How they rank: April 21


Stats through Thursday’s games; last rankings in parenthesis:

  • 1. Washington (4): Two weeks after manager Dusty Baker declared his infatuation with his bullpen, he changes closers and says, “this ain’t working.” He’s right. Bullpens are fickle. GM Mike Rizzo says, “I see one guy eventually taking over (as closer), I certainly do,” and so do Nats fans. Only as with Mark Melancon last year, whoever he is is not yet a National.
  • 2. Houston (7): Astros outfielder George Springer has played in 203 consecutive games, which places him sixth on the team’s all-time list behind Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell (three times) and Enos Cabell, who played in 213 straight. Seems hard to believe the Astros couldn’t do without Cabell and his .678 lifetime OPS and 93 OPS+ for that long a time.
  • 3. Chicago Cubs (1): Reserve outfielder Matt Szczur’s first portrait paintings of teammates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo auctioned off for $35,000 each for charity, or about $34,000 more than one of Brian Duensing would have gone for.
  • 4. L.A. Dodgers (3): Loyola Marymount poll says Dodgers passed Lakers as Los Angeles’ favorite team, 36% to 35%, which might be more impressive if Lakers hadn’t lost 56 games and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
  • 5. Cleveland (2): Infielder Yandy Diaz ran on the field Tuesday with the wrong cap. Given his .236 average and Jason Kipnis’ imminent return from the DL, Diaz is going to have to change caps soon and put on Columbus’, the Indians’ AAA affiliate.
  • 6. Baltimore (12): Orioles, who had six players hit 20 or more homers in leading MLB last year, are led so far  by rookie Trey Mancini, who has four this year and seven in his 15-game career.
  • 7. Boston (5): Mookie Betts went 129 plate appearances, dating back to last Sept. 12, without striking out. Just to prove how rare that is, he fanned twice in the next game.
  • 8. N.Y. Mets (9): Yoenis Cespedes, slugging .632, yanks a hamstring and says “I felt, like a shock.” That’s nothing compared to the jolt manager Terry Collins felt with the knowledge Cespedes won’t play this weekend vs. Nationals. Or Daily News readers, greeted with a back-page headline of “Holy Sit.”
  • 9. N.Y. Yankees (16): From the Joaquin Andujar youneverknow dept: Yankees are 9-1 since Gary Sanchez was hurt, and lead MLB in run differential at +28, +32 since Sanchez was hurt.
  • 10. Miami (20): Ted Williams farewell moment of the week: Ichiro, who had hit one home run per season in 1,084 at-bats over his previous three, homers on Ichiro Bobblehead Day at Seattle, for whom he accumulated 2,533 hits. Home run was hit No. 3,033 and came in the ninth inning with Mariners ahead 10-4, allowing Seattle fans one final ovation. Although at 43, Ichiro says he’s not done. Who wants to bet against him?
  • 11. Cincinnati (28): Reds’ bullpen, 29th in MLB with 5.09 ERA in 2016, is fifth this year with 2.40 ERA and first in strikeouts with 80 in 63.2 innings. Who needs Aroldis Chapman? 
  • 12. Detroit (10): Tigers botch two easy fly balls in loss to Rays at Tropicana Field and manager Brad Ausmus blamed it on someone in the stands “yelling, ‘I got it!’ We had to change our signals. It was the Rays’ fans causing confusion.” I know what you’re thinking: the Rays have fans?
  • 13. Tampa Bay (19): In Boston on Patriots Day, a few Rays are asked which team member could run the Boston Marathon. Two nominate Jumbo Diaz — all 6-foot-4, 278 pounds of him. Presumably they were kidding. The streets of Boston are probably not big enough accommodate Jumbo.
  • 14. Arizona (23): Closer Fernando Rodney has five saves, a win and 11.37 ERA. Which number are you buying?
  • 15. Colorado (15): Tyler Anderson lingers in bullpen warming up until 7:10 p.m., then strolls to dugout as Clayton Kershaw is made to wait to start game. Kershaw: “… one of the more disrespectful things I have been a part of in a game.” Anderson said it was unintentional, and maybe it was, but with the emphasis on pace of game, maybe it would help if they started on time.
