By Chris Larson
Since last week's Power Rankings, we have witnessed a couple of different feats. We've seen the best start in the Mets franchise history along with a 9 game win streak, the Red Sox become the first American League team to win 13 of their first 15 games since the 1987 Brewers, the Angels 7-game win streak, and the continued success of the Houston Astros starting rotation, which now possesses three different starters who have recorded at least 10 strikeouts in a single start this year. It's only April 15th and we've seen this much so far. Who knows, what the rest of the season holds at this point!
Here is a look at this week's Top 15 Power Rankings:
1. Boston Red Sox (13-2) [Ranking Last Week: 2] - The Boston Red Sox are off to a hot start and as mentioned above, they've now won 13 of their first 15 games. You can't overlook the influence that Alex Cora has had on the entire team both on and off the field as well as the success of the starting rotation to this point. Boston did take a hit early last week when it was announced that Xander Bogaerts would head to the 10-Day DL with a left ankle injury, but that certainly hasn't slowed down their momentum by any means. Since last weeks rankings, J.D. Martinez has gotten going and now has 3 homers, Hanley Ramirez now has 3 home runs and 15 RBI over 51 at bats, and Chris Sale put together two more quality starts to give him a 1.23 ERA on the year over 22 IP with 31 strikeouts. Simply put, the Red Sox lead the league right now and it doesn't appear that anything is going to stop this train from rolling down the tracks anytime soon.
2. New York Mets (12-2) [Ranking Last Week: 3] - The Mets have been another powerhouse team to date and since last week's rankings experienced a 9-game win streak, as mentioned above, which has only made them play at a higher level. Much has been brought to light about the Mets success from various media outlets, but the biggest reason they have been so successful is because of the health of their starting rotation and the dominance of their bullpen. Don't overlook the fact of how good Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have been, the ace level that both Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are pitching at right now, or the dominance of Jeurys Familia at the back end of the pen. In addition, the salt and pepper shaker dance has caught on when players reach base and rightfully so. Why not celebrate everything about this team right now and the potential success that could be in store for the rest of the season?
3. Los Angeles Angels (13-3) [Ranking Last Week: 7] - You really have to appreciate the way that the Angels have played thus far this season and the impressive offensive numbers that they continue to put up. Currently as it stands right now, the Angels lead all of baseball with 103 runs scored over the span of 598 at bats, 26 home runs, and rank third in on-base percentage (.344). Much of the Angels offense, to the surprise of no one, has come from the greatest ball player right now, Mike Trout, who leads the Angels with 6 home runs, 13 RBI, and a .377 on-base percentage. Behind Trout, the outstanding defensive shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, has been the next best offensive weapon as illustrated by his team leading .318 batting average and 21 hits over 66 at bats. If Ohtani continues to perform the way he has, Garrett Richards pitches like he's capable of, and the offense continues to be this potent, the wins should continue to tally up.
4. Houston Astros (10-5) [Ranking Last Week: 1] - When the Astros have four starting pitchers who have all recorded at least 10 strikeouts in a single start, you know something is working. The Astros are a tick down from where they were last week, but that's no discredit to the way the team has performed as of late. The Astros bullpen, which was a concern for some heading into the season, ranks 7th with a 2.63 ERA over 48.0 IP and their starting rotation is only second to the Boston Red Sox with a 2.80 ERA. How about Charlie Morton who has a 1.00 ERA over 18 IP and the fact that he's the Astros 5th best starter? Need not say anymore about how impressive that is. From an offensive side of things, Houston is currently tied in 6th place with the Arizona Diamondbacks in strikeouts with 148, but their team batting average of .250 ranks 7th in all of baseball. Now let's see what other impressive thing this team's starting rotation can do this coming week!
