1) Boston Red Sox (20-7) Same
The Bo-Sox have come back to earth a little but their unbelievably good first month still assures them the top spot on this list. Last week Boston split six divisional games with the Blue Jays and Rays, and if playing .500 for a week is a disappointment for this team they’ll be just fine.
2) Houston Astros (19-10) Same
How good has Gerrit Cole been since joining the Astros in an off-season trade with Pittsburgh? The long time Pirate has pitched to a minuscule 1.73 ERA in six starts, transforming this pitching staff from good to great. While the Red Sox were the first Major League team to 20 wins, the defending champs are right on their heels, and the two AL powerhouses should stay right with each other all summer. Houston is hitting a tough week on their schedule beginning tonight, as they’ll be tasked with slowing down the blisteringly hot Yankees before visiting NL best Arizona over the weekend.
3) Arizona Diamondbacks (19-8) 1
A cross-country trip to the east coast did little to slow the surging Diamondbacks down as they took 2/3 from both Philly and Washington this past week. A combination of things could make the road ahead a little bumpier, however. Arizona lost lefty Robbie Ray to an oblique injury over the weekend, and the schedule isn’t kind over the next two weeks. The Diamondbacks next 13 games are against the Dodgers, Astros, and Nationals, and it will be interesting to see how well the NL’s best team keeps up this pace against some stiff competition.
4) New York Mets (17-9) 1
In 12 starts Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have combined to pitch to a 2.43 ERA. In 14 starts the quadruplet of Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, and Jason Vargas have combined to pitch to a 5.93 ERA. It’s hard to believe a team with two of the best starters in baseball could have a rotation problem, but if the Mets don’t find answers in the back of their starting five, they’re at risk of spoiling a phenomenal beginning to 2018.
5) New York Yankees (18-9) 9
The biggest jump of the week comes from the Bronx Bombers, whose all world offense unsurprisingly wasn’t going to stay slumping forever. The Yankees won all seven games they played since we last spoke and have won nine in a row overall, and they’re getting things going at precisely the right time. New York’s next nine contests come against Houston, Cleveland, and Boston, whom along with themselves, are unanimously considered the top 4 clubs in the American League.
6) Chicago Cubs (15-10) 3
It took about a month, but it appears the Cubs have finally gotten on track. Chicago just completed an impressive four game sweep of Milwaukee, in which Cubs pitching limited the Brewers to just two runs, TOTAL. Javy Baez and Kyle Schwarber have paced an offense that hasn’t gotten much from the duo of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but we all know that will change sooner rather than later, and when it does, look out.
7) Cleveland Indians (14-12) 4
Similarly to the Cubs, the Indians have spent much of the first month waiting to hit their stride, but unlike their sparring partner from the 2016 World Series, they are still waiting. Cleveland has been stuck in neutral so far in 2018, and just when it looked like they were on the verge of breaking out, they dropped 3 of 4 to the Mariners at home over the weekend. This team has too much talent to be sputtering around .500, but the longer they are, the longer their AL Central rivals will feel like they have a chance to make a run.
8) St. Louis Cardinals (15-12) 2
St. Louis was just swept over the weekend by the Pirates, and had they not stolen a rubber game from the Mets earlier in the week they’d be in much rougher shape. The Cardinals simply need more from their majority of their line-up, as Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez are carrying the entire offense, while veteran bats Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, and Dexter Fowler all continue to sputter on the interstate.
9) Toronto Blue Jays (15-12) 1
Toronto has stayed within striking distance of the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East, but after dropping two one run games to Boston last week they undoubtedly are thinking about what could have been. Beginning tonight the Jays embark on an eight game road trip through Minnesota, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay, and they’ll need to pile some wins together to keep pace in a difficult division.
