MLB Power Rankings (5/21)

Check out last week’s Power Rankings

1) New York Yankees (30-13) Same

The Yankees hardly played this past week as the deluge of rain that plagued the Northeast for days completely washed away their series with the Nationals. Over the weekend they did take two of three from the woeful Royals in Kansas City, and most notable in that series was the strong start Sonny Gray turned in yesterday as he had really been struggling. Overall New York has now taken eight consecutive series after a so-so beginning to 2018, and despite Boston being right on their heels, the Bombers remain the clear cut number one this week.

2) Boston Red Sox (32-15) Same

Boston is currently just percentage points behind the Yankees for the best record in baseball, and likewise they remain a virtual second number one team on this list. The ‘Sox recently completed week got off to a bumpy start when they dropped consecutive home games to Oakland, but they rallied to take four of their next five to further entrench themselves as one of the top teams in the league. Up next for Mookie Betts and company is a date with division rival Tampa Bay before returning home to face the red hot Atlanta Braves next weekend.

3) Houston Astros (30-18) Same

Any MLB insider would assuredly tell you that the top three teams in baseball right now are the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros, and the only thing left to determine would be how you’d rank those three. I’m sticking with the same order as last week, keeping the defending champions at number three, but the gap between these three clubs and 4-30 is significant. Last week Houston took series from both the Angels and Indians, two clubs many insiders predicted would join the aforementioned Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox in the postseason in October. The thing that makes the Astros so tough is they never really seem to have an off night, and play well even in their losses. This team’s last three defeats have all been by a skinny run, and they haven’t been beat by more than two in almost three weeks.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (28-19) 1

The Brew Crew have quietly been the most consistent team in the National League this year, and they’ve been creeping up this list for weeks. This past week they just continued to do what they’ve been doing, taking two of three from both Arizona and Minnesota on the road, wrapping up a highly successful 7-3 road trip that began in Colorado. And how about Jesus Aguilar? Playing regularly with Ryan Braun and Eric Thames both on the DL, the big man launched four long balls in Minneapolis, and he may be becoming the biggest power threat you’ve never heard of in the National League. Starting tonight Milwaukee will play ten straight games at home at Miller Park, squaring off with the Diamondbacks, Mets, and Cardinals, all contenders in the NL. Let’s see where they are by the end of the month.

5) Atlanta Braves (28-17) 4

The Braves can no longer be ignored or discredited. The team that will begin play tonight with the best record in the National League resides in Atlanta, something nobody would have predicted two months ago but that is the reality of the situation. Things are going so well for the Braves they are coming out on top in games they have no business winning, like yesterday when they rallied for six runs in the 9th inning to stun the Marlins with a 10-9 walk-off win. The next two weeks will be telling for this club as they will play all three of their serious competitors in the NL East (Phillies, Mets, Nationals), as well as the Red Sox. If Atlanta can get through that stretch without missing a beat and maintaining the best record in the league you might be looking at your early favorite in the National League.

6) Chicago Cubs (25-19) 1

The Cubs have been hanging in the middle of the pack in the NL Central all year long, but you just get the feeling this team is on the verge of catching fire. Last week they dropped two of three to the surging Braves before heading down to Cincinnati and snatching three of four from their division rival Reds. Chicago has two well deserved off days this week as their bullpen could use a break after playing a double header over the weekend, but when they are on the field they’ll host both the Indians and Giants at Wrigley.

7) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (26-21) 3

The bookends of the Angels’ week were good, as they defeated Houston last Monday and beat Tampa Bay yesterday. Sticking with the analogy, the rest of the book was terrible however, as the Halos dropped all five of the contests in between. This team has been up and down several times already in 2018 though, and I am confident they’ll get back on track in fast order. After taking tonight off Los Angeles of Anaheim will resume play north of the border in Toronto tomorrow.

8) St. Louis Cardinals (25-19) Same

The Cardinals continue to just be in survival mode playing without their field general and emotional leader, Yadier Molina. Last week they split two games in Minnesota before splitting a four game set with the Phillies back home at Busch Stadium, using a brilliant start from rookie Jack Flaherty yesterday to assure themselves of a 3-3 record since we last spoke. St. Louis currently sits just 1.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central, but with Milwaukee and the Cubs both threatening to go on a run, this team will have to prove they can string wins together rather than just get by without Molina.

