This was a strange strange week in Major League Baseball. Bryce Harper is now a lead-off hitter, perennial all-stars like Clayton Kershaw and Yadier Molina are on the disabled list, no team in the AL Central has a winning record, and the two New York clubs are headed in opposite directions. Let’s get started with this week’s power rankings.
1) Boston Red Sox (25-9) Same
The Red Sox have held the top spot on this list all season, but that may soon change with the way their arch rivals from the Bronx are now ripping their way through the American League. This past week Boston continued to win series, taking 2/3 from Kansas City and 3/4 from Texas, but their biggest challenge to date lies ahead. After taking today off the Red Sox will travel down to New York for their second encounter with the Bombers, who like I alluded to a second ago, are playing much better than they were the first time these two got together.
2) New York Yankees (24-10) 3
The New York Yankees are on absolute fire, there’s really no other way to explain it. This team has gone on a 16-2 run since their off-day on April 18th and they are getting contributions from everywhere on the roster. Yesterday young righty Domingo German held the Indians hitless through six innings in a game the Yanks’ ultimately won on a walk-off three run blast from heralded prospect Gleyber Torres. New York is currently on a six game winning streak, with all six coming against the Astros and Indians, two AL powerhouses. They’ll look to slay a third American League giant, the Red Sox, this coming week, and if they do they’ll likely take over the top spot.
3) Arizona Diamondbacks (23-11) Same
The NL best Diamondbacks have just continued to play well day after day, and they show no signs of letting up. Arizona has incredibly not dropped a single series all year, and after splitting four contests with the Dodgers early this past week, they impressively beat up on Houston all weekend to take 2/3 from the defending champions. A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin are both early favorites for MVP and Cy Young respectively, and honestly there isn’t much that hasn’t gone right for this team so far. Two with the Dodgers and four with the Nationals make up the week ahead.
4) Houston Astros (21-15) 2
These past seven days made up a rare down week for the defending World Series winners. The Astros just limped to a 2-5 record against the surging Yankees and the dominant It’Diamondbacks, but don’t expect the downswing to continue. Houston will share the diamond with Oakland and Texas in the coming days, two divisional foes with a combined record of 31-39. This team will be the favorites in the American League until the day someone eliminates them from contention, and I expect them to play more like themselves moving forward.
5) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (21-13) 6
It’s truly been an up and down first six weeks to 2018 for the Angels. After a tremendous beginning to the season, they struggled for a few weeks, until they went out and took 5/6 from the Orioles and Mariners, actually reclaiming first place in the AL West from Houston in the process. And we haven’t even talked about Albert Pujols becoming the 32nd player in the history of the sport to record 3,000 hits. Pretty wild when you think about it that the future first ballad Hall of Famer is now easily behind Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on his own team’s star pecking order. Life comes at you fast.
6) St. Louis Cardinals (20-12) 2
To say St. Louis has recovered from a very pedestrian first few weeks or so is an understatement. This past week they dominated their way through the Windy City, winning five straight from the White Sox and Cubs, capped by a dramatic walk-off homer last night from Dexter Fowler, stunning his former teammates with the Cubs. The schedule is kind moving forward as well, with their next eight contests coming against the Twins and Padres. Not everything is rosy, however, as losing Yadi Molina for the long-term is a tough blow, and let’s see how they’re able to handle playing without their leader.
7) Toronto Blue Jays (19-16) 2
The ‘Jays have played better than expected for the majority of the season, but they’re suffering from playing in the same division as Boston and the Yankees. This past week Toronto took a series from Minnesota, split a double header with the Indians, before frustratingly dropping two of three to Tampa Bay over the weekend. Toronto will welcome a well deserved day off tonight, before hitting a point of the schedule where they may be able to go on a run. Beginning Tuesday, 13 of the Blue Jays next 15 contests will be played at home at Rogers Centre.
8) Milwaukee Brewers (20-15) 2
Milwaukee has been consistently solid without going on a real run thus far, but they’ve still positioned themselves firmly in the thick of things in the National League Central. After sweeping the Majors worst team, Cincinnati, the Brewers lost two of three to Pittsburgh over the weekend, but the road ahead isn’t kind. After two home games with Cleveland, the Beermakers will embark on a nine game road-trip through Colorado, Arizona, and Minnesota.
