MLB Power Rankings: 5/31

Two months are officially in the books of the 2016 MLB season and the standings are finally starting to become relevant. The Chicago Cubs continue to be baseball’s darlings with an MLB best 6.5 game division lead over the Pirates. Not far behind are the San Francisco Giants, who hold a 4.5 game division lead over the second place Dodgers. In the other four divisions, no team has separated themselves from the pack and built a significant lead. As we officially usher in summer, find out where your team landed in this week’s rankings.

 30. Minnesota Twins (15-35)

Previous Ranking: 29

The Twins are officially an absolute mess. They are not only 20 games under .500 with a fairly talented roster but also are beginning to have problems away from the diamond. Pitching Coach Neil Allen was recently suspended indefinitely by the Twins after he was arrested for DWI. On the bright side, they did sweep the Mariners, who are having a very solid season thus far.

29. Atlanta Braves (15-35)

Previous Ranking: 30

They were able to win two series against division rivals Philadelphia and Atlanta in the past two weeks which is certainly a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how the Braves handle some of their assets like starting pitcher Julio Tehran, who the Braves will not give up unless they get a hitter of “equal age and caliber” according to their general manager. Hey they also moved out of the cellar of these rankings for the first time this season.

28. Cincinnati Reds (17-34)

Previous Ranking: 28

The Reds have the worst run differential in baseball at -100, 26 runs worse than the Braves at -74. They have now lost 15 of their last 17 games and are on their way to having one of the worst bullpens in the history of Major League Baseball. Reliever Steve Delabar became the first pitcher since Pat Combs in 1991 to walk five batters in a six-batter stretch. Needless to say the Reds bullpen has made plenty of history for the wrong reasons in 2016.

27. San Diego Padres (20-32)

Previous Ranking: 26

Rumors have begun to circulate that right hander James Shields will most likely be on the move at the trade deadline. Shields, who is 2-6 with a 3.06 ERA, would certainly welcome the increased run support if he is dealt at the deadline, as San Diego currently ranks 26th in the majors in runs scored.

26. Oakland Athletics (23-29) 

Previous Ranking:23

Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s may be walking a lot, but it appears they have forgotten how to pitch and field the baseball. The Athletics rank 26th in team ERA and have committed the third most errors in all of baseball at 37. Stellar pitching and defense isn’t necessary to win games in the regular season but you simply cannot be this bad.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks (23-30)

Previous Ranking: 25

Right hander Zach Greinke is beginning to look like the pitcher he was last year and has won three straight decisions to improve his record to 6-3. Shelby Miller, on the other hand, has yet to find any kind of success in 2016 with an ERA of 7.09 and has been placed on the DL with a finger injury. Hopefully Arizona does us all a favor and demotes Miller to Triple-A upon his return.

24. Anaheim Angles (23-28)

Previous Ranking: 22

Mike Trout continues to dominate the game of baseball. At the age of 24, Trout is once again putting together a stellar season with a .317 batting average, .414 on base percentage, 11 homers and 37 RBIs. With the Angels struggling mightily, however, don’t you have to at least entertain the possibility of trading him?

23. Houston Astros (23-29)

Previous Ranking: 25

Winners of five out of their last six, the Astros are finally starting to resemble the team that won 86 games last season and was within five outs of defeating the eventual World Series Champion Royals in the divisional round. With that said, I wouldn’t exactly be doing cartwheels if I was an Astros fan. The trio of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer is simply not enough to make up for their below average rotation. Dallas Keuchel’s ERA is still well over 5. They trail the division leading Texas Rangers by 7.5 games. Houston still has a long way to go.

22. Milwaukee Brewers (23-28)

Previous Rankings: 18

The Brewers took two out of three from the Cubs last week at Miller Park which featured dominating starts from Chase Anderson, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and came within one out of throwing a complete game, and Junior Guerra who struck out a career high 11 batters over 7 innings pitched.

21. Colorado Rockies (23-27)

Previous Ranking: 16

After sweeping the Mets, the Rockies have proceeded to drop their last four series and have dipped below the .500 mark. On the bright side, Nolan Arrenado and Trevor Story continue to mash the ball. The two sluggers have a combined 28 home runs thus far in 2016.