9) Seattle Mariners (27-19) 1

Off the field the Mariners are currently engulfed with drama and controversy due to the recent PED suspension of injured superstar Robinson Cano, but on the field this team has surprisingly been able to avoid the noise and continue playing rock solid baseball. In the recently completed week the M’s won a make-up game with the Twins, split two contests with Texas, and then won three of four from the Tigers over the long weekend. Yesterday was especially notable as Seattle’s offense looked lost all day before a two run 9th inning homer by Mitch Haniger brought them back from the dead in a game they eventually won in extra innings. At the moment the Mariners have actually overtaken the Angels in the AL West, and let’s see how well they can maintain this level of play going forward.

10) Arizona Diamondbacks (25-21) 4

How is this team still in first place? Following an absolutely dominant beginning to 2018 the Diamondbacks are in a free-fall. They’ve dropped 10 of their last 11 games, and their weekend sweep at the hands of the Mets was particularly disappointing as they were in all three contests. A.J. Pollock is currently on the disabled list, Paul Goldschmidt looks like some sort of an impostor, and while Jake Lamb was just activated from the DL, he looks extremely rusty, and may have actually been rushed back to help a struggling offense. Long story short this team has serious issues, and if they can’t rectify them immediately they’ll likely be further down this list next week.

11) Philadelphia Phillies (26-18) 1

Odubel Herrera’s incredible 45 game on-base streak finally reached its conclusion yesterday, but that did little to slow down the Phightin Phils’ positive momentum. Philadelphia won a game in Baltimore while having another rained out this week, before heading to St. Louis where they split a tough four game series on the road. The Phillies biggest series of 2018 to date will begin tonight against Atlanta, whom they currently trail by just 1.5 games in the NL East.

12) Colorado Rockies (25-22) 3

The Rockies have not been lighting the world on fire, but thanks to the recent struggles of Arizona they find themselves just a half game back in the NL West. Last week they split two with the Padres and four with the Giants to go 3-3 since we last spoke, and up next is a suddenly hot Dodgers team on the road.

13) Cleveland Indians (22-23) 2

The story with the Indians is just getting redundant at this point. We’ve been saying for almost two months that this team should be better than they’ve played so far, but what if they aren’t? Cleveland just completed another disappointing week, going 2-4 to drop them under .500 for the year. Bad teams in Minnesota and Detroit are right on their heels, and it’s becoming clear the AL Central is the weakest division in baseball.

14) Pittsburgh Pirates (26-20) 2

Pittsburgh continues to play scrappier than expected, currently sitting just 1.5 games back in the NL Central. Last week they swept away the White Sox but frustratingly lost all three over the weekend to the lowly Padres. After taking tonight off the Bucs will get set to visit Cincinnati, a team they simply have to take advantage of if they want to be taken seriously.

15) Washington Nationals (24-21) 1

The Nationals have been hard to figure out. This is a team similar to the Indians, they should be dominant, but injuries and inconsistency have held them back. After a resounding four game sweep in Arizona, Washington wasn’t able to complete a game for five days thanks to bad weather and an odd scheduling quirk that left them with off days on Monday and Thursday. When they finally resumed playing baseball on Saturday, the layoff showed, as they dropped both games of a double header to the Dodgers and then lost again on Sunday, falling back to 4th place in their division. They do have a clear path to a rebound though, as their next nine contests come with the Padres, Marlins, and Orioles.

16) New York Mets (23-19) 1

The Mets had been unable to really string solid play together for over a month, but that finally began to change in the last few days. New York just took four of five at home this week, doing it the way they’re designed to win, dominant starting pitching from Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, lights out relief pitching, and offensively using the home run ball to score quickly. It was no doubt encouraging to see, and the Amazins’ will hope to continue their hot streak this week when the Marlins come to Queens.

17) Oakland Athletics (25-22) 3

Oakland is becoming a potential surprise competitor in the American League. Since we last spoke this team took a series from the Red Sox at Fenway before heading north and just bludgeoning the Blue Jays for four consecutive days. The Athletics are getting tremendous starting pitching from Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden, offensive contributions from all over the line-up, and they’re currently just 2.5 games out of a potential playoff spot.

18) Toronto Blue Jays (22-25) 5

The Jays had hung around the outside of the AL East race for a while, but those days are firmly a thing of the past. After splitting two games in New York with the Mets, Toronto allowed Oakland to storm Canada and beat them in four straight contests, and it may soon benefit this club to begin planning to sell in July.