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (11-4) [Ranking Last Week: 4] - The Arizona Diamondbacks have continued to play at a very high level and show the grit they have on their 25-man roster day in and day out. Although their win streak against the Dodgers was snapped yesterday afternoon, they are still on a roll and don't look to be going anywhere anytime soon. By the way, that streak that I just referred to was an 11-game win streak which was the longest losing streak for the Dodgers since they moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Now that that's out of the way, let's remember that Arizona is still playing at this elite level without a healthy Jake Lamb and Steven Souza Jr. Starting pitcher, Taijuan Walker, hit the shelf following Saturday's game with right forearm tightness, but that shouldn't stop the magic that the Diamondbacks have going. In addition, Goldy has started playing at the level he is capable of playing at as of late which is only an added bonus for the Dbacks offense.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (11-4) [Ranking Last Week: 5] - It's easy to overlook the Pirates because they don't play in a large market or have the attractiveness of some of the other teams mentioned above, but don't. As of play today, the Pirates rank third in runs scored with 87 over 520 at bats, are tied for second in RBI with the Boston Red Sox with 82, and have a .452 slugging percentage which ranks only second to the aforementioned, Los Angeles Angels. Yesterday afternoon, outfielder, Starling Marte, went 5-for-5 with a home run so if he gets going who knows what the true potential is coupled with a healthy Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, and Gregory Polanco. The pitching is still struggling as illustrated by their cumulative ERA of 4.40 over 137.0 IP, which puts them 20th in baseball, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been greatness in that department with the performance of Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, and even Ivan Nova.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (9-5) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - With a 6-game win streak heading into play today, the Phillies have played at a much higher level the past week. After the season opened with a disastrous series for manager, Gabe Kapler, the starting pitching has been on point and extremely efficient. To illustrate that, look no further than Aaron Nola's last start in which he pitched 8 innings, recorded 6 strikeouts, and held the opposition to a .115 Batting Average Against. The Phillies starting rotation now has a 3.42 ERA over 76.1 IP, which puts them 10th in baseball. In addition, the offense has started to get going thanks to guys like Scott Kingery, who has a .308 batting average the past 7 days over 26 at bats with 2 home runs and 11 RBI, as well as Odubel Herrera whose got a .370 on-base percentage the past 7 days. If Jake Arrieta pitches like he did on Saturday afternoon and Aaron Nola puts in another stellar start, they could potentially climb in the standings come next week.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (9-7) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - The Cardinals are another one of those teams that have been on a roll as of late as seen by their current 4-game win streak following a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend. Over the past week, Jose Martinez has been one of the hottest hitters in the league and now leads the team in batting average (.346) and on-base percentage (.446) over 55 at bats. Couple Martinez with Yadier Molina, who now leads the team with 5 home runs, Marcell Ozuna whose got a .409 slugging percentage along with Tommy Pham, who has a 0.8 WAR to date, and you have the makings of a potent offense. In addition, the Cardinals got a stellar performance out of both Mike Mikolas and Carlos Martinez over the weekend against the Reds which should only boost their performance moving forward. Furthermore, St. Louis now has a Top 10 bullpen with a 3.27 ERA over 52.1 IP and that will be a huge asset for the Cardinals moving forward.
9. Toronto Blue Jays (9-5) [Ranking Last Week: 11] - Over the past 7 days, the Blue Jays have witnessed a stellar 8 inning performance by their ace, Aaron Sanchez, the heat up of shortstop, Aledmys Diaz who now leads the team with 4 home runs, and the offensive force of Kevin Pillar who has a .368 batting average. Much of that offensive success, has allowed the Blue Jays to put together the record that they have. In addition, a big reason why the Blue Jays are performing at the level they are is because of closer, Roberto Osuna, who became the youngest closer in MLB history to record 100 career saves. What an accomplishment that is and it just goes to show you what type of pitcher Osuna really is! As the weather continues to get warmer, who knows this team's lineup might start hitting like they have the past week, the starting pitching could show why it was the best in the AL during the 2016 season once again, and they could make some serious noise amid the AL East while the Yankees continue to perform below expectations.
10. Seattle Mariners (8-5) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - The Seattle Mariners have been a pleasant surprise to this point in the season and experienced a four-game win streak up until yesterday afternoon when they lost to the Oakland Athletics. As it stands right now, the Mariners are tied with the Chicago Cubs for 7th with an on-base percentage of .332 and rank 6th with a slugging percentage of .426. A lot of that is thanks to the dynamic group of Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Mitch Haniger, and Jean Segura. Of those four, Kyle Seager has been the hottest hitter over the past week posting a batting line of: .417/.423/.792 over 24 at bats with 10 hits, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 7 RBI, and 1 walk. While the offense has been great, the pitching is still lagging as illustrated by the Mariners cumulative ERA of 4.89, which is the fourth worst ERA in all of baseball. Regardless, there is still plenty of talent on Seattle's 25-man roster and they will be a fun team to keep an eye on as the season wears on.
