Pitcher Jeff Samardzija is second in the National League in ERA, but has yet to earn a win, going 0-4 in his nine starts. Since 1914, only Whitey Ford and he have gone nine starts, each allowing three or less runs, without getting a win. That goes to show how hard it is for the Cubs to score some runs and win ballgames consistently.
29. Houston Astros (17-29)*
Offseason acquisition Dexter Fowler has been the main cog in the offensive attack for the Astros, leading the team in OPS+, on base percentage, and runs scored. Overall, the Astros rank second-to-last in the American League in batting average, last in runs scored, and fourth-to-last in OPS. It's been a tough season all the way around for Houston.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-26)*
The Pittsburgh Pirates cannot find that same spark that took them all the way to the postseason last year. Part of the reason could be the play from outfielder Starling Marte, who's OPS+ took a big hit, from 121 to 108. There is reason for hope in Pittsburgh. Their team batting average has gone up 22 points since the beginning of May, but their pitching staff has brought it's ERA up too. Losing five of their last seven does not help, either.
27. Philadelphia Phillies (20-22)*
The Phillies are seeing on-and-off play from third baseman Cody Asche so far this season. He has 16 hits and a .333 batting average in the month of May, but seven of those 16 hits have come in the last three games. Without those at bats and hits, Asche would be batting just .250. The Phillies offense has been just like Asche, inconsistent. The Phillies have been shut out five times in May, but have averaged 3.8 runs a game, higher than their April mark of 3.7.
26. Tampa Bay Rays (19-27)*
I am not really sure what has gone wrong with the Rays to begin this season. They have scored an adequate amount of runs, have an average American League ERA of 4.20, but are sitting at the bottom of the American League East at 19-26. Injuries seem to be the main issue. Matt Moore is going to miss the entire season, Ben Zobrist has a dislocated thumb, and Jeremy Hellickson recently had right elbow surgery. It does not get much worse than that.
25. Chicago White Sox (23-24)*
Jose Abreu is now on the disabled list. He leads the American League in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and total bases. He has been the heart and sole of the White Sox. Without him, it looks like they could be falling down this list, and fast. But for now, they are holding their own at number 25, despite losing six of their last eight games.
24. San Diego Padres (21-25)*
I expected more from the San Diego Padres going into this season. They really have not been meeting expectations, and injuries have slowed them more than ever. Like the Rays, many of their stars are currently hurt and on the disabled list, including Andrew Cashner and Josh Johnson. In order for the Padres to make a move, their offense has to pick up the pace. They rank second-to-last in the National League in runs scored, but rank second in ERA.
23. Arizona Diamondbacks (18-29)*
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a fantastic hire in Tony LaRussa to lead their baseball operations. They have been able to string some wins together in May, going 9-6 thus far, scoring 0.6 more runs per game this month than they have all season. The light is finally starting to be seen at the end of this long dark tunnel. Their pitching is starting to figure it out as well, posting a 3.81 ERA in the month.
22. Cleveland Indians (21-25)*
Lonnie Chisenhall has been the Indians best producer this season, posting a .912 OPS, 162 OPS+, and a .364 batting average, all leading the team. Chisenhall has played in only three games against a left-handed pitcher, compared to 31 against righties, causing much uproar across the web. Over his career, Chisenhall has just a .205 batting average against lefties.
21. Texas Rangers (21-24)*
Prince Fielder has a herniated disk in his neck, which is just even more great news for Rangers fans. They have 13 players on the disabled list to begin the season, and even Fielder, who had played in 547 straight games, is now going to be on the sidelines, adding yet another player to the lengthy list of names of Rangers that are injured (although Fielder will not be going on the disabled list).
It's hard to see the Mets as a .500 team, but they are definitely improving, even without the presence of Matt Harvey in their rotation. Their pitching staff has had issues, but their offense has been able to pick them up. Forty-one year old Bartolo Colon has a 5.34 ERA and a 65 ERA+ in nine starts so far this season. And the Mets have signed him through 2015.
