Who’s No. 1 with two weeks left?



We’re now simply two weeks away from the tip of the 2022 MLB common season, and lots of races are nonetheless up within the air.

4 of our high 5 groups have now secured a postseason berth, with the Yankees, Cardinals and Guardians the three division leaders left nonetheless battling for a playoff spot.

Whereas now we have a good suggestion of which contenders will seemingly be within the wild card, the positioning continues to be up within the air — with the Mariners, Blue Jays and Rays, particularly, going forwards and backwards within the American League seeding. The Phillies and Padres, with the Brewers on the skin trying in, are the Nationwide league squads that also have a lot to battle for within the wild-card race.

The place do our consultants rank all of those golf equipment?

Our panel has mixed to rank each group in baseball primarily based on a mix of what we have seen up to now and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that could be a full baseball season. We additionally requested ESPN MLB consultants Buster Olney, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an remark for all 30 groups.

Week 23 | Second-half preview | Preseason rankings

File: 103-46

Earlier rating: 1

The common season is nearing its conclusion, the stakes have all however been eradicated, and but the Dodgers’ success stays exceptional. They’ve had little or no to play for in September, and but they’ve received 13 of 20 video games. They’ve received 73% of the time for the reason that begin of July and have secured triple-digit wins for the third consecutive full season (not counting the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, although they had been on tempo for greater than 100 wins that yr, too).

By the tip of the week, they might safe a franchise document for victories with 107. A number of outsiders maintain mentioning pitching issues with regards to the Dodgers within the postseason, however this group frequently finds methods to win, typically convincingly. And there aren’t any indicators of that letting up. — Gonzalez

File: 99-51

Earlier rating: 2

The Astros have clinched the AL West, have a hammerlock on the league’s high seed within the postseason bracket and, relying on how the playoffs go, are positioned for consideration as the very best Houston membership in franchise historical past. They’re the group to beat within the AL and the favourite to return to the World Sequence for the fourth time in six seasons.

Nonetheless, their catchers cannot hit. It is a minor quibble however maybe price noting since that is in any other case so near an ideal roster. Midseason pickup Christian Vazquez was supposed to assist on the plate however after placing up a 110 OPS+ in Boston, that determine has been 51 in Houston. General, Astros catchers have hit .183/.247/.305 for a MLB-worst .551 OPS via Tuesday. Clearly Houston favors protection and the dealing with of pitchers when selecting its catchers, however that is nonetheless fairly unhealthy. Apparently, no group is ideal. — Doolittle

File: 95-56

Earlier rating: 4

If the Mets do not play deep into October, it is inevitable that any errors can be picked aside on discuss radio, and the chorus that the entrance workplace ought to’ve executed extra on the commerce deadline can be repeated again and again. However with the Mets locked right into a postseason berth and flirting with 100 wins, this season actually ought to be considered as a hit — the primary vital manifestation of proprietor Steve Cohen’s dedication to profitable. — Olney

File: 93-56

Earlier rating: 3

In 2021, the Braves determined that Kyle Wright wanted an prolonged interval of growth within the minors, and because of this, he made simply two appearances within the main leagues within the common season. However after Wright pitched in with two robust World Sequence appearances, the Atlanta employees thought he may soar this yr — and in reality, he has an opportunity to be the majors’ solely 20-game winner in 2022. Wright’s victory Monday was his nineteenth. –– Olney

File: 90-58

Earlier rating: 5

Aaron Judge has generated a zillion statistics this season that can be devoured and digested for a few years to return, whereas constructing historical past. This is a easy set of numbers that underscores simply how he has been the barometer of success for a group loaded with established stars: In video games the Yankees have received, Choose has a slash line of .350/.438/.832; in video games they’ve misplaced, he has gone .256/.388/.482. — Olney


