MLB Power Rankings at Memorial Day
1. Minnesota Twins 36-16, last week 6-0 (Previous Ranking: 4)
It’s hard to envision it going any better for the Twins. From Jorge Polanco hitting a league-leading .344 to Eddie Rosario smacking 16 home runs to Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios and Martin Perez all posting strong starts on the mound, everything that could go right has gone right. They’ve developed into an extremely well-rounded team, leading the league in runs and home runs by a comfortable margin and having a top ten pitching staff in terms of ERA. The train kept rolling this week, as they won all six games last week in dominating fashion. Max Kepler and Rosario each hit well over .400 with three home runs while Jake Odorizzi tossed two more shutout outings. The division lead was extended double digits, and now the biggest question may be what and how much the Twins add before the trade deadline.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers 35-18, last week 4-1 (Previous Ranking:2)
The Dodgers team success continues to be overshadowed by the remarkable individual starts of Cody Bellinger and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but they have quietly built a seven-game lead in the standings. They only played five games this week, but after splitting a two-game set with the Rays, the Dodgers swept the Pirates in Pittsburgh by scoring 28 runs in the three games. The Dodgers offense was led this week by familiar faces Justin Turner (9-15) and Joc Pederson (8-16). On the mound, the trio of Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Hyun-Jin Ryu all had quality outings and won each of their starts. Just like the past half-decade, these Dodgers are extremely deep and balanced and will only grow their division lead as the season progresses.
3. Houston Astros 35-19, last week 4-3 (Previous Ranking: 1)
As of very recently, the Astros were the unquestioned best team in baseball, but a series of injuries and the other top teams catching fire have dropped them to third. This week, major league home run leader George Springer and Aledmys Diaz joined former MVP Jose Altuve on the IL and decimated the best lineup in baseball. The Astros had only an O.K week, splitting a four-game set with the White Sox before taking two out of three in a hard-fought series against the Red Sox. Both Bregman (.217 AVG) and Michael Brantley (.695 OPS) failed to step up in Altuve’s and Springer’s absence, and while the starters were good, both Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly were roughed up for the first time this season in the Red Sox series. They still have a sizeable six-game lead over the red-hot Oakland A’s, but they can’t afford to lose any more key players.
4. New York Yankees 34-18, last week 6-1 (Previous Ranking: 6)
They’re still doing it. Sure, their 6-1 week was against the two worst teams in the AL, but the fact that they’re in first place in a division with the Rays and the Red Sox is still very impressive. First, they beat up on the Orioles in a four-game sweep in which Gleyber Torres hit four home runs and Gary Sanchez hit three. They then proceeded to sweep the Royals in a doubleheader on Saturday before nearly erasing a 7-1 deficit on Sunday in what turned out to be an extra-inning loss. The offense, led by a barrage of home runs, continues to obliterate pitching. On a lesser note, C.C Sabathia, J.A Happ and Domingo German all turned in poor weeks, and they need to step up with James Paxton and Luis Severino still out.
5. Philadelphia Phillies 31-22, last week 4-3 (Previous Ranking: 7)
Despite the high profiled struggles of Bryce Harper, the Phillies continue to play well. They had an up and down 4-3 week against the top two teams in the NL Central, the Cubs and the Cardinals. It wasn’t their best week, as many of their pitcher’s struggled, but there were still some standout performers. Jake Arrieta tossed two solid outings, and both Andrew Mccutchen and Rhys Hoskins killed the ball, The Braves are right on their tails, but the Phillies are still a terrific team.
6. Chicago Cubs 30-21, last week 3-4 (Previous Ranking: 3)
The Cubs week ended on a sour note, losing two out of three to the Reds, but there are still a lot of positives in their season so far. Javier Baez is showing last year wasn’t a fluke, Wilson Contreras has been the best catcher in baseball, and now veterans Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are kicking it into gear. Rizzo in paticular had a fantastic week, hitting .500 with three home runs. On the pitcher’s side, despite Yu Darvish’s continued struggles, the other four members of the rotation have sub-4 ERAs. But they will continue to struggle to pull away from the Brewers until their bullpen, especially closer Pedro Strop, steps up.
