By: Chris Larson
It's that time again for another Top 15 Power Rankings report. This past week we've seen plenty of excitement with the emergence of youngsters such as Matt Davidson and Nick Castellanos, the debut of Ronald Acuna Jr. with the Atlanta Braves, the emergence of the Yankees, Cubs, and Rays, and the continued domination of the Astros starting rotation.
In addition, you can't forget about the continued success of Didi Gregorious this past week or the fact that the Dbacks were able to lock down their 9th consecutive series win as they continue to be the best team in the National League.
Here are this week's Top 15 Power Rankings:
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (19-8) [Ranking Last Week: 3] - The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to climb up in the Power Rankings and find themselves in the prime position this week. Just two weeks ago, they were the fifth team before moving up to the third spot last week. Simply put, when you have 9 consecutive series wins, as mentioned above, and are one of the best teams in all of baseball, you deserve this recognition. Arizona's bullpen has been their most dominating quality to date as they have the best bullpen in all of baseball with a 1.62 ERA over 88.2 IP. Yesterday afternoon, the team lost Robbie Ray with a strained right oblique so it will be interesting to see how they respond with his absence this week, but they should still continue to be a powerful team.
2. New York Yankees (18-9) [Ranking Last Week: 13] - As is the case with the Cubs, the Yankees have also started to play at a much higher level as of late and show who they really are. In fact, they currently sit 2 games out of first place and are amid a 9-game win streak right now. Unlike at the beginning of the season, the starting pitching has been very good, especially following CC Sabathia's outing last night, and you can't go wrong with the offense either. The lineup has really started to heat up and will expose any weakness that the opposing team's pitcher has. Didi Gregorious is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves after being the most underrated player in all of baseball last year, both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are heating up, and you certainly can't forget about Gary "Scary" Sanchez either.
3. Chicago Cubs (15-10) [Ranking Last Week: 15] - With the way the Cubs have been playing as of late, it seems as though we are finally starting to see who they really are once again. Over the last 10 games, the Cubs have a 8-2 record and are quietly sneaking up on the division leading Pittsburgh Pirates as Chicago currently sits a 1/2 game out of first place. Both Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana have been much better over the past week combining for a 1.88 ERA over 19.1 IP, during the past week. The Cubs will need to continue to receive those type of phenomenal numbers from both Hendricks and Quintana especially if Darvish continues to struggle. The Cubs offense still hasn't reached it's full potential yet, but Kyle Schwarber does have 3 home runs, 4 RBI, and 15 extra-base hits over the past 7 days.
4. Boston Red Sox (20-7) [Ranking Last Week: 2] - Boston continues to be a force that no team wants to face and continue to prove that everyday on the field. During the last 10 games, Boston is playing 500 baseball and continue to boast the second best starting rotation in all of baseball with a 3.05 ERA over 156.1 IP. In addition, Boston currently leads baseball in batting average (.271 over 923 at bats) and come in second in runs scored (145) over that span. During the past week, the Red Sox hottest hitter has been outfielder, Mookie Betts, who sports a .364 on-base percentage and a .737 slugging percentage over that period. Boston faces the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers coming up this week so they should still be able to perform at this elite level and be a force.
5. Houston Astros (18-10) [Ranking Last Week: 1] - Just because the Astros dropped from the number one spot to the number five spot this week is absolutely no knock on them or the team they put out on the field everyday. Houston is still rocking it especially in the pitching department where they currently have the best combined (starting rotation and bullpen) ERA in baseball (2.54 over 251.2 IP). One reason they continue to be so dominant when it comes to pitching isn't because they possess four true number one starters, but rather because Lance McCullers Jr. has been outstanding his last three starts with a 0.90 ERA and 21 strikeouts. In addition to the pitching, the offense continues to remain lethal with the trio of Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa playing their A game all the way up to this point.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (17-11) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Aargh, matey! Just when we thought the Pirates were sailing off into the sunset, they have snuck back into the picture of being relevant once again and are currently amid a 5-game win streak. The biggest storyline for the Pirates was the outstanding debut of righty, Nick Kingham, yesterday afternoon against the rival, St. Louis Cardinals. Kingham has long been regarded as one of the Pirates top pitching prospects and he showed just that on the mound yesterday. Furthermore, the Pirates have gotten a lot of production out of Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Adam Frazier, which is why they cracked the Top 10 this week. The coming week has the Pirates facing the Nationals and Brewers, which will be a test, but if Pittsburgh performs like they did this week, they should do just fine.
7. Seattle Mariners (16-11) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Seattle went to Cleveland this past weekend and really dominated the series and earned a series win by taking 3 out of 4. The Mariners offense was the main storyline during the series and Seattle continues to prove that if you make a pitching mistake, they will make you pay for it. To date, the Mariners have played much better on the road (11-6) compared to at home (5-5), but do sport a 7-3 record over their last 10 games which is why they are in the Top 10. One of the biggest contributors for Seattle continues to be outfielder, Mitch Haniger, who hit his league leading 10th home run yesterday afternoon in Cleveland. Haniger continues to not only provide stability within the Mariners lineup, but an additional threat at the plate. In addition, Jean Segura continues to bring his A game to the plate and you should never sleep on a lineup that also includes names like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (16-11) [Ranking Last Week: 10] - Not a lot has changed for the Phillies over the past week besides the fact that they continue to find ways to win and are staying motivated under skipper, Gabe Kapler. Over the past week, no Phillies hitter has been as hot as Odubel Herrera, who put up 2 home runs, 5 RBI, 13 extra-base hits, a .368 batting average, and a .409 on-base percentage over that period. In addition, Jake Arrieta had another stellar outing this past week (7 IP, 1 R, 2 SO) and Edubray Ramos, Tommy Hunter, and Hector Neris all put up a 0.00 ERA out of the bullpen. The coming week has the Phillies playing the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals which should both be good series and give the Phillies a fighting chance to win.
