MLB grades: Injured Yankees, upstart Twins pass early tests; big fat 'F' for two NL East teams at 2019 quarter-mark

They say you can't start judging a baseball season until we're 40 games in, so that means it's just about time to start judging. Most teams in Major League Baseball have just passed the 40-game mark, so we're roughly one quarter of the way through the 2019 season. 

Some areas here won't be a surprise. We kind of figured teams like the Dodgers and Astros would be great. The Marlins and Orioles being terrible was pretty predictable, too. As it goes with every season, there are pleasant surprises and some pretty major disappointments, too (hello, Washington D.C.!). 

The grades as follows are subjective and obviously the expectations for the team entering the season matter. It's a lot worse when a team expecting to contend is terrible than when a tanking team is bad. 

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American League East

GRADE: A-

About the only bad things you can say about the Rays at this point is that they've been weirdly mediocre at home (12-10) and budding ace Tyler Glasnow is now sidelined with forearm tightness. The team says he'll miss 4-6 weeks, but forearm issues are tricky. They can linger and are often a precursor to elbow trouble. On the bright side, Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz are breaking out, Brandon Lowe looks like a keeper, and Charlie Morton has been a smart investment for a team that rarely throws money around.  -- Mike Axisa

GRADE: B+

As well as they've played, I can't give a team dealing with this many major injuries an A. Luis Severino , Dellin Betances , and Giancarlo Stanton all have shoulder issues that could affect them all year. Aaron Judge is sidelined long-term with an oblique issue as well. The replacement Yankees have been very good, especially Gio Urshela and Domingo German . The Yankees should be thrilled they are where they are despite all those injuries. At some point they need to get healthy to be the best team they can be though.  -- Mike Axisa

GRADE: B-

The Red Sox have managed to fight their way above .500 for the first time all season and they're now back in the AL East race. The worries about starter Chris Sale have been put to rest, and their offense is finally starting to look dangerous again. Overall, their bounce back from a very ugly start to the 2019 season reminded us of why the Sox are the defending World Series champs.  -- Katherine Acquavella

GRADE: D-

About as bad as gets without being an F. The Blue Jays are a threat to get no-hit every night, the rotation has been hit so hard by injuries that they had to trade for Edwin Jackson , and potential long-term pieces like Danny Jensen, Teoscar Hernandez , and Billy McKinney have fallen flat. Marcus Stroman has been very good, Ken Giles has been outstanding, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has finally been called up. That is the extent of the positives here.  -- Mike Axisa

GRADE: F

The full-scale rebuild for the O's is going as well as you can expect. After the first quarter of this season, Baltimore is just trying not to be worse than the Miami Marlins. The Orioles are tied with the Miami Marlins for the worst home record in all of baseball, and the O's minus-75 run differential is the second-worst, behind Miami's minus-91 run differential. At least the Orioles have the No. 1 pick in next month's MLB Draft.  -- Katherine Acquavella
American League Central

GRADE:  A+

They've been at or around the best record in baseball by percentage points for the last week or so. Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez are joining Jose Berrios nicely to form an unlikely dominant trio atop the rotation. The matchup-based bullpen in the late innings has worked like a charm and the power hitting is carrying an explosive offense. Things really couldn't have gone much better to this point for the Twins . -- Matt Snyder

GRADE:  D+

Sure, they have a winning record, but they aren't keeping up with the Twins and are playing in an awful division. This team was already going to be overly reliant on a handful of players and now both Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger are hurt. Carlos Carrasco has been mostly a disappointment, too. Offensively, this team is woeful. They needed a lot of heavy lifting from Jose Ramirez and instead he's been awful. The good news is there is still plenty of season to right the ship here. To this point, it's been a mess.  -- Matt Snyder

GRADE:  B-

Being within hailing distance of the .500 mark seems like a win for the White Sox in light of their recent history. Yoan Moncada appears to be realizing his potential, and Tim Anderson has been one of the best all-around performers through the first quarter of the season. On the downside, the rotation has been a disaster outside of Lucas Giolito , and they recently lost Carlos Rodon to Tommy John surgery. -- Dayn Perry

