Sean Duffy: Bottom of the 9th as a high school journalist – His MLB Report Card



Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws a warmup pitch against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Pitchers never bring full-sized sandwiches to a picnic, only sliders. The first third of the MLB season has come and gone like that, so here’s my grades for every team thus far. 


AL East (Order based on pre-season rankings)


Blue Jays: B+

MVP: Kevin Gausman

This roster is loaded with young talent and specifically boasts a potent offense, having the 3rd best team OPS and 2nd best WRC+. Their only real problem thus far has been the depth of their rotation. While Cy Young candidate Kevin Gasuman has led the charge, being 2nd in the league in strikeouts per 9 innings, the rest of their starters are iffy at best, with Chris Bassit being the only reliably good starter behind Gasuman. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in quite possibly the best division in history.


Yankees B+

MVP: Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has been Aaron Judge again this year, even missing some time, he’s leading the league with his home runs per at bat, at every 9.21 on average. In the 13 games without Judge, they’ve been 7-8. The Yankees need to get more out of their lineup this summer, whether that’s internally or through trade, with Anthony Rizzo really being the only other threat in the lineup. Their bullpen has been exceptional this year, as every other year it seems like, having the 3rd best ERA.


Orioles (A+)

MVP: Adley Rutschman

The Orioles have truly broken out this year, going from the worst team in 2021 to now the 3rd best record in baseball in an extremely competitive division. All of this could not be possible without the best catcher in baseball (yes, I said it). However, their biggest hole remains the starting pitching, ranking 25th in ERA. The team was close to signing ace Carlos Rodon this past offseason but came up short and their lack of a true ace continues, especially with top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez not fulfilling expectations in his rookie season. However, there should be absolutely no worry regarding the future of this team, with their immense depth of prospects and money to spend. They’ll be a team to look out for at this year’s trade deadline. 


Rays (A++)

MVP: Yandy Díaz

To all those calling their 13-0 start “fake”, they’ve shut just about everyone up. This is the best team in baseball and it’s seriously not close. When you look at every facet of this team, there’s virtually no flaws. Everyone knows how good their pitching is every year, perennially being top 10 or better all around, but this year it’s the offense that has truly carried this team into a World Series contender. Led by MVP candidate Yandy Díaz, the Rays lead baseball in just about every major offensive category, including OPS and wOBA.


Red Sox (B-)

MVP: Masataka Yoshida

Yoshida has been everything he was hyped up to be and more, leading a deep lineup. However, the Sox pitching struggles weigh them down heavily in this juggernaut of a division, coming in 23rd in ERA.




Guardians (C+)

MVP: Jose Ramirez

Not very surprisingly, Jram leads a mediocre Cleveland team again. While they’re only 1.5 back and a top 5 pitching team again, there isn’t much to see on the lineup card past Jram and Josh Naylor.


Twins (B)

MVP: Joe Ryan

Even leading the division, the Twins are still teetering at the .500 mark, with breakout ace Joe Ryan leading a surprisingly good rotation including Sonny Gray and Pablo Lopez who have been very solid. However, they’re definitely missing Luis Arraez in a lineup where Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa have been struggling to produce.


White Sox (D+)

MVP: Luis Robert

While Robert is starting to look like the perennial superstar we all expected from the day he entered the league, the rest of the team is extremely lacking. Michael Kopech is a name to look out for, as he’s starting to heat up in the rotation, but other than that look for the White Sox to be sellers next month.


Royals (F)

MVP: Salvador Perez

It’s not exactly surprising that the Royals dwell in the bottom pit of baseball, but there’s definitely hope for the future. Salvador Perez should have a ceremonious end to his Royals career and you should look out for names like Vinnie Pasquantino and Bobby Witt Jr. as KC tries to regain their 2015 small market glory again.


Tigers (C-)

MVP: Eduardo Rodriguez

While they’ve struggled recently with a 9 game losing streak, the Tigers have some promising players from both sides of the diamond and look slightly improved this year. E-Rod looks like a Cy Young candidate and Riley Greene is performing as expected from a top prospect.




Astros (A-)

MVP: Yordan Alvarez

The champs have shown no signs of slowing down, with possibly the best all around hitter in Alvarez leading a team that has minimal flaws, ranking 1st in ERA and 9th in OPS.


