Baseball is a war of attrition, especially in a 2022 season preceded by a shortened spring training and a mostly unmonitored offseason for players during the lockout. While there were a few injuries early, they’ve started to pile up, especially for teams looking to contend in the fall.
After a slow start, the Braves got things going, rattling off 14 straight wins, but they suffered their biggest loss when All-Star second baseman Ozzie Albies landed on the 60-day IL after fracturing his foot with a foul ball. The Blue Jays are figuring out what their new rotation will look like without southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will miss the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Padres hoped superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. would return this month, but the latest scan on his surgically repaired wrist showed improvement but not enough to let him start swinging a bat.
“We've said this from the beginning: This is all about the long term and a long relationship with Fernando and his career," Padres general manager A.J. Preller told reporters. "We're going to be very cautious. … I think we'll continue to get good news and continue to progress as we go into the next couple of weeks. He's made a lot of progress."
With Tatis already out, there was one guy the Padres couldn’t afford to lose, and that’s third baseman Manny Machado. The five-time All-Star has been everything to San Diego, leading the team in runs (48), hits (83), home runs (12), RBIs (46), steals (seven), average (.328) and OPS (.945), but on Sunday, the National League MVP candidate suffered a nasty ankle sprain after slipping off first base and had to be helped off the field. A stint on the injured list is likely.
The other two teams in Southern California were dealt injury blows over the weekend as well. On Friday, the Angels announced that third baseman Anthony Rendon, who played in just 58 games last season due to a variety of ailments, will have season-ending surgery on his right wrist, and on Sunday, Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts was placed on the 10-day IL with a rib fracture that manager Dave Roberts hopes will heal in two weeks. The bad news came eight days after ace right-hander Walker Buehler was placed on the IL with a right forearm strain that will prevent him from throwing for six to eight weeks.
With the Aug. 2 trade deadline approaching, now is the time for teams to decide if they should make a playoff push or plan for next season. For clubs like the Braves, Blue Jays, Padres, Angels and Dodgers, they must decide how to compensate for the production loss caused by injuries to key players. The closer we get to the deadline, the more clarity we’ll get on these important questions.
MLB Power Rankings
Rankings are determined by staff vote
Records and statistics are through June 19
1. New York Yankees (49-17, Last week: 1): The Bronx Bombers lead baseball with a +143 run differential and have a pitching staff to match, so it’s no surprise they remain at the top of this week’s rankings.
2. New York Mets (44-24, LW: 2): Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are getting closer to returning. Adding the two best starters after lengthy stays on the IL is as good of a move as the Mets can make before the deadline.
3. Houston Astros (41-25, LW: 4t): Because he’s a DH, Yordan Alvarez might not be in every conversation when it comes to baseball’s best players, but he’s undoubtedly one of MLB’s elite hitters. The new $115 million man is slashing .311/.403/.623 with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (40-25, LW: 4t): Despite their star-studded lineup, the Dodgers have struggled to find consistency. Things won’t get any easier with Mookie Betts landing on the IL.
5. Atlanta Braves (38-29, LW: 6): The only team that has been able to solve the Braves recently is, ironically, the Cubs, who entered the weekend having lost 10 straight games. Despite dropping two of three in Chicago, Atlanta’s repeat quest is very much alive.
6. San Diego Padres (41-27, LW: 3): The Padres didn’t get the best news on superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., but his absence hasn’t stopped them from staying among MLB’s elite teams. Manny Machado’s sprained ankle is concerning, though.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (38-28, LW: 7): Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will have Tommy John surgery, is 21-12 with a 4.07 ERA in 49 starts since signing a four-year, $80 million contract with the Blue Jays in 2019.
8. San Francisco Giants (37-28, LW: 9): Carlos Rodon has done exactly what the Giants had hoped in his first year with the team. But do they need to add another arm to join Rodon and Logan Webb at the top of the rotation?
9. Minnesota Twins (38-30, LW: 10): All Luis Arraez does is hit. He has been a man possessed at the plate, leading MLB in hitting (.361) and on-base percentage (.443).
10. Cleveland Guardians (34-28, LW: 14): Don’t look now, but here come the Guardians. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games and sit just one game back of American League Central leader Minnesota.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (38-30, LW: 12): There’s no hotter hitter on the planet than Paul Goldschmidt. And with the Brewers scuffling, the Cardinals have an opportunity to take control of the NL Central. Jack Flaherty’s return from the IL is also a boost for the Redbirds.
12. Boston Red Sox (36-21, LW: 11): Each day Rafael Devers plays, he continues to show why he should be the face of the franchise for the next 10 years. A 25-year-old with a .330/.383/.603 slash line and 16 long balls? Sounds like a cornerstone to me.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (38-30, LW: 15): Saturday marked the end of an era when the Brewers designated longtime outfielder Lorenzo Cain for assignment. Cain was a force at the plate and in the field during his tenure in Milwaukee, but his production deteriorated due to injuries. At least the team waited until after he reached 10 years of service time before making a move.