File: 87-63

Earlier rating: 6

It is now not if Albert Pujols will attain 700 residence runs, it is only a matter of when. His 698th, achieved Friday in opposition to Cincinnati, was yet one more clutch lengthy ball. It could be what’s most spectacular about Pujols — he isn’t hitting residence runs in rubbish time in opposition to the opposite group’s worst pitchers. St. Louis will clinch the NL Central briefly order, and the large lead within the division is what’s permitting supervisor Oliver Marmol to play his slugger in opposition to each righties and lefties. — Rogers

File: 84-65

Earlier rating: 9

Clearly, the Blue Jays want to maintain profitable and safe the fourth seed within the AL bracket. That a lot goes with out saying. Nonetheless, if Toronto had been to slide all the way down to the fifth and even the sixth slot, their touchdown could be a smooth one. That is as a result of the Blue Jays have really been a lot better on the street this season than at Rogers Centre. The win-loss information are related, however at residence Toronto’s run differential (via Tuesday) interprets to that of a 79-win group over 162 video games.

The comparable determine for street video games is 100 wins. Solely the White Sox and A’s have a better disparity in favor of street video games. Additionally, given the energy of the Astros because the AL’s seemingly high seed, it is doable that the circuit’s six seed can be higher positioned than the fifth seed to make a deep run. Regardless, the Blue Jays need to maintain profitable. — Doolittle

File: 82-67

Earlier rating: 7

There have been a few notable developments regarding the Rays’ beginning rotation popping out of reviews from Tampa Bay final week. One is not so good: Whereas Shane Baz has recovered sufficient from his elbow bother to renew throwing, it isn’t thought-about seemingly that he’ll return to sport motion this season.

However, Tyler Glasnow has now made three rehab appearances for Triple-A Durham. His workload has been restricted however up to now, hitters are 1-for-14 in opposition to Glasnow and he has struck out eight of the 17 hitters he has confronted. Glasnow is now prone to rejoin the Rays’ rotation earlier than the tip of the season and provides them an elite pitcher heading into October, albeit in a restricted function. Nonetheless, if Glasnow is nothing greater than a glorified opener throughout the playoffs, dealing with six to 9 batters, that is an enormous increase to the Rays’ ceiling coming into the playoffs. — Doolittle

File: 81-67

Earlier rating: 8

The beginning of the playoffs presents an annual alternative for a reset for any struggling participant, and the Mariners might actually use a late-season bounce-back from Jesse Winker, who has had a disappointing first season in Seattle. He is hitting .218 with 13 homers, his common in September is .147 and his final homer was Aug. 17. With Eugenio Suarez now out with a damaged finger — even when he does come again at season’s finish, it is the type of harm that would have an effect on him the remainder of this yr — Winker’s manufacturing is much more vital. — Olney

File: 81-67

Earlier rating: 10

There have been occasions when it appeared the Phillies might signify an attention-grabbing menace to the NL powers — the Dodgers, Mets and Braves. However the tough sequence in Atlanta over the weekend, by which Philadelphia mustered simply seven runs in three days, was a reminder of the group’s flaws, together with its aid pitching. The Phillies rank twenty third amongst 30 groups in bullpen ERA, even supposing Philadelphia’s relievers amassed the second-fewest innings within the majors. — Olney

File: 82-67

Earlier rating: 12

Why are the Guardians closing in on the AL Central crown? Pitching and protection. For the reason that All-Star break, Cleveland ranks within the high three within the majors in ERA and BABIP. The starters’ ERA ranks within the high 10 amongst rotations for the reason that break after rating simply seventeenth throughout the first half. However the story of the season for the Guardians and their greatest hope for a protracted playoff run continues to be the bullpen.

