MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at April's Midway Point

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2017

New York Yankees' Ronald Torreyes (74) congratulates Aaron Judge and Chase Headley (12) who both scored on a double by Austin Romine against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 16, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Rich Schultz/Associated Press

You have to love April baseball.

Everyone out there had the Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies as the three National League divisions' leaders after two weeks, right?

Or the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers as the three cellar-dwellers on the American League side of things?

One thing we all saw coming was more mid-40s voodoo from Bartolo Colon, who allowed just one hit over seven innings of work in his home debut with the Atlanta Braves.

And he wasn't the only surprise performer last week.

Tyler Chatwood and Ervin Santana both twirled shutouts, Ender Inciarte hit four home runs in four games after tallying just three in 578 plate appearances a year ago and James Paxton ran his scoreless-inning streak to 21 to start the year.

With no shortage of parity around the league, 27 of the 30 teams find themselves shifting spots in B/R's latest power rankings.

A team's potential and overall outlook will still carry significantly more weight than anything it has shown over just a handful of games.

It's a fluid process, with teams rising and falling based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

With that in mind, here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand heading into this week's action:

RankTeamOverall W/LLast WeekChange
1img Chicago Cubs6-62-4img
2img Los Angeles Dodgers7-63-3img1
3img Houston Astros8-44-1img2
4img Boston Red Sox7-54-3img
5img Washington Nationals7-54-2img1
6img Baltimore Orioles8-34-2img1
7img Colorado Rockies9-54-3img2
8img New York Mets7-64-3img2
9img Cleveland Indians
5-72-4img7
10img New York Yankees8-46-0img8
11img Detroit Tigers8-45-2img3
12img Arizona Diamondbacks8-52-4img4
13img Seattle Mariners5-84-2img3
14img Pittsburgh Pirates6-63-4img1
15img San Francisco Giants5-93-4img4
16img Miami Marlins7-54-2img3
17img Milwaukee Brewers7-65-1img11
18img Cincinnati Reds8-54-3img5
19img Texas Rangers4-82-4img2
20img St. Louis Cardinals3-91-5img8
21img Toronto Blue Jays2-101-5img8
22img Kansas City Royals6-64-2img3
23img Chicago White Sox6-54-2img6
24img Atlanta Braves5-64-1img3
25img Minnesota Twins7-52-4img3
26img Los Angeles Angels6-71-5img6
27img Tampa Bay Rays6-71-5img6
28img Philadelphia Phillies4-81-5img4
29img Oakland Athletics5-72-3img3
30img San Diego Padres5-82-4img

 

Biggest Risers

Eric Thames leads the majors with a 1.376 OPS.
Eric Thames leads the majors with a 1.376 OPS.John Minchillo/Associated Press

Milwaukee Brewers (up 11 spots)

Are the Milwaukee Brewers really a better team than the Rangers, Blue Jays or Cardinals?

Probably not, but here in the early going, they've proved they deserve a spot ahead of those clubs.

After sweeping a quick two-game set with the floundering Blue Jays, the Brew Crew took three of four from a Reds team that was playing as well as anyone to start the year.

Eric Thames (1.376 OPS, 6 HR) has been one of April's biggest stars, and Ryan Braun (.941 OPS, 4 HR) is picking up right where he left off last season. Those two lead an offense that is averaging a solid 4.54 runs per game.

Meanwhile, the starting rotation is getting strong early work from Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson and Wily Peralta, while new closer Neftali Feliz has converted all four of his save chances.

The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals await, so the Brewers will immediately need to justify their shiny new ranking or else risk slipping back into the bottom third.

  

New York Yankees (up 8 spots)

So much for the rotation being the glaring weakness on the New York Yankees roster.

The starting staff went a combined 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 0.83 WHIP last week, tallying five quality starts in six games and getting a particularly promising outing from young right-hander Luis Severino.

The 23-year-old allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out a career-high 11 in seven innings of work against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, earning praise from Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in the process.

Masahiro Tanaka also turned in a quality start after getting roughed up in his first two outings, and he'll obviously be counted on to lead the staff going forward.

So after dropping five spots last week following a 2-4 start, the Yankees climb above their Opening Day rank thanks to their sweeps of the Rays and Cardinals.

Up next: The Chicago White Sox at home and a trip to take on a Pittsburgh Pirates team that just swept the Cubs.

  

Biggest Fallers

Closer Seung Hwan Oh and the rest of the Cardinals bullpen has posted an MLB-worst 7.34 ERA.
Closer Seung Hwan Oh and the rest of the Cardinals bullpen has posted an MLB-worst 7.34 ERA.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press/Associated Press

St. Louis Cardinals (down 8 spots)

More than a few teams are dealing with struggling relief corps, and that's par for the course at the start of a new season. The Cardinals are toiling on a different level, though.

They enter the week last in the majors in bullpen ERA (7.34) and WHIP (1.78), and they're the only team in baseball that has yet to record a save.

A complete lack of offense hasn't done them any favors, either.

They're hitting just .212 as a team and averaging a meager 3.5 runs per game. Stephen Piscotty (.258 BA, .879 OPS, 2 HR, 8 RBI) is the only regular hitting over .250.

All of that has equated to a minus-22 run differential—tied with the San Diego Padres for worst in baseball.

They'll look to get back on track after dropping series to the Washington Nationals and Yankees, and a pair of division rivals await in the Pirates and Brewers.