20. Tampa Bay Rays (22-27)

Previous Ranking: 20

The Rays found a way to lose a game Sunday in which they only allowed one hit, and a game in which starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi had a perfect game going into the sixth inning and a no-hitter intact into the seventh. Tampa Bay does hit homers, but they do not do much else. The Rays are currently tied for second in the league in homers at 70 but are only 22nd in the league in runs scored at 201.

19. Detroit Tigers (24-26)

Previous Ranking: 21

Although the Tigers are under .500, they only trail the division leading Royals by four games. Due to the unpredictability and mediocrity of the AL central, Detroit has as good a chance as anyone to come out of the division on top.

18. New York Yankees (24-26)

Previous Ranking: 19

After a poor April, the Yankees have righted the ship somewhat and are 16-11 in the month of May. “Run BMC”, as expected, has been nearly unhittable in the late innings and newly acquired closer Arolids Chapman is now 7/7 in save opportunities. The real positive for the Yankees has been their starting rotation. Nathan Eovaldi was especially dominant in the month of May, winning all five of his decisions.

17. Toronto Blue Jays (27-26)

Previous Ranking: 13

The Blue Jays may be ready to break out after taking two out of three from the AL East leading Red Sox over the weekend in Canada. Josh Donaldson put together an MVP type performance Friday night, going 4-5 with three opposite field hits including two home runs, one of which gave the Blue Jays a lead they would never relinquish in the eighth. As usual, Troy Tulowitzki finds himself on the DL with a right quad strain, so the Blue Jays will have to find a way to make up for his absence.

16. Miami Marlins (26-25)

Previous Ranking: 17

Jose Fernandez has been otherworldly thus far in 2016. The flamethrower currently sports a 13.35 K/9 rate which is the second only to Hall of Famer Randy Johnson for the highest K/9 rate by a pitcher with 10 or more starts in a single season in MLB history. Miami did lose a series on the road to the Braves this weekend but hey Atlanta was bound to win a series at home eventually.

15. Philadelphia Phillies (26-25)

Previous Ranking: 14

I am not going to bash the Phillies for getting swept by the Cubs this weekend because they are not the first or the last above .500 team that has or is going to be swept by the Cubbies in Wrigley. However, with a run differential of -43, I do not see how the Phillies can stay over the .500 mark for much longer.

14. St. Louis Cardinals (27-25)

Previous Ranking: 12

Despite shortstop Aledmys Diaz’ strong offensive start (.325/.395/.500), he has left a lot to be desired on the defensive side of the ball. He currently leads all major league shortstops with 12 errors and is one of the main reasons the Cardinals lead all of baseball in errors at 45. Tough to win games when you cannot pick up the baseball, something the Cardinals have failed miserably at thus far.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers (27-25)

Previous Ranking: 10

Boy did Chase Utley get the last laugh at Citi Field this past weekend. After Noah “Thor” Syndergaard (obviously) threw behind Utley intentionally in the third inning of the nationally televised Saturday game, the Dodgers second baseman answered by hitting a solo homer in the sixth and a grand slam in the seventh much to the chagrin of the Met faithful at Citi Field. For the series, Utley had four hits and nine RBIs continuing his remarkable 2016 renaissance.

12. Cleveland Indians (26-23)

Previous Ranking: 15

The Indians were able to beat Jose Quintana and Chris Sale back-to-back days this week and now sit just a game and a half back of the Royals for first place in the jumbled AL Central. Mike Napoli has been a pleasant surprise for Terry Francona and the Tribe. The Indians’ first baseman has 10 homers and 35 RBIs thus far in 2016, after driving in just 50 runs in all of 2015.

11. Chicago White Sox (27-25)

Previous Ranking: 2

After an excellent start, the White Sox have hit the skids and are in the midst of a seven game losing streak. They found a way to get swept this weekend by division rival Kansas City despite leading each game in the late innings. On Saturday, the White Sox found a way to blow a 7-1 lead with one out and no one on in the ninth. They now sit behind both the Royals and Indians in the AL Central.

