MLB Power Rankings: Week 8




  • In Sports
  • 2019-05-21 17:48:23Z
  • By Rotoworld
 

Welcome to the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2019 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I will include nuggets of more abstract fantasy advice here and there inside the individual team write-ups. Who's hot, who's not -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv. Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.

1. Houston Astros
Record: 32-16
Last Week: 1
George Springer and Alex Bregman and Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander and Carlos Correa have gotten most of the attention during this run that the Astros are on, but how about guys like Brad Peacock and Michael Brantley? Peacock recorded nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings in Monday night's shutout victory over the White Sox and is now 3-0 with a 0.53 ERA and 24/5 K/BB ratio over his last three starts covering 17 innings. He's been bounced between the bullpen and rotation at different points this year but should probably have a firm grip on a starting job moving forward. Brantley went 2-for-4 with a double on Monday and holds a career-high .940 OPS through 47 games played. The Indians sure could use a bat like that.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 31-17
Last Week: 2
Cody Bellinger's outrageous start to the 2019 season continues. He drew a walk and slugged a two-run homer in Sunday's series finale against the Reds, an 8-3 victory for Los Angeles, and is now batting .405/.485/.791 with 17 home runs and 44 RBI in 46 games this season. He ranks first overall on the wins above replacement (WAR) leaderboard at FanGraphs, by a pretty wide margin. Hyun-Jin Ryu deserves a mention here too. He fired seven scoreless innings Sunday in Cincinnati and has now gone 31 straight frames without giving up a run. The 32-year-old left-hander stands 6-1 with a 1.52 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and 59/4 K/BB ratio in 59 1/3 total innings this year.

3. Minnesota Twins
Record: 31-16
Last Week: 4
Minnesota has won six of its last seven games, continuing to build a sizable lead over the Indians for first place in the AL Central standings. This would be the first division title for the Twins since 2010, when Joe Mauer and Jim Thome and Justin Morneau were all still doing their thing. But, yes, it is only May. Jake Odorizzi was sharp again in Monday night's 3-1 victory over the Angels, striking out six batters over five scoreless innings while lowering his season ERA to 2.38. Miguel Sano provided the bulk of the offense in that one with a two-run shot in the top of the eighth. He has two home runs and five RBI in five games since returning from a lacerated heel last Thursday.

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4. New York Yankees
Record: 29-17
Last Week: 6
The Yankees officially lost Miguel Andujar to season-ending shoulder surgery last week, but this team keeps chugging along somehow. They took two of three from the Rays over the weekend to jump into first place in the AL East and then rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth inning Monday night in Baltimore to earn a big 10-7 comeback victory. Giancarlo Stanton (biceps, shoulder) has begun a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa and could be back in action with New York sometime next week. Aaron Judge (oblique) and Didi Gregorius (elbow) are inching closer too, and James Paxton (knee) could be ready to rock this weekend.

5. Chicago Cubs
Record: 27-18
Last Week: 3
The Cubs have dropped four of their last six, but they still sit atop the NL Central standings as of Tuesday afternoon and Kris Bryant remains red-hot after struggling through much of April. He did go 0-for-5 in Monday night's 5-4 loss to the Phillies, but the 27-year-old matched a career high with three home runs in a 14-6 blowout win over the Nationals on Friday and he boasts a 1.137 OPS with 10 home runs, 24 RBI, and 22 runs scored over his last 22 games. Willson Contreras is having a bounceback season for the ages, with a .321/.426/.627 slash line and 11 home runs through 42 games. He hit .249/.339/.390 with 10 home runs over 138 total games in 2018.

6. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 28-19
Last Week: 7
The Phillies earned a big three-game sweep of the Rockies this past weekend at Citizens Bank Park and then rallied for a 5-4 extra-innings win over the Cubs on Monday night at Wrigley Field. They're now 12-6 in May, after going 16-13 between March and April, and currently sit 2 1/2 games up on first place in the National League East standings. That was supposed to be a four-team race, but with the Mets cratering and the Nationals continuing to flounder, the Phillies might only have to fend off the Braves. Jake Arrieta pitched admirably against his former team Monday in Chicago, scattering eight hits over six innings of one-run ball to lower his season ERA to 3.77.

7. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 27-17
Last Week: 5
The Rays dropped two of three to the division-rival Yankees over the weekend and are currently a game back of New York for first place in the American League East standings. The bullpen is filled with talented arms, but Tampa Bay is having to lean a little too heavily on those arms right now with only two traditional starters on the active roster in Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. Tyler Glasnow was placed on the injured list May 11 after being diagnosed with a forearm strain and will probably be sidelined through at least mid-June. If the Rays are going to fend off the Yankees and the suddenly-surging Red Sox, they may have to get aggressive on the trade market.

8. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 28-21
Last Week: 8
Milwaukee swept the Phillies last week before losing two of three in Atlanta over the weekend. That concluded a 5-5 road trip, which is kind of par for the course with this year's Brewers team. They are 16-8 at Miller Park and 12-13 everywhere else. Christian Yelich, the reigning National League MVP, has batted .406 with a 1.655 OPS and 15 home runs in 19 games this season at home and .269 with an .828 OPS and four home runs in 25 games on the road. He did slug two home runs at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park last Thursday as part of an 11-3 blowout victory, and he hit a solo shot in a 3-2 extra-innings win over the Braves on Sunday at SunTrust Park.

9. Boston Red Sox
Record: 25-22
Last Week: 9
The Red Sox snapped the Astros' 10-game winning streak on Sunday and then trounced the Blue Jays by a score of 12-2 on Monday afternoon at Rogers Centre. David Price started that game in Toronto, fresh off an injured list stint for left elbow tendinitis, and worked five solid innings on just 67 pitches to earn his first win since April 14. He could have easily gone deeper, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided to play things safe with his team up big. Another positive development from that one: Jackie Bradley, who has been one of the least-productive regulars in the majors this year, slugged his first home run of the season in the top of the sixth.

10. Atlanta Braves
Record:
26-22
Last Week: 13
The Braves hit some bumpy pavement between mid-April and the early part of May, but they're 8-2 over their last 10 games, including a 4-1 win over the Giants on Monday that featured many highlights from the team's many young stars. Ronald Acuna, 21, slugged two home runs while pushing his season OPS back above .900. Austin Riley, 22, also went deep and is batting .409/.435/.864 with three homers and six RBI in six games since getting called up from Triple-A Gwinnett last Wednesday. Oh, and 21-year-old right-hander Mike Soroka gave up just one run over eight innings while moving to 5-1 with a miniscule 1.01 ERA through seven rotation turns.

11. Cleveland Indians
Record: 25-21
Last Week: 14
Cleveland took three of four from the Orioles over the weekend, with Shane Bieber delivering one of the best pitching performances of the year in Sunday's series finale, a 10-0 victory. The young right-hander tallied a career-high 15 strikeouts while issuing zero walks over nine scoreless innings, needing just 107 pitches to record the first shutout of his career. Corey Kluber still has no timetable in his recovery from a fractured ulna bone, but Mike Clevinger (back) could begin a minor league rehab assignment toward the end of this week and the Indians are staying afloat as one of only six American League teams currently sporting a winning record.

12. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 24-20
Last Week: 16
Josh Bell stayed hot this weekend in San Diego as the Pirates took three of four from the host Padres and moved right near the top of the National League Wild Card standings -- though it's obviously a little too early to be looking closely at that race. Bell greatly disappointed as a sophomore in 2018 after finishing third in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2017, but the 26-year-old first baseman is currently batting .333/.404/.697 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI through his first 44 games in 2019. Gregory Polanco has played well too since returning from major shoulder surgery. Might the Bucs be buyers again at this year's July 31 trade deadline?

13. St. Louis Cardinals
Record:
24-23
Last Week: 10
It has been a miserable three-week stretch for the Cardinals. They earned a franchise-record-tying 18 wins in the month of April but are suddenly just one game above .500 with a 5-13 record since the calendar flipped to May. Matt Carpenter, who received down-ballot MVP votes last year and got a mini contract extension this spring, has batted just .205/.318/.351 through his first 201 plate appearances to open the 2019 campaign. It might be time to drop him from the leadoff spot. Also hurting matters is that Paul Goldschmidt, the team's everyday No. 2 hitter, has slashed .215/.319/.266 with 27 strikeouts in 21 games since April 28. Better table-setting is badly needed.

14. San Diego Padres
Record: 24-24
Last Week: 11
Padres rookie Chris Paddack had the worst start of his young career last Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, but he rebounded with six innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday night in San Diego. The 23-year-old right-hander now has a 1.93 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, and 56/11 K/BB ratio through his first 51 1/2 major league innings. But he's going to hit a workload wall at some point -- Paddack threw only 90 innings last year in the minors -- and the Friars will probably need reinforcements at multiple spots to make a real run at a Wild Card spot. They are 7-11 since the calendar flipped to May, after going 17-13 between March and April.

15. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 25-23
Last Week: 12
Arizona has lost three straight to fall six games back of the Dodgers for first place in the National League West standings. We'd bet against that gap shrinking very much in the coming weeks and months. It will be interesting to see how Zack Greinke holds up in his start Tuesday night against the Padres after he experienced tightness in his abdominal muscles in an outing last Wednesday versus the Pirates. The 35-year-old right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.78 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 62/8 K/BB ratio through 64 2/3 innings (10 starts) this season, and it is absolutely imperative that he isn't forced to miss any time, whether for trade purposes or perhaps a Wild Card run.

16. Texas Rangers
Record: 22-23
Last Week: 22
The Rangers have busted out of their early-May rut to win five of their last six games. That includes a 10-9 shootout-style victory over the Mariners on Monday night at Globe Life Park. Texas currently leads all major league teams in runs per game (5.87), and the club's combined OPS of .811 is third in the majors, behind only the Astros and Twins. Mike Minor has been brilliant on the pitching side of things, with a 2.64 ERA and 67 strikeouts through 64 2/3 innings, but he can't do it all on his own. Even with Minor's ace-like stats factored in, Rangers pitchers as a whole -- both starters and relievers -- have combined for a 5.25 ERA this season. That ranks second-worst among all 30 major league teams.

17. Oakland Athletics
Record: 23-25
Last Week: 26
Oakland won three straight in Detroit this past weekend and topped the Indians by a score of 6-4 on Monday in Cleveland. This team is finally starting to build some momentum, and there are reinforcements on the way for the patchwork starting rotation. Jharel Cotton (elbow) has begun a minor league rehab assignment. Jesus Luzardo (shoulder) is throwing bullpen sessions again. Sean Manaea is showing similar velocity in his workouts to what he showed before undergoing major shoulder surgery last September. A.J. Puk, the A's top pitching prospect a year ago, has started to make simulated starts in Arizona as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.

18. New York Mets
Record: 21-25
Last Week: 15
The Mets snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the Nationals on Monday, but they are 8-15 since April 24 and the sharks are beginning to circle in Queens. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has already had to offer up multiple votes of confidence for second-year manager Mickey Callaway. Van Wagenen also informed the media Monday that Yoenis Cespedes suffered two fractures in his right ankle on a violent fall at his ranch in Port St. Lucie, Florida on Saturday night. Cespedes is already rehabbing from dual heel surgeries but had been aiming to join the team sometime after the All-Star break. Now he can probably be ruled out for all of 2019.

19. Colorado Rockies
Record: 20-25
Last Week: 17
The Rockies just got swept by the Phillies in a three-game weekend series at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and will carry a four-game losing streak into their series opener in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The arrival of top infield prospect Brendan Rodgers generated some temporary excitement last week, but he's gone 1-for-8 with four strikeouts so far and Ryan McMahon slugged a pair of solo homers in Philly on Sunday in his effort to fend off the kid for Colorado's starting second base gig. Even with those two home runs included, Rockies second basemen have combined for a paltry .203/.263/.285 batting line through 187 plate appearances this season.

20. Chicago White Sox
Record: 21-25
Last Week: 20
The White Sox had a little momentum going earlier this month, but they were outclassed by the Astros in a 3-0 loss on Monday night and sit four games under .500 just past the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season. In general, though, they're a slightly better team than many thought they would be. Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Lucas Giolito are among the young players providing reason for future optimism, and 22-year-old outfielder Eloy Jimenez returned from the injured list on Monday after missing three weeks with a high right ankle sprain. Giolito, who will start Thursday in Houston, boasts a 1.67 ERA and 32 strikeouts over his last 27 innings.

22. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 22-25
Last Week: 18
The Angels got on a bit of a roll in mid-May, following the return of Shohei Ohtani, but they've lost four of their last six games and are near the bottom of the American League West standings with a run differential of -2. The offense has been only mediocre, despite Mike Trout doing his Mike Trout thing and Tommy La Stella enjoying a breakout year. The pitching, meanwhile, has been borderline disastrous. Angels starters currently hold a combined 5.68 ERA, which ranks 29th among the 30 major league teams. Matt Harvey, signed to a one-year, $11 million deal in December, holds a 6.35 ERA through nine starts. Trevor Cahill, signed for one year, $9 million, owns a 6.95 ERA.

23. Seattle Mariners
Record: 23-27
Last Week: 19
The Mariners spent the first 37 days of the 2019 regular season in first place in the AL West standings, but that number is inflated by the fact that they started the year eight days early in Japan. And it also points to just how far they've fallen. Seattle had a 13-2 record on April 11, and a four-game lead in the division. Since that date, the Mariners have gone 10-25 and dropped to dead-last. Trigger-happy general manager Jerry Dipoto traded reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Braves on Monday for Jesse Biddle and Arodys Vizcaino. Biddle could be a nice building block in the bullpen, but Vizcaino is done for the year following major shoulder surgery. There will be more moves coming.

