MLB Power Rankings: Astros Jump to Top Spot; Yankees and Mariners Set to Battle

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  J.D. Davis #28,George Springer #4 and Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros celebrate the win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 28, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City.MLB players across the league are wearing special uniforms to commemorate Memorial Day.The Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 5-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

We have a new No. 1 team in this week's power rankings, as the AL East's stranglehold on the top spot has finally come to an end.

Four American League teams remain atop the rankings, while the top tier of the National League side of things continues to shuffle on a weekly basis.

At the end of the day, this remains a fluid process. 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.

 Updated Rankings 
1img Houston Astros (48-25)img2
2img New York Yankees (46-21)img1
3img Seattle Mariners (46-26)img1
4img Boston Red Sox (49-24)img
5img Atlanta Braves (42-29)img5
6img Milwaukee Brewers (42-29)img1
7img Chicago Cubs (40-28)img2
8img Arizona D-backs (39-32)
img3
9img Los Angeles Dodgers (37-33)img5
10img Cleveland Indians (37-33)
img1
11img Los Angeles Angels (38-34)img5
12img Philadelphia Phillies (37-32)img5
13img Washington Nationals (37-31)
img5
14img St. Louis Cardinals (37-32)img2
15img Oakland Athletics (36-36)img
16img San Diego Padres (34-40)img
17img Detroit Tigers (36-37)img5
18img San Francisco Giants (35-37)img5
19img Pittsburgh Pirates (35-36)img
20img Toronto Blue Jays (33-38)img
21img Colorado Rockies (34-37)img3
22img Minnesota Twins (31-37)img1
23img Tampa Bay Rays (33-38)img
24img Miami Marlins (28-44)img3
25img Texas Rangers (29-44)img1
26img New York Mets (30-38)img1
27img Cincinnati Reds (26-45)img2
28img Chicago White Sox (24-46)img2
29img Kansas City Royals (22-49)img1
30img Baltimore Orioles (20-50)img

              

Teams That Impressed

Freddie Freeman
Freddie FreemanJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

On the strength of an impressive 11-game winning streak, the Houston Astros are back where they began the 2018 season: No. 1.

During that span, the Astros have outscored opponents 81-40.

They lead the majors in runs scored per game (5.24) and team ERA (2.89). Justin Verlander leads the staff and is having a brilliant season: 15 GS, 9-2, 1.61 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 120 K, 100.1 IP.

The Atlanta Braves climb back into the top spot among NL teams, thanks to a 5-1 week that included series wins against the New York Mets and San Diego Padres.

If the season ended today, first baseman Freddie Freeman (.337/.427/.585, 20 2B, 15 HR, 49 RBI) would have a strong case for NL MVP honors.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers continued their impressive resurgence with a weekend series win over the rival San Francisco Giants.

They've now gone 21-7 in their last 28 games after a brutal 16-26 start. With a roster that is still working to get back to full health, there's a good chance we haven't seen the best this team has to offer.

Further down the rankings, a five-game winning streak has the Detroit Tigers on the upswing.

The team that picked No. 1 overall in this year's draft has quietly gone 16-9 over its last 25 games, climbing into the middle of the pack in these rankings while closing in on a .500 record.

Nicholas Castellanos (.310/.353/.502, 22 2B, 9 HR, 41 RBI) has been a bright spot offensively, while left-hander Matt Boyd (13 GS, 4-4, 3.23 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) is looking like a potential long-term piece in the rotation.

The Miami Marlins have also been playing better baseball of late, and they used a 5-2 week that included series wins over the San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles to climb three spots.

                   

Teams That Disappointed

Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

Let's start with the Los Angeles Angels.

A sweep at the hands of the division-rival Seattle Mariners and a weekend series loss to the Oakland Athletics, coupled with the news that Shohei Ohtani could be headed for Tommy John surgery and will miss significant time regardless, is a huge blow to their playoff hopes.

With Oakland on the upswing, they're in danger of becoming the fourth-best team in the AL West, despite a historically good season from Mike Trout.

The Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants joined the Angels in dropping five spots in this week's rankings.

The Nationals were swept over the weekend by a struggling Toronto Blue Jays team, as their up-and-down 2018 season continues.

