The 2019 MLB season is already a quarter of the way complete, and we're still not any closer to having a clear front-runner in either league.
With 15 teams above .500 and four more within two games of that mark, parity has reigned so far this season, and that has resulted in a constant shuffling of our weekly MLB power rankings. This week was no exception.
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
It was a good week for many of the top teams in our rankings.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (5-2), Chicago Cubs (5-2), Houston Astros (6-1) and New York Yankees (5-2) all enjoyed excellent weeks, while the Philadelphia Phillies (5-2), Milwaukee Brewers (4-2) and Minnesota Twins (5-2) walked away with winning records as well.
The Cubs have gone an NL-best 9-2 with a plus-27 run differential in May, leaving them pounding on the door for the No. 1 spot in these rankings.
The best record in the AL during that stretch?
That belongs to the Boston Red Sox (5-1), with a matching 9-2 showing and a staggering plus-54 run differential.
So before you call bias or question the Red Sox's seven-spot jump, realize they're one of the hottest teams in baseball. It's clear they once again belong among the league's top 10, even after their sluggish start.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (4-2)—who quickly righted the ship after an eight-game losing streak at the end of April had sent them tumbling following a 12-6 start—also made a big leap. They're now 8-3 in their last 11 games, though they posted a troubling minus-14 run differential during that stretch.
Further down the rankings, the Oakland Athletics (4-2) and Los Angeles Angels (4-2) won both of their series to claw within four games and two games of the .500 mark, respectively. With the Seattle Mariners crashing back to earth and the Texas Rangers struggling to find anyone who can pitch outside of Mike Minor, there's room to climb in the AL West.
While there is still no clear top tier of teams, and it was another week with plenty of shuffling, for the first time all season, we saw a bit of a performance divide between the upper half of the rankings and the bottom half.
Maybe, just maybe, contenders are starting to hit their stride.
Teams That Disappointed
With so many teams in the top 15 doing well, it was a bad time for the St. Louis Cardinals (2-5) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2-5) to lay an egg.
With series losses to the Phillies and Pirates, the Cardinals went from a half-game back and second in the NL Central standings to 3.5 games back and fourth place. That's going to happen all season when teams have a bad week in a division that appears to have four contenders.
Meanwhile, the D-backs were one of the hottest teams in baseball at the start of last week, riding an impressive 14-5 stretch and vaulting a club that at one point this offseason appeared headed for a rebuild into the top 10.
With series losses to the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves, they have now slipped into a tie with the San Diego Padres for second in the NL West, four games behind the Dodgers.
The free-fall continued for the Seattle Mariners (1-6), who are now in serious danger of dropping out of the top 20 after exploding out of the gates to a 13-2 start.
The Toronto Blue Jays (1-5), Baltimore Orioles (2-4), Kansas City Royals (2-4) and Miami Marlins (1-5) were the other teams that lost both of their series last week.
Players of the Week
AL Hitter: George Springer, Houston Astros
Stats: 14-for-27, 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R
Are we witnessing the ascent of George Springer from All-Star to bona fide superstar?
After a huge week, the 29-year-old is now hitting .321/.400/.660 and leading the AL in OPS (1.060), home runs (15), RBI (37), runs scored (35), extra-base hits (24) and total bases (105).
That's quite the list of categories.
He was 5-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI and five runs scored on Sunday, becoming the first player in Astros history with five hits and five runs in the same game, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
As Astros manager AJ Hinch told reporters:
"He's in a really good place physically and in his preparation-wise. He's getting pitches to hit and not missing them, so he's in the at-bats. He's taking close pitches and doing a ton of damage. It's so exciting when he's at the top of the order doing this stuff. From the very beginning of the game, as we saw today, the potential for damage is one thing—the big hits, the knockout punch of the game with the homer. He's a star."
A star indeed. In fact, a strong case can be made for him as AL MVP at the quarter mark.
AL Pitcher: Mike Fiers, Oakland Athletics
Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Mike Fiers tossed the second no-hitter of his career and the first no-hitter of the 2019 season on Tuesday, keeping the Cincinnati Reds out of the hit column while surrendering only a pair of free passes.
