How they rank: August 19


Stats through Sunday’s games. Parenthesis indicates previous ranking:

1. L.A. Dodgers (1): Yimi Garcia has given up nine singles in 48.2 innings, which would look better if he hadn’t given up 13 homers, eight doubles and a triple. Batting average against is .178; slugging percentage against is .460.

2. Houston (2): Carlos Correa homers twice on Thursday, becomes the third shortstop to reach 100 homers before his 25th birthday after Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken Jr. Imagine how much sooner he would have hit No. 100 if he’d forego the massages.

3. N.Y. Yankees (3): GM Brian Cashman stopped by Darien, Conn., police , who were looking for a vehicle that resembled Cashman’s, which had recently been stolen and recovered. Police apologized and let Cashman go. He’s lucky there weren’t any Cubs fans at the bust, given that Cashman did steal Gleyber Torres from the Cubs.

4. Minnesota (4):  A bad wrist might keep Nelson Cruz, currently on the injured list, from 400 home runs this year. He’s at 392, with 32 this year, giving him six straight seasons of 32 or more; 327 of his homers have been hit after his 30th birthday. Cruz is like the golfer who can shoot his age. He hit 37 last year in a season he was 37 on Opening Day. If he can get back soon to resume slugging .650, he could hit 38 in a season he was 38 on Opening Day. Can’t wait till he hits 40 as a 40-year old in 2021.

5. Cleveland (6): Indians manager Terry Francona rests Jose Ramirez — .370 lifetime vs. Yankees with three of his nine career homers vs. Yanks and seven RBIs on Thursday and Friday — for Mike Freeman, who had four career homers entering play Sunday. Freeman homered and doubled twice as Indians won, 8-4. Said Freeman: “I just tried to do my best Jose Ramirez impression.”

6. Atlanta (5): Braves deal for relievers Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin at trade deadline to change their bullpen’s fortunes, and they succeeded. They made it worse, which hardly seemed possible. Since joining Braves, the three relievers have pitched 21.1 innings, allowed 32 hits and 19 earned runs, lost two games and blown two saves. But not to worry Braves fans: owner Liberty Media’s stock is up.

7. Tampa Bay (7): Rays pitchers fan 24 Tigers in 1-0, 13-inning Saturday win, but it took the Rays, who were shut out Friday, 21.2 innings to score against the 37-win Tigers. That made 30 scoreless innings for the Rays, who scored two in the first at San Diego on Wednesday and were shut out the next eight in a 5-2 loss. Not easy to tell the playoff contender from the worst team in baseball.

8. Oakland (10): A’s and Astros combined for 10 homers on Thursday at the Coliseum, good for 13 runs in a 7-6 A’s win. A’s manager Bob Melvin: “Coors Field tonight, huh?” Only other previous 10-homer game for A’s since moving to Oakland, according to San Jose Mercury News, was April 23, 1985 at Anaheim. Dave Kingman, Carney Lansford, Mike Davis and Dusty Baker homered for A’s; Reggie Jackson (twice), Bobby Grich, Jerry Narron, Dick Schofield and Doug DeCinces, probably off a tipped pitch if his recent sentence for insider trading is any indication, homered for Angels. A’s Mike Warren, who threw 28 homers in a 204.2 inning career, threw four of them.

9. Chicago Cubs (8): Cole Hamels knocked out by Phillies four batters and eight runs into the third inning, second straight start he can’t get to the fourth inning. Combined with Jon Lester, two Cubs lefties had given up 26 earned runs in 24 August innings until Lester blanked Pirates for six innings on Saturday. Hamels: “We’re both competing (for) who can suck the most.” Given Hamels’ 21.60 ERA in his last two starts, it’s about the only thing he’s winning.

10. Boston (9): Chris Sale fans 2,000th batter on Tuesday, becomes fastest in MLB to that milestone. Sale needed 1,626 innings, Pedro Martinez 1,711.1. Stephen Strasburg, who has 1,629 strikeouts in 1,387.2 innings, will have to pick up the pace to top that. He’s on course to top 2,000 strikeouts in 1,703.2 innings.

11. Washington (11): Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell blames Nats manager Dave Martinez for Sean Doolittle’s trip to the injured list. Boswell: “Doolittle was on pace to throw 21 percent more pitches than he ever has in his career — 930 so far this season compared with 1,020 in 2013, the only full season in his career when he has stayed off the IL.” It’s an interesting sentence in that it manages to both support and contradict Boswell’s argument. If Doolittle has avoided the DL/IL only once in an eight-season career, and Martinez has only managed him for two of them, whose fault was it the other five seasons the reliever landed on the IL? Maybe Boswell is right that Doolittle can’t handle a heavy workload. But Doolittle is 49th among relievers in innings pitched (52) and 32nd in pitches thrown. He’s not been assigned a heavy workload. And let’s also point out that Doolittle’s loss isn’t a calamity for the Nats. His .819 OPS against is 141st in MLB.

