MLB Power Rankings: 5/17

We are currently at the quarter mark of the marathon that is the Major League Baseball season. The Houston Astros have us wondering if they will ever meet preseason expectations or if they will continue to struggle and disappoint. The Cubs have us wondering if there is anybody in the MLB who can compete with them after a four game weekend series sweep of the first place Washington Nationals. Finally, Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista have us wondering “why can’t we be friends?”  In the quarter pole power rankings, find out how your team is doing and if they moved up or down.

30. Atlanta Braves (9-28)    

Previous Ranking: 30

Losers of 8 out of 10, the Braves remain dead last for the third straight power ranking. They are currently a pitiful 2-17 in their 19 home games. The Braves need to find some way to put their fans out of their misery. Seriously, how could you be 2-17 at home?

29. Minnesota Twins (10-27)

Previous Ranking: 27

The Twins came dangerously close to falling all the way to 30 in these rankings. Before beating the Indians back-to-back games this weekend, the Twins had lost a demoralizing 14 out of 15.  They are simply one of the biggest disappointments so far of the 2016 season.

28. Cincinnati Reds (15-23)

Previous Ranking: 26

One of the biggest storylines for the Reds has been the struggling bat of Joey Votto. Votto is currently hitting just .215 and has been one of the many problems that have plagued the Reds thus far. On the flip side, rookie left-hander John Lamb has been a bright spot for Cincinnati, who possesses a 1-0 record with a 1.80 ERA through two starts.

27. Milwaukee Brewers (16-22)

Previous Ranking: 28

The biggest question for the Brewers is when they will decide to make a trade. Players like Ryan Braun, who is currently hitting a robust .367 with seven homers, and ace Jimmy Nelson could garner much interest and valuable returns in deals. With Milwaukee not expected to be much of a factor in the pennant race this year, you would have to think it would make sense for them to deal one of them soon.

26. San Diego Padres (17-22) 

Previous Ranking: 29

Surprisingly, the Padres actually have been playing pretty good baseball over the past two weeks. They were able to spilt a four game set with the Mets behind stellar pitching from Drew Pomeranz and Colin Rea, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.  Then, they were able to remarkably sweep a double-header against the Cubs and became just the second team this year to win a series against baseball’s best. We are finally seeing some positive signs from San Diego.

25. Houston Astros (15-24)

Previous Ranking: 25

Not much has changed for the Astros as they remain 25th in the rankings.  Their pitching is simply a complete train wreck. They gave up 34 runs to the Red Sox in a four game series this weekend and lost yesterday by the score of 10-9.  Only four teams in all of baseball have given up more runs than Houston has. If the pitching cannot turn it around, it will be very tough for Houston to climb up the standings.

24. Arizona Diamondbacks (18-23)

Previous Ranking: 23

The D-Backs were swept four straight games by division rival San Francisco in a series that they lost by a combined total of eight runs. It certainly would have been nice if Arizona could have won one or two of those games due to how nip and tuck the NL West currently is. Meanwhile, Zach Greinke’s ERA is still over 5 and he has the highest ERA for a starter on the Diamondbacks besides Shelby Miller, who barely counts at this point anyway.

23. Oakland Athletics (17-22)

Previous Ranking: 20

Danny Valencia had the game of his career Sunday against Tampa by cracking three home runs all over 425 feet in length. Their pitching, on the other hand, has been abysmal thus far in May. Oakland’s starters have a combined 7.97 ERA so far this month and have won only two out of 11 decisions. Ace Sonny Gray has not been immune to the starting pitching struggles, and was tattooed for 7 earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched this week in Boston.

22. Anaheim Angels (17-21)

Previous Rankings: 18

When it rains it pours and that was certainly the case for the Angels this past week. Not only did they drop six in a row to the Rays and Cardinals, but also they learned their ace Garrett Richards would need Tommy John Surgery after he was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow.  They did sign Tim Lincecum to try and revitalize their depleted rotation but sadly for Anaheim this isn’t 2010.

21. Detroit Tigers (17-21)

Previous Ranking: 12

The Tigers have been reeling as of late and rumors have begun to surface about the future of manager Brad Ausmus. On the field, Detroit’s starting rotation has struggled mightily besides Jordan Zimmerman, who is off to an excellent start. Annibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander both have ERA’s above 4.71.

