Two months have passed since Opening Day, and while there is still a ton of baseball to be played, the wall between contender and also-ran is built higher with each passing day.
The Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres have been among the biggest surprises thus far, while the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals are the clear leaders in the most disappointing category.
With that said, another Monday brings another updated version of our MLB power rankings. 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 Minnesota Twins (6-0) continue to make a strong case for the No. 1 spot in these rankings, which is a sentence few would have believed two months ago.
With three-game sweeps of the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox last week, they have now won 11 of their last 12, running up a ridiculous plus-61 run differential during that span.
Jorge Polanco (.335 BA, 1.002 OPS, 66 H) and Eddie Rosario (.881 OPS, 16 HR, 45 RBI) lead the way offensively, while Jake Odorizzi (11 GS, 2.16 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 61 K, 58.1 IP) has taken his game to another level in a contract year.
After briefly falling out of the top 10, the San Diego Padres (5-1) are back in the No. 10 slot after a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks and a series win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Closer Kirby Yates saved three games last week, and he's now a perfect 20-for-20 on save chances with a 1.13 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and a staggering 44/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 innings.
The Oakland Athletics (6-0) have rejoined the upper half of the rankings with sweeps of the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners vaulting them into the No. 15 spot.
They have now won nine in a row after sweeping the Detroit Tigers two weeks ago, quietly climbing three games over .500 in the process.
After falling six spots in last week's rankings, the New York Mets (6-1) regained some lost ground with a four-game sweep of the Washington Nationals and a series win over the Tigers.
Rajai Davis and Carlos Gomez both hit home runs last week, while Aaron Altherr was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. So much for what looked like an outfield logjam at the start of the year.
The New York Yankees (6-1), Atlanta Braves (5-2) and Colorado Rockies (4-2) were the other teams to win both of their series last week.
Teams That Disappointed
The Cleveland Indians (1-6) are in a complete tailspin.
With a minus-19 run differential during series losses to the Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians now have a minus-six differential on the year and a .500 record, leaving them a whopping 10 games behind the upstart Twins.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (1-5) also had a tough week.
They have stumbled along to an 8-11 record with a minus-34 run differential in their last 19 games, and with a minus-59 run differential on the year, they have played over their heads to even be at .500 on the season.
The free-falling Seattle Mariners (0-6), Toronto Blue Jays (2-5), San Francisco Giants (1-6), Detroit Tigers (1-5) and Baltimore Orioles (1-6) were the other teams to lose both of their series last week.
Players of the Week
AL Hitter: Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins
Stats: 12-for-21, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R
The Twins saw something in Max Kepler last season despite a lackluster .224/.319/.408 line that saw him slug a career-high 20 home runs en route to a 2.8 WAR campaign.
Minnesota locked the 26-year-old up with a five-year, $35 million extension that includes a club option for a sixth year, and he has rewarded that decision with a major step forward offensively.
After his big week last week, Kepler is now hitting .276/.348/.541, and his 12 home runs and 33 RBI put him on pace for new career bests in both categories.
Kepler has hit primarily out of the leadoff spot, serving as the catalyst for a Twins team that leads the majors with 104 home runs while piling up an impressive 6.1 runs per game.
The one peripheral that jumps off the page for Kepler is his pull rate, which has climbed from 43.1 to 58.2 percent this year. That change in approach has helped unlock what has always been intriguing raw power.
AL Pitcher: Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
This is no doubt what Baseball America had in mind when it ranked Lucas Giolito as the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2016 season.
Squaring off against the Houston Astros' juggernaut lineup, he needed 107 pitches to wrap up the first shutout of his young career.
"He was really good—hats off to him for coming in and throwing all his pitches for strikes," Astros manager AJ Hinch told reporters. "He's changed his delivery or his arm action a little bit, which got him in the strike zone. He generated a ton of swing and misses, soft contact. We got four hits. He came in and really commanded the game from the very beginning."
The 24-year-old finished the 2018 season with an unsightly 6.13 ERA in 173.1 innings over 32 starts, and the White Sox are now reaping the rewards of giving him a long leash and allowing him to work through his struggles.
After his shutout Thursday, he now ranks among the AL leaders in ERA (2.77, seventh), WHIP (1.06, eighth) and opponents' batting average (.196, fourth), and he has a 0.64 ERA with just 14 hits allowed in 28.1 innings over his last four starts.
NL Hitter: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Stats: 14-for-26, 2 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R
It took Nolan Arenado 70 plate appearances to hit his first home run of the 2019 season. Now, he's tied for fifth in the NL with 15 long balls. The man can just flat-out hit.
After averaging 40 home runs and 126 RBI over the past four seasons, he has seemingly taken his overall offensive game to another level this season. He's hitting .335 on the year, which would easily top his previous best of .309 during the 2017 campaign.
He's striking out at a career-low 10.0 percent rate, and he hasn't sacrificed any power for the sake of that additional contact. In fact, his hard-contact rate has climbed from 42.9 to 43.4 percent, and he's hitting the ball in the air more and on the ground less.
Arenado was already a superstar, and his game continues to evolve in the prime of his career.
Props for hitting the 200th home run of his impressive career Saturday against Baltimore.
NL Pitcher: Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers
Stats: 1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
Brandon Woodruff made one mistake in his eight innings of work against the Phillies on Sunday, allowing a solo home run to Andrew Knapp to lead off the sixth inning.
"Thank goodness for Knappy," Bryce Harper told reporters after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. "A lot of us thought [Woodruff] had stuff to be perfect today."
The 26-year-old struck out a career-high 10 batters on the afternoon, and since running up a 5.81 ERA over his first five starts, he has really settled in nicely with two or fewer runs allowed in each of his last six starts.
"His fastball's been overpowering, that's what happened here. And he's trusting it, really trusting it. If I point to a small thing, it would be that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters when asked what has changed for his young pitcher.
Aside from his strong showing on the mound, Woodruff also went 2-for-3 with two RBI, raising his season batting line to .370/.393/.481 in 28 plate appearances.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Minnesota Twins vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Thursday-Sunday)
There appeared to be a wide gap between the contenders and the also-rans on the American League side of things when the season began.
Two months later, the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays have crashed the party.
The Twins (plus-111) have the best run differential in baseball, and they have built a staggering 10-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The Rays (plus-67) are fourth, and they trail the New York Yankees by just two games in the AL East standings.
We are roughly one-third of the way through the season, and there is no doubt both of these clubs are legitimate contenders.
Now, they're set to face off for the first time this season with a four-game set at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (2.97) have the best ERA in baseball, which comes as no surprise. That the Twins (3.70) check in fifth on that list is more of a shock, especially considering no major additions were made to a staff that ranked 22nd in the majors with a 4.50 ERA a year ago.
That being said, the story of the series could very well be whether the Rays stable of arms can slow down the Twins' high-powered offense.
Both of these teams are the real deal. If you haven't watched them play in 2019, it's worth tuning in to this series.