MLB Power Rankings (4/23)

1) Boston Red Sox (17-4) Same

Despite being no-hit on Saturday night, the Red Sox completed another successful week since we last spoke, buoyed by a convincing sweep of the Angels in which they outscored the Halos 27-3 in three games. Boston is off today after which they head up to Toronto for a divisional clash with the Blue Jays, but after that they host both Tampa Bay and Kansas City, meaning this hot start is unlikely to end anytime soon.

2) Houston Astros  (16-7) 1

After a sluggish second week the defending champions bounced back in a big way, as after falling to Seattle last Monday they’ve now won five in a row ahead of their division clash with Mike Trout and the Angels.

3) Cleveland Indians (11-8) 2

The Tribe split a bizarre two day affair in Puerto Rico with the Twins, likely their greatest threat in the AL Central, then played well in Baltimore over the weekend, winning twice in three days. Cleveland’s record is not dominant, but this is a team that hasn’t been home in two weeks and has suffered through miserable weather early on. Beginning Tuesday they play 11 straight at Progressive Field, where I believe you’ll begin to see this AL powerhouse take off.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks (15-6) 2

How about the Diamondbacks? Discounted by some during spring training, all the Snakes have done is win, to the tune of the National League’s best record at 15-6. Behind a well rounded offensive attack Arizona just completed a 5-1 week beating up on divisional foes San Francisco and San Diego, and they’re doing it for the most part without slugging third baseman Jake Lamb who has played in only four games thus far. After an off day today the Diamondbacks head east to play Philadelphia and Washington, and we’ll see how well they can maintain this level of play during their first cross country road trip.

5) New York Mets (14-6) 1

The Mets just went 2-4 in their recently completed week, but that record could easily have been the other way around. Ace Jacob deGrom threw 7 1/3 dazzling innings last Monday against Washington, leaving with a 6-1 lead, and Saturday he dominated Atlanta for 7 innings, leaving with a 3-0 advantage. Both times the Mets to this point unflappable bullpen let the games get away, and while that trend will have to cease to continue, this is still clearly a talented team that consistently puts themselves in a position to win.

6) St. Louis Cardinals (13-8) 6

It took over three weeks for a team in the NL Central to make a statement to their rivals, and surprising to some, it was both the Cardinals and Brewers doing it simultaneously, and not the Cubs. St. Louis split a series with the aforementioned Cubs that was seriously disrupted by the conditions in the mid-west, before easily sweeping away the Reds over the weekend. Tomorrow night they open a home series with the Mets with an opportunity to extract a little revenge, as New York beat them up pretty well over opening day weekend.

7) Milwaukee Brewers (14-9) 6

Like I just mentioned a little bit above, the Cardinals began to play better last week but so did the Brewers, a trendy playoff pick in March who has begun to show why. Aided by the return of Christian Yelich from the DL, Milwaukee has won six straight games over bottom feeders Cincinnati and Miami. The schedule is still pretty kind in the days ahead, as after a pair of games in Kansas City the Brewers get a four game weekend series with the Cubs, a golden opportunity to further bury a struggling division foe. And regardless of how they fare in Chicago, playing the Reds again immediately afterwards provides a nice landing spot.

8) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (14-8) 6

Only the Orioles fell more than the Angels since this time last week, and they’ll have to get their act together immediately to keep the free fall from continuing. Anaheim was embarrassed at home by the Red Sox for three straight days before continuing to struggle against San Francisco, and while Mike Trout leads the Majors with nine homers, he’ll need his teammates to pick it up against Houston and the Yankees in the week ahead.

9) Chicago Cubs (10-9) Same

The Cubs are this potentially dominant team we keep waiting for to take off, but for at least another week, it just never happened. Chicago went just 3-2 last week, playing only five games due to two rain outs with the Cardinals, but the greater concern for this club is the status of star third baseman Kris Bryant, who left the game yesterday after being hit in the head with a pitch. Preliminary tests showed no sings of a concussion but the situation bears watching, especially with the Cubs facing a tough road ahead, playing Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Colorado in their next three series.

