I’m back at the helm of our weekly Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings after a week away on vacation. Shoutout to Jesse Pantuosco for filling in, and dropping the Mets a whopping seven spots from where I had them ranked after Week 12. I’ll keep them at 27th in Jesse’s honor, and because, well, they probably deserve that spot at this point.
I’m returning the Mariners and Braves to the top five, for reasons laid out within …
The power trio (HOU, BOS, NYY) remains the power trio for yet another week.
1. Houston Astros
Last Week: 1
Carlos Correa landed on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a lower back injury and the Astros lost three games in a row this weekend at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field, but there’s no reason for panic in H-Town. Correa should be activated when first eligible later this week and the defending World Series champions boast the best run differential in the majors by a pretty wide margin at +170. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers, and Dallas Keuchel have combined for a 2.95 ERA and 614 strikeouts in 536 1/3 innings this season. That’s the lowest ERA and the highest strikeout total of any starting staff.
2. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 2
Boston dropped two of three this weekend at Yankee Stadium but bounced back to defeat Max Scherzer and the Nationals on Monday night in Washington, D.C. Rick Porcello started that game against the Nats and earned his 10th win of the season, helping his own cause with a bases-loaded three-run double in the top of the second inning. It was the first career triple for the lifetime American League pitcher, and it came off the heavy favorite for the 2018 National League Cy Young Award. Mookie Betts clubbed his 21st home run of the year in Monday’s victory as he improved his MLB-best OPS to 1.108. He has scored 65 runs in 66 games for a Red Sox offense that currently lead all major league teams in runs scored.
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3. New York Yankees
Last Week: 3
The Yankees took two of three from the rival Red Sox over the weekend but then fell 5-3 to the Braves in Monday night’s interleague series opener in New York. They are 4-6 over their last 10 games, which matches their worst 10-game stretch of the season. It’s all good -- the Yankees are just a game back of Boston for the top spot in the American League East standings -- but perhaps this small run of mediocrity will spur an early trade acquisition. Brian Cashman and Co. are known to be on the hunt for a starting pitcher -- someone who could bolster a rotation that lost Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery in early June. Masahiro Tanaka is due back from his bilateral hamstring strains early next week.
4. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 7
Seattle beat up on some of the worst teams in baseball last week, sweeping a four-game series from the Orioles at Baltimore’s Camden Yards before winning three straight at home against the Royals. That is seven victories in a row, and the Mariners are now only a half-game back of the Astros in the American League West standings. Nelson Cruz, who just turned 38 years old on Sunday, boasts a 1.717 OPS with 11 home runs and 22 RBI over his last 23 games. Jean Segura is second in the majors in hits (109), behind only Jose Altuve. Mitch Haniger is second in the majors in RBI (62), behind only J.D. Martinez.
5. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 8
The Braves have made a loud statement over their last four games, sweeping a three-game weekend set in St. Louis and then earning a 5-3 victory in Monday night’s series opener at Yankee Stadium. Ronald Acuna hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning Monday against the Yankees and is now batting .333/.368/.778 with two home runs, two doubles, five RBI, and five runs scored in 19 plate appearances since returning June 28 from a mild ACL sprain in his left knee. The ultra-talented 20-year-old outfielder could be poised for a huge second half. Atlanta closer Arodys Vizcaino is expected to be activated from the DL on Tuesday after missing a couple weeks with a right shoulder injury.
6. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 4
The Indians are the only team in the American League Central with a winning record and a positive run differential, and they’ve increased their lead in the division to 9 1/2 games despite losing four of their last seven. Francisco Lindor slugged two more homers in Monday night’s 9-3 rout of the Royals and now has four home runs, three doubles, and 11 RBI over his last four games. For the season, the 24-year-old shortstop boasts a .954 OPS with 23 home runs, 55 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 73 runs scored in 82 games. He’s getting better and better. Danny Salazar is done for the season following arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and Andrew Miller remains sidelined with a right knee injury, so look for the Tribe to upgrade their bullpen ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 5
Lorenzo Cain is on the 10-day disabled list with a groin injury and Christian Yelich hasn’t played in a couple days due to back discomfort, but both of these issues seem relatively minor. Cain resumed workouts shortly after being placed on the DL and could be activated when first eligible on Wednesday. Yelich took early batting practice and shagged flyballs before Monday night’s series opener against the Twins, an eventual 6-5 win for Milwaukee. The two big offseason acquisitions have combined for an .833 OPS, 19 home runs, 60 RBI, 26 stolen bases, and 100 runs scored. Milwaukee currently holds a one-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central standings.
8. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 9
The Cubs have won four games in a row, scoring at least 10 runs in each of those victories. It’s the first time they’ve tallied double-digit runs in four consecutive games since 1930. Jon Lester had a somewhat underwhelming showing on the mound in Sunday’s series finale against the Twins, but he hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the second inning, kicking off an eight-run frame for the North Siders. It was just the second home run of Lester’s 13-year major league career, and it helped him to his 11th win of the season, which leads all National League pitchers. The veteran left-hander currently holds a career-low 2.25 ERA.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 10
The Dodgers went wild on the Pirates in Monday night’s series opener in Los Angeles, pounding out 21 hits -- including four home runs -- as part of a 17-1 victory. Matt Kemp matched a career with five hits and drove in four runs for the second straight game. He has rattled off eight hits in eight at-bats since the third inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Rockies, a 6-3 win for L.A. The 33-year-old is the second-leading vote getter among National League outfielders for the July 17 All-Star Game in Washington, D.C, and it is wholly deserved. Kemp has a .323 batting average, .925 OPS, 15 home runs, and 55 RBI in 81 games played this season. He batted .276 with a .781 OPS in 115 games last year for Atlanta.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 6
The Diamondbacks got swept by the division-rival Giants this weekend at Chase Field and then fell 6-3 to the visiting Cardinals in Monday night’s series opener in Arizona. That’s four losses in a row, all at home. The good news is A.J. Pollock has been activated off the disabled list after missing nearly seven weeks with an avulsion fracture in his left thumb. The 30-year-old center fielder was sporting a .969 OPS with 11 home runs and 33 RBI in 40 games before the injury, to go along with nine stolen bases and 23 runs scored. Paul Goldschmidt went 4-for-4 in Monday’s loss to St. Louis and is now batting .381/.479/.771 with 12 home runs, 28 RBI, and 27 runs scored in 30 games since May 30.
11. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 11
Zach Eflin went 5-0 in June with a 1.76 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. He worked seven shutout frames in last Wednesday’s series finale against the Yankees to round out one of the best month-long performances from any starter in Phillies franchise history. Philly won that game 3-0 and then took three of four from the division-rival Nationals over the weekend, giving the club four wins in its last five games -- versus some of the best teams in baseball. The reemergence of Rhys Hoskins feels just as important as the breakout of Eflin. Hoskins has a 1.040 OPS with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 21 games since returning from a fractured jaw on June 9.
12. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 12
The Nationals have lost six of their last seven games and 15 of their last 20. Stephen Strasburg has been on the disabled list since early June with right shoulder inflammation and is probably still a couple weeks away. Bryce Harper has 21 home runs and 50 RBI in 82 games, but his batting average sits at .217. Daniel Murphy went deep for the first time on Monday, but he’s slashing just .203/.242/.288 in 62 plate appearances since returning last month from offseason knee surgery. There are a number of issues with this roster. The most glaring one might be the catcher position, as Washington’s catchers have combined for a .186 batting average and .541 OPS. How is that J.T. Realmuto asking price looking?
13. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 15
Oakland had won six games in a row before getting routed 15-3 in Sunday’s series finale against the Indians. Edwin Jackson, who signed a minor league contract with the Athletics in early June, has registered a 2.13 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 13/0 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 innings (two starts) since his promotion from Triple-A Nashville on June 25. The veteran right-hander is playing for his 13th different major league organization, which is tied with Octavio Dotel for the most in baseball history. Jackson has earned wins with 11 of those teams, also tied for the MLB record. He probably has enough left in the tank at age 34 to make both of those marks his very own.
14. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 13
The Angels have dropped seven of their last nine games and are rapidly losing ground to the Astros and Mariners and even the A’s in the American League West standings. Mike Trout suffered a sprained right index finger at some point in mid-to-late June and has tallied just six hits over his last 49 plate appearances. His season-long statistics are still terrific and he returned to center field this past weekend in Baltimore after a nine-game stretch at DH, but the injury has clearly affected his all-world offensive abilities. Perhaps a disabled list stint would do him some good. The Angels already lead all major league teams in DL stints this season.
15. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 16
San Francisco went 18-10 in June, after putting up a disappointing 26-30 record across March, April, and May. Madison Bumgarner took a loss in Monday night’s series opener against the Rockies, but he mostly pitched well until the bottom of the seventh inning and the 28-year-old left-hander boasts a 2.58 ERA in 38 1/3 innings (six starts) since making his 2018 debut on June 5. He missed the first nine weeks of the regular season because of a fractured left pinkie finger. The Giants have their ace back in the deck and are very much alive in both the National League West title hunt and the National League Wild Card race.
16. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 14
St. Louis got swept at home by the Braves this weekend but rebounded for a 6-3 win over the Diamondbacks in Monday night’s series opener at Chase Field. Yadier Molina hit a two-run single in the first inning of that one and a solo homer in the sixth inning, finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI. The veteran catcher and potential future Hall of Famer is rocking an .807 OPS in his age-35 season (he turns 36 on July 13). Yadi leads all National League catchers in home runs (12) despite missing a month with a traumatic hematoma in his groin. The Cardinals’ schedule will begin to ease up next week. They’re currently in a stretch of seven consecutive series against contending teams.
17. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 18
Tampa Bay has won eight of its last 10 games to climb back to the .500 mark. Blake Snell flirted with a no-hitter on June 25 against the Nationals and then struck out 10 batters over seven innings of one-run ball on Sunday afternoon against the defending World Series-champion Astros. The 25-year-old left-hander boasts an 11-4 record, 2.24 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 123 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings this season. He’ll be on the American League roster for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game on July 17 in Washington, D.C. The sad part of this breakout for Snell is that pundits are already asking when he will be traded. Even sadder is that it’s a completely fair question.
18. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 17
Jon Gray, the Rockies’ Opening Day starter this year, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday after yielding five earned runs over four innings in his last turn through the rotation Thursday against the Giants. He has a 5.77 ERA in 17 major league starts here in 2018, after breaking out to the tune of a 3.67 ERA over 20 starts in 2017. The 26-year-old needs to get himself right on the farm, or the Rockies will have no chance of climbing back into the postseason hunt. They were in first place in the National League West standings at the end of June with a record of 30-26. Now they have a losing record and sit in fourth place.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 19
Pittsburgh won consecutive series last week against the lowly Mets and Padres before getting obliterated 17-1 by the Dodgers on Monday night in Los Angeles. Nick Kingham allowed seven runs -- five earned -- over three innings in that one as his ERA jumped from 3.82 to 4.70. It was a far cry from his MLB debut on April 29 against the Cardinals, when he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. Gregory Polanco had a big June, but it’s not a great sign that his 11 home runs are tops on the team. No other Pirates hitter has a double-digit home run total. Pittsburgh ranks 17th in team OPS and 20th in team ERA.
20. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 21
Marcus Stroman has looked sharp since his return from the DL on June 23, allowing just one earned run over 12 innings against the Angels and Tigers. The Blue Jays won both of those games and are 13-10 since June 7, but this little run hasn’t done much to improve Toronto’s standing in the top-heavy American League Wild Card race. This team will be selling parts ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Josh Donaldson might not be one of them after suffering a setback last week in his rehabilitation from a lingering left calf injury. J.A. Happ is probably the Jays’ biggest trade chip at this point, but he got lit up for seven earned runs on 10 hits in his last start Sunday against the Tigers as his season ERA shot up above 4.00.
21. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 20
Minnesota got swept by the Cubs in a three-game weekend series at Wrigley Field and then fell 6-5 in Monday night’s series opener in Milwaukee. The Twins have lost four straight games and nine of their last 11. They are 10 games back of the first-place Indians in the American League Central standings, and even a half-game back of the rebuilding Tigers for second place. This team might be able to manage another big second-half push if Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano can get right, but it’s hard to imagine them climbing very high up the ladder in the top-heavy AL Wild Card race. Free agent acquisition Lance Lynn was blown up for seven runs over just 1 2/3 innings Sunday in Chicago as his season ERA jumped back above 5.00.
22. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 24
The Reds have won three straight games and are now 34-33 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, which qualifies as a massive turnaround -- Cincinnati began the season 3-15 under former skipper Bryan Price. Matt Harvey allowed just two hits -- and zero walks -- over six scoreless innings Sunday against the National League Central-leading Brewers, moving to 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA and 40/12 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings (10 starts) since getting traded away from the Mets. He has regained some fastball velocity and is rebuilding his value ahead of free agency this winter. The 29-year-old right-hander had a 7.00 ERA through his first 27 innings this season with New York.
23. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 23
The Rangers went 14-11 in June, after going 24-35 between March, April, and May, but they lost their first game of July on Sunday afternoon against the White Sox and are almost certain to be heavy sellers ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Adrian Beltre and Cole Hamels are the obvious trade pieces in Texas, but Shin-Soo Choo might also have some appeal even with his contract calling for salaries of $21 million in both 2019 and 2020 -- what will be his age-36 and age-37 seasons. Choo is currently working on a 42-game on-base streak and owns a strong .876 OPS with 15 home runs in 81 total games this year.
24. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 22
Detroit snapped a season-worst 11-game losing streak with a 9-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday and then survived a Joe Jimenez blown save on Monday to beat Toronto 3-2 in extra innings. Jimenez is filling in at closer for Shane Greene, who just landed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain and seems likely to miss more than 10 days. Greene might have been a decent trade chip for Detroit leading up to the July 31 deadline. It’s unclear whether he’ll make it back before then. Michael Fulmer is drawing interest from contending teams like the Phillies, Dodgers, and Yankees, and also non-contenders like the Padres. Mike Fiers (3.79 ERA, 1.22 WHIP in 92 2/3 innings) could also have some trade appeal.
25. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 25
San Diego played winning baseball for a nearly-seven-week stretch between early May and mid-June, but the Friars have won just three of their last 14 games leading into Tuesday night’s series opener in Oakland. Christian Villanueva leads the Padres in home runs (16), but he’s gone deep just once since the beginning of June and he’s tallied only four RBI over his last 23 games. San Diego has one hitter with an OPS north of .800: Hunter Renfroe at .801. This team will be an active seller ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, with relievers Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, and Craig Stammen looking like San Diego’s biggest trade chips.
26. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 26
J.T. Realmuto hit his 11th home run of the season on Monday night against the Rays as Miami beat Tampa Bay in extra innings. Realmuto is slashing .311/.366/.552 in 264 plate appearances this year and should fetch the Marlins a big haul of highly-ranked prospects if they decide to trade him this summer. The 27-year-old catcher is in his first year of salary arbitration and under contractual control through 2020. There’s known to be interest from the Nationals, and a number of other contending teams could use help behind the plate. Realmuto ranks 14th among all major league hitters with an OPS of .918. No other catcher in the bigs has an OPS above .876.
27. New York Mets
Last Week: 27
The Mets have lost 10 of their last 12 games and nearly got swept by the Marlins this past weekend in Miami before salvaging a 5-2 victory in Sunday’s series finale. But, hey, let’s look on the bright side: they are 1-0 in July, after going 5-21 in June. Yoenis Cespedes has been sidelined since mid-May with hip and quad issues and currently remains limited to physical therapy sessions at the Mets’ spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Noah Syndergaard has been on the disabled list since May 26 due to a strained ligament in his right index finger. It’s time for the front office to think about what players can and should be moved.
28. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 28
Like the other teams in the bottom-third of these Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, it’s time for the White Sox to consider which players they might be able to flip for prospects ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Jose Abreu is an obvious one, though he’s having a down year and left Monday night’s series opener against the Reds with a bruised left ankle. Joakim Soria might have some appeal. He owns a 2.56 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 36/6 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings this season, to go along with 12 saves. Matt Davidson might be of interest to other teams as well. He has an .822 OPS (129 OPS+) with a team-high 14 home runs in 65 games played.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
The Orioles snapped a seven-game losing streak with an 8-2 defeat of the Angels on Sunday afternoon. It was Baltimore’s fourth losing streak of at least seven games this season, something no other team can -- or would want to -- claim. This organization is a mess, even with Manny Machado putting up tremendous offensive numbers. Machado cranked his 21st home run of the year on Sunday and is currently slashing .310/.377/.564 across 358 total plate appearances. He’s sure to be moved ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, and guys like Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach should probably be dealt away too.
30. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 30
The Royals have lost four straight games and 22 of their last 26. They traded outfielder Jon Jay to the Diamondbacks on June 6 and closer Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals on June 18. Now it’s time to start thinking about moving third baseman Mike Moustakas, who leads all Kansas City hitters in home runs (16) and RBI (53), and is playing this season on a one-year, $6.5 million deal that he had to settle for after getting no love on the open market this past winter. Will he have more appeal to a contending team now that his defense at the hot corner has shown improvement? Things are going to get even worse in Kansas City before they get any better.