The relievers ranked twelfth in bullpen earlier than the break however since then, the group has coalesced into maybe the very best within the majors. The bullpen ranks within the high three throughout the second half in all the following: ERA, batting common allowed, strikeout proportion, stroll fee and fee of homers allowed. If Cleveland is to outlive a rugged AL playoff subject, supervisor Terry Francona’s lights-out bullpen is prone to be the first cause. — Doolittle

File: 83-66

Earlier rating: 11

Do not forget that one of many Padres’ greatest causes for optimism heading into this season stemmed from their acquisition of Bob Melvin, an skilled, celebrated supervisor who all the time appears to strike the fitting tone within the clubhouse. That was on show not too long ago. The Padres seemed torpid and uninspired whereas getting shut out by the D-backs final Thursday, and Melvin responded by doing one thing he not often does — firmly criticizing his gamers publicly.

A players-only assembly was held the next day, and the Padres responded by reeling off 5 consecutive wins, throughout which their employees has pitched to a 0.80 ERA. Throughout that stretch, their beginning pitchers carried out effectively, their offense flowed, and Juan Soto began to get going. And it might need all stemmed from Melvin choosing the right time and place to lose his cool. — Gonzalez

File: 79-70

Earlier rating: 13

Milwaukee’s playoff hopes are on life assist, however each time it appears to be like like their season is over, the Brewers pull out a few wins and maintain tempo with the groups forward of them within the wild-card hunt. A sweep of the Yankees over the weekend would have gone a protracted technique to closing the hole some extra, however Milwaukee blew a lead at residence on Sunday and settled for a sequence win. And that was adopted by a loss to the Mets, so the hole continues to be a number of video games within the NL wild-card race by which the Brewers lose tiebreakers to each San Diego and Philadelphia. — Rogers

File: 77-71

Earlier rating: 15

Baltimore’s playoff hopes could be slipping away, however an 82-win season — or extra — is definitely within the playing cards. Rookie Adley Rutschman continues a nice first season within the huge leagues, compiling a .935 OPS and his eleventh residence run final week. Baltimore will in all probability have to overhaul its pitching employees, because the numbers have lastly begun to dip. The Orioles gave up 27 runs over a four-day stretch from Sept. 16 to Sept. 19, dashing their playoff hopes, which are actually on life assist. — Rogers

File: 76-73

Earlier rating: 14

For Chicago, the lack to make the most of weak competitors within the division has been a continuing theme — not that the Guardians may be checked out as weak competitors at this level. The White Sox have taken 12 of 16 in opposition to last-place Detroit, as you’d count on. However they’re below .500 in opposition to the opposite three golf equipment within the division, which features a 9-10 mark in opposition to Kansas Metropolis. Compounding the high-leverage loss was that it overshadowed what might have been one other vital knowledge level for Dylan Cease in his run on the AL Cy Younger Award. Stop allowed only one run over six innings regardless of not having dominant stuff. However the White Sox allowed 9 runs after he departed. — Doolittle

File: 73-76

Earlier rating: 16

The Twins’ discouraging second-half flop is all however full, as the latest playoff odds present that Minnesota’s possibilities have dwindled all the way down to mathematical zero. Accidents are a part of that consequence, however because the web page begins to show to planning for the 2023 season, one brilliant spot continues to be righty Joe Ryan.

The Twins’ unlikely Opening Day starter has certainly proved to be the Twins’ better of the 13 performers on this yr’s revolving-door rotation. Ryan has been excellent in his previous two outings, throwing 14 2/3 scoreless innings with simply three hits allowed. His 10 high quality begins is essentially the most on the Twins, as is his common sport rating of 55.4. Ryan has now made 30 profession begins throughout which he is gone 14-9 with a 3.68 ERA and 106 ERA+. An ace? In all probability not, however Ryan has cemented himself as a long-term answer for the Twins. — Doolittle

File: 72-77

Earlier rating: 18

Keep in mind final yr, when the Giants received 107 video games to lastly overtake the Dodgers within the NL West, then performed them all the way down to the wire in an exhilarating five-game NL Division Sequence? Nicely, that’s definitely not the case in 2022. The Giants clearly usually are not the identical group, and that’s maybe captured most effectively in how they’ve fared in opposition to their bitter division rivals. In 2021, the 2 groups break up their 24 head-to-head matchups in the event you rely the postseason. In 2022, the Giants misplaced 15 of 19 video games to the Dodgers, together with all three at residence over the weekend. The Dodgers have outscored them 99-55. — Gonzalez

