We opened the year with a strong belief that the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Dodgers, Cubs, and Indians were the clear top-seven teams in Major League Baseball and that there was a fairly drastic dropoff to the next tier. But we’re a little over one-tenth of the way into the 2018 regular season and have to acknowledge what clubs like the Mets, Diamondbacks, and Angels are doing. And, hey, watch out for the Pirates, Braves, and Phillies. To this week’s rankings ...
1. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 2
David Price got lit up in the first inning of last Thursday’s eventual 10-7 defeat at the hands of the rival Yankees, but that’s the only loss for the Red Sox in their last 14 games. Mookie Betts is batting .353/.452/.608 over his first 62 plate appearances. Hanley Ramirez is off to one of the best starts of his career at age 34. Chris Sale has a 1.23 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 22 innings. Rick Porcello is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA through three starts.
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 1
The defending World Series champions have lost five of their last six games -- two to the Twins, two to the Rangers, and the latest one on Monday night against the Mariners. Houston scored just one run on three hits in that 2-1 loss at Seattle, with the only tally coming on a George Springer leadoff homer in the top of the first inning. Alex Bregman is off to a surprisingly slow start. Jose Altuve, the reigning American League MVP, has a relatively disappointing .737 OPS.
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3. New York Mets
Last Week: 8
The Mets rattled off nine straight victories from April 3 to April 13 and had a victory in their grasp in Monday night’s series opener against the Nationals before a six-run implosion in the eighth inning. Jacob deGrom struck out 12 batters in that game and is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 30/6 K/BB ratio in 25 innings this season. Noah Syndergaard has a 2.95 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 33/5 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 frames.
4. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 6
The Indians swept a four-game series against the Tigers last week before dropping their series-opener versus the Blue Jays on Friday. The final two games of that series had to be postponed because of nasty weather in Cleveland -- a familiar story around MLB in the early part of the 2018 season. The Indians are down in the tropical weather of San Juan, Puerto Rico now for a special two-game set with the Twins.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 9
Paul Goldschmidt got it going in a big way over the last week, raising his OPS from .475 (on April 9) to the .925 mark where it sits here on Tuesday, April 17. The 30-year-old first baseman tallied four home runs, a double, a triple, and eight RBI during that six-game stretch, which included two wins over the division-rival Giants and two wins over the division-rival Dodgers. Brad Boxberger, named the Diamondbacks’ closer in a surprise decision just before Opening Day, owns a 0.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts in seven innings to go along with five saves.
6. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 10
Angels starters have registered a combined 3.19 ERA in 149 1/3 innings this season, with Tyler Skaggs (1.69 ERA in three starts) and Shohei Ohtani (2.08 ERA in two starts) leading the way. Ohtani is slashing .367/.424/.767 as a hitter, with three home runs, a double, a triple, and 11 RBI in eight games. Mike Trout has a .970 OPS and is pacing all American League hitters with six home runs.
7. New York Yankees
Last Week: 4
Giancarlo Stanton hit three home runs in the Yankees’ first six games, but he hasn’t gone deep since April 4 and is batting just .210 with a .310 on-base percentage and 27 strikeouts in 70 total plate appearances this season. By batting average, OBP, and strikeout rate, it’s the worst start of his career. The good news for the Yankees is that Gary Sanchez has started to get hot and Aaron Judge is slashing .351/.479/.614. Didi Gregorius is at .327/.446/.796 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 15 games.
8. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 5
It’s been a rocky opening three weeks for the Cubs, between the four different weather-related postponements and the high-dollar starting rotation failing to meet expectations. Yu Darvish has a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings. Jose Quintana: 8.16 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. Tyler Chatwood: 4.91 in 11 innings. Jon Lester: 4.40 ERA in 14 1/3 innings. Kyle Hendricks is the only Cubs starter with an ERA under 4.00.
9. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 3
Washington seemed headed for another ugly loss to the Mets in Monday’s series opener at Citi Field in Queens before Bryce Harper’s two-run single in the top of the eighth inning kicked off a six-run frame that culminated in a big 8-6 comeback victory. Harper also hit a broken-bat home run in the first inning of that come-from-behind win, his eighth home run of the season. The 25-year-old impending free agent superstar is batting .315/.487/.778 and currently leads all major leaguers in homers, runs scored, and RBI.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 7
The reigning National League champions have lost three of six games against the division-rival Giants and five of six against the division-rival Diamondbacks. Yasmani Grandal, Matt Kemp, and Cody Bellinger are hitting well, but Yasiel Puig is slashing .207/.277/.276 with zero home runs in 15 games and Corey Seager is at .200/.273/.267 with just one home run and four RBI in 14 games played.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 13
St. Louis got on the right track over the weekend at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, sweeping a four-game series from the host Reds. Jose Martinez is batting .364/.446/.600 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 16 games. Tommy Pham is slashing .322/.429/.475. Yadier Molina leads the club with five home runs in his age-35 campaign. Carlos Martinez has a 1.75 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings, and Luke Weaver looks like one of the best young starting pitchers in the sport.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 16
Toronto hasn’t played a game since Friday because of cold-precipitation postponements this weekend in Cleveland and falling ice cutting holes in the Rogers Centre roof, which led to the cancellation of Monday’s series opener against the visiting Royals. The Jays will have to survive the loss of Josh Donaldson, who landed on the disabled list April 13 -- retroactive to April 11 -- with lingering shoulder inflammation.
13. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 14
Charlie Blackmon slugged his seventh home run of the season in the Rockies’ defeat of the Pirates on Monday night in Pittsburgh and the recently-extended 31-year-old center fielder is now batting .314/.397/.784 with 13 RBI and 13 runs scored in 13 games. All of his home runs have come on the road so far. Just imagine what his numbers will look like when the Rockies begin playing more games at Coors Field (they’ve had only six home games up to this point).
14. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 16
Seattle has won five of its last six games, including a big 2-1 win over the defending World Series-champion Astros on Monday night at Safeco Field. James Paxton struck out seven batters over six innings of one-run, three-hit ball in that victory, lowering his season ERA from 5.74 to 4.57. If he stays healthy and pitches like an ace, this team can go places. Young closer Edwin Diaz has allowed just one hit through eight scoreless frames. He has 16 strikeouts.
15. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 15
Minnesota managed to take two of three games against the Astros last week and won Thursday’s series opener against the White Sox before the final three games of that four-game set had to be postponed due to ugly weather conditions at Target Field. Joe Mauer is batting .412/.545/.529 through 44 plate appearances. He hasn’t finished with an OPS north of 1.000 since his MVP campaign in 2009.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 17
Corey Dickerson, acquired from the Rays in late February for spare parts, is batting .351 with a .938 OPS and currently working on an 11-game hitting streak. Starling Marte is off to the best start of his career and Gregory Polanco has shown impressive power after an offseason of strenuous workouts in the Dominican Republic, designed to improve his durability. Jameson Taillon is sporting a fantastic 0.89 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and 18/5 K/BB ratio through three starts covering 20 1/3 innings.
17. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 11
Milwaukee swept its season-opening three-game series against the Padres, but the club hasn’t strung together consecutive wins since. The good news is Christian Yelich (oblique) is expected to be activated off the disabled list within the next couple of days. The 26-year-old offseason trade acquisition from the Marlins was batting .385/.407/.577 with five RBI and six runs scored in six games before he got injured.
18. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 18
Julio Teheran entered Monday’s series opener against the Phillies with a 6.20 ERA in 101 2/3 innings at SunTrust Park, the Braves’ lefty-power-friendly stadium that opened last year. But he exorcised some of those home-start demons in a 2-1 victory over the visiting Phils, striking out nine batters in six innings of one-run ball. Atlanta’s pitching staff boasts a combined 3.32 ERA this season and the offense ranks top five in team OPS. The Braves have the best run differential (+27) in the National League and top prospect Ronald Acuna hasn’t arrived yet.
19. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 19
Philly took advantage of a favorable schedule (3 vs. MIA, 3 vs. CIN, 3 @ TB) to win eight of nine games between April 5 and April 15 and shake off some bad early-season juju. Where are all the Gabe Kapler haters now? Rhys Hoskins has a ridiculous .341/.508/.614 batting line through 15 games, Odubel Herrera has come alive offensively, and rookie Scott Kingery has impressed. Aaron Nola boasts a 2.22 ERA in four starts and Nick Pivetta looks ready to turn the page on his confounding 2017.
20. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 24
The offense has impressed -- especially Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, and Matt Joyce -- but Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman holds a 9.87 ERA and 2.02 ERA through four turns in the rotation. Daniel Mengden showed better stuff Monday night against the White Sox, delivering eight innings of one-run ball in an 8-1 victory for Oakland. 26-year-old left-hander Sean Manaea boasts a 1.63 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and 20/4 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings.
21. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 21
Baltimore opened the season 1-6 and then won three of four games against the Yankees before falling back into a rut. Manny Machado is raking as expected, but the Orioles’ hitters as a whole have combined for a .216/.286/.340 slash line. Alex Cobb, signed to a four-year, $57 million free agent contract last month, got hammered for eight runs -- seven earned -- over 3 2/3 innings in his regular-season debut Saturday versus the Red Sox.
22. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 22
Jeff Samardzija (pectoral) had been scheduled to make his regular-season debut this week, but he got lit up for six runs over just 2 2/3 innings Saturday at High-A San Jose and will make at least one more minor league rehab start. Andrew McCutchen has provided some early-season heroics, but he’s batting just .203/.288/.339 in 66 plate appearances overall. Evan Longoria is hitting .204/.218/.407. Hunter Pence is at .200/.226/.220.
23. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 20
Elvis Andrus joined the ranks of injured Rangers regulars last week when he suffered an olecranon fracture in his right elbow on a hit-by-pitch. The 29-year-old shortstop, who was off to an excellent start offensively, is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. Rougned Odor is likely to remain on the disabled list until early May with a left hamstring strain and Delino DeShields suffered a fractured hamate bone in his right hand in the second game of the regular season.
24. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 23
The White Sox suffered through three weather-related postponements this weekend in Minnesota, and so they haven’t played many games since last week’s Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings were posted. They have lost seven of the last eight games that they were able to fit in, as the starting rotation -- outside of Reynaldo Lopez -- has struggled mightily. Even counting Lopez’s shiny 1.42 ERA, White Sox starters have posted a combined 4.97 ERA here in 2018.
25. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 25
Kansas City walloped the Mariners 10-0 last Tuesday as Jake Junis flirted with a no-hitter, but the Royals have lost five straight games since and Junis gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last outing Saturday versus the Angels. Mike Moustakas is batting .327 with a .948 OPS and three home runs in 13 games, but the Royals’ hitters as a whole have registered a .231/.298/.325 combined slash line.
26. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 29
Christian Villanueva, the former Cubs prospect who got passed up by Kris Bryant, is slashing .333/.423/.822 with six home runs and 13 RBI through 14 games this season for San Diego. But the Padres are still without Wil Myers, who went on the disabled list April 4 with lingering nerve irritation in his throwing arm and they lost Manuel Margot to a rib injury late last week. Dinelson Lamet underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery this week.
27. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 26
Mallex Smith had his second 4-for-4 game of the season in Monday night’s 8-4 win over the Rangers and the 24-year-old speedster is now batting .409 with a 1.004 OPS in 49 plate appearances this season. But only one other Rays hitter -- utility infielder Daniel Robertson -- has an OPS above .800. Usually-reliable closer Alex Colome has allowed six earned runs on 12 hits and four walks in five innings of work. Opening Day starter Chris Archer holds a 7.84 ERA.
28. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 28
The Tigers have played only four games since last week’s Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings went live, and they lost all four. There isn’t a Detroit hitter with more than one home run and the entire roster has combined for a .216/.292/.327 batting line. Jordan Zimmermann, the Tigers’ Opening Day starter, holds an 8.18 ERA through three outings and took a line drive off his jaw in his last appearance.
29. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 27
Cincinnati just got swept by the Cardinals in an ugly four-game series at Great American Ball Park, but 25-year-old right-hander Luis Castillo -- the most promising fantasy starter on this team -- worked into the seventh inning of Monday night’s 10-4 defeat of the Brewers. Joey Votto recorded his first extra-base hit of the season in that game. He’s batting just .250/.292/.267 through his first 65 plate appearances.
30. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 30
Miami has yet to win back-to-back games in 2018 and got destroyed 12-1 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium. This team has a combined .222/.294/.302 batting line and a combined 5.41 ERA. It’s a disaster, but at least catcher J.T. Realmuto (back) is due to come off the disabled list this week.