It still seems like the 2020 MLB season is just barely getting started, but 20 MLB teams have already played at least a quarter of their regular season schedule. That means for teams off to poor starts, time is limited to get things turned around. At the same time, the sample size is still small enough that outstanding starts can turn into a record barely above .500 in just a matter of days.
Each Monday during the 2020 season, 110 Sports is breaking down where things stand with power rankings of all 30 teams. Let’s get right to this week’s installment:
30) Pittsburgh Pirates | 3-13 | Last week: 29
The record really says it all, as the rough times have only continued for the Pirates. The team has now dropped 10 of its last 11 games and has posted the worst team OPS (.601) in the majors. Pittsburgh pitchers have collectively posted the second-worst ERA (5.32) of any NL team.
29) Seattle Mariners | 6-11 | Last week: 28
The Mariners now sit near the bottom of the pack in the AL West, with Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Lewis remaining one of the only major bright spots. Seattle’s team ERA of 5.88 is the worst in MLB.
28) Kansas City Royals | 7-10 | Last week: 26
The Royals entered this past weekend having lost eight of their last 10 games. Then they proceeded to sweep the Twins, one of the best teams in the American League. Naturally. Trevor Rosenthal appears to have recaptured some of his old form, allowing just one earned run in his first seven innings of the season while striking out 10, walking zero and logging three saves. Jorge Soler is tied for third in the AL with five homers and the team now has Hunter Dozier back in the mix after COVID-19 sidelined him to start the season. It’s still a rebuild in progress in KC, but it is interesting.
27) Baltimore Orioles | 7-7 | Last week: 30
It’s been a strange past week for the Orioles. They swept the Rays, got swept by the Marlins and then won two straight against the defending champion Nationals before the final game of a weekend set was suspended on Aug. 9. I guess that’s baseball in 2020. Baltimore somehow has the second-best OPS (.770) in the American League right now thanks to strong starts from Renato Nunez (5 HR, 11 RBI), Anthony Santander (3 HR, 14 RBI) and others. It won’t last, but let’s enjoy their semi-relevance while we can.
26) Texas Rangers | 6-8 | Last week: 23
There’s really just not much exciting about the Rangers’ lineup aside from Joey Gallo, who’s off to a strong start (4 HR, 10 RBI). Collectively, the team’s hitters are batting just .209/.287/.352 through their first 14 games. But Texas is coming off a three-game sweep of the Angels and Lance Lynn’s sensational start to the season (1.16 ERA, 30 K in 23.1 IP) has continued as he notched his 100th career win on Aug. 9. So…maybe they can get something going.
25) Detroit Tigers | 8-5 | Last week: 24
If the regular season ended today, the Detroit Tigers would be in the playoffs. Ron Gardenhire’s team is coming off a weekend sweep of the Pirates, and while Pittsburgh is basically the worst team in baseball right now, a sweep of any team is a big deal for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera’s revival has continued — at least to some extent. The 11-time All-Star has swatted four homers in the early goings but is hitting just .213. Detroit’s 5.21 team ERA leaves plenty to be desired, though.
24) San Francisco Giants | 7-10 | Last week: 25
Donovan Solano, a 32-year-old longtime journeyman infielder, has quietly been one of the biggest surprises in baseball to start the season, hitting .455/.475/.636. Meanwhile, Mike Yastrzemski has continued his incredible start, and entered Aug. 9 tied for second among hitters in WAR (1.1) thanks to a sensational .321/.449/.679 batting line. Those storylines don’t change the Giants’ season outlook, but they’re still fun to watch.
23) Arizona Diamondbacks | 6-10 | Last week: 22
Madison Bumgarner is not simply not right. The 31-year-old lefty, in the first season of a five-year, $85 million deal, is showing significantly decreased velocity and has surrendered six home runs in his last two starts, including four against the Padres on Aug. 9. MadBum’s 9.35 ERA through four starts is the worst in baseball among qualified pitchers. And subtract the team’s 14 runs against the Astros on Aug. 5 and Arizona has averaged just 1.57 runs per game in its last 11 contests. Not great.
22) Miami Marlins | 7-3 | Last week: 27
On Aug. 8, the Marlins became the first team in MLB history to have a different pitcher start each of the team’s first nine games. That, of course, was necessitated due to the team’s COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in over a dozen players being placed on the IL. Despite this, the Marlins won five straight in their return to action before dropping their last two games. The team currently remains atop the NL East standings. That’s 2020 for you, I guess.
21) Boston Red Sox | 6-9 | Last week: 21
The Red Sox are coming off their first home series win of the season, though there’s still not a ton of reasons to think they’ve turned a corner from their extremely rocky start. Concerns remain amongst the pitching staff, where Martin Perez (2-1, 3.45 ERA in 15.2 IP) is one of few bright spots. J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi are all struggling at the plate, though Mitch Moreland surprisingly ranks fourth in MLB in homers with six.
