Hey, guess who’s No. 1 in this week’s MLB Power Rankings?
Bet you’re surprised to hear it’s the team that won 12 games in a row. That’s right, the Houston Astros have jumped past the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees this week, as they’ve returned to the top spot.
These three teams have been swapping spots for the past six weeks, so a new No. 1 isn’t really surprising. However, the way the Astros stole No. 1 was quite thunderous. They outscored opponents 86-44 during their 12-game streak, which was snapped Tuesday night with a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Dodgers are creeping up our list, while the Los Angeles Angels slide down it. The Detroit Tigers are on the move too, while the New York Mets and Minnesota Twins continue to struggle.
1. Astros (49-26; last week: 3)
The Astros winning 12 straight, a franchise record, was the type of run we expected from them at some point. They’re tops in MLB in ERA and runs scored, which is proving a lethal combo. Their +157 run differential is best in the league by 50 runs.
2. Red Sox (49-25; last week: 2)
J.D. Martinez has been everything the Red Sox could have wanted. The 30-year-old is hitting .315/.388/.635, with 22 home runs, over 294 plate appearances. After ranking 27th in total home runs in 2017, the Red Sox rank second in 2018. That’s not all due to Martinez, but he’s certainly helped.
3. Yankees (48-22; last week: 1)
The Yankees fall out of the top spot through no fault of their own. The team has continued winning, going 7-3 over their last 10 games. That’s not good enough for the streaking Astros, though. If the Yankees hope to eventually get the best of Houston, they’ll have to do so in the postseason. The two teams don’t play anymore in the regular season.
4. Mariners (46-27; last week: 4)
Wade LeBlanc isn’t the only reason for the Mariners’ strong start, but he’s played a big role. Through 48 innings, LeBlanc has the same ERA as Max Scherzer in 2018. We wouldn’t bet on that continuing all season, but it’s almost guaranteed that general manager Jerry Dipoto will make whatever moves necessary to try and keep his team in the playoff hunt.
5. Cubs (41-29; last week: 5)
The Cubs fired pitching coach Chris Bosio last season after their staff struggled with walks. Early on, that hasn’t improved. The Cubs have given up 288 walks thus far, which is the second-most in baseball.
6. Brewers (43-30; last week: 6)
Is Lorenzo Cain the best leadoff hitter in the National League? The 32-year-old is making solid contact, getting on base at a good clip and occasionally mashing extra-base hits. He’s no slouch in the field, either. Add all that up and fWAR thinks he’s been the second best position player in the NL this year.
7. Braves (43-29; last week: 8)
The Braves rotation has been fantastic to open the season. The team’s 3.55 ERA ranks seventh in the league. They have their youngsters to thank. Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and Mike Soroka are all in the midst of breakout seasons.
8. D-backs (40-33; last week: 12)
The Diamondbacks have managed to pack a season’s worth of drama into just two and a half weeks. After going 18-7 in April, the club collapsed to go 8-19 in May. June is more than half over and the club seems to have found its stride again. The D-backs are 12-6 during the month. They still lead the NL West, but some consistency would be nice.
9. Nats (39-32; last week: 7)
How impressive is 19-year-old rookie outfielder Juan Soto? He’s not only tearing up the league, but he also managed to hit a home run before his major-league debut without using time travel. His start has been so impressive that he’s earned the nickname “Childish Bambino.” That’s a pretty strong start to a career.
10. Indians (39-33; last week: 10)
A healthy Michael Brantley makes a big difference. After injuries limited him to just 101 games over the past two seasons, Brantley has rebounded to make himself an All-Star candidate again. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Brantley is set to become a free-agent at the end of the season and could pick up a big deal if this continues.
11. Dodgers (38-34; last week: 14)
You didn’t actually think the Dodgers would be bad all season, did you? They’re charging forward, not at full speed, but making good progress toward first place. L.A. They’re 11-4 in June so far. They also have the third-best run-differential (+56) in the NL.
12. Angels (39-35; last week: 9)
After a strong April, the Angels have basically been a .500 team. Lately, things have been especially rough. They’ve lost seven of eight despite Mike Trout continuing on a monster pace. Problem is their ERA is 5.64 in the past week.
13. Phillies (38-33; last week: 13)
14. Cardinals (38-33; last week: 11)
15. A’s (37-36; last week: 15)
16. Pirates (36-37; last week: 17)
The Phillies and Cardinals are the same in a few ways, aside from their records: They have two good teams ahead of them. They have plenty of time to leap-frog their way into a better position. The A’s and the Pirates remain in familiar spots this week. And they’re like the Phillies and Cardinals, except they have three better teams ahead of them in their divisions.
17. Tigers (36-38; last week: 21)
Nobody expected much from the Tigers this year, but they’re approaching respectability — and that’s with star Miguel Cabrera out for the season. They won five straight over the Twins and White Sox this week, solidifying themselves as the second-best team in the AL Central. They’re within distance of the first-place Indians too.
18. Giants (36-38; last week: 16)
19. Rockies (35-38; last week: 18)
20. Blue Jays (33-39; last week: 23)
21. Padres (34-41; last week: 24)
22. Rays (34-39; last week: 19)
These are our .500-chasers. These five teams haven’t been particularly strong this season, but they’re not completely hopeless either. If they can get to .500 by July, they might be able to make things a little more interesting. Particularly those NL West teams.
23. Twins (32-37; last week: 24)
24. Mets (31-39; last week: 22)
Tough times for the Mets and Twins, two teams with playoff expectations at the start of the season and now looking more like lost causes with each passing week. Technically, the Twins are within striking distance of the Indians in the AL Central, but there’s been little new hope. Miguel Sano has been so bad they sent him to Single-A. The Mets, meanwhile, have won some games lately, but the injuries are still numerous and they’re closer to the Marlins than they are the Braves.
25. Rangers (31-44; last week: 25)
26. Marlins (29-45; last week: 27)
27. Reds (27-45; last week: 26)
28. White Sox (24-48; last week: 29)
29. Royals (22-51; last week: 28)
30. Orioles (20-51; last week: 30)
Our bottom six remains mostly the same this week with a couple flip-flops. The Orioles are, without a doubt, owning the 30th spot. Beyond that, it’s sighs all around in Kansas City, the south side, Cincinnati, Miami and Texas. Their only hopes are that the Mets’ luck gets reaaaaaally bad again.
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