Welcome to the May 2019 edition of the MLB Power Rankings, Nation! With baseball season in full swing, and more to come, let’s take a peek at how the season is moving forward thus far.
While many of the expected teams have been right on, a few surprises and disappointments have emerged. But, one the best things about this sport is that momentum is a team’s best friend, and fortunes can turn around quickly.
With that said, let’s dive in!
All stats and records as of Saturday, May 4, 2019.
- Tampa Bay Rays (21-12). With Glasnow pitching like an ace, and Charlie Morton (2.52, 11.0 K/9) not far behind, the Rays are great traditional pitching to back up the “opener” strategy, along with strong defense, and great early offense from rookies Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, as well as Tommy Pham and Yandy Diaz.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (22-13). Despite AJ Pollock hitting the injured list, this team is so loaded, it won’t miss him. Cody Bellinger is an early MVP favorite (.415/.489/.847) while Joc Pederson (10 homers) and Alex Verdugo (.346/.376/.605) are transforming into beasts as well. Oh, and that Kershaw guy is back (2.77 ERA, 27 Ks in 26 innings).
- Houston Astros (19-14). The 2017 champs still look really strong; leading the bigs in OPS+ (121) while sitting fifth in team ERA (3.57). Alex Bregman is a star (154 OPS+), while Carlos Correa also looks healthy (.892 OPS, 10 doubles). On the mound, Justin Verlander (10.8 K/9) and Gerrit Cole (13.5 K/9) keep dominating.
- St. Louis Cardinals (20-13). A strong bullpen fronted by Jordan Hicks (2.13 ERA), John Gant (0.86), and John Brebbia (0.93), along with good offense up-and-down the lineup—Marcell Ozuna has 10 home runs, Paul Goldschmidt has nine, and Paul DeJong is carrying a 152 OPS+—has the Redbirds on top of baseball’s most intriguing division.
- Minnesota Twins (20-11). The pitching is not that grand (4.14 team mark), but the offense—56 homers, 66 doubles, a team 115 OPS+—has the Twinkies driving the AL Central. With Cleveland’s injury woes and penny-pinching, it may not matter if the Twins come down to Earth a bit.
6. Philadelphia Phillies (18-14). While the $330-million man, Bryce Harper gets on base (.380 OBP) and plays a progressively worse right field, his signing did help the Phils realign their overall defense for the better. But he’s nowhere to be found on the team’s Baseball Reference WAR leaderboard top ten. Hmm…maybe huge contracts aren’t the be-all, end-all of constructing a winner. Enjoy your record contract, overachiever. You “earned” it.
7. New York Yankees (18-14). Despite running a veritable M*A*S*H unit, this team is still second in the AL East. It’s a damn scary thought when/if everyone gets healthy…
8. Arizona Diamondbacks (20-13). Christian Walker (13 doubles, 7 homers, 152 OPS+) looks like a nice successor to Goldschmidt, while Ketel Marte (126 OPS+) has become a nice utilityman, and the pitching—Zack Greinke, Luke Weaver, and Robbie Ray in particular—has been exceptional.
9. Chicago Cubs (18-12). This could be the streakiest team in the top ten. Overcoming a 1-6 start to sit in second place is pretty good. Of course, a few guys are playing over their heads right now (174 OPS+ from Willson Contreras, 138 from Jason Heyward), but the hope is that Javier Baez (157) and Anthony Rizzo (135) keep it up, while Kris Bryan (108, but just 45 total bases) and Yu Darvish (5.79 ERA) figure themselves out soon.
10. San Diego Padres (18-16). Shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. looks legit (145 OPS+, .360 OBP) and Manny Machado has been good-not-great (8 homers, .790 OPS). The rest of the offense has ranged from useful to putrid. Young pitchers Chris Paddack (1.91 ERA), Matt Strahm (3.03) have been good, as so has the bullpen overall. But, what happens when those young arms hit innings limits? While the Padres are improving, don’t count on them being this high next month.
11. Atlanta Braves (17-16). A lot of scuttlebutt and rabble was made about Ozzie Albies’ crazy team-friendly contract, but let’s be honest, the kid saw a chance to set his family up for generations to come and he took it. Good for him. A lot of people talk about “fair market value” and “leaving money on the table” and “earnings for future players”. Fuck that noise. Players earning the MINIMUM still earn six figures—yes, I have issues with that in a different sense, too—and most are able to live a much better retirement than anyone reading this can even dream about. The kid took the money and he’s happy. Good. Oh, also, Ronald Acuna, Jr. is fantastic.
12. Milwaukee Brewers (19-16). Christian Yelich is currently with a 222 OPS+ and just screaming for an MVP repeat. Meanwhile, the Brew Crew’s pitching is really, really bad (4.87, 24th in MLB). I don’t think they would solve everything, but Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still out there…
13. Cleveland Indians (18-13) A Mickey-Mouse, Little-League level offense (team OPS+ of 71 — wow!) and pitching injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber, plus a bad bullpen and a worrisome start for Jose Ramirez (.188/.278/.282). It makes me wonder what’s worse: Rooting for a team that you KNOW will be bad or watching a team that COULD/SHOULD be good be bad.
14. Boston Red Sox (16-18). An ugly, ugly start to the year for the defending champs put a lot of players under the microscope. The team still has concerns—black hole offense from Eduardo Nunez, Jackie Bradley, Jr, and most of the bench; bad pitching from Rick Porcello and Eduardo Nunez; and a bullpen that was, of course, “built” by Dave Dombrowski. Chris Sale seems to be righting his ship, but it’s lucky the Sox didn’t get totally buried by this start.
15. New York Mets (16-17). After Jacob deGrom’s transcendent 2018 campaign, some regression was expected (3.82 ERA, 13.4 K/9). He and Steven Matz (3.86 ERA) have been fine, but the rest of the rotation has been a dumpster fire. As for the offense, there are some nice pieces there, but it seems inconsistent and without a real threat behind rookie Pete Alonso (.289/.374/.620 with 10 homers).
16. Cincinnati Reds (14-19).
17. Pittsburgh Pirates (15-15).
18. Toronto Blue Jays (15-18).
19. Seattle Mariners (18-17).
20. Oakland A’s (15-20).
21. Colorado Rockies (15-19).
22. Texas Rangers (15-16).
23. Washington Nationals (14-18).
24. Chicago White Sox (14-17).
25. San Francisco Giants (14-19).
26. Los Angeles Angels (15-18).
27. Detroit Tigers (14-16).
28. Baltimore Orioles (12-22).
29. Kansas City Royals (12-22).
30. Miami Marlins (9-23).