Report Cards for Every MLB Team at the Quarter-Season Mark

Karl BuscheckContributor IIIMay 14, 2014

Report Cards for Every MLB Team at the Quarter-Season Mark

0 of 30

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    As the MLB season hits the quarter mark, it's time to dish out grades for all 30 clubs. 

    The report cards that follow include a rundown of what each team has been doing well, where they have room to grow as well as an overall grade for the first six weeks of the season. 

    While teams like the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers are flying high, other clubs, like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros, are flat-out failing.

    So let's take a look at how all 30 MLB teams grade out at the quarter mark of the season. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

1 of 30

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Arizona Diamondbacks are actually over .500 (12-10) on the road. However, with a 4-16 record at Chase Field, the Diamondbacks have been the worst team in all of baseball at home.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Addison Reed must do a better job closing out games. The right-hander has posted a 5.93 ERA on the year and has been tagged for five home runs.

     

    Grade: F

    For a team that was built to contend, to already be 10 games back in the National League West is simply unacceptable.

Atlanta Braves

2 of 30

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The rotation has been electric in 2014. The Atlanta Braves' starting staff leads all of baseball in ERA and is tied for second in strikeouts. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Braves offense has been awful in the first quarter of the season. The club ranks No. 29 in runs and OPS.  B.J. Upton (.212 average), Jason Heyward (.636 OPS) and Dan Uggla (.551 OPS) have been the main culprits. 

     

    Grade: B

    The Braves are leading the way in the NL East, but the team's complete inability to score runs is an unavoidable red flag. 

Baltimore Orioles

3 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    In the opening six weeks of the season, the Baltimore Orioles have received excellent offensive production from the outfield. Nelson Cruz leads the team in home runs and RBI, Nick Markakis tops the club in batting average, and Adam Jones ranks second in home runs and RBI.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The rotation has to get better if the Orioles want to remain in first place in the AL East. Ubaldo Jimenez has definitely been taking steps in the right direction, as the veteran right-hander has now allowed just one run in his last three starts.  

     

    Grade: B

    The Orioles lead the division for now, but with a subpar lineup and rotation, it will be extremely difficult to maintain the top spot in the standings. 

     

Boston Red Sox

4 of 30

    Jim Cowsert/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Boston Red Sox have received a ton of quality starts from the top three arms in their rotation. Even though Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront have been less than crisp, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy give the club the most formidable rotation in the division. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Aside from Mike Napoli and David Ortiz, the Red Sox have struggled to get consistent offensive production from the rest of the lineup. To spark the offense, the club will have to seriously consider adding another bat via trade.

     

    Grade: C+

    After winning the World Series a season ago, the Red Sox have underwhelmed in the opening six weeks of the season. Fortunately for them, nobody appears capable of running away from the pack in the AL East. 

Chicago Cubs

5 of 30

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    It's been a rough start for the Chicago Cubs in 2014, but at least a couple of young players have impressed in the opening six weeks. Hector Rondon has taken over the closer's role, and and he has demonstrated a consistent ability to miss bats. At the plate, Anthony Rizzo has collected seven home runs and posted a .860 OPS.  

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Cubs offense has been very poor in 2014. The team has the fourth-worst OPS in baseball and the sixth-worst average. 

     

    Grade: D

    The Cubs were widely predicted to finish in the NL Central cellar, and that's exactly where the team sits right now. There's ton of talent in the farm system, but they will have a difficult time avoiding 100 losses this year. 

Chicago White Sox

6 of 30

    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Led by Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez, the Chicago White Sox have one of the most productive lineups in baseball. Manager Robin Ventura's club has scored the third-most runs in all of MLB. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    From the starting staff to the bullpen, the White Sox have been issuing way too many free passes in 2014. The team has walked the most batters in MLB, and it's not even close. Unsurprisingly, all of those baserunners have contributed to the team sporting a 4.81 ERA, which is the worst in baseball.