Mariners (C+)

MVP: Luis Castillo

As one of the most anticipated teams in spring training, the Ms have been a little disappointing so far. Young phenom Julio Rodriguez is off to a slow start, but ace Luis Castillo is showing he was worth the price they paid for him last deadline, and Jarred Kelenic has had an amazing bounce back season.


Rangers (A+)

MVP: Josh Jung

It turns out spending bajillions of dollars on your team might just work. The Rangers have exceeded lofty expectations led by rookie of the year candidate Josh Jung and two newfound aces in Nathan Eovaldi and Jon Gray. They rank 6th in team ERA and 3rd in team OPS.


Angels (B+)

MVP: Shohei Ohtani

Is it really shocking that Ohtani has led the Angels to being somewhat relevant again? The should have been MVP of last year is proving himself to be the greatest baseball player in history. However, the team still lacks pitching depth all around for me to start believing in this being a good formula of winning.


Athletics (F–)

MVP: Brent Rooker

This might be the worst team in baseball history in the worst ballpark in history, and that’s exactly what the owners want, as a move to Vegas is imminent. They have a team ERA of 6.26, obviously the worst in baseball. The only positives have been an average offense led by known sluggers (kidding) Brent Rooker and Ryan Noda. Esteury Ruiz has also led the league in steals at 31, taking advantage of the new rules. They’ve won 7 in a row though *yay*.




Mets (C-)

MVP: Pete Alonso

The Mets are struggling right now, and I’m loving every second of it as every other Phils fan is. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander who combine for almost 100 million together on the payroll haven’t found their footing and it’s June. Former Phillie David Robertson has been electric out of the pen but they’re really starting to feel the loss of Edwin Diaz. Pete Alonso has been great again though with 22 homers already and Japanese phenom Kodai Senga has been great thus far with his signature “ghost” forkball.


Braves (A)

MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr.

The Braves have shown to be a top 3 team in baseball again and owners of the NL East. Acuna has led the charge being a leading MVP candidate and the leading all star vote getter. They even have another MVP candidate at catcher with Sean Murphy, who has undoubtedly been the best catcher this year. Even going to their starting pitching, they have unreal depth led by rookie Bryce Elder and Spencer Strider who has been phenomenal up until his recent starts. They are top 10 in ERA and OPS so far and look like they’re gonna run away with the division. 


Phillies (B-)

MVP: Nick Castellanos

I really wanted to put Schwarbs here just because we all know how insane his numbers will look following his perennial June outburst. However, if there were a comeback player of the year award, Castlennos would win it by and large. He’s carried this offense every night being a consistent contact bat. The defining word for your Phillies though has been underperformance. Trea Turner has struggled to get a streak going and seems just lost mentally. Brandon Marsh has fallen off a cliff following his early season triumphs. Most importantly though is the starting pitching woes. It’s hard to blame Nola and Wheeler but they’ve been the face of the Phillies struggles, due to in part a lack of rest. This team severely lacks depth in the rotation. Behind Nola and Wheeler, who look gassed following recent years where they’ve been top 5 in innings pitched across baseball, there’s nothing crazy to see. Ranger Suarez is still recovering from injury, Taijuan Walker has been a bust, and Matt Strahm isn’t a true starter. As much as we want to say “it’s early” and “we did this last year”, throwing out a Dylan Covey every 5th night isn’t a recipe for success. We can only hope Andrew Painter will be our savior.


Marlins (B+)

MVP: Luis Arraez

The Marlins have actually been surprisingly good led by the best contact hitter in recent history Luis Arraez. The Marlins have always lacked an offense, but this year seems different with Arraez and Soler being unreal thus far. While I doubt they keep this up long term, they’re a team to keep an eye out for this summer.


Nationals (D-)

MVP: Josiah Gray

The Nats suck. Not a whole lot of fun on this team, but I guess Josiah Gray has been okay and Lane Thomas is their best hitter with his .284/.338/.464 slash line. Can we move on?




Cardinals (D)

MVP: Paul Goldschmidt

While the defending MVP isn’t the same producer as last year, he’s still been the heart of their very solid offense surrounded by young sensation Nolan Gorman and Nolan Arenado.. Their starting pitching on the other hand has been outright abysmal. When your ace is arguably Jordan Montgomery, there’s a problem, and it’s showing as the last place team.


