It’s summer blockbuster season, and MLB is writing a few interesting movies of its own.
“The Pride of the Yankees” might as well be “The Surprise of the Yankees.” Up in Boston, “The Hunt for Red (Sox) October” is starting to raise some questions. Someone get Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the phone, because with what Minnesota is doing, “Twins” might need a sequel.
Baseball lends itself to Hollywood-type stuff, and this year has been no exception. Just look at two of baseball’s best in the Dodgers and Astros.
The Dodgers finally take over the No. 1 spot in these rankings after a strong No. 1 run at the box office by the Astros. This likely won’t be the last time these teams jockey for position, either. Could we see a repeat of 2017 come Oscar season?
Who knows? Until then, feast your eyes on the latest SN MLB Power Rankings. As always, do not @ me.
Truth be told, a case can still be made for the Astros to be No. 1, but it’s hard to deny the Dodgers this spot right now.
The Dodgers are 17-7 against NL West opponents – good, when you consider the rest of the NL West’s ineptitude – and 12-4 in their past 16 games. Dodgers pitching has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of those games, and shut out opponents in four. Their 1.83 staff ERA in the past 13 games is exceptional, as well.
When everything is right for Houston, they’re built like a tank with a Ferrari engine. Right now, the Astros are more beat up than your sketchy neighbor’s old Honda. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa are all on the IL, but the good news is that Houston is winning without those guys, which only speaks to the depth everyone knew they had.
After all, when you’re able to call up the minor league home run leader to fill a spot, and he homers in his first game, that’s pretty good.
The Astros are still in a good spot, and the case can still be made for them as No. 1. But until they get other pieces back, the Dodgers get the nod.
What’s most interesting about the Twins in 2019: their ability to beat the snot out of everybody.
While they’ve feasted on AL Central opponents – to a 14-6 record – they’re beating good teams outside the division as well, which is very unlike the 2018 Indians, who some also said fattened up on a weak division. For comparison: The 2018 Indians were 49-27 vs. AL Central squads, leaving just a 44-44 record vs. everybody else.
The Twins are 4-3 vs. Houston, 3-1 vs. Tampa Bay and stole a game from the Yankees earlier in the season, so they’ve made some statements against good teams and beat up on the bad ones when they’ve faced them.
Minnesota will have an opportunity to fatten up on more bad teams in June, so don’t expect them to slow down any time soon.
In an attempt to appease the baseball gods, the Yankees sacrificed Domingo Germán to the IL in exchange for Didi Gregorius. This may be inaccurate reporting, but I believe it to be true.
In any case, the Yankees lost Germán to a hip injury and were reportedly runners up in the Dallas Keuchel sweepstakes, which leaves a word for their rotation: yikes. Yes, they’ve fared well so far season, but they don’t have that true horse in the rotation to eat up innings and really spell the bullpen at this point in the year.
With some bullpen issues setting in lately – some of that can be attributed to higher-than-normal use over the course of the season – the Yankees need to weather the storm of an average rotation with some injury question marks. That’s the next big test for the Bombers.
The Rays have taken several gut punches this year and have kept winning. They’ve dealt with the loss of Tyler Glasnow. Matt Duffy has suffered setbacks in his rehab. Blake Snell fought a piece of granite and lost. They’ve dropped two series to the Yankees early in the year.
Through it all, they’re a half-game ahead of the Yankees and aren’t going quietly into the night. They will not vanish without a fight. They’re going to live on. They’re going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independe- I mean, today we celebrate the Rays re-entering the top five in these Power Rankings. Good job, Tampa.
The Rays have still been able to pitch. Their 210 runs allowed mark isn’t just the best in the American League, but it’s best in the majors by a pretty wide margin.
Chicago signing Craig Kimbrel is a big plus for a bullpen that has had its ups and downs in 2019. With a 4.11 bullpen ERA, the Cubs are just about middle of the road when it comes to their relief capabilities.
With rumors that the North Siders are still in the market for bullpen help – which they should be – they could reinforce arguably the biggest flaw of the squad. The starting pitching has been good, with Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester reading the way.
Sending Keston Hiura down was a mistake when any spark in the NL Central race might be the difference, even at this point in the season.
The Brewers better hope Travis Shaw is good, because he was hitting just .163 before his injury sidelined him for about a month. Aside from Shaw, the Brewers are still getting some great offensive production from Christian Yelich, Yasmani Grandal and others, so it’s no harm no foul – for now.
Also, the Gio Gonzalez IL stint should be a little concerning and should serve as a cautionary tale: Sign players in the offseason. Stop playing this stupid, stupid game of signing players in June. It’s dumb. It does a disservice to your fans and your team.
Aaron Nola had a very good May, pitching to a 2.73 ERA and allowing 10 runs over six starts. In two June starts, Nola has already allowed nine runs in 12 innings. Philadelphia is going to need Nola to be the May and 2018 Nola if the Phillies want to hold off the next team on this list.