19. Seattle Mariners (22-22)
The $200 million man Robinson Cano is not performing to where he has been in the past. His isolated power (slugging percentage - average) is below .200 for the first time in four years, and is below .100 for the first time ever. Cano has smacked just 12 extra-base hits in his 174 at bats, getting one just 6.8 percent of the time. Last season, Cano got an extra-base hit in 11.2 percent of his at bats. And he thinks the Mariners will make the postseason.
18. Minnesota Twins (22-21)
The Twins signed three pitchers in the offseason, Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey, and Phil Hughes to fill the void of the worst starting ERA in the Majors. It hasn't helped. Nolasco has an ERA of 5.50 (4.67 FIP), Pelfrey has an ERA of 7.99 (7.52 FIP), and Hughes has an ERA of 3.61 (2.94 FIP). Their 22-21 record now seems like it is much better than who they actually are. They will fall off the table soon.
17. Cincinnati Reds (20-24)
Devin Mesoraco has been absolutely fantastic to begin the season. In just 17 games, Mesoraco has 27 hits, four home runs, and 11 runs batted in. He has been hitting a triple-slash line of .443/.493/.770. If he keeps up that pace for the rest of the season, Mesoraco will have 187 hits. Now he won't keep up that pace, but he has been absolutely fantastic so far this season.
16. Boston Red Sox (20-24)
The Red Sox have just signed shortstop Stephen Drew. Whether that provides the spark they need to get back to the top of the American League East is beyond me, but I do know that the competition is easier in that division than anywhere else. At 20-24, the Red Sox are just 3.5 games out of first place. Currently, Red Sox' shortstops have been hitting a triple-slash line of .263/.361/.365.
15. Toronto Blue Jays (24-22)
Do not worry about any struggles Encarnacion has had this year. The 31-year-old has 11 home runs in 177 at bats, with a .282 isolated power and a .531 slugging percentage. Although his average is down, he still is producing similar power numbers that he had last year, when he hit 36 home runs in 530 at bats. In order to bring his average back up, Encarnacion needs to be more patient at the plate. Since last season, Encarnacion's walk percentage has gone down by almost three percent and his strikeout percentage has risen by seven percent. He needs to restore his patience at the plate.
14. Kansas City Royals (22-23)
The Royals had one of the longest homer droughts this season. They currently sit in last place in the Major Leagues with 20 home runs as a team. Jose Abreu, for comparison, has 15 alone. And he's currently on the disabled list. Despite the lack of power, the Royals' batting average is 12th in the Major Leagues. All you need is base-runners, right? That is correct, but the Royals on-base percentage is 21st in the Majors. That's why they rank 18th in runs.
13. Miami Marlins (23-23)
Jose Fernandez is done for the year. People come to Marlins Park are to see him pitch and see Giancarlo Stanton. Now he's gone. The Marlins have not seen that much of a fallout quite yet, as they have a respectable 23-23 record, but it's likely to come soon as the anchor of their rotation will no longer be part of their team for the rest of this season.
12. Baltimore Orioles (23-20)
The Orioles and Yankees keep leap-frogging each other at the top of the American League East, which is why they rank 11 and 12 in the rankings. The one place where the Yankees really outrank the Orioles is in offense, where the Yankees have posted a 102 wRC+ compared to the Orioles' 91 wRC+. On the other side of the ball, the Yankees rank 9th in ERA, while the Orioles are down at 14.
11. New York Yankees (23-21)
Derek Jeter's last season has been much quieter than I would have thought. He isn't struggling, as he has a very respectable .271/.340/.319 slash line with one home run and eight runs batted in. His defense has declined with age, going from a -0.1 UZR at the height of his career to already a -2.0 UZR this season, and his speed is all but gone. But he's still enjoying the game, which makes these numbers, by all means, exactly what Yankees fans have wanted.
