MLB stock watch: Is your team a buyer or a seller?

Between the weather, the strikeouts, the injuries, the underachieving teams, the teams not built to achieve this season in the first place, the pitchless intentional walks (still can't get used to that) and the sudden fixation on mound visits, April 2018 was ... interesting. Did I mention the weather? With the calendar turning to May and the weather in most regions finally reaching into the 70s, let's assume better days lie ahead.

While we have only a month and change in the books, we are only two full months of play away from baseball's annual non-waiver trade deadline. Before the season, we speculated about what teams would end up selling, buying or holding, while recognizing that few teams would actually settle into one bucket or another before any games had even been determined. Now, though, in this hyper-stratified environment, there already are a few teams that should pretty much know where they will be at the end of July, even if they aren't publicly willing to admit it.

With today's stock watch, for the first time this season we're using early results in conjunction with preseason expectations to group teams into those familiar buy, sell or hold buckets. Each team's current playoff odds from MLBPET -- my projection and tracking system -- are used to make these determinations. If you're currently at 60 percent or better, you're in the buy group. If your playoff chances have dipped under 10 percent, it's time to think about selling. The rest -- the hold group -- are teams still trying to figure out who they are. As are we all.

Within each group, the teams are ordered by their current chances to earn a spot in the postseason, based on season-to-date results and simulations of the remaining schedule. The simulations are based on MLBPET's internal power ranking system, which factors in each team's current roster strength, preseason forecast, schedule-adjusted run differential and recent trends.


New York Yankees

Opening Day win forecast: 95.8

Current win forecast: 102.3

Change: 6.5

Current playoff probability: 86.2%

Current championship probability: 18.6%

Doesn't it seem like everything the Yankees touch turns to gold these days? Lots of teams look forward to the graduation of their prospects.

Sometimes these touted rookies hit the ground running, sometimes they don't. For New York, it seems like they start in a sprint. After only 56 plate appearances, Gleyber Torres is already on pace to finish with 2.4 WAR, ranking 10th among rookies. On Sunday, he hit a dramatic game-winning homer off Cleveland closer Cody Allen. You have to be happy for those long-suffering Yankees fans.

Boston Red Sox

Opening Day win forecast: 92.0

Current win forecast: 100.1

Change: 8.1

Current playoff probability: 83.5%

Current championship probability: 13.0%

The biggest hole to be filled among the elite teams is probably the Red Sox's catching situation. Boston ranks 28th in WAR at second base, but it can hope that the eventual return of Dustin Pedroia can remedy that. Given the lack of holes on the Yankees' roster, Boston's dead-last ranking in catcher WAR is glaring, and without an obvious Pedroia-like solution. Among the obvious trade targets: Miami's J.T. Realmuto, who would draw a lot of interest if the Marlins get serious about moving him.

Houston Astros

Opening Day win forecast: 99.6

Current win forecast: 96.5

Change: -3.1

Current playoff probability: 75.4%

Current championship probability: 15.8%

The Astros still have the best on-paper roster in baseball. In fact, the roster component of my power ranking still has the Astros at 100.6 wins -- nearly six wins more than the second-place Yankees. Yet Houston is in a bit of a funk, losing five of six and eight of 13. The Astros have owned the best percentage chance of winning the World Series since my initial offseason run of simulations way back before winter meetings. That's no longer true: They've been passed by the Yankees. Yes, the Red Sox and Yankees are poised for a spirited run for the American League East title. But the eventual race between the Astros and Yankees for the AL's top postseason seed promises to be a great one.

Cleveland Indians

Opening Day win forecast: 95.4

Current win forecast: 89.1

Change: -6.3

Current playoff probability: 71.8%

Current championship probability: 7.4%

The Indians fell to .500 when Gleyber Torres hit that winning dinger on Sunday, and yet they still have a 70 percent chance of winning the AL Central. Sometimes it pays to keep questionable company. The average power ranking of the Indians' remaining opponents -- and we've still got 79 percent of the season to play -- is just 77.7 wins per 162 games, easily the worst in baseball.

St. Louis Cardinals

Opening Day win forecast: 87.3

Current win forecast: 93.0

Change: 5.7

Current playoff probability: 69.2%

Current championship probability: 7.2%

As excited as everyone is about the Diamondbacks, the Cardinals are on the verge of emerging as the team to beat in the National League. St. Louis has climbed to No. 6 overall in the power rankings, behind only the Cubs in the National League.

