With the month of June upon us, five teams have separated themselves from the rest of the MLB pack.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays all have a run differential of plus-76 or better. No other team has a run differential better than plus-50.
So while the top five teams in our rankings stayed stationary, there was again plenty of movement further down the rankings, including a couple of teams climbing into the contender conversation.
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 Colorado Rockies (7-0) have won eight in a row and 11 of their last 13 to go from five games under .500 to four games over, and four of their wins during that span have been of the walk-off variety.
They have a plus-23 run differential during that span with four straight series wins, including sweeps of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays last week.
The pitching staff posted a 5.94 ERA in May, which ranked 28th in the majors, but the offense exploded for 7.0 runs per game. The Rockies also led the majors in batting average (.300), on-base percentage (.366), slugging percentage (.527) and OPS (.893) during the month.
Similarly, the Texas Rangers (5-2) stumbled out of the gates to 17-22 record before going 13-5 in their last 18 games with a plus-36 run differential to climb back over .500 and into the AL wild-card picture.
The starting rotation has shown some gradual improvement behind ace Mike Minor, while Shawn Kelley has brought some consistency to the back of the bullpen. It remains to be seen if this group can legitimately contend, but it has some clear momentum right now.
The Los Angeles Angels (5-2) also made some noise in the AL West last week with series wins over the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, pulling them within one game of a .500 record.
Rookie Griffin Canning (6 GS, 3.06 ERA) has been a welcome addition to an inconsistent starting rotation, while young players like David Fletcher and Cesar Puello have given the offense a boost.
Further down the rankings, the Chicago White Sox (6-1) turned in series wins against the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians last week to climb to their highest position in the rankings this year. They might not be legitimate contenders just yet, but they are clearly moving in the right direction.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (6-1), New York Yankees (4-2), Houston Astros (5-1), Washington Nationals (4-2) and Miami Marlins (5-2) were the other teams to win both of their series last week.
Teams That Disappointed
The Chicago Cubs (1-5) are in a bit of a tailspin right now.
They had gone 2-8 with a minus-17 run differential in their last 10 games before scoring an 8-1 win over the Angels in a makeup game on Monday, and they were swept by the rival St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend while scoring just six runs in three games.
"We've got to hit better," manager Joe Maddon told reporters. "We have to do a better job. We have to reorganize our strike zone, make the pitchers throw the ball over the middle of the plate and stay in the middle of the field. That's what I'm seeing."
With all five NL Central teams within 6.5 games of the division lead, the Cubs will need to right the ship quickly to avoid losing significant ground.
The Oakland Athletics (1-5) entered last week riding a nine-game winning streak, and they extended it to 10 games before moving swiftly in the opposite direction with a five-game losing streak. That drops them back under .500 and leaves them tied for third in the AL West standings.
The San Diego Padres (2-4) and Boston Red Sox (2-4) also lost both of their series last week, and with other teams on the rise, they run the risk of falling outside the top 15 if they do not get back on track in short order.
The New York Mets (2-5), Seattle Mariners (2-5), Toronto Blue Jays (0-6), Kansas City Royals (1-6) and Baltimore Orioles (2-4) were the other clubs to drop both series last week.
Players of the Week
AL Hitter: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Stats: 12-for-26, 4 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 10 R
Xander Bogaerts enjoyed the most productive season of his career in 2018, setting career-highs in OPS+ (135), doubles (45), home runs (23) and RBI (103) to finish 13th in AL MVP voting.
With free agency looming after the 2019 season, the Red Sox locked him up long-term during the offseason with a six-year, $120 million extension that begins next year.
Two months into the 2019 season, it looks like moving quickly to lock him up was the right move. The 26-year-old is hitting .305/.386/.550 for a 143 OPS+ with 18 doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBI in 251 plate appearances while batting fourth and fifth for much of the year.
