- The Yankees do everything well and are afraid of nobody. They lead our latest edition of Power Rankings.
Remember when pundits considered the 2017 Yankees a plucky bunch that didn't resemble the evil empires of years past? Those were the days. It shouldn't surprise you that the Yankees are in the top spot after winning 17 of their last 19 games, but there's plenty of movement in the rest of our latest Power Rankings.
30. Baltimore Orioles (Last Week: 24): I covered most of what makes the Orioles a trainwreck in Wednesday's piece on why they should blow it all up, but I can't get over the fact that Dylan Bundy allowed more home runs (nine) over three starts than he recorded strikeouts (eight).
29. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 30): As Jon Tayler wrote when Matt Harvey was shipped to the Reds from the Mets, it's hard to envision a worse place for Harvey to continue his career. The Reds are struggling to develop good starting pitching, and Harvey probably needs a full reboot now that his velocity has declined. A change of scenery will likely benefit him, but the bandbox of Great American Ballpark may not.
28. Chicago White Sox (LW: 29): It might be time to be concerned about Lucas Giolito. The 23-year-old hurler is struggling to maintain his velocity—he's averaging 92 mph on his fastball when he averaged 97 in 2015—and leads the big leagues in walks. The former first-round pick has still made just 18 starts in his big league career, but his strikeout rate sits at a paltry 5.3 per nine, and his walk right is an unsightly 6.3. It's been a disappointing start for the White Sox, and Giolito's struggles may be the worst of them all.
27. San Diego Padres (LW: 24): Before suffering an elbow injury in spring training, Dinelson Lamet was supposed to be the Padres' breakout starting pitcher. Instead, it's been rookie Joey Lucchesi. The 24-year-old with the funky delivery delivered another effective outing against the Nationals on Wednesday night, striking out six and allowing just one earned run over six innings. Manager Andy Green is keeping Lucchesi's pitch count low (he's gone over 100 just once this season), but he's the most promising arm on the team's 25-man roster.
26. Miami Marlins (LW: 28): Lewis Brinson was the best prospect the Marlins acquired this summer after trading Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old outfielder hasn't adapted well to everyday big league play: He has just six extra-base hits in 128 plate appearances and is hitting a putrid .169. Perhaps it's just an early-season slump, but the Marlins must be hoping that Brinson improves soon.
25. Kansas City Royals (LW: 26): Let's take a look at the Royals' 10-run first inning against the Orioles, as it will likely be their best highlight of the season.
24. Texas Rangers (LW: 25): There's not much to like about this team. Every regular contributor of the bullpen has an ERA over 4 except José LeClerc. Offseason acquisition Matt Moore has an ERA of 7.71 over seven starts. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor have been on the disabled list since mid-April. They are 7–16 at home.
The one bright spot is Nomar Mazara, who hit his ninth and tenth home runs of the season in an extra-innings win against the Tigers on Wednesday. Mazara is now slashing .294/.357/.545 for the season.
23. Detroit Tigers (LW: 22): Most of the rebuilding franchises in 2018 are struggling because they're breaking in young starting pitchers. The Tigers playing better than many expected them to because of the performances of Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd and Francisco Liriano. Each starter has an ERA under 4 and fewer than five homers allowed. The Tigers may not win more than 70 games this year, but three of their starting pitchers are allowing them to remain competitive whenever they take the hill.
22. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 23): All hail Blake Snell, the most underrated pitcher in the American League. After struggling against the Yankees in his second start of the season, Snell has an 1.82 ERA and a 4.7 strikeout-to-walk rate over six starts.
21. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 13): Most have attributed the Dodgers' poor start to their bad injury luck: Justin Turner hasn't played a game this season, Corey Seager is out for the year with an elbow injury, Clayton Kershaw was recently shelved with a biceps injury, Rich Hill and Yasiel Puig recently returned from DL stints, and Logan Forsythe remains on the DL with a shoulder injury. It's been bad.
But the Dodgers also don't do anything particularly well. They are in the bottom half of the big leagues in team batting average and home runs. They have nine blown saves, which is tied for the most in the big leagues with Detroit, in just 16 save opportunities. They struggle to get leads and then they struggle to hold them. Maybe getting healthy will solve that, but the quality of baseball being played in L.A. isn't high.
20. Minnesota Twins (LW: 20): It's been a brutal start for Lance Lynn. Over his last four starts, he has an 8.27 ERA and a .341 opponents batting average against with 13 walks and 17 strikeouts. While he improved in his last start against the White Sox (6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K), Lynn has not looked like the frontline starter that the Twins envisioned when they signed him to a one-year, $12 million deal this winter.
19. New York Mets (LW: 4): Thank goodness the Mets had that 11–1 start, because they are 7–16 since. The offense has scored two runs or fewer eight times in the last eleven games (including three shutouts), and starting pitcher Jason Vargas has a 13.86 ERA and a 2.676 WHIP in his first three starts as a Met. The fun times are over in Queens.
18. San Francisco Giants (LW: 19): Evan Longoria has discovered his power stroke—19 of his 32 hits have gone for extra bases—but hasn't been terribly patient at the plate. He's taken just three walks in 133 plate appearances, which has kept his OBP at a mere .271.
