The Warning Track is a blog that covers all things Major League Baseball on a weekly basis, from discussing why some teams are getting hot, who’s in line for awards at season’s end and who is getting ready to make the leap to contender status, as well as off-the-field issues like first-time Commissioner Rob Manfred, which players could be headed to new homes, and A-Rod’s latest conundrum.
If you have anything MLB-related that you would like to see discussed in the upcoming edition of The Warning Track, or have any comments at all, you may suggest/comment/rant/agree/disagree/tell me I know nothing about baseball at any time on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (33-17, 1st in the NL Central)
Ranking two weeks ago: 1
After stumbling a bit against the Royals, the Redbirds rebounded by sweeping the Diamonbacks at home and taking the opener against the Dodgers, who they are on track to possibly match up with once again when October rolls around.
St. Louis continues to face adversity in the form of the injury bug. Matt Adam is now presumably done for the season after undergoing surgery for a quad injury that he suffered in a game against Arizona, leaving many to wonder if the Cards will go after Ryan Howard of the Phillies to re-fortify the lineup.
Cardinals lose 1B Matt Adams 3-4 months with quadriceps injury. Immediate speculation is Cards pursuing STL native Ryan Howard.
— Eric Hagman (@esh714) May 28, 2015
Adams’ injury is countered by the return of Jon Jay, as well as the continued production of Matt Holliday, who set a National League record on Wednesday for most consecutive games reaching base safely to start the season (43). That streak has since been extended to 44, 10 away from setting a new major league record (Jeter holds the record with 53 from 1999).
2. Houston Astros (31-20, 1st in the AL West)
Ranking two weeks ago: Not ranked
Almost two months into the season, it’s starting to become an inescapable truth: These Astros might just be legit, as I examined last week. Dallas Keuchel has been electrifying with his arm, Jose Altuve with his bat. In fact, everyone’s bats are alive; Houston leads baseball in home runs (68) and have scored the seventh-most runs in the American League (219).
They are also second in the AL with 43 stolen bases, just one behind Detroit. All this despite sitting last in the league in batting average at .235. Imagine what we’ll see from the team with the second-best record in major league baseball once that average starts rising.
3. Kansas City Royals (29-19, 2nd in the AL Central)
Ranking two weeks ago: 3
Taking 2 of 3 from the Cardinals awarded KC the league’s best record for a short time, only for them to be swept by the Yankees in New York early in the week, being outscored 23-4 in the process. But they remain one of the most complete teams in baseball, ranking 7th in the bigs in team ERA (3.53) while also having scored the fourth-most runs (223).
Those numbers are the tale of the tape for the Royals when it comes to their run differential, which remains the second-best in baseball (behind St. Louis) at +50. The 2015 Royals are just as good as the club that roared through most of the postseason. In fact, with their newfound and somewhat surprising offensive firepower, they’re even better.
4. San Francisco Giants (30-22, 2nd in the NL West)
Ranking two weeks ago: Not ranked
The Giants were dead in the water at season’s start, as many predicted they might be – it is an odd year, after all. But after posting a 9-13 record in April, and being outscored by 28 runs, the defending champions have roared to life in May, garnering a 21-7 record, including 6-4 in their last ten games.
Their offense has been revitalized with the return of Hunter Pence, and their pitching has been stellar.
This is remarkable: #Giants have pitched 8 shutouts in May, all at home. Only NL team in 99 seasons to have at least 8 home SO in month
— David O’Brien (@DOBrienAJC) May 30, 2015
San Francisco has played their way to a tie at the top of the NL West after being as far back as six games in late April, setting up what should be an exciting race to watch in the coming months with the Dodgers and Padres on deck.
5. Washington Nationals (28-22, 1St in the NL East)
Ranking two weeks ago: 4
The Nationals have cooled off just a bit after going on a 18-4 run earlier in the month, but Bryce Harper sure hasn’t.
Surprisingly, their offense (226 runs scored, second in the NL) has outperformed their hyped rotation (3.82 starter ERA, seventh in the NL), even with Jayson Werth yet to play, something the Nationals will have to start getting used to.
Nationals OF Jayson Werth has 2 small fractures in his left wrist, & could return by August if his rehab goes to plan http://t.co/7cFboxfiZE
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) May 29, 2015
Darker days may be ahead for Washington, with Strasburg continuing to struggle due to injury and Doug Fister on the DL, but for now, a weak division should help the Nats stay a few games above .500, as should Bryce Harper staying in Unhuman Mode.
.@Bharper3407 homered. AGAIN.
— MLB (@MLB) May 28, 2015
1. Milwaukee Brewers (17-34, 5th in the NL Central)
Telling statistics: 29th in MLB in team ERA (4.67), 29th in MLB in opponent batting avg. with RISP (.290), last in the NL in batting average (.227), 29th in MLB in errors (44)
2. Philadelphia Phillies (19-33, 5th in the NL East)
Telling statistics: 26th in MLB in opponent batting avg. with bases loaded (.371), last in the NL in runs scored (154), 13th in the NL in batting average (.237), 13th in the NL in batting average with RISP (.223), last in MLB in home runs (27)
3. Oakland Athletics (20-33, 5th in the AL West)
Telling statistics: Last in MLB in bullpen ERA (4.83), last in MLB in errors (51)
4. Cincinnati Reds (22-27, 4th in the NL Central)
Telling statistics: 28th in MLB in bullpen ERA (4.63), 14th in the NL in runs scored (175), last in the NL in batting average with RISP (.185), last in MLB in doubles (59)
5. Miami Marlins (20-31, 4th in the NL East)
Telling statistics: Last in MLB in opponent batting average with RISP (.305), 13th in the NL in runs scored (182), 28th in MLB in doubles (66), 27th in MLB in home runs (36)
David Lynch likes to talk about and write about movies, sports, and important happenings around the world. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.