By: Chris Larson
Time for another Power Rankings report already. Hard to believe how fast time is flying by each and every week! Anyways, what a week it has been for the surging Reds, who are now amid a 6-game win streak, Freddy Peralta had a brilliant debut yesterday afternoon for the Brewers in which he recorded 13 strikeouts, and the Astros continue to prove that they have the best starting rotation in all of baseball. On the other hand, it wasn't such a good week for Dodgers fans, who were swept by the Reds, or for the Baltimore Orioles, who are the most games back from first place, in all of baseball.
With that being said, here are this weeks Top 15 Power Rankings:
1. Houston Astros (26-16) [Ranking Last Week: 5] - The Astros continue to be among the elite of the elite in all of baseball and their starting rotation is why. After Morton's 14 strikeout performance, it's hard to argue that statement especially when Houston's starting rotation just keeps rolling along. In addition, Houston is now back in first place among the AL West and the usual offensive suspects (Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and George Springer) are starting to become more productive at the plate. Over the past 7 days, the Astros have a team on-base percentage of .351 and a slugging percentage of .505 over the span of 208 at bats. It should only be a little longer before Houston starts to separate itself from the rest of the AL West.
2. New York Yankees (28-12) [Ranking Last Week: 1] - The Yankees aren't on the ridiculous run that they were on this time last week, but that does not take anything away from how great they have been as of late or the stellar 25-man roster that they have. As we saw in the Yankees-Red Sox series, the Yankees have a deeper bullpen, which is why they rank one spot above the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees have a cumulative team ERA of 3.71 so far this season and Luis Severino continues to be a huge contributor to the success of the pitching staff. In addition, Aroldis Chapman is back to being his usual self as indicated by his strikeout-per-9 rate of 17.50 over 18.0 IP this year. In terms of offense, good luck finding one of the Yankees hitters that are a guaranteed out!
3. Boston Red Sox (28-12) [Ranking Last Week: 4] - Just because the Yankees are just ahead of the Boston Red Sox, don't sleep on Boston because they are tied with New York for first place in the AL East currently. Things definitely aren't promising for Boston in the starting pitching department after Chris Sale, but the offense is certainly there. JD Martinez has really been hot as of late with a .370 on-base percentage and a .667 slugging percentage over the past week, while Mookie Betts leads the team in home runs (13) and batting average (.360) over 36 games. Next up on the schedule for Boston is the Athletics followed by the Orioles so they should be able to continue the success that they've had as of late.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (24-16) [Ranking Last Week: 2] - The Diamondbacks have really cooled off as of late and have simply just not been putting good at bats together at the plate or really generating much offense at all so far this month either. Even though the Dbacks still have a 2 and 1/2 game lead in the NL West, it's a bit frightening considering how strong the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants have the potential to be. If Arizona wants to have staying power, they're going to need to find a way to start having more productive at bats and do better in situations with runners in scoring position. With that being said, they still are doing wonders with their pitching staff and have the second best staff ERA in all of baseball.
5. Washington Nationals (24-18) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Considering the poor start that the Nationals got off to at the start of the season, the way they have been playing lately has been a breath of fresh air for Nats fans all over. Over their last 10 games, the Nationals have a 8-2 record and have cut down their deficit out of first place to a game and a half. What a game Mark Reynolds had yesterday evening against his former team the Diamondbacks and Bryce Harper just continues to be Bryce Harper. Furthermore, Mad Max already has 91 strikeouts on the year over 58.2 innings of work and the rest of the starting rotation (Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Tanner Roark), have also been very solid.
6. Atlanta Braves (24-15) [Ranking Last Week: 10] - The biggest surprise in all of baseball continues to be the youngsters down in Atlanta, also known as the Baby Braves, who have a 6-4 record over their last 10 games and have the best record in the NL right now. Atlanta has already shown everyone around baseball that they are serious, they have enough momentum to continue to be relevant as we move closer to the trade deadline, and are no longer the pushover that they might have been the last couple of seasons. The best thing for Atlanta, outside of their offense, is their starting pitching, which has a 3.48 ERA over the span of 209.2 IP so far, putting them third in the NL and fifth in all of baseball.
7. Los Angeles Angels (24-16) [Ranking Last Week: 8] - Even with all of the injuries that the Angels have once again faced in their starting rotation, they are staying relevant and sit only 1 game back of first place in the AL West. A big reason why is because the Halos continue to get a lot of offense thanks to guys like Mike Trout and Andrelton Simmons. As it stands right now, the Angels are tied for fourth, with their division rivals, the Houston Astros, in runs scored (202), are tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for third in home runs (56), and are fourth in slugging percentage (.439). The Angels have a big series coming up this week against their division rival, Houston Astros, followed up by four games against the Rays.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (24-17) [Ranking Last Week: 13] - The best moment for the Brew Crew over the past week was Freddy Peralta's brilliant 13-strikeout debut performance yesterday afternoon, as previously mentioned. Lorenzo Cain continues to be a nice pickup for the Brewers offense from this past winter and of course, Josh Hader, is as valuable of a weapon as they come. Hader already has 48 strikeouts on the season and is valuable just like Archie Bradley is to the Diamondbacks and Andrew Miller is to the Indians. The one downside to the Brewers this year has been their defense as they rank fourth in errors with 29 along with a fielding percentage of .981. However, you gotta give the Brewers credit for staying in first place even with injuries to their starting rotation.
