Power rankings are kind of useless. But it is nice to see how other teams besides the Astros are performing.
Baseball is fun, right? This first week of games has done little to dissuade me from such an opinion. By Jove, the Astros at 9-2 have performed quite well in the early going. I am frankly not surprised. But there are 29 other teams, and being the well-rounded baseball fan that I like to think I am, let’s discuss the entirety of the league before I go too far down the Astros’ specific rabbit hole.
30. Miami Marlins (3-7 record; -30 run differential)
A 20-1 loss should leave a bad taste in the Marlins’ collective mouth for quite some time. Also, Shohei Ohtani has three home runs, which is the same number that Marlins’ hitters have in 2018. That said, Miami does have talent. But it is young talent that needs time to develop. Struggles like the one Lewis Brinson is experiencing will be common for a while.
29. Cincinnati Reds (2-7 record; -25 run differential)
Time to point out the obvious once more: Ohtani has more home runs (3) than the entire Reds’ lineup. Perineal MVP candidate Joey Votto has gotten off to a slow start with a 53 wRC+ in his first 39 plate appearances. Out of all qualified Reds’ hitters, only three have an above-average wRC+. The pitching staff hasn’t fared better with multiple players posting high ERA and FIP’s. Cincinnati has played dreadful baseball, but improvement may not be far off. Seriously, the Reds can’t play much worse.
28. Tampa Bay Rays (2-8 record; -21 run differential)
If you want the definition of a snake-bit team in 2018, look no further than the Rays. The loss of Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon to Tommy John surgery was a blow. The underperformance of key contributors like Chris Archer – 5.94 ERA/4.17 FIP– is another. Joey Wendle, Daniel Robertson, and Mallex Smith have been the club’s best hitters early on in 2018. This sentence was one I think hardly anyone expected to see at any point this year.
27. Baltimore Orioles (4-7 record; -23 run differential)
The Orioles took three out of four against the Yankees last week, which was a surprise to many. Of course, there will be series when the clearly better team will have an off series or two. Baseball will baseball, right? Anyway, the Orioles have received quality production from Manny Machado, Trey Mancini, Pedro Alvarez, and Adam Jones. Unfortunately, the rest of the lineup is below average. Dylan Bundy has been far and away the team’s best starter with a 1.35 ERA/1.93 FIP in 20 innings. Somehow, Bundy has a 0-1 record, which again proves how useless the counting statistic known as a “win” is to pitchers.
26. Texas Rangers (4-8 record; -18 run differential)
As a team, the Rangers’ offense has an 84 wRC+. As a team, the Rangers’ pitching staff has a 4.42 ERA/3.87 FIP. Not a terrible team, but not a great team. Shin-Soo Choo has three home runs, the same amount as Ohtani. All aboard the “Choo” rebound train? Lastly, I apologize for the bad Choo pun.
25. San Diego Padres (3-8 record; -11 run differential)
Luis Perdomo’s start against the Astros on April 6th was encouraging. He held one of the best offense’s in baseball to just one run. I can verify as I was actually at the game for a change. In other news, Eric Hosmer’s misplay to end Saturday’s game will live on in infamy for quite some time. Overall, I like the Padres long-term, which echoes my sentiment from a few weeks ago. The offense is close to average eleven games into the season. And the pitching staff isn’t terrible as the Padres have posted a 3.72 ERA/3.77 FIP. But their record and run differential needs some work.
24. Chicago White Sox (3-6 record; -11 run differential)
In terms of wRC+, the White Sox own the best offense in baseball thus far. However, the Angels are also making a strong push for the league’s best title. Chicago’s offense, though, appears to be legit. Matt Davidson has four home runs with a 213 wRC+ in his first 35 plate appearances. Tim Anderson has three home runs of his own with a 151 wRC+. Jose Abreu continues to do what he does best: consistently hit. Wellington Castillo may not hit for a high average, but a 133 wRC+ with decent power makes him valuable. Yoan Moncada is off to a slow start with a 34.1% strikeout rate, yet he has walked 15.9% of the time. Small sample size, yes, but this is an encouraging start for Chicago’s hitters. The pitching staff has been generally underwhelming except for Reynaldo Lopez.
23. Oakland Athletics (4-7 record; -13 run differential)
The A’s pitching staff is roughly average, give or take. A 4.45 ERA/4.17 FIP isn’t terrible, yet doesn’t inspire much confidence. The offense, though, has continue to build on last season’s second half improvement. A collective 115 wRC+ is encouraging, and tied for the fifth-best in baseball. Again, it is still early in the season, but noteworthy. Matt Chapman has continued to be a force in the lineup. Both Jed Lowrie and Chad Pinder have had terrific starts to the season. Matt Joyce and Matt Olson are productive. If Jonathan Lucroy can regain some of his past success as a hitter and catcher, the A’s offense could be one of the better stories in baseball.
22. Seattle Mariners (4-4 record; -11 run differential)
In terms of the short- and long-term future, the Mariners are in a weird place. Much like the Giants, Seattle has an aging core still capable of winning some games. Although, this is despite of a quality farm system. Now, I am not stating that the Mariners can’t produce quality major league players from the farm. There are diamonds in the rough. But this offense today is slightly above average (109 wRC+), but the pitching staff has a 5.61 ERA/5.38 FIP. The only team in baseball with a worse ERA/FIP split are the Reds. With little immediate help coming, the Mariners are in an unenviable position.
21. Colorado Rockies (5-6 record; -11 run differential)
To no great surprise, the Rockies pitching staff has produced a 4.82 ERA/4.46 FIP. The vaunted Colorado bullpen, though, has performed relatively well with a 3.95 ERA/3.71 FIP. It is the below average offense that has been the main issue. Only four Rockies’ hitters have a wRC+ higher than 100: Charlie Blackmon, Chris Iannetta, Nolan Arenado, and DJ LeMahieu. The outfield, in particular, needs assistance. But the talent is there to make a run. Of course, this is contingent on the team clicking at the right time.