It’s Memorial Day and as we look around the MLB landscape at the 50-game mark, ideas begin to form about true contenders, possible pretenders, and legit locks to win big come October. However, there is still so much to be done, so many games to be played, that this arbitrary barometer may not mean all-that-much even we our rankings reconvene at the end of June.
As with last month, the leagues have been split for a unique look from myself and Chris Jordan. To check out last month’s edition, click here. Want to hit us on Twitter! Go for the gold @retromovienerd and @Teaching_Tigers.
So, sit back and enjoy, Nation!
Chris Jordan’s Power Rankings:
(Standings and Stats thru Sunday, May 28, 2017)
1. Houston Astros (35-16) – The best team in MLB right now is doing it with a healthy balance of offense and pitching. Dallas Keuchel came back from the DL to continue his bounce-back season (8-0, 1.81 ERA), while Marwin Gonzalez has hit 11 dingers without even knowing which position he’ll play from one game to the next (13 games in left field, 12 at first base, 10 at third base).
2. Colorado Rockies (33-19)
3. New York Yankees (29-18) – As the Yankees continue to be the surprise story of the AL, Aaron Judge has dibs on Rookie of the Year, MVP, and possibly even Mayor of New York (.321 with 16 HR and 34 RBIs). Let us not forget that Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11 ERA) and Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.47 ERA) are currently exceeding expectations and keeping the Bombers in their games.
4. Washington Nationals (30-19)
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (31-20)
6. Arizona Diamondbacks (31-21)
7. Minnesota Twins (26-20) – Part of the early season success of the Twins is the fact that Miguel Sano is turning into the hitter the organization thought he would be (.293, 11 HR, 37 RBIs) while Ervin Santana continues his dominant 2017 (7-2, 1.80 ERA through his first 8 starts).
8. Boston Red Sox (27-22) – Xander Bogaerts finally hit his first homer of the season but that doesn’t take away from the fact of his excellent success at the dish (.331 avg, 58 hits). Chris Sale (5-2, 2.34 ERA, 101 K’s) finally had his run of 10+ strikeout games ended and Craig Kimbrel continues to be unhittable (16.62 K/9).
9. Milwaukee Brewers (27-23)
10. Cleveland Indians (25-23) – Corey Kluber landed on the DL but was inconsistent at best prior to that, Danny Salazar was demoted to the bullpen, leaving Carlos Carrasco as the only reliable starter at this point. When your team’s best pitcher is your left-handed set-up man (Andrew Miller), trouble may be a-brewin’ at Progressive Field, regardless of how dominant that guy happens to be.
11. Baltimore Orioles (25-23) – The O’s are in the midst of a seven-game losing skid, they don’t have anyone hitting over .300 (Jonathan Schoop leads the team at .275) and Zach Britton has hit the DL twice already. Good thing Dylan Bundy is hitting his potential (5-3, 2.92 ERA)
12. St. Louis Cardinals (24-23)
13. Chicago Cubs (25-24)
14. Tampa Bay Rays (27-26) – The Rays are over .500 thanks to finding some punch from Corey Dickerson (.337 with 12 HR) and Logan Morrison (14 HR, 35 RBIs). Chris Archer, Matt Andriese, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Cobb are all pitching consistently. The Rays may not win the division, but they will be an excellent spoiler.
15. Los Angeles Angels (26-27) – The Greatest Player in the World* has been hit with the injury bug the last month with his hamstring first and now a thumb sprain. If there was ever any question about his value to the Angels (why would there be?), try losing him for an extended time and watch how ugly it gets.
*Mike Trout, duh.
16. Texas Rangers (25-26) – This team won 10 straight games then followed that up by losing six of its next eight. It’s been a wildly inconsistent Rangers team this season. Adrian Beltre is coming back, so maybe that will cheer up Sam Dyson (1-5 from the bullpen, 10.91 ERA, -1.4 WAR).
