We've seen a good deal of parity across the MLB landscape this season, as just four teams that made the playoffs last year currently check in among the top 10 in our weekly power rankings.
To take that one step further, the Los Angeles Angels (80-82), Seattle Mariners (78-84), Atlanta Braves (72-90) and Philadelphia Phillies (66-96) all had losing records in 2017, yet they now find themselves among the top teams in the majors.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks (26-26), Los Angeles Dodgers (24-28) and Minnesota Twins (21-27) all made the playoffs last season but find themselves ranked among the bottom half of teams leaguewide at the start of the week.
At any rate, this remains 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.
Here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand heading into this week's action.
Teams That Impressed
No MLB team is facing a longer playoff drought than the Seattle Mariners.
The last time the M's were in the playoffs was all the way back in 2001, when they won a whopping 116 games but were ousted in the ALCS.
This year's team has seemingly rallied around the absence of star second baseman Robinson Cano, going 10-3 since he last suited up May 13. The team swung an early deal to acquire Alex Colome and Denard Span from the Tampa Bay Rays for a pair of prospects, bolstering the bullpen and adding some needed outfield depth.
The AL West is tough with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels looking like serious contenders and the Oakland Athletics also off to a nice start, but it doesn't look like this Mariners team is going anywhere.
Meanwhile, over on the National League side, the Milwaukee Brewers are dealing with a drought of their own. Only four teams have a longer postseason dry spell than the six years it's been since the Brew Crew suited up in October.
The Brewers have posted a matching 10-3 record during that same span of time, including a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks and a series win over the New York Mets last week.
With an offense that's averaging 4.3 runs per game and a bullpen that leads the majors with a 2.49 ERA, it will be up to the starting rotation to determine how far this team can go.
The starting staff currently ranks 16th in ERA (4.19), 18th in WHIP (1.30) and 14th in opponents' batting average (.240)—although it's also worth mentioning that they're second in quality starts (33).
After rough starts, the Washington Nationals (18-6 in last 24 games) and Los Angeles Dodgers (8-2 in last 10 games) are starting to look more like the teams they were expected to be this season.
Teams That Disappointed
The Arizona Diamondbacks' tailspin continued last week, as series losses to the Brewers and Athletics were enough to drop them to the lower half of the rankings.
Since sprinting out to an impressive 21-8 start, they've gone 5-18 in their last 23 games with a minus-39 run differential during that span.
Injuries have been part of the problem, as the team is without two key starters (Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker), its hottest hitter to begin the year (A.J. Pollock) and its biggest offseason addition (Steven Souza).
That said, there's still plenty of talent on this roster, and they'll need to right the ship quickly.
The Toronto Blue Jays have followed a similar path.
A 18-13 start was enough for them to climb into the top 10 in these rankings, but they've gone just 7-15 in their last 22 games. Even more telling is the fact that they have not won back-to-back games since April 30 and May 1.
A midseason fire sale and a second-half youth movement headlined by No. 1 prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is looking more and more likely with each loss.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (2-7 in last nine games) and San Francisco Giants (6-13 in last 19 games) have both looked like contenders at times this season, but they're both trending downward as June approaches.
And finally, the upstart Atlanta Braves hit their first speed bump of the season last week, losing series to the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox on the road.
They'll now head home to take on the Mets and Nationals—two teams they've gone a combined 8-4 against with a plus-29 run differential on the season—as they look to regain some momentum.
MVPs of the Week
Hitter: 2B Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds
Stats: 12-for-24, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R
There might not have been a bigger breakout last season than Scooter Gennett.
After being claimed off waivers by the Reds, he posted a 124 OPS+ with 27 home runs and 97 RBI on his way to a 2.4 WAR.
That out-of-nowhere offensive outburst left him looking like one of the biggest regression candidates of the 2018 season. Instead, he has continued to rake, hitting .340/.376/.558 with 13 doubles and 10 home runs in 212 plate appearances.
Eventually, top prospect Nick Senzel is going to push his way into the MLB picture in Cincinnati.
With that in mind, Gennett could be a hot commodity on the trade market this summer, especially considering he has team control through the 2019 season and is more than just a rental.
Pitcher: Daniel Mengden, Oakland Athletics
Stats: W, 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Daniel Mengden has been quietly excellent for the Athletics this year.
After getting a taste of big league action each of the past two seasons, he's been a regular part of the Oakland rotation in 2018, going 5-4 with a 2.85 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 43-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 66.1 innings.
The 25-year-old twirled a two-hit shutout against the Diamondbacks on Saturday, marking his fourth straight quality start and the second shutout of his young career.
Here's a list of the top five starting pitchers in terms of career WAR who have fewer than two career shutouts:
- Jacob deGrom (18.9)
- Yu Darvish (18.4)
- Francisco Liriano (18.4)
- Jhoulys Chacin (18.2)
- Hisashi Iwakuma (17.3)
Mengden joins left-hander Sean Manaea as a promising young building block for the up-and-coming Athletics, as they continue to build toward contention.
Video Highlights of the Week
Longest Home Run: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (471 feet)
Aaron Judge had two of the four longest home runs in the majors last season with a 495-footer off Logan Verrett in June and a 484-footer off Marcus Stroman at the end of September.
He has yet to top either of those among his 14 home runs so far this season.
However, his 471-foot blast last week off Texas Rangers reliever Tony Barnette currently stands as the sixth-longest home run of the 2018 season.
According to Statcast, no player his hit a 500-foot home run since Giancarlo Stanton launched a 504-footer back in 2016. That said, it feels like only a matter of time before Judge pulls it off.
Best Defensive Play: Chris Devenski, Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have arguably the best defensive pitcher in baseball on their roster.
Dallas Keuchel captured three straight Gold Glove awards before Marcus Stroman took home the honor last season, and the 2015 AL Cy Young winner's 41 DRS since the start of the 2014 season are tops among all pitchers by a wide margin (Zack Greinke is next with 27).
However, it was reliever Chris Devenski who turned heads with his glove last week.
You won't see many plays where a pitcher gets off the mound faster, and the quick slide and smooth shovel to the first baseman only further displayed his athleticism.
The fact that he nabbed Greg Allen on the play—a player who recorded multiple 40-steal seasons in the minors and was given 60-grade speed by MLB.com—makes it all the more impressive.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees (Monday-Wednesday)
The Astros and Yankees have already squared off once this season on the heels of their thrilling seven-game battle in the ALCS last October.
That series went to the Yankees, as they took three of four from the reigning World Series champions and outscored the Astros by a 15-7 margin during the four-game set in Houston.
This time around, they go head-to-head at Yankee Stadium.
Domingo German will make his fourth start of the season for the Yankees in Monday's opener, and he'll have his hands full squaring off against a red-hot Justin Verlander.
Veterans CC Sabathia and Charlie Morton toe the rubber Tuesday. Sabathia shined in the ALCS last season, while Morton was hit hard before starring in the World Series.
And finally, the series finale Wednesday has all the makings of a terrific pitchers' duel. Luis Severino takes the ball for the Yankees as he looks to continue his hot start (11 GS, 7-1, 2.28 ERA, 1.00 WHIP), while Dallas Keuchel will try to build on his impressive Yankee Stadium track record (4 GS, 3-1, 1.61 ERA, 0.82 WHIP).
The winner of this series could challenge the Red Sox for the No. 1 spot in these rankings next week.