Welcome to new and improved PTBMLBPR. For those of you who hate acronyms, that’s the Place to Be Major League Baseball Power Rankings. This year, we’re shaking things up just a bit. Each month, Chris Jordan and I will team up to share our thoughts on the MLB landscape. We will both provide a comprehensive ranking of all 30 teams, but this month, I’ll provide insights on the American League, while Chris gives his take on the National League.
On to the rankings … everybody loves ranking things, right?
Joel Barnhart’s Power Rankings:
(Standings and Stats thru Friday, April 28)
1. Washington Nationals (16-7)
2. Houston Astros (15-8) — The team is getting the ace it needs in Dallas Kuechel, while Jose Altuve is off to solid start to follow his stellar 2016. Carlos Correa isn’t hitting yet, and George Springer has cooled, but the bullpen—in particular sophomore Chris Devinski—has been solid.
3. Baltimore Orioles (14-7) — Despite miserable April showings from Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo, the O’s are getting (stop me if you’ve heard this) fantastic work from the bullpen and power up-and-down the lineup. Wade Miley has been their best starter overall this month; don’t bank on that come September, though.
4. New York Yankees (14-7) — The pitching staff has been crazy-good (3.28 ERA) and the strong starts at the plate from Aaron Judge, Starlin Castro, and Chase Headley have helped the Bombers get off to a great start. The hot-garbage beginnings for Brett Gardner and Greg Bird are not cause for concern yet, but check back in May.
5. Cleveland Indians (12-10) — Andrew Miller has been great, but Cody Allen has been better (18 K in 9 innings), while Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber are dynamite in the rotation. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are both lighting it up on offense and Michael Brantley finally looks healthy. A great May could see the Tribe as the top team in MLB soon.
6. Colorado Rockies (15-9)
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-10)
8. Chicago Cubs (12-10)
9. Boston Red Sox (12-10) — New arrivals Chris Sale and Mitch Moreland are thriving, while rookie Andrew Benintendi has been electric as well. An alarming lack of power (12 home runs as a team) has limited the Sox to just 83 runs this far, dulling a solid .336 on-base percentage (third in the AL).
10. Los Angeles Dodgers (12-12)
11. Chicago White Sox (11-9) — The team’s top hitter is Avisail Garcia (192 OPS+) while Matt Davidson (181 OPS+) has mashed in a part-time role. The bullpen has been strong (1.96 ERA, 2nd in MLB), as have mid-rotation arms James Shields, Derek Holland, and Miguel Gonzalez. A couple more months of this could bode quite well when the Pale Hose start selling as part of their ongoing rebuild.
12. Detroit Tigers (11-11) — Justin Upton (164 OPS+) has been excellent, but most of the lineup has scuffled. The starting staff, outside of bust Jordan Zimmermann, has been fine, but the bullpen — bright spots Justin Wilson, Alex Wilson, and Shane Greene excepted — has been a dumpster full of poopy diapers on fire in mid-day August.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (12-12)
14. Miami Marlins (10-11)
15. Cincinnati Reds (10-13)
16. Tampa Bay Rays (12-12) — Some good, some bad. A few strong hitters, a few good pitchers. It’s par for the course on a club that should battle the .500 mark all season long.
17. Los Angeles Angels (13-12) — Mike Trout is already second on the team’s all-time bWAR list with 50, just behind leader Chuck Finley 52. Just imagine what that gap will look like when Trout’s contract is up in 2020. Oh, and the dude’s got a 206 OPS+ … just sayin’, he’s super good at this stuff.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (11-10)
19. St. Louis Cardinals (12-11)
20. Seattle Mariners (11-13) — Losing hot-hitting Mitch Haniger hurts an offense that has been at-or-near the top in a lot of categories early. Taylor Motter (7 doubles, 5 homers) has been a ton of fun to watch, as has lefty James Paxton (3-0, 1.39, 270 ERA+).
21. Texas Rangers (10-13) — In all honesty, a team that is batting a collective .219/.297/.388 should be ranked a lot lower. But a good starting rotation (3.27, 2nd in the AL) is propping these guys up.
22. Minnesota Twins (11-11) — It’s basically good first months from Ervin Santana (4-0, 0.77 ERA) and Hector Santiago (2-1, 2.43) keeping the Twins pitching from being among the league’s worst, as the starting staff ranks last in the AL with 85 K. Miguel Sano (1.083 OPS) has been excellent, and Max Kepler has been solid too (.826 OPS) but Byron Buxton (.412 OPS) is crashing and burning.
23. New York Mets (9-13)
24. Atlanta Braves (9-12)
25. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-12)
26. Oakland Athletics (10-13) — The A’s are middle of the pack in defense (tied with Kansas City for seventh in the AL at .709 defensive efficiency), near the bottom in pitching (4.17 ERA is 12 in the AL), and adequate at the plate (.702 OPS is 9th). There’s enough talent for them to move up a bit, but probably not too much.
27. San Francisco Giants (9-15)
28. Toronto Blue Jays (6-17) — Avert your eyes, children! The preseason pick of many to win it all this year (that is, if you didn’t ride the Indians or go National League), the Jays have been awful no matter how you slice it: a team .647 OPS, a 4.40 ERA, and a .677 DER. The Jays, as of this writing, have not won back-to-back games all year, but they have (as you might expect) managed a seven-game losing streak already.
