MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand Entering Week 8

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2017

Texas Rangers' Pete Kozma (38), Shin-Soo Choo (17), Delino DeShields (3) and others celebrate with Mike Napoli, third from right, at the plate after Napoli hit a walk-off three-run home run against San Diego Padres' Brandon Maurer during a baseball game Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 5-2. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

If we've learned anything this baseball season, it's that not all divisions are created equal.

This week's power rankings show three NL West teams among the top seven and four AL East clubs with at least a .500 record and ranked inside the top 16.

Meanwhile, the NL East has just one team ranked higher than the No. 22 spot, and the AL Central leaders remain clustered outside the top 10.

The Houston Astros stay in the top spot this week as we have a repeat No. 1 team for the first time this month, but there was once again plenty of shuffling below that, including a red-hot Texas Rangers team that vaulted into the top 10.

As always, this is a fluid process, as teams rise and fall 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:

 Updated Rankings 
1img Astros (29-15)img
2img Rockies (28-17)img1
3img Nationals (26-17)img1
4img Yankees (25-16)img
5img Orioles (25-17)img
6img D-backs (26-19)img5
7img Dodgers (26-19)img
8img Rangers (24-21)img7
9img Brewers (25-19)img1
10img Cardinals (22-19)img4
11img Indians (23-19)
12img Cubs (22-20)img1
13img Red Sox (22-21)img4
14img Twins (22-18)img4
15img Tigers (21-21)img1
16img Rays (23-23)img6
17img Angels (23-23)img2
18img Giants (19-26)img7
19img Pirates (20-24)img7
20img White Sox (20-22)img3
21img Mariners (20-25)img3
22img Braves (18-23)img6
23img Blue Jays (19-26)img7
24img Athletics (20-24)img
25img Royals (18-25)img4
26img Reds (20-23)img6
27img Mets (18-24)img4
28img Phillies (15-26)img1
29img Marlins (15-28)img
30img Padres (16-30)img


Biggest Risers

Mike Napoli has caught fire in the middle of the Texas lineup.
Mike Napoli has caught fire in the middle of the Texas lineup.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Texas Rangers (up seven spots)

With 11 wins in their last 12 gamesincluding a 10-game winning streak that came to an end Saturdaythe Rangers are the hottest team in baseball and the biggest risers in this week's rankings.

They tallied a plus-34 run differential during that 12-game span and made up three games in the standings on the first-place Astros, who now hold a 5.5-game lead in the AL West.

"Any time you win, it's a good night," first baseman Mike Napoli told Jason Beck and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. "We're playing good baseball, getting good pitching, timely hitting and playing good defense. That's how you want to do it."

Andrew Cashner (4 GS, 2.16 ERA), Yu Darvish (4 GS, 2.52 ERA) and Martin Perez (3 GS, 2.79 ERA) have all been terrific since the calendar turned over to May, while closer Matt Bush has converted all four save chances and worked 7.2 innings without allowing an earned run.

Meanwhile, Napoli has a .911 OPS with seven home runs this month after hitting .146 with a .505 OPS and a 30.3 percent strikeout rate in April.

Now the question will be whether they can keep things rolling on the road.

Eight of the 10 wins during their streak came at home, where they've gone 16-8 on the year, compared to 8-13 with a minus-eight run differential away Globe Life Park.

It was a similar story last season when they were 53-28 with a plus-34 run differential at home and 42-39 with a minus-26 mark on the road.

After sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies and taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers last week, trips to Boston and Toronto await on the upcoming slate.


Pittsburgh Pirates (up seven spots)

The Pittsburgh Pirates bottomed out at No. 26 in these rankings last week after their record dropped to 14-22 following a six-game losing streak.

However, after taking the final two games of their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks to salvage a split, they picked up an impressive series win over the Washington Nationals before taking two of three from the Phillies to close out the week.