10) Toronto Blue Jays (13-8) Same

For months this winter the Blue Jays kept hearing about how good both the Yankees and Red Sox would be, and it had to give them an edge they’ve had on display for the first several weeks. After sweeping the Royals early last week, Toronto completed their second four game split with the Yankees already this season, and while they’ve proven they can compete evenly with their rivals in the Bronx, let’s see what happens in their first face-off with Boston, beginning tomorrow night.

11) Colorado Rockies (12-11) 3

The Rockies have kind of been cruising right around .500 all year, and while good teams find a way to do that when they aren’t playing well, they also eventually break through with a strong winning streak. The Rockies appear to have the talent to go on one of those runs, but it didn’t help when Carlos Gonzalez just landed on the DL yesterday. The schedule may be what gives Colorado the boost they need however, as their next six games are against the Padres and Marlins, a stretch this team just has to dominate if they want to be taken seriously.

12) Philadelphia Phillies (14-7) 6

I guess Phillies’ fans don’t have to put their heads in the oven after all, huh? After rookie manager Gabe Kapler’s tenure got off to about as bad a start as possible, Philadelphia has responded, and they’re arguably the hottest team in the NL right now. Kapler and company just pulled off a four game home sweep off Pittsburgh, completed on an Aaron Altherr walk-off hit in extra innings yesterday, and they’re currently right there in both the NL East division race, and the NL Wild Card chase. It remains to be seen if they can keep this up but it is clear Philly has been a fun team to watch either way, and following the Eagles Super Bowl win last February sports fans in the City of Brotherly love are feeling overly optimistic.

13) Minnesota Twins (8-8) 6

While the Angels struggles over the past week gained more publicity, another AL contender experienced a similar slip; the Twins. Minnesota is coming off an embarrassing three game weekend sweep at the hands of Tampa Bay, and they’ll have to snap out of it and rebound as they begin a four game series in the Bronx tonight.

14) New York Yankees (11-9) 3

Speaking of the team that resides in the Bronx, the Yankees are the other participants in an interesting early week match-up, as both the Twins and Yanks struggled over the past week and both need to turn it on. New York went 3-3 in their most recent six contests, and the most interesting part of their week was the promotion of top prospect Gleyber Torres. They’ll have to hope he can be the jump start they need as the road ahead is not kind, with consecutive series against the Twins, Angels, and Astros.

15) Los Angeles Dodgers (10-10) 2

The defending NL Champs finally began showing some signs of life last week, and you’d have to believe it’s a sign of things to come. LA swept San Diego and then took 2/3 from the Nationals, and their hot streak should continue with their next seven games coming against the Marlins and Giants.

16) Seattle Mariners (11-9) 2

I wrote this last week, but the Mariners really are this team perpetually stuck in no man’s land. They’re undoubtedly talented, but clearly not as good as Houston or the Angels, something that was on display when the lost three out of four to the Astros last week. Until they can prove otherwise, this is a team that will probably continually be right in the middle of the pack in these weekly rankings.

17) Atlanta Braves (12-8) 2

The Braves early season success has been somewhat surprising, but more than anything it’s been how they’re accomplishing it. Atlanta’s offense is currently 4th in the Majors in runs/game with 5.5, a shocking number considering their most potent right handed bat is currently Kurt Suzuki. Undoubtedly that is what led them to sign Jose Bautista and begin trying to turn him into a third baseman in the minor leagues, and who knows, if that works perhaps we have to start taking Atlanta more seriously.

18) Washington Nationals (10-12) 2

Washington survived the past week against two contending teams, going 3-3 against the Mets and Dodgers, but for a team that was a trendy World Series pick, simply surviving is far from the goal. The Nationals still have yet to get Daniel Murphy back from the DL, and they clearly botched Anthony Rendon’s injury situation, as he’s literally missed the past nine games without being placed on the disabled list, causing rookie manager Davey Martinez to play shorthanded.

19) Pittsburgh Pirates (12-10) 4

The Pirates are this high on this list solely out of respect for how they played during the season’s first two weeks, but it’s becoming more and more clear that had to have been a mirage. Fresh off a four game sweep at the hands of the Phillies, Pittsburgh will regroup during the day off today before opening a home stand against the Tigers and Cardinals.