9. Atlanta Braves (16-11) [Ranking Last Week: 12] - If anything is ironic, it's the fact that the Mariners, Phillies, and Braves all have identical records through 27 games. Ironic or not, the Braves deserve to be ranked in the Top 10 because just like the Phillies, Atlanta has a 6-4 record over their last 10 games. After play yesterday, the Braves offense ranks fourth in baseball in runs scored (141), second in doubles (66), second in RBI (142), and second in on-base percentage (.342) over the span of 969 at bats. In addition, Atlanta continues to get very good results from their pitching staff as illustrated by their 3.64 ERA over 249.2 IP, which puts them 9th in baseball, and are tied with the Brewers for the 7th lowest Opponent Batting Average Against (.228) so far this season. It looks like the Braves youth movement is finally starting to come a head and will be fascinating to watch over the remainder of the season.
10. Los Angeles Angels (16-12) [Ranking Last Week: 8] - As for the Angels, there is not much new to report about them or the Shohei Ohtani saga. Ohtani did leave Saturday's game with a twisted ankle and will not make his next start on Tuesday night which is somewhat of a shame, but as is the case with any sport, injuries happen and cannot be entirely prevented. One reason the Angels continue to drop off in the rankings is because of their pitching staff which has a cumulative ERA of 4.20 on the year now. More specifically, their bullpen has a 3.40 ERA to date, while their starting rotation has a 5.13 ERA. On the other hand, the offense continues to perform at a high level and now rank 8th in runs scored (129) and are tied with the Phillies for 9th in RBI with 123 over 946 at bats. It will be interesting to see what comes this week for Ohtani and to see if their pitching staff can get back to the level they were performing at earlier this season.
11. New York Mets (17-9) [Ranking Last Week: 7] - Ever since the start of the season, the New York Mets have sort of been dropping off in the Power Rankings and rightfully so. Over the last 10 games, the Mets sport a 5-5 record, but they still lead the NL East and have a win percentage of .640. The Mets starting rotation now has a 4.13 ERA on the year and their bullpen has faltered somewhat as of late. In the last 7 days, the Mets pitching staff has a cumulative ERA of 4.94 and haven't performed at the same level that they did earlier in the year. On the offensive side of things, Yoenis Cespedes still leads the team in home runs (6) and RBI (25), but he left yesterday's game with a sore thumb which could be bad news for the Mets. Either way, they still have Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia, Asdrubal Cabrera, Todd Frazier, and Adrian Gonzalez, yes I said Adrian Gonzalez, on their roster so you like their chances to rebound this coming week!
12. Oakland Athletics (14-14) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - By far the biggest storyline for the A's over the past week was the stellar performance by Sean Manaea on Friday night in which Manaea pitched 7 innings, had 0 earned runs, and recorded 7 strikeouts along with 1 walk. Manaea continues to be one of the best pitchers in the American League which really shouldn't come as a surprise when you start to look at his stuff more in-depth and the potential he brings to the mound every time he takes it. On the offensive side of things, Oakland continues to outperform expectations as they currently have the fifth best batting average in baseball (.263), are tied for the 6th most runs (140) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and have the same on-base percentage (.338) as the Boston Red Sox.
13. Toronto Blue Jays (15-12) [Ranking Last Week: 11] - As of late, the Toronto Blue Jays haven't been anywhere near as strong as they were last week over their last 10 games, with a 3-7 record over that span, but regardless their record is still strong as is the fact that they sit third among a competitive AL East division. The Blue Jays best quality to date has been their bullpen, which ranks number one in the American League, and second best in all of baseball behind only the Arizona Diamondbacks, with a 2.26 ERA over 87.2 IP. Guys like John Axford, Tyler Clippard, Aaron Loup, and Ryan Tepera all have a 0.00 ERA over the past 7 days so keep an eye on all four this coming week and let's see how they compare at this time next week.
14. Colorado Rockies (15-14) [Ranking Last Week: 14] - The Colorado Rockies currently sit in second place in the NL West and haven't had a lot of success in terms of pitching so far this year or hitting. In fact, the Rockies starting rotation has a 4.35 ERA so far this season, which is good enough for 17th in the league, while their bullpen has a 4.93 ERA, making them one of the 5 worst bullpens in the game. As is always the case, you have to take into consideration the altitude and Coors Field when looking at those stats. As of late, the Rockies have been getting a lot of production from Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and Nolan Arenado which should really come as no surprise. As the season continues to wear on, those three batters should continue to only get better and more productive which will continue to cause a legitimate threat for opposing teams.
15. San Francisco Giants (14-14) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - San Francisco is yet another team that has hit somewhat of a hot spell during their past 10 games as illustrated by their 7-3 record over that span. The Giants had a 3-game win streak heading into their matchup against the Washington Nationals last Wednesday, but were unable to hang on for the sweep. Regardless, the Giants continue to get stellar outings from Johnny Cueto, who leads the team in ERA (0.84), and Chris Stratton, who leads the team in strikeouts (24), over 32.1 IP. Over the past week, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, and Mac Williamson have been very productive at the plate and that has helped to carry the Giants somewhat as well as they have looked to overcome their bullpen flaws. Next up on the slate for the Giants are the division rival, San Diego Padres, followed up by the Atlanta Braves.