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MLB Power Rankings: Red Sox and Yankees Set to Clash for No. 1 Spot

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2018

New York Yankees' Gleyber Torres reacts as he runs home on his ninth-inning, walk-off, three-run, home run against the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game in New York, Sunday, May 6, 2018. The Yankees won 7-4. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

One of the best rivalries in sports is back in full force.

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees now occupy the top two spots in our MLB power rankings, and they're set to do battle this week.

Meanwhile, the National League side of things remains jumbled, though the Washington Nationals are finally showing some signs of life after a disappointing first month.

The end result was a good deal of shuffling once again in this week's rankings.

Just remember, 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.

Here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand heading into this week's action.

 Updated Rankings 
1img New York Yankees (24-10)img2
2img Boston Red Sox (25-9)img1
3img Arizona Diamondbacks (23-11)img1
4img Los Angeles Angels (21-13)img3
5img Houston Astros (21-15)img1
6img St. Louis Cardinals (20-12)img4
7img Atlanta Braves (19-14)img4
8img Chicago Cubs (16-15)img2
9img Cleveland Indians (17-17)
img
10img New York Mets (17-15)img5
11img Toronto Blue Jays (19-16)img1
12img Pittsburgh Pirates (19-16)img4
13img Seattle Mariners (19-14)img1
14img Milwaukee Brewers (20-15)img1
15img Colorado Rockies (20-15)img1
16img San Francisco Giants (19-15)img3
17img Oakland Athletics (18-16)img
18img Washington Nationals (18-17)img3
19img Philadelphia Phillies (18-15)img4
20img Tampa Bay Rays (15-17)img2
21img Los Angeles Dodgers (15-19)img1
22img Miami Marlins (13-20)img3
23img Minnesota Twins (13-17)img1
24img Texas Rangers (13-23)img1
25img San Diego Padres (13-22)img1
26img Kansas City Royals (11-23)img4
27img Detroit Tigers (14-19)img3
28img Chicago White Sox (9-23)img
29img Cincinnati Reds (8-26)img
30img Baltimore Orioles (8-26)img3

              

Teams That Impressed

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Miles Mikolas
Miles MikolasKeith Srakocic/Associated Press

With a 6-1 showing last week, the Yankees are now 15-1 in their last 16 games.

So while the Red Sox didn't necessarily do anything to warrant dropping with series wins over the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, their rivals have been too hot to not ascend into the No. 1 spot.

Rookie Gleyber Torres swung a hot bat for the Yankees last week, going 8-for-23 with two home runs and nine RBI. He became the youngest player in the storied history of the franchise to hit a walk-off home run on Sunday, launching the game-winner at the age of 21 years and 144 days—surpassing the great Mickey Mantle, who was 41 days older, per MLB.com.

Expectations were high for this Yankees team after a surprise run to the ALCS last year and with the splashy addition of Giancarlo Stanton. So far, they're delivering.

The Los Angeles Angels move back into the top five and ahead of the division-rival Houston Astros after series wins against the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners. That's shaping up to be quite the division, especially if the Seattle Mariners can stay in the mix as well.

Meanwhile, a good battle is also brewing in the NL Central, where the St. Louis Cardinals are now top dogs following a weekend sweep of the rival Chicago Cubs.

It's still early, but the decision to sign Miles Mikolas to a two-year, $15.5 million deal after a three-year stint in Japan is looking like a good one. The 29-year-old threw seven scoreless innings in his most recent start, and he's now 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and a 31-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 40 innings.

With series wins over the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, the Colorado Rockies are trending back in the right direction, and that bodes well in a wide-open NL West. Speaking of that division, don't look now, but the San Francisco Giants are making some noise.

Early injuries and an anemic offense played a major role in their 8-12 start, but they've gone 11-3 since and are rapidly climbing the rankings.

The Washington Nationals might have been the most disappointing team in baseball relative to expectations over the first month of the season. A four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates and a series win against a good Philadelphia Phillies team has them trending upward.

Moving Bryce Harper into the leadoff role has provided a spark, as the team has gone 5-1 since.

Not to be forgotten, the Miami Marlins also enjoyed a nice bump in the rankings thanks to series wins over the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. They're not a playoff-bound team, but at 13-20, it's fair to say they've played better baseball than most expected following the offseason fire sale.

              

Teams That Disappointed

Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGromElsa/Getty Images

Since storming out of the gates to an 11-1 start, the New York Mets have gone 7-14 in their last 21 games, including a pair of series sweeps at the hands of the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies last week.