  

Toronto Blue Jays (down 8 spots)

The Blue Jays continue their free fall down the rankings after starting the season in the No. 7 spot.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com is already talking fire sale as a result of their 2-10 start:

The Toronto Blue Jays rotation had the best ERA in the American League in 2016 by almost half a run, and with that entire group intact and with Aaron Sanchez working free of innings restrictions this season, they could run off a week’s worth of wins and get back to .500.

But with nine losses in 11 games, the standings hole that Toronto has created for itself is enormous, compounded by the loss of MVP candidate Josh Donaldson to recurring calf problems. Rival evaluators already are beginning to size up the Jays as a possible candidate for an extensive midseason sell-off.

They're not scoring runs (2.83 per game, 30th in MLB), the starting rotation isn't picking up the slack (1-7, 4.06 ERA) and the relief corps is a mess (5.22 ERA, 1/4 SV).

It's difficult to find a positive takeaway.

  

Cleveland Indians (down 7 spots)

I can hear it already: "The Indians drop seven spots, but the Chicago Cubs stay at No. 1 when both teams had a 2-4 week? Classic case of Joel being a Cubs homer. I can't believe they still let this scrub do their weekly power rankings."

First of all, ouch. Second, allow me to explain.

Yes, the Cubs were swept by the Pirates and the bullpen has been shaky, but they also picked up a series win over a good Los Angeles Dodgers team and enter the week with a positive run differential.

There's enough talent in Chicago's bullpen that things will fall into place eventually, and no other glaring issues have emerged. They still look like the best team in baseball, so there's no reason to bump them from the top spot just yet.

The Indians, on the other hand, have lost three consecutive series and gone 2-7 since sweeping the Rangers to start the year.

Josh Tomlin (0-2, 18.47 ERA) and Trevor Bauer (0-2, 8.44 ERA) have been shelled at the back of the rotation, and notoriously slow starter Corey Kluber hasn't been much better.

Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are the only players doing any consistent damage offensively, and high-priced newcomer Edwin Encarnacion went 4-for-21 with 10 strikeouts and zero extra-base hits last week.

The Indians still have as much talent as any team in baseball, but they have some issues that need to be ironed out before they make a push back toward the top spot in these rankings.

  

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: SP James Paxton, SEA

Stats: 2 GS, 2 W, 15.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 17 K

James Paxton was a popular breakout candidate entering the season after posting a 2.80 FIP last yearfourth-best among pitchers with at least 120 innings of work—and he's delivered, allowing just eight hits and four walks over 21 scoreless innings in his first three starts.

A newfound confidence in his knuckle curve has played a part in that success.

He's throwing the pitch 22.3 percent of the time, up from 13.1 percent last season, and holding opposing hitters to a .095 average with just one extra-base hit, per Brooks Baseball.

The 28-year-old will look to keep his scoreless streak going Thursday against Kendall Graveman and the Oakland Athletics.

  

NL MVP: LF Yoenis Cespedes, NYM

Stats: 31 PA, 8-for-26, 2 2B, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 5 R

After going 4-for-22 the first week of the season, Yoenis Cespedes caught fire.

He turned in the second three-homer game of his career in a 14-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, then went deep two more times Thursday in the team's 16-inning marathon win over the Miami Marlins.

"It looked like a driving range out there the way he was hitting the ball," manager Terry Collins told reporters.

His six home runs so far this season are tied for the MLB lead.

Tip of the cap to Eric Thames (8-for-20, 1 2B, 5 HR, 8 RBI), Marcell Ozuna (10-for-23, 1 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI) and Inciarte (8-for-20, 4 HR, 6 RBI), who also had big weeks at the plate on the NL side.

  

Stats of the Week

Strikeouts are all too common in today's game, with the leaguewide strikeout rate sitting at 21.7 percent.

Care to take a guess on when the last time Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts struck out was?

That would be Sept. 12 of last season, when then-Baltimore Orioles reliever Oliver Drake set him down on strikes, per Elias (via Scott Lauber of ESPN.com).

Since then, he's made 119 consecutive plate appearances without recording a strikeout. That's a Tony Gwynn-level accomplishment.

So who's going to be the pitcher who finally snaps that streak?

The smart money might be on Yu Darvish.

To clarify, that's the second-most double-digit strikeout games through 103 career starts, not the second-highest total overall since 1913.

Still, awfully impressive stuff.

The Rangers and Red Sox meet for the first time May 23. If things line up and Darvish pitches in that series, it will be the first time he's faced Betts in his career.

 

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Dylan Bundy has rattled off three straight quality starts to begin the 2017 season.
Dylan Bundy has rattled off three straight quality starts to begin the 2017 season.Charles Krupa/Associated Press/Associated Press

Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (April 21-23)

The Orioles and Red Sox will meet up for the second time in as many weeks after the teams split a two-game set in Boston last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Baltimore sits atop the AL East standings with an 8-3 record, while Boston is 1.5 games back in third place.

An off day Monday will give the Orioles a chance to shuffle their starting rotation a bit if they choose, and they're lucky enough to miss Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who will pitch the series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Still, the Red Sox dominated this series last year, with a plus-20 run differential en route to an 11-8 record, so the O's have something to prove.

This will be the perfect chance to bring some legitimacy to their hot start and show they deserve to be taken seriously as AL East contenders.

They'll have to do it without All-Star closer Zach Britton, though, as forearm soreness landed him on the disabled list over the weekend. 

  

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted, and current through Sunday, April 16.

Got thoughts on our new power rankings format, or looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.