10) Milwaukee Brewers (16-13) 3
Milwaukee had won eight in a row before losing all four to their arch rivals in Chicago last weekend, a disappointing development for a team with divisional champion aspirations. Milwaukee pitched well against the Cubs, allowing only 9 runs in four games, but their offense was shut-out three times and only scored twice in the other game. This line-up is no doubt missing the injured Eric Thames, but they’ll try to put what happened in Chicago behind them in the week ahead, beginning with two games in Cincinnati starting tomorrow night.
11) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (16-12) 3
The Angels have dropped significantly two weeks in a row, and while their past week started out brilliantly as they took the first two games with Houston, they dropped the series finale and then were frustratingly swept aside by the red hot Yankees. LA will take today off before welcoming the struggling Orioles tomorrow night, a series this club just has to play well in.
12) Philadelphia Phillies (16-11) Same
Philadelphia lost two of three to both Arizona and Atlanta over the weekend, but this team has definitely stayed in the mix longer than most would have expected. Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola have been among the best starting pitching duos in the sport, and offensively Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera have both been magnificent. The Phillies visit the woeful Marlins beginning tonight which will give them an excellent chance to rebound following a disappointing home stand.
13) Seattle Mariners (16-11) 3
It was nice to see Seattle finally break out this past week, and it will equally interesting to see if it is the sign of things to come. The M’s just completed a difficult 10 game road trip in which they went 7-3, and after taking tonight off they’ll open a six game divisional home stand with Oakland and the Angels beginning tomorrow night.
14) Atlanta Braves (16-11) 3
Similarly to the Phillies, Atlanta will just not go away in the NL East, and there are arguably more reasons to be excited about this team than their rivals in Philadelphia. Superstar prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. finally made his long awaited big league debut this past week, and so far he’s lived up to the hype, hitting .421 with a homer in his first five games. Young second baseman Ozzie Albies is tied for the NL lead with nine home runs, and veteran left handed bats Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis are both hitting better than .302. After taking two of three in Philly over the weekend the Braves will look to make another division statement in New York beginning tomorrow.
15) Colorado Rockies (15-14) 4
The Rockies are a team that reminds me a lot of the Indians, although this club does not have nearly as much talent as Cleveland. Colorado has had opportunities to really take off but has been stuck around .500 for a month, which may lead you to believe they are just an average baseball team. The Rockies unforgivably just dropped two out of three in Miami, a series in which they scored only twice in three games and were lucky to take the opener 1-0. Beginning a six game road trip with the Cubs and Mets tonight it’s time for Colorado to sink or swim, as things could take a drastic turn for the worse before we speak again.
16) Los Angeles Dodgers (12-15) 1
What happened to LA this past week? After digging themselves out of a terrible early season hole to finally reach .500 last Sunday, the defending NL Champs looked poised to take off as they were set to welcome the Marlins and Giants into Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Dodgers lost 2/3 to Miami and 3/4 to San Francisco, and to make matters worse Cody Bellinger was benched for not hustling yesterday. Los Angeles will have to figure some things out quickly as they visit NL best Arizona beginning tonight, a series they’ll need to play well in as they’re already seven games behind the Diamondbacks.
17) Pittsburgh Pirates (17-11) 2
The 2018 Pirates are a weird team. After trading away their biggest stars this past winter to signify a rebuild, Pittsburgh got off to an unbelievably hot start, one that nobody could have seen coming. They then cooled down quickly, which most looked at as a form of market correction, as very few people outside of Steel City believed Pittsburgh was for real. This past week, however, the Pirates won a series with Detroit before sweeping their division rivals in St. Louis, and as they get set to visit the slumping Nationals tonight, we still have no idea who this club really is.
18) Oakland Athletics (14-14) 2
The A’s have maintained some of the momentum they gained following Sean Manaea’s no-no a little over a week ago, and they’ve played more competitive thus far than a lot of analysts felt they would. Following a series win over the Rangers, Oakland dropped 2/3 to the Astros over the weekend, and they’ll look to finally nose above .500 this week with the Mariners and Orioles on the docket.
