By: Chris Larson
Happy Memorial Day everyone! Time for another Week in Review/Top 15 Power Rankings report. Hard to believe that we're already almost two months into the regular season. Let's get underway!
Week in Review
Top 15 Power Rankings
1. Boston Red Sox (36-17) [Ranking Last Week: 3] - The Red Sox haven't necessarily been lighting the world on fire as of late, but they are still the best team in baseball and have the best record in the game as well. It's hard to deny the fact that the Red Sox lineup is loaded offensively, but there are still some question marks regarding their starting rotation and bullpen. However, the entire pitching staff has found a way to hang in there and have done a very good job so far. For the month of May, the Red Sox have a middle-of-the-pack pitching staff with a 3.76 ERA over 218.0 IP. A big reason why the Red Sox have hung around in the pitching department isn't because of the obvious guy, Chris Sale, but also reliever, Joe Kelly. Good luck knocking them down because they are loaded and look primed to play deep into October as of right now.
2. New York Yankees (33-16) [Ranking Last Week: 2] - Just like last week, the Yankees find themselves as the second best team in baseball once again. As is the case with the Red Sox, the Yankees are loaded offensively and lead all of baseball with 284 runs scored so far on the year over the span of 1,678 at bats. It should come as no surprise that Aaron Judge leads the team in home runs (14), RBI (39), on-base percentage (.425), and hits (53) over 183 at bats. While that isn't surprising, what it shocking is that rookie, Miguel Andujar, leads the team in batting average (.291) over 165 at bats. Shouldn't really be all that shocking considering his talent level and high ceiling, but considering the other names in the Yankees lineup, you might think otherwise.
3. Houston Astros (34-20) [Ranking Last Week: 1] - Houston holds a 7-3 record over their last 10 games, but have a tremendous run differential of +119, which is by far the best in baseball. The next closest team to that run differential is the Boston Red Sox (+77). The Astros pitching has been fine, both their starting rotation and their bullpen, and in fact we're really witnessing history right now with the way the rotation has performed. On the offensive side of things, the team still hasn't clicked entirely, but based on the track records of their hitters, you have to think that's going to change sooner than later. After all, Jose Altuve has a .330 batting average on the year, Carlos Correa has 36 RBI, Alex Bregman leads the team in on-base percentage (.384), and George Springer already has 11 Spring Dingers. You know there's plenty of Spring Dingers to come along with Altuve hits and Correa RBI's through the remainder of the season.
4. Atlanta Braves (30-21) [Ranking Last Week: 6] - Atlanta locked down their 30th win of the season yesterday afternoon following a 7-1 win over the Boston Red Sox and while the Braves lost the series, they did turn around a three-game losing streak and did so against a tough Boston lineup. That has to give some confidence to the Braves young pitching staff and the other young offensive guns that Atlanta has on their 25-man roster. We're still waiting to see third baseman, Austin Riley, receive his callus to the big leagues, but he's yet another promising prospect just like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna once were. With the young crop of players, both offensively and pitching, that the Braves have in their possession, they're going to be a powerhouse within the NL East and the rest of baseball for several seasons to come. This is only the beginning!
5. Milwaukee Brewers (34-20) [Ranking Last Week: 8] - The last week has treated the Milwaukee Brewers quite well as they're currently in the midst of a 3-game win streak and have a 8-2 record over their last 10 games. What's amazing is the lead that Milwaukee has built up in the NL Central as well. Heading into play today, the Brewers currently sit 4 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in first place and are sort of in the same position that they were last year around this time. Last year, heading up to the trade deadline, the Brewers were 5 or 6 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs and that is when everyone was pushing for them to add another starter to their rotation. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, which caused Milwaukee to lose their impressive lead, but maybe things will be different this year. There's a lot to like about this year's Brew Crew squad.