12. St. Louis (12): Jack Flaherty, who threw 21 home runs in his first 21 starts, went three straight without one and had his 23-inning scoreless streak ended Sunday by a Eugenio Suarez home run in the first. Flaherty has given up just five runs in his last 50.1 innings, lowering his ERA from 4.90 on July 2 to 3.46 today.  But he didn’t halfway to Bob Gibson’s Cardinals record of 47 scoreless inning in 1968, let alone Orel Hershiser’s MLB record 59.

13. N.Y. Mets (19): Mickey Callaway pulls Steven Matz with a 2-1 lead in Atlanta for Seth Lugo, whom he calls “the best reliever in baseball.” BRIB gives up five straight hits and Mets lose. No offense to Lugo, who’s normally a solid reliever, but that moniker must be quite a surprise to the 28 relievers who’ve pitched at least 40 innings and have an OPS lower than Lugo’s .612. Even before that breakdown, there were 17 pitchers with better OPSes against. It was also quite a vote of confidence for closer Edwin Diaz, who admittedly doesn’t deserve one.

14. Milwaukee (13): Brewers give up 14 runs on Saturday and somehow win, 15-14, in 14 innings, come back Sunday and give up 16 more runs. Brewers gave up 11 homers in two straight games. Orioles pitchers, who have 6.00 ERA and have given up 255 homers, wondered what’s wrong with the Brewers pitching?

15. Philadelphia (14): Phillies bring back Charlie Manuel, one of only two men to manage the team to a world championship, as hitting coach. Manuel, who’s 75, says he doesn’t want to manage again, but it’s going to be hard for Gabe Kapler to do so. How can Kapler keep his eyes on the field  when he’s constantly looking over his shoulder?

16. L.A. Angels (15): Since returning in June, outfielder Justin Upton is 5-for-45 with 21 strikeouts vs. lefties after batting .195 vs. them in 2018. Since hitting .344 vs. lefties in 2017, Upton is batting .173 against the opposite hand in his last 173 at-bats.

17. San Francisco (16): Rookie Mike Yastrzemski hit three homers on Friday, his 14th, 15th and 16th of his rookie season. Grandpa Carl, who hit 452 career homers, had 27 multi-homer games, if my math is right, but only one three-homer game. And it took him 15 seasons to do so. Yaz went deep against the Tigers’ Dave Roberts, Steve Grilli and John Hiller on May 19, 1976. And, yes, the Red Sox won that day, 9-2. The Giants barely did Friday, 10-9, over Arizona.

18. Arizona (17): Diamondbacks’ Taylor Clarke called up from minors, is knocked out in a five-run second inning on Saturday as Giants win, 11-6. That made 35 runs in 32 innings Diamondbacks starters allowed in an eight-game stretch. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo: “We’ve got to tighten that up. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to pitch better.” With Robbie Ray hurt, and a rotation of rookies Zac Gallen, Taylor Clarke, Merrill Kelly and Alex Young, veteran Mike Leake, he didn’t say how. Wishes aren’t pitches.

19. Cincinnati (20): Aristides Aquino hit 10 homers in first 16 games, first MLB player to do so. Rhys Hoskins, who did it in 17 games, had been previous fastest. Aquino now has 11, or one more than fellow rookie Nick Senzel in 271 fewer at-bats, in 17 games. With 39 more games, he’s on a 37-homer pace, enough for Cody Bellinger  (42) or Mike Trout (41) or Christian Yellich or Pete Alonso (40) to hold on to the home run title.

20. Texas (18): Down eight runs, Rangers make three outs on the bases in a 13-6 loss to the Twins on Thursday. Willie Calhoun is thrown out at the plate on Rougned Odor’s double for the first out, Odor is tagged out in a rundown trying to score on a Logan Forsythe grounder for the second out and Jose Trevino is thrown out at home trying to score on Delino Deshields’ double for the third out. Six batters, five hits, two runs, three outs. And the Rangers were trailing, 12-4, at the time. Rangers manager Chris Woodward: “We run the bases very aggressively … That’s they way I want it. Knowing that you’re going to get thrown out every once in a while is a byproduct of that.” Good thing Woodward isn’t an accountant if he thinks twice in one inning is “every once in a while.” Saying the Rangers get thrown out at the plate “every once in while” is like saying it’s hot in Texas every once in a while.