Brewers (C+)

MVP: Devin Williams

This Brewers team hasn’t had a lot of umph surrounding them and has lacked someone to carry the rotation or lineup. The bullpen has been locked down by an again amazing closer in Devin Wiliams, but they need more firepower and when you can’t shine in such a terrible division, I doubt the front office will be persuaded to pull the trigger on contention at the trade deadline.


Cubs (C)

MVP: Marcus Stroman

This young team, while definitely nothing crazy, has been a fun team to watch. Marcus Stroman has lived up to the contract and more, Justin Steele has shown to be a solid contributor in the rotation, Seiya Suzuki is popping off again, and Ian Happ has been pretty solid too. However, they’re still waiting on their massive offseason acquisitions of Dansby Swanson and Jameson Taillon to provide any real impact to the team.


Pirates (B+)

MVP: Jack Suwinski

This was probably the toughest choice for team MVP, with Mitch Keller breaking out as one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball, but Jack Suwinski has probably been the most underrated player in the league. In just 56 games, he’s racked up 15 home runs backed by a .924 OPS. This whole team has been wildly over performing and hopefully that continues to give Andrew McCutchen the send off he deserves into retirement.


Reds (C)

MVP: Elly De La Cruz

As much to the greedy owners of the Reds chagrin, this team actually hasn’t been half bad. Did I really just put Cruz as their team MVP after 8 games… 100% yes. Calling himself the fastest player in baseball, he might be the strongest and even the hardest thrower. This guy is truly special and the Reds have a lot of promise to look forward to with their current and future players.




Padres (C)

MVP: Fernando Tatis Jr.

If I told any baseball fan before the season that the Padres would have the 5th best team ERA as of June 14 and still be under .500 with their superstar loaded lineup, I would need to get checked out to see if I’m crazy. This team is built on the big four of Machado, Tatis, Bogaerts, and Soto. So far, Tatis has been the only one that I’ve even slightly been impressed with, and Manny Machado looks like he forgot to play baseball. These stars’ ability to turn it around will decide San Diego’s fate.


Dodgers (A)

MVP: Freddie Freeman

Even with many saying their offseason was lackluster, the Dodgers are insane again. Their hitting factory has somehow turned an aging J.D. Martinez into the leading all star candidate at the DH position, and that’s backed up by the always amazing Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts. There’s an abundance of players to talk about on this team like rookie sensations James Outman and Miguel Vargas, or team home run leader Max Muncy. The one thing they lack is aces behind Clayton Kershaw, who has continued his era of dominance over the league. Los Angeles, as always, will be a threat in the postseason.


Diamondbacks (A+)

MVP: Corbin Caroll

The Dbacks are looking like the Orioles of the National League, a super young team that is already taking the league over. Everyone knew Caroll was good, but this good? It’s not just him too, with trade acquisition Lourdes Gurriel Jr. being unbelievable and Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, and Geraldo Perdomo being very solid producers at the plate as well. To top it off, they arguably have two aces in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. This team should be absolutely electric for the rest of the year.


Giants (B)

MVP: Lamonte Wade Jr.

San Francisco has been alright, but not exactly a team to be scared of. Wade has been excellent with his .868 OPS with J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, and Thairo Estrada not being too shabby either. Their pitching factory has also produced a great pitcher out of an aging Alex Cobb. I doubt this team will really be competitive though and I’d be hesitant to turn an eye in their direction.


Rockies (D)

MVP: Daniel Bard

Well, this a rather unceremonious ending to the teams, as the Rockies are yet again a dumpster fire, with really no hope in sight. Ryan Mcmahon, Elias Diaz. and veteran Charlie Blackmon have been the sole contributors offensively, with Kris Bryant looking like a bust. Shockingly, they are bottom 5 in the league in home runs, even playing at the best power ballpark in baseball by far in Coors Field. Their bullpen has been one of the better ones in baseball if you want to take a slight positive away, with lockdown reliever Daniel Bard pitching to the tune of a .87 ERA in 20.2 innings pitched. Nolan Jones is also a young name to look out for in the infield.