  • 16. Milwaukee (26): Eric Thames homered again on Thursday, which gives him 8, or one more than the Red Sox have hit as a team.
  • 17. San Francisco (6): The season is almost three weeks old and Madison Bumgarner is still tied for second on the Giants in home runs with two, just one behind Brandon Belt. That might help explain their 6-10 start.
  • 18. Minnesota (22): Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, off to a 4-for-49 start, says he’s unfazed. “They tell me people start out like this all the time,” he says, probably getting that from the same people who told President Trump his electoral college victory was the biggest ever. For the record Byron, no they don’t, and when they’re 23 and unestablished, they usually get sent to AAA if they do.
  • 19. Oakland (21): Who’s the last starter to give up an earned run in 2017? Correct answer — after the A’s plated five against the runner-up, Seattle’s James Paxton — is, yes, Andrew Triggs. He hasn’t allowed any in 17.2 innings in three starts. The A’s being the A’s, Triggs has given up three unearned runs.
  • 20. St. Louis (8): Can’t be long now until old closer Trevor Rosenthal (7 strikeouts and four base runners allowed in 14 plate appearances) replaces new closer Seung-hwan Oh (12 hits, two homers and 15 base runners in 35 plate appearances), who replaced him last year.
  • 21. Texas (13): With 3-0 count on A’s Khris Davis Wednesday, manager Jeff Banister signaled for an intentional walk, which was the only thing that saved Martin Perez from a 40-pitch first inning. Perez couldn’t finish the fourth in a 9-1 loss.
  • 22. Kansas City (18): After sitting out 2016 with Tommy John surgery, Jason Vargas starts 2017 with three wins and 23 strikeouts, two walks and an 0.44 ERA in 20.2 innings. The surgeon deserves to be remembered next December.
  • 23. Pittsburgh (14): Pirates cancel Starling Marte Jersey Day on July 2 after Marte’s PED suspension and say they’ll replace it with another player not on suspension. Perhaps Jung Ho Kang will have his visa problems solved by then.
  • 24. Seattle (17): Mariners 1-7 on the road after losing at Oakland in game started by Athletics’ Cesar Valdez, whose last previous start was for Arizona in 2010 and has one major-league win.
  • 25. Chicago White Sox (27): White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana appears on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon after revealing in spring training the show helped him learn English (that has to better for his grammar than learning from Ken Harrelson). Quintana says he’s not going show biz, and, “I’ll keep pitching.” Given his 6.75 ERA in three starts, White Sox fans might be wondering when he’s going to start.
  • 26. Atlanta (24): Freddie Freeman reaches base for 12 consecutive at-bats with seven hits and five walks, breaking the record of 11 set by Jeff Burroughs, who on a franchise with Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Ralph Garr and Wally Berger, seems an unlikely record holder.
  • 27. L.A. Angels (25): Angels lose six in a row, are shut out two straight and fall from 6-2 to 7-10. Albert Pujols says he’s not worried. “I’ll be concerned in September,” Pujols said. “You guys are concerned, because you guys write about it. That’s what you guys concentrate on, writing negative stuff. I’ll leave that to you.” It’s not that hard when watching the future Hall of Famer hit: Pujols is batting .177 with a .518 OPS for the $26 million the Angels are paying him, which helps explain why the team scored just 16 runs in its last nine games.
  • 28. Toronto (11): Blue Jays catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia says he might’ve skipped 2014 trip to White House with 2013 Red Sox World Series winners because of his opposition to President Obama. Saltalamacchia, then a Marlin, couldn’t attend because the Marlins had a game scheduled. “I didn’t agree with a lot of his political beliefs and the way he ran the country. I honestly probably wouldn’t have went,” said Saltalamacchia. Given the Blue Jays’ 3-12 record, he won’t have to worry about a White House visit next year.
  • 29. Philadelphia (29): Newly recalled pitcher Ben Lively told his fifth-grade teacher he wanted to be a pro baseball player. Not sure the 6-9 Phillies are what fifth-grade Ben had in mind.
  • 30. San Diego (30): Manager Andy Green praises shortstop Erick Aybar, says, “he understands the game very well …” If so, he knows his .163 average and .596 OPS won’t do, not even on the Padres.
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