- This week's Power Rankings highlights the teams that most exemplify what baseball is in 2019: homers, strikeouts and walks.
Another Friday is here, and so is another edition of SI’s MLB Power Rankings. For this week’s theme, we’re looking at teams whose offenses are the most of-the-moment—those with the highest combined rate of strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Some of baseball’s best offenses are in the group. So are some of baseball’s worst. And they’re all doing their part to drive up the game’s record-high rate of three true outcomes. (35% of plate appearances have ended in either a home run, strikeout, or walk in 2019, up from 30% in 2009 or 25% in 1989.)
30. Baltimore Orioles (22-58; Last Week: 30)
29. Toronto Blue Jays (29-52; Last Week: 28)
The Blue Jays have just a few weeks before they’ll start being dismantled at the deadline. Toronto’s biggest trade chips are pitchers (Marcus Stroman, Ken Giles, potentially Aaron Sanchez), but there are a few position players who might be moved, too, such as Justin Smoak. In other words, Toronto’s lackluster offense—which earns its spot here because of its many strikeouts, as it certainly doesn’t have very much else going for it—will likely continue to remain lackluster and full of strikeouts.
28. Detroit Tigers (26-50; Last Week: 29)
The Tigers’ offense is the worst in the game—a 75 OPS+, which puts them on pace to be one of the five weakest offenses in the last half-century. There is something impressive here, though. Despite having the lowest home run total in the AL, Detroit still makes this list of the most three true outcomes. How? It has the highest strikeout total in the AL.
27. Miami Marlins (30-49; Last Week: 26)
26. San Francisco Giants (34-46; Last Week: 27)
25. Kansas City Royals (28-53; Last Week: 25)
24. New York Mets (37-45; Last Week: 21)
23. Chicago White Sox (37-41; Last Week: 22)
22. Pittsburgh Pirates (38-41; Last Week: 24)
21. Seattle Mariners (37-48; Last Week: 23)
Behold Seattle, baseball’s three-true-outcome kings. Even as the team has unraveled over the last two months, it’s continued to hit; Seattle’s 110 OPS+ gives it the fifth-best offense in baseball. How? Nearly 40% of its PAs have resulted in a home run, strikeout, or walk—a record, if the team can keep it up for the rest of the season—and a sizeable chunk of those have been dingers. The Mariners have hit more home runs than any other team except the Twins. If you didn’t have to take pitching into account, Seattle would be looking pretty good right now. Unfortunately, you do have to take pitching into account, and Seattle’s is a crumbling mess, perhaps best characterized by reliever Connor Sadzeck, who is a) currently injured and b) has a name that literally starts with “Sad.”
20. Los Angeles Angels (42-40; Last Week: 19)
19. San Diego Padres (40-40; Last Week: 18)
The Padres have the honor of being home to baseball’s current strikeout king: Wil Myers. With one strikeout for every two-and-a-half at-bats, he’s on track to earn himself a spot among baseball’s top ten seasonal strikeout leaders. (He probably won’t touch 2017 Joey Gallo, but he’s only a few hundredths of a K behind luminaries like 2008 Jack Cust and 2012 Adam Dunn.) Myers’s 36% strikeout rate alone goes a long way toward putting the team on this list, but pair him with fellow K-heavy hitters like Austin Hedges (32%) and Fernando Tatis, Jr. (29%), and San Diego’s otherwise decently well-rounded offense—close to league average, with a 97 OPS+—starts to get a little extreme.
18. Cincinnati Reds (36-42; Last Week: 20)
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-41; Last Week: 15)
16. St. Louis Cardinals (40-39; Last Week: 14)
15. Washington Nationals (40-40; Last Week: 17)
14. Cleveland Indians (44-36; Last Week: 16)
Cleveland is in a considerably better spot than it was a few weeks ago. After winning 10 of its last 13, it’s…. still looking up at Minnesota in the AL Central, but it doesn’t have quite so far to look, and it’s only half a game out of a wild-card berth. Cleveland’s success is still driven by its pitching, but the offense is dramatically better than it was at the start of the season—which is to say that it’s no longer among the worst in baseball. Still decidedly below average! Just not, you know, potentially historically so. And one area where they’ve particularly improved? A 9.7% walk rate, fourth-highest in the American League. (Credit to first baseman Carlos Santana, who leads the group with 16.7%.)
13. Philadelphia Phillies (43-38; Last Week: 13)
12. Milwaukee Brewers (43-38; Last Week: 9)
The Brewers continue to win more than they statistically should. Despite their record, they have a negative run differential; with a 99 OPS+ and 97 ERA+, both their hitting and their pitching are average at best. But Milwaukee does hit dingers—lots of them. The Brewers lead the NL in home runs, with 139, ahead of even the Dodgers’ 137. The difference? Christian Yelich’s 29 HRs lead baseball, juuuust ahead of No. 2 Cody Bellinger’s 27.
11. Colorado Rockies (42-39; Last Week: 10)
10. Oakland Athletics (43-39; Last Week: 11)
9. Texas Rangers (45-36; Last Week: 12)
The Rangers had to be here. Outfielder Joey Gallo, after all, does not simply lead baseball in three true outcomes. He’s three-true-outcome baseball personified. In 64% of his plate appearances this season, Gallo has either walked or struck out or hit a dinger. But he’s actually less wild here than he used to be: For the first time in his career, Gallo has a batting average above .210. (He’s currently at .279.) He’s actually putting the ball in play! And he’s still decidedly more likely to get one of the three true outcomes than to do anything else. It doesn’t get more extreme than that.
8. Boston Red Sox (44-38; Last Week: 8)
7. Atlanta Braves (48-34; Last Week: 6)
6. Tampa Bay Rays (46-35; Last Week: 7)
The Rays have won just 3 of their last 10, which is just the most recent part of a larger skid. After being in first place for all of April, they’ve been in second for most of the last month. But they still boast baseball’s best pitching staff—with a 139 ERA+, which is still comfortably the highest in the game, even if it’s no longer on track to be historically good, as it was just a few weeks ago—and... an exactly average offense, with a 100 OPS+, which earns its spot in this group due to its strikeouts much more than its home runs or walks.
5. Chicago Cubs (44-37; Last Week: 5)
The Cubs are baseball’s most patient team—the only club to boast a walk rate in the double digits, at 10.1%. That’s driven by four players with individual walk rates ranked among the top thirty: Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs bring that sort of balanced approach to their home runs, too. They’re the only team to have four different players with 17 HRs or more. (Rizzo, Schwarber, Willson Contreras, and Javier Baez.)
4. Houston Astros (50-32; Last Week: 3)
3. New York Yankees (52-28; Last Week: 4)
The Yankees have won 11 of their last 12, ensuring not just that they hold onto first place in the AL East, but that they build a comfortable cushion there. And a crucial piece of that recent success has been the long ball, as 29 straight games have included a home run for them. That’s an MLB record, and it’s probably not coming to an end any time soon—check the short fences for the field that the team will be playing on for its upcoming weekend series in London.