By Chris Larson
Welcome to another Power Rankings report! You might be a bit confused as to the format of this week's report, but it is a new format and something that I am going to start using every week. In addition, I am adding on a Week in Review portion to the report which will discuss the week's best events that happened across the league. Remember, there is no biased feelings here so credit will definitely be given where it is due!
Week in Review
1. Houston Astros (30-18) [Ranking Last Week: 1] - The Astros continue to get a plethora of outstanding starting pitching and are just so dominant. They look like they could seriously repeat as World Series contenders and I don't foresee that changing anytime soon. Just to illustrate how dominant the starting pitching has been, look no further than the 2.25 ERA that Houston's starters have put up this year over 308 innings of work. Simply brilliant and many people were worried about how their bullpen would fare, but as it stands right now, the Astros have the best bullpen in all of baseball with a 2.89 ERA over 119.1 IP.
2. New York Yankees (30-13) [Ranking Last Week: 2] - When it comes to the Yankees, you could basically flip a coin and put them as the best team overall or just a notch below the Red Sox. No team is perfect, but the Yankees have been very successful to this point and are one of the three best teams in baseball thanks to a potent offense and a shutdown bullpen. In addition, you can't pass up the potent offense either that the Yankees possess. New York currently ranks first in runs scored (254), are tied for second with the Cleveland Indians in home runs (67), and have a team on-base percentage of .342 over the span of 1,501 at bats.
3. Boston Red Sox (32-15) [Ranking Last Week: 3] - The Red Sox are tied with the Yankees for first place in the American League East and that is one race that will likely come down to the wire. As mentioned above, you could put the Red Sox ahead of the Yankees or vice versa, but Boston does have a 6-4 record over their last 10 games and a run differential of +75 on the year. How about the year that Mookie Betts is having? You could easily make the argument that he is the best player in baseball right now, even over the outstanding Mike Trout, and you can't go wrong with the offensive numbers that JD Martinez has put up to date either.
4. Washington Nationals (24-21) [Ranking Last Week: 5] - Over the past week, the best moment for the Nationals was by far when their ace workhorse, Max Scherzer, reached 100 strikeouts and became the first starting pitcher in baseball to do it. To say, Scherzer is just a very good top of the rotation would be a vast understatement and he should do just fine landing in the Hall of Fame once his career comes to an end for good. In addition, thanks to the contributions of Max Scherzer and the other foursome in the Nationals rotation, Washington currently has the best starting rotation ERA in the National League (2.96 over 282.1 IP).
5. Chicago Cubs (25-19) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Chicago is one of those teams that still doesn't seem to get nearly as much attention as they deserve even though it's only been two years since they won a World Series Championship. The team quietly has a 6-4 record over their last 10 games, are a game and a half back from first place in the NL Central, and have been clicking on all cylinders for a while now. Chicago currently has the second best offense in terms of runs scored in the NL (237 over 1,565 at bats) and have the best pitching staff ERA in the National League as well (3.28 over 403.2 IP). Don't sleep on the Cubbies because when you do, they will wake up and surprise you!
6. Atlanta Braves (28-17) [Ranking Last Week: 6] - With every passing week, it seems like the Braves continue to become more and more amazing and find someone new to call up from their stacked farm system. Between their starting rotation and bullpen, the Braves have the 6th best ERA in baseball (3.51 over 410.2 IP) and the offense is certainly nothing to sneeze at either. As it stands right now, Atlanta has the most runs scored in the National League (243), the most RBI (232), and the second best on-base percentage (.338) over the course of 1,585 at bats. A big reason why is because of that stud second baseman of theirs, Ozzie Albies!
7. Philadelphia Phillies (26-18) [Ranking Last Week: 9] - As is the case with the Braves, the Phillies are another one of those teams that are young, talented, and stacked in terms of the assets that they possess. Game Kapler & Company continue to do a tremendous job of keeping their young players motivated everyday they take the field and the results continue to be seen in their record. To date, the Phillies have a +35 run differential and their best player over the past week was easily Caesar Hernandez who ended the week batting: .381/.458/.762 over 21 at bats with 8 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, 2 RBI, 3 walks, and 2 stolen bases.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (28-19) [Ranking Last Week: 8] - Even with the absence of Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson from their starting rotation, the Brewers continue to find ways to win and keep those close games in their favor. Of course, they have a tremendous asset in their bullpen in, Josh Hader, who every team would love to have and the rest of the bullpen has been very good as well. Those reasons are why the Brewers are currently tied with the best bullpen ERA in the NL (2.62 over 178.1 IP) and why they possess the most strikeouts in the NL (205) over that span. After all, Josh Hader has a strikeouts-per-9 rate of over 18 himself!
