PTBN’s Mid-May MLB Power Rankings

We’re just over a month into the 2015 baseball season, and it’s already had its fair share of the amazement, wonder, excitement, anger, frustration, shock, stupidity, and sheer craziness that makes baseball the most fantastic of sports.

With that in mind, it’s time for the first installment of the PTBN Power Rankings. There have been some early surprises, early disappointments, and a lot of parity.

The rankings will look a little different than last year, as I wanted to try a new format out and see how that looks/works.

(All statistics and/or records used are as games through May 12, 2015)

Ranking Team & Record Highlight Lowlight My Two Cents
1 St. Louis Cardinals (23-9) Kolten Wong (.322/.365/.496) has truly excelled at second base, as has third sacker Matt Carpenter (.336/.403/.619) Season-ending injury to ace Adam Wainwright could expose starting depth issues; Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and John Lackey need to continue leading the staff, but Carlos Martinez needs to improve to sustain the team’s excellence thus far.
2 Los Angeles Dodgers (22-10) Rookie Joc Pederson (.255/.422/.582) has made everyone in LA forget Matt Kemp. Back-end rotation injuries could topple the team. And the bullpen can’t this (1.94 ERA, 2nd in NL) up all year. The depth on offense and the aces at the top will keep Dodger Blue ahead of the West.
3 New York Yankees (21-13) Michael Pineda (5-0, 2.72 ERA) has been great, as has the bullpen combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (0 ER in 35.2 IP). 43 team homers second in AL. The middle infield of Stephen Drew (81 OPS+) and Didi Gregorius (48 OPS+) has been awful. Change may be soon. Can the “3P” approach (Pineda, power, ‘pen) hold up all year? Probably not.
4 Kansas City Royals (21-12) Last year’s dynamite bullpen hasn’t missed a beat, while the offense has been great (First or second in 9 key offensive AL categories). The starting rotation looks less-than-great (4 of 5 SP with ERAs over 5.00). How long will the pen hold up with the shaky rotation?
5 New York Mets (20-13) Pitching, pitching, pitching! (2nd in the NL with a 3.01 team ERA & fewest walks with 71) The offense stinks, ranking 12th or worse in nearly every category. They have arms, they need bats. It’s too perfect a fit between the Mets and the last team on this list.
6 Detroit Tigers (20-13) A good offense (.271/.340/.410 team line) and strong defense (.707 defensive efficiency) are big reasons the TIgers are winning. The subpar bullpen and thin bench are reasons they are losing. Offseason adds Yoenis Cespedes, Anthony Gose, and new closer Joakim Soria have been outstanding. Now get better relief!
7 Houston Astros (20-13) Starting pitcher Dallas Kuechel and outfielder Jake Marisnick have been fantastic. The slow-pitch softball approach rarely holds up over a full season. Get a good glove at 1B, call up SS Carlos Correa, and trade for an ace to make a run.
8 Washington Nationals (18-16) Bryce Harper has been incredible, just as the team is starting to gel. Anthony Rendon’s injuries are keeping the team from full-strength offense. Still the best team in the NL on paper, as Harper goes, so go the Nats.
9 Chicago Cubs (17-15) The future is here, as Kris Bryant (.276/.417/.460) is starting to hit with power. Jon Lester hasn’t been very ace-like (3-2, 4.10 ERA, 97 ERA+) thus far. The youth movement is clicking, but a leaky back-end rotation and bullpen are holding the team back.
10 Tampa Bay Rays (18-16) The play of Evan Longoria has been great (.283/.385/.469) as has the pitching of Chris Archer (2.59 ERA) and Jake Odorizzi (2.09 ERA). The injury bug has hit the team hard, losing both Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly really hurts the team’s chances. Getting Matt Moore back in June should help, but a more consistent showing from the Rays’ outfield would be great, too.
11 Los Angeles Angels (16-17) Mike Trout (177 OPS+) has been good, as has Kole Calhoun (134 OPS+) An awful offense (12th or worse in 12 categories) overall. If the offense can get on track, there is enough decent pitching and defense to pull the team into a playoff spot.
12 Minnesota Twins (18-15) A decent bullpen (3.34) is keeping the team in contention. The team leaders in home runs (Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter) have five each, accounting for 42% of the team’s total. A mediocre offense (10th in AL with a .693 team OPS) can’t hold up, and contending teams today don’t post team ERAs of 4.00.
13 San Francisco Giants (17-16) Joe Panik (.283/.346/.407) and Brandon Crawford (.252/.358/.466) have been a good double-play combination on both sides of the ball for the G-Men. Everything this team does screams “.500!” The defending champs have allowed 125 runs and should be worse than they are.
14 San Diego Padres (17-17) Adds Justin Upton (134 OPS+), Wil Myers (147 OPS+), and Derek Norris (124 OPS+) have been good. Matt Kemp (90 OPS+), Will Middlebrooks (64 OPS+), James Shields (85 ERA+) and Craig Kimbrel (65 ERA+) have not. Kimbrel and Shields should improve, but the team’s defense and overall offense are still concerns.
