MLB Mid Season Report Card
NATIONAL LEAGUE MID-TERM REPORT CARD GRADES
MILWAUKEE (48-40) -- Talk about a team being "way ahead" of schedule! This Brewers team is just 10-11 in one-run games and a rotten 3-7 in extra-inning affairs and yet they've charged out to a 4.5-game lead against the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central when most folks in the organization didn't think Milwaukee would be a "player" till next year or even 2019. Lefty stick Eric Thames (23 dingers) hears about getting "tested" every other day but dude plays with an attitude and has been key addition to this lineup.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (57-29) - The real head-and-shoulders class of the senior circuit so far sport lefty starters Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood who have a combined won/loss mark of 23-2 ... egads! Toss into the mix the fact that manager Dave Roberts has been brilliant in moving his pieces around with rookie sensation 1B Cody Bellinger (24 HR, 56 RBI) making the long absence of Adrian Gonzalez a real non-story in Hollywood.
ARIZONA (52-33) - Unlike the above-mentioned Brewers, this here-and-now Diamondbacks team has thrived in one-run games (18-10) and in extra-inning tilts too (7-1) and so the off-season managerial switch to Torey Luvollo has been an absolute home run. No breaking news that 1B Paul Goldschmidt (19 HR, 66 RBI, 72 runs - all team highs) is playing to an MVP level once again.
WASHINGTON (50-34) - At last check the Nationals were + 100 in the runs differential category and sporting the NL's biggest lead as a division front-runner with RHP Max Scherzer (10 wins and an 0.77 WHIP) and RF Bryce Harper (20 HR, 64 RBI) the main stars of the show; can you imagine where the Nats would be if this much-maligned bullpen could finish off some opponents?
COLORADO (50-38) - Great start by the Rockies had everyone in the mountain time zone geeked but recent falloff means we drop Bud Black's club from a possible "A+" down a peg ... is this young starting staff getting gassed by now?
ATLANTA (40-43) - Hats off to the Bravos who have surely overachieved so far despite the fact they're near the bottom in runs scored and team ERA. Righty Mike Foltynewicz is the best pitcher nobody talks about in the NL East.
CINCINNATI (37-48) - Take note that "over" wins total for the Reds was just 69.5, so not much was expected but Cincy kids get a grade boost by going 19-17 inside the NL Central so far.
SAN DIEGO (36-49) - The Pods' story much like above-mentioned Reds as SD has been more competitive than forecast and like the fact manager Andy Green has some fire in his belly.
ST. LOUIS (41-44) - Truth is most folks in MLB thought the Cardinals would "come back to the pack" but the defense is still bad, the offense has trouble finishing rallies and RHP Mike Leake even is starting to hit the skids. P.S., grade could have been worse.
PITTSBURGH (40-46) - The Buccos rank near the bottom of the league in runs scored/home runs and that's with OF Andrew McCutchen coming off Player of the Month honors.
MIAMI (38-46) - Not sure how a team that sports the league's best outfield (two All-Stars in Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna) plus star-in-the-making Christian Yelich can rank in the middle of the offensive pack in runs scored/home runs.
CHICAGO CUBS (42-43) - Talk all you want about there being a post-World Series hangover but the fact is the pitching staff doesn't real have a stopper these days and this Chitown lineup is just 28-37 versus righty starters. Putting 1B Anthony Rizzo in leadoff spot was a nice jolt at first but Cubbies have been floundering for weeks now.
NEW YORK METS (38-45) - No doubt there's been a batch of injuries (so what else is new in Mets-land?) but the pitching staff walks way too many batters and the bullpen's been running on fumes for weeks.
SAN FRANCISCO (34-53) - The absolute biggest flop in the NL this year but at least three-time World Series-winning manager Bruce Bochy gets a mulligan.
PHILADELPHIA (28-56) - Major disgrace in the City of Brotherly Love as the floppin' Phils are a league-worst -93 runs with a team ERA of 4.70 ... why did manager Pete Mackanin get that contract extension?
