MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at the Start of JulyJuly 2, 2018
As the calendar flips from June to July, the top teams in the American League continue to monopolize the upper tier of our weekly MLB power rankings.
Meanwhile, the National League side of things is still in flux as nine of the 15 teams enter July with a winning record and no one has been able to pull away.
With a handful of middle-of-the-pack teams making a strong case to climb and some of the top 10 teams suffering through down weeks, there was more shuffling in this week's rankings than we've seen recently.
As always, 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.
Teams That Impressed
A series win over the rival Boston Red Sox moves the New York Yankees back into the No. 1 spot, and the Seattle Mariners jump back up to No. 3 after a 7-0 week against the two worst teams in baseball.
But let's focus on the three teams that climbed the furthest in our rankings.
First up is the Tampa Bay Rays, who moved up eight spots after a 5-1 week against the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.
That pulls them over the .500 mark for the first time since they were 28-27 on May 31, and they quietly went 8-1 in a tough nine-game homestand that also included a three-game sweep of the Yankees.
Blake Snell is enjoying a breakout season on the mound, and Wilson Ramos is once again one of the most productive hitters at the catcher position. Both players look like good bets for a place on the AL All-Star roster.
Higher up the rankings, the Oakland Athletics also climbed eight spots to enter the top 10 for the first time this season.
They're 12-3 in their last 15 games, including an 8-2 showing on their recent 10-game road trip. After a brief five-game stint in Oakland, they head back out for 10 more games on the road. Their 24-18 record and plus-21 run differential away from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum should serve them well.
The relief corps has been a major weapon, with a 3.71 ERA (10th in MLB). Closer Blake Treinen (21/23 SV, 0.89 ERA, 10.8 K/9) has been lights-out all season.
Offensively, Jed Lowrie (.848 OPS, 24 2B, 14 HR, 56 RBI) has continued to rake after a career year in 2017, while sluggers Khris Davis (20 HR, 55 RBI) and Matt Olson (18 HR, 44 RBI) are as dangerous as any tandem in baseball.
And finally, we have the San Francisco Giants.
They're an impressive 10-2 in their last 12 games, including a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks this past weekend. That has moved them from three games under .500 to just 2.5 games back in the NL West standings.
The return of Madison Bumgarner (5 GS, 1-2, 2.51 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) has provided a clear boost to the starting rotation. And Gorkys Hernandez (.284/.336/.465, 10 HR, 24 RBI) is quietly enjoying a breakout season offensively alongside the steady trio of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt.
The NL West is shaping up to be a real battle, and the Giants are now in the mix after stumbling out of the gates.
Teams That Disappointed
The Houston Astros lost three of four to the Rays over the weekend, dropping them three positions and out of the No. 1 spot in these rankings.
However, they were not the biggest fallers of the week.
A seven-game winning streak vaulted the Cleveland Indians to the No. 5 spot in last week's rankings, but a pair of series losses to the St. Louis Cardinals and Athletics drop them out of the top 10 once again.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Indians, and it's fair to say they haven't quite lived up to expectations, but they still hold a nine-game lead in the AL Central.
While the Giants shot up the rankings, fellow NL West contenders in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers fell five spots each.
Zack Godley (2 GS, 1-1, 9.00 ERA, 2.67 WHIP) and Shelby Miller (2 GS, 0-2, 11.42 ERA, 2.08 WHIP) were both absolutely shelled for the D-backs, while the Dodgers got a strong week from the pitching staff but went ice-cold offensively with just 26 runs in seven games.
Further down the rankings, the San Diego Padres (2-4) and Detroit Tigers (1-6) both moved down four spots to fall back into the bottom third after slowly climbing in recent weeks.
MVPs of the Week
Hitter: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Stats: 13-for-28, 5 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
Alex Bregman closed out a strong month with a bang, and all told he hit .306/.372/.713 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in June.
After hitting 19 home runs all of last season, he already has 16 long balls in 375 plate appearances on the year, as he's well on his way to posting career numbers.
Somewhat overshadowed by teammates Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer since his arrival in the big leagues, the 24-year-old is still working toward a lofty offensive ceiling.
He has a solid case for what could be the first of many trips to the All-Star Game and has provided a major shot in the arm to what was already one of the most potent offensive attacks in baseball.
Pitcher: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
Stats: 2 GS, 2-0, 0.63 ERA, 14.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 20 K
Blake Snell won Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year award in 2015 when he went 15-4 with a 1.41 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 134 innings over three minor league levels.
He flashed intriguing potential during his first two seasons in the big leagues, but he often struggled to pitch deep into games while going 11-15 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 43 total starts.
This season has been a major breakout.
The 25-year-old is 11-4 with a 2.24 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 123 strikeouts in 108.2 innings. He's also held opposing hitters to a .179 batting average—tying him for third with Chris Sale behind the top-tier duo of Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole among qualified starters.
The Rays needed Snell to realize his potential after Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi departed in the offseason. He's done that and more, exceeding even the most optimistic expectations.
Video Highlights of the Week
Longest Home Run: Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays (471 feet)
It's been a trying season at the plate for Randal Grichuk.
After hitting just .106/.208/.227 with 24 strikeouts in 77 plate appearances in April, he missed the entire month of May with a knee injury.
However, he's been a different hitter since returning to action.
In the month of June, he hit .294/.341/.647 while leading the Blue Jays in home runs (8), RBI (20), runs scored (15) and total bases (55).
Grichuk has always had impressive power—it's just a matter of making enough consistent contact to tap into it, and perhaps his strong month will be the start of a breakout season with a Blue Jays team that will give him every opportunity to succeed.
Best Defensive Play: Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox
Since he first became an everyday player in 2014, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been one of the game's best defensive outfielders.
His 46 DRS rank 14th among all outfielders in that span, and that's helped him maintain a spot in the everyday lineup despite inconsistent offensive production.
The 28-year-old doesn't have the elite speed of someone like Billy Hamilton in center field, but he has tremendous instincts and an excellent first step that allows him to consistently make highlight-reel grabs like the one above.
Now if only he could improve on that .198/.290/.326 batting line, he might once again be vying for a spot on the AL All-Star team.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Thursday-Sunday)
This past weekend, we saw two of baseball's cornerstone franchises do battle when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees squared off in our must-see matchup of the week.
This time around, we spotlight two teams on the rise.
The Atlanta Braves have not had a winning season since 2013, and they've averaged 90 losses over the past four seasons.
The Milwaukee Brewers have made the postseason just four times in their 49-year history and not since 2011, when the eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals ousted them in the NLCS.
Yet both clubs enter the week positioned inside the top 10 in our power rankings and look like legitimate contenders for a postseason berth.
The pitching matchup to watch in this one will be Friday, when Mike Foltynewicz (16 GS, 6-4, 2.02 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 107 K, 89.0 IP) squares off against rookie Freddy Peralta (5 GS, 3-1, 2.28 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 40 K, 27.2 IP).
Those pitchers both look like potential building blocks for their respective staffs and are capable of racking up double-digit strikeouts every time out.
The winner of this series could vault to the top of the heap among NL teams, as that group continues to shuffle on a weekly basis.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.