That marks the first time this season they've won consecutive series, and they have a great opportunity to climb back above the .500 mark against the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets this week.

Gerrit Cole has rattled off eight consecutive quality starts, posting a 2.25 ERA and 0.96 WHIP during that span and once again looking like a bona fide ace in the process.

On the offensive side, rookie first baseman Josh Bell has an .859 OPS with six doubles and five home runs this month, and thus far the team has managed to muddle through the loss of Starling Marte.

There's still work to do righting the ship after such a rocky start, but they're headed in the right direction once again.


San Francisco Giants (up seven spots)

Maybe a series win over the rival Los Angeles Dodgers was exactly what the Giants needed to kickstart their 2017 season.

That three-game set is part of a 7-2 stretch for the Giants on the heels of a 12-24 start.

They're doing it without ace Madison Bumgarner, as the team has seemingly rallied around his unfortunate off-field injury to begin climbing back up the NL West standings.

Buster Posey has been as hot as any hitter in baseball this month with a .371/.451/.694 line that includes six home runs. He's hitting .362 on the year—second only to Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (.379) among qualified hitters.

Improved pitching has been the real difference-maker, though.

Jeff Samardzija is pitching well alongside Johnny Cueto after a rocky start, and the bullpen has rounded into form around the standout late-inning duo of Derek Law and Mark Melancon.

A four-game series in Chicago against the Cubs kicks off the upcoming week before the Giants play host to the Braves over the weekend.


Biggest Fallers

Rotation fill-in Mike Bolsinger has a 6.32 ERA over three starts.
Rotation fill-in Mike Bolsinger has a 6.32 ERA over three starts.Gail Burton/Associated Press

Toronto Blue Jays (down seven spots)

The Blue Jays have been as high as No. 7 and as low as No. 29 in these rankings already this year.

After checking in as the "biggest riser" a week ago and looking like a team that was finally figuring things out, they once again tumble back down to the No. 23 spot following series losses to the Braves and Orioles.

Aaron Sanchez is back on the disabled list with a finger laceration where he joins J.A. Happ (elbow inflammation) and Francisco Liriano (shoulder inflammation).

In their absence, the team has struggled to field a viable rotation as guys like Joe Biagini, Mike Bolsinger, Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence get hit hard in spot-start duty.

Meanwhile, the offense is still without a pair of heavy hitters in Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, who've been sorely missed.

On a positive note, second baseman Devon Travis put together a huge week at the plate, going 13-for-24 with six doubles and a home run. He may be snapping out of a lengthy early slump.

With off days on Monday and Thursday this coming week, they'll have a chance to recharge a bit before taking on the streaking Rangers over the weekend.


Cincinnati Reds (down six spots)

The Cincinnati Reds held a half-game lead in the NL Central standings May 7.

Since then, they've gone 3-9 with a minus-25 run differential and slipped to fourth place in the standings.

Starting pitching remains the most glaring issue on the roster, and it was front and center in their struggles last week.

Bronson Arroyo, Lisalverto Bonilla, Amir Garrett, Tim Adleman and Scott Feldman went 0-5 with an 11.33 ERA in seven combined starts. What was already the worst starters' ERA in baseball ballooned to 5.93 in the process.

A home/road series with the Cleveland Indians gets things rolling this coming week before they head off to Philadelphia for a three-game set with the Phillies.

Since the Pirates are playing well of late, it might be only a matter of time before the Reds slip into the NL Central cellar.


MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: RF J.D. Martinez, DET

Stats: 7-for-18, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 10 BB

J.D. Martinez missed the first 32 games of the season recovering from a foot injury suffered during spring training, but he's set right to work making up for lost time since returning.

The 29-year-old slugger is hitting .407/.579/1.074 with six home runs and 12 RBI in his first nine games, including a pair of multihomer games.

He's also walked 11 times against just seven strikeouts.