20) Los Angeles Angels | 5-11 | Last week: 16
The Rangers’ three-game weekend sweep of the Angels was pretty representative of where this team is at right now. Mike Trout is back with the team following the birth of his son and is now joined in the outfield by star prospect Jo Adell. Dylan Bundy (2.08 ERA, 25 K in 21.2 IP) and Griffin Canning (3.14 ERA, 16 K in 14.1 IP) have both impressed to begin the season. So what are the problems? The loss of Shohei Ohtani from the rotation due to a forearm strain is a significant blow, and Anthony Rendon is 0-for-his-last-21 and hitting .103 on the season. The team’s 4.50 bullpen ERA doesn’t help either.
19) Toronto Blue Jays | 5-8 | Last week: 19
The Blue Jays’ exciting young lineup still hasn’t gotten things going, as evidenced by the fewest runs scored (39) of any American League team this season. On a positive note, outfielder Teoscar Hernandez has impressed thus far, hitting .300/.321/.620 with four home runs and two steals in 13 games.
18) New York Mets | 7-9 | Last week: 18
This past weekend, the Mets won back-to-back games for the first time since July 27-28. The team certainly hasn’t found its stride, and Robinson Cano is now sidelined with a left adductor strain, but there are some reasons for optimism. As MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo noted, the team’s bullpen has turned a corner, pitching to an incredible 0.82 ERA over the past week. And J.D. Davis is surging at the plate following an impressive 2019 season. Davis is hitting .372 with a 1.067 OPS during his current 13-game hitting streak.
17) St. Louis Cardinals | 2-3 | Last week: 11
The Cardinals haven’t played since July 29 due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The team will be faced with a host of logical challenges to make up all postponed games before the end of the regular season, but the health of those involved is of course the most important aspect here.
16) Milwaukee Brewers | 6-7 | Last week: 17
With three longballs in his last four games, Christian Yelich appears to be snapping out of his early-season slump. It’s still difficult to know what to make of a Brewers team hovering around .500 with no more than two wins or two losses in a row at any point this year. Brandon Woodruff has pitched well to begin the year and 27-year-old Adrian Houser has been a pleasant surprise, allowing just one earned run in his first 12 innings.
15) Philadelphia Phillies | 4-6 | Last week: 15
Top pitching prospect Spencer Howard’s highly anticipated major league debut didn’t go as many had hoped, as he gave up four earned runs on seven hits in 4 ⅔ innings on Aug. 9. The Phillies remain a tricky team to figure out, particularly given that they’ve played fewer games than most teams as a result of COVID-19 postponements. The talent is certainly there, but we’re still waiting on the results.
14) Washington Nationals | 4-7 | Last week: 10
It’s not been a great start for the defending champions. To be fair, though, the Nats have been without three of their best players for notable periods to begin the season. Juan Soto is back and has already homered after missing the beginning of the season following a positive COVID-19 test. Max Scherzer exited his last start after one inning due to a hamstring tweak but is expected to start on Tuesday. And then there’s Stephen Strasburg, who made his first start of the season on Sunday, giving up five earned runs in 4 ⅓ innings against the Orioles. He acknowledged that he’s still dealing with the nerve issue that sidelined him to begin the season, which could be concerning moving forward.
13) Cincinnati Reds | 7-9 | Last week: 9
The Reds haven’t hit their stride yet, but I’m still optimistic about my preseason pick to win the NL Central — even if that’s admittedly seeming significantly less likely. Sonny Gray (2.25 ERA, 35 K in 24 IP) and Trevor Bauer (0.93 ERA, 32 K in 19.1 IP) have both been outstanding to begin the year, and Nick Castellanos (7 HR, 16 RBI, 1.103 OPS) is playing like an MVP candidate. I’m not too discouraged about the team’s record … yet.
12) Chicago White Sox | 8-8 | Last week: 13
White Sox pitchers have struggled to a collective 4.41 ERA to start the season, but the team’s offense has been strong to the tune of a .742 team OPS, the fourth-highest in the AL. Shortstop Tim Anderson’s return appears right around the corner.
11) San Diego Padres | 9-7 | Last week: 12
Fernando Tatis Jr. cannot be stopped. Baseball’s leader in Baseball-Reference WAR (1.3) entering Sunday hit another home run in the Padres’ series finale against the Diamondbacks, his sixth in his last seven games. The 21-year-old is now tied with Aaron Judge for the MLB lead with eight home runs. Oh yeah, and his most recent home run was the 30th of Tatis’ career — in his 100th career MLB game. That’s the most home runs hit by any shortstop in their first 100 games in MLB history. The contending Padres certainly have a generational talent on their roster.
10) Houston Astros | 6-9 | Last week: 7
I’ll resist the urge to make some sort of “Houston, we have a problem” type of joke here, though it would be fitting. Dusty Baker’s injury-ravaged team has lost five in a row and was swept by the A’s over the weekend. Alex Bregman is hitting .219 and Jose Altuve and George Springer are both currently under the Mendoza line. That says enough in and of itself.
