The cream has begun to rise to the top as the baseball calendar flips to May. Well, for the most part.
Dodgers and Nationals fans still have that sinking feeling, but the defending-champion Astros look like a force again, with the best run differential (+67) in the major leagues. Perhaps they’ll be able to knock the Red Sox off the top spot by next week’s edition of the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings. It’s still Boston’s world for now …
1. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 1
Xander Bogaerts hit a grand slam over the Green Monster in Monday night’s series opener against the Royals as the Red Sox finished April with their most wins ever in the first month of a season. It was already the sixth grand slam of the year for Boston. Bogaerts is now 7-for-13 with six RBI in three games since returning from a small fracture in his left ankle on Friday. For the season, the 25-year-old shortstop is batting .412 with a 1.171 OPS and 15 RBI in 12 games.
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 2
Charlie Morton allowed just one run on two hits over 7 2/3 innings in Monday’s series opener against the Yankees, a 2-1 victory for the Astros in the teams’ first meeting since Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Morton is 4-0 on the season with a 1.72 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 45 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. Astros starters have combined for a ridiculous 2.44 ERA and 226 strikeouts in 188 innings this season. And their relievers have combined for a 2.76 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 81 2/3 frames.
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3. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 4
The Diamondbacks still haven’t lost a series. The bullpen has delivered a combined 1.92 ERA in 98 1/3 innings, best in the major leagues, and they’re the only team without a blown save. Patrick Corbin is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 55/7 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. A.J. Pollock slugged three home runs in Monday night’s win over the division-rival Dodgers and currently has a 1.021 OPS with nine home runs, 24 RBI, six stolen bases, and 20 runs scored through 27 games this season.
4. New York Yankees
Last Week: 7
The Yankees had won nine games in a row leading into Monday night’s series opener against the defending-champion Astros. They couldn’t solve Charlie Morton in that one, but a 9-1 stretch ain’t bad. Didi Gregorius continues to put up astonishing numbers offensively and Aaron Judge is batting .317/.453/.584 through 128 plate appearances. CC Sabathia has allowed just one earned run over his last three starts and holds a 1.71 ERA in 26 1/3 total innings this season.
5. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 9
Look out, the Cubs are finally on a roll. They’ve won five straight games and seven of their last eight, including a recent four-game sweep of the division-rival Brewers. In that series, Kyle Hendricks, Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana, and Yu Darvish combined for a 0.00 ERA in 27 innings. And veteran left-hander Jon Lester yielded just two unearned runs over 5 2/3 innings in Monday night’s win over the Rockies. Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez are all above .945 in the OPS department.
6. New York Mets
Last Week: 3
Jason Vargas got lit up for nine earned runs over just 3 2/3 innings in his Mets debut Saturday against the lowly Padres, but this team still boasts arguably the best one-two rotation punch in the major leagues with Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. They have combined for a 2.43 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 74 innings this season. Yoenis Cespedes injured his thumb in Sunday’s series finale versus San Diego, but he’s hoping to miss just three games.
7. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 5
The Angels were swept at home this weekend by the Yankees and have now lost four straight games. Shohei Ohtani left Friday’s series opener with a mild ankle sprain and will not return to the mound before the weekend. The good news is he is expected to be fine for DH duties on Tuesday night against the Orioles. Some other good news: Mike Trout has been Troutian and Albert Pujols will likely celebrate his 3,000th career hit sometime this week.
8. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 6
Some of the Indians’ most important hitters have underwhelmed, but life in the American League Central these days allows for slow offensive starts. Especially when you have the kind of pitching staff that Cleveland trots out there daily. Trevor Bauer struck out 11 batters over 6 2/3 innings in Monday night’s series opener against the Rangers. He boasts a 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 46 strikeouts in 40 1/3 total innings this season. Carlos Carrasco has a 3.08 ERA. Mike Clevinger has a 2.56 ERA. Corey Kluber: 2.18 ERA.
9. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 15
Top outfield prospect Ronald Acuna has arrived in the majors on a mission. He tallied his first MLB hit in his MLB debut last Wednesday, slugged his first MLB home run in his second MLB game on Thursday, and in his fifth MLB game in Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies -- a 10-1 victory for Atlanta -- the 20-year-old future (and perhaps present) superstar hit two doubles, drew two walks, and stole his first base. He’s batting .421/.500/.789 through his first 22 plate appearances as a big-leaguer.
10. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 12
Milwaukee got swept by the Cubs in a four-game weekend series at Wrigley Field before rebounding for a 6-5 win over the Reds on Monday night. Josh Hader struck out eight of the nine batters he faced in that victory to earn his fourth save. He’s been the primary fill-in at closer for Corey Knebel, who is still a couple weeks away from returning from a severe hamstring strain. Eric Thames was enjoying another huge April, but he underwent surgery Sunday to repair a torn UCL in his left thumb and is expected to miss around two months.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 11
The Cardinals took two of three from the Mets last week before getting swept by the Pirates over the weekend in Pittsburgh. Greg Holland blew a save in ugly fashion in the ninth inning of Friday’s series opener at PNC Park, yielding three runs -- two earned -- on three hits while recording zero outs. The veteran closer, who was signed to a one-year, $14 million contract on Opening Day, now holds a 7.36 ERA and 2.32 WHIP in 10 appearances (7 1/3 innings) this season.
12. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 10
April was a slog for the Nationals, but they beat the Diamondbacks 3-1 in Sunday’s series finale and topped the Pirates 3-2 in Monday’s series opener, notching back-to-back wins for the first time in two weeks. Maybe this is the start of a turnaround. Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark pitched well in those two victories, offering the promise of improved rotation depth moving forward. Max Scherzer has done his part with a 1.62 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 57/9 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.
13. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 17
The starting pitching has been better lately, which is a big reason why the Mariners have gone 7-3 over their last 10 games. Mitch Haniger is another big reason. The 27-year-old outfielder went 3-for-5 with a homer, a triple, and three runs scored in Sunday’s series finale against the Indians, a 10-4 victory for Seattle. Haniger, who’s had all sorts of injury problems in the past, boasts a healthy .309/.384/.701 batting line with 10 home runs and 27 RBI through 27 games this season.
14. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 13
25-year-old outfielder Teoscar Hernandez began the 2018 season in the minor leagues, but he has batted .306/.377/.677 with 13 extra-base hits (four homers, seven doubles, two triples) in 15 games since his promotion to Toronto on April 13. Josh Donaldson (shoulder) is due to come off the disabled list this weekend. If the Blue Jays can get better starting pitching, they have a chance to make a run at a Wild Card spot. The rotation currently ranks 26th in combined ERA.
15. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 8
The reigning National League champions have lost six of their last seven games -- three against the rival Giants, two against the lowly Marlins, one against the Diamondbacks -- and it was announced Monday that star shortstop Corey Seager needs season-ending Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. Don’t count the Dodgers out quite yet, but take note that they are already eight games back of Arizona in the National League West standings.
16. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 14
The Phillies went on a nice run in mid-April, but they’ve dropped five of their last seven games, including an 8-4 loss to the Marlins on Monday night in which Jake Arrieta allowed six earned runs over just 3 2/3 innings. It was Arrieta’s worst start in a Phillies uniform and he still has a strong 3.49 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 28 1/3 innings overall. Rhys Hoskins is batting .303/.457/.528 through his first 116 plate appearances. Maikel Franco has 22 RBI in 23 games.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 20
Pittsburgh got it going again since last week’s Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings were published, taking two of three from the Tigers and sweeping a three-game series at home against the division-rival Cardinals. Corey Dickerson, acquired from the Rays in late February for spare parts, is batting .313/.358/.515 in 26 games played. Veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli is off to the best start of his career, slashing .308/.391/.564 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 23 games.
18. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 16
The Rockies have lost three straight games, including the final two games of their weekend series against the Marlins. Their -25 run differential ranks 22nd in the major leagues, behind non-contenders like the Rays and Tigers. Surprisingly enough, it’s the offense that has been the biggest letdown through the first four-plus weeks of the season. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are doing their thing, but Colorado ranks 26th in team OPS (.678) and 21st in runs scored.
19. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 19
The Athletics have dropped three of their last four games, but they’re 5-3 over the last eight and 9-4 over their last 12. Sean Manaea followed up his April 21 no-hitter against the Red Sox with a stellar performance in Friday’s series opener against the defending-champion Astros, an 8-1 victory for Oakland. The A’s would go on to lose the final two games of that series, but as for Manaea, he’s sitting on a 1.03 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, and 37/7 K/BB ratio through 43 2/3 innings this season.
20. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 21
Johnny Cueto beat the rival Dodgers on Saturday and stands 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 0.69 WHIP through five starts. Jeff Samardzija worked five scoreless innings in his season debut April 20 against the Angels, but he’s allowed eight earned runs in 8 2/3 innings (two starts) since. Madison Bumgarner (finger) is still a couple weeks away from throwing off a mound. The offense ranks 24th in runs scored.
21. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 25
The Rays closed out the month of April with a surprise run, going 9-1 in games against the Rangers, Twins, Orioles, Red Sox, and Tigers. Blake Snell, who was once ranked among the sport’s top pitching prospects, seems to be coming into his own at age 25. The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 41/11 K/BB ratio in 35 2/3 innings (six starts) this season. Utility infielder Daniel Robertson is slashing .333/.476/.561 in 22 games.
22. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 18
The offense: ugly. The pitching: ugly. The defense: especially ugly. Minnesota is 1-10 over its last 11 games and the team currently ranks 27th in defensive runs saved. Byron Buxton, one of the best defensive center fielders in the sport, has been on the disabled list since April 15 and is still limited to light baseball activities due to a hairline fracture in his left big toe. Eduardo Escobar has struggled defensively as the fill-in for suspended shortstop Jorge Polanco. Free agent addition Lance Lynn is 0-3 with an 8.37 ERA and 2.11 WHIP through five starts.
23. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 22
Joey Gallo continues to hit bombs, but he’s batting just .216 with a .304 on-base percentage in 125 plate appearances overall. Elvis Andrus will be sidelined for at least another month with an olecranon fracture in his right elbow and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday that Rougned Odor (hamstring) is at least another week away from returning. The offense, typically a strength for Texas, currently ranks 22nd in runs scored.
24. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 23
The Tigers have lost five of their last six games -- two to the Pirates, two to the Orioles, and the latest on Monday night against the Rays. Shane Greene, the team’s closer and one of their biggest trade chips, allowed two homers and three total runs in the ninth inning of Monday’s loss versus Tampa Bay. Jordan Zimmermann, the team’s Opening Day starter, holds a 5.81 ERA through 26 1/3 innings.
25. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 24
The Padres are 1-5 over their last six games and 2-7 over their last nine. Christian Villanueva and Joey Lucchesi are both great stories, but San Diego’s two most important players, Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer, have been borderline non-factors through the early part of the 2018 season. Myers is back on the disabled list and Hosmer has just two home runs and four RBI through the first 26 games of an eight-year, $144 million deal.
26. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 26
It has been a miserable first four-plus weeks for the Orioles, who rank 28th in runs scored (98), 28th in team OPS (.673), and 25th in team ERA (4.89). Manny Machado is batting .361/.448/.676 with nine home runs and 22 RBI in 28 games, but the 25-year-old impending free agent can’t carry the O’s into contention all on his own. Hey, the prospect-stocked Dodgers suddenly need a shortstop …
27. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 27
James Shields, the Opening Day starter for the White Sox, owns a 6.14 ERA and 1.70 WHIP through 29 1/3 innings this season. Lucas Giolito, considered a post-hype breakout candidate after his strong finish to the 2017 campaign, holds a 7.71 ERA and 1.71 WHIP through 25 2/3 frames. Reynaldo Lopez continues to deliver strong performances, but he stands 0-2 and the White Sox’s pitching as a whole has been awful. Will it soon be Michael Kopech time?
28. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 30
Last week, the Marlins took two of three from the Dodgers and two of three from the Rockies, and they beat the Phillies on Monday night to continue a three-game winning streak. We wouldn’t expect this run to last much longer, but Miami has climbed out of the last spot in our Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings for the first time this season. 25-year-old left-hander Jarlin Garcia has a 1.00 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 27 innings.
29. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 29
Cincinnati is 4-7 since firing manager Bryan Price and replacing him with interim skipper Jim Riggleman, which might qualify as a turnaround for this bottom-barrel team. Joey Votto finally has his OPS rising in the right direction and Eugenio Suarez is 8-for-22 (.364) with seven RBI in five games since returning from a small fracture in his left thumb. But the pitching remains dreadful. Reds starters have combined for a 5.49 ERA and 116/62 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings this season.
30. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 28
Mike Moustakas is batting .302 with a .914 OPS and eight home runs in 28 games and Jorge Soler has caught fire over the last couple of weeks, but Royals hitters as a whole are slashing .243/.315/.366. The pitching staff is even worse-off, with a league-worst 5.33 combined ERA. Royals relievers have been particularly dreadful, yielding 73 runs on 105 hits and 42 walks in 89 2/3 innings.