- This week's power rankings dives into the teams that have the largest gaps between OPS+ and ERA+. These are the 10 most one-sided squads around the league.
Welcome back to SI’s MLB Power Rankings! This week’s focus? We’ll be looking at split selves—the ten teams with the biggest performance gaps between their pitching and their hitting, as measured by ERA+ and OPS+. (For more on the rankings’ format, click here, and for last week’s edition, click here.) Onward!
30. Baltimore Orioles (15-35; Last Week: 29)
29. Miami Marlins (16-31; Last Week: 30)
The Marlins’ pitching is bad, among the worst in baseball. But their hitting is truly terrible. Their 70 OPS+ is not quite the worst ever, but it is tied for the worst of the modern era, providing some long awaited company for the dismal records of the 1920 Philadelphia Athletics and 1901 Boston Beaneaters. (And, really, when you’re splitting the hair of “worst ever” versus “worst in nearly a century,” the whole process might begin to feel a little pointless.) As the team has rolled through a surprising winning streak over the last week, everything’s looked better, but when the starting point is this low… that’s not saying too much, if anything.
28. Kansas City Royals (17-32; Last Week: 28)
27. Detroit Tigers (18-29; Last Week: 25)
Just two weeks ago, Detroit was one game under .500. As you might be able to guess from the record above, those two weeks have not been especially great. The Tigers have since gone 2-12, largely due to the total disappearance of any semblance of their offense. In this stretch, they’ve collectively dipped below the Mendoza Line with a team batting average of .184. (And there aren't any signs of positivity lurking in other statistics; the overall picture has been every bit as bad as connoted by “.184 BA.”) In short, it’s been bad enough to wrench open a performance gap between their hitting and pitching, and while the offense will not be able to stay this bad forever, there’s not much in there to suggest that it should get considerably better.
26. San Francisco Giants (19-31; Last Week: 27)
25. Toronto Blue Jays (20-30; Last Week: 26)
This Jays team has performed very much like last year’s—only one game behind where they were at this time in 2018, still projected for almost the same final record—but its composition is flipped. While the pitching staff was the greatest weakness for last year’s squad, it’s been a source of relative strength for this year’s. That’s the result of a breakout season for Marcus Stroman and a blister-free one (so far) for Aaron Sanchez, along with a return to prime form for closer Ken Giles. Paired with a lackluster offense, however, this pitching can only carry a team so far, and it’s all but impossible for this one to be carried beyond fourth place.
24. Washington Nationals (19-31; Last Week: 23)
23. Chicago White Sox (23-26; Last Week: 24)
22. Los Angeles Angels (22-27; Last Week: 18)
21. Cincinnati Reds (22-27; Last Week: 20)
Cincinnati’s pitching has been so good that it’s almost remarkable this team has been so… not good. The Reds’ 127 ERA+ is easily the best in the National League, and the success there has been spread around. Luis Castillo has jumped out as a potential favorite for Cy Young; Sonny Gray has gotten his groove back; Tanner Roark has proven a wise grab with his best season in years. The ‘pen has been strong, too, as early struggles have faded for closer Raisel Iglesias, and there’s been plenty to marvel at from set-up man Amir Garrett. In fact, the only members of the staff with an ERA above 3.80 are fifth starter Anthony DeSclafani and lefty reliever Wandy Peralta. For the most part, this staff’s performance has ranged from “solidly good” to “phenomenal.” And then there’s the offense, which, well, the fact that this team has been in last place for more than a month now covers it pretty nicely.
20. Seattle Mariners (23-29; Last Week: 15)
The Mariners’ 111 OPS+ is higher than that of all but three teams, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of this offense. Instead, this story can be better told with two numbers, rather than one: 119, Seattle’s OPS+ in March and April, and 90, Seattle’s OPS+ in May. For the first few weeks of the season, the question was just how long this dinger-crazed offense might be able to support a feeble pitching staff; now, there isn’t so much of a difference between the two. And, accordingly, Seattle has slid from the top of the division to the bottom.
19. New York Mets (24-25; Last Week: 16)
18. Colorado Rockies (22-26; Last Week: 19)
This hasn’t been the worst offense in franchise history. But it’s been close enough—tied for second-worst OPS+, behind the 2005 Rockies. Now, most of this is tied to the team’s dreadful April, almost all of which has been shaken off in May, and in a month or two, they’ll very likely not be contending for a shameful spot in the record books of Colorado. For now, though, it’s still enough to leave a yawning gap between their hitting and pitching—and for Colorado, one where pitchers have been this much better than hitters is truly unusual.
17. Oakland Athletics (25-25; Last Week: 22)
16. Texas Rangers (24-23; Last Week: 21)
15. St. Louis Cardinals (25-24; Last Week: 11)
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (25-25; Last Week: 9)
13. San Diego Padres (26-24; Last Week: 17)
Despite a valiant effort from Franmil Reyes, San Diego’s offense has sputtered for most of the season—with lackluster performances by Ian Kinsler and Wil Myers, and continued growing pains for Manuel Margot and Austin Hedges. (Fernando Tatis, Jr. being sidelined with a hamstring injury hasn’t helped.) Meanwhile, its pitching staff has been perfectly solid, anchored by rookie phenom Chris Paddack and elite closer Kirby Yates. Particularly promising? The staff is among the youngest in baseball—second only to Atlanta, and just by a decimal—without a single start from a pitcher older than 27.
12. Cleveland Indians (25-24; Last Week: 13)
Despite a set of injuries that easily might have been damning—and a ‘pen that wasn’t projected to be super solid to begin with—Cleveland’s pitching staff has been among the strongest in baseball. Their 127 ERA+ is tied for second best in the American League; Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber will hopefully return sooner rather than later, and the situation here is only likely to get even better. In the meantime, the offense has gradually been making the switch from “brutally and astonishingly terrible” to “fine(-ish).” It’s still not an offense befitting a winning team, still featuring slumps and holes, still more “ish” than “fine”—but it’s better than it was. Just not so much to have begun seriously closing this performance gap with the pitching staff.
11. Pittsburgh Pirates (25-22; Last Week: 14)
10. Atlanta Braves (28-23; Last Week: 12)
9. Philadelphia Phillies (29-21; Last Week: 8)
The Phillies’ gap is the smallest of these ten (with their pitching above average, and their hitting just below) but this still makes it bigger than most. Lately, the offense has been able to enjoy the return of shortstop Scott Kingery, back after a month away with a hamstring injury, who’s been perhaps the biggest surprise in this lineup. After looking like he had plenty of development in front of him during a rocky rookie season in 2018, he’s been the team’s hottest hitter in 2019, albeit in limited exposure—doing his part to close the gap, with a 1.029 OPS.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (29-22; Last Week: 7)
7. Boston Red Sox (27-23; Last Week: 10)
6. Chicago Cubs (29-19; Last Week: 6)
5. New York Yankees (32-17; Last Week: 5)
4. Tampa Bay Rays (29-18; Last Week: 2)
The Rays’ offense has been solid, if not consistently stellar. But their pitching has been the best in baseball (146 ERA+), with such a large lead that it would take a dramatic effort for anyone to topple them anytime soon. When we checked in on them last week, they weren’t just the best right now by ERA+, but on track to be the best of all time—an uncharacteristically rough week has bumped them down below the 1906 and 1909 Chicago Cubs, but “best in more than a century” still has a nice ring to it.