They appear to have dodged a bullet when Jacob deGrom hyperextended his pitching arm while batting in his most recent start but avoided any ligament damage. He'll still need a stint on the DL, though.

"I said I felt like I could go, but I think the bigger picture is what we're looking at," deGrom told reporters. "If you go out there and something happens, you end up missing five starts, vs. skipping one and making sure everything is fine. After talking to them, I understand the decision. Erring on the side of caution is what we're doing."

The club is somewhat thin on starting depth with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo both pitching out of the big league bullpen and not stretched out.

The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs both also suffered a pair of series losses last week, though they still rank among the top 10. The Cubs need to find some level of consistency pitching-wise, especially with the Cardinals and Brewers both playing well.

After steadily climbing up the rankings the past few weeks, the Philadelphia Phillies suffered a setback after dropping two of three to the Marlins and Nationals last week.

The back end of the starting rotation is still taking shape behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, and a handful of short outings by those starters has put a strain on the bullpen.

It might be time to start taking inventory of what trade chips the Texas Rangers have, as they don't look at all like a potential contender in a tough AL West division with a 13-23 record and minus-51 run differential.

Speaking of the trade deadline, the Baltimore Orioles are now 8-26 with an MLB-worst minus-72 run differential after a 0-6 week, dropping them to the bottom of the rankings.

With each loss, a Manny Machado trade becomes more and more likely this summer.

                 

MVPs of the Week

Hitter: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

Stats: 17-for-40, 4 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 11 R

It was a forgettable month of April for Lindor, as the Indians star shortstop hit .245/.331/.409 with four home runs in 126 plate appearances.

He's already matched that home run tally through the first six games of May.

Aside from that display of power, the 24-year-old also had five straight multihit games to usher in the new month, and he's already raised his slash line to .284/.353/.518 in the process.

If Lindor can keep swinging a hot bat, the Indians might finally start playing up to expectations after a mediocre start to the year.

        

Pitcher: Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

Stats: W, 9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 16 K

While the Los Angeles Dodgers had four pitchers throw a combined no-hitter on Friday night, the individual pitching performance of the week belongs to Cole.

The 27-year-old turned in the most dominant start of his career on the same night, tossing a one-hit shutout and striking out a career-high 16 against a dangerous Arizona Diamondbacks lineup.

"Wow. It's hard to describe. It's an incredible display of pitching," Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters after the game.

The former Pittsburgh Pirates ace is now 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and an AL-leading 77 strikeouts in 50.2 innings over his first seven starts, and, with an MLB-low 1.55 FIP, his hot start looks like the real deal.

         

Video Highlights of the Week

Longest Home Run: Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks (479 feet)

Despite hitting .309/.382/.597 with 34 doubles, 32 home runs and 114 RBI at Triple-A Reno last season, Walker is still trying to carve out a role at the MLB level.

The 27-year-old has limited defensive value and is blocked at his natural position of first base by Paul Goldschmidt, but there's no questioning his power.

His first home run of the 2018 season in the majors was a memorable one, as he hit an absolute bomb off Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday for the third-longest home run of the season.

However, two days later, he was optioned back to the minors to create a spot for Steven Souza Jr. on the active roster.

         

Best Defensive Play: Jarrod Dyson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Dyson is best-known for his speed on the bases, having swiped 184 steals over the past six seasons despite serving in a part-time role.

He's also an excellent defender.

The 33-year-old has tallied double-digit DRS in each of the past four seasons, and his 58 DRS total during that span ranks sixth among all outfielders.

He's so smooth in the outfield he almost makes this robbery of Jake Marisnick look routine.

          

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (Tuesday-Thursday)

Luis Severino will be looking for better results in his second start of the year against the Red Sox.
Luis Severino will be looking for better results in his second start of the year against the Red Sox.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Red Sox and Yankees occupy the top two spots in our power rankings heading into the week and are set to clash at Yankee Stadium for a three-game series starting Tuesday.

Boston came out on top in the first meeting of the year last month, winning two of three at Fenway Park, including a 14-1 shellacking in the first game.

Luis Severino will take the ball for the Yankees in the opener, and he was the starter in that aforementioned drubbing, allowing eight hits and five earned runs in five innings of work. He'll be opposed by Drew Pomeranz, who is still looking to find his footing with a 6.14 ERA in his first three starts after opening the season on the disabled list.

Masahiro Tanaka and David Price square off on Wednesday, followed by CC Sabathia and Rick Porcello in the finale.

The two teams will meet 13 more times after this series is over, so there's plenty of exciting head-to-head action still to come.

That said, the No. 1 spot in next week's rankings will likely belong to the team that comes out on top this time around.

       

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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