We’ve already seen quite a bit of baseball, since we’re more than a quarter of the way through the 2023 Major League Baseball season. Teams have accumulated wins or losses that could be important in determining whether a team advances or is eliminated from the playoffs.
Undoubtedly, there is yet time for things to change. Take a look at the previous season. Let’s travel all the way back to May’s end. Certain things were in place, for sure.
The Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers were in the lead, and they would remain there. Even some of the poorest teams were already in last place.
However, before their fortunes dramatically changed, numerous eventual playoff teams appeared to be in a dire situation.
More startlingly, the Braves were only 23-27 and were 10 1/2 games behind the Mets. the NL East and won 101 games after starting June by winning 14 straight games.
The Phillies were 21-29 at the time, and one game later, their manager was fired. the team won 15 of 17 games and had a nine-game winning streak to start June. They would win the NL pennant in the end.
At 21-28, the Mariners were fourth in the AL West. They had a respectable — yet successful! — record of 16-13 in June before going on a 14-game winning streak in July before the All-Star break. They would end baseball’s longest playoff drought by defeating the Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series.
In the AL Central, the Guardians were 21-24 and six games behind the Twins. They would finish the month of June with a record of 18-10, capturing the AL Central by a margin of 11 games.
See? There is still a tremendous amount of time to turn things on.
Teams like the Padres, Cardinals, Mets, and again the Mariners, Guardians, and Phillies are ecstatic about it.
Of course, as the clubs with a history of sluggish starts will attest, a great deal of luck must be on a team’s side for things to significantly turn around, as they did for the Braves, Phillies, Mariners, and Guardians last season. Can some of these teams expect it to happen? They’ll require the following.
They must hit harder.
I’m done now. in fact.
You want more, huh? OK.
The Padres currently rank among the worst offensive teams in baseball. They’re striking.222 with a.379 slugging percentage, worst in the majors. The Royals, A’s, Guardians, Tigers, and Marlins are the only teams to score fewer runs per game. The majority of their at-bats have been strikeouts, and the only thing they have done effectively thus far (thanks to Juan Soto) is draw walks.
Additionally, situational hitting exists. With runners in scoring position, the league’s slash line is.254/.335/.414. With runners on base, the Padres are hitting an appalling.189/.289/.322 combined.
The staff ought to be present. The Padres have a quartet with Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Xander Bogaerts that, once Manny Machado is released from the injured list, has the potential to be the talk of baseball.
The issue is that Tatis has been excellent but not outstanding, Bogaerts dropped down after a blazing start, Soto started slowly, and Machado has been poor.
Additionally, He-Seong Kim has regressed from previous season, Jake Cronenworth needs to improve, and they have had zero offensive support from behind the plate.
They do, therefore, need to hit harder. The Padres may be in line for a run of form similar to what we saw from one of those four teams mentioned above last season if things go as they appear to.
It has already begun. The Cardinals actually reached their lowest point at a dismal 10-24. Since then, they have achieved what many anticipated them to, winning 11 of 15. Additionally, despite being seven games below.500 as June approaches, the Cardinals are still five games out of first place because to playing in a weak division.
In most cases, the crime is progressing as it should be. The rotation has been the issue, and it appears that this will still be the case. Nevertheless, we’ve seen enough flashes to know the Cardinals can add one or two arms around the trade deadline.
This is definitely a group to keep an eye on.
Another case where the turnaround may have already begun is this one. Additionally, the Mets started the season with a comfortable 14-7 lead.
After that, they only had a 6-16 record against mostly weak opposition, and things were quite hopeless. However, they have already won five straight games, so things are improving.
An added benefit would be improved performance and health during the rotation. It appears that Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander might be prepared to temporarily resemble their former (younger) selves while José Quintana is on the road to recovery. All season long, Kodai Senga will need to make adjustments, but the potential is enormous.
If they can get everyone there, that should be one of the top rotations in baseball in the second half. Only the A’s have a lower rotation WAR up to this point in all of baseball, so it would truly move the needle. The 5.09 ERA of Mets starters this season is simply unacceptable.
As an extra benefit, fixing some rotational problems can help relieve some bullpen stress.
They also need to improve their offensive performance. Perhaps Starling Marte’s huge day on Sunday will motivate him, which would be beneficial. Additionally, I believe they’ll gain from regularly allowing the young players to play (Brett Baty, Francisco Alvarez, and perhaps even Mark Vientos).
The Mets have talent, but the season is still long. Let’s watch how it develops.