Every week, we ask all of our baseball writers — both the local scribes and the national team, more than 30 writers in all — to rank the teams from first to worst. Here are the collective results, the TA30.
Almost every team in baseball has made their way to the quarter mark of the season, which means we’re starting to see some narratives solidify themselves. Will the Yankees and Dodgers be able to keep up their hot pace for an entire season? Will the struggling Braves manage to put it back together? Can the Orioles, boosted by the newly called-up Adley Rutschman, find a groove and creep their way out of the basement?
Steve Berman will handle the American League teams and Fabian Ardaya will cover the National League squads this week.
There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, but here’s where we stand after 40ish games.
1. New York Yankees
Last Power Ranking: 1
The Yankees got hit with a wave of setbacks over the last week. Reliever Chad Green will require Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. Joey Gallo and Kyle Higashioka, already struggling this season, were sent to the COVID-19 IL prior to last weekend’s doubleheader against the White Sox. And Aroldis Chapman has had his fair share of struggles. And yet, here they are in our No. 1 spot, leading the AL East by five games, with a .707 winning percentage on the books.
This seems to be their first big test of adversity this season after a hot start. Winning at this rate while firing on all cylinders is one thing. Sustaining success through injuries and illness will be another.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Power Ranking: 2
Starting with last Sunday’s wild comeback win all the way to Saturday, the Dodgers had found themselves with a deficit in six of those seven games. They’d won all seven. And on Sunday, they never trailed — until Max Muncy booted a ground ball in extra innings and allowed the tying and winning runs to score in a 4-3 loss.
The Dodgers’ talent level is still shining through. Freddie Freeman has been precisely the type of hitter the Dodgers imagined he’d be, and now he’s spreading his gospel to his new teammates. He, Mookie Betts and Trea Turner have formed quite the formidable trio — which will get even more lethal the more “dangerous” Turner feels in the batter’s box.
In the last two weeks, they’ve gotten starts out of two guys making their big-league debuts (Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove), along with a versatile swingman in Mitch White making just his fifth career start. And they still have the top ERA in baseball, even with their top reliever, Blake Treinen (who the club extended on Sunday), still a ways away from a return and their ace struggling to sort out what has been, to this point, his iconic pitch. This might be the best team in baseball. Just not this week.
3. New York Mets
Last Power Ranking: 3
Max Scherzer knows his body well. So when you see him making a slashing motion to his throat to signal to the Mets dugout, as he did on Wednesday, it is cause for concern. The Mets’ worries were validated hours later.
He will miss some time. Jacob deGrom is already missing time. So is the man who replaced him in the Opening Day rotation, Tylor Megill. As is their Opening Day catcher, James McCann.
Yet the Mets are not collapsing under their seemingly annual Metsiness. They’re thriving. Pete Alonso is sending lasers to the moon. Their hefty budget has paid off in their depth, allowing them to absorb significant blows and still sit comfortably in first place.
They are doing things that good baseball teams do. They can hit. (You mean Brandon Nimmo can cut his strikeout rate by 5 percent while hitting the ball harder than ever?) They can pitch. They’ve held their own defensively. Buck Showalter has acclimated himself as well as expected, a good fit for both market and roster. Francisco Lindor is doing Francisco Lindor things.
Let’s look at their upcoming schedule and … oh. Time for a test.
Lastly, Starling Marte — who has endured significant tragedy over the past few years — made his return to the Mets lineup this weekend following the death of his grandmother and hit a home run on the first pitch he saw. Nick Groke told “Ponga’s” story beautifully.
4. Houston Astros
Last Power Ranking: 4
The Astros lost a series to the Red Sox last week, but things are still rosy in Houston. In the second game of the series in Boston. the Astros tied an MLB record with five home runs in an inning, all off starter Nathan Eovaldi, culminating in a 13-4 win. Plus, they were probably due for a series loss since they didn’t lose a game for nearly two weeks. Speaking of that streak, Jayson Stark had a plethora of fun facts about what the Astros accomplished earlier in May. This one stuck out above the rest:
When that Astros streak finally came to an end last Saturday with a 13-6 loss in Washington, it was more than just a loss. It was history because it meant …
Runs allowed by Astros during 11-game win streak: 12
Runs allowed by Astros in game that ended streak: 13
Which made this … the longest winning streak in history in which a team gave up fewer runs during the whole winning streak than it gave up in the game that ended that streak.