However, because of their superior run differential and current 3.5-game advantage on Chicago, St. Louis holds the NL's best odds for both making the postseason and winning the Central. And the Redbirds can look forward to adding Alex Reyes to the mix sometime in the near future.

Chicago Cubs

Opening Day win forecast: 94.6

Current win forecast: 89.7

Change: -4.9

Current playoff probability: 59.0%

Current championship probability: 6.9%

If the National League season were unfolding according to expectation, the Cubs would be in trouble. In other words, if the Nationals and Dodgers were running roughshod over everyone like we thought they would, the Cubs would be looking like a team being left behind in a top-heavy circuit. Instead, the league has much more parity than anyone could have foreseen, which is buying the Cubs time to iron out their inconsistencies.

First on the to-do list: Fixing Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish, who have both performed exactly at replacement level. If that continues, Wrigley Field will be cold and dark come October.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Opening Day win forecast: 83.4

Current win forecast: 89.5

Change: 6.1

Current playoff probability: 57.5%

Current championship probability: 4.1%

Even though Paul Goldschmidt isn't off to a great start, the Diamondbacks have still replaced the Dodgers as the favorite in the NL West. I'm not sure I'm a huge believer just yet. For one, as good as A.J. Pollock has been in his pre-injury past and again so far this season, he's not the 10-WAR juggernaut he's on pace to become in 2018.

I'm also not sure Patrick Corbin can maintain his current pace, and a regression would further expose a lack of rotation depth, with the group missing Taijuan Walker and, for the time being, Robbie Ray. Still, Goldschmidt likely will get back to his normal level, Jake Lamb should eventually get healthy and Shelby Miller could be a rotation option before the season is out. It won't be much longer before I just have to accept that my system has underrated the Diamondbacks.


Washington Nationals

Opening Day win forecast: 91.4

Current win forecast: 88.4

Change: -3.0

Current playoff probability: 57.4%

Current championship probability: 6.0%

While the Dodgers can no longer be looked at as the favorite in the NL West, the Nationals are heating up and have never really lost their favorite's status in the East. Since falling to a season-worst record (10-14) and run differential (minus-10) on April 24, the Nats have gone 8-3 with a plus-33 differential.

Meanwhile, Anthony Rendon is back from the disabled list, and Washington can look forward to future boosts from injury returnees Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton. For these positive trends to continue, Washington needs to find answers for a bullpen made thin by a rash of injuries. Having a Doolittle at the top of the pecking order certainly bolsters any unit's depth chart, but there is only so much we can do.

Los Angeles Angels

Opening Day win forecast: 84.8

Current win forecast: 89.7

Change: 4.9

Current playoff probability: 51.5%

Current championship probability: 3.6%

Albert Pujols. Shohei Ohtani. No team has been richer in compelling storylines this season than the Angels. Most of them have been positive stories, which is always nice.

Still, zeroing in on the headline-makers obscures the fact that the Angels are off to a terrific start overall and currently have a better-than-even shot at the playoffs. Mike Trout is on pace for a ridiculous 14.3 WAR, which would rank second all time to Babe Ruth's 1923 campaign. Second. All. Time. The usual caveat after observing such an extreme pace this early in the schedule is something like, "Of course, he won't maintain those numbers." I'm not adding the qualifier for Trout. I have no idea what he's going to do, but I can't wait to find out.

Milwaukee Brewers

Opening Day win forecast: 81.8

Current win forecast: 85.9

Change: 4.1

Current playoff probability: 41.6%

Current championship probability: 1.5%

Milwaukee's average win total in my simulations has ranged from 80.3 to 88.0 just since Opening Day, which is to say it's hard to get a read on the Brewers at this point. Only three teams have more projected WAR on the disabled list than Milwaukee does at the moment. Eric Thames, Stephen Vogt, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson and Corey Knebel are all missing from the roster due to one malady or another.

Yet the Brewers are five games over .500. As the roster gets whole, we'll start to see if general manager David Stearns' offseason push is going to pay off. What should help that cause is a group of position players who should regress in the good way and a team defense that is on pace to lead the majors with 111 runs saved.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Opening Day win forecast: 96.0

Current win forecast: 84.5

Change: -11.5

Current playoff probability: 38.5%

Current championship probability: 3.1%

This season is the result of the Curse of Bernie. As in Bernie Sanders, the uber-progressive former presidential candidate. Sanders, a Brooklyn native, paid a visit to Camelback Ranch in March and proceeded to rant about the Dodgers' move west, which, if you haven't been counting, took place 60 years ago. Seems like things have been going wrong for the Dodgers ever since.

