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Dumpster Fire Division Update: Hello Tampa Bay

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There's been a change in everyone's favorite division.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dumpster Fire Division was created it was intended to give four of the worst teams in baseball something to play for (other than the 2017 #1 pick). At the time San Diego, Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Atlanta looked like perfect candidates. However, over the past few weeks something has become clear. San Diego likely won't finish as one of the four worst teams in baseball. They were .500 in June and are 8-6 so far in July. The loss of Drew Pomeranz will hurt in the short term, but the Padres don't feel like they belong to this group.

Had San Diego remained in the division they would have a 5.5 game lead on the second place team. Those familiar with Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Atlanta know that overcoming a 5.5 game deficit would be a tall order for any of them. In one of the saddest moments of the 2016 season I realized that Cincinnati had no chance of competing with a team that is 41-54 on July 21.

So what happens when one bad baseball team gets too good for his old friends? You make a new friend who didn't go away to college, get married, get a fancy degree, and forget all about you.

Let's meet our new friend.

In the previous update a vote was taken. Let's give a warm welcome to the Tampa Bay Rays who will hopefully make this division more competitive and enjoyable for everyone.

Wins

Losses

PCT

GB

L10

STRK

Tampa Bay

37

57

.394

-

3-7

W2

Cincinnati

36

59

.379

1.5

5-5

W1

Minnesota

35

59

.372

2

6-4

W2

Atlanta

33

62

.347

4.5

5-5

L1

How have these teams fared in July?

Tampa Bay Rays

On July 1 the Rays were 33-46. That's a bad record, but is it Dumpster Fire Division worthy? Since July 1 Tampa Bay has gone 4-12 to give them the 4th worst record in baseball (but first place in this division). For the month, they've scored the 5th fewest runs in the league (57) and have the 8th worst ERA (4.56). None of their team numbers are that bad, but recent series against the Red Sox, Orioles, and Tigers haven't helped.

Best Hitter: If you hadn't paid attention to the Rays in a while you might have just guessed that Evan Longoria was still their best hitter. For the month of July that guess would be accurate. Longoria is hitting .323/.338/.615 with 4 HR and 10 RBI. He'll will be 31 in October, and after two down seasons some wondered if he was on the decline. However, 2016 has been his best offensive season since 2012.

Best Pitcher: There were a few candidates for this spot, but we'll give the nod to rookie starter Blake Snell. In the month of July he has a 2.60 ERA (3.15 FIP). Over those three starts he's striking out 10.38 hitters per nine. His control could still use a little work (4.67 BB/9), but at twenty three years old he's given Tampa Bay fans something to be excited about for the foreseeable future.

Upcoming: The Rays head out west for four games in Oakland followed by two in LA against the Dodgers. They'll close out the month at home against the Yankees.

Cincinnati Reds

July hasn't been terrible for Cincinnati. They're 7-8 on the month, and we all remember where we were when the Reds take two out of three at Wrigley. The offense has been bottom ten in baseball by wRC+, and the starting rotation has the 4th worst ERA (5.44). However, in the biggest surprise of the season, the Reds bullpen has the 7th best ERA in this month at 2.62.

Best Hitter: Joseph. Daniel. Votto. All of the worries some fans (and one well known broadcaster) had regarding Votto have hopefully started to dissipate. Since the turn of the month Votto has hit .400/.541/.600 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. He's walked 24.6% of the time, and that all adds up to an absurd 207 wRC+. Sure, it's unlikely his .516 BABIP will hold up, but the early season worries about his production are hopefully gone at this point. Earlier today, Corinne Landrey of FanGraphs took some time to assess Votto's season.

Votto and Cozart are the only Reds hitters with wRC+'s north of 100 this month.

Best Pitcher: We mentioned above that the bullpen has been much improved this month. Raisel Iglesias has been a major reason for that improvement. He's worked 11.1 innings in July, he's yet to surrender a run, and opposing hitters are batting just .125 against him. It would be nice to get the 12.5% walk rate down, but he's clearly become a go-to reliever.

Upcoming: The Reds will host the Diamondbacks for three games before making a west coast trip to end the month. They'll face the Giants in San Francisco, and then head south to San Diego.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins check in at 10-6 this month, but that's not the biggest news coming out of Minnesota. Earlier this week the team fired GM Terry Ryan. The Twins success in July has been fueled by a top ten offense that has scored the second most runs in baseball (96). However, it's not only the offense that is contributing. Their starters have the 4th best ERA in the league this month. If this keeps up Minnesota could be well on its way to climbing the DFD standings (and giving the Reds a better draft pick).

Best Hitter: Earlier this month the Twins called up Kenny Vargas when Trevor Plouffe went to the DL with a rib injury. Few Twins fans likely expected Vargas to produce like he has at the major league level. In 11 games the 1B/DH has hit .306/.419/.722, and he's the only Twins hitter with a wOBA over .400. In a short period of time he's accumulated 0.5 fWAR, and Minnesota will be content to ride out this hot streak.

Max "Minnesota's Adam Duvall" Kepler has 7 HR and 20 RBI this month with a .290 OBP.

Best Pitcher: Ervin Santana has spent the month of July raising his trade value. In four starts the thirty three year old has a 1.95 ERA with a 2.82 FIP. He doesn't strike out a lot of batters, but he's held opponents to a .175 average. Recently he's been tied to the Red Sox as a potential landing spot.

Upcoming: The Twins head to Boston for four games at Fenway before hosting the Braves for two. They'll play a one game make up with the Orioles at home, then the White Sox come to town for three.

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta is 6-10 this month. They're still bad, but it's hard to give the Braves too much grief. Every team in this division is within five games of taking the title "worst record in baseball." If anything, they have to feel ever better about their trade with the Diamondbacks now that Shelby Miller has been sent to Triple-A.

Best Hitter: Adonis Garcia has been Atlanta's best July hitter. He's batting .323/.354/.500, and has a wRC+ of 130. I would tell you more about Atlanta's offense, but I'm at the point in this update where writing about the four worst teams in baseball makes me sad. Who decides to write about bad baseball all season?

Best Pitcher: It's probably between two relievers named Mauricio "Francisco" Cabrera and Dario "my first name means 'rich'" Alvarez. Sorry, I slipped in to "Famers Only I don't recognize some of these players, but here is a nickname" mode.

Upcoming: The Braves are in Colorado for four games followed by a quick two game series in Minnesota. They close out the month with the Phillies at home.

Just a little more than two months left of this...