9. Philadelphia Phillies (23-16) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Over their last 10 games, the Phillies have a 7-3 record and have a +39 run differential so far this season, which is the third best in the National League. At the start of the season, many were worried about how well third baseman, Maikel Franco, would fare following last year, but he currently leads the team in home runs with 7 and RBI with 28 over 124 at bats, and Odubel Herrera continues to be quite an offensive juggernaut as well. On the pitching side, no one has been better than Aaron Nola, who has a 1.99 ERA over the span of 58.2 IP with 51 strikeouts. If there was one weakness, it would definitely be at the back end of the bullpen, but that is something that can always be addressed come the trade deadline.
10. Colorado Rockies (22-19) [Ranking Last Week: 6] - It's hard to get an accurate read on the Rockies this year compared to last considering that they are in second place in the NL West, but have a run differential of -20, which is fifth worst in the NL. However, Bud Black and Company are doing a really good job of helping the starting rotation to find it's groove and keep the team in ballgames without having an overworked bullpen. Out of every team in baseball, the Rockies probably have the deepest bullpen, but the good news is that Colorado's pen has thrown the 20th fewest innings so far this season. That's especially good news for a team that has it's eyes set on making it to October and hopefully going deep towards a World Series Championship.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (22-16) [Ranking Last Week: 3] - The Cardinals aren't as hot as they were this time last week, but they still have a 6-4 record over their last 10 games and sit only a 1/2 game back of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central. A big reason why the Cardinals have been so successful, outside of the usual offensive weapons (Jose Martinez, Paul DeJong, and Tommy Pham), is because of a guy having a very quiet season, Miles Mikolas. Mikolas pitched over in Japan last season prior to coming back to the US this past winter and could very well be a dark horse candidate to win the NL Cy Young Award, if he continues to put together starts like he has been.
12. Seattle Mariners (22-17) [Ranking Last Week: 11] - As time continues to press forward, the Seattle Mariners have quietly had a nice start to this season and are playing pretty good baseball. As it stands right now, the Mariners sit 2 and 1/2 games back from first in the AL West and have a +6 run differential on the year, which isn't great, but it's not awful either. To date, the Mariners have been much better on the road (14-8) compared to at home (8-8) and have one of the better offensives in the American League. It's really easy to give praise to Seattle's lineup because it includes speed, power hitters, and everything else in between. The loss of Robinson Cano yesterday hurts the lineup depth, but hopefully Seattle can overcome that and continue to stay relevant.
13. Cleveland Indians (20-19) [Ranking Last Week: 12] - Over the course of the last week, there has been little change in the Indians play and we all just keep waiting for them to go on a run, but it just hasn't happened yet. Not sure why that is, but one factor could be because the offense has struggled and the bullpen was very bad when Andrew Miller was on the DL. Since last week's report, Miller has returned from the DL, so hopefully the bullpen can find its groove again, and help get the team on a run. After all, the AL Central is looking to be baseball's weakest division this season so it shouldn't be too difficult for Cleveland to find the momentum to pull away from everyone else.
14. Minnesota Twins (17-19) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Minnesota is another one of those teams that we all keep waiting for to go on an extended run, but it also hasn't come together as expected so far. Although, Minnesota has been playing a bit better as of late, as illustrated by their 7-3 record over their last 10 games, along with their team ERA of 2.89, over the last week. On the offensive side of things, Eddie Rosario has really carried the lineup the last week and now leads the team in home runs (9), RBI (27), and hits (41) over the span of 143 at bats. Minnesota is slated to to play Seattle, St. Louis, and Milwaukee this coming week, none of which will be easy, so it should be an interesting next 7 days for them.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (23-17) [Ranking Last Week: 14] - After the moves Pittsburgh made this past winter, many of us expected them to simply fall off the cliff and become irrelevant for the foreseeable future, but here they are, only a 1/2 game back from first place and right in the mix in the middle part of May. Simply impressive and proof that sometimes even though a team doesn't have marquee names on it's 25-man roster, they can simply scrap together enough to field a competitive team that has a decent shot of winning everyday. To date, the Corey Dickerson pickup continues to pay off huge dividends for the Pirates offense and you can't go wrong with the 3.14 ERA that Trevor Williams has put up, over 46 innings of work, either.