How they rank: April 7


Stats through Thursday’s games:

  • 1. Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant posts video of himself on Facebook, chipping a golf ball into its intended target in shallow left center field. Unfortunately that’s how far the NL MVP, off to an 0-13 start, is hitting the baseball, too.
  • 2. Cleveland: Manager Terry Francona plans to play Carlos Santana in right field when Indians lose the DH at Arizona this weekend. Said Francona: “He’s probably going to play out there. I don’t think he’s going to hurt us.” Nothing can hurt the Indians the way they’re playing, except for maybe Ben Zobrist. Too soon?
  • 3. L.A. Dodgers: Yasiel Puig, with three homers in first three games, says the key is punctuality and preparation. Said Puig: “You have to behave yourself and get here early and prepare. That’s how things are going the right way.”  That’s someone who appreciates the difference between summers in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City, where he was demoted to last season.
  • 4. Washington: Nats bullpen blows leads in the eighth and ninth and loses game in the 10th to avert sweep of Marlins. Says manager Dusty Baker: “I mean, I love my bullpen.” Of course he does. It was about this time last year that Dusty, starstruck with closer Jonathan Papelbon, kept saying how his closer was getting the job done.
  • 5. Boston: Chris Sale throws seven shutout innings in Red Sox debut in Game 2 and gets a no decision for the team which led MLB in runs scored last year while his old team, the White Sox, get 11 in their Game 2. Joaquin Andujar was right: Youneverknow.
  • 6. San Francisco: With two homers on opening day, Madison Bumgarner has hit 14 since 2014. Or just seven fewer than Denard Span in 1,202 more at-bats.
  • 7. Houston: Notorious pull hitter Brian McCann, who hit just 2 of his 69 Yankees homers to the opposite field, hits his first Astros homer to left. McCann credited his brother Brad, a former minor leaguer. Said McCann: “He’s been telling me this for five years. But I was doing just enough. Two years ago I drove in 90-some runs. So it was hard to say, ‘It’s time to make a change.’ ” Who’s surprised that McCann, who once chided Jose Fernandez for enjoying a home run too much, determines his value by how many RBIs he has?
  • 8. St. Louis: Yadier Molina denied he puts anything on his chest protector after ball got stuck on it in Cardinals loss to Cubs Thursday and told questioner, “That’s a dumb question.” No, Yadi, it’s really not, and Cardinals had no better answer for the Cubs than Yadi did for how it happened.
  • 9. N.Y. Mets: Steven Matz’s elbow is hurting again and the Mets don’t know why. Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “The nice thing is nobody is talking surgery in his case. Not in the realm of possibility,” but given Matz’s history and the Mets’ misfortune you have to wonder.
  • 10. Detroit: Recuperating outfielder J.D. Martinez visits the doctor, and manager Brad Ausmus says:  “There’s no negatives on J.D.” Which is about what you would expect a manager platooning Ty Collins and Mike Mahtook in Martinez’s absence to say.
  • 11. Toronto: GM Ross Atkins says camaraderie and peer pressure will make up for loss of Edwin Encarnacion. Atkins: “There’s no question that when you have players talking about making other players better and holding one another accountable, that’s much more powerful than anything we can do in our front office,” which sounds like a good excuse for allowing someone who hit 42 homers last year to depart.
  • 12. Baltimore: Zach Britton, idle in last year’s wild-card game against Toronto, pitches two of the 11 innings the Orioles and Blue Jays played on opening day. At least now we know what Orioles manager Buck Showalter was saving Britton for.
  • 13. Texas: Sam Dyson gives up seven hits, a walk and eight runs in his first two games, both losses. “Sam’s going to figure it out,” said Texas manager Jeff Banister. “We’ll put our heads together and we’ll work on it. This is a guy that’s been really good for us. I’m not going to jump off after two games.” Banister’s loyalty is better than his standards: Dyson had a .658 OPS against last year, and if Banister thinks that’s “really good,” he might want to raise the bar.