The Yankees and Astros are the only teams in the top three in fWAR for position players and pitchers, and the Astros arguably play the best defense in baseball (the metrics like them, anyway). The Astros have made the ALCS in each of the past five seasons, and at this point, it seems likely that they’ll keep that streak going in October.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Power Ranking: 5
This Brewers-Padres trade from 2019 is so fascinating to me:
Traded Zach Davies and Trent Grisham to the San Diego Padres. Received Eric Lauer, Luis Urías and player to be named.
Initially, this looked like a whopper for San Diego. Davies was quite good in 2020 and San Diego parlayed that into him being part of the Yu Darvish trade. Trent Grisham has been a stellar big leaguer, this year’s early struggles notwithstanding.
But Urías might be MLB’s next big star from Mexico (with some mentorship from Willy Adames). And Eric Lauer is downright shoving for a Brewers starting rotation that already has three former All-Stars (including reigning Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes).
It’s a great challenge trade for two of the best teams in the National League this year.
Speaking of former top prospects, maybe this is the time for Keston Hiura to become the bat they hoped for. If he does, it’s an exclamation point for a Milwaukee team looking every bit the NL Central favorite they were projected to be this year. And what a treat Brewers fans have in their broadcast teams, including the ever-versatile Brian Anderson.
6. San Diego Padres
Last Power Ranking: 7
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s future at shortstop has felt like an open question for so long. His trial in the outfield last season as he dealt with a dislocated left shoulder seemed like the door creaking open. But for as well as Ha-Seong Kim is performing and how poor some of the Padres’ outfield is hitting, Dennis Lin doesn’t think that’s too likely this year. If one of your main concerns is where an MVP finalist will slot into the lineup, that’s a good problem to have.
Another good problem? Having too many solid starters. Joe Musgrove is pitching like someone ready for a heftier bank account. Having Mike Clevinger and Blake Snell back and healthy has pushed MacKenzie Gore (who looked like he’d truly arrived) to the bullpen, and that rotation now looks scary good.
This feels like the Padres team we were sold, even before Tatis comes back.
7. Los Angeles Angels
Last Power Ranking: 6
Some of the hype surrounding the Angels was quieted a bit when they got swept in Texas, but they responded by taking two of three from the A’s. This is a team with not one, not two, but three MVP candidates. Hopefully Taylor Ward, who missed both games over the weekend after colliding with the wall while making a great catch on Friday, will return soon.
The Angels aren’t perfect. Noah Syndergaard can’t hold runners on, Jo Adell didn’t hit enough to stay in the majors (especially with how he plays defense in left), and they aren’t getting much from the catching position. Anthony Rendon, so far, hasn’t been worth the money. But when you have Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and a guy who’s hitting .370 with power, and one of your most pressing issues is who should be the backup catcher, things are going fine.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Power Ranking: 9
All hail Brett Phillips, the most memorable outfielder who can’t really hit that this generation has produced. His lifetime slash line is .203/.287/.381 and his 2022 numbers almost mirror what he’s done in his eight-year career. But fixating on what he does at the plate is like going to an amazing taco truck and complaining about the lack of seating.
Phillips’ defense is what keeps him in the majors, but his entertainment value is off the charts. He’s made two pitching appearances this season, lobbing “fastballs” that wouldn’t be ticketed for speeding on rural country roads. His personality seems like one the Rays couldn’t bear to lose, just based on his mic’d-up segments and how he comports himself on the mound — even when Anthony Rendon takes him deep with a lefty beer-league swing. The Rays are known as one of the smartest franchises in the sport, and they keep rolling along toward yet another playoff berth, but Phillips’ presence shows that they might care about team chemistry more than you might think.
