MLB Power Rankings (5/28)

Last week

 

1) Boston Red Sox (36-17) 1

The Red Sox have reclaimed the top spot in the weekly power rankings, using a week that saw them win series with both Tampa Bay and Atlanta to do it. Something to watch in the next few days however is the status of MVP candidate Mookie Betts, who was a late scratch yesterday with tightness in his left side and is officially listed as day to day. Boston’s lead over the Yankees both in the AL East and these power rankings is as narrow as possible, and if Betts is forced to miss any of this week’s games against Toronto and Houston the Bo-Sox could be in trouble.

2) New York Yankees (33-16) 1

The Bombers gimped through a mediocre week based on the outrageous standard they’ve established for themselves early in 2018, but if 3-3 represents a down week I think this team will be just fine. New York started their last seven day stretch by disappointingly dropping two of three to the struggling Rangers, but after taking a day off last Thursday they impressively rebounded to win a home series with the Angels over the weekend. Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees will begin a must-see TV series with Houston, a rematch of last October’s epic ALCS.

3) Houston Astros (34-20) Same

How awesome is the upcoming week going to be? The defending champion Houston Astros picked up right where they left off last fall from day one in 2018, and before we speak again they’ll play seven games with the Yankees and Red Sox, the only two teams in baseball who are legitimately on their level. Their difficult week may have gotten off on the wrong foot before it even began when Houston dropped a 14 game extra inning contest with the Indians yesterday, really beating up a bullpen that had already been heavily used of late. They’ll assuredly need serious length from Justin Verlander this afternoon.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (34-20) Same

The National League’s best team kept rolling this past week, sweeping the Diamondbacks and then taking three of four from the Mets over the weekend. Milwaukee’s offense is absolutely humming right now as they’ve scored 25 runs in their past two games, getting contributions from everybody, particularly Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar. The only potential concerning issue with the Brewers right now is the recent performance of closer Corey Knebel, who has just not looked like himself since returning from the disabled list.

5) Atlanta Braves (30-21) Same

The Braves came back to earth a little bit since we last spoke, losing series to both Philadelphia and Boston, but that could potentially be the least of their problems. Rookie phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. landed extremely awkwardly after lunging for first base yesterday, turning his knee the wrong way similarly to what happened to Bryce Harper last summer. The Nationals’ star missed a little over a month with his injury, and Atlanta will hope for much better news when Acuna’s MRI results come back at some point today, as having him miss any significant time would be a huge blow to this team both emotionally and on the field.

6) Chicago Cubs (27-22) Same

The Cubs have finally got it going, and on a team with a plethora of big names, it’s Javier Baez who is largely leading the charge. The slick-fielding infielder reclaimed the National League RBI lead with a huge three-run homer on Sunday Night Baseball last night, providing the key hit in Chicago’s rubber game win over the Giants and giving them some positive momentum heading into this week. Starting tonight the Cubs begin a seven-game road trip with the Pirates and Mets, and with the continued success they should begin to close the gap between them and the Brewers in the NL Central.

7) Seattle Mariners (32-20) 2

The Mariners haven’t missed a beat since losing Robinson Cano to his stunning PED suspension, and right now they may be the best story going in Major League Baseball. Seattle just breezed through another dominant week, going 5-1 against Oakland and Minnesota, surprisingly climbing to only one game back of the Astros in the AL West. The schedule moving forward continues to be kind to the M’s, as their next week of games will feature contests with struggling teams in Texas and Tampa Bay.

8) St. Louis Cardinals (28-22) Same

St. Louis has been coasting along around a .500 pace for a couple of weeks now since losing Yadi Molina to the DL, and while that doesn’t sound overly impressive, lesser teams would crumble without their de facto captain. Tommy Pham continues to pace the Redbirds’ offense, Carlos Martinez has been among the best starters in baseball, and virtually every member of the Cardinals bullpen has been lights out. This club will need all three of those things to continue this week, with a huge series against their NL Central rival Brewers beginning today.

9) Philadelphia Phillies (29-21) 2

Philadelphia continues to be one of the brighter developments in baseball, and they’re showing no sign of slowing down. Last week the Phillies won a huge series with the Braves before dropping a home set with the Blue Jays, but all three of those games were close and their weekend fate could easily have been better. Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta have been arguably the best 1-2 rotation duo in baseball in 2018, combining to go 10-4 with an ERA of 2.34, and Odubel Herrera seems to have put his propensity for brain farts in the past as he’s enjoying easily his most productive season in the big leagues. We’ll know a little better if Philly is for real in the next few weeks, as beginning today they’ll embark on a 10 game road trip through LA, San Fran, and Chicago.

10) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (29-24) 3

Mike Trout and company won two of three from the Jays this past week before heading into the Bronx for a heavy-weight fight with the Yankees over the weekend, and while they emerged with only one win in the three games, they certainly showed New York they can compete in the AL. The Angels do have an excellent chance to not only rebound but go on a little bit of a run in the next few weeks, as their next 13 games are against Detroit, Texas, Kansas City, and Minnesota.

11) Colorado Rockies (28-25) 1

The Rockies have recently taken over first place in the struggling NL West, but that doesn’t exactly mean they’re on any type of a roll. Last week Colorado dropped a three-game series with the Dodgers before taking two of three from Cincinnati at home, and they’ll look to win consecutive series when the Giants come to Coors Field tonight.

12) Washington Nationals (29-22) 3

Don’t look now, but the Nationals may finally be poised to take over the NL East. Washington went 5-1 last week, easily breezing through games with the Padres and Marlins, and the schedule  continues to be kind to them with Baltimore up next. That’s not the only good news for the Nats’ though, as both Daniel Murphy and Brian Goodwin are getting set to begin minor league rehab assignments in the next few days as the pair continues to work their way back from injury. Murphy’s return in particular will be invaluable to this offense, especially for Bryce Harper, who is currently hitting just .232 as he’s attempted to carry the team on his back for much of the first two months.

13) Pittsburgh Pirates (28-24) 1

The Pirates roller coaster 2018 season endured a downswing this past week, as the Bucs dropped two of three to both Cincinnati and St. Louis, with yesterday’s rubber game with the Cardinals being particularly frustrating as their bullpen let a potential win get away. One positive development for Pittsburgh has been the performance of top prospect Austin Meadows, whose hit .455 with three home runs in the first nine games of his big league career. The week ahead will be important for this team if they intend to stay in the NL Central race, as playing poorly against the Cubs and Cardinals would seriously set them back in the divisional race.

14) Cleveland Indians (26-25) 1

The Indians went 4-2 this past week, and while that is far from dominant, the manner in which they did it provides optimism for this club that most predicted to be much better than they’ve looked to date. Cleveland just won a pair of games with the Cubs before splitting a difficult four game series with Houston, and with the White Sox up next maybe they can continue to trend upward.

15) Arizona Diamondbacks (26-26) 5

Now that they’ve fallen all the way back to .500 the Diamondbacks have officially thrown away all of their fast start, which is a real shame. This team just isn’t the same without A.J. Pollock, one of the most underrated stars in the game whose spent far too much time on the DL in recent years, something that has seriously held this team back from reaching their full potential. Arizona is in full free-fall, as this past week they were swept by Milwaukee before dropping two of three to Oakland over the weekend, dropping them to just 2-15 in their last 17 contests. If Arizona is ever going to get back on track they have the right team coming to Chase Field, as Cincinnati currently has the National League’s worst overall record.

16) Oakland Athletics (28-25) 1

The A’s have moved through 2018 largely under the radar, outperforming most preseason expectations experts had laid out for them. After a dominant seven day stretch last week, Oakland went 3-3 in the one they just completed, losing a series with the Mariners before rebounding to take one from Arizona. Up next is a four-game series with Tampa Bay, and the A’s will hope to continue to quietly play solid all along baseball without attracting too much attention.

17) Tampa Bay Rays (25-26) 5

Tampa Bay’s “opener” strategy is currently the talk of baseball, but it shouldn’t be ignored that this team has actually been winning of late. After losing the first two games of their midweek series with Boston the Rays went on to win three of their next four games, aided by a weekend series with Baltimore. Tampa has a very difficult road trip in front of them, with stops in Oakland, Seattle, and Washington, and while they’re not a serious contender in the American League this team has proven they can be competitive, and I expect them to continue to do so moving forward.

18) Los Angeles Dodgers (24-28) 1

For all of the Dodgers problems in the season’s first two months, they’ll enter play tonight only 3.5 games back in the NL West, which is bad news for the rest of their division. Los Angeles has had issues with injuries, under-performance, and even effort, but they’ve been much better lately and maybe they’re finally turning things around. Last week the Dodgers won series with both the Rockies and Padres, highlighted by yet another dominant start from Walker Buehler. Up next is four games with upstart Philadelphia, but LA is tentatively planning to activate Clayton Kershaw from the DL for Thursday’s start which should provide a lift to the entire team.

