Livescore Friday, April 12

It’s the first full week of June, which means it’s time for the updated TSN15.

Yes, they’re power rankings, but just a little bit different. A quick reminder: We’re ranking teams from 1 to 12. Why only 12? Because that’s how many teams make the playoffs this year — six in the AL, six in the NL.

FOSTER: Luis Arraez likely won’t hit .400, but he could still make history in 2023

So, yes, we’ll have six from each league in the top 12, then chat about three more teams that are intriguing (for reasons good and bad). 

Let’s jump in. 

1. Rays, 43-19

Projected spot: AL East champs
Last month: 1

Shane McClanahan continues his campaign to remain the most nationally under-appreciated starter in baseball. This year, the lefty has made 13 starts and the Rays have won 11 of those games. He’s allowed zero, one or two runs in 12 of the 13 starts, with at least as many strikeouts as innings pitched in 11 starts. The highest his ERA has been so far this season is 2.34, after his lone hiccup start (four runs in four innings on the road against the Yankees), and it’s currently sitting at an AL-best 2.02 after six innings of one-run work at Boston on Monday night. The Rays have dealt with injuries in the rotation — especially Jeffery Springs (0.56 ERA in three starts) and Drew Rasmussen (2.62 in eight starts) — but with McClanahan shoving, the return of Tyler Glasnow, the call-up of Taj Bradley and the impact of free-agent Zach Eflin, they continue to roll right along.

2. Rangers, 39-20

Projected spot: AL West champs
Last month: Not ranked

How’s this for an unsung hero? The Texas lineup is full of slugging stars, including Adolis Garcia, Corey Seager — he’s been lighting up pitchers since returning from the IL — and Marcus Semien, and the Rangers lead MLB with 380 runs scored. But check out catcher Jonah Heim. He supplied a bit of surprising power last year, hitting 16 homers in 450 plate appearances, but he batted just .227 with a 97 OPS+ in his Age 27 season.

This year? He has, as some might say, taken it up a notch. He has a .293 average and 124 OPS+ and is fourth in the AL in RBIs with 46, ahead of Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani. And he’s done this batting primarily in the No. 6 spot in the lineup. With runners in scoring position this year (49 plate appearances), he’s batting a rather incredible .511 average with a 1.472 OPS, including six doubles, four homers and 42 RBIs.

3. Orioles, 37-22

Projected spot: AL wild card
Last month: 5

The Orioles were baseball’s best team story last year, and they’re holding onto that title again in 2023. Despite an underwhelming offseason of inactivity from the front office, the O’s are cruising along with the third-best record in the sport. And let’s throw another “despite” in the mix: It’s not like this is a roster of overachievers playing at individually unsustainable levels. There are a few who might regress a bit — not sure closer Felix Bautista is going to keep up that 18.3 K/9 ratio all season — but there are plenty who have room for improvement.

So, they’re 37-22 despite uber-prospect Gunnar Henderson’s .201 average and 99 OPS+, despite uber-prospect Grayson Rodriguez struggling in his first taste (7.35 ERA in 10 starts), despite veteran Ryan Mountcastle’s .273 on-base percentage, despite Jorge Mateo batting .147 with a .359 OPS since the end of April (he had a .347 average and 1.062 OPS the first month) and despite star Cedric Mullins landing on the IL with a groin strain. 

So, yeah. It hasn’t been all roses in Baltimore, but still the O’s are winning. 

4. Braves, 35-24

Projected spot: NL East champs
Last month: 2

Let’s be honest. May wasn’t the greatest month for the Braves. Ronald Acuña Jr., kept doing his thing, and if he stays healthy, he might have the NL MVP wrapped up by the trade deadline. But other than that, the club is just two games over .500 (17-15) since the end of April, and both Max Fried and Kyle Wright have landed on the 60-day IL. As a team, the Braves are batting just .219 on the season with runners in scoring position. They have the most talented roster in the NL, and they should cruise to the NL East title. But they just feel a bit stagnant right now. 

5. Dodgers, 35-25

Projected spot: NL West champs
Last month: 9

With all the injuries to starting pitchers, the Dodgers have had to dip into their well of prospects a little sooner than they probably would have done in a perfect scenario. The results have shown the tumultuous nature of such an ask. Prospect Bobby Miller has been sensational in his three MLB starts, rattling off a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings. Prospect Gavin Stone has also made three starts, with quite different results: 14.40 ERA in 10 innings. How will the Dodgers address the injuries (and under-performers such as Noah Syndergaard and his 6.54 ERA in 11 starts) in the coming months? That’s an excellent question. 

