For the third consecutive week, we have a new No. 1 team in our weekly MLB power rankings.
Had the Houston Astros and New York Yankees split their four-game series over the weekend, the Washington Nationals might have held onto the top spot, but a big series win for the Astros earns them top billing.
Elsewhere around the league, a pair of early underperformers in the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers are finally showing signs of life, while the Chicago Cubs saw their record drop under .500 with two more series losses.
As always, this is 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:
Toronto Blue Jays (up 11 spots)
Now, after a week that included a series win over the Cleveland Indians and a four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners, they're back on the upswing.
Aaron Sanchez returned from the disabled list Sunday with five strong innings against the M's, allowing one unearned run and striking out four after missing time with a split fingernail.
However, the team is still without Josh Donaldson (calf strain), Troy Tulowitzki (strained hamstring), Russell Martin (shoulder irritation), J.A. Happ (elbow inflammation) and Francisco Liriano (shoulder inflammation).
Getting things headed back in the right direction while still employing something of a patchwork lineup and starting rotation is a great sign, as they appeared to be fighting a losing battle to keep their heads above water a few weeks ago.
Kevin Pillar capped off the strong week with a walk-off home run against Mariners closer Edwin Diaz on Sunday.
"I'm speechless," Pillar told Greg Johns and Keegan Matheson of MLB.com. "Obviously, Mother's Day makes it even more special because we all have moms in here that sacrificed a lot for us and have done a lot for us. It's just a great way to wrap up Mother's Day."
A four-game series with the Atlanta Braves concludes the current homestand, ahead of a big three-game set with the Orioles in Baltimore.
Kansas City Royals (up nine spots)
The Royals found themselves in the MLB cellar last week when the fell to the No. 30 spot.
However, they quickly climbed back toward respectability following a series win over the Tampa Bay Rays and a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles—who had just taken two of three from a good Washington Nationals team.
Scoring runs has been the big issue this season.
They're still hitting just .226 with a .646 OPS as a team, and even after a strong showing last week they're averaging a meager 3.2 runs per game.
However, the pitching staff has done a nice job picking up the slack of late, particularly a starting rotation that ranks fifth in the majors with a 3.57 starters' ERA.
Leading that staff is veteran Jason Vargas.
After making a combined 12 starts the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the 34-year-old is 5-1 with an MLB-best 1.01 ERA in 44.2 innings of work.
That included another gem last week when he allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings against the Rays on Thursday.
If the offense continues its recent uptick in production—it scored 37 runs in seven games last week—the Royals could soon claw their way into the middle of the pack.
That's especially the case if they can take care of business against the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins this coming week.
Texas Rangers (up eight spots)
The Rangers vault back into the upper half of these rankings after picking up a series win over the San Diego Padres and sweeping the Oakland Athletics last week.
Part of their significant climb has to do with other middle-of-the-road teams dropping, but there's no question they're playing better baseball of late.
The bullpen has rounded into form after a brutal start, with hard-throwing Matt Bush stepping into the closer's role and converting four consecutive save chances—including three last week.
The team is still without veterans Adrian Beltre (calf strain) and Cole Hamels (strained oblique), but slugger Joey Gallo and back-end starters A.J. Griffin and Andrew Cashner have played well in their absence.
The Houston Astros are off and running atop the AL West standings, so the Rangers will need to continue their recent strong play.
Chicago Cubs (down six spots)
For the second consecutive week, the Cubs are the biggest fallers in these rankings.
An impressive collection of on-paper talent and the benefit of the doubt that comes with being the reigning World Series champions only gets you so far.
They've now gone 2-7 in their last nine games, losing three straight series and posting a minus-15 run differential in the process.
With Kris Bryant (flu), Ben Zobrist (sore back), Addison Russell (sore shoulder) and Jon Jay (back spasms) all missing time and Jason Heyward (finger sprain) on the disabled list, the team called up top prospects Ian Happ and Jeimer Candelario to provide some support.
Happ homered for his first MLB hit, and he's gone 3-for-7 while adding a double in his first two games.
Eddie Butler also joined the starting rotation in place of the injured Brett Anderson (back strain) and turned in six scoreless innings in his first start of the year after pitching to a 1.17 ERA in 30.2 innings with Triple-A Iowa.
If he can bring some stability to the No. 5 starter spot and Jake Arrieta can right the ship after allowing 16 hits and 13 runs (nine earned) in 9.2 innings over two starts last week, the rotation still looks like a potential strength.
For now, it's a matter of weathering the storm for a team that still has as much talent as any in baseball. This is a rough patch unlike anything they experienced a year ago, though.