19) Washington Nationals (12-16) 1
Don’t look now, but the Washington Nationals have some serious problems. This past week they dropped consecutive series to San Francisco and Arizona, but their issues span more than wins and losses. Daniel Murphy is still out, Anthony Rendon was finally placed on the DL after Washington had played a man short for a week and a half, and Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .191. Clearly trying to do much to help a scuffling line-up, Bryce Harper has seen his average plummet .253, diminishing some of his hot start. With division rivals New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia all playing well, the Nationals have put themselves in quite a hole after the first month.
20) San Francisco Giants (14-14) 1
San Francisco finally got back to .500 last week, needing a very impressive 5-2 stretch of play against the Nationals and Dodgers to do so. Offensively the Giants have continued to struggle but their pitching is keeping them in games, as their 3.94 staff ERA ranks in the upper half of baseball.
21) Minnesota Twins (9-14) 8
The Twins free-fall continued this past week, and while I was giving them the benefit of the doubt for a while, it’s time to face the reality that maybe they just aren’t that good. Minnesota was demolished by the Yankees during a four game sweep and then lost a weekend series with the lowly Reds last weekend, dropping them to a paltry five games under .500. The only consolation for this playoff team from a year ago is that the Indians haven’t pulled away in the AL Central, and if the Twins can get out of their own way they are still very much in a race.
22) Detroit Tigers (11-15) Same
Detroit is currently a second place team, but that has more to do with the poor play of most of their divisional rivals than anything else. The Tigers just went 2-4 against the Pirates and Orioles this past week, and to make matters worse both Daniel Norris and Miguel Cabrera had to leave yesterday’s game with injuries.
23) Tampa Bay Rays (12-14) 2
Tampa Bay has continued their climb towards .500 after a dreadful beginning to 2018, and series wins against both Baltimore and Boston certainly helped the cause. Wilson Ramos has spearheaded the clubs turnaround, as after a horrid beginning to his campaign the veteran catcher has gotten his average up to .292.
24) Texas Rangers (11-18) Same
The Rangers just completed a 3-3 week against Oakland and Toronto, significant progress for a team that had been seven games below .500. They figure to have much less success in this stretch of games, however, as Cleveland and Boston present a daunting week ahead.
25) San Diego Padres (10-19) 2
The Padres early season bullpen success has come crashing down to earth, a development that was front and center yesterday afternoon as the Mets completely embarrassed San Diego’s relief corps. Offensively the early season production of rookie third baseman Christian Villanueva has been beyond encouraging, but he’ll need to start getting some help from the Padres big off-season investment; first baseman Eric Hosmer.
26) Chicago White Sox (8-18) Same
The White Sox are not very good, and the most interesting part of their season to date came over the weekend, when young shortstop Tim Anderson got into it with Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez, igniting a benches clearing incident. Perez clearly took exception to Anderson celebrating like he’d just won the World Series after a home run in a lopsided game. But hey, when you’re 8-18 you need something to be excited about, am I right?
27) Baltimore Orioles (8-20) 1
Taking two of three over the weekend from the Tigers was the most positive stretch of play the Orioles have enjoyed in over a month, and perhaps they can continue to play a little better moving forward as Mark Trumbo is set to return from the DL soon.
28) Kansas City Royals (7-20) 1
The Royals continue to be pretty much a one man show, as aside from Mike Moustakas, the whole roster is under-performing. The Royals figure to be a prime seller in July, so they’ll need some veteran players to pick it up to become more attractive trade pieces.
29. Cincinnati Reds (7-21) 1
The Reds had stumbled to a pathetic 3-18 record over the first three weeks, but they actually turned in a winning record in week four. Cincinnati split a four game series with the Braves before actually winning a weekend series with the Twins, getting them out of the last spot on the power rankings.
30. Miami Marlins (9-18) 1
It took a month but the Marlins have finally found their way to the bottom of the list, a place they should stay for a long time.