20) Oakland Athletics (11-11) 5

How awesome was that no hitter by Sean Manaea on Saturday night? The A’s southpaw has been arguably the American League’s best pitcher through his first five starts, pitching to a 1.23 ERA with a 0.60 WHIP. Unfortunately his no-no will likely be the high point of Oakland’s season in general as that aren’t expected to be uber competitive, but that’s why baseball is so awesome. Good for him.

21) San Francisco Giants (9-12) 3

The Giants fared okay last week, going 3-3 against Arizona and Anaheim, and while Andrew McCutchen has continued to struggle, Evan Longoria at least picked it up a little bit. If this team is going to have any chance they have to stay around .500 until they can get Madison Bumgarner back from the disabled list, and Johnny Cueto has actually done a nice job leading the rotation in his wake.

22) Detroit Tigers (9-11) 4

The Tigers had probably been the team most affected by April’s unruly weather during the season’s first two weeks, and during their first week uninterrupted by rain and snow, they actually played pretty well. Detroit swept the Orioles before splitting a 4 game set with Kansas City, a series highlighted by JaCoby Jones contributing a walk-off homerun.

23) San Diego Padres (8-15) Same

The Padres are not a good team but they’d been staying competitive do to a pitching staff that was performing towards the top of the league in the first two weeks of 2018. That came to a crashing halt last week, as San Diego gave up 30 runs in 3 games while being swept by the Dodgers, before losing two of three to Arizona over the weekend. The road ahead isn’t any more inviting as they’ll visit the Rockies before coming home to play the Mets.

24) Texas Rangers (8-15) 2

The Rangers early on have looked in large part like a shell of the team we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Arlington, and when you think about it, they kind of are. They no longer have the benefit of throwing Yu Darvish every 5th day, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are currently injured, and Adrian Beltre has hit only one homerun. On the pitching side Cole Hamels has been getting rocked, which is a problem for Texas, because he may be their most marketable piece come July.

25) Tampa Bay Rays (8-13) 3

After a downright disastrous start to 2018 the Rays have rebounded of late, and actually went 5-1 this past week. Tampa Bay took two out of three from Texas before completely an eye opening sweep against the Twins over the weekend, and they’ll look to continue their winning ways against the free-falling Orioles beginning tomorrow.

26) Chicago White Sox (4-14) 6

The South-siders have not won since we last spoke last week, and the fact that they didn’t fall further on this list says more about the teams around them. The White Sox were swept by both Oakland and Houston, and were outscored by an embarrassing 57-16 margin in those six contests. The road ahead holds games with the Mariners and Royals, and its obvious this team is becoming one opposing squads look forward to playing.

27) Kansas City Royals (5-15) Same

So far Kansas City has been everything they were expected to be. Not very good. As I said last week, the only real bright spot for this team has been the play of third baseman Mike Moustakas. The long-time Royal currently holds a 14 game hitting streak and is batting .318 with six long balls and 17 RBI’s. If he can keep that production up the Royals will be holding a very attractive bat at the trading deadline.

28) Baltimore Orioles (6-16) 7

If you recall last week, I tried to give the Orioles the benefit of the doubt regarding their poor start, as their season opening schedule had been absolutely brutal. After getting swept by the Tigers and drastically outplayed by Cleveland, however, it is becoming obvious this is a bad team, whose biggest story line won’t even play out on the field. Manny Machado hit two homers in the loss yesterday, indicative of the situation I’m about to allude to. Machado is the only draw this team has, a bonafide star on a sinking ship. Due to be a free-agent at season’s end, will Baltimore attempt to get a bidding war for him started in July? Stay tuned.

29) Miami Marlins (5-16) Same

The Marlins are off to a terrible start, but not the historically terrible start many were predicting for them. They did win twice last week, beating both the Yankees and Brewers once, but more losing is likely in store beginning tonight, as Miami opens a three game set in LA against the Dodgers.

30) Cincinnati Reds (3-18) Same

While Miami has managed to avoid it so far, their fellow National League cellar-dwellers in Cincinnati are the ones off to a historically awful beginning. The Reds are currently on pace to go something like 30-132, which would be 10 fewer wins than the lowest total in history. That is obviously a long ways away, but if things don’t start getting at least a little bit better, maybe Cincinnati fans will be able to pay attention to a race after all. Hey, it’s the little things.