And now for some fun with the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds. Because October's only five months away.
Shoo-ins (> 90%)
None. It's still early, guys! Everybody can relax!
Favorites (50% < x < 90%)
Contenders (20% < x < 50%)
Hopefuls (10% < x < 20%)
Long Shots (1% < x < 10%)
Pathetic, Embarrassing Piles Of Crap (< 1%)
That's right, everybody. It isn't just the Baseball Prospectus odds, either - we're to the point in the season where, by any measure, the Boston Red Sox have a lesser chance at the playoffs than the Padres and the Nationals. Who cares how it's happened? It's happened, and I don't care who you are: that tickles you. That tickles you somewhere. The level of talent in the AL East may seem a wee bit unfair to the outside observer, but the fact that they can't get more than two teams in the playoffs does wonders for self-correction.
Better get on the Padres train before it leaves the station. With Jon Garland at the helm, what could possibly go wrong?
30. Houston Astros
SBN Blog: The Crawfish Boxes
2010 record: 10-21
Last week's rank: 29
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 30
What can you say about the team that's lost everything? They've averaged less than two runs per game offensively while winning just two of their last 13 contests. Carlos Lee is finally starting to hit (.290/.313/.516 since May 2), but now he's talking about retirement. Meanwhile, Lance Berkman's average has dipped below .200 and his May slugging percentage is .207.
SBN Blog: Royals Review
2010 record: 11-21
Last week's rank: 27
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 27
The Royals don't mess around when it comes to being bad. Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall, and Jose Guillen may have teased us for awhile, but they're now all three weeks in on their own cold spells. The Royals have gained national notoriety and ridicule with their continued non-support of Zack Greinke, and are currently averaging about three giant balls of fail a week. Last week, that included the nonsensical Alex Gordon demotion and position change, a comical error by Yuni Bentancourt and the team's even weirder response, and a brewing controversy surrounding Trey Hillman's use of Gil Meche. The Royals never let you down.
SBN Blog: Bucs Dugout
2010 record: 14-18
Last week's rank: 30
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 29
The Pirates took a break from their regularly scheduled awfulness to sweep the Cubs at home last week. Somehow, they're 7-6 in their last 13 games, and could possibly be the worst 14-18 team ever. Their Pythagorean record suggests they should enter play Tuesday at 8-24, which would put them on pace for 41 wins. Unfortunately, no one is coming out to watch them overachieve: They've drawn 15,000 fans or less for ten of their 16 home games.
SBN Blog: Camden Chat
2010 record: 9-23
Last week's rank: 28
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 28
No, the Orioles haven't gotten any better. They continue to be among the very worst teams in baseball. After sweeping the Red Sox, the Orioles have gone 2-5 against the Yankees and Twins. The road ahead should be a bit easier as they face off against the Mariners, Indians and Royals. One of the few bright spots is Ty Wigginton, who has a 1.009 OPS and 20 RBIs already this season.
SBN Blog: Let's Go Tribe!
2010 record: 11-18
Last week's rank: 26
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 25
Even with a win on Sunday, Cleveland is just 3-9 in their last 12, keeping the Royals company at the bottom of the division. The lineup continues to be horrible. Travis Hafner, a formerly good player now in his third season as a full fledged zombie, is actually third amongst regulars on the team with a .763 OPS. Grady Sizemore's awful start (.213/.277/.306) certainly hasn't helped either. But hey, Kerry Wood is back and clearly in midseason form, walking two in his first inning of work.
SBN Blog: AZ Snakepit
2010 record: 14-19
Last week's rank: 20
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 13
Got five quality starts from the rotation, but still posted a losing record last week, as the bats went cold, averaging only 3.4 runs per game. The team's lost six straight against Milwaukee in Arizona, and been outscored 46-14 in those contests. The seventeen runs allowed on Saturday was the most in a game by the D-backs pitchers since August 2005.