10. Kansas City Royals (28-22)

Previous Ranking: 15

How in the world do the Royals lead the AL Central? They lost third baseman Mike Moustakas for the year with a torn ACL. Salvador Perez is out 7-10 days with a knee injury. Their starting rotation has been mediocre at best. Yet, the Royals, after sweeping the White Sox this weekend, somehow lead the division. They have received huge contributions from third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and rookie outfielder Brett Eibner who had five hits this weekend in their sweep of Chicago.

9. Seattle Mariners (29-21)

Previous Ranking: 9

Despite getting swept by the lowly Twins, Seattle still has been one of the bigger surprises of the MLB season. Robinson Cano has been playing like an MVP candidate thus far in 2016 and leads the American League in homers at 15 and is second in RBIs at 44. If Cano continues his torrid start, Seattle will be right in the thick of things in the AL West.

8. Baltimore Orioles (28-21)

Previous Ranking: 5

The Orioles were swept by the last place Houston Astros this week by a combined total of three runs. While Manny Machado continues to play like an MVP candidate, sluggers Adam Jones and Chris Davis have struggled thus far in 2016. Jones has posted a slash of .228/.287/.357 while Davis has posted .227/.340/.448.

7. New York Mets (29-21)

Previous Ranking: 7

The Mets’ pitching staff time and time again covers up for the abundance of problems that plague them daily. Third baseman David Wright, who already was not playing every day, has a herniated disk in his neck and is now facing a possibly DL stint. First baseman Lucas Duda is also out 6-8 weeks with a bad back. These injuries have forced inexperienced players like Ty Kelly and Eric Campbell into everyday roles. They are currently 26th in runs scored. But hey, when you have deGrom, Syndergaard and Matz, you don’t have to really worry about much else.

6. Texas Rangers (30-21)

Previous Ranking: 6

How about the offensive outburst from rookie Nomar Mazara and Ian Desmond thus far in 2016? Mazara is hitting .309 with a team leading nine homers and 24 RBIs and has shown light tower power in his first two months in the big leagues. Desmond, who is revitalizing career in Texas, is hitting .298 with seven homers and 30 RBIs.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (29-21)

Previous Ranking: 8

Prior to losing their last two games to Texas, the second place Pirates had won eight of their last nine. Pittsburgh has surged to eight games over .500 primarily because of their stellar offense, which is currently fourth in runs scored at 247. Other than Gerrit Cole, who has an ERA at 2.53, none of the Pirates starters have an ERA under 4.00.

4. Boston Red Sox (31-20)

Previous Ranking: 3

All good things must come to an end. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 29-game hitting streak was snapped by the Rockies’ Friday at Fenway Park in Boston. Bradley’s hitting streak being snapped on a day when he scolded two balls to the warning track shows just how hard it is to match Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Luckily for Red Sox nation and all of baseball, Xander Bogarts has a 22 game hitting streak going, so we can still hold out hope that someone (unlikely) beats the streak.

3. Washington Nationals (31-21)

Previous Ranking: 4

What a start to 2016 for Steven Strasburg. After struggling last year, Strasburg has rebounded in a big way this season with a 9-0 record, 11.0 K/9, and a 2.69 ERA. Surprisingly, the pitcher with the highest ERA in their starting rotation is none other than Max Scherzer at 4.05. If Scherzer can find consistency, Washington’s rotation can be just as effective as that of division foe the New York Mets

2. San Francisco Giants (32-21)

Previous Ranking: 9

Winners of 15 out of 18, the Giants are beginning to play like one of the two or three best teams in all of baseball. Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija all have ERA’s under 3 and are beginning to mold into the dominant trio many thought they had the potential of becoming pre-season.

1. Chicago Cubs (35-14)

Previous Ranking: 1

I mean yes they did lose a couple of series to the Giants and Brewers these past two weeks, but they are still worthy of the top spot. The Cubs are still five games ahead of the Giants for the best record in baseball and continue to dominate at Wrigley Field. Free agent acquisition Ben Zobrist has paid huge dividends thus far for the Cubs. The switch-hitting second baseman is hitting .351/.452./.538 with seven homers and 35 RBIs. Did I mention that he’s doing this 35?

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