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MLB Power Rankings: High Roster Turnover Leaves Teams to Sink or Swim

Emma Baccellieri
MLB Power Rankings: High Roster Turnover Leaves Teams to Sink or Swim

Step right up for another week of SI’s MLB Power Rankings. This week’s theme? Roster turnover. Here, we’re focusing on the 10 teams who have used the most players this year—whether by circumstance or by choice. (Catch up on last week’s rankings here, and read more about the format here.) Ready, set, rank:

30. Baltimore Orioles (21-47; Last Week: 30)

The Orioles, unlike most teams in this group, have not had bad fortune with injuries. In fact, they’ve had rather good fortune in this department—they’ve sent just nine players to the IL in 2019, one of just seven teams to keep this number in single digits. Sadly for Baltimore, though, good health is not enough to make this team look good (or play well), or keep them from churning through a variety of career minor league free agents.

29. Toronto Blue Jays (25-43; Last Week: 27)

The bad: The Blue Jays are fifth in collective days spent on the IL in 2019 (585), second in players used (43) and close to dead last in performance over the last month (5–15 in the last three weeks, particularly). The good: Hey, two of those roster moves have been the call-ups of Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio. The future is… not here yet, because this is still looking pretty bleak all around, but, uh, soon.

28. Kansas City Royals (22-46; Last Week: 29)

27. Miami Marlins (24-42; Last Week: 26)

26. Detroit Tigers (25-40; Last Week: 28)

Just a month ago, Detroit was within two games of .500. Now, it’s… too far away from that mark to be worth mentioning, stuck in fourth place and unable to ignore that there’s no player swap it can make to remedy the fact that the offense is the worst in the American League.

25. San Francisco Giants (28-38; Last Week: 24)

24. Seattle Mariners (29-43; Last Week: 25)

“Players used” is the rare category where the 2019 Mariners stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of baseball. Seattle has used 50 players so far—yes, exactly two full rosters’ worth. (Insert joke of your choosing here about transaction-happy GM Jerry Dipoto.) No other team has used more than 43. And most of this has come from pitching, Seattle’s biggest problem. The Mariners have gone through an entire roster of pitchers, plus a little extra, with 31. Unsurprisingly, this is very closely related to the fact that they have the worst pitching staff in baseball, with an 81 ERA+. (Even Baltimore’s ERA+ is 82!) Part of this is injuries. Part is that the staff entered the year looking as if it was held together by duct tape and dreams, which, as it turns out, does not really hold up.

23. Pittsburgh Pirates (30-38; Last Week: 18)

The Yankees have, for essentially the entire season, led baseball in cumulative days lost to the injured list. But they no longer lead in number of individual players sent to the IL. Nope, that honor belongs to the Pirates. They’ve had to put nearly an entire roster on the list—22 men in total!—with 12 currently residing in the sick ward, and, unsurprisingly, since the injury bug hit, they’ve fallen from the grace of their hot start. After at 2-10 start to June, they fell to fifth place this week since June 2017.

22. Chicago White Sox (33-34; Last Week: 23)

21. Cincinnati Reds (30-36; Last Week: 22)

20. Los Angeles Angels (34-35; Last Week: 21)

Quick: Which rotation averages baseball’s shortest starts? It probably seems like an easy question, given that Tampa Bay has skewed the very idea of a “start” by using the single-inning opener. The Rays, however, are not the answer here. Nope, they’re only in second, and first is held down by none other than the Angels—4 ⅓ innings per start, on average, driven by the fact that the team’s starters have a 5.53 ERA, higher than any other rotation in the AL. It’s, to put it lightly, not exactly ideal, and it’s led Los Angeles to use 25 different pitchers in 2019.

19. Washington Nationals (31-37; Last Week: 20)

18. New York Mets (33-34; Last Week: 19)

The Mets have not had a particularly heavy injury load this year (498 cumulative days, 10th in baseball and just slightly above average) and their injuries have all been relatively normal, rather than anything that could pass for a medieval affliction or a disease commonly passed among livestock. There have been no blatantly counterintuitive quirks in roster management. It’s all pleasantly uncharacteristic for them … meaning they’re only at the bottom of the top 10 for players used, rather than their typical spot near the top.

17. Cleveland Indians (34-33; Last Week: 16)

16. San Diego Padres (33-36; Last Week: 12)

15. St. Louis Cardinals (33-33; Last Week: 14)

14. Colorado Rockies (36-32; Last Week: 15)

The Rockies are 13–5 in the last three weeks, which has moved them into second place for the first time so far this year. Part of that success, after all the shuffling from their early-season struggles? They finally have some stability, without a single position player on the IL.

13. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-33; Last Week: 17)

12. Oakland A’s (35-34; Last Week: 13)

11. Texas Rangers (36-32; Last Week: 11)

10. Boston Red Sox (36-34; Last Week: 8)

The Red Sox’ total number of position players used this year is actually below average. They’ve more than compensated with their pitching staff, however, which was struck by an early rash of injuries and shaky performances but has found some stability lately, as slumps have been shaken off and the ‘pen has worked its way into baseball’s 10 best in the last month.

9. Philadelphia Phillies (38-30; Last Week: 6)

8. Milwaukee Brewers (39-29; Last Week: 9)

7. Atlanta Braves (40-29; Last Week: 10)

6. Chicago Cubs (38-29; Last Week: 7)

5. New York Yankees (41-26; Last Week: 3)

The Yankees lead baseball in days spent on the IL in 2019, and they’ve done so for months. At 991 cumulative days, the team has lived collective years on the injured list in the span of just a few months. And, yet, they’ve made it work. With a surprising mix of guys who have stepped up and been called up, they’ve managed to lock down first place for the last month—and, finally, (some of) their luck is changing. Didi Gregorius has returned, and Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton should be back soon. In a week or so, the team might be as close to full strength as it’s been since the start of the year. Which might be truly frightening, given what it’s been able to do with (checks notes) Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin.

4. Tampa Bay Rays (41-27; Last Week: 5)

3. Minnesota Twins (45-22; Last Week: 4)

2. Houston Astros (46-23; Last Week: 2)

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (45-23; Last Week: 1)