19) New York Mets (25-24) 3

Similarly to Arizona, the Mets have essentially given back all of their fast start to 2018, and things just are not going well for this team right now. Since we last spoke the Amazins’ inexcusably lost two of three to the lowly Marlins, punctuated by a devastating blown save by Jeurys Familia that wasted another brilliant Jacob deGrom start in the rubber game. New York then moved on to Milwaukee where they dropped three of four to the red hot Brewers in a series that could have easily gone the other way with even remotely competent bullpen performance. Things don’t get any easier for the Mets moving forward as they play eight games with the Braves and Cubs in the next seven days.

20) Toronto Blue Jays (25-28) 2

Toronto has proven they are not legitimate threats in the American League, and they didn’t change anyone’s mind over the past seven days. The Blue Jays went 3-3 in six games with the Angels and Phillies, with the most positive development being a strong start from J.A. Happ in Philadelphia against the team that drafted him all the way back in 2004. A trip to Fenway Park for a date with the Red Sox is up next on the Blue Jays’ road trip, and it’s hard to imagine that visit going very well for them.

21) San Francisco Giants (25-28) 1

They Giants had consistently played around .500 baseball for almost two months, but they began to dip below that level of play in the past seven days. San Francisco lost four of their five games since we last spoke, and while the schedule was admittedly difficult with games against the Astros and Cubs, if this team wanted to be taken seriously they needed a better showing against the league’s better teams.

22) Minnesota Twins (21-27) 1

The Twins made the playoffs a year ago which makes their struggles in 2018 one of the most baffling developments in 2018. Basically every member of Minnesota’s offense not named Eddie Rosario has failed to live up to expectations, which is one of the primary reasons this team has lost their past four games, including a weekend sweep at the hands of Seattle. The Indians are still leaving the door open in the AL Central but it is becoming more obvious by the day that the Twins just aren’t good enough to take advantage.

23) Detroit Tigers (23-29) Same

Detroit is clearly in the bottom 3rd of the league, and like Minnesota they are just not proving themselves to be a viable threat to Cleveland in their division. Last week the Tigers actually did play okay, but the schedule was not exactly all that difficult. Detroit went 3-3 in six games with the Twins and White Sox, but the week ahead should prove to be quite a bit harder. Before we speak again the Tigers will play seven games against the Angels and Blue Jays and let’s see how they fare.

24) San Diego Padres (22-32) Same

It was another mediocre week for the club in the southernmost city in California, as the Padres dropped series to both the Dodgers and Nationals. Carlos Villanueva’s dominant rookie season continues to be one of the best stories in baseball, but sadly aside from that San Diego just doesn’t have much else going for them. Maybe their recent trade for Phil Hughes can change that? Probably not.

25) Texas Rangers (22-33) Same

The Rangers continue to struggle through 2018, but perhaps the most distressing part of the situation is the downright awful performance of supposed ace starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Hamels got hammered again yesterday in Texas’ loss to the Royals, and they’ll undoubtedly need that to change if they intend to use him as a trade chip in July.

26) Miami Marlins (19-33) 1

The Marlins continue to be scrappier than most expected they would be, and for that they deserve a little bit of credit. This past week they used an impressive rally in the rubber game with the Mets to steal a series in Queens, and while they followed that by getting swept by the Nationals, a 2-4 week is still better than some had this time pegged for.

27) Kansas City Royals (18-35) 2

Kansas City rose a few spots this week after impressively going into their Missouri rivals in St. Louis’ building and winning a road series against a good team. The Royals followed that up by splitting a four game set with Texas, and while this week was honestly not so bad for the ’15 World Champs, this club remains one of the most obvious sellers in baseball.

28) Cincinnati Reds (19-35) 2

Similarly to the Royals, Cincinnati is a bad team that actually played competitively in the 7 day span they just completed, going 3-3 against the Pirates and Rockies, two clubs that are clearly better than them. Up next for the Reds is a date with the free-falling Diamondbacks so it wouldn’t be shocking to see them win a few more times before we speak again.

29) Baltimore Orioles (17-36) 1

The Manny Machado trade winds have to be becoming at least a little bit of a distraction for this club, but that is far from the reason they’ve struggled so mightily in 2018. The Orioles just aren’t very good and Machado remains the only reason fans have to visit Camden Yards these days. For now.

30) Chicago White Sox (16-34) Same

Baseball’s worst team remains the White Sox, who just have very little to feel positive about right now. Chicago did come through with a marginally strong showing for themselves this past week, going 3-4 against Baltimore and Detroit, but those are two of the worst teams in the league. Failing to come out of that week with a winning record is how you become last in power rankings for the 3rd consecutive week.