7 MLB Teams With Surprising Grades at the Quarter Mark

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

If you were forced to choose one unifying theme of the 2014 MLB season, it would have to be injuries. As of mid-May, there have been twenty-two Major League pitchers who have needed Tommy John surgery, but that is only half the story. The Rays, Rangers, and Yankees each have at least three starting pitchers (Texas has five) on the disabled list, while Atlanta has three pitchers already ruled out for the year.

Every team’s depth will be tested at some pont in the grueling 162-game MLB season, but this year has forced general managers to go scrambling early and often. On top of minor league talent, the intangibles (character, toughness) of teams become magnified when the injury bug hits. There’s no crying in baseball. At the quarter mark of the 2014 season, here are seven teams with surprising grades.

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atkeison/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atkeison/

1. Atlanta Braves: A

After Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down with season-ending injuries, the balance of power in the NL East shifted to Washington. Atlanta signed Ervin Santana and pretended like it was no big deal, turning the pitching negative into a strength. At the quarter mark of the 2014 season, they lead all MLB in ERA and quality starts and trail just one team in WHIP. On the backs of the pitching staff, they stand in first place with a +6 run differential.

For that performance alone, the Braves deserve an A. Team offense has been horrible (29th in runs scored and OBP), yet manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell have found a way to put the wins on the board night after night. It’s the essence of overachieving. The Braves are just praying the team’s offensive slump will end. Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla need to pick it up.

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