Welcome to the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2019 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I will include nuggets of more abstract fantasy advice here and there inside the individual team write-ups. Who’s hot, who’s not -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv. Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 6
The reigning National League champions fell out of the top five of these Rotoworld MLB Power rankings last week after suffering through a six-game losing streak against the Cardinals and Brewers, but they've won seven of their last eight and are now back in control in the NL West, with a 2 1/2-game lead over the upstart Padres. Cody Bellinger leads all qualified MLB hitters in OPS with a ridiculous 1.382 mark and he sits at the very top of the fWAR leaderboard as of Tuesday afternoon. Clayton Kershaw has pitched the Dodgers to victories in each of his first two starts since missing the first three weeks of the season due to left shoulder inflammation.
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 1
That big 10-game winning streak for the Astros came to an end last Wednesday night in Oakland, and the reigning American League West champions went on to drop two of three to the Rangers over the weekend due largely to poor pitching. Gerrit Cole had arguably the worst start of his career on Saturday in Texas, as he was charged with nine runs -- eight earned -- over 4 1/3 innings of work in a 9-4 defeat. Collin McHugh then surrendered 10 runs -- nine earned -- over just 3 1/3 innings in an 11-10 loss on Sunday. Houston also fell 9-5 to the Twins on Monday night, for this team's third loss in a row. There's no real cause for panic, but the Astros are no longer No. 1 here.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 3
Tampa Bay lost its series finale against the Orioles last Thursday and then dropped three straight at home to the Red Sox over the weekend before snapping that season-high four-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Royals on Monday night. Mike Zunino belted his first home run of 2019 in that one, fresh off the paternity leave list, and Yandy Diaz crushed his sixth home run to raise his season OPS to .977. But the offense did take quite a hit on Saturday when hot-hitting 23-year-old outfielder Austin Meadows suffered a right thumb sprain on a slide into third base. The hope is he'll only have to miss a couple weeks.
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4. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 12
Paul Goldschmidt led the Cardinals' laser show Monday night against the division-rival Brewers as St. Louis earned a 13-5 win over Milwaukee in already the eighth meeting of the season between those two clubs. Anyone from the MLB scheduling office want to explain that one? Goldschmidt went 3-for-4 with three RBI while clubbing his ninth home run in 22 games. It took him until June 8 last year in Arizona -- 61 games played -- to reach the nine-homer mark. In other positive trends: Dexter Fowler continued his quiet resurgence in Monday's big victory, logging his first four-hit game since 2013 and tallying four RBI. This offense is suddenly humming.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 2
Christian Yelich was named NL Player of the Week for April 15-21 after batting .417 with a 1.950 OPS, eight home runs, and 16 RBI over that seven-game stretch. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Monday night's 13-5 loss to the Cardinals, but the reigning NL MVP boasts a ridiculous 337/.439/.820 batting line in 89 total plate appearances this season and he leads all major league hitters in both home runs (13) and RBI (31). With that out of the way, it must be noted that pitching has become a growing concern for the Brewers, who have the fourth-worst rotation ERA (5.81) among all 30 major league teams and the ninth-worst bullpen ERA (4.82). They also somehow have a negative run differential at -10.
6. New York Mets
Last Week: 4
Mets left-hander Steven Matz had one of the worst starts in MLB history (no hyperbole) last Tuesday in Philadelphia, as he was charged with eight runs -- six earned -- while failing to record a single out. He got revenge on Monday night, working six innings of one-run ball as the Mets secured a big 5-1 victory over the division-rival Phils. The biggest story in Queens right now is the health of Jacob deGrom, who thankfully appears to have dodged a bullet after landing on the injured list last Friday with discomfort in his right elbow. An MRI came back clean and the hope is that he will be able return to the starting rotation this Friday for the opening of a tough three-game weekend series against the Brewers.
7. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 5
Aaron Nola has struggled out of the gate, but he mostly tamed the thin air of Coors Field on Saturday to earn his second win of the year and he's lined up to face the lowly Marlins this Thursday. Still, who would have guessed he'd be sporting a 6.84 ERA through five starts? There may be some internal clubhouse strife in Philly, as Jake Arrieta offered this quote after Bryce Harper's fourth-inning ejecting from Monday night's 5-1 loss to the Mets: "He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there."
8. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 10
The Twins took three straight from the Orioles over the weekend, somewhat predictably, and then extended their winning streak to four with an impressive 9-5 defeat of the Astros on Monday night at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Jorge Polanco tallied four hits and four RBI in that one and currently boasts a .392/.452/.716 batting line over 84 total plate appearances this season. Despite below-average defensive ratings, the 25-year-old shortstop currently ranks fifth overall on the fWAR leaderboard, just behind the likes of Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, and Mike Trout. Minnesota is in first place in the AL Central and is the only team in that division with a positive run differential.
9. New York Yankees
Last Week: 11
The Yankees have a half-roster of MLB-quality players sitting on the injured list, but they've still managed to win four straight and six of their last seven to climb within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Rays in the American League East standings. Offseason trade acquisition James Paxton had an ugly 6.00 ERA and 1.73 WHIP over his first three starts in pinstripes, but the 30-year-old southpaw struck out 12 batters over eight scoreless innings last Tuesday night against the Red Sox and tallied another dozen strikeouts across six scoreless frames Sunday versus the Royals. He's proving to be a terrific fill-in ace for Luis Severino, who is expected to be out until at least late June with a Grade 2 lat strain.
10. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 7
The Braves got swept at home last week by the Diamondbacks before rallying to take two of three from the Indians in a weekend series at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Josh Donaldson brought out the lumber against his former team on Sunday night, jacking two homers and tallying four total RBI as part of an 11-5 blowout victory. The veteran third baseman has a .900 OPS through 21 games this season. Among the other Braves hitters with an OPS above .900: Dansby Swanson (.903), Brian McCann (.906), Nick Markakis (.907), Tyler Flowers (.915), Freddie Freeman (.924), and Ronald Acuna (1.029). Now, about that bullpen ...
11. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 9
Star shortstop Francisco Lindor was activated off the injured list over the weekend after missing the first three-plus weeks of the season while recovering from spring calf and ankle issues. He went 1-for-5 with a run scored in his season debut Saturday in Cleveland and then ripped a solo homer on Sunday night, but the Indians were out-slugged by the Braves in both of those games. Starting pitching was supposed to be a big strength for the Tribe, but Mike Clevinger is out until at least early July with a severe upper back strain and Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have combined for a 6.49 ERA through 43 innings.
12. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 15
The Cubs had a rough first couple of weeks, but they seem to have found a groove here in late April, with five wins in their last six games and seven wins in their last nine. You can point directly to the pitching as the primary reason for the turnaround. Jose Quintana struck out seven batters across seven scoreless innings in his last start April 16 against the Marlins and will carry a 14-inning scoreless streak into Tuesday night's series opener against the Dodgers. Cole Hamels went seven scoreless innings on April 17 versus Miami to lower his season ERA to 2.77, and Kyle Hendricks tallied 11 strikeouts over seven shutout frames April 19 against Arizona.
13. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 16
The Mariners righted the ship this past weekend in Anaheim, taking three of four from the Angels, after suffering through a six-game losing streak against the Astros and Indians between April 12-17. Is this team a real postseason contender? Probably not. But we're nearly four weeks into the 2019 regular season -- longer for the Mariners, who opened the year on March 20 in Japan -- and they currently sit atop the AL West standings. Daniel Vogelbach looks like an early frontrunner for American League Rookie of the Year honors -- yes, his rookie status is still intact -- with a sensational .327/.472/.836 slash line through 72 plate appearances.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 17
Pirates pitchers on the whole have delivered a 3.02 ERA in 179 innings this season, and the rotation has been especially tremendous with a combined 2.24 ERA. Both of those marks rank first among all National League teams. The offense is still a concern, and Starling Marte hitting the injured list with an abdominal injury won't help matters, but the Bucs did welcome Gregory Polanco back into the fold on Monday night and he went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored in his season debut against the Diamondbacks. Polanco needed major shoulder surgery late last year and the initial thought was that he would be sidelined through at least mid-May. So him returning on April 22 is a pretty big victory.
15. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 8
The early-season shine has worn off somewhat for the Padres, who had lost six straight games before outlasting the Reds in a 4-3 victory on Sunday afternoon. Fernando Tatis Jr. singled in the third inning of that one to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. Via a tweet by MLB.com's AJ Cassavell, here are the last six major leaguers to manage a 10-game hitting streak at age 20: Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Mike Trout. Pretty good company there. Tatis also managed a cool feat on Friday, becoming the youngest player in MLB history to homer and steal three bases in a single game.