17. Cincinnati Reds (24-25)
18. Chicago White Sox (23-26) – Where is the real Avisail Garcia? He’s hitting .331 with a team-leading 37 RBIs. Can he sustain this for a full season? Meanwhile, Todd Frazier is still waiting for his swing to find its way from Cincinnati to Chicago (.186 AVG, .670 OPS). I heard it was last seen at the 2015 All-Star Game Home Run Derby.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (23-27) – After putting up a miserable 8-17 April, the Jays are 15-10 in May. Justin Smoak (11 HR, 30 RBIs) and Kevin Pillar (team-high .289 average, plus that defense) have stepped up to help spark the offense. Josh Donaldson is back from the DL, so it will only improve a team expected to contend.
20. Detroit Tigers (23-27) — The good news: K-Rod isn’t the closer anymore. The bad news: they still rank 14th in the AL in ERA. It isn’t just the pitching either. The team’s best hitter is Victor Martinez at .258. Granted, injuries to Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez have not helped things, but the positive is that Alex Avila (.337 average) has filled in admirably. Fire Ausmus!*
*God bless you, Chris Jordan, for continuing my running joke from 2016.
21. Pittsburgh Pirates (23-28)
22. Oakland Athletics (22-27) – Sonny Gray is trying his best comeback attempt (2-1, 3.34 ERA) through his first five starts and Jed Lowrie is the team’s leading hitter at .300. Jed Lowrie? Is there a new ballpark yet? No? *yawn*
23. Atlanta Braves (21-27)
24. New York Mets (21-27)
25. Seattle Mariners (22-29) – Okay, offensively there is nothing wrong with this team. Jean Segura, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Cano are setting the pace as they were expected to do. This is a balanced attack of speed (Jarrod Dyson has 14 steals) and power (Cruz has 12 home runs). However, injuries to James Paxton and King Felix have forced the M’s to use 12 different starters already this season.
26. Kansas City Royals (21-28) – Alex Gordon’s face has been seen on milk cartons across the state of Missouri. Alcides Escobar got too close to the edge of a bottomless pit and fell in. The team’s offense is low-lighted by a league-worst .230 average and a .291 OBP. That World Series win is a million-years-old now.
27. San Francisco Giants (22-30)
28. Miami Marlins (18-30)
29. San Diego Padres (19-33)
30. Philadelphia Phillies (17-31)`
Joel Barnhart’s Power Rankings:
1. Washington Nationals — That remarkable team offense (ML-best .817 OPS) is only going to take the team so far. The pitching (3.79 starters’ ERA, 4.99 bullpen ERA) is going to need improvement, either via trade or a few guys turning their seasons around. Either, the Nats need some help on the mound to compete with the league’s top teams. For now, they should be happy to be in the worst division in the game.
2. Houston Astros
3. Colorado Rockies — I would not have figured on this one. Colorado is getting good enough pitching overall (4.15 ERA) that the sharp defense (.710 Defensive Efficiency) and excellent offense (.768 OPS) is carrying the team to what could be a very memorable year in Denver.
4. New York Yankees
5. Los Angeles Dodgers — Rookie Cody Bellinger has been stellar (.271/.341/.610) with 11 home runs, as has sophomore Corey Seager (.285/.388/.468). These two, along with Clayton Kershaw should keep the Dodgers competitive up to — and into — October.
6. Boston Red Sox
7. Milwaukee Brewers — Eric Thames has chilled in May (.662 OPS, two homers) since his scorching April, but the Brewers are still hanging around. While the big bats of Thames and Ryan Braun (.410 OPS this month) have been sleeping, the rest of the team has been slugging enough to compensate. Domingo Santana (.882 OPS in 81 at-bats with a 13-26 BB/K ratio) has been especially fantastic.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks — Paul Goldschmidt is having an outstanding year (1.019 OPS) while Jake Lamb has quietly come on as a legit power threat (team-best 14 homers). Meanwhile a potential three-headed monster atop the rotation of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, and Tijuan Walker (combined 3.37 ERA, 204 Ks in 184 ⅓ innings) is something for NL West rivals to consider carefully.
