Shepkowski: Assessing MLB Teams, Derby Style

Fictional horse names can tell us a lot about the start of each MLB team.

Nick Shepkowski
May 03, 2019 - 10:53 am

(670 The Score) Happy Kentucky Derby weekend. I won’t be celebrating it too wildly, besides putting a couple bucks on the 10 horse (because that’s what I always do) and will probably be much more focused on baseball for the majority of the weekend.

But what if instead of horses, your 30 MLB teams were running for the roses this Saturday? I guess they would need some horse names, don’t you think?

Without further adieu, your call to post:

Baltimore Orioles: At Least the Park is Nice
This is one of the saddest teams not just in baseball but all of sports. At least they’ve got Camden Yards!

Boston Red Sox: Flags Fly Forever
Every time you think the Red Sox are about to turn the page and get hot, they go out and do something mind-numbingly frustrating. Another example came Thursday night, when they coughed up a ninth-inning lead and were walked off by the White Sox. It's still a talented team, but you can’t help but think that most of Boston, with the Red Sox included, is still distracted by that new banner at Fenway Park.  

New York Yankees: M*A*S*H Unit
Every day you look up, it seems like another Yankee is headed to the injured list. Maybe they’ll get healthy soon and become just a Mash Unit, but until further notice, they’re a walking emergency room.

Tampa Bay Rays: Dirty Little Secret
Tampa has next to no payroll and hardly a name the general public would recognize, but the Rays carry the lowest ERA in in baseball and one of it’s highest winning percentages.  

Toronto Blue Jays: Your Blank’s Son!
We all know Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has made his debut as we now await his first homer and other firsts. But in Toronto’s system still sit Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. I bet you can guess who their fathers are.

Chicago White Sox: Not the Padre
Fernando Tatis Jr. was once a White Sox prospect and Manny Machado appeared headed to the South Side. Instead, both are now in San Diego while the White Sox fight through even more injuries to their most prized young arms.

Cleveland Indians: Slamming Shut
You hear that loud bang? It was the Indians' championship window slamming shut. Threatening to trade the likes of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer this past offseason stinks of a team that isn’t long to keep it’s core. If only the Indians had spent a little this offseason, then maybe that window would have stayed open a bit longer.

Detroit Tigers: Eyes on the Mize
The big league Tigers leave a lot to be desired, but help is on the way, mainly in the form of Casey Mize, who has allowed just one run in 35 innings split between high Class-A and Double-A this season.

Kansas City Royals: Speed Doesn’t Kill
Whit Merrifield, Terrance Gore, Billy Hamilton and Adalberto Mondesi would be the 4x100 relay winners if all teams competed in a track and field competition. Unfortunately for the Royals, this is baseball, and Kansas City is in for an extremely long summer.

Minnesota Twins: Someone’s Gotta Do It
The Indians did nothing this offseason while the Tigers, White Sox and Royals sit in the middle of rebuilds. As a result, the Twins sit atop the division standings and have the best record in baseball.

Houston Astros: Cruise Control
The Astros have looked like world beaters some days and mediocre at best on others. Yet they sit atop the division and appear to have no realistic threats to take their crown a month in.

Los Angeles Angels: Broken Halo
Mike Trout continues to be a generational talent, but the rest of the story isn’t so sweet in Southern California.

Oakland Athletics: Love the D
Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano are as exciting as defense gets in baseball. The problem is pitching and offense are still parts of the game, both of which the A’s have struggled with mightily.  

Seattle Mariners: Fading Fast
So much for the the Mariners' 13-2 start. Their offense can’t keep up with the pitching that can’t get outs. Seattle sit just 1.5 games out of first place in the AL West but is 5-12 over its last 17 games.

Texas Rangers: GallOMG
Joey Gallo has gone from pure slugger to a really damn good hitter this year. His 11 home runs lead the AL, and his OPS still sits just below 1.100. In terms of importance for this season, not much would mean more for the Rangers than Gallo becoming a star.

Atlanta Braves: Bargain Bin
Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies are now locked up for the long term and cost next to nothing by baseball standards. Perhaps the Braves can go spend some of that money on bullpen help now.

Miami Marlins: Fold the Franchise
Imagine trading Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna and getting pretty much nothing back for all three. Forget expansion, baseball shouldn’t even consider it until this embarrassment of an organization is done away with.

New York Mets: Handsome Pete!
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso was rewarded with an Opening Day roster spot, helping buck the recent trend in baseball. All he’s done is hit nine home runs and posted OPS of 1.010 in his first big league month. Now if the Mets could just get someone out, they'd be on to something -- they’ve allowed the second-most runs in the NL.

Philadelphia Phillies: ROI
Bryce Harper hasn’t provided the statistical boom the Phillies had hoped for early on, he’s already paid off at the box office, as no team has seen their home attendance grow more over last year. Philadelphia is averaging more than 9,000 more fans per game than just a year ago. Surely a first-place ball club doesn’t hurt that number either.

Washington Nationals: Rolaids
Anthony Rendon appears headed for a huge payday while the starting pitching has done what was expected. But the bullpen has been a complete disaster with an ERA that's 0.65 runs higher than anyone else in the NL and allows an OPS of just under .800.

Chicago Cubs: Don’t Call It A Comeback
The 1-6 start feels like so long ago. The Cubs have overcome a rough start, winning 14 of their last 19 and while carrying the best run differential in the NL.

Cincinnati Reds: Low Fuel Light
The Reds' pitching and defense have been solid, but Joey Votto has looked every bit of 35 years old, as he’s hit just three home runs and seen his OPS drop 88 points from last season.

Milwaukee Brewers: Kraving Kuechel
Owners of the worst starting rotation ERA in the NL and fewest innings per start, the Brewers could use some help in their rotation. If only there was someone out there who could provide that.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Power Outage
Seemingly everyone in baseball is hitting home runs at record paces. Except for those in Pittsburgh, as the Pirates' 23 home runs tie the Marlins for the fewest in the NL and trail only the Tigers for the fewest in baseball.

St. Louis Cardinals: Forever DeJong
Paul Goldschmidt was the huge acquisition, but Paul DeJong has been among the best players in the NL not named Cody Bellinger a month in. His 20 extra-base hits lead the team and are a huge reason the Cardinals have the best record in the NL.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Other Christian
After trading Goldschmidt, most thought Arizona would enter a full-on tank. Instead the Diamondbacks have been among baseball’s biggest surprises a month in with a good chunk of the reason being Christian Walker, Goldschmidt’s replacement who actually has an OPS 120 points higher than his predecessor.

Colorado Rockies: It’s the Climb
OK, so we’re quoting an old Miley Cyrus song, but the Rockies have gone from outhouse (3-12 start) to respectable (12-5 in their last 17). They still have a long way to go, but a team with back-to-back playoff experiences is starting to turn a corner.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Standard
The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988 but appear headed to their seventh straight NL West crown and are as loaded as anyone else in the NL. In other words, more status quo from the NL standard-bearer.

San Diego Padres: The Kids Can Play
The Padres' smoking hot start has slowed somewhat and Tatis is on the injured list, but they have a bright future and are doing the almost-impossible in bringing attention to San Diego baseball.

San Francisco Giants: Farewell Tour
This legendary horse is into it’s final furlong, as Bruce Bochy’s Hall of Fame career is coming to an end this year. If they gave managers the farewell gifts they give players, he’d have a summer full of receptions. Instead, he’ll sit through a rough last five months of baseball.

Nick Shepkowski is the executive producer of the McNeil & Parkins Show on 670 the Score in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter @Shep670.​