20. Tampa Bay Rays (17-19)

Previous Ranking: 19

Does Tampa Bay have young pitchers growing on trees? 25 year-old right hander Matt Andriese is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA, including a complete game shutout against the Athletics, Saturday. Make no mistake, Tampa Bay is still struggling to score runs, as they rank 27th in runs scored.

19. New York Yankees (16-21)

Previous Ranking: 24

The return of Aroldis Chapman from his thirty-game suspension for violating the MLB’s domestic violence agreement has seemed to breathe some life into the once lifeless Yankees. Since Chapman’s return, he has recorded two saves and the Yankees are 5-2.  New York completed a successful ten game home stand with a 7-3 record, and won series against two of the best teams currently in the American League, the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, and the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals.

18. Cleveland Indians (17-17)

Previous Ranking: 22

The Indians lost two out of three to the Astros and Twins, currently two of the worst teams in baseball. Now losers in back-to-back series and five of their last eight games. While they do sit in second place, the Tribe should be concerned about Michael Brantley. After beginning the year on the disabled list, Brantley has once against been placed on the DL with a balky shoulder that continues to plague the Indians left fielder.

17. Miami Marlins (21-17)

Previous Ranking: 21

Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez is beginning to hit his stride. The right hander took home NL player of the week honors this week after going 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts, including a dominant 11 strikeout performance yesterday against the Nationals.  Offensively, the Marlins have been stroking the ball under the tutelage of hitting coach Barry Bonds. Four of Miami’s every day starters are currently hitting over .300

16. Colorado Rockies (19-18)

Previous Ranking: 17

The Rockies completed a very impressive three-game sweep of the defending National League champion Mets behind a go-ahead two-run homer from Ryan Raburn Sunday. While the Rockies continue to mash the ball, it has been their pitching that has been a pleasant surprise. Rockies’ starters have gone five innings or more in 13 of 14 starts in the month of May.

15. Kansas City Royals (18-19)

Previous Ranking: 7

For those people who say the Royals are suffering from a World Series hangover, I want you to look at the Royals current starting rotation – that consists of long relievers Dillon Gee and Danny Duffy as KC’s fourth and fifth starters – and tell me if any team would be over .500 with that rotation. Eric Hosmer is hitting .336 and is quietly becoming one of the best players in all of baseball. Beware those who doubt the Royals, if they get any kind of consistent starting pitching they can turn the ship around.

14. Philadelphia Phillies (22-17)

Previous Ranking: 16

Can the Phillies really be this good? After two more one-run wins this weekend against the Reds,  capturing their 13th one-run victory of the season, the Phillies currently sit at 22-16 and in second place in the NL East. Philadelphia’s young pitching duo of Aaron Nola and Vincent Velasquez has been excellent and is giving their fans a reason to believe. Yet, it will be very difficult to sustain all these one run victories and momentum all-season.

13. Toronto Blue Jays (19-21)

Previous Ranking: 13

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The Blue Jays lost two-out-of-three in Texas this weekend, and All-Star outfielder Jose Bautista is still trying to find his mouthpiece after Rougned Odor landed a right hook on Bautista in an all out brawl Sunday in Texas. While I do believe Toronto has the moral upper hand, for once, in this situation, there is no question that “excessive celebration” or in baseball’s case extreme bat flipping can have consequences for subsequent meetings between teams.  Can’t we all just get along?

12. St. Louis Cardinals (20-18)

Previous Ranking: 15

The offense of Yadier Molina has been an unexpected boost to the Cardinals’ offense. After two consecutive seasons of having an average below .300, Molina has been one of the Cardinals’ best hitters thus far, wielding a .333 average and an impressive 12 doubles.

11. Seattle Mariners (21-16)

Previous Ranking: 15

Welcome back, Robinson Cano. Cano is currently leading the Mariners in batting average (.290), home runs (12), RBIs (34), and hits (45). Despite Cano’s hot start, players like Nelson Cruz and Ketel Marte will need to be consistently productive if Seattle wants to score enough runs to support King Felix and company.

