The stick-up job? Over. Done. Kaput. Major League Baseball is dropping the hammer on any set of hands, potentially boosting spin rates and grips with foreign and banned adhesive substances. Ten games gone for any man who falls victim to a negative ruling after an umpire determines a pitcher is cheating while on the bump. So take a last good glimpse at the ERA numbers of your favorite gunslingers and flame throwers because none of these statistics will matter by this same time next week – and the week after. The institutional body of America’s greatest pastime is ironically going full iconoclast in tearing down pitching godheads of the game they suspect too indulgent in foul play. Prepare for at least seventy to ninety percent of your favorite big-league pitchers to become names you maybe won’t remember after this season. All that said – out of the way – power rankings: let’s do it while we can!
1. Tampa Bay Rays: Tyler Glasnow’s wack-o-mole reasoning to concoct a backward fumbling argument in a surreal press conference this week for why he and the rest of the game should remain allowed to cheat while pitching at the major league level – after he injured himself in his most recent and first fair start in a while – does not destroy the fact that the red hot Rays are an excellent team also deserving of a fan base which shows up for home games; for one reason, if for no other than that are very, very good right now. They’ve dropped two in a row, but they are one-half game back from having the best record in baseball. They play four in Seattle starting Thursday evening. They’re first in team WHIP (1.11) – though maybe not for much longer because the M’s bats are also hot – believe it or not.
2. San Francisco Giants: Another strange MLB storyline, and one excellent though mostly buried by the dissolving mountains of gossip, lurid anecdote sharing across every baseball writing platform, and sometimes hard and fast real MLB reporting on the sticky stuff saga, is the plot of a great catcher, Buster Posey, who may or may not have revitalized his baseball career, prolonging a forthcoming twilight and early retirement by tapping into ultra productivity because he sat out the entire short MLB regular season last year. The man saved his knees, and now he’s got some serious pop at the plate. Posey is slashing .337 with 12 home runs and 26 RBI with a .996 OPS. Not half bad, old man.
3. Chicago White Sox: Though true the massive, epic beer snake (stacked beer cups ascending the outfield decks, stands) that one hardy, dogged internet accountant estimated to cost north of $43,000 for the materials alone – without adding the brisk labor involved – made all the news in Chicago baseball land; the current Southsiders are themselves something of a blotto state inducing squad. Sitting at 43-25, with the best record in baseball, if we quit the season today, started the playoffs, they may be my pick for front runner to win the AL this year.
4. Oakland Athletics: The basic Oakland A’s offensive strategy is straightforward – take your walks, then wallop fastballs over the fence. Even though everyone can see it coming, they can’t stop the effort. It’s working for now. The A’s have won six games in a row. They lead the AL West. They are second in Quality Starts. Though they’ve dipped to eighth in home runs – at one point earlier this year, they led the AL.
5. Boston Red Sox: I would not want to face this team in the playoffs. Let’s look at some OPS numbers: Rafael Devers – .916, Xander Bogaerts – .915, J.D. Martinez – .957, Alex Verdugo – .810, Christian Vazquez – .656, Hunter Renfroe – .762. To quote every Gen-Z-er on TikTok for the last month, “Sheeeesshhh.” All have a shot at making the All-Star team.
6. New York Mets: Before this week, there was not one team in the NL East that could surpass humdrum, decent, nor plummet beyond basic mediocrity and stumble onto abysmal. The Mets have ascended beyond their first third of the season’s “ehh” station and are now a very good baseball team—ten games over five hundred. And elite Cy Young front runner Jacob deGrom is one of the few pitchers most of the league believes is clean too. He threw three perfect innings in his last start before leaving with some shoulder pain. Team docs and training staff say he’s fine for now. Should be back on the bump next week or the week after. The Mets have the best ERA in baseball.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers: I wonder how many jobs Trevor Bauer stole from his teammates in his crusade to clean up the game of baseball?
8. Houston Astros: I wish I could say one big thing about this team amid all the recent fracas, “Aint nobody forgot about the Houston sign-stealing scandal.” But I can’t. It seems the league has, and opposing fans have also moved on to the next hot button issue. The ‘Stros lead baseball in RBI, hits, and batting average. Anyone surprised?
9. Cleveland Indians: They stole a win from Seattle over the weekend. And it was devastating. Part of me is livid the M’s gave the ball, with the game on the line, to a closing pitcher, Rafael Montero, who’s already blown several saves this season. And the other part of me says, “This is what great baseball teams do when they have a bad game: they find a way to steal a win no matter what’s happened before.” The Indians have a positive run differential, finally, and they’ve won four in a row.
10. San Diego Padres: They don’t look so hot all of a sudden. This is maybe the worst they’ve played all year. 2-8 over their last ten. Swept by the Rockies at Coors Field. Six games back of the Giants in the NL West as of Thursday. The pitching numbers for the year are great, but I wonder if their day of reckoning is actually more like a month-long slide into oblivion with a view of what the postseason resembles should they figure out their current run of woe. However, Fernando Tatis Jr. still has 21 home runs – second in baseball – and has the third-best OPS at 1.017. So there’s that.
11. Chicago Cubs: What did I say last week? Basically that they were hot, but it wouldn’t last for long, implying that they were overrated and not a good team. Sometimes I nail it. They’ve lost three in a row. And to the Mets, who’re actually a good team.
12. Cincinnati Reds: Pretty sure I said the Reds were a great team lurking in the recent shadows of themselves. And you know what? The big red machine showed up again. Cincinnati has won six in a row and has gone 8-2 over their last 10. Their run differential is a perfectly neutral zero as well – they’ve scored 333 runs and given up 333 runs. They swept the Rockies and the Brewers. Nick Castellanos leads baseball in batting average .350, and Jesse Winker is third with .343.