6. Seattle Mariners (32-20) [Ranking Last Week: 10] - Coming off a sweep of the Minnesota Twins this weekend, the Seattle Mariners are probably the hottest team in baseball right now. Don't ignore the fact that they only sit 1 game back of the Houston Astros in second place either! In addition, what's amazing is that Seattle has continued to perform at such a high level even after receiving the disappointing news about Robinson Cano's suspension last week. The Mariners made a terrific trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, in which they received reliever, Alex Colome, and outfielder, Denard Span. Span is what Seattle needed in their outfield and while Colome has struggled this year, maybe a change of scenery will help him, which would only boost the Mariners chances of finally ending their postseason drought more.
7. Washington Nationals (29-22) [Ranking Last Week: 4] - The Nationals find themselves amid a three game win streak heading into play today and are coming off a week in which they played the Padres and the Marlins. Certainly two of the weaker teams in baseball right now, but that is no disrespect to the level of talent that both of those teams have down in the lower levels of the minor league system. Regardless, the Nationals continue to be on cruz control especially in the starting pitching department. The Nationals currently have the best starting rotation in the National League with a 2.94 ERA over 318.1 IP and come in second in strikeouts (155) as well as Opponent Batting Average Against (.211) over that span. Who would have thought that Jeremy Hellickson would be contributing at the level that he has over his past 5 starts?!
8. St. Louis Cardinals (28-22) [Ranking Last Week: 13] - St. Louis is one of those team's that deserves to get a lot more respect than they have because they are a pretty dang good baseball team. They may not wow you with their defense every night, especially in the infield, but their starting rotation is something that is definitely going to capture your attention. Miles Mikolas was mentioned before, but beyond Mikolas, Jack Flaherty has been extremely impressive over the past 7 days, posting a 1.32 ERA over 13.2 IP. In addition, the Cardinals are getting ready for the debut of another highly anticipated arm in, Alex Reyes, this coming Wednesday night against the Brewers. Reyes is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but struck out 13 hitters in BOTH of his rehab starts. If Reyes can carry that over to the big league club, watch out!
9. Philadelphia Phillies (29-21) [Ranking Last Week: 7] - Philadelphia has cooled off somewhat from where they were last week at this time, but that shouldn't take away from the fantastic season that the Phillies are currently experiencing. Everything seems to be clicking for the Fightin' Phils at the right time and a lot of credit needs to be given to Gabe Kapler and his entire coaching staff for helping to get the team to where they are today. It has yet to be seen if the Phillies can keep this up for the remainder of the season, but they're only a 1/2 game back from the division leading Atlanta Braves and could look to make a big splash or two coming up at the deadline to push them over the hump and give them the best possible chance to clinch a playoff berth.
10. Chicago Cubs (27-22) [Ranking Last Week: 5] - Over the past 10 days, the Cubs are playing 500 baseball with a 5-5 record and still sit 4 and 1/2 games back from first place in the NL Central, but continue to have the highest run differential (+70) among the five teams in the Central. With that being said, the Cubs seem to be having a hard time putting together a dominant streak this year and really going on a run. They will put together a nice win streak and then lose just as many games, but there's enough talent on their 25-man roster, that you have to think that will turn around sooner than later. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Cubs currently have the second best offense in the National League, based on runs scored, with 279 over 1,863 at bats or the fact that Chicago has the third best pitching staff (3.37 ERA) in the National League either.
