The MLB season is now six weeks old. If it were a baby, it would just be starting to distinguish you from strangers, according to a cursory Google search.
The 2019 MLB season is no baby, though.
With teams surpassing the 30 games played mark, we're already more than 20 percent of the way through the schedule. Despite that, our weekly power rankings are still essentially one giant cluster from top to bottom, and that means plenty of shuffling once again this week.
It's important to remember, this is a fluid process. Teams will 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 are the rankings:
Teams That Impressed
The Chicago Cubs started the season with a 3-8 record, and they didn't win back-to-back games for the first time until their 12th and 13th games. That sent them tumbling down these power rankings, and they've been doing damage control for the past several weeks.
With a seven-game winning streak and a 14-3 record in their last 17 games, it's become impossible not to once again list the North Siders among baseball's best teams. A weekend sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals has them atop the NL Central standings after falling as many as 5.5 games back in the early going.
The bullpen has fallen into place, the starting rotation ranks eighth in the majors with a 3.62 ERA, and an offense led by Javier Baez (1.004 OPS, 10 2B, 11 HR) is averaging 5.9 runs per game.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks also continued their climb up the rankings.
Since snapping a four-game losing streak during a 6-9 start to the season, the D-backs have gone 14-5 in their last 19 games, with four of those losses coming to the aforementioned Cubs in two separate series.
Last week, they swept a two-game series from the New York Yankees and took two of three from the Colorado Rockies, which leaves them one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
A high-powered offense that has posted an .803 OPS while averaging 5.5 runs per game has led the way, while the pitching staff has been more than good enough. Ketel Marte (26), David Peralta (24) and Eduardo Escobar (21) all have at least 20 RBI in a well-balanced lineup.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (4-1), Boston Red Sox (6-1) and San Francisco Giants (4-2) were the only other teams to win both of their series last week.
For the Pirates, it was a much-needed righting of the ship after an eight-game losing streak had sent them toppling. For the Red Sox, it's one step closer to a .500 record, with a long way to go to live up to preseason expectations. For the Giants, it was the highlight of what has been a long, offensively starved season.
The Milwaukee Brewers (5-2) and Atlanta Braves (5-2) both deserve a mention as well.
Both teams started the week with four-game series splits before sweeping their opponents over the weekend. The Brewers' sweep of the New York Mets was obviously a bit more impressive than the Braves' sweep of the floundering Miami Marlins, but you have to play the hand you're dealt.
Teams That Disappointed
The bubble seems to be bursting for the upstart Seattle Mariners.
After a stellar 13-2 start to the season, they've gone an MLB-worst 6-15 since April 12, with a minus-32 run differential that looked even worse before a 10-0 win Sunday. They are just 3-14 on the year against teams with a record above .500.
The offense that had been shouldering so much of the load has cooled, and a shaky pitching staff has been unable to pick up the slack.
The New York Mets are also moving in the wrong direction after a tough week against the NL Central.
With a 3-8 record in their last 11 games that has dropped them below .500 and a minus-23 run differential on the year, they are no longer looking like the same contender that raced to a 9-4 start out of the gates.
Strong starts from Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom last week provides at least some reason for optimism.
Further down the rankings, the Oakland Athletics (1-5), Toronto Blue Jays (1-5) and Washington Nationals (2-5) each endured another rough week.
Little was expected of the Blue Jays this season in a rebuilding year, but they had hovered around the .500 mark before series losses to the Los Angeles Angeles and Texas Rangers last week.
On the other hand, the Athletics and Nationals were both expected to contend.
The A's have been mediocre across the board, with a .721 team OPS (19th in MLB) and a 4.61 team ERA (also 19th in MLB). For the Nationals, the biggest issues have resided on the pitching side of things, where their 4.93 ERA ranks 25th in the majors. It should come as no big shock that pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was fired last week.
No one is running away with the NL East or either AL wild-card spot, so there's still time for both teams to get back on track.
Players of the Week
AL Hitter: Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox
Stats: 11-for-27, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R
The Red Sox have gotten quite the offensive spark from Michael Chavis since he made his MLB debut on April 20.