     

    Grade: C+

    The White Sox are substantially improved from a season ago. Still, with such a wild and ineffective pitching staff, there's no way this team can compete in the AL Central. 

Cincinnati Reds

7 of 30

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Where the Team has Excelled

    The Cincinnati Reds starting staff has been dealing in 2014. Nobody has been better than Johnny Cueto, who leads baseball with a 1.43 ERA. Plus, the staff will get even better when Mat Latos returns from injury. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Reds need to get significantly more offensive production from their middle infielders. Second baseman Brandon Phillips owns a .285 average but has posted just a .396 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, shortstop Zack Cozart is still hitting under .200 on the season.

     

    Grade: C+

    The Reds have the starting staff to climb back into the playoff race. However, thanks to a poor start the team is already seven games back in the highly competitive NL Central.

Cleveland Indians

8 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Cleveland Indians have endured a tough start to the 2014 season. However, the bullpen—aside from closer John Axford—has actually been highly reliable for manager Terry Francona. As a group, Cleveland's relievers have posted the second-lowest ERA in the AL. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Cleveland has not been sharp with its glove work in 2014. After 39 contests, the team leads all of baseball with 37 errors. The squad also has plenty of work to do at the plate; with a .693 OPS as a team, the Indians rank No. 12 in the AL. 

     

    Grade: C-

    Cleveland has struggled in nearly every aspect of the game in the opening quarter of the season. Still, despite the poor play, it is just three games under .500 and still has time to climb back into the wild-card race. 

Colorado Rockies

9 of 30

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Colorado Rockies have been ridiculous at the plate in 2014. The team leads all of baseball with a .298 average, and it also ranks No. 1 in terms of runs, OPS and home runs, among a variety of other categories. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Colorado's rotation has not been nearly as good as the lineup has been. The staff checks in with a 4.18 ERA, which ranks No. 13 in the NL. However, the group should get better now that Jhoulys Chacin has returned from the DL. 

     

    Grade: B

    There's no way the Rockies can keep up this remarkable start at the plate, and their lack of quality pitching with eventually catch up with them. 

     

Detroit Tigers

10 of 30

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    It's no surprise that the Detroit Tigers have the best record in baseball. The Tigers have the fourth-best offense in all of MLB in terms of OPS, and the starting staff has the lowest ERA in the AL.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The bullpen is the major problem spot for the Tigers. Closer Joe Nathan has settled in after a rough start, but the unit ranks No. 26 in baseball in terms of ERA. 

     

    Grade: A

    The Tigers are the one team in baseball that already looks to be running away with their respective division. For that, the club gets the highest grade possible. 

Houston Astros

11 of 30

    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Houston Astros haven't really excelled at anything in 2014. However, the rotation has been substantially better than a season ago. This year, the starting staff has a 4.03 ERA after posting a 4.72 ERA in 2013.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Astros need to improve in every aspect of the game, but the bullpen has been absolutely terrible. The club's relievers have posted a 5.91 ERA, which is the worst in baseball. The group has also allowed an MLB-worst 18 home runs. 

     

    Grade: F

    The Astros are already 12 games out of first place in the AL West, and they are on pace for a 100-loss campaign for the fourth season in a row. 

Kansas City Royals

12 of 30

    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Kansas City Royals' top three starters have been tremendous so far. Yordano Ventura is an early contender for AL Rookie of the Year honors with a 2.34 ERA. Meanwhile, veterans James Shields (2.54 ERA) and Jason Vargas (3.04 ERA) have also impressed. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    In 2014, the Royals have hit just 18 home runs. Meanwhile, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has already gone yard 14 times in his rookie campaign. The lack of home runs is indicative of an offense that has struggled significantly in the first quarter of the season. The Royals team OPS is tied for the seventh-worst mark in baseball. 

     

    Grade: C

    With Shields, Vargas and Ventura atop the rotation, the Royals have the arms to compete for a wild-card spot. However, the lack of offense to this point has been a major disappointment. 