14. Philadelphia Phillies (36-32, LW: 13): They appeared to be headed for a long summer, but the dismissal of Joe Girardi has lit a fire under the Fightin’ Phils. With interim manager Rob Thomsen, they are 14-3 and have made a legitimate push into NL East relevance again. Outfielder Kyle Schwarber has been a big part of the surge with a 1.093 OPS in June.
15. Tampa Bay Rays (36-30, LW: 8): Shane McClanahan is becoming a problem for hitters in the American League. The young southpaw currently leads the majors with 105 strikeouts and gets better with each start.
16. Los Angeles Angels (33-36, LW: 16): When the Angels signed Anthony Rendon to his seven-year, $245 million contract, it looked like a good investment, but it’s been anything but that. Now out for the season to undergo wrist surgery, the 32-year-old has played just 103 games over the last two seasons.
17. Texas Rangers (31-35, LW: 18): The trade of Jose Trevino before the season opened up playing time for Jonah Heim. While Trevino has clearly thrived in the Bronx, Heim has taken advantage of his expanded role as the Rangers’ primary backstop. He’s third on the team in home runs (eight) and second in OPS (.757) and has been solid defensively with two defensive runs saved.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks (32-36, LW: 20): They’re still hanging around the middle of the pack, which is probably not where most expected them to be. But with some intriguing names on the roster and several young prospects at the big-league level, would they part with veterans Christian Walker or Ketel Marte for the right price?
19. Chicago White Sox (31-33, LW: 21): The White Sox continue to be one of the most confusing teams in the big leagues. One week, they can go 7-0; the next week, they can go 0-7 and look like they forgot how to play baseball. They have a ton of talent, but there’s a disconnect somewhere.
20. Baltimore Orioles (30-38, LW: 23): Most would say Cedric Mullins is the Orioles’ best player, but it’s actually Austin Hays. The 26-year-old outfielder has been a complete player over the last two seasons, and after putting up an eye-popping 14 defensive runs saved in 2021, his bat has caught up this season with a team-leading .798 OPS.
21. Colorado Rockies (30-37, LW: 22): It’s been the C.J. Cron show in Colorado, and the slugging first baseman is making a case to start in next month’s All-Star Game in L.A. with 16 home runs and a slash line of .298/ .344/.561.
22. Miami Marlins (29-35, LW: 17): Sandy Alcantara is exactly who the Marlins have expected him to be this season and then some. The right-hander is currently among the NL Cy Young favorites, ranking second in the majors in ERA (1.72), fourth in batting average against (.193) and first in innings pitched (99 1/3).
23. Seattle Mariners (29-39, LW: 19): Seattle pitchers are glad to see Mike Trout leave town. The three-time AL MVP crushed five homers during a four-game series and tied Rafael Palmeiro with 51 career homers against the Mariners.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-39, LW: 25): Ke’Bryan Hayes was always touted as an elite defender in the minors, but he’s taken things to another level in the big leagues. The third baseman leads MLB with 13 defensive runs saved.
25. Detroit Tigers (26-40, LW: 24): So far this season, the Tigers have been a disappointment. After an offseason of spending, they rank 30th in runs scored (190), homers (35) and slugging percentage (.324). Detroit is hoping newly promoted outfielder Riley Greene gives it a boost.
26. Chicago Cubs (25-41, LW: 26): They’re 5-12 in June, and while they’re the only team to cool off the red-hot Braves, there are no real expectations in sight. It may be the Chicago swan song for Willson Contreras, who leads all catchers in WAR (2.8), homers (12), slugging percentage (.532) and OPS (.927).
27. Kansas City Royals (23-42, LW: 30): The youth movement hasn’t quite gone as planned, but future franchise face Bobby Witt Jr. has quietly pushed his OPS to .720. He’ll be just fine.
28. Washington Nationals (24-46, LW: 27): They’re just 6-13 in June, and in a very down season in D.C. with two managers already fired before the Fourth of July, you have to wonder about the future of Dave Martinez.
29. Oakland Athletics (23-45, LW: 29): There’s not much to talk about in Oakland other than the NBA team that used to play next door to the A’s — the 2022 NBA champion Golden State Warriors — but right-hander Paul Blackburn deserves some love. The 28-year-old has been one of the season’s biggest surprises with a 2.26 ERA that ranks seventh in MLB.
30. Cincinnati Reds (23-43, LW: 28): The most unlikely trade deadline candidate might be Brandon Drury. The 29-year-old has enjoyed a resurgence in Cincinnati and has been an absolute force at the plate with an .848 OPS. He also has nearly reached his career high in home runs with 14 in just 57 games.