With over a month of baseball in the books, some of the earliest storylines of the season have either petered out or have become entrenched as part of the 2017 MLB season’s tale. The defending champion Chicago Cubs don’t appear to be the dominant force they were last year, and the New York Yankees are one of the most dangerous teams in the league despite a heavy dosage of inexperienced players. Let’s take a look at how the teams are stacking up at this juncture in the first edition of the mid-month MLB Power Rankings. Records and statistics are from after the games concluded on May 15.
- Houston Astros (27-12, first American League West)
One of the hottest teams in baseball, the well-rounded Astros are in the top five for both runs scored and least runs against. After a disappointing year in 2016, Houston has reclaimed their elite status behind the rejuvenation of 2015 AL Cy Young Winner SP Dallas Keuchel, who is 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA thus far.
2. Washington Nationals (24-13, first National League East)
The Nats have been playing quality ball this whole season, as they are leading the league in runs scored behind the bat of 1B Ryan Zimmerman, who is currently sitting in Triple Crown position with a .385 batting average, 13 home runs and 36 RBIs. As if that wasn’t enough, his teammate OF Bryce Harper is currently leading the NL in WAR and is just behind Zim with a .384 average, 12 homers and 34 RBIs.
3. New York Yankees (22-13, first AL East)
The surprise of baseball thus far, the Yankees were expected to be a year away from contention. However, the behemoth OF Aaron Judge has had other ideas in his first full season, pacing the MLB in home runs with 14 as well as batting a healthy .316.
4. Colorado Rockies (24-15, first NL West)
In a division typically dominated by the Giants and Dodgers, the Rockies have emerged as the early leaders. Their powerful lineup spearheaded by 3B Nolan Arenado should keep the Rockies in contention, but with a run differential of just +3 and an away record of 11-5 trouble could be on the horizon as luck may balance out.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (22-17, second NL West)
The Dodgers may not be atop the NL West at the moment, but with a +51 run differential and a 7-3 record in their last ten games, they will be closing in on the Rockies. Rookie OF Cody Bellinger has been the man largely responsible for the Dodgers’ offensive surge, swatting seven home runs, knocking in 19 runs and batting .301 in just 73 plate appearances.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (21-15, first NL Central)
Without any true superstars on the roster, the Cardinals have gotten hot behind the contributions of 3B Jedd Gyorko, while SP Mike Leake is leading the league in ERA with 1.94.
7. Baltimore Orioles (22-14, second AL East)
Sporting a ridiculous 13-3 record at Camden Yards, the power-heavy O’s will need a boost from their power-heavy lineup. The pitching staff needs to hold up as well, as the team’s stud closer Zach Britton has allowed 16 baserunners in only nine innings, though he has only ceded one earned run.
8. Cleveland Indians (20-17, second AL Central)
After having their hearts torn out in the World Series last year, the Tribe are off to a slower start in 2017. Cleveland has conceded the fourth fewest runs in the MLB despite having ace Corey Kluber on the DL for much of the season off of their bullpen strength.
9. Arizona Diamondbacks (22-18, third NL West)
The D-Backs were a dud last year after a big free agency splash, but have become a threat in the competitive NL West. Losing OF AJ Pollock to a devastating injury last season held back the offense, but getting back their All-Star centerfielder has revitalized the team.
10. Milwaukee Brewers (21-18, second NL Central)
1B Eric Thames has proven to be the free agent signing of the year even if his bat cools off, as the import from the Korean League has hit .315 along with 13 homers. If SP Chase Anderson can continue to serve as an ace, the Brewers could contend for a wild card spot.
11. Chicago Cubs (18-19, fourth NL Central)
The defending World Series champs have had a slow start to the 2017 campaign, but with the league’s best top-to-bottom roster it shouldn’t be long before Chicago heats up. 1B Anthony Rizzo has especially struggled thus far, batting only .213 after hitting .292 in 2016.
12. Texas Rangers (19-20, third AL West)
Last year’s AL West champions find themselves in a deep hole to the Astros already, but have won their last six games and are on the upswing. 3B Joey Gallo is under the Mendoza line yet 12 of his 24 hits have been home runs.
13. Boston Red Sox (19-18, third AL East)
Expected to be a World Series contender this year after bringing SP Chris Sale, the Sox haven’t performed as well as thought. The Mookie Betts-led offense hasn’t skipped a beat, but the reigning AL Cy Young Winner SP Rick Porcello needs to improve on his 4.01 ERA.
14. Minnesota Twins (19-15, first AL Central)
Even with one of the most depleted rosters in the MLB, the Twins have found themselves atop the AL Central. SP Ervin Santana has been fantastic thus far and OF Miguel Sano is leading the team in every major batting category, but the two need support if the Cinderella run is to continue.