And if you are stunned by the downturn in the Dodgers' win forecast as illustrated above, consider this: It doesn't account for a lengthy absence from Clayton Kershaw, if that were to occur.

Colorado Rockies

Opening Day win forecast: 78.0

Current win forecast: 83.8

Change: 5.8

Current playoff probability: 34.6%

Current championship probability: 1.7%

The Rockies' starting rotation continues to excel, ranking fourth in WAR so far this season. When you compare the performances of Jon Gray, German Marquez, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland to things like their preseason forecasts and fielding-independent indicators, there is little reason to think this won't continue, given health.

The bullpen has been thin in terms of quantity, though the quality has been propped up by Wade Davis and Adam Ottavino. The Rockies need more, especially from Jake McGee. But it's the position players who really need to pull their weight. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu have been terrific, but they need some help.

Seattle Mariners

Opening Day win forecast: 80.8

Current win forecast: 85.2

Change: 4.4

Current playoff probability: 33.4%

Current championship probability: 2.2%

The Mariners have played well, though their standing as playoff contender is shaky. Seattle has been outscored on the season, and Scott Servais' crew has gotten a lot of mileage out of situational success, not the kind of thing that is easy to spin forward.

Servais also has gotten a lot of mileage out of his Edwin Diaz-led bullpen, and the rotation has gotten elite work from James Paxton. Still, it's hard to see the Mariners going anywhere if Felix Hernandez continues to perform below replacement level.

San Francisco Giants

Opening Day win forecast: 78.4

Current win forecast: 83.3

Change: 4.9

Current playoff probability: 33.2%

Current championship probability: 1.8%

Don't look now, but the Giants are the hottest team in the National League. San Francisco has won eight of nine games and 11 of 13, yet during the latter span, it has improved its run differential by only eight runs. One of the losses was a 15-2 thumping by the Nationals.

Still, the Giants have been among baseball's clutchest teams, which makes for good stories and so-so projections. Nevertheless, the Giants have remained in the chase without Madison Bumgarner, not something I expected to happen. Monday's news that San Francisco could be without Johnny Cueto for as long as two months certainly does not help.

Atlanta Braves

Opening Day win forecast: 73.2

Current win forecast: 83.0

Change: 9.8

Current playoff probability: 33.1%

Current championship probability: 1.5%

Just when the baseball seemed to wake up to what's going on in Atlanta, the Braves get swept at home in a weekend series at SunTrust Field. That serves as a reminder that Atlanta's rise to the top is unlikely to be a straight ascent. There will be ebbs and flows, and Washington remains the team to beat in the division. Yet is there any fan base in baseball with more reason to be excited right now than that in Atlanta?

Philadelphia Phillies

Opening Day win forecast: 80.4

Current win forecast: 82.5

Change: 2.1

Current playoff probability: 30.8%

Current championship probability: 1.3%

The Phillies have been good, which isn't a surprise to me, particularly, but it has been viewed as unexpected in some quadrants. However, there are reasons to be concerned that the good start won't continue. The position group should be fine offensively, if Carlos Santana, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr can collectively climb over replacement level.

My big concern about the Phillies surrounds some hard-to-believe defensive metrics. As in they are, like, really bad. Philadelphia is on pace to finish with minus-118 defensive runs saved this season. Only the Orioles are worse. According to billjamesonline.com, only the center-field position -- mainly occupied by Odubel Herrera -- has been better than average. Plus, the Phillies have lost nine runs due to Gabe Kapler's shifting. The rest of the majors is at plus-100 in DRS credited to shifts because, you know, shifts are supposed to save runs. There is too much athleticism on the Phillies' roster for this to be happening.

Minnesota Twins

Opening Day win forecast: 82.9

Current win forecast: 79.0

Change: -3.9

Current playoff probability: 26.5%

Current championship probability: 1.0%

The Twins are treading water right now as their playoff odds continue to move in the wrong direction. Minnesota won the last three games of a four games series in Chicago over the weekend to move back within four games of .500.

Still, the next two weeks are huge because the Twins won't have any AL Central patsies to fatten up on in a while. The Twins play the Cardinals (twice), Angels and Brewers before the Tigers visit Target Field on May 21. Minnesota has to stay afloat while awaiting the returns of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Ervin Santana.