11. Minnesota Twins (7-4) [Ranking Last Week: 14] - Going into play today, the Twins still sit atop the AL Central and are a powerful club, but it's still hard to see their true potential because they have played the least amount of games out of all 30 teams to date, thanks to the weather. Either way, the Twins pitching staff has posted a 2.50 ERA over 36.0 IP with a strikeouts-per-9 rate of 9.75 and a cumulative WHIP of 1.28. Jose Berrios had another brilliant outing going 7 innings against the White Sox last Thursday, Ryan Pressly continues to be the Twins best reliever, and the offense has really been led by Brian Dozier and Twins legend, Joe Mauer. Congrats to Joe Mauer who picked up his 2,000th career hit this past week, by the way! Hopefully this coming week pans out better weather wise for the Twins and they're able to finally start playing some baseball without weather interruptions.
12. Cleveland Indians (8-6) [Ranking Last Week: 15] - Cleveland still is experiencing somewhat of an offensive drought given that they've only scored 22 runs over 164 at bats since the last Power Rankings were done, but as the weather starts to warm up, this offense is showing that it can be lethal. Right now, Francisco Lindor has been the team's most productive hitter and leads the team in batting average (.214), on-base percentage (.302), and hits (14). Once Yonder Alonso, Michael Brantley, and Edwin Encarnacion get going, that's going to be one powerful bunch of hitters. In addition, Cleveland received phenomenal starting pitching performances from Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer the past week, but didn't play at all this past weekend thanks to the rain. Either way, Cleveland still hasn't shown it's true potential to date, but they are still a stacked team and will start to show it sooner than later.
13. Atlanta Braves (8-6) [Ranking Last Week: 13] - The Braves continue to somewhat outperform expectations and are 6-4 over their last 10 games. A big reason why has been second baseman, Ozzie Albies, who has long been talked about, but is now finally starting to show what all the hype is about. Albies made some phenomenal defensive plays against the Chicago Cubs this past week and leads the team in home runs with 5 over the span of 64 at bats. Preston Tucker is another guy who has been a great offensive weapon for them and is really solidifying himself out in left field. From a pitching perspective, the Braves still have a Top 10 pitching staff with a cumulative ERA of 3.43 over 128.2 IP and have the 9th lowest Opponent Batting Average Against (.227) over that period. As is the case with the Seattle Mariners, the Braves are surprising some folks and doing it very quietly. They will be another fun team to watch in the coming weeks.
14. New York Yankees (7-7) [Ranking Last Week: 8] - Here we are doing another Power Rankings report and the Yankees have fallen off even further than they were last week. To date, the Yankees season has not gone as expected and it has left many around baseball and in the media stunned. Regardless, the team is still playing 500 baseball, they sit third in the AL East, and are tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for, the 6th best offense in the league, from a runs scored perspective. Heading into today, Aaron Judge leads the team in batting average (.340), home runs (3), on-base percentage (.470), and hits (18). Doesn't seem like he's been getting enough credit for what he's done as of late and here's a real shocker. The most underrated player in all of baseball last season, Didi Gregorious, leads the team in RBI with 13 over 45 at bats and now has an on-base percentage of .433. It's still only April so there's plenty of time for the Yankees to wake up, but they sure haven't been impressive thus far.
15. Chicago Cubs (7-7) [Ranking Last Week: 6] - The Chicago Cubs have not been themselves so far this season especially from a starting rotation standpoint. Cubs starting pitchers have combined for a 5.40 ERA over 71.2 IP, which is the third worst rotation ERA in baseball, and have the 6th most earned runs over that period (43), which is quite a surprise considering that on paper at the start of the season, it looked to be one of the better rotations in all of baseball. With that said, not everything has been poor for the Cubs over the past week especially when you talk about Javier Baez. There was talk about the flake that he received from Pittsburgh Pirates manager, Clint Hurdle, but Baez has been hot at the plate. Over 20 at bats this past week, Baez recorded 5 hits, 1 double, 4 home runs, 10 RBI, and had a .900 slugging percentage. Chicago has been another club affected by the weather as of late so hopefully once it starts to heat up, they will show everyone their true potential and get back to being the team that we all know they can be.
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