By Jacob Kornhauser on April 20, 2014
With three weeks of the MLB season in the books, it's time to start ranking all 30 teams in the league. Here are how every team in the league stacks up based on how they've performed so far in the 2014 season and how they project to perform in the future.
The Astros are going to be getting some top prospects to the major leagues soon, but for now it's the same old song and dance in Houston. They just don't have any excitement surrounding the team and at this point, they don't have the talent to compete day in and day out.
The Diamondbacks were expected by many to compete for a playoff spot this season. They're far from that at this point. They lost ace Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery and their rotation has been the worst in baseball. That's been a recipe for disaster in Arizona so far.
This season was supposed to be the year the Cubs took a big step in the right direction. There's no sign of that so far. Their lineup has been extremely inconsistent and they've already replaced their closer Jose Veras. It could be another long season on the north side of Chicago.
The Phillies were expected to challenge the Braves and Nationals in the NL East this year and they still could, but they've been disappointing so far. Their bullpen has been suspect and could end up dooming them. Once Cole Hamels comes back from injury, we will have a better idea of exactly what kind of team they are.
The Indians have gotten off to a slow start this season after being one of the league's most surprising teams in 2013. They still have plenty of time to turn it around, but they need more consistent offensive output to contend for the playoffs again this season.
Slugger Jose Abreu has already proven to be one of the more productive power hitters in the league, which could help the White Sox improve this season. Outside of ace Chris Sale, however, there is a noticeable drop-off in rotation quality.
The Marlins weren't supposed to do anything this season and they still probably won't, but they've performed admirably so far this season. Jose Fernandez has been lights out so far, which has helped the turnaround.
By losing Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo, the Reds took a major step back this season. They also lost closer Aroldis Chapman for the time being and they've paid the price. Once this team gels, they should be decent, but for the time being they've turned in very inconsistent performances.
The Mariners are starting to come into their own as a group. King Felix is pitching effectively as usual and Robinson Cano is proving to be a big boost to the lineup. It's going to be tough to make the playoffs in the competitive AL West, but for the first time in a while, they have the tools to give it a shot.
The Mets are very mediocre as usual, but they're showing a little upside this season. Without ace Matt Harvey, their pitching staff has been nothing to scoff at and led by David Wright, their lineup has been improved as well.
Pitching has always been the Padres' strength and that's no different this season. Led by up-and-coming ace Andrew Cashner, the rotation is as good as ever and is waiting for the lineup to match. If that happens soon, they could be one of the more surprising teams in baseball.
The Twins are a team on the rise and they have overachieved this season. Their young pitching rotation has been at the forefront of their turnaround, and help will soon be on the way in the form of Byron Buxton. The future certainly looks bright in Minnesota.
The Rays aren't playing as well as they have been in the past, and it seems like their lineup may not be as deep as in years past. Nonetheless, they're hovering around .500 and will hope their rotation can carry them into October once again.
Despite their lackluster pitching, the Rockies have batted their way to a record above .500. In Coors field and with sluggers like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, that will always be the case. However, if their pitching doesn't improve, they aren't going anywhere.
After recording their first above-.500 season in over 20 years, the Pirates are on a bit of a skid to start the 2014 season. They lost pitcher A.J. Burnett and role players Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau this offseason and it's showing. They still should be competitive this season, but they don't seem as magical as they did a year ago.
Last year, the Blue Jays were supposed to be the cream of the crop in the AL. Things didn't exactly go that way, but they're off to a good start this season. Their lineup is filled with some injury-prone players, but if they can stay healthy, Toronto could compete in the AL East.
This could finally be the season that the Angels break through and make the playoffs like they should. Mike Trout is his usual amazing self and Albert Pujols seems to be playing his best baseball as a member of the Angels. Before his injury, Josh Hamilton seemed to be back in form. Despite their record, the Angels should be competing in September.
The Orioles appear set to make a playoff run this season. They added Ubaldo Jimenez to their rotation and Nelson Cruz to their lineup. With that added depth, they seem primed for a run in October this season.
There's something about a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer retiring at season's end that can motivate a team. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the offseason helps as well. Getting great pitching performances from Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, the Bronx Bombers appear ready to play in October once again.
Finally at the tail end of the rebuild, the Royals are ready to compete this season. They were in the hunt for the wild card last year and that experience will pay off this season. Their young lineup has proven to be tough, but their rotation will have to match that in order for them to be successful.
By far the most surprising team in the league this year, the Brewers have the best record in all of baseball. They don't seem like a fluke either; they have an above-average lineup, above-average rotation and above-average bullpen. In a relatively weak NL Central, they could claim one of the wild cards behind the division-favorite Cardinals.
The defending champions haven't played like themselves so far, but that can be attributed to a lot of hitters slumping at the same time. Their rotation has been good and their bullpen has been the best in baseball. Once their hitters start heating up, they will be fine.
As the clear favorite in the AL Central, the Tigers have opened the season strong. With a 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, they're a tough team to beat over the course of a series. As the season wears on, that depth should be even more evident as they prepare to play in October.
After winning the World Series in 2012, the Giants majorly flopped in 2013, missing the playoffs altogether. With an invigorated rotation and above-average lineup, they could give the division-favorite Dodgers a serious run for their money.
Last season, the Nationals were most people's pick to be the NL champions, but injuries kept them from reaching that point. With stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper seemingly healthy this season, they are looking how they should. A playoff berth could be in the offing as a result.
Yu Darvish may be pitching the best he has in his entire MLB career and is leading the way for the Rangers. Their lineup is always solid and it seems like most of Texas' stars are reaching their primes at the same time. That could be dangerous if they're still in the race in the fall.
Somehow against all odds, the Athletics continue to be one of the best teams in baseball. They breed pitching and are always deep in the rotation. Now that the lineup is starting to catch up, the Athletics could finally make a deep run in the playoffs.
Even without the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have gotten off to a hot start this season. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been stellar, as has Zack Greinke. With a very deep lineup, the Dodgers are stacked again and are one of the favorites in the NL.
Even while struggling at points over the first couple weeks of the season, the Cardinals find themselves above .500. They have a very young and talented rotation which is only getting better with time. Even though they lost Carlos Beltran, Matt Adams is playing everyday at first base now and has been one of the better hitters in the league.
Despite losing Kris Medlen to Tommy John surgery and playing without Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd so far, the Braves have had the best starting pitching in all of MLB. Even though the Uptons haven't played up to expectations, Freddie Freeman is an MVP candidate and the Braves are candidates to make a trip to the World Series.
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