9) Chicago Cubs (16-15) 3
What is going on in the Windy City? After finally appearing back on track the Cubs have now lost five consecutive games (albeit against good teams in the Rockies and Cardinals), but this is a team that was expected to be one of the absolute dominant squads in the game. Let’s hope a homestand with Miami and the White Sox is enough to get them going, because if it doesn’t, they’ll assuredly be dropping out of the top 10 on this list.
10) Cleveland Indians (17-17) 3
Is it too early to get concerned about the Tribe? On paper there simply should not be any competition for them in the AL Central, but they’ve allowed Minnesota and Detroit to both hang within 2.5 games of them by failing to distinguish themselves over six long weeks. Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .198, free-agent addition Yonder Alonso is hitting .210, and while the starting rotation has been strong, five Cleveland relievers own ERA’s higher than 5.06. The hot Milwaukee Brewers are next up on the Cleveland schedule, and if they aren’t careful they could soon dip under the .500 mark.
11) Atlanta Braves (19-14) 3
How about the first place Atlanta Braves? Following a strong showing in Philadelphia the Braves rolled into Queens last Tuesday and easily swept aside the former NL East leading Mets, shutting them out in the final two contests. Ronald Acuna Jr. has lived up to the hype, Freddie Freeman has been Freddie Freeman, and in a contract year Nick Markakis currently leads the league with a .344 batting average. Atlanta’s momentum came crashing down to earth when they dropped three straight to the Giants over the weekend, but a Florida road-trip to play the Rays and Marlins could be just what the doctor ordered to get them back on track.
12) Seattle Mariners (19-14) 1
Seattle split six games with the A’s and Angels last week, but the bigger story around this team centered around Ichiro Suzuki retiring to join the front office. The veteran should go down as the best pure hitter in team history, which is an incredible compliment when you think of all the offensive players who have called Washington state home. The M’s will take today off before opening a seven game road-trip north of the border in Toronto tomorrow.
13) Colorado Rockies (20-15) 2
The Rockies enjoyed a strong past seven days, a span that has seen them reestablish themselves as legitimate contenders in the National League. After dropping the series opener with the Cubs, Colorado won the final two games with Chicago before sweeping the Mets in New York, and climbing into an NL wild card position. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon have paced the offense, while Adam Ottavino has been probably the best relief pitcher in the National League. The Angels and Brewers are up next for the Rox.
14) New York Mets (17-15) 10
The New York Mets just had themselves a week. Jacob deGrom and Yoenis Cespedes both left games with (supposedly) minor injuries, the Matt Harvey saga finally ended with him being DFA’d, New York was shut out three times, and lost all six games of a homestand for the first time since 2012. Things literally cannot go anywhere but up in the week ahead, and the Amazins’ are actually headed to a good place to get right, Cincinnati, where they’ll play the Major League worst Reds beginning tonight.
15) Philadelphia Phillies (18-15) 3
Philly has continued to outperform preseason expectations, but when you are playing over your head like that and lose a game like they did yesterday, it really stings. The Phils wasted a tremendous outing from ace Jake Arrieta where he actually out-dueled defending Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, allowing Washington to come back from a 4-1 deficit in the 8th. Philadelphia returns home to take on the red hot Giants and division rival Mets this week.
16) San Francisco Giants (19-15) 4
After finally reaching the .500 mark last Sunday, the Giants continued their surge with another strong week. After taking a series from their division rivals in San Diego, Buster Posey and company headed cross country where they made a statement, sweeping Atlanta over the weekend. They’ll continue their long east coast swing in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh these next seven days.
17) Washington Nationals (18-17) 2
Are the Nats finally getting right? Behind more solid play from the entire roster they just ripped through a 6-1 week against the two Pennsylvania teams, the Pirates and Phillies, while also getting Anthony Rendon back from the DL. The good news doesn’t stop there as all-star second baseman Daniel Murphy and outfielder Adam Eaton both may be headed towards a return later this month, to aid Bryce Harper who has been a one man show for much of the first six weeks. Starting tonight Washington will embark on a seven game west coast swing through San Diego and Arizona and we should have a better handle on them when they return.
18) Oakland Athletics (18-16) Same
The A’s have found a way to hang around so far, but we’ll know almost for certain what their capability is in 2018 within the next two weeks. Oakland’s next 13 games are against Houston, New York (AL), Boston, and Toronto, four clubs all in the upper echelon in the American League. If they are able to survive that stretch we may have to begin looking at them more seriously, but it is far more likely they will soon be plummeting down this list.
