How they rank: Aug 4

How they rank with last rankings in parentheses; stats through Thursday’s games:

  • 1. L.A. Dodgers (1): Dodgers’ 3.11 team ERA is .43 of a run better than the next best staff’s in MLB (Arizona at 3.54). Last time the discrepancy was that large between No. 1 and No. 2 was 2003, when Dodgers (3.16) were .47 better than Oakland (3.63). Last year’s Cubs (3.15) were .36 better than Nats (3.51).
  • 2. Houston (2): Pitcher Dallas Keuchel upset the Astros weren’t busier at the trade deadline when they acquired only floundering lefty Francisco Liriano. Keuchel: “I mean, I’m not going to lie, disappointment is a little bit of an understatement. I feel like a bunch of teams really bolstered their rosters for the long haul and for a huge playoff push, and us just kind of staying pat was really disappointing to myself.” No word on which of his teammates Keuchel was prepared to jettison.
  • 3. Washington (3): Kudos to Nats’ Mike Rizzo for adding Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler to a bad bullpen. Of course, Nats might not have been so desperate had they not flipped Felipe Rivero last year for Mark Melancon in pursuit of the same end. The Nats got a half season of Melancon and a playoff loss. The Pirates get four more years of Rivero, who with a .411 OPS and 0.99 ERA in 54.2 innings, is among the very best relievers — better than Doolittle, better than Madson and better than Kintzler — in baseball.
  • 4. Arizona (4): Diamondbacks and Maricopa County debating the necessity of repairs to Chase Field, and of course, who’s going to pay for it. D-backs CEO Derrick Hall on the radio Thursday: “… We’re trying to protect the taxpayers and at no time have we ever said whether we needing money there, downtown with our stadium or elsewhere with a new stadium, that we would assume it would be taxpayer dollars. Nowhere has there ever been a quote from me or any of us saying that.” Of course not, since it’s understood. You have to wonder if this spat had transpired last summer, when the D-backs won 69 games, if taxpayers and local politicians wouldn’t have helped load up the moving vans.
  • 5. Boston (5): Red Sox fans weigh in on Dennis Eckersley-David Price spat, giving Eck a standing ovation Tuesday. Price has a 3.95 ERA in two years in Boston, a bad elbow and a worse relationship with fans. It might seem as if Price will want out after next season when he has that option, but who’s going to pay him $30 million a year from 2019-22 as the Red Sox are already obligated to?
  • 6. Chicago Cubs (11): Cubs manager Joe Maddon says he wants more night games at home than the 43 allowed by the city of Chicago. Maddon: “(Opponents are) only here for a couple days. They get through it and after a few days they move back to a normal schedule. I think 107 years indicates (day baseball) wasn’t such a good idea.” Here’s guessing Maddon doesn’t live in the neighborhood.
  • 7. Cleveland (7): The enigma that is Trevor Bauer: with bases empty, he has .638 OPS and .232 batting average against and five homers allowed in 250 at-bats. With runners on, he has 1.017 OPS and .335 average against, and nine homers allowed in 164 at-bats. Maybe he should spend less time tinkering with his drones and more time figuring out why he pitches so badly out of the stretch.
  • 8. Colorado (8): Who says Rockies can’t develop pitching? Rockies’ three winningest pitchers — Kyle Freeland (11), Antonio Senzatela (10) and German Marquez (9) — are all rookies, and a fourth, Jeff Hoffman (6), is tied for fourth in just 13 starts. Veteran with the most starts is Tyler Chatwood, who’s 6-12 with, a 5.11 ERA and one foot headed for the bullpen. Or AAA.
  • 9. N.Y. Yankees (9): Aaron Judge’s 34th home run this week off Michael Fulmer was his first against a 2017 All-Star pitcher, though it wasn’t a good week for either player. Judge has fanned in 21 straight games and is batting .164 since the All-Star break; Fulmer went on the DL with elbow injury.
  • 10. Milwaukee (6): Should he stay or when will he go? Brewers acquired reliever Jeremy Jeffress for the third time at the trade deadline: they drafted him in the first round in 2006, traded him in the deal for Zack Greinke, signed him as a free agent in 2014, and traded him with Jonathan Lucroy to the Rangers. Now that he’s a Brewer again, Jeffress should know what’s next.
  • 11. Tampa Bay (10): Joaquin Andujar youneverknow Dept: Austin Pruitt, ERA 6.63, makes his third start of the season against the Astros, who lead MLB with 627 runs scored. Naturally, he shuts them out for 6.1 innings of a 3-0 win and starts Jose Altuve, batting average .361,  on an 0-for-4.
  • 12. Kansas City (14): Royals have hit 132 home runs this year and rank 15th in MLB. That may not seem like much, but it’s already 37 more than they hit in 2014 (95), when they won the AL pennant, almost as many as they hit in 2015 (139) when they won the World Series, and on a pace to be more than they hit last year (147). Royals might reach 200 home runs, which they’ve never done. Royals record for home runs in a season is 168 in 1987 (Danny Tartabull 34, Steve Balboni 24, Bo Jackson and George Brett 22).
  • 13. St. Louis (12): Manager Mike Matheny gives Yadier Molina a day off last week, implying the catcher looked tired. Matheny: “Yadi’s caught a lot. Yesterday, just kind of watching him go around the bases, too, you could tell that he’s, you know …” Molina responded by Instagram: “I train to play 174 games because that’s what it takes to be a Champion. I’m not tired and the day I feel tired I’ll express it myself. #misinforming.” Maybe Matheny was misunderstood. If you’re going to judge a Molina, any Molina, by how they go around the bases, the word Matheny left unsaid is slow.
