How they rank: June 2

Last rankings in parentheses; stats through Thursday’s games:

  • 1. Houston (1): Astros lead MLB in wins and runs scored, AL West by 11-and-a-half games, but not at any position in AL All-Star voting. Shortstop Carlos Correa (Francisco Lindor) and second baseman Jose Altuve (Starlin Castro) are second. Fans of the 1957 Reds, who elected seven starters from a team that was in third place, wonder how that could have happened.
  • 2. Washington (2): Bryce Harper speaks to a group of Little Leaguers, tells them, “No participation trophies. First place only.” If only the Nats’ front office had that approach to the playoffs.
  • 3. L.A. Dodgers (5): Adrian Gonzalez one of two Dodgers ejected in the ninth inning for critiquing home-plate umpire Marty Foster’s judgment, says: “I know they’ve got a plane to catch. So they’re worried about other things.” Yo Adrian: considering it was a Thursday afternoon game, they could miss as many planes as they did calls and still get to their Friday night game on time.
  • 4. N.Y. Yankees (3): Aaron Judge, who has 17 home runs, hits 510-foot home run during batting practice on Thursday in Toronto. Phillies text, wanting to know if they can sign the pitcher.
  • 5. Arizona (9): With three upcoming off days in next two weeks, Diamondbacks farm Zack Godley, who has a 2.39 ERA and .596 OPS against in six starts. GM Mike Hazen: ”  … we recognize the way he’s pitched and it was factored into the discussion. We’re responsible for the entire 25-man roster and for the entire team being able to perform at the level it needs to perform at.” Glad someone is taking responsibility for Patrick Corbin, who’s still a major leaguer despite a 5.14 ERA and .847 OPS against.
  • 6. Colorado (6): Rockies tied for NL West lead despite 15-13 home record and because of 19-9 away mark which leads MLB in road wins (Astros are 18-6). It’s not the offense — 4th in runs scored at home and 7th on the road — but the pitchers, who are second in ERA away from Coors Field (3.37) but 27th (5.04) at home.
  • 7. Boston (12): Red Sox, who led MLB in runs scored last year, are 29th in home runs with 49, ahead of only San Francisco (42). The three returning players who hit 25 or more last year — Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley — have combined for just 22 this year, and Betts’ team-high nine are tied for 29th in the AL.
  • 8. Cleveland (11): Indians move Danny Salazar to the bullpen. “My situation is not what I wanted, but it’s something that maybe I needed,” Salazar said. Given his 5.50 ERA despite 75 strikeouts in 53.1 innings, Indians can’t be faulted, though there was His Brother was Worse defense: Josh Tomlin, with 5.79 ERA, remains in rotation.
  • 9. Milwaukee (8): Ryan Braun on Brewers leading NL Central: “There probably wouldn’t have been anybody outside of our organization that thought we had any chance to be in this position now.” True. But if you told them the Cards would be 26-25 and the Cubs 25-27 entering play Friday, odds would be a lot better.
  • 10. Baltimore (4): Orioles minor leaguer Robert Andino suspended 50 games for use of a banned substance (amphetamine). It comes about six years too late for the 2011 Red Sox, who were knocked out of the playoffs by Andino’s game-winning hit for a 67-win Orioles team on the last day of the season.
  • 11. Tampa Bay (16): Corey Dickerson, batting .341 and slugging .607, hits one pitch that bounced in front of the plate. From “According to Statcast, at 0.10 feet off the ground, it’s the lowest pitch hit for extra bases that’s ever been measured.” Probably explains why he only doubled.
  • 12. St. Louis (10): Cardinals radio broadcaster Mike Shannon, a world champion at two positions (right field in ’64, third base in ’67 to make room for Roger Maris) on Jose Martinez overthrowing the cutoff man: “It changes the whole friggin’ (inning). It was a terrible throw. You can’t make those kind of mistakes, and we see this happen all the time with this Cardinal team. You can do it if you want to be a second-division club. … And if you continue to play like that, you will be a second-division club.” And we thought Bob Gibson didn’t suffer foolish play gladly.
  • 13. Chicago Cubs (7): Anthony Rizzo announces engagement to girlfriend Emily Vakos. With Cubs at 25-27, it might be the only ring he adds in the near future.
  • 14. Minnesota (14): Twins pull off 11th triple play in team history in win over Angels Thursday, and third baseman Miguel Sano said he saw it coming. “Ya, I predicted it,” Sano said. “I kept thinking it. I kept saying it. I came and I practiced getting the ground ball on the line, touching third and throwing to second. …” Before we start calling Sano Nostradamus, remember that he predicted he would hit 45 homers before the 2014 season, “maybe 55.” After injury, he hit none.