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-20) [Ranking Last Week: 15] - Almost as surprising as the Braves and Phillies, the Pirates also continue to find ways to stay relevant and competitive. Heading into play today, they sit only a game and a half back of first place in a tough NL Central division and have a +24 run differential on the year. Pittsburgh arguably has the best outfield from an offensive perspective as Corey Dickerson leads the team in RBI (29) and hits (51), Starling Marte has the best batting average (.308), and Gregory Polanco leads the ship with the most home runs (8). Certainly surprising for folks who said the Pirates would struggle to score this season!
10. Seattle Mariners (27-19) [Ranking Last Week: 12] - Following the disappointing news regarding Robinson Cano from this past week, the Seattle Mariners need a dose of good news and that good news comes in the form of the way the team has continued to play thus far. The Mariners sit 2 games out of first place in the AL West, and while they likely won't win the division, they still have a very good chance of snagging a Wild Card spot. How about that dominating performance by Big Maple on Saturday night? James Paxton continues to be one of the elite starting pitchers in the American League and could quietly end up in the Top 5 in AL Cy Young voting.
11. Tampa Bay Rays (22-23) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - The Tampa Bay Rays had their 9-game win streak snapped yesterday, but you gotta give credit where it is due. The Rays have put together a nice stretch as of late and are doing it with a four-man rotation and by having the once unconventional, "Bullpen Day", as part of their routine. Sergio Romo got the start on Saturday night as well as yesterday afternoon and that is something that made him more than ecstatic. Romo sat down the Angels first three hitters in order on Saturday and went an inning and a third yesterday, while recording 3 strikeouts and giving up 2 walks.
12. Colorado Rockies (25-22) [Ranking Last Week: 10] - Colorado still hasn't quite hit its stride yet, especially from an offensive perspective, but the Rockies continue to get very good performances from their young starting rotation. The problem for the Rockies has been that they've been able to pitch very good at home (Coors Field), but have struggled to do much offensive damage while there. Still, Charlie Blackmon is up to 12 home runs so far, Trevor Story has 35 RBI over 172 at bats, and Nolan Arenado has a .418 on-base percentage over 157 at bats. The best starter so far has been, Kyle Freeland, who has a 3.17 ERA over 54 innings of work with 49 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (25-19) [Ranking Last Week: 11] - Here we are, yet again, talking about another team in the NL Central, but it's well deserved given how the Cardinals have played so far this year. They have cooled off from where they were a few weeks ago, but St. Louis has done very well in the pitching department, but has struggled offensively. Miles Mikolas continues to prove that he was a treasure find for the Cardinals over this past winter and Jose Martinez along with Tommy Pham have done a lot of the offensive heavy lifting to date. Over the past week, Martinez is hitting: .435/.481/.652 over 23 at bats with 10 hits, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 8 RBI, and 3 walks.
14. Los Angeles Angels (26-21) [Ranking Last Week: 7] - The Angels were finally able to snap their losing streak yesterday afternoon following a win against the aforementioned, Tampa Bay Rays, and continue to hang around in the postseason conversation. During their recent losing streak, the team struggled offensively, which was quite unusual given that they ranked so high on many offensive metrics earlier this year, but it has yet to be seen if those struggles will continue for much longer. Shohei Ohtani put together another superb outing yesterday afternoon pitching 7 and 2/3 innings, while recording 9 strikeouts.
15. Oakland Athletics (25-22) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Don't look now, but the A's are currently in the midst of a 4-game win streak and currently sit in fourth place in the American League West. Oakland probably has no shot at winning the division considering the other three teams ahead of this, but progress is starting to be made for a team that has had trouble finding it's identity the past couple of years. The A's currently have the fourth most runs in the American League (222 over 1,629 at bats) and a big reason why is because of guys such as Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Khris Davis. All three of those players have long been looked at as offensive staples for the A's and you can't go wrong with the year, Jed Lowrie, is quietly having either.
MVPS of the Week
1. JD Martinez (Red Sox): 9-for-26 w/ 5 home runs, 8 RBI, 3 BB, .346 BA, & a .414 OBP
2. Andrew Heaney (Angels): 0.64 ERA over 14.0 IP with 17 Strikeouts
3. Daniel Mengden (Athletics): 0.69 ERA over 13.0 IP, 0.85 WHIP
1. Brandon Belt (SF Giants): 12-for-27 w/ 5 home runs, 11 RBI, .444 BA, & a .500 OBP
2. Jesus Aguilar (Brewers): 8-for-24 with 4 home runs, 6 RBI, .333 BA, and a .346 OBP
3. Jack Flaherty (STL Cardinals): 1.35 ERA over 13.1 IP with 16 Strikeouts