17. Oakland A's (LW: 14): The most touching moment of the week came when A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty arrived for his first at-bat after his mother, Gretchen, died at 55 from complications of ALS.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 21): The Pirates remain in the thick of the NL Central race even if many thought they'd be fading by now. Perhaps the most exciting revelation has been outfielder Corey Dickerson, who is slashing .323/.361/.534 with an OPS+ of 145.
15. Cleveland Indians (LW: 10): Jose Ramirez would really like to forget his first eight games of the season, because he's been outstanding since then.
3/29-4/7: .067/.200/.167, 1 HR, 3 RBIs
4/8-5/9: .343/.423/.685, 9 HR, 19 RBIs
14. Chicago Cubs (LW: 12): In his first start of the season, Jon Lester surrendered seven hits and three earned runs to the lowly Marlins. Whispers abounded that Lester may be declining. Since then, he's amassed a 2.31 ERA with a .213 opponents batting average. He anchors a pitching staff that has received no help from new acquisition Yu Darvish (0–3, 6.00 ERA), who was recently placed on the DL.
13. Colorado Rockies (LW: 18): The Rockies are winning with ... their starting pitching? Winners of six of its last seven, Colorado has held opponents to two runs or fewer in six of those games. The best performer has been ace Jon Gray, who is sporting a 0.45 ERA with 25 strikeouts over his last three starts.
12. Seattle Mariners (LW: 17): At age 30, Dee Gordon probably isn't going to alter his plate approach. One can only wonder if the Mariners wish he would. It's hard to complain about any player who sports a .340 average like Gordon does, but he's taken just two walks in 152 plate appearances this season—a stupefying 1.3% walk rate. He's stolen 15 bases in 17 attempts, but if he doesn't get a hit, then he's probably not getting on base.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 9): The Blue Jays are going to come at you with old men out of the bullpen ... and they're going to succeed! Thirty-three year-old Tyler Clippard, 35-year-old John Axford and 35-year old Seung-hwan Oh have combined for a 1.83 ERA over 54 innings
10. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 11): They're good! After a four-game sweep of the reeling Giants, the Phillies now stand at 22–15. Most encouraging is the play of the polarizing Odubel Herrerra, who is slashing .353/.420/.531 with five homers.
9. Atlanta Braves (LW: 17): If you have an MLB.tv account, this is a team you should watch once a week. While all the talk centered around rookie outfielder Ronald Acuña entering the season, the Braves' biggest young star has been second baseman Ozzie Albies, who smashed a grand slam against the Marlins on Thursday for his 11th home run of the season. Albies has scored 35 runs and has a 55% extra-base hit rate—and he's only 21 years old!
8. Washington Nationals (LW: 15): It's not quite a Barry Bonds season, but Bryce Harper has walked 40 times in just 171 plate appearances. That's good for a .404 OBP despite the fact he's hitting a mere .228 on the season.
7. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 6): It's hard to identify a more dependable player than Lorenzo Cain, who looks like one of the best signings of the offseason. The outfielder is slashing .283/.395/.465, remains one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball and has stabilized an otherwise inconsistent lineup. Also, if you were looking for a Josh Hader update, the Brewers flamethrower has an 18.8 strikeout-per-nine rate for the season.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 8): The Cardinals have received incredible value from Miles Mikolas, who has a 1.30 ERA and an 8.3 strikeout-to-walk rate over his last five starts. They'll need him to keep performing, though, as wunderkind Luke Weaver has struggled (5.30 ERA entering Friday) and ace Carlos Martinez was recently placed on the DL with a strained right lat muscle.
5. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 5): As the weather warms up, so does Justin Upton. The slugger is hitting .333/.372/.769 since May 1 with five homers and 11 runs scored. The Angels, consequently, are 7–2 during that stretch. If they can get Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani (.354 and five homers in just 70 plate appearances) and Upton clicking simultaneously, the Angels will be a legitimate AL contender.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 3): A.J. Pollock is healthy and currently your leader for first-half NL MVP. The centerfielder has 11 home runs and is hitting .297/.353/.645/ to help offset the unusual struggles of Paul Goldschmidt (.218/.346/.398). With the Dodgers unable to get healthy or hit with runners in scoring position, the Diamondbacks are building a healthy lead in the NL West that might get too big to surrender barring a catastrophic losing streak.
3. Houston Astros (LW: 1): Gerrit Cole threw one of the best outings in recent memory in his 8–0 shutout of the Diamondbacks (16 strikeouts, 100 Game Score). It's fair to say the Astros have unlocked the former No. 1 pick; just look at this breaking ball at one minute in.
2. Boston Red Sox (LW: 2): While Mookie Betts is making a MVP push, Xander Bogaerts is quietly anchoring the Boston infield after a disastrous 2017 season. The 25-year-old shortstop has rebounded to hit .330 after a short stint on the DL. He could be a little more patient (three walks to 23 strikeouts), but the Bogaerts of old appears to be back.
1. New York Yankees (LW: 7): They have won 17 out of 19 games and staged memorable comebacks in four of them. They have received crucial hits from Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. They have depth, they have a bullpen and they have more power than any team in the big leagues. Good luck stopping them.