  • 14. Pittsburgh: New right fielder Andrew McCutchen gets his first look at Fenway Park and The Wall and says, “It’s a pinball machine, man.” He should have seen it when Manny Ramirez was in left. Lots of tilts.
  • 15. Colorado: Mark Reynolds, filling in at first base for injured Ian Desmond, hits two homers, three doubles and drives in six runs in first four games. Even better, he fanned just twice in his first 17 plate appearances, considerably better than his career average of a strikeout every 3.2. Which begs the question: where does Desmond, signed for $70 million, play if Reynolds keeps it up?
  • 16. N.Y. Yankees: Gary Sanchez starts 1-for-14 with three strikeouts. Maybe we can hold off on that monument for a couple of weeks.
  • 17. Seattle: Outfielder Jarrod Dyson after opening-day loss: “It’s kind of easy to put it aside because you have so many more, 161 more.” The Mariners lost the next night, and the night after that, too, before finally winning on a Dyson hit. At that pace, it won’t be long before you don’t have so many more.
  • 18. Kansas City: Reliever Matt Strahm gave up three earned runs in 21 games last year; he gave up twice that many in his first two appearances of 2017 on three walks, a broken-bat flare, an overturned bunt single and Eduardo Escobar home run.
  • 19. Tampa Bay: Pitcher Blake Snell loses first start, walking 5 in 6.2 innings on Thursday. “Take away them being selective, there wasn’t a ton of hard-hit balls on (the Blue Jays’) end,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, and he was right, except for one by Kendry Morales, which went an estimated 440 feet.
  • 20. Miami: Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich hit by pitches twice on Wednesday, which leads to mini-confrontation. “I don’t understand why (he was angry),” said reliever Enny Romero, a former minor-league teammate with the Rays, who hit Dietrich the second time. Just a guess Enny, but maybe because you were throwing 97 mph?
  • 21. Oakland: Manager Bob Melvin refuses to name a closer and says, “we’ll play it by ear. I’m not going to say ‘This is the guy who’s going to close.’” Here’s who’s not going to close: Ryan Dull, who blew a save in Game 2 by throwing a three-run homer to Danny Espinosa.
  • 22. Minnesota: Byron Buxton solidified in No, 3 spot in the batting order despite career .657 OPS. Manager Paul Molitor: “I’m not thinking about doing that right now. We just won three games.” Yes. But Buxton, who went 1-14, had nothing to do with that on offense.
  • 23. Arizona: D’backs win opener, rallying to score two runs against Giants closer Mark Melancon on four straight hits. Win percentage with two outs and nobody on was 5%, but that didn’t take into account that three of the next four hitters were Jeff Mathis, Daniel Descalso and Chris Owings. Was actually closer to .005.
  • 24. Atlanta: Ryan Howard signs minor-league deal. He should adjust nicely, given that in his last four years with the Phillies, he’s played for a minor-league team.
  • 25. L.A. Angels: Someone who could use a break department: Garrett Richards, making his first start since May 1, leaves with cramping in his forearm in the fifth inning and then undergoes an MRI on Friday. Here’s hoping.
  • 26. Milwaukee: After good spring, Tyler Cravy complains about demotion and says, “I’d rather just find a 9-5 job where I get treated like a human at this point.” He might rethink when he when he gets paid for a 9-5 job instead of a ballplayer.
  • 27. Chicago White Sox: Jose Abreu tells front office he doesn’t want to be traded. “I wish just to spend my whole career with this organization.” In other words, Don’t trade me, bro.
  • 28. Cincinnati: Reds opening day pitcher is Scott Feldman, who has a career 4.40 ERA. That might have been good enough for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic, but there are no Chinas or Cubas — without those players who defected — in the NL Central.
  • 29. Philadelphia: Daniel Nava homers in his first two at-bats for the Phillies. Who does he think he is: Madison Bumgarner?
  • 30. San Diego: Padres’ opening-day roster has four catchers, three Rule 5 selections and $28 million payroll, or $5 million less than Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. That seems about right. Kershaw may win more games.

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