24. Seattle Mariners
SBN Blog: Lookout Landing
2010 record: 12-19
Last week's rank: 16
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 24
Since the last time we did this, the Mariners have won one game, gotten their hitting coach fired, and had news leak that the franchise icon was unavailable to pinch-hit in a close contest because he was asleep in the clubhouse. It's a good thing the M's won on Sunday. Otherwise things might've seemed a little embarrassing.
SBN Blog: South Side Sox
2010 record: 13-19
Last week's rank: 22
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 19
After another tough weekend, the White Sox are eight games back of Minnesota. Jake Peavy has strung together back to back good starts (17 Ks/1 BB) but it may be too little too late. Like the Royals, the Sox roster is so weak that even when a number of players play very well, as Paul Konerko, Andruw Jones, and Alex Rios have done, there's so much garbage around them that it doesn't matter. Sox DHs, for example, aren't hitting at all (.607 OPS). This team needs an 8-2 stretch soon, lest this thing get ugly.
22. Atlanta Braves
SBN Blog: Talking Chop
2010 record: 14-18
Last week's rank: 21
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 20
The Bears are who we thought they were. Atlanta's elite starting rotation is keeping them in games, but their questionable offense has been M.I.A. In the outfield, Jason Heyward is phenomenal but Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera have been disasters on par with the Maybin-Coughlan pairing in Florida. None of Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, or Troy Glaus have hit for any power. And while it's easy to be confident these Braves are better, they need to demonstrate it quickly, before they fall out of the race.
SBN Blog: True Blue LA
2010 record: 15-17
Last week's rank: 17
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 17
Got Manny back this weekend, but it hasn't quite had the galvanizing effect on the offense that they hoped, as they scored a total of two runs in those two games. However, it was enough on Sunday to beat Ubaldo Jimenez, more than anyone else had managed this year. Back of the rotation still shaky: Charlie Haeger allowed six runs without recording an out on Friday. And now he's on the DL!
20. Chicago Cubs
SBN Blog: Bleed Cubbie Blue
2010 record: 14-19
Last week's rank: 12
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 8
Is there a team in baseball more inconsistent than the Cubs? Since April 23, they've had winning streaks of three and four games and three three game losing streaks, all in a span of 17 games. At the moment they're down, having gone 1-6 through a road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and back home. Ryan Dempster has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts and been the loser in each game. Derrek Lee is hitting .229 in May and his power has all but evaporated: He has one extra base hit (a double) in his last 65 plate appearances.
SBN Blog: Halos Heaven
2010 record: 15-19
Last week's rank: 18
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 23
A bad week was very nearly capped off by another demoralizing Brian Fuentes explosion, but the Angels were able to salvage Monday's game in extras, keeping the pitchforks and torches at bay. It is worth noting that, while the record is bad, the Angels have faced a difficult schedule, and the three pitchers in baseball who've faced the best hitters so far are, in order, Scott Kazmir, Joel Pineiro, and Ervin Santana. The Angels haven't been good, but they're better than this.
SBN Blog: Federal Baseball
2010 record: 18-14
Last week's rank: 24
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 26
The pesky Nats have a chance to solidify a hold on second place with a key series against the Mets this weekend. Their offense has been predictably adequate, while surprising performances by the ageless Livan Hernandez and reliever Tylers Clippard have kept their pitching staff from repeating as the worst in the league. Stephen Strasburg seems literally days from being promoted, and could help make things interesting for the surprise contenders.
17. Florida Marlins
SBN Blog: Fish Stripes
2010 record: 15-17
Last week's rank: 14
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 15
Well into the second month of the season, Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan have shown no signs of life at the plate, and the Marlins must be considering pulling the plug on the two talented, but unestablished hitters, both with remaining minor league options. Hastening Coghlan's potential fall from grace is the rise of top-prospect Mike Stanton, already with 14 homers in the young minor-league season. Still hanging in contention, the budget-conscious Marlins face a tough choice as to whether winning now supersedes starting the arbitration-clock of a potential star.