Toronto Blue Jays

Opening Day win forecast: 79.4

Current win forecast: 82.6

Change: 3.2

Current playoff probability: 23.3%

Current championship probability: 0.5%

The Blue Jays already are on the verge of being consigned to the race for the AL's second wild card. But Toronto can stay in that race if the rotation can get back somewhere near the level it was forecast to be. The starters rank 27th in WAR at the moment, after looking more like a middle-of-the-pack group entering the season. Let's face it, though, if there is a jolt to be put into the Toronto quest, it's to be found in the bat of the Baby Impaler. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting .398/.455/.624, and Canadians are already in love with him.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Opening Day win forecast: 76.4

Current win forecast: 79.5

Change: 3.1

Current playoff probability: 20.4%

Current championship probability: 0.5%

If the Pirates are really trying to tank, they're doing a terrible job of it. Here's one reason this might be happening: Former Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen is on pace to finish with 2.9 WAR for San Francisco. Current Pirates outfielder Corey Dickerson, ostensibly McCutchen's replacement, is on pace for 6.9 WAR. That's the same pace that catcher Francisco Cervelli is on. Pittsburgh leads the majors in WAR at those two positions.

The rotation misses the Pittsburgh version of Gerrit Cole, not to mention the Houston version of him, but the starters have been respectable even though Joe Musgrove has yet to pitch in a game.

New York Mets

Opening Day win forecast: 82.3

Current win forecast: 79.3

Change: -3.0

Current playoff probability: 20.1%

Current championship probability: 0.8%

Remember when this team was 11-1? It has been a stunning crash for the Mets, one that could accelerate if Jacob deGrom ends up missing more than a start or two and if Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier regress to their established norms. New York has lost six straight heading into its series at Cincinnati. If it gets even worse against the lowly Reds, then the free fall could be on.

Oakland Athletics

Opening Day win forecast: 76.0

Current win forecast: 80.9

Change: 4.9

Current playoff probability: 19.7%

Current championship probability: 0.7%

The Oakland position group has been very good, especially at the plate. Matt Chapman and Jed Lowrie have been two of the better players in baseball in the early going, and Jonathan Lucroy has proved to be a worthy free-agent addition.

Think how much better the Athletics' outlook would be if Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman had not pitched his way back into the minors.

Tampa Bay Rays

Opening Day win forecast: 80.0

Current win forecast: 79.2

Change: -0.8

Current playoff probability: 16.8%

Current championship probability: 0.6%

There were two Daniel Robertsons in the majors last season, one for Cleveland and one for Tampa Bay. I admit, they were both so nondescript in my mind that you could have physically switched them out between games of a doubleheader and I would not have known the difference. No longer.

The Rays' Daniel Robertson has been one of the breakout performers of the young season. Robertson is hitting .295/.439/.487 in the early going while spending time at all four infield positions -- and throwing a scoreless inning on the mound during a blowout. Robertson has become much more selective at the plate and now averages as many pitches per plate appearance as Aaron Judge.


Detroit Tigers

Opening Day win forecast: 66.4

Current win forecast: 67.3

Change: 0.9

Current playoff probability: 4.4%

Current championship probability: 0.1%

The Tigers aren't really trying this year, at least not in terms of the quality of talent that Al Avila is putting on the field. Nevertheless, Detroit is "only" five games under .500, which in the AL Central has you within 2.5 games of first place. The Tigers are, amazingly, still making the playoffs in only three out of every 100 simulations, which tells you a lot about how the roster stacks up.

That's why when you look at Detroit's early success stories, you're more interested in what they might mean in the seller's market than in a potential pennant chase. The Tigers' best player has been Jeimer Candelario, who is a future piece. But the second best has been journeyman center fielder Leonys Martin; if you can get any kind of future asset for him, do it. Do it now. The Giants, for one, could use a performer at that position. In the bullpen, Shane Greene, Daniel Stumpf and Joe Jimenez could hold some value in the marketplace.

Kansas City Royals

Opening Day win forecast: 68.8

Current win forecast: 65.0

Change: -3.8

Current playoff probability: 3.0%

Current championship probability: 0.1%

That the Royals currently have a nonzero chance at a title is one of the more surprising results of my most recent run of simulations. We can't get carried away; it's a 0.1 percent chance, but nonzero is nonzero. It means there is a parallel universe out there somewhere where it will happen.

Hopefully, the Kansas City of that realm is not as humid as the one in our world. Anyway, Alex Gordon has re-emerged as a better-than-average hitter, and Jorge Soler could be playing his way onto the All-Star roster. With a rotation that is at least stable and a dynamic closer in Kelvin Herrera (trade him now), things could be worse in Year 1 of the Royals' latest rebuild.