15 Pittsburgh Pirates (17-16) The 3-headed monster of A.J. Burnett (1.60 ERA), Gerrit Cole (2.32), and Francisco Liriano (2.79) have been fantastic. Andrew McCutchen (87 OPS+) has yet to contribute much on offense. The Bucs need to get more patient (13th with 87 team walks) to get the offense going.
16 Seattle Mariners (15-17) Nelson Cruz (.349/.401/.754) has been amazing. The rest of the offense has not (team line of .243/.301/.416). Better offense and improvement from every pitching not named “Felix” is a must for this pre-season darling.
17 Toronto Blue Jays (17-17) The offense (40 homers, .438 SLG) has been great, particularly 3B Josh Donaldson and 2B rookie Devon Travis. Holy crap, the pitching! Avert your eyes! (4.54 staff ERA, 291 hits allowed in 297 ⅓ innings) Ugly pitching + hot offense worked very well 15 years ago.
18 Cincinnati Reds (16-17) Todd Frazier has 11 home runs and Joey Votto is back to his old self. The outfield has been putrid with Marlon Byrd (91 OPS+), Billy Hamilton (54 OPS+), and Jay Bruce (75 OPS+) all terrible. I did not even mention the pitching, which been okay, but the back of the rotation is a harbinger of doom.
19 Atlanta Braves (15-18) Freddie Freeman (.333/.400/.563) and Andrelton Simmons (.279/.340/.450) have been great. Outside of Shelby Miller and his 1.60 ERA, no one is pitching well. The teardown has yielded predictably ‘meh’ results. The yo-yo ride looks to continue all year.
20 Miami Marlins (15-19) Dee Gordon (.412/.440/.504) has been playing like his hair’s on fire. Christian Yelich has struggled with injuries and poor numbers (.194/.275/.258 in 16 games). Gordon won’t keep up his pace of course, but a healthy Yelich will help make up for that.
21 Texas Rangers (14-19) The impending add of Josh Hamilton, along with rebounds from Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, could make this team a good spoiler. A lineup like this can withstand one blank spot; the Rangers, though have three, with catcher, second, and short all atrocious. There’s just not enough pitching here for the Rangers to sustain success.
22 Boston Red Sox (15-18) Mookie Betts (14-19 K-BB ratio) started off hot, as did Hanley Ramirez (10 homers). The pitching staff (AL-worst 5.05 ERA) has been so, so bad. If a team is built without an ace, everything else has to go right. That has not happened in Beantown.
23 Baltimore Orioles (14-17) Adam Jones (166 OPS+) has been awesome, as has Manny Machado (138 OPS+). Bud Norris is a mess (9.88 ERA) and Chris Tillman (6.34 ERA) has only been a little better. The bullpen is leaky, and the rotation is struggling. The team needs reinforcements.
24 Oakland A’s (13-22) Sonny Gray (1.65 ERA) and Scott Kazmir (2.78) have been strong. Stephen Vogt is killing it (201 OPS+) at the plate. The defense has been hot garbage, with 35 errors in 35 games. The team seems to need time to gel, and fortunately for the A’s, the rest of the division has been scuffling as well.
25 Chicago White Sox (13-17) Jose Abreu (.288/.349/.500) has been great in his sophomore season. The rest of the offense has been full of holes, ranking the worst in the AL. With no starter posting an ERA under 4.80, the Pale Hose look to be in deep, deep trouble.
26 Cleveland Indians (11-20) Jason Kipnis (.308/.361/.462) has bounced back, and Michael Brantley (.347/.418/.531) looks great again. Outside of Danny Salazar (48 K in 33 IP) there’s not enough pitching at the Jake. Putrid defense, subpar pitching, and a middling offense could cost Terry Francona his job if things don’t change.
27 Arizona Diamondbacks (15-17) Paul Goldschmidt (185 OPS+), David Peralta (135), Mark Trumbo (136), and A.J. Pollock (108) have been okay. Everyone else has sucked. I still think Nick Ahmed’s OPS+ (14) is a misprint. Ugh. More holes than Swiss cheese on offense and a pitching staff (4.15 ERA) that smells just as bad.
28 Milwaukee Brewers (12-22) Adam Lind (.306/.395/.559) has been a great addition. Carlos Gomez (.250/.261/.441) is not playing like a star, and the injury to Jonathan Lucroy puts Martin Maldonado and his 37 OPS+ behind the plate. No one else is hitting (team .228 average), and the rotation is not good enough to overcome that.Sell! Sell! Sell!
29 Philadelphia Phillies (11-23) Freddy Galvis — FREDDY GALVIS — leads the team with a 111 OPS+. I mean, Jeff Francoeur (67 OPS+) is the starting RF. Geez. This team stinks and they’ll claim the No. 30 spot soon enough.
30 Colorado Rockies (11-18) Third baseman Nolan Arenado has been great on offense (123 OPS+) along with OFs Charlie Blackmon (120 OPS+) and Corey Dickerson (131 OPS+). Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (42 OPS+, .188/.248/.302) is sure playing like he is still hurting. Trade Tulowitzki and whatever else you can. Go full youth movement and build around Arenado.

We’ll be back next-month (around the middle/end of June) with another ranking.

Until then, thanks for reading!