16. Cincinnati Reds
SBN Blog: Red Reporter
2010 record: 17-15
Last week's rank: 23
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 22
Behold the new hot team in the NL Central: The Reds have won ten of 14 to sneak back up to two games above .500 and into second place in the division. For once, starting pitching deserves the credit: They've pitched quality starts in five of their last seven opportunities, and Mike Leake has pitched one in five of his first six major league starts. Leake remains an incredible story: In his first professional season, he's already pitched seven innings four times (and at least six in every start). The Reds are 5-1 with him on the mound, and 12-14 with everyone else.
SBN Blog: Brew Crew Ball
2010 record: 15-17
Last week's rank: 25
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 11
The team might have saved Ken Macha's job by rebounding from a tough series in San Diego and going 6-4 on the dreaded west coast road trip. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder get a lot of the credit, but Rickie Weeks might be the team's most critical contributor: The Brewers got off to an 8-8 start while Weeks hit .344/.468/.594 over the season's first few weeks, but went 1-6 during his 2-for-29 slump to end April. In May, Weeks is hitting .310/.356/.476 and the Brewers are 6-3.
14. New York Mets
SBN Blog: Amazin' Avenue
2010 record: 17-15
Last week's rank: 11
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 21
The Mets are competing, while conceding every fifth day with Oliver Perez and despite a totally useless bench. With the bullpen overworked and their pinch-hitters not producing at all, maybe the Mets need to begin cutting the dead weight and promoting aggressively within. It worked with Ike Davis, the young first baseman buoying the Mets offense with Jose Reyes still behind full-speed and Jeff Francoeur slumping badly.
13. Colorado Rockies
SBN Blog: Purple Row
2010 record: 15-17
Last week's rank: 10
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 16
Finished a nine-game road trip against division rivals with a mark of 4-5, and have a tough homestand against the National League Champion Phillies and surprising Nationals. Colorado's Pythagorean record is 19-13, a bigger positive gap than any other NL team, and they held the opposition to 18 runs in six games over the past week before surrendering nine on Monday. But they still just can't get back above .500.
SBN Blog: Athletics Nation
2010 record: 17-15
Last week's rank: 15
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 14
Just when you think the season's starting to catch up to the A's, they rip off four wins in six games against Texas and Tampa Bay, and Dallas Braden throws a perfect game. With injured players beginning to work their way back, the A's are preparing for a run at the playoffs, and they can give themselves a nice boost given that their next eight games are against divisional opponents. Don't forget about this team - they aren't going to fade away, and if Brett Anderson's able to return healthy, they've got as good a stopper as pretty much anyone.
11. Boston Red Sox
SBN Blog: Over The Monster
2010 record: 17-16
Last week's rank: 13
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 12
The Red Sox continue their inconsistent rollercoaster ride of a season. After getting blown out in the first two games against the Yankees, the Red Sox put it all together behind an excellent game from Jon Lester to avoid the sweep. But can the Red Sox really keep this up? Fortunately for Boston, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron are due back soon. That means no more Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Jonathan Van Every and Darnell McDonald roaming the outfield on a daily basis.
SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter
2010 record: 19-15
Last week's rank: 19
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 6
Do you think the Blue Jays are for real? Well, they might be. The most glaring stat of the early season for the Jays is their 12-4 road record. If they can figure out how to win at home (currently 7-10), they're going to keep winning ball games. It also helps when you've got guys like John Buck and Alex Gonzalez as two of the top three OPSers on the team. On a different note, Brandon Morrow has a fun pitching line: 46 strikeouts and 29 walks/HBPs in 35 innings.
SBN Blog: Bless You Boys
2010 record: 18-14
Last week's rank: 8
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 5
The Tigers continue to be an odd team. As of Tuesday, Detroit had the worst starting pitching in the AL in terms of ERA (5.72) and the best bullpen by the same figure (2.22). That's still an iffy formula, but Jim Leyland has done a good job marshaling a large proportion of the team's innings to the bullpen. Tiger starters are last in the league in innings pitched, while that ace bullpen is first. Surprisingly, the Tigers are merely 6-5 in one-run games, although the bullpen has helped them snag 11 comeback wins already. If three of the five teams in the AL Central are going to be bad, Detroit probably isn't going away.