Another reason to think the Rays are more cuddly than their image as mathematical tacticians?
“We are not trying to ‘win’ trades,” Rays GM Peter Bendix told The Athletic in a recent interview. “We are trying to make our team better. If it makes the other team better at the same time, honestly, that’s great because that’s how both teams are going to win a trade, with coming away feeling happy and interested in making future trades.”
9. San Francisco Giants
Last Power Ranking: 7
It started mostly as a joke. I was covering the Angels in 2019, right after they’d acquired Tommy La Stella in a relatively minor deal that winter. He was a high contact rate kind of guy, someone to compete for the starting second-base job and hit a little, but definitely not for any thump.
Then the power came early that year. He was driving the ball. So I’d jokingly say it after each blast. “Tommy La Slugger.”
He wound up being an All-Star that year, all while still rarely striking out. He’s got some pop. But [wipes glasses] 464 feet? Even at Coors, I didn’t think he had that in him.
Turns out, swinging weighted bats and treating backspin like it’s adding juice to the dead baseballs helps. La Stella’s habits have certainly been influential on the Giants this year, from how he swings the bat to using his “Little Red Machine,” as Andrew Baggarly chronicled recently. Now the Giants seem like they really like Thairo Estrada, who they got on a waiver claim last April after all of 121 plate appearances with the Yankees.
Cue Jesse Pinkman screaming that they can’t keep getting away with this again.
10. Minnesota Twins
Last Power Ranking: 12
Carlos Correa, who was showing signs of a hot streak before he got injured, was activated off the IL last week. Great news, except that it meant another No. 1 pick got sent back to Triple A. Royce Lewis, whom the Twins took first in the 2017 draft, got demoted after hitting a homer and a double against the A’s.
When a team has the top free-agent shortstop and a shortstop who looks big-league ready, that’s a good thing. A superstar/potential star backlog at that position is rare.
Speaking of talented players, Byron Buxton isn’t hitting for average or walking much … but his isolated power (FanGraphs’ way of showing extra-base hits per at-bat) leads all of baseball. They even have the perfect hitter for the current dead-ball era. The Twins feel like a team with a very high ceiling.
11. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Power Ranking: 10
Toronto had a pretty good week, taking series from the Mariners and Reds (yeah, sure, the Reds are the Reds, but the Blue Jays didn’t make the schedule). Pitching once again led the way. Starting pitching, specifically.
Their offense, which was billed as one of the best in the game heading into this season, has been middle-of-the-pack. The bullpen has performed similarly, but one of their relievers realized something important: After being prescribed glasses, it might help to actually wear them. It’s fair to expect the hitters and relievers to perform better as the season progresses.
Toronto has been buoyed by two starters who are in the top five among the betting favorites to win the AL Cy Young. I had doubts that Kevin Gausman, after a shaky end to his otherwise brilliant 2021 with the Giants, would be worth the contract he got in a more hitter-friendly park. He’s been fantastic, with a 2.52 ERA and a ridiculous 1.25 FIP, which is what happens when you only allow one homer and three walks in 50 innings.
Alek Manoah, a bro who didn’t worry about being iced before the 2019 draft, looks like a future ace for years to come, with a 1.62 ERA after eight very strong innings on Saturday. Toronto leads the league in starters’ WAR, according to FanGraphs, which is usually a good sign for teams that expect to contend.
12. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Power Ranking: 11
Albert Pujols is having fun. He’s pitching. He’s stealing bases. He’s still crushing left-handed pitching. In his free time, he’s bonking teammates on the helmet (look around the 35-second mark on this clip). He’s even warming up Yadier Molina before his own pitching appearance as the Cardinals have seemingly turned to Old Timer’s Day on the mound the second they get into a blowout.