24. San Francisco Giants
Record: 20-26
Last Week: 27
The Giants are 4-3 over their last seven games, but they remain buried in last place in the National League West standings with a run differential of -45 that ranks fourth-worst among all 30 major league teams. And things might get worse before they get any better, as first-year president Farhan Zaidi was brought in from the rival Dodgers this winter to orchestrate a wide-reaching organizational rebuild. His first major task is finding a decent return for longtime ace Madison Bumgarner. The 29-year-old left-hander owns an underwhelming 4.21 ERA this season, but the peripheral numbers are a little more encouraging, like his 1.18 WHIP and 64/11 K/BB ratio in 62 innings.

25. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 19-28
Last Week: 23
The Blue Jays got embarrassed on Victoria Day in Toronto on Monday, falling 12-2 to the visiting Red Sox in an afternoon tilt at Rogers Centre. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. curiously had a scheduled day of rest during that one, which was a fairly tone-deaf decision by club management given that it was a federal holiday and Vladito is one of the only real draws right now on the Jays' major league roster. The 20-year-old budding star went 6-for-41 (.146) with one extra-base hit through his first 11 major league games, but he's batting .370/.469/.852 with four home runs and nine RBI over his last eight. Brandon Drury started at third base instead and went 0-for-4.

26. Washington Nationals
Record: 19-28
Last Week: 24
Washington lost two of three to the Cubs over the weekend in D.C. before falling 5-3 to the Mets on Monday night at Citi Field. Trea Turner (finger), Anthony Rendon (elbow), and Juan Soto (back) have all returned from their respective early-season injuries, but the Nationals can't seem to find any traction. When the pitching is on, the hitting is not. When the hitting is there, the pitching falters. You get the idea. Much of the blame can be placed on the bullpen, as Nats relievers have combined for a major-league-worst 6.46 ERA through 140 2/3 innings this season. And that number includes the brilliant 1.71 ERA that closer Sean Doolittle is currently sporting.

27. Detroit Tigers
Record: 18-26
Last Week: 25
The Tigers have lost six straight games and were down 5-3 to the Athletics on Sunday in Detroit before the game got suspended by rain in the bottom of the seventh inning. It will resume 3 1/2 months from now on September 6, before a scheduled three-game set between the two clubs at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Anyone want to guess what Miguel Cabrera's home run total will be at that point? In the single-digits, perhaps? He's gone deep just one time in 180 plate appearances this year and is currently sitting on the lowest slugging percentage (.360) of his career. The 36-year-old is still owed nearly $150 million on a contract that runs through 2023.

28. Kansas City Royals
Record: 16-31
Last Week: 28
The Royals haven't won consecutive games since sweeping a doubleheader against the Rays on the first day of this month. They are 7-11 in May, after going 9-20 between March and April. And yet there's a lot to like about Kansas City's lineup, at least from a fantasy perspective. Leadoff man Whit Merrifield has an .857 OPS with six home runs and seven stolen bases. Speedy infield prospect Nicky Lopez was called up from Triple-A Omaha last Monday and has hit second in each of his first six MLB games. Adalberto Mondesi, the team's No. 3 hitter, leads all big leaguers in steals. It goes on, through Alex Gordon, Hunter Dozier, and even Jorge Soler.

29. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 15-32
Last Week: 29
The Orioles have lost three straight and are now 5-12 in May after going 8-19 in the month of April. The pitching staff has combined to serve up 97 home runs in 47 games this season, and it's a near certainty that this group will establish a new all-time MLB record for home runs allowed given that there aren't many -- or any -- young major-league-ready arms in Baltimore's minor league system. But we should see top infield prospect Ryan Mountcastle at some point, and fantasy owners who missed out on last week's bevy of callups might want to stash him away. The 22-year-old has a .325/.353/.519 slash line through 39 games this season at Triple-A Norfolk.

30. Miami Marlins
Record: 13-31
Last Week: 30
The Marlins earned their first series sweep of the year this past weekend, beating the Mets 8-6 on Friday before notching back-to-back shutout wins on Saturday and Sunday. Pablo Lopez led the way in Saturday's game, throwing seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory. Sandy Alcantara then did him one better in a 3-0 defeat of New York on Sunday with an 89-pitch complete-game shutout -- the first shutout of Alcantara's young career. Miami became the first team to hold an opponent to three hits or less in consecutive shutouts since the Phillies did the deed against the Braves back in 2014. The Fish don't have much offense, but they do have some likeable arms.

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