Last week, these Power Rankings led off with the claim that the Houston Astros, who were elevated that week to the No. 1 spot, looked unbeatable. I was wondering if that was too bold a claim this early in the season, but went with it anyway because I’ve been sitting on this Astros bandwagon for the better part of two seasons now.
Little did I know the Astros would make the “unbeatable” claim look perfectly reasonable. All they did was win five more games in a row, bringing their winning streak to 10 games. It ended Sunday with a loss to the Boston Red Sox, but not before the Astros became the consensus best team in baseball.
They’re tops now in winning percentage and run differential. They pass the eye test. And — because it matters who you beat this time of year too — they’ve played the fourth-toughest schedule thus far.
The top of the Power Ranking group is starting to look like it has staying power, with the Dodgers and Twins holding steady below the Astros. This week, the Rays fall a bit and the Red Sox climb a little more. I have a keen eye on the expectation-exceeding Pirates and the sliding Mets, who seem like they may have a new manager by the time next week’s rankings come out.
The Top 10
1. Houston Astros (31-16; last week: 1)
You probably know George Springer is killin’ it lately and Alex Bregman is No. 2 in homers in the AL to Springer. But you know who has been quietly great for the Astros? Michael Brantley. He signed a two-year deal with Houston after injuries led to an up-and-down tenure in Cleveland. Healthy and effective so far, Brantley is hitting .324 (fifth in the AL) with 10 homers and 32 RBIs. HIs presence makes them that much more dangerous.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (31-17; last week: 2)
The Dodgers getting Hyun-Jin Ryu to accept a qualifying offer for 2019 is looking now like one of the steals of the offseason. His 1.52 ERA is the best in baseball. His six wins are tied for the most in the NL. He hasn’t allowed a run in 31 innings. Alongside Kershaw and Buehler, Ryu can make the Dodgers really tough to beat in the postseason if he keeps this up.
3. Minnesota Twins (30-16; last week: 3)
When you think of the game’s high-powered offenses, let’s be real — the Twins probably aren’t top of mind. But maybe they should be. These Twins lead MLB in runs scored. They’re second in homers and batting average. Because balance is good, they’re also No. 9 in ERA.
4. New York Yankees (28-17; last week: 6)
The Yankees took two of three from the Rays over the weekend for the second time in two weeks, which is about as clear of a power shift as you can get in baseball. The Yankees also took over first place in the AL East, and the Rays, previously the best team in baseball, have come back to reality. Remember, the Yankees are still without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Luis Severino.
5. Chicago Cubs (27-17; last week: 4)
After that tough start, the Cubs continue to look like a legit contender. One big reason? Kris Bryant has been a monster in May. He’s hit eight homers with 19 RBIs and a .339 batting average.
6. Milwaukee Brewers (28-21; last week: 5)
Christian Yelich, man. He’s hit 19 homers this year, the most in baseball. The last-place Marlins, the team that traded him to Milwaukee, have just 27 as a team.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (27-19; last week: 8)
Bryce Harper has two homers and six RBIs in his last three games, which could be a sign the Phillies superstar is heating up. His early results have been lackluster, so it says a lot about the talent the Phillies have that they’re leading their division with 27 wins.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (27-17; last week: 7)
While the Rays aren’t No. 1 on this list or in the division standings anymore, there’s little reason to believe their early success was just a fluke. They still have the best ERA in baseball, and the emergences of both Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows bode well. Glasnow is now sidelined 4-6 weeks, which hurts, but the Rays also have reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
9. Boston Red Sox (24-22; last week: 10)
The Red Sox are 11-5 in May, effectively having turned around their early-season stumbles. Mookie Betts has gotten better after his own April slump, but still isn’t playing at an MVP level. If he turns it up, the Red Sox could start climbing higher.
10. Cleveland Indians (25-20; last week: 12)
Hello, Shane Bieber. The 23-year-old starter, another of Cleveland’s great pitchers, made sure everybody took notice Sunday. He pitched a 15-strikeout shutout against the Orioles.
Just outside the pack
11. St. Louis Cardinals (25-22; last week: 10)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (25-22; last week 11)
13. Pittsburgh Pirates (24-20; last week: 14)
14. Atlanta Braves (25-22; last week: 15)
15. San Diego Padres (23-24; last week: 13)
The Cardinals and D-backs have Top 10 aspirations and maybe even legit cases to be there, but fall just outside the pack this week. The Pirates, thanks to Josh Bell, continue to slug their way to respectability in the tough NL Central. And the Padres, after that hot start, dip under .500.
Stuck in the middle
16. Oakland A’s (22-25; last week: 18)
17. Los Angeles Angels (22-24; last week: 19)
18. Seattle Mariners (23-26; last week: 21)
19. Colorado Rockies (20-25; last week: 17)
20. Texas Rangers (21-23; last week: 20)
Well, look at that, most of the AL West falls into our next group. Bound to happen when they’re all chasing the best team in baseball and beating up on each other. None of these teams looks like a legit contender right now. Same goes for the Rockies. But they at least have a little more room for upward mobility in the NL West.
It’s not looking good down here
21. New York Mets (20-25; last week: 16)
22. Washington Nationals (19-27; last week: 22)
23. Cincinnati Reds (21-26; last week: 23)
24. Chicago White Sox (21-24; last week: 24)
25. San Francisco Giants (20-25; last week: 27)
There’s some yikes happening down here. The Mets, mostly. They’ve been in a tailspin, losing five in a row and getting swept by the Marlins. A change at manager might be the next move. Could probably say the same thing about the Nationals, where manager Davey Martinez is also firmly on the hot seat.
26. Toronto Blue Jays (19-27; last week: 25)
27. Detroit Tigers (18-26; last week: 26)
28. Kansas City Royals (16-31; last week: 28)
29. Baltimore Orioles (15-31; last week: 29)
30. Miami Marlins (13-31; last week: 30)
No surprises here. We know all these teams aren’t good and won’t be good this year. The Tigers, though, have lost six in a row and look to be approaching the not-so-esteemed 30-loss club at a high rate.
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