Last week: Albert Pujols pitching, Yadier Molina catching
This week: Yadier Molina pitching, Albert Pujols warming him up
— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) May 22, 2022
He’s also playing on a winning ball club and will get some exciting new teammates. It’s not every day that you see a club call up its top hitting and pitching prospects on the same day, but the Cardinals are proving their roster is about more than just heartwarming reunion tours and living life like it’s 2006.
The one cause for concern? Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore arrive just as Tyler O’Neill, the Cardinals’ top player in 2021 by Baseball-Reference WAR, hits the injured list with his OPS sitting at a measly .554. That’s lower than St. Louis’ winning percentage this year (.561).
13. Atlanta Braves
Last Power Ranking: 14
It seems like the baseball world is collectively poking a stick at the Braves and saying, “C’mon, do something.”
They’re the defending World Series champions, after all, and made moves to have themselves back in the mix this summer. But it’s been a slow start, particularly for the offense.
Despite their losing record, there’s a reason they’re so high on this list. Maybe they’ve been unlucky — their BaseRuns record would have them as a winning club. And having Ronald Acuña Jr. healthy (and staying healthy) will be a boost. It could just be a matter of time.
14. Chicago White Sox
Last Power Ranking: 13
The White Sox won three of five against the Royals before sweeping Sunday’s doubleheader to take two of three against the Yankees, and Tony La Russa seems like he’s extremely confident in his team’s long-term prospects despite the team’s slightly disappointing record. It seems like he’s fully on the load management train, which isn’t one a team willingly hops on unless they think they have the firepower to make up ground during the summer months.
Michael Kopech is looking more and more like an ace with every start; he was mixing nasty breaking stuff with 100 mph fastballs on Sunday night and the Yankees had no chance. And during a tough early stretch full of injuries, a little dose of Johnny Cueto may be just what the White Sox needed.
Johnny Cueto’s Messing With Timing Windups/Overlay pic.twitter.com/RAnNiItCHp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 17, 2022
We also recommend James Fegan’s Q&A with Tim Anderson, one of the last hitters who doesn’t seem obsessed with hitting for a high average but believes that’s how he’ll help his team the most.
15. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Power Ranking: 15
Last week, it felt like the Phillies were the greatest lineup ever constructed. They went into Dodger Stadium and pushed around a pitching staff that entered the weekend with the best ERA in baseball. Bryce Harper looked unstoppable — except for his health.
He missed last Sunday’s finale at Dodger Stadium to receive a PRP injection in his throwing elbow, and didn’t play again until Saturday. The Phillies, coincidentally, managed just four runs in a span of four games at one point this week.
For a roster built around its ability to slug, that’s a problem.
The good news: They’ve managed to hang around even in this difficult stage of their schedule (two series each against the Mets and Dodgers along with the Mariners, Padres, Giants, Angels and Brewers) so far. If they can keep up until their schedule lightens, maybe they can make a run at it.
Speaking of: Roman Quinn might still be running from second base after his mad dash to end Sunday’s walk-off victory.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 22, 2022
16. Boston Red Sox
Last Power Ranking: 21
What a difference a near-month makes. When I last handled these AL rankings, Trevor Story was a total disaster — a guy whose contract Red Sox fans were comparing to players like Pablo Sandoval.
Fast-forward to now, and Story is the guy helping the Red Sox turn the corner offensively, following up a three-homer performance on Thursday with a grand slam on Friday. It’s rare that a team has a productive week when one of the games features the team’s top starter giving up five homers in an inning, but the Red Sox won both of their series and seem like a team that’s seeing the clouds around them start to dissipate.
Another mood-lifter came from Rafael Devers, Boston’s best offensive player all season. Manager Alex Cora pumped his fist when Devers decided to do a postgame interview in English after Wednesday’s game. Though teams are generally very accepting of players wanting to conduct interviews in other languages — as they should be — the Red Sox seemed to appreciate one of their most charismatic players sharing another side of himself on Wednesday.
17. Cleveland Guardians
Last Power Ranking: 16
It was an uneventful week for the Guardians, mostly because they didn’t play much baseball. Due to scheduled off days and weather postponements, they only played four games. They won one of them and lost a little more ground in the AL Central.