13. Milwaukee Brewers: Guess who also has a perfectly neutral zero-run differential? The Brew Crew have scored 269 and given up 269 runs – but they’ve lost three in a row. And if you haven’t seen the oddball highlights yet – and maybe it shouldn’t shock any baseball fan if one can remember how he had the most bizarre batting stance of the century – but Brewers manager Craig Counsell has by far the goofiest gestures for prompting umpires to take a look at a video replay review on his behalf.
14. Toronto Blue Jays: Though the bluebirds have stumbled over their last ten games with a mark of 3-7. The AL MVP front-runner Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is still swatting balls almost too well. He leads baseball in home runs (22), RBI (56), and OPS (1.129). Let’s not forget that this year’s home run derby is at Coors Field. It could get explosive.
15. New York Yankees: Some very damming information was released online this week that implied the Bronx Bombers were no strangers to cheating during big games, which, in turn, completely undermines their latent claim to the AL pennant the last time they faced Houston in the ALCS. The not totally unsubstantiated claims outlined a pattern of cheating that alleged the Yankees had cameras in right, center, and left field to pick up opposing pitcher grips. To illustrate the claim, Aaron Judge’s batting numbers were exhibited. Again, it was very damming. Judge is half the power hitter away from the new Yankee Stadium.
16. St. Louis Cardinals: Maybe this is one of the teams that will climb toward the top of the standings as the sticky stuff bans are handed out. This last week the Cards were swept by their NL Central division rival Cubs. But they took three of three from the Marlins in the next series.
17. Philadelphia Phillies: They’re second in the AL East, behind the Mets by five games. It seems like Philly is going to leapfrog their division one week, then they stumble the next. Bryce Harper and Jean Segura both left recent games with injuries. Still, they won a series against Washington, Atlanta, and the Yankees. Then they dropped two of three to the Dodgers. They get the Giants next. Yikes. If it doesn’t click this year, I wonder if next season is the last before a major rebuild?
18. Seattle Mariners: The M’s walloped the Twins this week and broke out for 10 runs in a win that just felt good for once, not stressful. And guess who no longer has the worst team batting average in baseball? You guessed it – Seattle! J.P. Crawford is a dark horse for the AL MVP (and I mean way far back in the pack kind of dark horse with Vlad Jr. lengthening his lead every day) because not only does he lead the AL in runs prevented, but dude is all of a sudden (not really though because he’s been hot at the plate for a month plus) leading the team in batting average with a sterling .280 from the leadoff spot. In June over 15 games, Crawford is 23/60 with seven doubles and 10 runs and two home runs, plus eight runs and 8 BB. The team is two games below five hundred but has four against the Rays starting Thursday. On another note – you watch (a perfect black comedy Baseball Gods joke if there ever was one I could enjoy minus masochism) the M’s finish the year in the top third of team batting averages throughout the league now that everyone has to stop using sticky stuff on the bump.
19. Los Angeles Angels: Once they get Mike Trout back, they might sneak into the playoffs. Right now, they’re a classic example of how the baseball season feels for everyone who isn’t a California baseball team fan minus, ironically, the Angels: up and down, thrills, crushing anguish the next week. Hot for a long minute. But they’ve lost three in a row.
20. Atlanta Braves: You know what? Despite the pop. They might be a bad baseball team—five games under five hundred as of Thursday.
21. Washington Nationals: Same record as the Braves? If this were last season, that would excite Nats fans to no end. But this is obviously this season, and they’re five games under five hundred, and after splitting a series with the Giants, they’re winners of four consecutive games.
22. Kansas City Royals: 1-9 over their last ten. And I’m perhaps following the recent trend in calling people out when they’ve no clue how to handle a sticky situation and their tiresome, way-far-off-the-mark blundersome rhetoric. Still, someone with horrific hot takes on some MLB TikTok commentary account said catcher Salvador Perez was one of the most overrated players in baseball. And yet, the dude leads his team in batting average (.287), HR (17), and RBI (45). What are you watching?
23. Detroit Tigers: Did you know the Tigers have one of the few remaining “keyhole” dirt paths from mound to home plate embellished field design features famous from the old days of baseball? I dig it for reasons I don’t fully comprehend. Some things that are antiquated kick-ass, like that gothic old English D logo they have. Classy. Speaking of which, they swept the Royals this week.
24. Miami Marlins: This is another team that deserves a real fan base. But maybe not because of the same reason the Rays do. In the case of the Florida Fish – it would be excellent to see them with enough payroll to hang onto their big stars before they seek real salaries elsewhere.
25. Colorado Rockies: 5-27 in games away from Coors Field.
26. Minnesota Twins: Nelson Cruz added to his very impressive all-time home runs at T-Mobile Park numbers this week during a three-game set against the M’s. Now Cruz is in sole possession of second place all-time, with 84 bombs, behind Kyle Seager.
27. Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia was once tied for the major league lead in home runs with 16. As of today, however, he still has 16. No bombs yet in June. His last was 5/26 against the Angels.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates: Bucs nation is floundering. They probably can’t wait for football season. Pirates have dropped ten straight. Brutal.
29. Baltimore Orioles: I saw some pretty damming game footage of John Means using copious amounts of an illegal substance during his no-hitter against the Mariners. Baseball Gods may be more upset that he was caught, not that he did it in the first place. O’s have lost 8 in a row.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks: Lost 13 in a row. Blow it up. Start afresh.