Many people blast the Nationals bullpen for blowing games, allowing runs, and just not being consistent. I highly disagree. And the stats are on my side. The Nationals bullpen has a minuscule 2.17 ERA, which leads the Major Leagues, and has allowed a third-lowest .218 batting average against. Not to mention, opponents just slug .321 against Nationals' relievers, which ranks third in baseball. So why is everyone bashing their bullpen this season?
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (24-22)
The Dodgers haven't shown much consistency so far this season, but someone who continues to produce is Yasiel Puig, who won the National League Player of the Week honors last week. He has been hitting .333/.425/.596 with nine home runs and 36 runs batted in so far this season. The phenom looks like he is here to stay in the Major Leagues, and the Dodgers look like geniuses for signing him.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (24-21)
The Cardinals pitching staff has been really good in the 2000s and continues that trend so far this season. They rank 7th in the Major Leagues with a 3.31 ERA and 3rd in the Major Leagues with a 3.02 FIP. The main contributor has been Adam Wainwright, who has gone 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA and a 2.50 FIP so far this season. He has a 8.01 K/9 rate so far this season compared to just a 1.85 BB/9 rate.
7. Atlanta Braves (25-19)
The Braves can pitch, but cannot hit. They rank first in the Major Leagues in overall team ERA, but rank 25th in OPS. Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton have been the main exceptions to the terrible Braves hitting, as Freeman has a .389 on-base percentage and a .539 slugging percentage. Upton has enjoyed his season as well, but much more quietly than Freeman, as he has a .371 on-base percentage and a .582 slugging percentage. Other than that, the Braves hitters have been silent.
6. Colorado Rockies (26-20)
Troy Tulowitzki has been awesome to watch so far this season. He leads the National League in batting average, home runs, and is third in runs batted in. I know it is early in the season, but Tulowitzki could win the Triple Crown. He has Coors Field behind him for power, we know he can hit for average, and he also will be driving runners in from the middle of the Rockies lineup. Not to mention, his stellar defense and above-average speed are two more assets to his game which has been unbeatable so far this season.
5. Los Angeles Angels (25-20)
I picked the Los Angeles Angels to win the American League West at the beginning of the season, and they are playing well so far this season. The only issues with this team is that the Oakland Athletics look better than them. They need a "struggling" (notice the air quotes) Mike Trout to regain his old form. Trout has been striking out way too much so far this season, skyrocketing his strikeout percentage from 19 percent last season to 27.3 percent this season.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (27-19)
Following the Brewers fantastic April, I wrote a post on whether they could keep up their performance or not. I concluded that they couldn't, due to inconsistency from their offense and high FIPs from their pitchers. So far in May, the Brewers are 7-11, and their pitching staff has a 4,.19 ERA. I do not think it will be long before the Cardinals take over the National League Central like they usually do.
3. San Francisco Giants (28-18)
The two teams on the bay are two of the hottest teams in baseball. In 2010 and 2012, both World Series champion years for the Giants, they had great starts where very people really noticed them. The same thing is happening so far this season. Tim Hudson, their main offseason acquisition, has been absolutely fantastic for the Giants, going 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA and a 2.98 FIP.
2. Oakland Athletics (29-16)
I love this stat so much. In Brandon Moss' last 162 games, he has hit a triple-slash line of .262/.340/.550 with 35 home runs and 107 runs batted in. The Oakland Athletics, in that time, have gone 103-59 (hat tip to @BRefPlayIndex on Twitter). That is absolutely amazing and goes to show how underrated Brandon Moss is and has been over his career.
1. Detroit Tigers (27-14)
Victor Martinez has 11 home runs this season to just 11 strikeouts. He leads the American League in average, leads the Tigers in OPS, and has come through in the clutch with a .354 average in innings 7-9 with four homers. On the season, he is hitting .323/.376/.594. His 159 OPS+ is the highest mark of his career. Overall, the Tigers have been nearly unbeatable on all cylinders, looking like they are on a mission to win the World Series.
*Stats from May 19, 2014