COVID-19 also made things a little strange for the Guardians, who quietly have put together a strong lineup built almost completely with trades. Every week it seems like we write something about how Cleveland is a team that shows signs of making noise but will probably hang around .500 all season, and this past disjointed week didn’t change that. But they still have José Ramírez, who has finished in the top six in MVP voting in four of the past five seasons and looks primed to do so again.
T-18. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Power Ranking: 17
Losing a baseball game stings, even when drawn out over the course of 162. Losing four games in a span of 42 hours while holding a lead in each game? That just seems brutal. That’s what happened when the Diamondbacks got to Dodger Stadium this week, a shock to the system after what has been a promising start.
They appear to be far better than the franchise that won just 52 games last year. They can pitch. Their lineup includes some intriguing young players, like Alek Thomas, Daulton Varsho and Pavin Smith, who are off to good starts in the big leagues. Christian Walker can certainly mash, too. Sitting at the bottom of the NL West at this point feels more like a testament to the division’s depth than it does to Arizona’s ability to compete.
What direction they go in July will be interesting. But in the meantime, they’re playing intriguing baseball.
T-18. Miami Marlins
Last Power Ranking: 18
Miami probably should have a better record than they do. They have a positive run differential. Their Pythagorean and BaseRuns records indicate they’re playing like a winning ballclub.
And it’s easy to talk yourself into that being the case. Pablo López has been one of the top starters in baseball this season, full stop. Sandy Alcántara is probably underrated among NL starters (and yes, he just tossed a complete game against the defending champs). They’re getting stellar performances out of Jazz Chisholm Jr., Brian Anderson and others. Jesús Águilar, Jorge Soler and Garrett Cooper create a formidable middle of the order.
The problem? The lows on this team have been quite low. Miguel Rojas, Jacob Stallings and Avisaíl García are off to really sluggish starts. The bullpen has struggled to close out games. Get some turnarounds, and maybe the Marlins can get themselves in the NL East mix.
20. Colorado Rockies
Last Power Ranking: 20
The Rockies got Kris Bryant back this weekend. They’ll need his production to return with him (he had just a .689 OPS in 65 plate appearances before hitting the injured list). The rest of their lineup seems … fine? They’re hovering right around league average in terms of team-wide wRC+. But their homegrown pitching, a strength for them in recent years, has slipped lately. That’s how you score five or more runs in five of six games and only win one.
The Rockies have still never won a division title. At this point, I’d venture to say that every club in the division has a quicker path to winning the NL West in the coming years than Colorado has. A last-place finish this year feels extremely possible.
OK, in lighter news: Brian Serven has had one heck of a week. The Arizona State product made his big-league debut and fouled off the first pitch he saw … right to his family sitting in the ballpark.
Baseball is special
Brian Serven fouled off the 1st pitch of his 1st major league AB. Where did it end up? In the hands of his family watching him play! pic.twitter.com/Bnadf9AcRC
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) May 18, 2022
And then, a few nights later, he slugged a pair of home runs. I couldn’t even do that in Road To The Show.
21. Texas Rangers
Last Power Ranking: 23
Trevor Story’s disappointing start got a lot of coverage, but Marcus Semien has been far worse: .180/.243/.234 with no home runs. It’s probably not worth worrying about too much; I saw him up close when he struggled throughout the shortened 2020 season and he bounced back with 45 homers for the Blue Jays.
The Rangers have had differing degrees of success with their slumping hitters this season. They helped get Adolis García back on track by urging him to forget the adjustments he made during the offseason and go back to doing what made him dynamic in 2021. They made a similar recommendation to Kole Calhoun. Semien seems to be a more difficult nut to crack, but Rangers manager Chris Woodward isn’t worried.
“It’ll happen,” Woodward said. “There’ll be a game where everything clicks — he’ll jump on some fastballs, he’ll get back to being Marcus Semien.”
Baseball is funny. The Rangers spent a half-billion dollars on Semien and Corey Seager, and their most valuable player has been Martín Pérez, a free agent they signed for $4 million.
