Sometimes this space is about splitting hairs — finding small distinctions that make one baseball team better than another in any given week.
Sometimes, to create the MLB Power Rankings I have 12 tabs open on my browser, comparing at stats and numbers and schedules, trying to figure out which team deserves the honor of being No. 1 this week.
And sometimes there’s no question. This is one of those weeks. And, by the look of things, July could be turning into one of those months.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the best team in baseball — they have the most wins, the best run differential, the biggest lead of any first-place team. They’ve won six games in a row (including three straight walk-off wins). They’re 15-6 in June, which comes after a 19-7 May.
There are other good teams, sure. The Houston Astros have made this battle for No. 1 interesting this season, but they’re currently in a tough skid. There’s an argument to be made for Minnesota’s potent offense. The Yankees also are becoming the best version of themselves. But this is all Dodgers.
Elsewhere in this week’s Power Rankings, the Rays take a dive, the Cardinals re-enter the Top 10 and Phillies fall out of it. Here’s how I see all 30 teams this week.
THE TOP 10
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (54-25; last week: 1)
Here’s the key to all the good stuff I said above about the Dodgers: They have the best ERA in baseball at 3.16. There are only seven teams below 4.00 and only two below 3.50. The biggest reason this is true is because of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s re-emergence as an ace and Walker Buehler’s great start. Clayton Kershaw, who is having a good season, doesn’t even have to be their best pitcher these days.
2. New York Yankees (49-28; last week: 4)
Look out, MLB. The Yankees are almost fully functional with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back in the lineup. They’re hitting homers at a historic rate already and once they get ace Luis Severino back, they could be even more dangerous.
3. Minnesota Twins (50-27; last week: 3)
If you put money on the Twins being the second MLB team to reach 50 wins, go collect. Here they are, thanks to their stacked offense. This week wasn’t particularly kind to them, as they lost two of three to the Red Sox and split a four-game set with the Royals, but nothing that drops them from their spot at No. 3.
4. Houston Astros (49-30; last week: 2)
The past few years, the Astros have been a streaky team. And usually it’s worked in their favor as they put together long winning streaks. This week, however, they lost seven in a row before beating the Yankees on Sunday.
5. Atlanta Braves (46-32; last week: 6)
It’s been a rough weekend for Braves starters — Mike Foltynewicz was sent to the minors, Mike Soroka got hit by a ball — but they keep winning. Their offense is second in baseball in runs scored. And Dallas Keuchel has arrived as a reinforcement for that pitching staff.
6. Milwaukee Brewers (42-36; last week: 7)
Some of the metrics tell me the Brewers shouldn’t be this high. Their run differential is still -1. But I have two words to explain why I continue to believe in the Brew Crew: Christian Yelich.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (45-33; last week: 5)
I might be jumping off the Rays bandwagon sooner than some, but the Rays got swept by the Yankees this week and they’re 10-13 in June after that great start.
8. Chicago Cubs (42-35; last week: 8)
We’ve heard a lot about whether the Cubs’ pitching can hold up, but it’s actually it’s their offense that’s dragging behind some other teams these days. As good as they’ve been at times, they’re 13th in runs scored.
9. Boston Red Sox (42-37; last week: 9)
Remember when the Red Sox were bad? They’re still not elite, but they’re 29-20 since May 1, which is certainly good enough for them to be a contender again.
10. St. Louis Cardinals (40-37; last week: 11)
After a rough May, the Cardinals are turning things around. They’re 12-9 in June, much better than 9-18 last month.
11. Cleveland Indians (42-35; last week: 14)
12. Philadelphia Phillies (39-38; last week: 10)
13. Texas Rangers (42-36; last week: 13)
14. Colorado Rockies (40-37; last week: 15)
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (38-40; last week 11)
This might be the most interesting group on the board this week. The D-backs lost six in a row before winning Sunday. The Phillies didn’t win a game all week. The Indians are looking better (and only lost two games last week) while the Rangers are one of only 11 teams in MLB with more than 40 wins — who woulda thunk that?
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
16. Oakland A’s (41-38; last week: 18)
17. San Diego Padres (38-40; last week: 16)
18. Los Angeles Angels (39-40; last week: 17)
19. Chicago White Sox (36-39; last week: 20)
20. Washington Nationals (37-40; last week: 21)
The Nats, as ugly as this season has been, are 13-6 so far in June, which has their prospects looking up a bit. The White Sox, Angels and Padres join them in a pre-All-Star break chase for .500, while the A’s are also riding a good June (12-9) into summer respectability.
IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD DOWN HERE
21. New York Mets (37-41; last week: 19)
22. Cincinnati Reds (36-40; last week: 22)
23. Pittsburgh Pirates (36-40; last week: 24)
24. San Francisco Giants (33-43; last week: 23)
25. Seattle Mariners (35-47; last week: 25)
The “Mets are a Mess” watch has hit levels I never would have guessed. This has nothing to do with whether we’ll see Mickey Callaway moving forward, but it’s an interesting note: The Mets and the Reds have the same winning percentage. The Reds are in last place in the NL Central. The Mets are in fourth. But the Reds are only 5.5 games out of first. Same goes for the Pirates, actually.
26. Miami Marlins (30-46; last week: 27)
27. Toronto Blue Jays (29-49; last week: 26)
28. Kansas City Royals (27-51; last week: 29)
29. Detroit Tigers (26-47; last week: 28)
30. Baltimore Orioles (22-56; last week: 30)
The same teams are here from last week, but in just a little bit of a different order. Kudos to the Royals for becoming the second team to lose 50 games. The Jays are getting close too, but I think the Tigers are actually more depressing lately. Besides the Orioles (-181), they’re the only other team with a run differential that’s worse than -100. Detroit’s is -140. Eek.
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