9) Colorado Rockies | 11-4 | Last week: 20
The Rockies have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the last week or so. They’ve yet to lose a series this year and ended the weekend as one of only four NL teams with a double-digit win total. Colorado is top five in the league in both OPS (.757) and ERA (2.84). All four of the pitchers who’ve started multiple games for Colorado this season have an ERA under 3.40, while Daniel Murphy and Matt Kemp have both shown a resurgence. Oh yeah, then there’s Charlie Blackmon, who leads baseball in average (.458) and hits (27) this season.
8) Tampa Bay Rays | 8-8 | Last week: 5
The Rays were swept by the Orioles two weekends ago, but I remained confident, only dropping them one spot in last week’s power rankings. This week’s step back is more a reflection of the teams ahead of them than the Rays themselves. I’m feeling good about that now as the team is coming off a 3-1 series win over the Yankees. Second baseman Brandon Lowe has posted a .939 OPS in 15 games.
7) Cleveland Indians | 10-7 | Last week: 6
The Indians have allowed four or fewer runs in each of their first 17 games, the second-longest such streak to begin the season in MLB history. Shane Bieber (1.63 ERA), Carlos Carrasco (2.50 ERA), Mike Clevinger (3.24 ERA), and Aaron Civale (2.84) have all been sensational in the rotation. Offensive concerns remain — Cleveland’s .610 team OPS is second-worst in the majors — but the pitching continues to impress.
6) Atlanta Braves | 10-6 | Last week: 4
It was a week of notable developments for the Braves, most notably the loss of young ace Mike Soroka for the rest of the season after he tore his right Achilles while breaking to cover first on a play. The team also placed star second baseman Ozzie Albies and first baseman Matt Adams on the IL with a wrist bone contusion and left hamstring strain, respectively. In more positive developments, reliever Will Smith (COVID-19) and outfielder Nick Markakis (opted back into season), have rejoined the Braves. Lefty Max Fried looks ready to take Soroka’s spot atop the rotation, but there are significant questions behind him.
5) Oakland Athletics | 12-4 | Last week: 14
The Oakland Athletics lead baseball in wins on Aug. 10. Now there’s a sentence. No team in baseball is hotter right now than the A’s, who’ve won nine straight and lead the AL West by five games. The most recent three of those wins came in a weekend sweep of the Astros. A’s pitchers have pitched to a 2.66 ERA, the third-best mark in MLB. Frankie Montas (1.57 ERA, 22 K in 23 IP), Chris Bassitt (1.08 ERA, 15 K in 16.2 IP), and Jesus Luzardo (2.60 ERA, 17 K in 17.1 IP) are dealing. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have combined for nine homers. Hop on the bandwagon now.
4) Chicago Cubs | 10-3 | Last week: 8
The Cubs have won eight of their last 10 games and on Aug. 5 became the first team in the National League to reach 10 victories. Prior to the team’s inexplicable 13-2 loss to the Royals on Aug. 6 in their most recent game, the Cubs’ rotation carried an MLB-best 1.95 ERA. From veterans Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish to Alec Mills and even Tyler Chatwood (Thursday’s horrible performance aside), every member of the team’s rotation has found success to start the season. The Cubs were slated to face the Cardinals this past weekend prior to additional positive COVID-19 tests from St. Louis.
3) Minnesota Twins | 10-6 | Last week: 3
The Twins got off to a sensational 10-2 start before dropping their last four games, including getting swept over the weekend by the Royals. I suppose they were set for some regression, but still…ouch. That being said, Minnesota is still clearly one of the top teams in the game. Jose Berrios hasn’t fared particularly well, but Kenta Maeda is 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA and 25-year-old Randy Dobnak is sporting a minuscule 0.60 ERA.
2) New York Yankees | 10-6 | Last week: 2
The Yankees’ relative good health to begin the season was going to come to an end eventually, I suppose. Giancarlo Stanton, who was off to a strong start at the plate, is now on the IL due to a left hamstring strain. Make no mistake, there’s still plenty of thump in that lineup, though. Aaron Judge is tied for the MLB lead in homers with eight and Luke Voit and Gio Urshela have continued their strong production from last season. James Paxton also struck out 11 Rays on Sunday after a rough start to the year.
1) Los Angeles Dodgers | 11-5 | Last week: 1
The Dodgers’ team ERA of 2.53 trails only the Indians while they also are tied with Atlanta for the most runs scored (87) in baseball. Others have moved the Dodgers down to No. 2 or 3 on similar lists in recent days, but I see no real reason to make that swap. Mookie Betts is back and producing after missing a few games due to a finger injury and young pitchers Dustin May and Julio Urias have continued to succeed in the rotation.
Photo by Alex Juel / Flickr