He posted a .919 OPS with 23 extra-base hits in 46 games after returning from an 80-game suspension last season and then hit .273/.333/.818 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 24 plate appearances during spring training.
While a healthy Dustin Pedroia would have been a welcome sight, Chavis has provided a major spark offensively while filling in at second base, and he really seemed to hit his stride last week.
All told, he's hitting .333/.460/.725 with six home runs and 13 RBI in 15 games on the big league roster, making him a convincing early entrant in the AL Rookie of the Year race.
AL Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi, Minnesota Twins
Stats: 2 GS, 2 W, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 15 K
In order for this to be a successful season, the Twins needed the rest of the pitchers in the starting rotation behind ace Jose Berrios to pull their weight.
So far, right-hander Jake Odorizzi has been a standout filling the No. 2 starter role.
Through seven starts, he has a 2.78 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. He's also holding opposing hitters to a .190 average, which is tied for eighth among all qualified pitchers.
He was virtually untouchable in two starts last week, holding the Astros to four hits over seven shutout innings Monday before limiting the Yankees to just two hits in six scoreless frames Saturday.
"Stuff-wise, this has been the best I've consistently thrown regardless of results," Odorizzi told reporters after his start against Houston. "Now, results are starting to match up with stuff. I've got to keep working. I've got to keep refining it and moving on. We've got a really special team here right now, and winning games like this means a lot moving forward, especially against them—a playoff-caliber team like that."
The 29-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season. If he keeps pitching at this level, he'll be a hot commodity next winter.
NL Hitter: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Stats: 12-for-30, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R
It took Nolan Arenado until the 16th game of the 2019 season to hit his first home run. During that stretch, he batted a punchless .246/.299/.311 with just three extra-base hits in 67 plate appearances.
My how things have changed.
The Rockies slugger is now hitting .305/.342/.574 with nine home runs and 27 RBI on the season, which means he's hit nine home runs in 19 games since that sluggish start.
Three of those came last week, as he posted a .400 batting average and added three doubles against the Brewers and Diamondbacks pitching staffs.
The man has posted a .931 OPS and averaged 40 doubles, 40 home runs and 126 RBI over the past four seasons while establishing himself as one of the most dangerous sluggers in all of baseball.
Was there ever any doubt he would flip the switch?
NL Pitcher(s): Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs/Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
Hendricks' Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Syndergaard's Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
Two very different shutouts from two very different pitchers made it impossible to pick just one NL Pitcher of the Week.
Cubs control artist Kyle Hendricks needed just 81 pitches to twirl an ultra-efficient complete game against the rival Cardinals on Friday. He struck out just three batters and didn't throw a single pitch over 88.3 mph the entire game.
He was 0-for-3 at the plate with three strikeouts.
Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard punched out 10 batters while also allowing four hits in his shutout of the Reds on Thursday. He walked just one and needed 104 pitches to finish his outing. His fastball averaged 98.4 mph, and his changeup sat at 90.5 mph.
He also went 1-for-3 at the plate with a solo home run that was his team's only run in a 1-0 victory.
Again, two very different pitchers and two very different performances. Both deserving of recognition.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs (Friday-Sunday)
The Cubs wrapped up an undefeated showing last week with a three-game sweep of the rival Cardinals at Wrigley Field. What will they do for an encore?
A similar performance against another NL Central foe in the Milwaukee Brewers would work.
The Brewers no doubt have other ideas.
They took two of three in their first meeting of the year at the beginning of April in a high-scoring series at Miller Park, and they too are riding some positive momentum after a weekend sweep of the New York Mets.
Veteran lefties Gio Gonzalez and Jose Quintana will match up in Game 1 on Friday, early standouts Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.19 ERA) and Zach Davies (4-0, 1.56 ERA) take the ball in Game 2 on Saturday, and the finale will be the Sunday Night Baseball game with Opening Day starters Jon Lester (2-1, 1.73 ERA) and Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 5.24 ERA) doing battle.
This is fast becoming one of the better divisional rivalries in baseball. And as their matchup in Game 163 last season showed, every win counts.