  • 14. Seattle (17): On day after Rangers’ Adrian Beltre reached 3,000 hits against Orioles, Felix Hernandez walks up to home plate before pitching to him to give former teammate a congratulatory hug. Appreciative Beltre then lines hit No. 3,001 into center field.
  • 15. L.A. Angels (18): Matt Shoemaker still second among Angels in wins with 6. He hasn’t pitched since June 14.
  • 16. Miami (16): Poor Edinson Volquez, already out with a knee injury, learns he needs Tommy John surgery, too. Signed last offseason for two years and $22 million, that’s one contract the Marlins won’t be able to dump.
  • 17. Pittsburgh (19): Asked what he thought of the Pirates trade deadline moves, outfielder Andrew McCutchen says: “We didn’t make many. That’s what I think about it.” Talk about your non-endorsement endorsements. Ted Cruz gave Donald Trump a stronger show of support.
  • 18. Texas (13): On the way to L.A., Yu Darvish takes out a full-page ad in Dallas Morning News to thank fans and say he cared about more than strikeouts. Two best days now for newspaper advertising: Thanksgiving and the day after MLB trade deadline.
  • 19. Baltimore (21): Worst pitcher in baseball in 2017? With Bronson Arroyo out, it’s Chris Tillman, who gave up seven runs to Tigers Thursday in two-plus innings to fall to 1-7.  Tillman has an 8.10 ERA in 15 starts, .352 batting average, .590 slugging percentage and 1.010 OPS against. Eleven pitchers have lower OPSes against than Tillman’s slugging percentage against. Which begs the question, if Buck Showalter is so smart, shouldn’t he have noticed?
  • 20. Minnesota (15): After trading Kintzler, only Twin with a save this year is Justin Haley, who’s no longer a Twin. Haley, who pitched the last 3.1 innings of an 11-5 win over the Tigers (fanning six), was a Rule 5 draft pick who was returned to the Red Sox with his 6.00 ERA.
  • 21. Toronto (22): Steve Pearce hits two walk-off grand slams in one week, which accounts for 8 of his 32 RBIs this year. Only two players to do that in the same year were Jim Presley (1986 Mariners), Pearce’s former hitting coach with Orioles, and Cy Williams (1926 Phillies). For the record, Cy hit 251 major-league homers, and led the NL in homers four times: ranging from 12 in 1916 as a Cub to 15 for the 1920 Phillies, 41 in 1923 for the Phils and 30 in 1927 for the Phils, or half as many as the guy who led the AL that year hit.
  • 22. Detroit (23): Tigers GM Al Avila trades son Alex to Cubs, which was OK with Alex if not Alex’s mom. Alex: “She’s probably more upset by the fact that she’s not going to see her grandchildren as much.” Not sure if Al figured on that, but it might be a good idea to bring flowers home from work next week.
  • 23. N.Y. Mets (24): Hansel Robles walks three and hits one, and air-balls ball four with the bases loaded to force in the winning run in Colorado Thursday, then says his hand felt numb after the first batter of the inning, Jonathan Lucroy, whom he hit. Robles: “I was already out there. I wanted to just get through the inning.” Robles had the training staff out in the eighth for what was described as a “pinched testicle.” A general rule of good health: If your testicle is pinched and your hand is numb, it’s best not to keep it a secret. The Mets, who’ve had issues in the handling of pitchers injuries, did the right thing and sent Robles back to New York for tests.
  • 24. Atlanta (20): Nick Markakis, who’s never had 200 hits in a season, reaches 2,000 for his career at age 33, which demonstrates the importance of showing up for work. Only once in his first 11 seasons has Markakis played fewer than 147 games, and five times he’s played 160 or more.
  • 25. Cincinnati (26): Billy Hamilton ejected for the first time in his career Thursday after arguing a called third strike by home-plate ump Tom Tichenor. Hamilton appeared to have a point. What’s it say about the umpiring when Hamilton, with 31 walks and 98 strikeouts this year, has a better grasp of the strike zone than the guy calling the pitches?
  • 26. San Diego (29): Union-Tribune headline this week: Padres future looks good in Fort Wayne. No word on how it appears in San Diego.
  • 27. Oakland (27): A’s trade Sonny Gray to Yankees for three players, two of whom — pitcher James Kaprielian and outfielder Dustin Fowler —  are out for the year. You have to wonder, given the way A’s GM Billy Beane operates, whether they’ll still be A’s when they play again.
  • 28. Chicago White Sox (25): Prized prospect Yoan Moncada collides with outfielder Willy Garcia and bruises his knee. Moncada, who’s batting .100 in 40 at-bats, hit Garcia harder than he has any pitches; the unfortunate Garcia has a broken jaw and will be out up to six weeks.
  • 29. San Francisco (28): Giants outfielders have combined for 24 home runs this year, or fewer than 18 players. With 87 homers, Giants are only team without 100 home runs. It’s a good thing they invested so heavily in pitching two offseason ago and nada for their lineup.
  • 30. Philadelphia (30): Phillies cancel Wall of Fame night honoring Pete Rose after a woman filed an affidavit claiming she was underage when she had sex multiple times with the prospective honoree. The statement was given in response to Rose suing John Dowd for defamation after Dowd, in a radio interview, accused Rose of statutory rape. (Dowd, you’ll remember was the investigator for whom the report that got Rose banned from baseball is named. His credibility on Pete Rose is better than Pete Rose’s.) Of course planning to honor someone accused of statutory rape, let alone Rose, before they win their lawsuit is the kind of foresight that has landed the Phillies in last place for three of the last four years. (And it’s too late to get the aforementioned Cy Williams to fill in. Cy went up on the wall, without controversy, in 1986).
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