19) Pittsburgh Pirates (19-16) 2
The Pirates continue to remind me of that current Morgan Wallen song, Up Down. They’ve been all or nothing so far, very high highs, and very low lows. This week represented a low as they were swept away during a four game series in Washington. They did recover a little by taking a weekend series from the Brewers, but this team has been an enigma all year. Let’s see what the week ahead holds.
20) Los Angeles Dodgers (15-19) 4
The stunningly still slumping defending NL Champs actually played reasonably okay this past week, going 3-4 in seven games with Arizona and San Diego, but what happened off the field was nothing short of devastating. Star shortstop Corey Seager is done for the year with Tommy John Surgery, and the best starting pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw, is now on the DL with biceps tendinitis. To say LA has problems doesn’t begin to do the situation justice.
21) Minnesota Twins (13-17) Same
The Twins went 4-3 last week and that actually represented a pretty large improvement from where they’ve been. Taking 3/4 from the White Sox over the weekend probably represented the high point of Minnesota’s play so far in 2018, and they’ll need to continue playing good baseball if they intend to survive the week ahead, with the Cardinals and Angels on the docket.
22) Detroit Tigers (14-19) Same
The 22nd spot on this list is getting awfully familiar with Detroit. The Tigers are not good, make no mistake about it, but thanks to the poor play of Cleveland, this team is only 2.5 games of first place in the AL Central and within striking distance if they can ever go on a run. They’ll need more from their better players if they intend to do that though, as Miguel Cabrera has hit only three homers to date and Jordan Zimmerman currently has a 4.88 ERA.
23) Tampa Bay Rays (15-17) Same
There generally is not much movement when you get to the bottom part of the power rankings, but if there is one team that looks poised to eventually get out of the bottom third it is probably the Rays. Following a disastrous start Tampa Bay has played much better of late, although losing to the Blue Jays on a wild pitch yesterday was awfully disappointing.
24) San Diego Padres (13-22) 1
The Friars have leapfrogged Texas thanks in large part to a nice series win over the Dodgers this past weekend. Carlos Villanueva continues to be one of the better stories in baseball, and encouragingly Eric Hosmer has finally begun to hit. The road ahead will be very difficult for San Diego though, as they will clearly be the inferior team in every game of their upcoming homestand against the Nationals, Cardinals, and Rockies.
25) Texas Rangers (13-23) 1
Really the only reason to watch the Rangers right now is to see how far Joey Gallo will occasionally hit a baseball. The Las Vegas born slugger sure strikes out a lot, (45 times in 130 at-bats) but when he makes contact he sure is capable of some tape measure blasts.
26) Kansas City Royals (11-23) 2
The Royals actually just turned in a reasonably encouraging past seven days, winning one of three from Boston before taking three of four from their division rivals in Detroit. More winnable games are ahead, with their next three contests coming in Baltimore against the struggling Orioles.
27) Miami Marlins (13-20) 3
After finally reaching the bottom of this list last week, give the Marlins a little credit. This young team is clearly playing hard, and they were rewarded with series wins against both Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Heading to Chicago to play the Cubs at Wrigley this week will likely be a challenge, but this club has not shown any quit to date, an encouraging attitude that is clearly coming from manager Don Mattingly.
28) Chicago White Sox (9-23) 2
James Shields actually flirted with a no hitter yesterday, but that was far and above the most exciting development for the White Sox in their previous seven days. Chicago won only once since we last spoke, and might not win much in the week ahead as they play some interleague games with the Pirates and Cubs.
29) Baltimore Orioles (8-26) 2
Baltimore lost all six games they played last week, getting swept by both the Angels and Athletics. Their schedule is not daunting, with the Royals and Rays the next two opponents, but the reality of the situation is the O’s themselves are the team other clubs are looking forward to playing. At this point it is only matter of time before the Manny Machado trade rumors really start swirling.
30) Cincinnati Reds (8-26) 1
The Reds relinquished the cellar dweller role last week, but they sure went out and made sure they got it back. Cincinnati was swept by the Brewers before losing 2/3 to Miami, and with the Mets and Dodgers up next more losing should be on the way.