The bizzaro sports scene is heating up with all four major sports being very active. NFL is kicking off, the NHL and NBA are deep into the playoffs. As for Major League Baseball, they only have approximately two to three weeks to ensure a 60 game season is fulfilled. With just 10-15 games left for most teams, the time is now to make a push to be one of the eight teams to move on to postseason play. Let’s go 15-to-1 to distinguish how teams stack up in the National League in the newest edition of Power Rankings.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates
For a team that is short on pitching, the offense has completely fallen flat after being a very good contact hitting team in 2019. This year as a team they are hitting a mear .223(28th) while slugging just .352. They are also getting on base at a league-worst rate of .286. 2019 showed at least showed some promise as they ranked 7th in hitting(.265). Now is the time to allow the youngsters to develop. Keep an eye of prospects Ke’ Bryan Hayes and Cole Tucker.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks
It was a full sell mode mentality for the Snakes at the trade deadline. Gone are Archie Bradley, Robbie Ray, and dynamic outfielder Starling Marte. Since August 19th Arizona has played 23 games and has won just four contests. Despite the brutal stretch, a couple of D-backs players are having nice seasons. First baseman Christian Walker carries a 114 OPS+ with 30 runs driven in 44 games heading into the weekend. Starting pitcher Zac Gallen carries a 2.29 ERA over nine starts for a team that ranks 12th in team ERA(4.91) in the NL. As a whole, the Diamondbacks pitching staff has given up the most HRs and walks in the National League.
13. Washington Nationals
Despite ultra-productive seasons from Trea Turner(.358/.417/.626) and Juan Soto(.358/.485/.743), the Nationals have had a forgettable mini-campaign. Without 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, the pitching staff has suffered mightily. The Nats rank 14th in the NL in HRs given up with 70. They also boast a 13th ranked 5.12 ERA. Anibal Sanchez is pitching to a 6.81 ERA over eight starts while reliever Daniel Hudson carries an ugly 7.02 ERA over 17 appearances.
12. Cincinnati Reds
Will this team ever live up to expectations? The putrid team batting average of .209 suggests that adjustments need to be made. Entering weekend play, the Reds are averaging the second-lowest runs per game average in the entire league. Aging veteran Joey Votto is slashing just .220/.333/.411 in 40 games. His role going forward will be put into question. The big three of Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Luis Castillo are three of the better pitchers in the league despite some recent struggle from Gray. As for the group of relievers, Cincinnati is ranked towards the bottom of all MLB teams with a 5.15 ERA.
11. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have cooled off considerably since beginning the season with such promise. Since mid-August, they have put together only a 9-15 record. As per usual with Colorado, pitching has haunted the Franchise yet again. Over the last 30 days, they have a 29th-worst 6.61 ERA. Yikes!
10. Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee is barely hanging around in terms of competing for a playoff spot. They are led mostly by a group of relievers that rank first overall in baseball with a 3.88 xFIP. The team relies way too much on superstar outfielder Christian Yelich. He is still trying to find his game as he is slashing only .203/.337/.439. He has also struck out 56 times in 41 games. Before the conclusion of the season, the Brewers and Cardinals will play each other 10 times.
9. New York Mets
The Mets have established themselves as one of the premier hitting teams in all of baseball. They carry an NL best .277 batting average and a respectable(4th in NL) .466 SLG. 2019 Rookie of the year, Pete Alonso has regressed for the truncated 2020 season, hitting just .221. Of late he has been much better as he has cranked out five of his 11 homers in his last 10 games. Reliever Edwin Diaz(1.89 ERA) has been dominant striking out 39 batters in 19 innings. The Mets patchwork rotation has pitched to a 5.21 ERA but the 3.99 xFip tells us that perhaps it’s not that bad. Seth Lugo has recently joined the starters, he carries a very solid 2.63 ERA.
8. Miami Marlins
21-year-old Sixto Sanchez has impressed in the early stages of his career. He has a tidy 1.80 ERA along with 25 SO in 25 innings pitched. Otherwise, there is very little star power on this club, but they are getting the job done. Your guess is as good as any as to how this team will stack up going forward. According to baseball-reference.com, they hold a 38.7 percent chance of making the playoffs.
7. St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis’s uninspiring offense has led to a record floating right around the .500 level. Despite this, the Cards are still a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly. They are built around the second-to-none leadership of catcher Yadier Molina. He has guided the entire pitching staff to a 3.70 ERA, second-best in the NL. They have also given up the least amount of round-trippers. Standouts include 38-year-old Adam Wainwright(4-1, 2.91 ERA), Jack Flaherty(3-1, 3.08), John Gant(1.93 ERA), Giovanny Gallegos(10 day IL, 4 saves), Genesis Cabrera(3 wins, 3.29 ERA in relief).
6. San Francisco Giants
Another surprising team in terms of hitting has to be the Giants. They rank fourth in the NL in total runs, 2nd in batting average(.270), and fifth in slugging percentage(.458). San Fran has a plethora of hitters at .290 or better featured in their lineup. Brandon Belt is quietly having a great season(.312/.409/.608). Donovan Solano continues to excel hitting just above .350. They are using spacious Oracle Park to their advantage. Heading into Saturday, the Giants have scored the second-most runs(131) at home in the entire league. They have also hit 45 doubles(4th) and seven triples(3rd).
5. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phils have certainly come to life of late. Over their previous 20 games, they have put together a very impressive 14-6 record. Since August 24th, Rhys Hoskins has hit eight homers in 18 games, while young future star, Alec Bohm has driven in 14 runs. SP Aaron Nola has gone 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA over his last four starts. Zack Wheeler has been rock-solid as well but will miss time due to a torn fingernail. Newly acquired relief pitcher Brandon Workman has struggled giving up six earned runs in 11.1 innings on his new team.
4. Atlanta Braves
With Mike Soroka being ruled out for the year, the last thing the Braves needed was another big-time starter to go down. Well, that’s exactly what happened as their next best(Max Fried) hits the IL with back spasms. No need to worry though as the Braves went absolutely bonkers scoring 29 runs in one contest! For the month of September, the Bravos easily lead baseball in runs scored with 96. This lineup is loaded but the team has a tough road ahead with a very diminished pitching staff.
3. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are a very perplexing squad this season. The lineup on paper matches up with all the other heavyweights but the results continue to not be there. This month they continue to be one of the weaker hitting clubs as they have scored just 48 runs while hitting at just a .227 clip. Yu Darvish is a leading Cy Young candidate, he owns a fantastic 33.6%K rate and a 5.1 walk rate. Jeremy Jeffress has provided much-needed depth to the bullpen. Over 17 appearances he owns a sparkling 0.98 ERA.
2. San Diego Padres
It’s very evident that the Padres are for real, they will be a lot to handle throughout the rest of the season and beyond. What hasn’t been discussed as much as the offense is the depth at pitching, especially after some new acquisitions. This month the entire pitching staff has pitched to a 2.96 ERA while allowing just 1.94 BB/9 and striking out 10.25 batters per nine innings.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Again Blue is true at numero “un”. Max Muncy is hitting below the “mendoza” line, Cody Bellinger is slugging just .418. The slack is being taken care of by Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and catcher Will Smith who leads the team in OPS at 1.041. The Dodgers pitching staff is still lights out as they rank first(NL) in ERA(3.02) and first in BB allowed with 124. A couple of youngsters are leading the rotation. 23-year-old Julio Urias is 3-0 with a 3.53 ERA. 22-year-old Dustin May has a 2.81 ERA over nine starts.
Check us out on our socials:
Follow Joel Dorcas on Twitter @Joel_Dorcas6
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images