29. San Diego Padres (9-16)
30. Kansas City Royals (7-15) — Stat of the month: The Royals have scored 58 runs up to this point in the season. The Washington Nationals have scored 51 in their last five games. Yes, that includes some pinball madness in Colorado, but, well, that’s still absurd.
Chris Jordan’s Power Rankings:
(Stats thru April 27, Standings thru April 28.)
1. Washington Nationals (16-7) — Bryce Harper looks like the MVP Bryce Harper of 2015, which is a good sign for the Nats. It’s only April, but Washington has been head-and-shoulders above everyone else. Their offense has been carrying things so far with a team OPS of .817 but better work from the bullpen is required (6.12 ERA).
2. Baltimore Orioles (14-7)
3. New York Yankees (14-7)
4. Houston Astros (15-8)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks — (15-10) Being second in the NL in runs scored shows that, when healthy, the D-Backs can rake. The bullpen has not been very good as evidenced by the 5.09 ERA (11.00 for closer Fernando Rodney). Shelby Miller may need Tommy John, so his bounce-back season has been derailed.
6. Chicago Cubs (12-10) — Mixed reviews for the defending champs so far, but no worries just yet. A slow start for Ben Zobrist (.197 BA), as well as starters Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey, has the Cubs practicing patience rather than beating the world.
7. Colorado Rockies (15-9) — We knew the offense would be there. However, after the shellacking the Nationals put on them at Coors, the pitching is still the usual concern for the Rockies. Antonio Senzatela has looked good, and so does the back end of the bullpen with Greg Holland and Adam Ottavino.
8. Cleveland Indians (12-10)
9. Chicago White Sox (12-9)
10. Philadelphia Phillies (11-10) — Cesar Hernandez is hitting .321 with an OPS of .895. The rotation has looked decent at times, with Jeremy Hellickson off to a 3-0 start. Hector Neris and Joaquin Benoit look like a solid 1-2 punch out of the ‘pen.
11. Detroit Tigers (11-11)
12. Boston Red Sox (12-10)
13. Milwaukee Brewers (12-12) — Good starts for Ryan Braun, Travis Shaw, and the KBO export Eric Thames. Thames has 11 home runs and is one of the top stories in the game right now. Other than Chase Anderson, the rotation is shaky, so expect the Brewers good start to come down to earth very soon.
14. Miami Marlins (10-11) — So far so good for the offense. Giancarlo Stanton has avoided the DL and J.T. Realmuto is quickly becoming one of the best-hitting catchers in the game. Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to become the ace that this team sorely needs. One bright spot: Derek Jeter wants to buy the team!
15. St. Louis Cardinals (12-11) — The Cards have played better lately after a rough start, thanks to some poor offense early on. The starting rotation has been pretty solid, especially Mike Leake and his nifty 1.32 ERA in his first four starts. But, woof, that bullpen…
16. Los Angeles Angels (13-12)
17. Los Angeles Dodgers (12-12) — It’s a slow first month for the Dodgers thanks to a lack of power from Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson (currently on the DL). Rich Hill can’t figure out his blister issues and Hyun-Jin Ryu has been pretty bad. There is plenty of depth so they should get back on track sooner rather than later.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (12-12)
19. Minnesota Twins (11-11)
20. Cincinnati Reds (10-13) — After a hot start, the Reds are sliding back down the ladder to where they were expected to be. The pitching staff leads the NL in strikeouts but is 13th in ERA. Offensively, Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez are off to surprisingly good starts.
21. Oakland Athletics (10-13)
22. Texas Rangers (10-13)
23. Seattle Mariners (11-13)
24. Atlanta Braves (9-12) — Dansby Swanson is not having a very good month of April (.356 OPS) but Freddie Freeman is (1.269 OPS) but Freddie is also hitting a lot of solo home runs because no one gets on base ahead of him. SunTrust Park is nice to look at, so they’ve that going for them. Which is nice.
25. New York Mets (9-13) — The Mets are the worst hitting team in the NL (.209) and have trouble supporting their pitching staff. It’s not going to get better, as Yoenis Cespedes is headed to the DL, and Noah Syndergaard has a biceps issue that saw him miss a start.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-12) — Starling Marte getting busted for PED usage really hurts a team that was already struggling for offense. David Freese has been one of the offensive surprises so far (.310 average). Meanwhile, the rotation has been pretty good, led by Ivan Nova, who has walked one batter in 27 innings.
27. San Diego Padres (9-16) — Another solid start to the year for Wil Myers, but joining him are Yangervis Solarte, and rookie Manuel Margot. The rotation has been quite shaky with no starter with an ERA under 4.45. Brandon Maurer has been solid as the closer with a K/9 ratio over 12 and a WHIP under 1.00.
28. San Francisco Giants (9-15) – The Giants are batting .232 as a team and are 14th in runs scored. Not only that, but the team’s best hitter (and pitcher, of course), Madison Bumgarner, went down with an injury after a dirt bike accident that will keep him sidelined until mid-summer. Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore, and Jeff Samardzija have a combined ERA of 5.66.
29. Kansas City Royals (7-15)
30. Toronto Blue Jays (6-17)