He's the first pitcher since Jake Arrieta in 2016 to notch a second no-no and the 35th player in MLB history to accomplish the feat more than once. Interestingly enough, his first came against the Dodgers on Aug. 21, 2015—nine days before Arrieta threw his first against that same Dodgers team.
Not bad for a guy who entered Tuesday's game with a 6.81 ERA.
It took Fiers a whopping 131 pitches to finish off the game, which was his highest pitch count since he threw 134 in his first no-hitter, according to Martin Gallegos of MLB.com.
"It was no fun for me once he got past 120 pitches. I promise you that," manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "But he deserved it. Even after the walks, his stuff looked good after that. I really didn't think after the seventh he would have enough pitches to get through that game. Pretty amazing stuff."
Props to center fielder Ramon Laureano and second baseman Jurickson Profar on a pair of defensive gems to preserve the no-hitter.
NL Hitter: Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Stats: 10-for-24, 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R
It took Justin Turner until his 123rd plate appearance of the season to finally hit his first home run of 2019.
He hit five home runs in 26 plate appearances last week.
That included a huge game against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, during which he launched three homers and drove in a career-high six runs.
"Been feeling good at the plate, just not getting good results, and tonight I got good results," Turner told reporters. "I have felt better the last couple weeks, hitting balls hard and tonight got three up in the air. The timing's felt good. Been missing a lot of good pitches to hit. Finding the barrel a lot more frequently lately."
With his big week at the plate, Turner raised both his slugging percentage (.333 to .458) and OPS (.707 to .845) by a staggering amount. His powerless April will quickly be forgotten if he keeps swinging a hot bat for a Dodgers team that has taken over the No. 1 spot in these rankings.
NL Pitcher: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
Stats: 2 GS, 2 W, 17.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 K
It's a clean sweep of the NL awards for the Dodgers.
After he posted a brilliant 1.97 ERA in 15 starts during an injury-shortened 2018 season, Hyun-Jin Ryu opted to accept a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer at the start of the offseason rather than test the free-agent waters.
That's a steep price—one the Dodgers might not have expected to actually pay—but he's been worth every penny so far this season.
First, he tossed a four-hit shutout against the Braves on Tuesday. Then he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Sunday, finishing eight shutout innings against the Washington Nationals with just one hit and one walk allowed.
With that, he lowered his ERA to 1.72, which trails only Jon Lester (1.16) and Zach Davies (1.54) among qualified NL starters. Meanwhile, his 0.73 WHIP leads all qualified starters in both leagues.
"This is just a continuance of what we saw last year," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told reporters. "Hyun-Jin does his homework, he prepares extremely well. He knows the areas he's going to each at-bat. He never tries to do too much of the same thing to the same guy. He has so many weapons to keep them off guard."
A tip of the cap to Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin on his four-hit shutout against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox (Friday-Sunday)
With the Red Sox finally on track and the Astros once again looking like a title contender, the first 2019 meeting of last year's ALCS teams is shaping up to be a good one.
For Boston, it has been a tale of two seasons. After stumbling to an AL-worst 6-13 record with a minus-42 run differential to start the year, they've gone 16-6 with a plus-69 run differential in their last 22 contests.
With off days Monday and Thursday, the Red Sox can go with a four-man rotation next week, which would set up ace Chris Sale to pitch the series finale Sunday. He also struggled out of the gates, but he's posted a 1.73 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 26 innings over his last four starts and is once again looking like one of the game's best starters.
As for the Astros, they lead the majors in team batting average (.281) and OPS (.856) and trail only the Mariners (78) with their 75 home runs. A pitching staff that ranks sixth in the majors with a 3.64 ERA has also helped them post an MLB-leading plus-69 run differential.
The Astros have an off day Thursday, so they could do some rotation shuffling of their own. For now, it's lining up to be Gerrit Cole, Corbin Martin and Brad Peacock for this series, but they could turn to Wade Miley on regular rest for the Sunday game.
This series should be a good early barometer of where things stand for two teams once again eyeing a World Series trip.