Seattle Mariners (down six spots)
The Mariners climbed five spots in last week's rankings on the strength of a steady 13-9 performance after a 2-8 start, but they slide back down after being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game series over the weekend.
Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder inflammation) became the latest starting pitcher to land on the disabled list last week, joining Felix Hernandez (shoulder inflammation), James Paxton (forearm strain) and Drew Smyly (flexor strain).
That leaves Yovani Gallardo, Ariel Miranda, Chase De Jong, Christian Bergman and a yet-to-be-determined starter for Thursday's game as the current rotation.
Meanwhile, star second baseman Robinson Cano has also missed four straight games with a quad strain, though he's expected back soon.
"You kind of feel like the old Rocky movies, where he's just getting pummeled by Apollo Creed. And at some point, you kind of just have to swing back and hope you land a blow. That's kind of where we're at right now," manager Scott Servais told Greg Johns of MLB.com of all the injuries.
He added: "I like our club. I believe in our guys, and we will swing back. Just a few days ago, we were on a four-game winning streak. That's how quickly it can go back and forth in this game. You have to stay even-keeled."
The M's kick off a homestand with series against the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox, leaving them in a good spot to get back on track.
MVPs of the Week
AL MVP: Mookie Betts, BOS
Stats: 9-for-24, 4 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R
Mookie Betts kicked off last week with a four-hit game against the Milwaukee Brewers that included two doubles and a home run.
He's now turned in a multi-hit performance in four of his last seven games. After a slow start, he's hitting .296/.375/.526 for a .901 OPS that's actually four points higher than last year's mark.
The 24-year-old leads the Red Sox in total bases (71), home runs (six) and RBI (25), and he still has more walks (16) than strikeouts (11) on the year.
After finishing second in the voting a year ago, all signs point to Betts being a perennial AL MVP contender for the foreseeable future.
NL MVP: German Marquez, COL
Stats: 1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K...1-for-3, 2 RBI
A vastly improved starting rotation is a big reason why the Colorado Rockies are off to such a great start, and right-hander German Marquez is the latest young arm to make an impact.
Ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Colorado system and the No. 53 overall prospect at the start of the season, according to Baseball America, Marquez didn't break camp with a rotation spot like fellow rookies Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela.
While the 22-year-old boasted a 7.31 ERA over his first three starts, he completely dominated the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh and allowing just three hits over eight shutout innings.
He also added a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh for his first big league hit.
Stats of the Week
Let's dive right in to some of the better nuggets from around the league:
Looking for an unheralded early standout? Try Chicago White Sox reliever Anthony Swarzak on for size.
Meanwhile, with 16 consecutive saves to start the season, Greg Holland has set a new franchise record for the Colorado Rockies, surpassing the 15 in a row Jose Jimenez posted back in 2002.
The Rockies bullpen has tallied eight wins and converted 18 of 20 save chances overall with a 4.04 ERA. It's a stark improvement to the MLB-worst 5.13 mark it posted a year ago and a big reason for the team's strong start to the season.
Speaking of which, when the Rockies improved to 23-13 with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, it marked the first time since September 2010 they've been 10 games over .500.
It might be time to start taking this hot start a bit more seriously.
Sticking with the pitching theme, Houston Astros resurgent ace Dallas Keuchel continued his dominance of the New York Yankees on Thursday night with six strong innings.
He now sports a 1.24 ERA over 50.2 innings—including the postseason—which is the lowest all time among pitchers with at least 40 innings of work against the Yankees.
All eyes were on the Yankees this weekend for a different reason, though, as legendary shortstop Derek Jeter had his No. 2 retired Sunday night.
Let's close this out with some fun Jeter tidbits:
Of course, we're looking at a first-ballot Hall of Famer here, folks.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Colorado Rockies vs. Minnesota Twins (May 16-18)
Let's shine a light on a pair of surprise contenders, shall we?
The Colorado Rockies enter the week with a 24-15 record—tops in the NL West and second only to the Washington Nationals among all NL clubs.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins hold a one-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central with a 19-15 record.
The fact that this series is in Minnesota isn't necessarily an advantage for the Twins.
They've gone 11-5 on the road this season, compared to just 8-10 at Target Field, while the Rockies have played good baseball away from Coors Field with an 11-5 record on the road.
Wednesday will be the pitching matchup to watch as Ervin Santana looks to continue his hot start against rookie German Marquez, who is fresh off a brilliant performance against the Chicago Cubs.
Other pitching matchups to watch this week include Carlos Carrasco vs. Chris Archer on Monday, Clayton Kershaw vs. Johnny Cueto on Wednesday, Julio Teheran vs. Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray vs. Chris Sale on Thursday, and Chris Archer vs. Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday.
Have 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? I'll meet you the comments section.