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Is it too early in this short, weird, roller coaster-like MLB season to figure out which teams are for real? Probably. Is that going to stop us? Absolutely not.
Instead of our usual power rankings, we’re starting off the 2020 season with a little bit of sorting. We took all 30 teams and figured out which tiers they fit in: Are they actually good? Great, congrats. Are they just pretending to be good? Hi, Orioles, congrats on a nice two weeks.
Or maybe we’re just not sure, either because they haven’t played enough games or because they’re bucking our expectations.
All that being said, here’s how we see all 30 teams two weeks into the regular season (note: All stats/records are before Thursday’s games):
TEAMS WE KNOW ARE GOOD
New York Yankees (9-2): Well, the Yankees won’t go 59-1 after taking their second loss on Wednesday, but they’ve been every bit as good as advertised. If Aaron Judge is locked in — and he appears to be — it’s bad news for 29 other teams.
Los Angeles Dodgers (9-4): Hello, Mookie Betts. Hello, Dustin May. Hello, MLB-best +33 run differential. If the Dodgers’ strategy is to score a lot of runs and have nasty arms on the mound, it would seem like a good one.
Minnesota Twins (10-2): The Twins come into 2020 with unfinished business. Namely, beating the Yankees in the postseason. With a spruced up roster, they’re already proving themselves up to the task. The schedule looks to be in their favor, as they’re winners of six straight coming into Thursday.
Chicago Cubs (10-2): The Cubs entered the season with no shortage of questions, but so far it’s hard to argue with the results. They’ve also won six straight, thanks to bouts with the Royals and Pirates. Upcoming games with the Cardinals, Indians and Brewers might be a better glimpse of how good the Cubs actually are.
Oakland A’s (8-4): This is becoming an annual mantra around here, but don’t sleep on the A’s. They’re stocked with young arms (did you see Jesus Luzardo the other night?) and have an entire lineup of underrated players. With the Astros already suffering from injuries, the A’s might be the new favorite in the AL West.
Atlanta Braves (8-5): The Braves are young, talented and deep. They’re like the NL version of the Twins, with some unfinished October business to avenge. As good as they can be, we’ve already seen their pitching become a worry — with ace Mike Soroka tearing his Achilles and Mike Foltynewicz getting DFA’d after one start.
Washington Nationals (4-5): It’s already been a strange season for the defending champions. They lost Juan Soto on opening day to a positive coronavirus test, had games postponed because of the Marlins outbreak and saw Max Scherzer leave his start Wednesday after one inning with a hamstring injury. Their record doesn’t say elite, but we’re believers.
Houston Astros (6-5): Karma? Bad luck? Whatever you want to call it, baseball’s biggest villains have already had a tough go of it. Justin Verlander is hurt. Robert Osuna is too. In all, they’ve had seven pitchers deal with injuries since the season started. Their lineup is still quite potent, which is why they’re still in the “good” category but make no mistake, things are already messy in Houston.
YOU HAVE OUR ATTENTION
Chicago White Sox (7-5): “Are the White Sox for real?” That’s a question that will probably be asked quite a bit this year, and so far they’re at least looking like a team you need to keep an eye on. Luis Robert has arrived and taken the young Sox to another level. If their pitching can keep it together, they’re a playoff threat.
San Diego Padres (7-6): After an encouraging start, the Padres have come back down to earth, losing four of five to the Rockies and Dodgers. But there’s still a lot to be excited about in San Diego. In this season’s expanded playoff format, it might be enough to punch a ticket.
Colorado Rockies (8-3): The Rockies tend to do this: Get hot. Or get cold. Right now, they’re a surprise. Tied for first place heading into play Thursday. We know the lineup can be great, but with them, it’s always about the pitching. Thus far, German Márquez and Kyle Freeland have been quite encouraging.
HONESTLY NOT SURE
Tampa Bay Rays (5-7): We thought the Rays would be better than this, but getting swept by the Orioles? Yikes. That’s cause for concern.
Cleveland Indians (7-6): The record isn’t great, but the Indians are good where we knew they’d be. Their 2.21 team ERA is tops in the league. But they scored four runs in four games against the Twins. That won’t work.
Cincinnati Reds (5-7): Nick Castellanos is already paying dividends. His six homers are second to only Aaron Judge. The Reds lost four in a row early, but they’ve been looking better since. If their pitching can hold up (they rank 8th in team ERA), they could make some noise because we believe in the offense.
Milwaukee Brewers (4-5): Christian Yelich is ice cold to start the season. He’s hitting .088 with just three hits entering Thursday’s action. The Brewers aren’t going anywhere without him, so until Yelich turns it on, it’s hard to know what to make of them. If this is a prolonged slump, they could be done for.
Miami Marlins (5-1): They’re the first-place (!?) Marlins, but that’s hardly the headline here. The first team to have its team paused because of the coronavirus, the Marlins have held steady on the field. They won their first two games after returning to action. We don’t think they’re a first-place team in the long run, but commend their fortitude playing with a hodgepodge roster.
St. Louis Cardinals (2-3): The Cardinals haven’t played since July 28. When they return to action, it’s probably not going to look good since Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong are among the players who tested positive.
Philadelphia Phillies (2-4): The Phillies haven’t any players test positive, but they’ve definitely felt the impact of coronavirus. After that opening weekend series with the Marlins, they’ve been mostly sidelined but returned to face the Yankees this week — not a great hand to be dealt. A 11-7 win over the Yankees on Wednesday was encouraging.
WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU
Baltimore Orioles (5-6): As things sit right now, the Orioles would be a playoff team. Sorry, Baltimore, we’re just not buying it. But nice start.
Detroit Tigers (5-5): Everybody in Detroit will take a .500 season, but that 5.08 team ERA is a sign that the Tigers aren’t really a .500 team.
New York Mets (5-8): There are moments when the Mets look like a good team, but they’ve had trouble stringing those moments together into anything consistent.
Toronto Blue Jays (4-5): The Blue Jays and their promising young lineup haven’t hit their stride yet. And they’ll need better than a 5.14 ERA from free agent signee Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Los Angeles Angels (4-8): They’ve already likely lost Shohei Ohtani for the season as a pitcher. For the Angels to make any postseason strides, the pitching needs to get better. And they currently rank 25th in ERA. Sigh.
Arizona Diamondbacks (4-8): The Diamondbacks, pegged as a possible contender this season, have hit the fewest home runs in MLB. The same number as the Cardinals, actually, who have played seven fewer games. Big offseason signee Madison Bumgarner also has a 7.04 ERA with diminished velocity.
TEAMS WE KNOW ARE BAD
Boston Red Sox (4-8): Are the Red Sox … bad?!? It looks that way. No Mookie Betts. No Chris Sale. A 5.28 ERA. And the Yankees looking like potential champs. Can it get any worse?
San Francisco Giants (6-7): Save for Johnny Cueto’s shimmies, the Giants aren’t looking great on the field. Their 17 errors are tops in MLB.
Texas Rangers (3-7): Of the teams that haven’t had games postponed because of coronavirus, the Rangers have scored the fewest runs in the league. It’s 32 in 10 games.
Seattle Mariners (5-8): The five wins don’t tell the story here. The Mariners have the worst run differential in the league and the worst ERA.
Kansas City Royals (3-10): Losers of six straight with a long season ahead. But as a bright spot, they’re tied for sixth in the league with 104 hits.
Pittsburgh Pirates (2-10): They’ve lost seven straight after a 2-3 start. Seems like a preview of what’s to come.
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