11. Cleveland Indians (26-25) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - It seems like we all keep waiting for the Indians to finally turn the corner and create a lead within the AL Central which seems to be the case for them over the past 10 days. During that span, Cleveland has a 6-4 record, they have won 2 games in a row, and have a 3 and 1/2 game lead over the Detroit Tigers for first place in the division. That doesn't take away from the problems that Cleveland's bullpen has had though or the fact that Andrew Miller landed back on the DL this past week. With that being said, the Indians still have the second best pitching staff in the American League (3.42 ERA over 331.2 IP) and a big reason why is because of the dominating four-some of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, and Trevor Bauer. The Indians start a three game series against the White Sox this afternoon followed up by a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
12. Los Angeles Angels (29-24) [Ranking Last Week: 14] - Since the beginning of the season and over about the past two weeks, the Angels have lost some steam in terms of the way they've been playing and where they stand among the AL West. Going into today, the Angels sit in third place 4 and 1/2 games back from first place and if the playoffs started today, the Angels would miss out on clinching the second Wild Card spot by 3 and 1/2 games to the Seattle Mariners. Regardless, Tyler Skaggs continues to be the Angels best starter with a 3.11 ERA on the year over 55.0 IP and Garrett Richards has also stepped up to the plate with a strikeouts-per-9 rate of 10.00 so far. On the offensive side, Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons, and Justin Upton continue to do a majority of the heavy lifting in the lineup. If the Angels are going to make the postseason, they will need another guy or two to step up and contribute at a higher offensive level over the remainder of the regular season.
13. Colorado Rockies (28-25) [Ranking Last Week: 12] - Colorado continues to be one of those teams that is hard to read because they continue to receive stellar performances from their young starting rotation, but have a negative run differential (-22) despite being in first place in the NL West. The Rockies pitching staff currently sits towards the bottom of the National League with a cumulative ERA of 4.36 over 469.0 IP and their offense has scored the same number of runs as the San Francisco Giants (214). However, with the way that Carlos Gonzalez has struggled at the plate to this point, hopefully yesterday's performance is a step in the right direction. Gonzalez finished the day yesterday 4-for-4 with 1 home run and 2 RBI. The Rockies will need him to step up and contribute offensively along with Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story.
14. Oakland Athletics (28-25) [Ranking Last Week: 15] - You might look at me cross-eyed for including the Oakland A's in the Top 15 the past two weeks, but they certainly deserve it with the way they have continued to play. During their past 10 games, the A's have a 7-3 record and took 2 games against the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend. The A's certainly have a very formidable lineup with guys like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie, and Marcus Semien. The loss of Khris Davis this past week hurts the A's lineup depth and offensive strength, but the other guys should be able to pick up for the loss of Davis. In terms of starting pitching, Daniel Mengden has been phenomenal all season and leads the team in ERA (2.85 over 66.1 IP), while Sean Manaea has given the A's another formidable guy at the top of the rotation and now has 53 strikeouts over 70 IP.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-26) [Ranking Last Week: N/A] - Even though the Diamondbacks haven't played well for a long period of time, they still deserve to make the list simply because of the strength of their pitching staff. While the offense has scuffled lately, the Dbacks pitching staff has a combined 3.33 ERA over 467.2 IP and a big reason why continues to be because of Patrick Corbin and of course the formidable bullpen group that Arizona has built up. Who would have thought that one of the best relievers in baseball this season would be TJ McFarland? Heading into play today, McFarland has a 1.67 ERA over 32.1 IP and has done very well for the Dbacks when they've needed him to this point especially in long relief. Furthermore, Arizona continues to stay alive because they are tied for the best defense in all of baseball with the reigning World Series Champion, Houston Astros. The Dbacks have committed 16 errors so far this year which results in a .727 Defensive Efficiency Ratio.
MVPs of the Week
1. Gleyber Torres (Yankees): 7-for-19 w/ 5 home runs, 9 RBI, 1 BB, a .368 BA, & a .429 OBP
2. Ronald Guzman (Rangers): 8-for-22 w/ 1 double, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 9 RBI, 2 BB, a .364 BA, & a .440 OBP
3. Jose Berrios (Twins): 2.35 ERA over 15.1 IP with 17 Strikeouts
1. Walker Buehler (Dodgers): 1.29 ERA over 14 IP with a .128 Opponent Batting Average Against
2. Scooter Gennett (Reds): 12-for-24 w/ 2 doubles, 3 home runs, 10 RBI, 2 BB, a .500 BA, & a .519 OBP
3. Mark Reynolds (Nationals): 8-for-16 w/ 3 home runs, 3 RBI, a .500 BA & a .500 OBP