22. Seattle Mariners
Last Power Ranking: 19
An entertaining series win against the Mets got the Mariners off to a nice start on their East Coast road trip. Then things went from bad (they lost two of three in Toronto) to worse (they got swept in a four-game series by the Red Sox).
Hopes were high in Seattle going into this season after they signed Robbie Ray, in part because Jarred Kelenic was expected to take a step forward. But after hitting .140 and striking out in 37.5 percent of his plate appearances, Kelenic was sent to Triple A.
It’s still early — for him and the Mariners — and Seattle went on a bit of a run late in the 2021 season. But things look bad right now. How bleak? One of the questions sent to Corey Brock’s mailbag simply read, “Why am I a Mariners fan?”
23. Oakland Athletics
Last Power Ranking: 22
It seems like the first thing that comes up whenever people talk about the A’s is home attendance. It’s to the point now where TV anchors are making jokes about it. Jay Leno would probably talk about it every night if he was still on. It’s not even low-hanging fruit anymore. It’s fruit that’s been stepped on.
Eno Sarris and Ken Rosenthal dove into why people aren’t going to the Coliseum, touching on just about all of the important points. I’ll add one more: The A’s can’t hit.
The A’s have the worst team average (.199), on-base percentage (.268) and slugging percentage (.306) in all of Major League Baseball.
— Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) May 17, 2022
They’ve improved slightly since then (.205/.272/.313 after Sunday), but they’re still at the bottom of the league in each category. It’s a shame for a team that has a solid pitching staff. Paul Blackburn has been great, the rest of the starters have been solid, and if last year’s team had the same bullpen depth as this squad, they would’ve made the postseason in 2021.
Fans knew this team would be subpar during this rebuilding phase. But when you’re likely to see your team do next to nothing offensively — the A’s have scored two or fewer runs in 12 of their 20 home games — it’s even harder to get jazzed about coming to the Coliseum. Unless you’re a possum.
In happier A’s news, they signed an Australian free agent who they hope to develop as an infielder and a pitcher.
24. Chicago Cubs
Last Power Ranking: 24
Arizona’s Josh Rojas entered Wrigley Field with zero home runs on the year. He left Friday with three to his name. Daulton Varsho got the Little League home run treatment the next day, too.
When the Diamondbacks are running roughshod on you at home, it’s not a great sign.
Naturally, the Cubs and their fans are already looking to better days, past and future. They honored a franchise great in Fergie Jenkins on Friday, the type of rotation workhorse we may not see again.
Conversations are already starting up around the trade deadline, where a bloodletting last season included shipping off the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez. Will Willson Contreras be part of it this year? Moving past that era means developing several players they’ve gotten through those trades and the draft. Caleb Killian might be a good start once he breaks through to the big club. But Ed Howard missing the rest of the season’s worth of development due to a hip injury is cause for some concern.
25. Baltimore Orioles
Last Power Ranking: 27
The past week pretty much told the story of the 2022 Orioles. They’re showing signs that they aren’t among the two or three worst teams in MLB but will probably end up in the AL East cellar again. They lost more games than they won, but one of the victories was really fun — a wild 13-inning affair in which the Rays scored two runs in the 10th and another run in the 11th and still lost 8-6. They capped the week with a 7-6 win to take two of three from Tampa Bay, too.
But we’re burying the lede here, which is … Adley Rutschman (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap), who hit a triple and walked in his major-league debut Saturday. “Orioles fans should march on Camden Yards if he’s not the Opening Day starter,” wrote Keith Law in February. It took him a while to get there, but the fans have something to cheer about now.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Power Ranking: 25
When you’re engaged in the years-long project the Pirates have been in, you’re looking for bright spots. Maybe it’s a set of young prospects, like the reigning No. 1 overall pick. Maybe it’s the latest mock draft, seeing who will be next to join Henry Davis in Pittsburgh’s system.