15. Cincinnati Reds (19-18, third NL Central)
1B Joey Votto is one of the best players in the MLB, yet receives little of the credit he deserves. He and SS Zack Cozart head a solid offense, but the rotation is shaky, as SP Scott Feldman is the only pitcher with enough innings pitched to qualify for the ERA title.
16. Detroit Tigers (18-18, third AL Central)
The Tigers are an unspectacular team, yet have enough veteran talent to pose a threat. SP Michael Fulmer has been stellar, but SP Justin Verlander has fallen off of his Cy Young-worthy campaign of 2016.
17. Los Angeles Angels (20-21, second AL West)
It is nice to see OF Mike Trout get a chance at the playoffs, with the other Angels doing just enough to keep them in contention. The rotation is a mess, with SP Jesse Chavez somehow leading the unit with an abysmal 4.22 ERA.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (19-22, fourth AL East)
With the Yankees playing as well as they are, the Rays are mired in the league’s hardest division to win. 3B Evan Longoria hasn’t been his usual self, but OF/DH Corey Dickerson has proven to be a worthy investment after leaving the favorable environment of Coors Field, batting .336 thus far.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (17-22, fifth AL East)
After making it to the ALCS last year, the Jays have had a rough beginning to 2017. OF Jose Bautista and C Russell Martin are both batting below the Mendoza Line, as their once-powerful offense is starting to show its age.
20. Seattle Mariners (18-21, fourth AL West)
Superstar 2B Robinson Cano’s recent injury has caused a stint on the 10-day DL, joining OF Mitch Haniger. However, SS Jean Segura is batting a ridiculous .370, DH Nelson Cruz is still going strong and SP James Paxton is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA despite being short of the inning requirement to lead the league in ERA.
21. Chicago White Sox (17-19, fourth AL Central)
2017 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the White Sox after two major offseason trades, but they are outperforming their low expectations. OF Avisail Garcia is leading the Sox in every hitting category, but if Chicago begins to fall off, expect him, 1B Jose Abreu and SP Jose Quintana to be dealt at the trade deadline.
22. Kansas City Royals (16-21, fifth AL Central)
It’s been a rough fall from grace for the Royals, who were the class of the league just three years ago. Their offense is the worst in the league by 19 runs, and could ship off the few holdovers from their World Series teams at the deadline.
23. New York Mets (16-21, second NL East)
The Mets have struggled with injuries mightily in recent years, and SP Matt Harvey is on the outs after being proclaimed the next Nolan Ryan as a rookie All-Star. Already eight games back of the Nationals, the Mets will need OF Yoenis Cespedes back from injury if they want to come back.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (16-22, fifth NL Central)
Stud SP Gerrit Cole has racked up 47 K’s and a 3.06 ERA as the ace of the staff, but has a 1-4 record due to the Pirates’ atrocious offense. The Bucs’ have the second-worst offense in the MLB, and OF Andrew McCutchen needs to get back to his old self if the Pirates want to return to the playoffs again.
25. Philadelphia Phillies (14-21, third NL Central)
After starting the season strong, the Phillies have gone 2-8 in their last 10, but have a run differential of just -6. 2B Cesar Hernandez has emerged as the leader of the offense, while OF Aaron Altherr has quietly become a quality source of power.
26. San Francisco Giants (16-24, fifth NL West)
One of the biggest disappointments in the MLB, the team that gave the Cubs a run for their money in the NLDS last year has fallen off precipitously even before SP Madison Bumgarner injured his shoulder in a dirt bike accident. C Buster Posey has been the lone bright spot, as the former MVP is batting .375 with seven home runs.
27. Oakland A’s (16-22, fifth AL West)
GM Billy Beane’s assemblage of cheap players hasn’t worked as well as it had in the Moneyball days of the early 2000’s, and without SP Sonny Gray at full strength, it will be hard for the A’s to escape the cellar of the AL West.
28. Atlanta Braves (14-21, fourth NL East)
The Braves are in full-blown rebuilding mode, but do have some promise. 1B Freddie Freeman continues to toil away in relative anonymity, and OF Matt Kemp is batting a surprising .348. The pitching staff is still the primary issue, as the unit has a collective ERA of 4.75.
29. Miami Marlins (14-23, fifth NL East)
The September death of star SP Jose Fernandez was devastating, as the Marlins are at the bottom of the league’s worst division one year after nearly making the playoffs. OF Marcell Ozuna has been a stud and C JT Realmuto has established himself as one of the best catchers in the league, but it can’t make up for the loss of Fernandez.
30. San Diego Padres (15-25, fifth NL West)
There’s not much to be said about the Padres, who have the league’s worst run differential at -64. 1B Wil Myers has served as essentially the only source of offense, though rookie OF Hunter Renfroe has hit seven home runs despite holding a .217 average.