GRADE:  B

Given that the Tigers were expected to be in the running for worst team in baseball this season and given that they're presently playing at a vaguely respectable 75-win pace, yes, they get a B. Of course, the minus-56 run differential suggests they've been lucky to date. Matt Boyd's been a bright spot at the front of the rotation. -- Dayn Perry

GRADE:  C-

This Kansas City team was expected to be bad, and, yes, they are indeed bad. Based on runs scored and runs allowed, the Royals should be a bit better than their current record, but the reality is that they're on pace for a franchise-record 107 losses. -- Dayn Perry
American League West

GRADE:  A+

Houston has the best run differential in baseball and the easiest path to the postseason of any American League club. The Astros also have possibly the best starting pitching prospect in baseball en route, in Forrest Whitley . In other words, this club could get more dangerous between now and the postseason. That's a terrifying thought for everyone else. -- R.J. Anderson

GRADE:  C

It was hard to decide on a grade for the Mariners , who have taken a circular route to the sub-.500 record we all expected. Should the Mariners receive credit for a hot start? Should they be debited for a cold spell? Or do we acknowledge the goal heading into the spring was to develop their youngsters as best as possible? We split the gap by giving them a C. We understand if your grade differs a little here or there.  -- R.J. Anderson

GRADE:  C

The Angels are in second place and have made a habit out of finding cheap contributors. If some of their better-compensated pitchers start pulling their weight, they might even find themselves in the wild card hunt. For now, though, it's a C.  -- R.J. Anderson

GRADE:  C

The Rangers have done well to milk production from a slew of veteran hitters. But jeez, that pitching staff is bad. We're giving them a C because it's the .500 of grades and we think that's the ideal record for this team.  -- R.J. Anderson

GRADE:  D

So much for repeating last year. The A's offseason looks about as bad as it possibly could a quarter of the way through the season. Sure, Oakland has had its share of injury woes, but sheesh. On the bright side, the last-place A's do have MVP candidate Matt Chapman to enjoy every day, and Frankie Montas has done his best to give the rotation a young hope while Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk work their way back from injury.  -- R.J. Anderson
National League East

GRADE: A

The Phillies have taken full advantage of a sluggish start for the rest of the NL East, and sit atop the division. While superstar slugger Bryce Harper hasn't had the first month many Phillies fans had hoped for, the rest of the lineup has proven to do a great job of getting on base -- they currently have the sixth best OBP (.336) in MLB. Plus, Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff have emerged as quality pieces of the rotation.  -- Katherine Acquavella

GRADE: B-

The reigning NL East champions have been pretty inconsistent in this first quarter of the season. But even with their streaky-ness so far this season, Atlanta is in second place in their division. The bullpen is a bit of a mess, but the bright parts of their season so far have been right-hander Mike Soroka's breakout and shortstop Dansby Swanson living up to his potential.  -- Katherine Acquavella

GRADE: C-

The new-look Mets haven't gotten the results we're used to seeing from their starters and their leaky bullpen has been a real issue this season. Overall, the team's played pretty average in this first quarter but they haven't run themselves out of the division race just yet.  -- Katherine Acquavella

GRADE:  F

They are closer to the lowly Marlins than they are to first place. They have had some injuries, but Max Scherzer , Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin haven't missed any starts. Plenty of position players should be better, too, and the bullpen has been an unmitigated disaster other than Sean Doolittle . In envisioning every scenario for the first quarter of the season, the Nationals are basically in their worst-case scenario.  -- Matt Snyder

GRADE:  F

The Marlins have the worst record and run differential in baseball. There have been a few bright spots -- Caleb Smith , mostly -- but this is a dreadful bunch. The biggest question facing the Marlins the rest of the way is whether they'll fire manager Don Mattingly before October.  -- R.J. Anderson
National League Central