It didn’t take long for Dallas Keuchel to sign once the MLB Draft wrapped up, and his decision to sign with the Braves is a big coup for Atlanta.
The disappointingly average NL East is still up for grabs, as no team has separated itself from the pack, and adding Keuchel to a rotation with young, productive arms – Max Fried and Mike Soroka – should help. Should is the operating word here. The Beard still has to produce, and who knows how effective he’ll be coming off a long layoff.
10. Red Sox
The Red Sox showed signs of life in the beginning of May, going 8-2 to open the month. Chris Sale got right, Mookie Betts started hitting and all was right in Beantown.
Fast forward a month and a few days and the Red Sox still sit a sole game over .500 in a division that seems to be slipping away from them. Surprisingly, the bullpen hasn’t been the issue for Boston. Rather, the rotation has been average-to-bad outside of Chris Sale and David Price, and offensive inconsistencies have been troubling.
Middle of the pack
The Indians won series against the Yankees and the Twins and are still treading water at 33-32. Cleveland is a team that needed everything to go right to compete in the Central, and with key injuries to key players it could get dark early.
There is a Padres infielder with a 1.8 bWAR and a 153 OPS+, and it’s not Manny Machado.
Fernando Tatis Jr. might moonwalk to the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Just a week ago, the Cardinals swept the Cubs in Busch Stadium. Then, the Cubs broke out brooms of their own and returned the favor. The Jekyll-and-Hyde act for St. Louis continues, but they Cards are looking more like the bad one of the two.
The Rockies jump ahead of the D-backs after sweeping a four-game set at the end of May. But to turn the clock back a bit further, here are some Nolan Arenado stats since May 1: .379 average, 1.122 OPS, 11 home runs in 35 games.
Arizona has had some trouble inside the division this year: The Diamondbacks are 11-19 vs. NL West opponents, with the only winning record coming against the Giants (4-2).
The Rangers are now 35-30 and Joey Gallo (currently on the IL) has been a big part of their 2019 season: Gallo is hitting .278 with a 172 OPS+. He’s been worth 3.2 bWAR this season, already surpassing his career high. By the way, he’s an excellent defender. The Rangers’ pitching is still pretty bad, outside of Mike Minor, obviously. Everyone saw that coming. The Rangers are a perplexing team altogether.
The hot-and-cold A’s won 10 in a row and followed it up by going 5-9 in their next 14 games. This was around the time Oakland took off in 2018, but it’s hard to see where and when the uptick will come from in 2019.
The Mets are a sub-.500 team that should be much better than they are. Edwin Diaz has been good overall, but not 2018-great. Also, Robinson Cano has either been hurt or bad.
Josh Bell is real and he’s spectacular. Unfortunately for the Pirates, he’s one of the few offensive bright spots for an otherwise average-to-bad offense. Their pitching is still pretty good though, even without Jameison Taillon.
Well, it certainly looks like the Nationals are turning it around, though we’ve seen similar signs in the past.
After a four-game sweep at the hands of the Mets, the Nats are 12-4 in their past 16 (7-2 in June). Could Max Scherzer be on the block? Probably not. But if the Nationals are going to put to rest the fire sale talk in 2019, they’re going to need to keep the momentum rolling.
Let’s check in on Sonny Gray: 3.65 ERA (3.01 FIP), 125 ERA+ and he’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his 13 starts. The key? Using his fastball more.
22. White Sox
Don’t look now, but the South Siders are 8-5 since May 27 and sit just three games under .500. Granted, five of those wins came against the hapless Royals, but you can only play who’s on your schedule, right?
Griffin Canning looks like he’s going to be an answer for the Angels in the rotation. In five May starts, he pitched to a 2.57 ERA and a .111 BAA over 28 innings.
How the mighty M’s have fallen. Rumors of Dipoto Trade Season are upon us, and Seattle has a slew of players it could move to continue to rebuild the farm system.
Madison Bumgarner, that old curmudgeon, in 2019: 3.83 ERA (3.88 FIP), 1.161 WHIP, 4.94 K/BB rate, 84 strikeouts. Those are all very Bumgarner-like numbers, and there will (presumably) be a market for the big lefty.
26. Blue Jays
Danny Jansen, another much-hyped Toronto prospect, has been very good defensively but has yet to figure it out with the bat. Through 47 games he’s hit .175 with a 45 OPS+.
The Tigers have a -109 run differential, one of the worst marks in MLB, and are one of only two teams with a negative run differential in the triple digits.
No fun stats here, but a question for you to ponder: If you’re Don Mattingly, how do you feel? Some credit has to go to the Miami front office for letting him stick this out, but being with a consistently losing franchise for so long must be tough.
The Royals have won a single game in June (1-7), scoring 19 runs in eight games and being shut out twice in that span. They do lead the AL in stolen bases, though, which is something!
All eyes are on the future. The Orioles selected Adley Rutschman, switch-hitting Oregon State catcher, with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. It was a no-brainer. Rutschman’s coming-out party was in the 2018 College World Series, and he should be a cornerstone of the O’s in the the coming years.
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