10. Los Angeles Dodgers (20-19)

Previous Ranking: 10

Is there some higher level that Clayton Kershaw can advance to? The Dodgers left-hander has once again dominated in 2016, building up a 5-1 record with a 1.74 ERA. Kershaw’s most recent masterpiece was a complete game shutout he threw against the Mets this week, in which he struck out 13 and only allowed three hits.

9. San Francisco Giants (22-18)

Previous Ranking: 9

Memo to Santiago Casilla: If you want the manager to have faith in you, then try not to load the bases. Giants’ closer Santiago Casilla was critical of manager Bruce Bochy who pulled him after he loaded the bases with two outs in a 4-2 victory over the Diamondbacks Thursday night.  I personally do not have a problem mixing and matching in the ninth inning if I do not have a top closer, and many teams currently adopt this strategy.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-17)

Previous Ranking: 6

After Gerrit Cole’s dominant eight shutout innings Sunday in Wrigley, he proclaimed that the Chicago Cubs were not baseball’s best team. While Cole is entitled to his opinion, a 1-5 record against the Cubs so far in 2016 would suggest that the Pirates are not much of a match for the Cubs. My question for Cole is, if the Cubs aren’t baseball’s best team, then who is?

7. New York Mets (21-16)

Previous Ranking: 4

The Mets seem to be going through the motions at the end of their 11-game road trip in which they finished 4-7. After a sizzling start, second baseman Neil Walker has been mired in a prolonged slump and Curtis Granderson has yet to find himself. Their upcoming series against the Nationals should be prime-time television.

6. Texas Rangers (22-17)

Previous Ranking: 11

Texas has impressively won back-to-back series against the White Sox and Blue Jays and is currently leading the AL West. With Houston struggling, Texas is the new favorite to win the AL West for the second consecutive year.  I think we would all sign up for a Toronto vs. Texas rematch in the ALDS.

5. Baltimore Orioles (23-13)

Previous Ranking: 8

The Orioles became the just the fourth team in the past fifteen seasons to put together multiple 7-game winning streaks in their first 35 games. Baltimore’s hot start has been sustained by the strong hitting of Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo, who has been a pleasant surprise for the O’s. Keeping up with the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the AL East will be challenge but, for now, the Orioles are proving that they’re legit.

4. Washington Nationals (23-15)

Previous Ranking: 2

Despite the public coverage of the “Make Baseball Fun Again” movement, two others that have been key cogs to the Nationals thus far have been Steven Strasburg and Daniel Murphy. Strasburg has yet to lose in 2016 and is 6-0 with a 2.95 ERA, while Murphy currently leads all of baseball in batting average at .400. Murphy has picked up right where he left off in the 2015 postseason and has been on an absolute tear for almost the entire season. I wonder what kind of reception he will get from the Mets fans this week at Citi Field?

3. Boston Red Sox (24-14)

Previous Ranking: 5

The Red Sox currently have the second best run differential in all of baseball at +59, second to only the Cubs. David Ortiz had another vintage performance Saturday against Houston, in which he hit a two-out, game-tying triple, yes a triple, to tie the game in the ninth before winning the game on a walk-off hit in the 11th.  Don’t get me wrong, the Red Sox are certainly a flawed team, with two starters holding an ERA over 6. But thus far, their relentless offense has downplayed their anemic starting pitching.

2. Chicago White Sox (24-14)

Previous Ranking: 3

There may not be a better one-two punch in all of baseball than Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Sale is off to one of the best starts any pitcher has had in the history of baseball, with an 8-0 record and a 1.67 ERA. Remarkably, Jose Quintana actually has a lower ERA than Sale at 1.54 and is 5-2 on the year. If Quintana and Sale continue their dominance, the White Sox will have a great chance to be one of the best teams in the American League.

1. Chicago Cubs (27-9)

Previous Ranking: 1

The Cubs completed a four-game sweep of the Washington Nationals last weekend which was capped by a walk-off home run by Javier Baez. The Cubs are off to one of the best starts in the history of baseball and show no signs of slowing down. They are turning what was expected to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball into a runaway. Chicago currently has an 8 game lead in the NL Central and is 7-2 against division rivals St. Louis and Pittsburgh. If they maintain this pace, the Cubs have an opportunity to break the regular season win record of 116 wins.

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