Even the big-league club has some interesting things going on. José Quintana has been the prototypical “sign a veteran starter, hope he pans out and gets you something in July” guy through his first few starts. Ben Gamel is having a promising start to the year while getting some everyday runs. Ke’Bryan Hayes is doing Ke’Bryan Hayes things and is a true delight to watch. Bryan Reynolds helped beef up his home run totals with a ball that didn’t even leave the ballpark on Saturday night. David Bednar has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball.
Eventually, they’ll need actual results. But it’s OK to take the little slivers as they come.
27. Detroit Tigers
Last Power Ranking: 28
It seems like every team has had a load of injuries and illnesses this season, but Cody Stavenhagen’s story on Friday makes a case that the Tigers have had more than their fair share:
- A.J. Hinch, who’s trying to find the right path forward, missed a game due to a non-COVID illness.
- Austin Meadows got an inner-ear infection that caused a vertigo-induced trip to the injured list.
- One of their best relievers, Will Vest, went on the COVID-19 list.
- Eduardo Rogríguez left Wednesday’s start in the first inning with pain in his left side.
There were six more injury-related notes in the story that had nothing to do with the players just mentioned. Pray for Tarik Skubal, the only member of the Tigers’ Opening Day rotation who’s still healthy.
“Dude, let’s get some bubble wrap,” said catcher Tucker Barnhart on a recent flight. “We gotta get you away from everyone.”
28. Kansas City Royals
Last Power Ranking: 26
Does anyone else feel like there’s something unsavory about Zack Greinke getting mentioned in every story about starting pitchers who could get traded at the deadline? It feels like he should be off-limits after re-signing with Kansas City after 11 seasons with other teams.
But that’s what happens when the Royals are toiling in the bottom five of the power rankings every week and Greinke did everything to make himself better this season, as our Alec Lewis described in a story that included a gem of a quote from Gil Meche: “Dude, I’m telling you, he’s a competitive little shit.”
It’s not all gloom-and-doom in Kansas City, however. Bobby Witt Jr. seems like he’s on the cusp of a breakout. That wasn’t enough to save the hitting coach’s job, however.
29. Washington Nationals
Last Power Ranking: 29
How are you doing, Nationals fans?
The team’s defense has been the stuff of lowlight reels at multiple points this season, which is a problem (though they did turn a triple play on Friday). Their baserunning is keeping up with the defense, step for step, apparently:
Lane Thomas just got thrown out trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homer. Dave Martinez wants to review it and they may be telling him he was too late?
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) May 21, 2022
Mind you, this was in a two-run game.
Juan Soto is in the news, which is usually good except when he’s listed in trade rumors. For a franchise that saw Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon walk out the door and traded away Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, it’s enough to bring up bad feelings, even if he’s not going anywhere just yet.
Speaking of superstars of the recent past, Turner is coming into town this week with the Dodgers. Washington’s primary return in that deal, Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz, will likely be the starting battery on Tuesday, a status check on the state of this Nationals retooling.
Then there are the other lingering questions for the franchise, from ownership to front office and even the manager.
30. Cincinnati Reds
Last Power Ranking: 30
[deep, extended sigh]
This is a depressing bit of history C. Trent Rosecrans dropped on us last week:
A Reds starter didn’t complete six innings in any of their first 31 games of the season, the longest such streak since 1893, when the mound was moved to 60 feet, 6 inches.
The good news is, the Reds are starting to get healthy. Joey Votto was activated off the injured list just as the club got to Toronto and he slugged his first homer of the year on Sunday in front of his hometown crowd. Luis Castillo has taken his stead back in the rotation, at least until a juicy enough offer rolls around.
Also, Hunter Greene is making some strides. First, it was the no-hit outing against the Pirates. He followed it up by pitching well on Saturday night, too. Turns out, even guys capable of throwing well over 100 mph could still benefit from amped-up usage of his breaking ball. Greene has found his slider, and he’s throwing the heck out of it.
Of course, the Reds lost that game, too. They’ve lost a lot of those this year.
(Photo: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox via Getty Images)
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