American League Report Card: April

It’s hard to believe we’ve already had over a month of baseball. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, at least, for some teams.

Here’s how the AL is doing, one month into the season, from worst to first:

AL East

5. Baltimore Orioles (8-20)

The Orioles are a disaster, so much so that after they were swept by the Red Sox, manager Buck Showalter admitted that Mookie Betts is the best right-fielder he’s ever seen. Their only bright spot is Manny Machado, who’s had 12 multi-hit games and is batting .358 with 9 HR and 22 RBIs. He’s a free agent come fall, and Yankees’ Aaron Judge has made it no secret he wants Machado to give up birdies for pinstripes.

4. Tampa Bay Rays (13-14)

The Rays are probably the most interesting team in the division, having both 8-game losing and winning streaks this month. Their 8-game win streak was snapped by Boston on Sunday and they failed to complete the series sweep, but they’re 11-3 since April 14th, and their offensive production has been massive lately.

3. Toronto Blue Jays (16-12)

Between hockey and baseball, it’s been a rough few weeks to be a Toronto fan. They’re 3-7 in their last 10, and they lost to the Bruins and Red Sox last week.

2. New York Yankees (18-10)

Despite hitting a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee, Giancarlo Stanton has been quite the strikeout machine, even having a 5-strikeout game. On the upside, Didi Gregorius leads MLB in RBIs with 30, and home runs, tied with Mike Trout and Mitch Haniger at 10 apiece.

They’re 3 games behind the Sox, and the rivalry is in full swing after the bench-clearing brawl between Tyler Austin and Joe Kelly that resulted in ejections and suspensions.

1. Boston Red Sox (21-7)

After finishing last in home runs in the American League last season and getting eliminated in consecutive ALDS, the Red Sox have made a drastic turnaround this season, going 21-7. They’ve hit 6 grand slams, tied with the 1996 Montreal Expos for all-time April record.

Everything from the starting rotation to the lineup to the bullpen has been pretty spectacular, but it hasn’t been all smoothing sailing for the Red Sox. On April 21, they were no-hit by the Oakland A’s for the first time since April 22, 1993, and the following week, went 2-5.

Defensively, Devers and Nuñez need work. Drew Pomeranz’s first two starts since coming off the DL have been abysmal. Hanley and Benintendi need to hit better. Joe Kelly is still serving his six-game suspension for defending himself against a crazed Yankee substitute first baseman. Hopefully, they’re turning right back around, though, since they’ve won their last two, including a 10-6 victory over the Royals last night.

AL Central

5. Kansas City Royals (7-21)

The Royals’ record undercuts their lukewarm start to the season, but is accurate enough when it comes to their performance in clutch situations. With runners in scoring position, they’re batting a collective .181/.265/.264. They lost to the Red Sox, 10-6 last night, despite Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez literally handing them 2 runs on walks in the first inning.

4. Chicago White Sox (8-18)

Sadly, the biggest story out of Chicago this season is reliever Danny Farquhar suffering a brain hemorrhage in the dugout last week after pitching. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent brain surgery the following day, and is currently recovering.

Other than that, the only thing this losing team has going for it at the moment is their chemistry.

3. Minnesota Twins (9-15)

The Twins only seem to be getting worse, going 1-9 in their last 10. You can attribute most of their problems to their pitching staff, which has a combined 5.26 ERA.

2. Detroit Tigers (11-16)

Miguel Cabrera is a bright spot on this team, hitting .333 with 21 RBIs, a 1/3 of his 2017 RBI total.

1. Cleveland Indians (15-12)

The Indians are doing the best in a middling division, but they’re definitely not the Windians of two years ago.

It’s been 70 years since they won a World Series, the now-longest drought in MLB, but I wouldn’t count on this year being the year.

AL West

5. Texas Rangers (11-19)

The American League West has a lot of bad teams with standout players, and the Rangers are no exception. 44-year-old pitcher Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon continues to astound, nearly throwing a perfect game against the World Champion Astros. There’s also the fact that he outran Dee Gordon, a man with 60 stolen bases in 2017, to get an out. Like Shohei Ohtani, Colon is truly one of a kind.

4. Oakland Athletics (14-14)

Second to last in their division, the most exciting thing to happen to the A’s so far this season is their pitcher Sean Manaea no-hitting the Red Sox last weekend. He currently has the best ERA in the American League, a stellar 1.03.

3. Anaheim Angels (16-12)

Forget Mike Trout and Justin Upton: Shohei Ohtani is the biggest story in Anaheim and probably in all of MLB. The two-way player from Japan is currently batting .341 with 4 HR and averaging an RBI per game. On the mound, his first two appearances were winning ones against Oakland, but he then lasted less than 2 innings against the Red Sox, giving up 3 runs. His fourth start against Houston saw him giving up 4 runs over 6 1/3, bringing his ERA to 4.43. It’s a lot of pressure to pitch and hit.

The Anaheim club started off strong, but have floundered ever since being swept by the Red Sox two weeks ago. They’re 3-7 in their last 10, but the Angels are worth keeping an eye on just to see how Ohtani progresses; there’s no one else like him.

2. Seattle Mariners (16-11)

The most exciting thing out of Seattle is that 44-year-old team legend Ichiro Suzuki is back for one more season.

1. Houston Astros (20-10)

Reigning champions, the Astros are the only other team in MLB to win 20 games by the end of April. AL MVP Jose Altuve hasn’t missed a step, batting .347 with 2 HR and 15 RBIs, while pitcher Charlie Morton took a good stab at no-hitting the Yankees last night. They’re not quite as stellar as they were last year, but the season is still very young. Chances are, you’ll see Houston in the postseason again in a few months.

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