19) Los Angeles Dodgers (20-26) 2

Here come the Dodgers? Well, maybe. LA just impressively swept three games from the Nationals but prior to that they inexcusably dropped a series to the Marlins in Miami. As has been the case with this club in 2018 though, all news can’t be good, as starter Rich Hill joined fellow southpaw Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list yesterday and is expected to miss about a month. The difference Justin Turner makes with this team is evident though, as since the veteran third baseman returned in Miami, he’s hit .333 in six games and made this line-up much more formidable.

20) San Francisco Giants (24-24) 1

San Francisco has chugged along around .500 essentially all year, and it’s looking like that is going to be about the ceiling for this team in 2018. This past week the Giants went 4-3 in home games with Cincinnati and Colorado, but the road ahead will be much more difficult. Tomorrow San Francisco embarks on a eight game road trip where they’ll play the Astros, Cubs, and the Rockies again, this time at Coors Field. They’re likely to be well under .500 when that stretch is completed.

21) Minnesota Twins (19-23) 3

I tried to give the Twins the benefit of the doubt last week when they finally showed some signs of life, but since we last spoke they’ve done nothing but revert back to their losing ways. Minnesota went just 2-4 this week, but the narrative for them remains the same seemingly every week. The Indians are struggling so mightily to run away with the AL Central, and if the Twins can ever put together a run they’ll likely take over the division lead.

22) Tampa Bay Rays (22-23) 1

They continue to try to reinvent the wheel in Tampa Bay, and the rest of the baseball world is not quite sure what to make of it. Reliever Sergio Romo STARTED back to back games over the weekend as manager Kevin Cash implemented a bizarre match-up strategy, but it worked as they took three of four from the previously red hot Angels. Up next is Boston which won’t be easy, but regardless of how they play in that series the Rays are becoming one of the more interesting stories in 2018.

23) Detroit Tigers (20-26) 1

The Tigers finally got bumped out of spot number 22, but they didn’t drop too far. This team is not good by any stretch of the imagination, but similarly to the Twins, they are very much in a divisional race because of the struggles of the Indians. Beginning play tonight Detroit is only 2.5 games back in the AL Central, and with games with the Twins and White Sox up next, maybe they can make a little bit of a push.

24) San Diego Padres (20-28) 1

The Friars had been sinking into the abyss for weeks before suddenly waking up over the weekend. San Diego shockingly took three of four from Pittsburgh, making them winners of four of their last five overall. Their next six games come with the Nationals and Dodgers, team struggling squads that were predicted to be NL powerhouses in March, and it’s really difficult to generate any type of preview of those series.

25) Texas Rangers (18-30) 1

The Rangers and Padres seemingly duke it out down here in the power rankings every week, and this time Texas came out on the short end of the stick. The Rangers just dropped three of four to the pathetic White Sox over the weekend, and it’s becoming more and more obvious by the day that they’re likely headed for a tear down in a couple months.

26) Cincinnati Reds (16-32) 1

The Reds have rallied to play a lot better over the last few weeks, and while it’s hard to tell when looking at their 16-32 record, it was a lot uglier a few weeks ago. Cincinnati is getting strong seasons from Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett offensively and both Amir Garrett and Jared Hughes are pitching well out of the bullpen, setting this team up to have some marketable pieces in July.

27) Miami Marlins (17-29) 2

Say what you want about the Marlins and what their new ownership group did over the winter, but the guys on the field are playing hard and making this team much more competitive then most thought they would be. J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, Miguel Rojas, and Starlin Castro are all performing well offensively, and it would seem Derek Jeter and company should be able to flip all of them for more young talent at the deadline.

28) Baltimore Orioles (14-32) Same

Manny Machado continues to be the only reason to pay attention to this team, as the early favorite for AL MVP is currently hitting .343 with 14 homers and an MLB high 42 RBI’s. The only question surrounding both Machado and Baltimore is how long he will be playing home games at Camden Yards, as the O’s simply have to move the free-agent to be at peak value.

29) Kansas City Royals (14-32) 3

Kansas City has struggled for the majority of 2018 but this past week was particularly ugly. The Royals got swept by the Rays before dropping two of three to the Yankees over the weekend, and they’ll need a strong road trip to avoid falling into the last spot on this list next week.

30) Chicago White Sox (13-30) Same

Chicago occupies the cellar of the power rankings for the second consecutive week, but they actually did show a little bit of a pulse since we last spoke. The White Sox took three of four from the Rangers over the weekend, headlined by a dominant start from young Reynaldo Lopez yesterday, an encouraging sign for this year and beyond.