7. Milwaukee Brewers 30-24, last week 2-3 (Previous Ranking: 5)
The Brewers continue to hang with the Cubs despite an inconsistent bullpen and a group of no-name starting pitchers. It’s been the offense led by Christian Yelich as well as Brandon Woodruff and Zach Davies anchoring the rotation that is helping them keep pace. They only went 2-3 last week, but the week was capped off by a phenomenal eight innings by Brandon Woodruff. Things could get even better for the Brewers, as Lorenzo Cain hasn’t even kicked it full gear yet and they have the deep farm system to acquire pieces at the trade deadline.
8. Tampa Bay Rays 31-19, last week 3-2 (Previous Ranking: 8)
Despite lacking the star power of the Red Sox and the Yankees, the Rays continue to hang with them. Ever since Tyler Glasnow went down with an injury, Blake Snell and Charlie Morton have stepped up and pitched fantastic. Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows continue to carry the lineup, while Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado are lights out at the back of the bullpen. The Rays split a two-game set against the Dodgers before taking two of three from the reeling Indians to keep pace with the Yankees and the Red Sox, who also had winning weeks. How long they can hang with the superpowers at the top is the question, but they are clearly a force to be reckoned with.
9. Boston Red Sox 28-24, last week 4-3 (Previous Ranking: 9)
The Red Sox have leveled off over the last two weeks, going 6-6 after an 11-3 stretch. That stretch included two hard-fought series vs the Astros in which they lost four of the six games. It was a weird week for the Red Sox in which they won three out of four vs the Blue Jays, lost two one-run heartbreakers to the Astros, which included David Price exiting in the first due to illness, before taking the final one on Sunday. Rafael Devers continues to absolutely mash the ball, as he hit .500 with four home runs and would have had one more if one of his moonshots didn’t hit the roof and bounce back into play. Even though the Red Sox have been playing better over the past month, they still remain 6.5 games back of the Yankees. They have a chance to cut into that deficit this week in a four-game set in the Bronx.
10. Atlanta Braves 29-24, last week 5-2 (Previous Ranking: NR)
In what was expected to be a four-team race in the NL East has been narrowed down to two, as the Braves are just a game and a half back of the first place Phillies. Austin Riley’s call-up has breathed new life into their lineup, and he hit two more home runs last week to make it five in his first 12 games. Another bright spot in this Braves lineup has been Dansby Swanson, and he continued his breakout campaign last by hitting .370 with three home runs. That, along with the continued success of Mike Soroka and Max Fried, helped the Braves to a very solid 5-2 week. The Braves do not play a winning team until their June 14th series against the Phillies. By that time, they could very well be in first place.
Team That is Going in the Wrong Direction: Cleveland Indians
As much as everything has gone right for the Twins, everything has gone wrong for the Indians. None of the young players have to step up to replace the players who departed in the offseason, while Fransico Lindor’s injury and Jose Ramirez’s mysterious ineffective have turned the third best offense in the majors in 2018 into the 27th this year. On the pitching side, Corey Kluber made just seven ineffective starts before going on the IL and Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco have failed to pick up the slack. The bullpen, led by the unhittable Brad Hand, has been their strength so far, but they aren’t getting many leads to work with. This team is a mess, and with a double-digit division deficit already, the front office might be forced to make some tough decisions.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup: Red Sox at Yankees
The Red Sox will enter New York on Thursday down six games in the standings and needing a season win to climb back in the race. Though the series is in the Bronx, the Red Sox have a clear advantage due to their starting pitchers. They are throwing their four best starters at the Yankees, while the Yankees are unable to pitch James Paxton, who is returning on Wednesday, or the still injured Luis Severino. Still, the Yankees are red-hot, and it should be a hard-fought series.
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