Los Angeles Angels

13 of 30

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Thanks in part to Albert Pujols and his 10 home runs, the Los Angeles Angels have been scoring lots of runs in 2014. The team ranks No. 5 in MLB in that category, and it is fifth in OPS as well.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    One way or another, the Angels need to do a better job of keeping their players on the field. Currently, seven players are on the DL, including Josh Hamilton as well as both of the team's top options at third base in David Freese and Ian Stewart.

     

    Grade: B

    There's no doubt that the Angels are off to a far better start than a season ago. Still, it's much too soon to tell if the club will end up being a serious factor in the playoff race. 

Los Angeles Dodgers

14 of 30

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Even though Clayton Kershaw has been limited to just three starts, the Los Angles Dodgers rotation has still been racking up plenty of quality innings. Zack Greinke is 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA, and Dan Haren has posted a 5-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Dodgers have made all sorts of miscues in the field in 2014. With 35 errors, the club is tied with the Washington Nationals for the most in the NL. The bullpen also needs to preform better, as the Dodgers relievers have issued the second-most walks in baseball. 

     

    Grade: C+

    With a 22-19 record, the Dodgers are 3.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. That's far from an insurmountable deficit, but the Dodgers have definitely underwhelmed for such an expensively assembled team.

Miami Marlins

15 of 30

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, Jose Fernandez is set to undergo Tommy John surgery by the end of the week. However, even with that terrible loss, the Miami Marlins still have a lot of talented arms in the rotation. Tom Koehler, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez have all impressed in 2014 as part of a starting staff that is highly underrated. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    With a 3-15 record away from home, the Marlins have been the worst team in baseball on the road in 2014. There's no doubt that it's more difficult to win when they're not in Miami, but the Marlins simply must improve upon this record. 

     

    Grade: A-

    After losing 100 games a season ago, the Marlins have looked like a completely different team in 2014. Even with the loss of Fernandez, Miami remains a dark-horse contender for a wild-card spot. 

Milwaukee Brewers

16 of 30

    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Milwaukee Brewers rotation is loaded. They brought in Matt Garza over the winter to bolster the staff, but the veteran is currently the fifth-best starter on the team. The top arm so far has been Wily Peralta, who has put up a 4-2 record with a 2.09 ERA.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Milwaukee's offense definitely hasn't been bad in 2014, but there's also room for improvement. The club ranks No. 15 in batting average and No. 14 in OPS. 

     

    Grade: A-

    With a 25-14 record, the Brewers have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2014 season. Eventually, the St. Louis Cardinals will begin to play better baseball, but Milwaukee has the pitching to remain right in the middle of the playoff conversation.

Minnesota Twins

17 of 30

    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Minnesota Twins are getting excellent production out of the catcher's spot. Kurt Suzuki is hitting .314 with 25 RBI, while Josmil Pinto has added five home runs. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    In 2014, opponents are hitting .295 against the Twins' starting staff. That is the highest mark in baseball, and all of those hits have resulted in the rotation posting the league's second-worst ERA.

     

    Grade: C+

    With an 18-19 record, the Twins have clearly improved from a season ago. Nonetheless, the club is already six games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. 

New York Mets

18 of 30

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Bartolo Colon and Jenrry Mejia have not been sharp in the opening six weeks, but the New York Mets have received solid production from the top-three spots in the rotation. With a 2.17 ERA, Jon Niese has been the most impressive starter of all. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Mets offense has been one of the least productive in baseball in 2014. The team's .665 OPS ranks No. 28 in baseball. So far, outfielder Curtis Granderson has been a disappointment for New York with just a .205 average. However, he has hit five home runs.

     

    Grade: C+

    Despite the lack of offensive production, the Mets are sitting at 19-19. Still, a run at a wild-card spot doesn't appear to be on the horizon for the club. 