San Diego Padres

Opening Day win forecast: 70.3

Current win forecast: 68.2

Change: -2.1

Current playoff probability: 2.5%

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Despite the big contract given to Eric Hosmer during the offseason -- one that Hos has started to earn with his recent surge -- it's still all about the future in San Diego. And if you look at rookie WAR as an indication of an organizational successfully transitioning minor league potential into major league production, then it has been a great start for the Padres.

The Padres are on pace to get 11.1 WAR from rookies this season, 3.2 more WAR than any other team. (Atlanta is second.) Christian Villanueva's hot start might not last, but right now, he has to be the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. The Padres also have received key rookie-year contributions from Adam Cimber, Franchy Cordero, Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer.

Texas Rangers

Opening Day win forecast: 74.7

Current win forecast: 69.0

Change: -5.7

Current playoff probability: 2.3%

Current championship probability: 0.0%

There just isn't much to be excited about when it comes to this year's Rangers. They have played poorly, as suggested by Texas' minus-51 run differential. They've been battered by injuries, with only the Dodgers currently dealing with more projected WAR on the disabled list. And that they've done this against baseball's toughest schedule (average opponent power ranking of 87.4) is little consolation. It's not going to get any easier in the stacked AL West.

Delino DeShields has played very well in center field since returning from injury. That's about all I got.

Chicago White Sox

Opening Day win forecast: 68.7

Current win forecast: 63.2

Change: -5.5

Current playoff probability: 1.7%

Current championship probability: 0.0%

It has been a slog for the White Sox. The pitching has been awful. The crowds have been sparse. The chocolate chip cookies in the press box have tended to disappear fast, leaving only oatmeal raisin and peanut butter to choose from.

The highlight of Chicago's season to date, besides all the homers that the White Sox have hit in Kansas City, has been the play of Yoan Moncada. He briefly climbed into the top 20 in WAR before turning up with a sore hamstring. Moncada is now on the disabled list. There will be some good moments this season for the White Sox, some glimpses of the better days that lie ahead. For now, it just feels like everybody is waiting on Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech and the rest to make their way to the South Side.

Miami Marlins

Opening Day win forecast: 63.8

Current win forecast: 65.1

Change: 1.3

Current playoff probability: 1.3%

Current championship probability: 0.0%

Miami is in the midst of a good time sequence, a concept floated by film director Paul Thomas Anderson. That's the part of the movie, usually told in a collage, between the resolution of one conflict and start of a bigger one that sets up the rest of the movie. According to Bill James' team temperature metric, the Marlins are at 80.4 degrees, a season high.

To be sure, the Marlins are healthier than they were at the season's outset. Since coming off the DL, J.T. Realmuto has raked at the plate. Meanwhile, rookie starter Caleb Smith is striking out 12.6 batters per nine innings, reliever Drew Steckenrider has been a weapon and shortstop Miguel Rojas leads all of baseball with 7 defensive runs saved.

Cincinnati Reds

Opening Day win forecast: 74.7

Current win forecast: 63.7

Change: -11.0

Current playoff probability: 0.7%

Current championship probability: 0.0%

There hasn't been much in the way of good time sequences for the last two teams in the stock watch. The Reds' pitching is once again almost impossibly bad. The starters rank 29th in WAR, and the overall staff ranks 30th in ERA+.

Among the position players, Joey Votto has gone back to being Joey Votto, and Eugenio Suarez has been terrific once again. But with so little competent pitching, it all feels so futile.

Baltimore Orioles

Opening Day win forecast: 72.7

Current win forecast: 61.6

Change: -11.1

Current playoff probability: 0.3%

Current championship probability: 0.0%

The Orioles' rotation figured to be bad, and it is: 25th in starters' WAR and 27th in ERA+. The defense figured to be shaky, but not like this: Baltimore is on pace to finish with minus-133 defensive runs saved. It's 22 runs worse than any other team. However, the worst thing about this struggling team is the fact that the offense -- expected to be the team's strength -- ranks 29th in OPS+. The Baltimore position players rank 28th or lower by WAR at catcher, first base, second base, third base, left field and center field. In right field, the ranking is 26th.

The one bright spot is the No. 4 ranking at shortstop, courtesy of Manny Machado, who must have been the inspiration for "Gulliver's Travels." Yes, the Orioles should trade him. But if and when they do, just how ugly is this going to get?