Traditionally, Memorial Day is when we start to think about things getting real in baseball. The small samples aren’t so small anymore. The early-season surprises can’t really be dismissed as flukes anymore. And the teams that actually aren’t good, well, they’ve likely come back to the Earth by now.
Memorial Day also means some tough decisions for this week’s MLB Power Rankings. As we enter the summer, there are three legitimate contenders for the crown of Best Team in Baseball Right Now.
The Houston Astros remain incredibly balanced — strong pitching, a deep lineup and plenty of experience at this point. Then there’s the Minnesota Twins, the team nobody expected to be *this* good right now, but you can’t argue with the power numbers and the run production. They’re legit.
And there’s the Los Angeles Dodgers, who we all knew would be good, but not exactly *this* type of good. Not Cody Bellinger-playing-like-an-MVP good and not Hyun-Jin-Ryu-has-the-best-ERA-in-baseball good.
They each enter a post-holiday week with 36 wins, but who gets my No. 1 spot? Who else is in my Top 10? And who’s falling? Here’s how I see MLB this week:
THE TOP 10
1. Houston Astros (36-19; last week: 1)
I’m riding with the Astros at No. 1 again. The Twins, frankly, are hotter. The Dodgers have the edge in certain metrics. But there are three things I love about Houston so far: Of these three teams, they’ve allowed the fewest runs, which is just as important as scoring runs. They’ve played the toughest schedule. And I still just believe that when they’re at their best — like they were a few weeks ago — they’re the toughest team to beat.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (36-18; last week: 2)
The Dodgers’ success remains pretty balanced. They’ve scored the second-most runs in the league and they’ve got the third-best ERA. That’s a recipe for a third straight World Series trip if they keep it up.
3. Minnesota Twins (36-17; last week: 3)
People in Minnesota — like Power Rankings e-mailer Todd — will likely tell you I’m not giving the Twins enough love. And maybe I’m not. They’ve won 11 or 13. The muscle is certainly there. They lead the league in homers and have scored 30 more runs than anybody. The pitching is better than we all expected too. The only ding on the Twins? Their strength of schedule ranks 22nd in the league.
4. New York Yankees (35-18; last week: 4)
I’m not gushing over the Yankees this week like I am the teams ahead of them, but honestly, there’s not as much room between them and the Top 3 as my silence may indicate. They’ve won 12 out of their last 14 and they’re the leaders in the AL East. A fully healthy Yankees roster — if we get it — is seeming mighty dangerous.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (32-19; last week: 8)
After the Rays took a dive in last week’s rankings, they rebounded with a pretty good week. They split a two-game series with the Dodgers then took three of four from the Indians. It still remains to be seen whether they can withstand the Yankees and Red Sox in the long term, but I have no doubt the Rays are a good team.
6. Philadelphia Phillies (31-22; last week: 7)
The race for second-best NL team is something of a toss-up these days. There’s not a ton of distance between the Phillies, Cubs and Brewers. The Phillies get the top spot this week after beating the Brewers in a series last week and splitting with the Cubs.
7. Chicago Cubs (30-22; last week: 5)
After splitting with the Phillies, the Cubs lost two of three to the Reds, which is what lands them here. They’re looking very much like an up-and-down team, starting with their pitching.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (31-24; last week: 6)
While the Brewers dipped a bit this week, there’s something good to remember in the big-picture view: They’ve played the toughest schedule in baseball so far, making those 31 wins a little bit more impressive.
9. Boston Red Sox (29-25; last week: 9)
Don’t look now, rest of the American League, but the Red Sox are comfortably over .500 and if the season ended today, they’d be tied for a playoff spot.
10. Atlanta Braves (30-24; last week: 14)
The Braves’ season has been up and down, but you can’t hate this: They’ve won their last five series, which have come against some teams and the Giants. They’ve beat the Cardinals twice, the Brewers and the D-backs.
11. Oakland A’s (29-25; last week: 16)
12. San Diego Padres (28-26; last week: 15)
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (25-22; last week 12)
14. Cleveland Indians (26-27; last week: 10)
15. St. Louis Cardinals (26-26; last week: 11)
Finally some love for the Oakland A’s, who have won 10 straight to quickly make their season look respectable again. They’re still quite a bit behind the Astros in the AL West, but they’d be tied for a wild-card spot with Boston if the season ended today. The other end of this group is looking brutal. The Indians and Cardinals won a combined three games this past week, with the Cards getting the better split of that. The Indians enter the summer 10 games back in the AL Central.
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-26; last week: 13)
17. Colorado Rockies (25-22; last week: 19)
18. New York Mets (26-27; last week: 21)
19. Los Angeles Angels (24-29; last week: 17)
20. Texas Rangers (25-26; last week: 20)
Kudos to the Mets, who rebounded nicely after being the laughing stock of the league at this point a week ago. Mickey Callaway didn’t get fired as their manager and they won six of their last eight, including a four-game sweep of the Nationals, that sent the NL East heat in Washington’s direction. After their slow start, the Rockies are also moving upward. They’ve won five of their last seven.
IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD DOWN HERE
21. Cincinnati Reds (25-29; last week: 23)
22. Seattle Mariners (24-32; last week: 18)
23. Washington Nationals (22-32; last week: 22)
24. Chicago White Sox (23-29; last week: 24)
25. Toronto Blue Jays (21-33; last week: 26)
Nobody probably figured the Reds would come out of Memorial Day ranked higher than the Nationals, but here we are. The Mariners, meanwhile, are 5-18 in May after their fast start. The free fall is just about complete.
26. San Francisco Giants (21-31; last week: 25)
27. Kansas City Royals (18-34; last week: 28)
28. Detroit Tigers (19-32; last week: 27)
29. Miami Marlins (17-34; last week: 30)
30. Baltimore Orioles (17-37; last week: 29)
Kudos to the Orioles, I guess, for staying out of the No. 30 spot until now. But we all knew they’d get there eventually, even with as bad as the Marlins and the Tigers have been. The Giants, losers of five straight, have been pretty terrible lately too.
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