6. Diamondbacks, 35-25

Projected spot: NL wild card
Last month: 10

At this point, the Diamondbacks aren’t “surprisingly good” or “riding a hot start” or anything like that. They’re just a good team, period.

Here’s one reason: There are only three players in the majors with at least 10 homers, 10 stolen bases and an OPS+ above 120: Ronald Acuña Jr. (12, 26 and 159), Josh Lowe (11, 14 and 148) and Corbin Carroll (10, 16 and 145). Carroll’s only 22 and in his first full season in the bigs, and he’s looking like he’s worth every single penny the Diamondbacks guaranteed him with the eight-year, $111 million extension this spring. 

7. Astros, 36-24

Projected spot: AL wild card
Last month: 6

In an ideal world, the Astros wouldn’t have given J.P. France and Brandon Bielak six starts each by early June. But with Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia on the IL, that’s what they’ve had to do. How have France — a 28-year-old rookie — and Bielak responded? Pretty darn well. France has a 3.44 ERA in 34 innings, and Bielak checks in with a 3.35 ERA in 37 2/3 innings, as the Houston machine churns on. 

8. Yankees, 36-25

Projected spot: AL wild card
Last month: 12

May was a good month for the Yankees, but only one question matters right now in the Bronx: How is Aaron Judge’s toe? The answer to that question could determine the fate of the rest of the Yankees’ season. 

MORE: What we learned from the Yankees-Dodgers weekend series

9. Pirates, 32-27

Projected spot: NL Central champs
Last month: 7

After a hot start, the Pirates cooled off to the point that they dropped a game under .500 with a loss to the Giants on May 29. How’d they respond? Pretty damn favorably, with a six-game winning streak — including a sweep of the division-rival Cardinals — to climb back into first place in the NL Central. 

10. Marlins, 33-28

Projected spot: NL wild card
Last month: Not ranked

It wasn’t impossible to imagine the Marlins playing good baseball early in the season. But if you would have told me they’d be five games over .500 in June, with Sandy Alcantara sporting a 5.07 ERA, with free-agent signee Jean Segura sporting a .191 average and 34 OPS+ and with Jazz Chisholm on the IL? I probably would not have believed you. 

11. Brewers, 32-28

Projected spot: NL wild card
Last month: 4

The offense has struggled. The rotation has three of the season’s five starters on the IL. It’s not been the best stretch for the Brewers. So let’s look at closer Devin Williams, who has been just brilliant. For starters, he’s 10-for-10 in save opportunities, which is huge for a team without a big margin for error. In his 19 2/3 innings, he’s allowed just eight hits and one run (a home run) for a 0.46 ERA, while striking out 26 batters. Being picky, he still walks more than you’d probably prefer for a closer, but that 4.1 BB/9 ratio is right in line with his career average (4.2), and his career ERA is 1.85, so he’s learned to work around it. 

12. Twins, 31-29

Projected spot: AL Central champs
Last month: 11

You probably can just pencil the “AL Central champs” into the 12th and final spot here, whether it’s the Twins or Guardians, for the rest of the year. 

Three to discuss 

Blue Jays, 33-28

The Jays were our No. 3 team in the May ranking, but life in the AL East is difficult. Are they better than the Twins? Yeah, but their path to the postseason is more difficult, and that’s part of the equation in the TSN15, so they’re on the outside looking in at this point. 

The biggest question in Toronto right now is this: What’s wrong with Alek Manoah, and can he (or someone with the club) figure out how to fix him? 

Mets, 30-30

The Mets were No. 8 last month, and looked like they might be turning the corner after a double-header sweep at home over the Guardians on May 21. But since then they’re just 5-7 and the offense hasn’t been as consistent as hoped (expected?). Still, with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both healthy now, maybe things will start to turn around. 

Angels, 31-30

They’re not going to win the AL West title, already nine games back. And they’re five back of the third wild-card spot, behind the No. 4 Jays, too. How they play between now and the All-Star break will play a huge role in determining how the team approaches the trade deadline. And, yes, we’re talking about Shohei Ohtani. 

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