SBN Blog: Gaslamp Ball
2010 record: 19-12
Last week's rank: 6
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 4
Jon Garland and his 1.71 ERA is looking like a good pick-up by San Diego - most of his starts have been on the road, so it's not a Petco illusion. It's the pitching that's still getting it done, with a league-best 3.13 runs/game allowed to date, and they haven't lost more than two in a row all season. Next ten games are all against the Giants or Dodgers, so, a crucial stretch.
SBN Blog: Lone Star Ball
2010 record: 18-14
Last week's rank: 9
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 18
On the surface, it was a good week for the Rangers, as they went 4-2 and pulled a little further out in front of the division. Dig a little deeper and you find that their entire week's worth of success was built off four narrow home wins against the Royals. The Royals are a Major League Baseball team, and wins against them count the same as wins against anyone else, but outscoring the Royals by seven in four games isn't really an impressive achievement. In fairness to Texas, Nelson Cruz's absence is pretty significant. Anyone notice that Julio Borbon has one walk and a .222 OBP through 101 trips to the plate?
SBN Blog: McCovey Chronicles
2010 record: 18-12
Last week's rank: 7
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 9
Tim Lincecum struck out 21 in 13 innings last week, but got a no-decision both starts. That's what he gets for allowing more than one run. Still, San Francisco won those games, and swept the Marlins on the road, though then dropped two of three to the Mets. Aaron Rowand has driven in 11 of the team's last thirty runs scored; no-one else has more than four.
SBN Blog: The Good Phight
2010 record: 20-12
Last week's rank: 5
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 10
Juan Castro is not a suitable long-term replacement for anyone, much less Jimmy Rollins, but the Phillies continue to roll, in equal parts thanks to their dominant offense and the incompetence of the rest of the division. The bullpen is the main concern now, with Ryan Madson out and Brad Lidge being eased into more important situations. Joe Blanton is back to (eventually) mercifully relieve Kyle Kendrick of rotation duties, perhaps providing them all the pitching needed to march forward.
SBN Blog: Viva El Birdos
2010 record: 20-12
Last week's rank: 3
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 7
The trip across Pennsylvania must have turned on a light switch for the Cardinals, who lost three of four in Philadelphia (and scored three runs combined in the three losses), then took two of three in Pittsburgh. Their division lead is back down to three games over the Reds, but they could get a chance to pad it with upcoming series against the Astros, Reds and Nationals.
SBN Blog: Twinkie Town
2010 record: 21-11
Last week's rank: 4
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 1
Minnesota went 4-3 in the seven games Joe Mauer missed, although it seemed better than that considering that stretch included a three game sweep of Detroit, their nominal division rival. There are great benefits but also significant perils to having one's best offensive player catch. Although Mauer can and should see time at DH as he continues to heal, such a move also means that Jim Thome's bat (Jim's posting his standard .941 OPS this year) effectively gets replaced by that of a backup catcher. Mauer's bat plays anywhere, but it's hugely valuable at catcher. But hey, the Twins only have the next decade to work all the details out. One thing to watch: the Twins only have nine homers thus far at home, against 22 in the same number of games on the road.
SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley
2010 record: 21-10
Last week's rank: 2
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 2
The Yankees have been hot as of late, winning nine of their last 12 games. New York almost swept the Red Sox on Sunday, and would've were it not for a great start by Jon Lester, but it's offense dominated the first two games anyway. If they didn't play in the same division as the Rays, the Yankees would be a clear favorite as the best team in baseball. It's come down to a staring match: who will blink first?
SBN Blog: DRays Bay
2010 record: 22-10
Last week's rank: 1
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 3
Despite being spanked by Dallas Braden for the 19th perfect game in MLB history, the Rays are still the team to beat in baseball. They're currently on a West Coast swing (the nemesis of East Coast teams), but even given two losses to the A's, they have handled themselves all right on the road trip, going 4-3 with the Angels for the next two games. Every Ray starter has an ERA of 3.18 or lower. Wade Davis, the team's No. 5, has the 3.18 ERA.