6 for 12 with three homers and seven RBIs, leading the streaking Blue Jays to three straight wins. Overall, the Jays have won nine of 13 and have shortened the gap between themselves and the Orioles and Red Sox.
9. New York Mets (34-28)
Previous Ranking: 7
The Mets completed another average weekend after splitting a four game set in Milwaukee. Since Lucas Duda and David Wright left the lineup, the Mets have been an offensive train wreck. Michael Conforto is not doing much to help the Mets’ cause, and has seen his average dip to .233.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (35-28)
Previous Ranking: 14
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a vintage St. Louis Cardinals team. However, after sweeping the Pirates three games in Pittsburgh this weekend, it is time to take the Cards seriously. Keep an eye on former All-Star Matt Holiday, who homered in back-to-back games for the first time since 2014 this weekend.
7. Cleveland Indians (35-28)
Previous Ranking: 12
The Indians have by far the most pitching depth of any team in the American League. Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco are all very serviceable and at least three of them could be considered top of the rotation starters. Salazar has been especially effective thus far, and is 7-3 with a 2.19 ERA.
6. Baltimore Orioles (36-26)
Previous Ranking: 8
Chris Davis may be beginning to find his stroke for the first place Orioles. The lefty slugger clubbed five home runs in five straight games this week and batted .368 and was named AL player of the week.
5. Boston Red Sox (36-26)
Previous Ranking: 4
The Red Sox certainly understand that “offense wins games”, as president Dave Dombrowski has certainly assembled a lineup that can play with anyone. However, if Boston does not remember that “pitching wins championships”, they will go nowhere come October.
4. Texas Rangers (39-25)
Previous Ranking: 6
Jurickson Profar is the next in a long line of Rangers who have had an unexpected impact thus far in 2016. Profar is hitting .388/.377/.530 in 66 AB’s and is making it very difficult for the Rangers to send him back to AAA.
3. San Francisco Giants (39-26)
Previous Ranking: 2
Boy did the Giants miss Hunter Pence in his absence. The Giants right fielder is currently hitting .298/.375/.486, and is pacing a Giants team that currently has a five game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.
2. Washington Nationals (40-24)
Previous Ranking: 3
The Washington Nationals are for real. After sweeping the Phillies this weekend capped by a clutch, two out walk-off single by Jayson Werth, the Nationals hold a five game lead over the sputtering New York Mets. Their three-game series against the Cubs should tell us a lot about just how good this team really is.
1. Chicago Cubs (43-19)
Previous Ranking: 1
Max Scherzer’s 16 strikeout performance has some wondering if the Cubs will be in for a similar fate that crippled them last October when the power arms on the New York Mets quieted their powerful bats. Luckily for the Cubs, they have four months to find the formula for how to beat big time arms. And I doubt the Cubs are worrying much, they currently hold an 8.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central.