New York Yankees

19 of 30

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The New York Yankees offense has been among the best in in baseball in the opening six weeks of the season. The team ranks No. 3 in average and No. 6 in OPS. There's been no bigger surprise contributor than Yangervis Solarte, who's batting .336 with a .912 OPS.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Yankees bullpen ranks No. 24 in baseball with a 4.37 ERA. Its performance will be especially critical now that the club is missing 60 percent of its Opening Day starting rotation.

     

    Grade: C+

    The Yankees have suffered quite a few injuries in 2014; of course, that's not exactly shocking considering how old the roster is. The key for New York will be to remain around .500 while the rotation heals. 

Oakland Athletics

20 of 30

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    At the plate, the Oakland Athletics have been the most patient team in baseball, as the club leads the league in walks and ranks second in OBP. That approach at the plate has allowed the Athletics to wear down the opposition and beat up on bullpens.

     

    Where The Team Needs to Improve

    The bullpen has posted a 2.66 ERA, which is the best mark in the AL. However, the team has consistently struggled to close out games. Jim Johnson, whom the club brought in via an offseason trade, has now lost his job twice. 

     

    Grade: A-

    Oakland leads the way in the AL West, but the unresolved closer situation is a serious concern for the team. It is appearing increasingly likely that that front office will need to make a trade to solve that problem.

Philadelphia Phillies

21 of 30

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    With Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett both impressing, the Philadelphia Phillies have two legitimate aces at the top of the rotation. Lee is fourth in the NL in strikeouts, while Burnett has turned in a 2.90 ERA. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The bullpen has been a major weakness for the Phillies in 2014. The club's relievers have posted a 4.85 ERA, which is the worst in the NL. It has also given up 17 home runs, the second-most in all of baseball.

     

    Grade: C

    The Phillies are sitting in last place in the NL East, but it's far too soon to rule them out. If Cole Hamels can turn his season around, Philadelphia would suddenly have a dangerous combination of starters.

Pittsburgh Pirates

22 of 30

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen has been one of the most effective in all of baseball; with a 2.84 ERA, the group ranks No. 6 in the league. Mark Melancon (1.50 ERA) and Tony Watson (1.59 ERA) have been the two standouts in the absence of Jason Grilli. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Pirates starting rotation simply hasn't been good enough in 2014. The staff ranks No. 26 in baseball with a 4.48 ERA. Aside from Gerrit Cole, all of the club's starters have disappointed in the opening quarter of the season.

     

    Grade: C-

    The NL Central is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, and the Pirates are in serious jeopardy of falling out of contention.

San Diego Padres

23 of 30

    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The San Diego Padres bullpen has been highly impressive in 2014, as the team's relievers own the lowest ERA in MLB. The bullpen has also limited opponents to the lowest batting average in the league. Led by Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross, the rotation has also been providing plenty of quality starts. The staff ranks No. 9 in baseball in ERA.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Padres offense has simply been unable to score runs in the opening quarter of the season. San Diego ranks last in runs and OPS in all of baseball. 

     

    Grade: C

    The Padres are just two games under .500. However, the club is six games out of first place and sitting behind three superior teams in the NL West standings. 

San Francisco Giants

24 of 30

    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The San Francisco Giants have been one of the top teams in baseball away from home in 2014, as the club's 14-9 road record is the second-best mark in the NL. The bullpen has also been among the best in baseball. The group's 2.17 ERA ranks No. 2 in MLB.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Giants are looking thin at the corner infield spots. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has struggled throughout the season and is hitting just .193. Meanwhile, it was announced on Sunday that first baseman Brandon Belt will miss six weeks with a fractured left thumb.

     

    Grade: A-

    The Giants have the second-best record in the NL and have made it perfectly clear to the Los Angeles Dodgers that they have no intention of giving up the top spot in the NL West. 