On paper, they're still the best team in the NL East and a serious threat to win the NL pennant. But so far, Atlanta has looked like a superior team, and the Phillies have announced themselves as contenders as well.

As for the Giants, they entered last week as a team on the rise with a chance to build some momentum in a weekend series with the rival Dodgers.

Instead, they began last week by dropping three of four to the Marlins and then lost two of three to the Dodgers to send them tumbling back down the rankings.

Sticking on the NL side of things, the Colorado Rockies continued to struggle with series losses to the Phillies and Texas Rangers.

They've now gone 4-12 in their last 16 games and are rapidly falling out of contention.

                 

MVPs of the Week

Hitter: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Stats: 13-for-19, 1 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 7 BB

After a huge week at the plate, the best player on the planet is now hitting .328/.459/.688 with an AL-leading 23 home runs and the same number of walks and strikeouts (60).

The 26-year-old has already posted a ridiculous 6.3 WAR on the year.

To put that into perspective, there were only 15 players who had a WAR of 6.3 or higher all of last season—Jose Altuve (8.3), Corey Kluber (8.2), Aaron Judge (8.1), Giancarlo Stanton (7.6), Joey Votto (7.5), Max Scherzer (7.4), Nolan Arenado (7.2), Andrelton Simmons (7.1), Jose Ramirez (6.9), Trout (6.7), Justin Verlander (6.5), Mookie Betts (6.4), Stephen Strasburg (6.4), Zack Greinke (6.4) and Carlos Correa (6.3).

The Angels have played 72 games, or roughly 44.4 percent of their schedule, putting Trout on pace for 14.2 WAR.

The single-season record for a hitter?

14.1, by Babe Ruth in 1923.

         

Pitcher: Wade LeBlanc, Seattle Mariners

Stats: 2 W, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K

There hasn't been a better bargain-bin find this season than Wade LeBlanc.

The 33-year-old signed with the Yankees on a minor league deal during the offseason but was released on March 23. The following day, he joined the Mariners on a one-year, $650,000 deal.

Over nine starts and five relief appearances, he's gone 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 61.2 innings—including two wins last week.

The left-hander pitched exclusively as a reliever last season with the Pirates, posting a 4.50 ERA over 50 appearances. He looked like a promising young starter with the Padres early in his career before injuries derailed him.

His career-high for innings is 146 back in 2010, and that's the only time he's topped 100 in a season, so it remains to be seen how well he'll hold up over a full slate of games. For now, he's a big reason why the Mariners are off to such a strong start.

                

Video Highlights of the Week

Longest Home Run: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (459 feet)

We already spent a handful of paragraphs gushing about Trout earlier, so we'll keep this short and sweet.

This 459-foot blast off Mariners reliever Ryan Cook stands as the longest homer of the season by an Angels hitter.

It's not his longest of the Statcast Era, though.

That came back in 2015 when he crushed one 477 feet off Rockies lefty Chris Rusin.

         

Best Defensive Play: Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners

Mitch Haniger is having a breakout season at the plate, hitting .269/.357/.512 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI.

He's also been one of the best defensive right fielders in baseball, racking up seven DRS and tallying eight outfield assists thanks to his strong throwing arm.

That cannon was on full display on this play. It looked like Luis Valbuena had an easy double down the line, only to get thrown out at second base.

Jean Segura also gets a nod here for a nifty tag.

       

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Seattle Mariners vs. New York Yankees (Tuesday-Thursday)

Luis Severino
Luis SeverinoAdam Hunger/Associated Press

The Yankees have looked like the team to beat for much of the 2018 season.

The Mariners have other ideas.

Seattle has not been to the postseason since 2001, but a 12-4 month of June has them right alongside the Yankees in the upper echelon of these power rankings.

Now those two teams are set to square off for three games at Yankee Stadium to kick off the upcoming week's action.

It's the first time they're facing each other this season, and the Yankees held a distinct advantage in the head-to-head matchup last season, going 5-2 with a plus-19 run differential.

The series finale on Thursday will feature two of the best pitchers in the American LeagueJames Paxton (6-1, 3.44 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 115 K, 91.2 IP) and Luis Severino (10-2, 2.09 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 118 K, 99.0 IP).

If that's not must-see TV, what is?

          

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

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