Progress reports and grades for all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark
How's your team looking with roughly one-fourth of the 2017 regular season in the books?
Right about now, teams are coming up on the one-quarter mark of the 2017 regular season. As such, it's a good time to send home progress reports for all 30 clubs. Some progress reports will be "lost." Others will be forged and sheepishly presented to the homeroom teacher. Still others will be proudly presented to the team owner in exchange for a hair-mussing and piece of hard candy.
As for specific letter grades, they reflect how well the team in question is meeting, exceeding, or rising above consensus expectations coming into the season. By way of example, the bar for the reigning-champion Cubs is going to be higher than that of the generally rudderless Athletics. Thus the central question is: To what extent is this team performing like we thought it would? If you're comfortably lapping most preseason predictions, then you've got an A. Falling a bit short of same, then a C is probably what you'll get. You get the idea ...
The D-backs last season won 69 games. This year's model is on pace for 93 wins. That's indeed the kind of start that will land you the highest grade possible.
They lost 93 games in 2016 after losing 95 in 2015. However, the Braves were expected to make some strides in 2017, their first year in SunTrust Park. Things have gone according to plan. Their winning percentage is roughly unchanged from a year ago, and they're almost certainly going to get worse now that Freddie Freeman is out for quite a while.
Some of us keep waiting for this Orioles run of relevance to fade, but they just won't cooperate. They go into the weekend with a .590 winning percentage and in playoff position in the AL.
Boston Red Sox: C-
Given the core in place and the winter addition of Chris Sale, much was expected of the Red Sox in 2017. They may still yet reach those expectations, but in the here and now they're a third-place team.
Chicago Cubs: C-
With 103 wins last season and a World Series trophy, the Cubs of course set a lofty standard for themselves. The recent sweep of the Reds may signify a turning point, but the reality remains: The 2017 Cubs are just two games above .500 and in third place. Yes, they're still the favorites in the NL Central, but they're way off last year's early-season scintillating pace.
The Sox are in the midst of a teardown, and as such they were expected to dwell near the bottom of the standings in 2017. That's indeed what they're doing, as they're in fourth place and on pace for a 70-92 finish. Expectations met, so far.
Cincinnati Reds: B
Not so long ago, this mark would've been higher, but the Reds as of this writing have dropped six in a row and now find themselves two games below .500. That scales to a respectable finish, given what was expected from Cincy this season, but it feels disappointing in light of the promising start.
After winning the pennant and coming within a hairsbreadth of the belt and the title, the Indians had high expectations for 2017. That's especially the case after their signing of Edwin Encarnacion. They're falling short of those expectations thus far, but fortunately for the Tribe they play in a fairly mediocre division.
Colorado Rockies: A+
After an active winter paired with some promising incumbent talents, the Rockies, to hear some tell it, would be in the mix for a wild card berth in 2017. Well, they're that and more thus far. They've never been under .500 this season, and at this writing they're in first place in the NL West.
The Tigers flirted with a teardown this past offseason, but it never came to pass. Instead, they're (narrowly) above .500 and in the AL wild card discussion (no one's having that discussion yet, but still).
Houston Astros: A+
Most expected the 'Stros to win the AL West this season, so the bar was high. They've cleared that bar in the early going. Houston has the AL's best run differential, and they're playing to an absurd 115-win pace.
The rotation's been a pleasant surprise, but the offense has been baseball's worst by a comfortable margin. Will a deadline sell-off be in the offing? Recent history has been very kind to K.C., but right now they're in last place.
GM Billy Eppler, hamstrung by a tight budget and few tradable assets, did a good job of improving the roster at the margins this offseason. That plus Mike Trout's continuing to be the best player in baseball have made the Angels relevant and above .500 for the moment.
On the one hand, the Dodgers have the best run differential in the NL and are on pace to add to their 2016 win tally. On the other hand, they're tied for second place in a season in which the Giants -- their expected prime competition in the NL West -- have bottomed out.
Miami Marlins: D-
The Fish didn't look like contenders, particularly after the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Even by those tamped-down standards, though, they've been disappointing. At this writing, they've allowed 40 more runs than they've scored, and they're in last place in a division that also includes the Phillies, Mets, and Braves.
One of the best offenses in baseball has carried the Brewers to the top of a tightly bunched NL Central. For a team supposedly still emerging from a deep rebuild, that's a very promising start to the season. Put Eric Thames on your NL MVP watch list.
The Twins are seeing some skills growth out of their young talent (Byron Buxton being the disappointing exception), and they've topped the forecasts thus far. The run differential is in negative territory, and the division isn't strong. That said, a winning record and first place in the standings carry the day.
New York Mets: F
The Mets won the pennant in 2015 and claimed a wild-card berth last season. The 2017 season, however, at present finds them on for 96 losses. They're already 8 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East.
New York Yankees: A+
The Yanks weren't supposed to be relevant until 2018 at the earliest. Even so, they're atop the AL East and playing to a 102-win pace despite having faced one of the toughest schedules in all of baseball thus far.
Oakland Athletics: B
The A's are adrift as usual. They won 69 games a season ago and are on target to clock in at 71 this year. The grade doesn't reflect anything more than the A's continuing to be the A's.
Philadelphia Phillies: D+
No one not invested in such an outcome thought the Phillies would be contenders in 2017. That said, they're emerging from a rebuild and progress was expected. That's not what's happened thus far, as the Phils are on pace to lose 11 wins off their 2016 total.
Starling Marte's suspended for roughly half the season, and Andrew McCutchen still seems to be lost in decline. As a result, the Buccos are in last place in the NL Central and lugging around a -31 run differential.
The Padres were widely expected to be terrible, and they are indeed terrible. In an era of compression in the standings, they're on pace for 106 losses. Is that surprising? No, that's probably not surprising. If you find a "B" attached to a team on pace for 106 losses then instead think of it as "LOL B."
San Francisco Giants: F
There's Madison Bumgarner's serious shoulder injury -- the consequence of a dirt bike accident. There's also the fact that no team has hit fewer home runs than the Giants this season (they have 33, or just a bit more than half of the Brewers' total). For those and other reasons, San Fran finds itself on pace for 96 losses.
Seattle Mariners: C-
The M's had designs on contention this season, but they've been absolutely waylaid by injuries in the rotation. They have the longest playoff drought in the game right now, and they're in fourth place in the AL West. On the other hand, it's a minor miracle that Seattle is just two games below .500 given all those pitching injuries.
St. Louis Cardinals: B
The rotation's been a strength, and the positional depth has come up big in recent weeks. They're ahead of the Cubs in the standings and tracking to a 90-win pace.
Opinions diverged greatly on what we should expect from the 2017 Rays. They've cooperated with the sense of confusion by clocking in at one game below .500. Is that disappointing, better than expected, or just about right? I dunno, man. Befuddling yet dull: The 2017 Tampa Bay Rays.
Texas Rangers: C+
Not so long ago, the Rangers would've been flirting with an F on their progress report and, as such, ferocious parental retribution. But Texas has ripped off nine straight wins to get back above .500 and in second place. All that said, they're still on pace to lose 10 wins off their 2016 total.
They've shown signs of coming out of their funk of late, but the Jays remain a team coming off consecutive playoff appearances that's playing at a .429 clip. In related matters, Josh Donaldson has played in just nine games.
The bullpen's still a concern in D.C., but everything else is humming, including Bryce Harper. As a result, they have the largest division lead in baseball and a 101-win pace going for them. On the other hand, the Nats were indeed heavy favorites in the NL East coming into the season.
And there you have it, people. Progress reports. All 30 teams. Suckas be clickin'.
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