By Chuck Ryan and Zach Berman
With the MLB season in full swing as summer approaches, staffers Chuck Ryan & Zach Berman rank their top 10 teams in MLB through the first two months of the 2019 campaign.
- Minnesota Twins (36-16)
After the first two months of the MLB season, the Twins are the best team in all of baseball. In an era of baseball commonly associated with hitting home runs, the Twins are living by the long ball. The Twins have hit eight home runs in one game – TWICE. Minnesota leads the majors in home runs (104), hits (488), and runs (315). While everyone is raving about this historic offense that has a whopping +110 run differential led by Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Jonathon Schoop, the Twins pitching staff has surprised as well. In his first season with the Twins, Martin Perez is posting a career best in ERA (2.97) with a 7-1 record. There’s a lot of baseball left to play, but the Twins look ready to take the AL Central title away from the two-time defendings Indians.
- Houston Astros (35-19)
Holding a 6 game lead over the Athletics in the AL West, the Astros look poised for another deep postseason run. Despite losing starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel in free agency this past winter, the Astros’ pitching staff led by former MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and closer Roberto Osuna still post the second lowest ERA (3.39) among all pitching staffs in MLB. With former AL MVP Jose Altuve and 2017 World Series MVP George Springer set to return from the DL this week, look for the Astros to continue widening the gap in the AL West as the All-Star break approaches, and fight for the top spot in these power rankings as the season continues.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (35-18)
The Dodgers have what is needed to make a run at their third straight NL pennant: a few star two-way players and a couple star pitchers. Cody Bellinger is putting up astronomical numbers in his third full season in the majors. He leads MLB in wins above replacement, batting average, runs batted in, and total bases. Bellinger also leads the NL with seven outfield assists, most recently his gem yesterday against the Mets. Putting Bellinger in a lineup next to Josh Turner and rookie sensation Alex Verdugo makes for one of the most efficient and productive offensive trios in all of baseball. On the pitching side, the Dodgers have a solid two-headed punch: Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu. Despite Kershaw beginning the season on the DL, Ryu picked up the slack for the Dodgers as he leads the NL in wins and ERA.
- New York Yankees (34-18)
The Yankees are one of the most injured teams in all of baseball and still find themselves 14 games over .500 heading into June. These are just some of the names currently on the disabled list for the Bronx Bombers: Judge, Andujar, Stanton, Betances, Bird, Gregorius, Tulowitzki, and Severino. Despite all these injuries and a troublesome start to the season, the Yankees recently rattled off a seven game win streak in which they averaged 8.5 runs in these games. With big bats like Judge, Andujar, Stanton, and Gregorius, injured, Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez have picked up the slack, combining for 28 home runs for the Yankees. With Tampa Bay close on their heels and the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox only 6 games back, the AL East will most likely come down to the closing days of the season once again.
- Chicago Cubs (30-22)
Despite going 3-7 in their first ten games of the year, the Cubs have only lost two three-game sets over the last seven weeks of the season. This early resurgence is led offensively by four guys who are already well over 30 RBIs for the season – Baez, Bryant, Contreras, and Rizzo. While the bats have come alive for the Cubs, the bullpen has struggled throughout the entire season with an average ERA of 3.24. Following a loss yesterday against the Astros in interleague play and losing six out of their last ten, the Cubs need to avoid a sweep against Houston to remain a top of the NL Central.
- Tampa Bay Rays (31-19)
All it takes is one quick look at their team statistics to realize the Rays have the best pitching staff in all of baseball – they’ve only given up 162 runs in 51 games. For perspective, the Astros are second in runs allowed with 195. With a league low 2.97 ERA, this Rays pitching staff will only improve when Tyler Glasnow returns from the 60 day disabled list after the All-Star break in July. Although the Rays offense has struggled at times and ranks 21st in total batting statistics according to ESPN, this pitching staff has the capability to guide this team into a potential postseason run.
- Philadelphia Phillies (31-22)
While the Phillies made waves in the offseason by trading for catcher J.T Realmuto and signing big time free agent RF Bryce Harper, it was expected that those two would lead the charge for a resurgent Phillies squad. While Harper has yet to reach his full potential at the plate (he’s only batting .232 with 9 HR), Realmuto has been solid, and 1B Rhys Hoskins has emerged as an elite power bat in the league. Add in some stellar starting pitching from the likes of Zach Eflin and Jake Arietta, and this Phillies team has the tools to compete for a divisional crown.
- Milwaukee Brewers (31-25)
The name of the game for the Brewers is power, with Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal hitting 13 and 10 homers respectively. However, this is Christian Yelich’s team, and the reigning MVP isn’t having any sort of post-MVP hangover as of yet, belting 21 homers thus far while maintaining a .322 average. While Zack Davies has blossomed into an ace for the Brew Crew, the rest of the rotation hasn’t been as sharp, and the Brewers need to improve their rotation in order to keep pace with the Cubs for the Central.
- Oakland Athletics (29-25)
Look to Oakland for the hottest team in Major League Baseball. As of this writing on 5/28, the A’s had won ten in a row and have catapulted themselves into a prime position to fight for a Wild Card spot. Typically strong performances by Khris Davis, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Chapman have certainly made an impact, and Ramon Laureano has emerged as one of the best defensive center-fielders in the game. What remains to be seen is if Moneyball can continue to stay hot, and maybe even challenge the Astros for a shot at the division lead.
- Atlanta Braves (30-25)
The Braves have been a team of hot streaks, cold spells, and incredibly odd Tiger Woods memes to start their 2019 campaign. One of the few consistents in Cobb County is Freddie Freeman, who has been his typical spectacular self at the plate and in the field. The emergence of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna is a sign of good things to come as well, although an improvement of the extremely suspect bullpen is a must if Atlanta wants to compete down the stretch.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org