IT'S THE AMERICAN LEAGUE MID-TERM REPORT CARD GRADES
Okay, so we published our National League Mid-Term Report Card Grades in the most recent edition of Jim Sez, so now's time to check on the American League … and you might be surprised by some of the grades we hand out here:
AL MID-TERM GRADES
HOUSTON (59-28) - Here's the one-and-only "A+" grade in the American League (remember we handed out A+ marks in the NL for the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers) as the Astros have enjoyed a magical first three-plus months with a + 149 runs differential and a bevy of all-stars namely 2B Jose Altuve (.338 average), OF George Springer (26 HR) and SS Carlos Correa (58 RBI) … and who knew the pitching would be this good with ace LHP Dallas Keuchel on the shelf for so long with neck woes?
MINNESOTA (45-41) - The Twins were "supposed" to win 74 or 75 games this year but Paul Molitor's crew is way ahead of that modest projection as Minny's 10-5 in one-run games and All-Star 3B Miguel Sano (61 RBI) has been everything hoped for when it comes to a middle-of-the-lineup guy. Add a starter at the trade deadline and this Twins team could be playoff-bound indeed.
TAMPA BAY (45-43) - Note the "over" wins projection for this Rays team was just 78.5, so this team is in good shape there with all-star snub Logan Morrison (24 HR, 57 RBI, .584 slugging) having a grand year … even if he has to tell twitter folks all about it!
BOSTON (50-37) - It's been a rather strange path to first place in the AL East for the Red Sox who rank next-to-last in the league in home runs (87) and second league-wide in team ERA (3.84) and that was without LHP David Price for a major chunk of the first half. Love closer RHP Craig Kimbrel (23 saves) and LHP Chris Sale (11 wins, 0.90 WHIP) but is there enough quality starting pitching here to get 'em to the proverbial "promised land"?
NEW YORK YANKEES (44-40) - No doubt the Bombers were headed for an easy "A+" just a few weeks back but they entered the weekend series versus Milwaukee having lost 16 of their last 22 games and with bullpen stars Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman on major skids.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS (44-46) - True, the Halos entered this weekend-before-the-break under .500 but it's been one of the better jobs turned in by 17th-year skipper Mike Scioscia as OF Mike Trout has been out for weeks and this starting rotation is a true no-name band.
KANSAS CITY (44-41) - Three cheers for the born-again Royals who have rallied back from a rotten start to close the gap in the AL Central as LHP Jason Vargas (12 wins, 2.62 ERA) has been a godsend and C Sal Perez (team-best 55 ribbies) continues to show he's one of the five-most important players to his team in all of MLB.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (37-48) - Didn't expect all that much from the Pale Hose and some recent struggles have 'em right around where'd you expect: Just one HR in every 21 at-bats for slugger Jose Abreu, not good.
CLEVELAND (46-39) - Aren't we being a little rough/tough on the Indians here considering they currently sit atop the AL Central? No way! The Tribe's 20-23 at home despite a league-best 3.83 ERA and it seems as if Cleveland usually fails in clutch spots - unlike last year's World Series team.
TEXAS (42-44) - Believe it or not, the Rangers have converted only 13-of-30 saves this year and it's hurt big-time that LHP Cole Hamels has only eight starts though he was just fine in Friday's 10-0 win against the Angels.
SEATTLE (42-46) - No question the Mariners have been challenged at every turn as they had four-of-five starting pitchers on the DL at one point this year but this club's lack of power (ranks 12th in the AL in dingers) has been eyebrow-raising stuff.
BALTIMORE (40-46) - How about the fact Buck Showalter's squad has a runs differential of -88 (that's the worst in the AL!) thanks to a team ERA that's dead last in the junior circuit at 5.09? Egads!
OAKLAND (38-49) - Time to dismantle this team by the trade deadline and get something for RHP Sonny Gray, 2B Jed Lowrie and some others. Lifeless team that ranks 11th in runs scored and 12th in team ERA.
DETROIT (38-47) - Not gonna lie: We thought this Tigers team was gonna play in the Fall Classic this October/November but instead Brad Ausmus' crew has wobbled around all year long with a 4.83 team ERA (14th-best in the league) and just one real diff-maker in RHP Michael Fulmer (1.10 WHIP).
TORONTO (40-46) - Sorry, not gonna cut the Blue Jays any slack just because they've been hit by an array of injuries and lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland via free agency. Okay, 1B Justin Smoak (23 HR, 55 RBI) has been a late-blooming revelation but not much else to smile about here.