Free agency awaits in the offseason, and Martinez could wind up being the biggest bat available when the trade market kicks into gear this summer. Either way, he'll position himself nicely for a hefty payday if he comes anywhere close to sustaining his early production.


NL MVP: SP Carlos Martinez, STL

Stats: 1 GS, ND, 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Carlos Martinez is still searching for his first career shutout.

He did everything in his power to notch No. 1 on Saturday, scattering two hits and one walk over nine scoreless innings, but he departed with the game still scoreless and settled for a no-decision.

The Giants ended up winning in 13 innings.

That takes nothing away from a brilliant individual performance from the St. Louis Cardinals' young ace, as he had everything working and needed just 93 pitches over nine frames.

"That's probably his best start of his career. And part of that was just trusting his defense and making pitches in the bottom. He used everything. The changeup was good. The breaking ball was good. He had it all tonight. It's just a shame we couldn't do anything with it," manager Mike Matheny told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.


Stats of the Week

Let's dive right into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with the Rangers, who became the first team to put together a winning streak of double-digit games this season.

"The Rangers' winning streak is the longest in the Majors this year, the fourth-longest in club history and their longest since capturing 12 in a row in 2011," wrote of Jason Beck and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.

Their 8-0 performance during their recent homestand was also just the second time in franchise history that they've gone undefeated during a homestand of eight or more games. The other came in May 2005.

They're still chasing the Astros, though, who got off to the best 41-game start in franchise history at 29-12.

What makes that 41-game mark significant?

Three of the past four teams to win at least 29 of their first 41 games went on to win the World Seriesincluding the Cubs a year ago.

On the individual side of things, Joey Gallo was at it again setting new Statcast records.

With an exit velocity of 114.9 mph, Gallo's home run off Detroit Tigers starter Daniel Norris on Saturday is now the hardest-hit ball by a left-handed hitter against a left-handed pitcher.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have utility infielder Pete Kozma, who is slightly less accustomed to leaving the yard.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Pete Kozma HR Kozma had gone 545 consecutive AB without a HR; that was the longest active streak for a non-pitcher

Sticking with the home run theme, care to guess how many opposite-field home runs were among the 39 hit by NL MVP Kris Bryant a year ago?

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Kris Bryant's HR today was his 3rd opposite-field HR of the season. None of his 39 HR last year were hit to the opposite field. https://t.co/9cRIYG947t

We probably haven't seen the best of Bryant yet, a scary thought for pitchers everywhere.

We'll close things out with Andrew Miller, who's borderline unfair.

MLB Stat of the Day @MLBStatoftheDay

.@a_miller48 has thrown 50 regular-season innings for the @Indians. His numbers? 1.08 ERA. 75 Ks. #Stud https://t.co/exkarK9tE5

Pretty sure that slider is illegal in several countries.


Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Two of the season's top sluggers square off in this one as Eric Thames (pictured, 13 HR) faces Jake Lamb (11 HR).
Two of the season's top sluggers square off in this one as Eric Thames (pictured, 13 HR) faces Jake Lamb (11 HR).Morry Gash/Associated Press

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Milwaukee Brewers (May 25-28)

The Diamondbacks and Brewers have been two of the league's biggest early surprises, checking in at No. 6 and No. 9 in this week's rankings, respectively.

They'll meet for the first time this season for a four-game series in Milwaukee this weekend.

Junior Guerra has been sidelined with a calf strain since spring training, but he appears set to be activated from the disabled list, and there's a good chance he'll be plugged into the rotation for Friday's game.

That said, it's the two offenses that will likely be the focal point of this series.

The Brewers lead the majors with 66 home runs and check in third at 5.3 runs per game, while the Diamondbacks aren't far behind in either category with 62 home runs (sixth) and 5.0 runs per game (seventh).

Twins vs. Orioles, Rangers vs. Red Sox and Cubs vs. Dodgers are among the other notable head-to-head matchups on tap.


All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and current through Sunday, May 21.

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 in the comments section.