     

Seattle Mariners

25 of 30

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Considering that Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are on the DL and that Hisashi Iwakuma has made just three starts, the rotation has been highly effective for the Seattle Mariners. Chris Young, who didn't even pitch in the major leagues in 2013, has been particularly impressive, posting a 2.63 ERA.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Robinson Cano has failed to spark the Seattle Mariners offense in his first six weeks with the club. The second baseman is batting .307 but has connected on just one home run and owns a .392 slugging percentage. As a team, the Mariners rank No. 26 in OPS.  

     

    Grade: B+

    The team's offense has been far from dynamic, but the surprisingly strong performance from the pitching staff means that Seattle is right in the middle of the playoff conversation. 

St. Louis Cardinals

26 of 30

    john bazemore/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Unsurprisingly, the St. Louis Cardinals starting staff has been one of the best in baseball. Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha are both looking like early Cy Young Award contenders atop the club's rotation.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Cardinals need to find an answer at second base. Veteran Mark Ellis is hitting just .190 since taking over for Kolten Wong. With Wong impressing in the minors, he could soon get the chance to reclaim the second base job. 

     

    Grade: C-

    Considering the expectations surrounding the club entering the season, the Cardinals have been a major disappointment throughout the first six weeks. However, with such a loaded rotation, it should only be matter of time before St. Louis starts to close the gap on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Tampa Bay Rays

27 of 30

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Quietly, the Tampa Bay Rays have actually enjoyed considerable success at the plate in 2014. First baseman James Loney has been one of the club's top producers with 11 doubles and a .317 average over his first 38 contests. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    Walks have been a central issue for the Rays bullpen in 2014. The club's relievers have dished out the 59 free passes, which is tied for the fifth-highest mark in baseball. Closer Grant Balfour has contributed more than his fair sharein 14.1 innings, the veteran has walked 12 batters.

     

    Grade: C-

    Tampa Bay's rotation has been hit with a ton of injuries in 2014. Of course, the Rays are far from the only club to deal with such an issue. The AL East race remains wide open, but Tampa Bay is rapidly falling back from the pack. 

Texas Rangers

28 of 30

    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    The Texas Rangers have done an excellent job of getting on base in 2014. With a .332 OBP, the club ranks fifth in that category in all of baseball. Leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo has set the tone, as he has reached base at a clip of .457.

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    For a team that plays in a bandbox, the Rangers have not hit a lot of home runs in 2014. On the year, they have connected on just 25 home runs, which ties them with the Philadelphia Phillies for the third-fewest in baseball. Part of the problem is that Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder have combined to go yard just six times. 

     

    Grade: B-

    Despite the fact that the Rangers are in fourth place in the AL West, the club has actually done an impressive job of surviving an early season flood of injuries. 

Toronto Blue Jays

29 of 30

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    Six different Toronto Blue Jays have hit five home runs or more in 2014. As a team, the Blue Jays have gone yard 53 times, which is second only to the Colorado Rockies. 

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Blue Jays rotation has had its issues, but the club's bullpen has been one of the least effective in baseball. Toronto's relievers have posted a 4.86 ERA, which is the second-worst in MLB. The bullpen has also served up 15 home runs, which is just one fewer than the starting staff. 

     

    Grade: C+

    The Blue Jays are 20-20, but their below-average pitching staff will make it extremely challenging to keep up in the AL East. 

Washington Nationals

30 of 30

    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Where the Team Has Excelled

    With a 2.32 ERA, the Washington Nationals bullpen has been among the most effective in baseball. Closer Rafael Soriano is 8-for-9 in save opportunities, and right-hander Drew Storen has posted a 1.59 ERA

     

    Where the Team Needs to Improve

    The Nationals have not been crisp in the field. The club has piled up 35 errors in 2014, which is tied for the second-most in baseball. Nine of those errors belong to shortstop Ian Desmond, who has a share of the MLB lead.

     

    Grade: B-

    Washington has been slammed with injuries in the opening six weeks of the season. Still, the team sits one game over .500 and just 2.5 games back of the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

     

     

    All stats courtesy of MLB.comIf you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter: @KarlBuscheck