21. San Diego (21): Padres’ rookie Fernando Tatis out for the season with a back injury and Padres want him to learn to temper his aggressiveness (no wonder Manny Machado and the Padres were a fit). Teammate Eric Hosmer: “It’s really difficult because nobody can really relate to him, because no one has been as athletic as he has been on the baseball field.” No one? Curious how much Hosmer knows about the player whose number he wears on his back every April 15.

22. Colorado (22): Rockies are 20th in MLB in home runs (167), 11th in home home runs (99) despite obvious advantage of Coors Field. All that despite three players — Nolan Arenado (30), Trevor Story (28) and Charlie Blackmon (26) — on their way to 30-homer seasons. Rockie rookie Garrett Hampson: “To have a well-balanced lineup, you’re going to need some speed and some guys to do the little things like bunt a guy over.” Ironic, isn’t it, that the player who talks about the little things is almost always the one hitting .214 with a .591 OPS?

23. Chicago White Sox (24): Bill Walton guested in the White Sox’s broadcast booth on Tie Dye Night at Anaheim and let’s just say it sounded as if, unlike Bill Clinton, he did inhale at all those Grateful Dead contests he once attended. Walton to broadcaster Jason Benetti: “I apologize on behalf of the human race for destroying your broadcast, and I hope I don’t ruin your career, which I think I already let that bus go by.” If Ken Harrelson was watching, he probably wondered if he inhaled. One sage tip of advice from Walton: “If you are ever feeling down about life, just put on John Fogerty.” He’s not wrong.

24. Pittsburgh (23): Player most in need of giving John Fogerty a listen? Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, whose cursed luck is hard to believe. Taillon underwent his second Tommy John surgery last week and will be out until 2021. Taillon, who won 14 games with a 3.20 ERA in 2018, is 27 and has already come back from one Tommy John surgery and testicular cancer. Here’s hoping he can do so again.

25. Toronto (26): Blue Jays outfielder Billy McKinney homered on Aug. 1 and gets farmed the next day. NHL analyst Don Cherry didn’t understand why. Cherry on Twitter “… to see the treatment of Billy McKinney is beyond me. McKinney is called from Buffalo. He hits a home run that night, they win the game and he doesn’t play the next game.” It might not be beyond the old coach if he looked at McKinney’s .215 batting average or .691 OPS.

26. Seattle (25): Remember when Mariners were 13-2, four games up in AL West and averaging 7.8 runs per game? Still the same season. Mariners are 39-71 since, have fallen 27 games behind and have averaged only 4.4 runs per game. And they lost to Edwin Jackson, who has an 8.62 ERA, on Wednesday.

27. Kansas City (27): Royals designate outfielder Billy Hamilton, who had more steals (18) than extra-base hit (14) in 305 plate appearances. To the surprise of no one in Cincinnati, Hamilton is the player with the most at-bats who’s failed to homer this year. His 275 homerless at-bats with the juiced ball are 129 more than John Jay, who’s second and hitting 63 points higher than Hamilton’s .211. Royals manager Ned Yost: “It didn’t work out. It just didn’t,” which about sums up the career of a player who has accumulated 7.9 WAR of defensive value in his seven seasons to 2.4 WAR of offensive value, and most of the latter from his 295 stolen bases.

28. Miami (28): Marlins CEO Derek Jeter on manager Don Mattingly’s status: “… at the end of every year we sit down and we evaluate all members of the organization, whether it’s the manager, whether it’s the coaches, whether it’s in player development or scouting, or the front office.” Apparently nobody followed up and asked him how they evaluated the trade of 2018 NL MVP Christian Yellich. Going to guess that review didn’t get five stars.

29. Baltimore (29): Orioles lose last 16 games vs. Yankees, give up 136 runs, or 8.5 per game, in those 16. Sad thing is that’s not far off the 6.45 runs the Orioles give up per game. Orioles have a team 6.00 ERA, which would be worst in MLB since Rockies’ 6.01 ERA in 1999 (Mike DeJean, 8.41; John Thomson, 1-10, 8.04; Darryl Kile, 6.61; Bobby Jones 6.33). Oh where have you gone Yefry Ramirez?

30. Detroit (30): Edwin Jackson somehow wins first two starts for 37-win Tigers, or one more than Jordan Zimmermann in 16 starts, Zimmermann, who’s making $24.5 million more than Jackson, has a 1-8 record and 6.66 ERA, in case you’re wondering how the Tigers got this bad.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said Aristides Aquino was on a 46 home run pace. He’s not quite that good and neither am I at math.

 

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