MLB Standings ordered by first inning leads: Phillies dominant, Cardinals room for improvement (2024)

Every inning in a MLB game is crucial, obviously, but the first inning feels like it holds more weight than most. Getting off to a good start is so important for teams that want to win.

Getting off to a strong start often means having a strong top of the lineup, and good starting pitching. Bullpens can always blow games, but it's certainly easier to win games that you begin leading rather than having to come back.

With that in mind, here's what the MLB standings would look like if games ended in the first inning. Spoiler alert, a lot of the good teams are at or near the top, unsurprisingly.

games leading and trailing after the 1st inning pic.twitter.com/YmUO18hCnW

— BrooksGate (@Brooks_Gate) July 1, 2024

NOTE: The graphic above is from July 1, so updates were made. The stats below are from before the games on Wednesday, July 3.

AL East

Rank

Team

First Inning Lead Differential

Current Record

1

New York Yankees

+14

54-33

2

Baltimore Orioles

+5

54-31

3

Boston Red Sox

+5

45-39

4

Tampa Bay Rays

-1

43-42

5

Toronto Blue Jays

-3

39-46

This statistic perfectly encapsulates this New York Yankees team. They're led predominantly by the top of their order consisting of Anthony Volpe, Juan Soto, and Aaron Judge. The rest of their order leaves a ton to be desired. They often score in the first with Soto and Judge contributing largely, and then struggle to score the rest of the game when having to rely on others. Their rotation, for the most part, has been elite this season as well, explaining their very strong first inning lead differential.

AL Central

Rank

Team

First Inning Lead Differential

Current Record

1

Kansas City Royals

+5

47-40

2

Detroit Tigers

+1

38-47

3

Minnesota Twins

48-37

4

Cleveland Guardians

-2

53-30

5

Chicago White Sox

-3

24-63

The Cleveland Guardians are an anomaly. Can you believe that their first inning lead differential is closer to the 24-62 Chicago White Sox than it is to being even? The Guardians are a team in need of rotation help but with a formidable lineup and a really strong bullpen. Their bullpen keeps them in games that they eventually tend to pull out late, as they did on Tuesday despite trailing after the first inning.

AL West

Rank

Team

First Inning Lead Differential

Current Record

1

Texas Rangers

+5

39-46

2

Seattle Mariners

+4

47-40

3

Houston Astros

+1

43-42

4

Los Angeles Angels

-4

36-48

5

Oakland Athletics

-19

31-56

The Texas Rangers are the polar opposite of the Guardians. They can score first inning runs, often with the likes of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager playing a big role. Their starting rotation has been above league average. Their issue is the bullpen, particularly in the middle innings. David Robertson and Kirby Yates are mostly fine late in games if the Rangers enter the late innings with a lead, but they've failed to do so more often than not, which explains their lousy record.

NL East

Rank

Team

First Inning Lead Differential

Current Record

1

Philadelphia Phillies

+18

56-29

2

New York Mets

+7

42-41

3

Atlanta Braves

+1

46-37

4

Washington Nationals

-5

39-46

5

Miami Marlins

-13

30-55

It should not be a surprise that the Philadelphia Phillies have the best first inning lead differential in the majors. Their rotation has been one of if not the best in the game. Their lineup at the top of the order on most nights when healthy consists of Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, and Bryce Harper. They're built to score and prevent runs early in games, making them extremely dangerous.

NL Central

Rank

Team

First Inning Lead Differential

Current Record

1

Chicago Cubs

+2

39-47

2

Pittsburgh Pirates

+2

40-44

3

Cincinnati Reds

-1

40-45

4

St. Louis Cardinals

-9

44-40

5

Milwaukee Brewers

-10

51-35

Jed Hoyer. Please, get this Chicago Cubs team some bullpen help. This statistic shows how important having a good bullpen is. Teams like the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are over .500 thanks in large part to their bullpens securing late-game wins. The Cubs have one of the best rotations in the majors, but their bullpen is so awful to the point that despite them getting early leads, they're still in last place in the division.

NL West

Rank

Team

First Inning Lead Differential

Current Record

1

Arizona Diamondbacks

+13

41-44

2

Los Angeles Dodgers

+10

53-33

3

San Diego Padres

-3

46-43

4

Colorado Rockies

-10

29-56

5

San Francisco Giants

-10

42-44

The Arizona Diamondbacks are third in the majors in first inning runs per game and second in the majors in opponent's first inning runs per game. Seven of the eight best teams on that graphic are above .500. The Diamondbacks are the exception. They're elite in the first, and struggle as the games progress. Their bullpen has been decent late in games with Paul Sewald having a great year when healthy, but getting to Sewald has sometimes been an issue for Arizona. That's something that's going to have to change if they want to get back to the postseason let alone the World Series this season.

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MLB Standings ordered by first inning leads: Phillies dominant, Cardinals room for improvement (2024)
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