File: 72-76

Earlier rating: 17

Boston must look no additional than its document in opposition to its personal division to grasp why it is on the backside of the AL East. After dropping two extra to the Yankees final week, the Crimson Sox fell to 6-9 in opposition to them this season. Add that to a 4-12 document in opposition to Tampa Bay and a 3-13 mark versus Toronto, and also you begin to see Boston’s season in a nutshell. The Crimson Sox even have a dropping document in opposition to Baltimore, so there’s actually nothing in regards to the group to love in 2022. Having stated that, Xander Bogaerts may win the batting title. He is hitting .377 this month, placing him in an amazing place. — Rogers

File: 70-80

Earlier rating: 19

Merrill Kelly‘s 2022 ERA in opposition to the Dodgers: 8.25. Merrill Kelly’s 2022 ERA in opposition to all people else: 2.38. The 33-year-old right-hander has put collectively a nice season general (12-7, 3.15 ERA in 182 2/3 innings), however he’d be a Cy Younger contender if not for his struggles in opposition to the very best group in baseball. That was evidenced as soon as once more on Monday, when Kelly gave up 5 runs in six innings whereas taking the loss at Dodger Stadium. He described his relationship with the Dodgers thusly: “It is like having a giant brother you retain wrestling. And each time, he faucets you out.” — Gonzalez

File: 64-84

Earlier rating: 20

There’s been respectable progress in catcher Jonah Heim‘s sport this season. He had a two-homer week, giving him 15 on the season to go together with 20 doubles. His .406 slugging proportion is at the very least one thing to work with for Texas. The Rangers have respectable energy and stolen-base threats of their lineup, making them doubtlessly formidable on the plate in 2023. Heim ought to be a much bigger a part of that offense subsequent yr. — Rogers

File: 65-84

Earlier rating: 21

One of many few brilliant spots within the Angels’ disappointing season has been that they may have really tapped into some organizational beginning pitching, the ingredient that has lengthy plagued them. Reid Detmers and Jose Suarez have proven some promise, however Patrick Sandoval is the one who has actually stood out. The 25-year-old left-hander restricted the Rangers to 2 runs in 5 innings on Tuesday and has allowed simply seven runs in his previous 22 1/3 innings, placing his ERA at 3.01 as he nears the tip of his second full season within the main leagues. The Angels want a lot extra of those contributions from their farm system in the event that they hope to contend within the close to future. — Gonzalez

File: 64-85

Earlier rating: 22

Kris Bryant hasn’t been formally shut down by the Rockies simply but, however his return earlier than season’s finish is turning into more and more unlikely. The previous MVP hasn’t performed since July 31 and has tallied solely 42 video games within the first season of a seven-year, $182 million contract. Bryant hasn’t essentially carried out poorly, slashing .306/.376/.475, however he has required three separate stints on the injured record to cope with plantar fasciitis and a strained decrease again. He’ll be 31 subsequent yr, and the Rockies, with comparatively scant assets to start with, can solely hope this was merely an outlier season. — Gonzalez

File: 64-85

Earlier rating: 23

The Cubs’ offense has gone quiet however accidents have contributed to that, as catcher Willson Contreras, shortstop Nico Hoerner and second baseman Nick Madrigal have all been out. They signify quite a lot of hits for Chicago, so it is no shock the group batted simply .204 final week. Rookie Christopher Morel broke out of a hunch with a house run on Monday in opposition to the Marlins however hit simply .059 from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19. The Cubs can be trying to find extra energy this winter. — Rogers