"I think my mindset has changed," Bogaerts said, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. "I remember before, I used to see a big hole up the middle and just want to get a base hit up the middle, run hard, maybe get an infield hit. I don't think like that no more. I think it's the mindset I go up to the plate with. I still see that big hole, but it's not something I want to do. I want to drive it."
After posting a .952 OPS with six home runs and 21 RBI in 25 games in May, he is well on his way to another career-best offensive season.
AL Pitcher: Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
Stats: 2 GS, 2 W, 15.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 19 K
For the second week in a row, Lucas Giolito takes home AL Pitcher of the Week honors.
After throwing a four-hit shutout against the Astros on May 23, he recorded two more quality starts last week, lowering his ERA to 2.54, which is tied for third among qualified AL starters.
All told, he has allowed just 12 hits and two walks with 28 strikeouts in 24.1 innings in his last three outings, announcing himself as one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball in the process.
"He's pitching with a lot of confidence. He's pitching because he knows who he's becoming, who he is. He's trusting it and letting it happen," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters.
Aside from his excellent ERA, Giolito also ranks among the AL leaders in WHIP (0.95, second), opponents' batting average (.186, third) and strikeouts (78, 11th).
The 24-year-old has come a long way in a very short time after posting a 6.13 ERA in 32 starts last season, and he now looks like a cornerstone piece for the rebuilding White Sox.
NL Hitter: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Stats: 11-for-21, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R
After a disappointing 2017 season, Trevor Story exploded for 42 doubles and 37 home runs last season while posting a 127 OPS+ to finish eighth in NL MVP voting and win Silver Slugger honors.
The 26-year-old is raking once again this season with a .293/.360/.556 line that includes 12 doubles, 15 home runs and 42 RBI in 57 games.
His strong performance of late has coincided with an impressive turnaround by the Rockies.
He went a ridiculous 10-for-14 with six extra-base hits over a three-game span last week, and we've seen in the past that once he starts swinging a hot bat, he's capable of going on a tear.
The peripherals also tell a promising story.
Below the surface, his hard-contact rate has spiked (44.5 to 50.3 percent) and his soft-contract rate is also way down (15.9 to 10.9 percent). He is also hitting the ball to the opposite field more (22.4 to 30.3 percent), which makes him that much harder to game-plan against.
At this point, he's a bona fide star.
NL Pitcher: Trevor Richards, Miami Marlins
Stats: 2 GS, 2 W, 12.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 13 K
A quiet standout on a 98-loss team, Trevor Richards posted a 4.42 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 126.1 innings as a rookie last season.
The Marlins rotation has been a pleasant surprise this year with a 3.96 ERA that ranks ninth in the majors, and Richards has continued to show promise.
With two strong starts last week, his 3.53 ERA is good for 18th among qualified NL starters, and he also ranks seventh in the league with a .216 opponents' batting average.
He allowed two hits and one run over seven innings against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday and then struck out eight with just one hit allowed in five scoreless innings facing the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
"He's going to be able to change speeds and the changeup is always something that's in the back of guys' minds," manager Don Mattingly told reporters.
Richards throws that changeup 37.2 percent of the time, and opposing hitters have posted a .167 average and .149 ISO against the pitch, according to Brooks Baseball. It's one of the best in baseball and remains the key to his success.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Diego Padres (Monday-Wednesday)
The Phillies and Padres lost a combined 178 games last season.
How did they respond? They spent a combined $630 million to sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, respectively.
Now both teams sport winning records and look like legitimate postseason contenders.
Of course, there is a lot more at play than just those two big-money additions. The Phillies also added J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and a handful of other pieces. The Padres have welcomed top prospects like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack to the majors and have more young talent on the way.
These are clearly two teams on the rise and they will matchup for the first time this season in a three-game series that started Monday.
Don't be surprised if they are battling for a wild-card spot down the stretch.
Aaron Nola and Eric Lauer squared off in Game 1, and the Padres came out on top 8-2. Jerad Eickhoff and Chris Paddack will take the ball in Game 2, and it will be Jake Arrieta and Joey Lucchesi on the mound in Game 3.