GRADE:  A-

If we could just delete that first road trip, they'd have an A+. That trip yielded a 2-7 record with at least three blown wins. The bullpen and rotation -- outside the ageless Jon Lester -- both looked like a disaster and it looked like a long season might be on tap. Instead, the Cubs have gone 9-0-1 in series since then, sporting the best record in the majors since that awful start. They are firing on all cylinders right now and have a case for the best team in baseball.  -- Matt Snyder

GRADE: B

Turns out Christian Yelich is that damn good. What a ballplayer he is. Also, Zach Davies is healthy and pitching very well, and Josh Hader remains a force at the end of games. The bullpen isn't quite as strong overall as last year though, Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes have mostly struggled, and Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw have provided very little offense at the corner infield spots. The Brewers are very good. There are also some clear spots for improvement and every roster spot/game will matter in the NL Central race.  -- Mike Axisa

GRADE:  B-

They've gotten nice bounce-back performances thus far from Marcell Ozuna and Dexter Fowler , and Paul DeJong looks like he's taken the next step at the plate. They've also got their head above the waterline despite one of the toughest early schedules in all of baseball. Consistency in the rotation has been a big concern, as has Matt Carpenter's production. -- Dayn Perry

GRADE: C-

Josh Bell is in the middle of the least talked about breakout season in baseball and Gregory Polanco has come back very well from shoulder surgery. Rookie Bryan Reynolds has given them a nice shot in the arm as well. That all said, there are still too many weak spots in the lineup, and when you open up their Baseball-Reference.com team page, Jordan Lyles stares back at you from atop the WAR leaderboard. That's ... not good. The Pirates have been outscored by roughly one run per game this year.  -- Mike Axisa

GRADE:  C+

The Reds entered the season likely behind the likes of the Cubs, Cardinals , Brewers and maybe even the Pirates in the eyes of many, but they pushed their chips to the center of the table in the offseason by acquiring Sonny Gray , Tanner Roark , Alex Wood , Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig . Kemp is gone, Wood is still hurt and they are in last. Still, they are pitching incredibly well and have a plus-29 run differential. The offense should be a lot better and if it comes around, there's a shot they'll climb into contention.  -- Matt Snyder
National League West

GRADE:  A-

Coming into the season, the Dodgers were heavy favorites in the NL West and expected to be on the short-list of best teams in baseball. They've satisfied those expectations to date. Young centerpieces Corey Seager and Walker Buehler have been a bit disappointing thus far, but fellow young centerpiece Cody Bellinger has looked like an MVP candidate.  -- Dayn Perry

GRADE: C+

Things were expected to be a lot worse for the rebuilding Diamondbacks , who lost A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin this offseason, hence the grade given out is for a team that's exceeded expectations in the first quarter of the season. Arizona had an impressive stretch to start the season, but are currently in the midst of a rough patch. It's unlikely they'll sustain relevance this season, but left fielder David Peralta and right-hander Luke Weaver are putting together excellent campaigns thus far. -- Katherine Acquavella

GRADE:  A

Many of us thought that 2019 was the year before the year with this group, but they might well make good on contending this season. They are in good shape right now. We knew what Manny Machado could bring and knew about the prospects, but they brought Fernando Tatis and Chris Paddack from the get-go out of spring training and it's paid great dividends. Things certainly aren't perfect (Machado hasn't really gotten going offensively, for one), but given the roster here, it's hard to complain much. The Padres are a great story.  -- Matt Snyder

GRADE: C

The Rockies are still trying to get their head back above water following that ugly 3-12 start. They've recovered nicely, but gosh, that was a lot of damage done. German Marquez is proving last year was no fluke and Jon Gray looks much better than he did last season, plus the guys who have to hit are now hitting. The rotation behind Marquez and Gray has been rough though, and second base remains a black hole. The Rockies came into the season with little margin for error and that 3-12 start basically exhausted it. -- Mike Axisa

GRADE: C

The Giants are bad, were expected to be bad, and will continue being bad. In that sense, they've met expectations. What knocks them down is the discord between Derek Holland and unnamed others on one side and the new front office under Farhan Zaidi on the other. What bumps them up is Madison Bumgarner's renaissance at the command-and-control level. That might give him a trade market leading up to July 31.  -- Dayn Perry
CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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