  • 15. Texas (13): Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus gets married on a day off Thursday. The honeymoon, apparently like the playoffs, can wait.
  • 16. L.A. Angels (17): Rod Carew, 71 years old and six months with a new heart, attended the matchup of his two teams — Angels and Twins — on Thursday and said, “I told the doctors, get me a young heart. I want to see if I can go out and get some base hits.” Carew had 3,053 in a 19-year career, and could probably still hit one where they ain’t.
  • 17. Toronto (23): Brett Gardner got his 1,000th career hit Thursday off Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada, who, unaware of the significance, threw the ball to the wrong dugout. Given that Estrada threw two homers in 3.2 innings and has allowed eight in his last six starts, Gardner was lucky to get the ball back at all.
  • 18. Chicago White Sox (21): Longtime broadcaster Ken Harrelson, working only road games this year, will retire after 2018, and Jason Benetti, now doing home games, will have an expanded role. “I used to go around elementary school doing a Hawk impersonation,” Benetti said. “You can put in on the board” must have been invaluable in fifth grade.
  • 19. Cincinnati (19): In the interest of realism, rookie Rookie Davis’ first name next year will be changed to AAA. Or Lousy. Opposing batters are hitting .363 against the pitcher who was part of the package for Aroldis Chapman.
  • 20. Detroit (15): Should Tigers be more worried about 34-year-old Miguel Cabrera, hitting .260 with just 12 extra-base hits, Nick Castellanos, scuffling at .209, or a pitching staff that ranks 27th in MLB and last in the AL with a 4.70 ERA? Or all of the above?
  • 21. Seattle (18): Yovani Gallardo, knocked out after three innings Thursday, has a 6.24 ERA after 11 starts. “I wish I had a better answer for it. I haven’t done my job this year,” said Gallardo. Mariners have to wonder why he’s the only member of their original rotation not to get hurt this year.
  • 22. N.Y. Mets (22): Mr. Met fired after being caught on video Wednesday giving the finger to Mets fans. Even that wasn’t as big an obscenity as the team’s play on the field, as Mets lost to the Brewers, 7-1.
  • 23. Pittsburgh (20): Pirates front office no doubt rooting for Predators to rally in Stanley Cup Final. If only they could extend it to the day the Steelers report to training camp, the Pirates’ 24-30 start might get ignored.
  • 24. Atlanta (26): Braves manager Brian Snitker, on struggling shortstop Dansby Swanson, who’s hitting .185 and is 1 for his last 19: “I knew there would be an adjustment period, like there is for most guys.” No doubt he did. Doubtful he thought it would last two months or more.
  • 25. Oakland (24): Pitcher Zach Neal, called up from minors, says he sometimes gets advice from father-in-law Bobby Witt, who won 142 games in a 16-year career. Wonder how ironic Witt’s former pitching coaches and managers would find it if Neal hears “Throw strikes” from Witt, who ranks 22nd all-time with 1,375 batters walked and who led the AL three times in walks allowed.
  • 26. Miami (29): Marcell Ozuna borrows one of Ichiro’s bats, homers and calls it a “magic bat.” More like a magic opponent. A series with the Phillies is like a three-day weekend, and with whatever bat Ozuna used, the Marlins swept the Phillies and outscored them 21-5 (the Phillies scored six fewer runs in three games than the Astros scored in their 11-run eighth inning Monday). With the Phillies gone, the Marlins went back to losing on Thursday, 3-2, to Arizona.
  • 27. Kansas City (28): Miguel Cabrera gives a thumbs up to Eric Skoglund’s MLB debut — 6.1 scoreless innings in a 1-0 Royals win over the Tigers. Royals fans might use another digit to rate other pitchers on a staff which ranks 19th in ERA.
  • 28. San Francisco (27): Hunter Strickland after Bryce Harper’s 2014 playoff home runs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: “You’ve got to forget it. You’ve got to have a short memory and go for it because this isn’t about me and my stats. This is about the team and moving forward.” As Frank McCourt might say, apparently Strickland forgets everything but the grudges.
  • 29. San Diego (30): Franchy Cordero, a major leaguer for four days, strikes out three times, then triples and beats the throw home on a grounder to second for the winning run as the Padres sweep the defending world champion Cubs. Needless to say, he’s the first Franchy in MLB history.
  • 30. Philadelphia (25): After a 6-22 May, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin says the team has to “inch our way back.” At 17-34, the Phillies will need a bigger measuring stick to be competitive.
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