File: 61-89

Earlier rating: 24

The 1972 Phillies managed 59 wins, and Steve Carlton was the profitable pitcher in 27 of them, in a season by which he had a 1.97 ERA, struck out 310 batters and had an adjusted ERA+ of 182. What Sandy Alcantara has executed with the Marlins in a yr by which Miami is horrible is not fairly as much as the Carlton commonplace, but it surely’s shut — a 2.37 ERA, an MLB-high 212⅔ innings and an adjusted ERA+ of 172. — Olney

File: 60-89

Earlier rating: 26

The Royals do not determine to make a lot noise within the postseason awards races. One exception could possibly be heart fielder Michael A. Taylor, who could be positioned for a second straight Gold Glove. Taylor leads AL heart fielders in defensive runs saved, simply forward of Cleveland’s Myles Straw. However Straw and others have higher metrics in different programs.

Based on the present SABR Defensive Index (SDI) rankings, a composite rating of metrics that could be a element of the Gold Glove choice course of, Taylor ranks second to Straw with two weeks to go within the season. Final season, Taylor led the AL in SDI by a snug margin, with Straw coming in a distant second. The Royals’ general defensive metrics mark them as a mean fielding membership. At the very least by SDI, Taylor seems to be KC’s solely viable Gold Glove hopeful. — Doolittle

File: 59-90

Earlier rating: 25

Regardless of giving up a few residence runs in his newest begin, lefty Nick Lodolo could be the very best storyline for Cincinnati within the second half. His strikeout totals in September, alone, soar off the web page. He adopted a nine-strikeout outing in opposition to Colorado with 11 in every of his subsequent two begins in opposition to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. He added seven extra on Tuesday in opposition to Boston, giving him the second-most Okay’s within the NL this month. — Rogers

File: 57-92

Earlier rating: 27

The main target in Detroit stays squarely on the future, particularly now that the membership has employed former Cubs and Giants exec Scott Harris to move up the baseball operations division. On the sphere, one glimmer in that doable future has been the rise this season of lefty Joey Wentz. The 24-year-old’s sluggish climb via the minors has been, to place it kindly, non-linear. Final season, Wentz topped out at Double-A and went 0-7 with a 4.50 ERA throughout two ranges. This season, regardless of tepid expectations, Wentz carried out effectively at Triple-A and earned a pair of massive league promotions. Since being recalled for a begin on Sept. 9, Wentz has posted a sterling 1.69 ERA over three outings and put himself within the dialog for a spot in Detroit’s 2023 rotation. — Doolittle

File: 55-94

Earlier rating: 28

The Pirates are getting the great and the unhealthy from Oneil Cruz, who hit three residence runs final week however struck out 14 occasions in 21 at-bats. In doing so, he hit simply .191 from Sept. 14 to Sept. 18 as he continues to confound scouts. Some have their doubts about his long-term viability, although nobody doubts the expertise. Cruz has simply 21 walks to 118 strikeouts on the season. It is method too early to attract conclusions, however progress has to return in plate self-discipline at the beginning. — Rogers

File: 55-94

Earlier rating: 29

One of many sport’s hottest hitters this month is none aside from Tony Kemp. The diminutive second baseman and left fielder — with a profession .698 OPS — is slashing .322/.394/.559 this month, one of some brilliant spots on a rebuilding A’s group that has misplaced 29 of 45 video games for the reason that begin of August. Kemp’s three-run homer off Mariners ace Luis Castillo on Tuesday propelled the group to victory. — Gonzalez

File: 52-97

Earlier rating: 30

It is truthful to surprise if we’re seeing the final days within the profession of the extremely revered Nelson Cruz, the 42-year-old DH who’s hitting .234 with 10 homers. Cruz has 439 homers in his profession, however this yr, his slugging proportion is .337 with an OPS of .631 — the bottom for him in any season since 2006. Cruz has constructed a popularity for bearing a robust clubhouse presence, so when no contender made a transfer for him on the deadline, that was a clue about how rival evaluators really feel about his efficiency. — Olney

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