9. Minnesota Twins
10. Baltimore Orioles
11. Chicago Cubs — The defending champs are playing like anything but contenders right now. The Kyle-Schwarber-as-leadoff-hitter experiment has been dreadful (.177/.297/.348), while the overall defense (.689 DER) and pitching (4.04 ERA) have backslid significantly. This team is too good to finish out of the money, but the Wrigleyville concerns are not without merit.
12. Cleveland Indians
13. Texas Rangers
14. Toronto Blue Jays
15. St. Louis Cardinals — Mike Leake has been ridiculously good (0.94 WHIP, 2.24 ERA) while rotation-mates Lance Lynn, Carlos Martinez, and Michael Wacha have all been sound as well. While the offense is not doing its job, the Cards are limiting opponents well enough to give the struggling bats a fair shot most nights.
16. Cincinnati Reds — Raisel Iglesias (0.68 ERA) looks good in the closer’s role, and manager Bryan Price has been unconventional with what has been a solid bullpen this year. With a lineup core of Scott Schebler (15 HRs), Adam Duvall (13), Joey Votto (12), and Eugenio Suarez (10), this is a team that could play spoiler. Too bad the starters are still so, so, SO horrible (ML-worst 5.77 ERA).
17. Detroit Tigers
18. Chicago White Sox
19. Tampa Bay Rays
20. Los Angeles Angels
21. Oakland Athletics
22. San Francisco Giants — Very little has gone wrong for the G-Men this season, from Madison Bumgarner’s dirt-bike accident to the struggles of rotation-mates Johnny Cueto (4.37 ERA), Jeff Samardzija (1-6, 4.50) and Matt Moore (5.28). Meanwhile, inconsistent offense is dooming the Giants as well, with Eduardo Nunez and Buster Posey the only two full-timers hitting over .300 this month.
23. Atlanta Braves — With Freddie Freeman sidelined, the offense is nowhere near as dangerous. Matt Kemp is enjoying a fine season (15 doubles, 8 HRs, .966 OPS), and most of the other veterans are hitting well, too. But the starting pitching is killing the Braves: out of five starters, Jamie Garcia’s 3.58 ERA is the lowest. Next? Julio Teheran at 4.88. Yikes.
24. Seattle Mariners
25. New York Mets — Raise your hand if you thought a team with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Matt Harvey would have the worst ERA in the bigs to this point (4.85)? Woof.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates — Felipe Rivero, an arm from last year’s Mark Melancon deal, looks dominant (0.70 ERA, 28 Ks and five walks in 25 innings) and Ivan Nova (2.83 ERA) has been worth every penny, but the Bucs have dead weight at the end of the rotation with Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow (89.2 innings, 66 earned runs). And, well, if utility player Adam Frazier is your top bat, that’s never a good sign.
27. Kansas City Royals
28. Miami Marlins — Recently, Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton expressed his frustrations over the team’s play. Two things here, G: 1. I don’t feel sorry for someone getting paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living. Ever. 2. What did you expect? It’s a team owned by Jeffrey Loria. You can’t contend. You won’t contend. You will NEVER contend with that slug at the controls.
29. Philadelphia Phillies — None of the young players for the Phils have taken steps forward this year, creating a team that is still searching for its 20th win as we enter June. While it’s normal for rebuilding to have its bumps, I think most anticipated a stronger Philadelphia squad. The main culprit? A staff ERA of 4.83 with a league-high 76 home runs given up. Yep, that’ll do it.
30. San Diego Padres — Wil Myers is having another good year (11 HRs, .822 OPS) and Ryan “Who?” Schimpf has power (13 HRs) but nothing else (.163 batting, 59 Ks). That pretty well sums up a team that the Bad News Bears could beat on any given day.