Power Rankings: Can one club pull away from the NL West pack?

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As the season creeps toward the midway point, we’re starting to see some preseason assumptions begin to crumble. With their rotation wracked by injuries while they play .500 ball in June, the Astros are no longer a unanimous No. 1 choice among our voters despite their double-digit lead in the American League West. And months of muddling around .500 have finally chased the Cubs down to the No. 10 slot, and into the mushy middle instead of among the game’s elite.

Within the logjam of teams still trying to determine whether they’re pretenders or contenders, we saw some major moves up in the rankings. The Rangers made the biggest single gain, moving up six slots as they got back to .500. The Royals’ slow climb back to respectability saw them crack the top 20 with a five-rung jump to No. 19.

Several teams took big drops, however. The Reds’ nine-game losing streak in June has dropped them down among the eight National League clubs you’ll find in the last nine spots. The Mariners lost more than games this week while seeing their pitching staff allow 50 runs in five days — they lost face, dropping seven places. And the Orioles have wasted their hot start with a 12-24 stumble that cost them in the rankings this week with a five-slot drop.

Perhaps the biggest question for the weeks to come is whether all three of the National League West’s contenders can remain in the top six, especially with some key head-to-head intradivision matchups coming up. Will the winners of those series move into the top three slots?

This week’s voters are Bradford Doolittle, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, David Schoenfield and Mark Simon.

Week 10 rankings | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

Record: 46-24
Week 10 ranking: No. 1

Take two pitchers as good as Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers out of any team’s rotation, and you’d probably take their 7-8 record and their rotation ERA (3.92, sixth in MLB) since Keuchel’s last win as a good thing. While their two aces are on the mend, the Astros can also thank hot hitting from Jose Altuve and George Springer plus Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel for helping keep them well out in front. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 38-29
Week 10 ranking: No. 3

The Yankees hit a bump in the road in Oakland, losing four straight there. Overall since 2012, the Yankees are just 9-16 in Oakland. Aaron Judge hit his 23rd home run, though, surpassing the total of any Yankees player last season. The most homers on the 2016 Yankees belonged to Carlos Beltran, who hit 22 in pinstripes before being traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline. — Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 42-27
Week 10 ranking: No. 2

Gio Gonzalez has excelled much of the season with smoke and mirrors, but he was as good as he’s been all season last Thursday against the Mets. Gonzalez had a season-high first-pitch strike rate and was unpredictable in his pitch usage all night. Poor Mets rookie Gavin Cecchini fell over himself three times in one at-bat trying to time Gonzalez right. Gonzalez is about halfway to having his 2018 $12 million option vest (which it does at 180 innings). He might prefer a shot at free agency given his 2.89 ERA. — Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 44-26
Week 10 ranking: No. 5

On Saturday, Cody Bellinger tied Gary Sanchez‘s MLB record (set just last season) for most home runs in his first 50 major league games when he crushed his 19th of the season. Among his blasts, nine have come in the eighth inning or later, five were in games with the score tied or the Dodgers trailing by one run, 14 were hit off right-handed pitchers. And he did that in his 49th game, but missed out on setting the new record Sunday. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 46-26
Week 10 ranking: No. 4

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the NL’s best team is that the Rockies are firing on all cylinders. They’ve gone 13-4 in June while the pitching staff ERA (3.74) ranked third in the majors, the offense led the NL in runs scored per game (6.3) this month and their fielders lead in defensive runs saved as well. With nine of their next 12 games coming against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, the Rockies have an opportunity to not just build up a lead in the NL West race and add to their NL-best record, but maybe also start making a big move in the rankings. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 44-26
Week 10 ranking: No. 6

Remember when using Fernando Rodney as their closer was the problem? Since his disastrous April, Rodney is 14-for-15 in save opportunities and hasn’t allowed an earned run while giving up just nine baserunners in 16⅔ IP while striking out 18. More good news? A.J. Pollock began his rehab stint over the weekend. His injury was initially seen as the D-backs’ doom, but the Snakes have gone 23-8 during his monthlong absence. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 39-30
Week 10 ranking: No. 7

What’s happened to Rick Porcello? Getting clobbered by the Astros and Yankees is troubling enough, but the Phillies too? Last year’s AL Cy Young winner is seeing his fastball get raked in June for a .400 average as hitters have slugged .706 against it as he’s allowed 21 runs and six homers in 24⅓ IP. His strikeout rate with heat is a third of what it was in April and May, and his overall swing-and-miss rate has been cut in half. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 36-31
Week 9 ranking: No. 10

The Indians seem to have finally gotten it together. They swept a four-game series in Minnesota to take the division lead from the Twins. After a dreadful start, Edwin Encarnacion is red-hot and Jose Ramirez is having a great under-the-radar season. After a four-game series in Baltimore, the Indians play the Twins again in Cleveland next weekend. Will they take complete control of the Central race at that point? — Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 38-33
Week 10 ranking: No. 9

The Brew Crew continues to mash, and this time it’s Keon Broxton who’s the ringleader. Five of his past eight hits are home runs, all in the past week. Eric Thames has also had a power resurgence, homering in four straight games this week, including a walk-off in extras. The pitching hasn’t been great recently, so they need their big boppers to keep it up. — John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 34-34
Week 10 ranking: 8

The Cubs haven’t strung consecutive wins together since June 5-6, largely due to the inconsistent nature of their starting rotation. They’re just 20-19 this season in games started by Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, all of whom received Cy Young votes in 2016. Desperate times call for desperate measures like batting Anthony Rizzo leadoff, fueling a 37-run outburst and 3-2 record in five games. — Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 37-35
Week 10 ranking: No. 12

Mallex Smith has fared well filling in for Kevin Kiermaier, with 16 hits, 10 runs scored and five stolen bases in his first 10 games. But how long will this last? ZiPS projects him to hit in the .240s, with an on-base percentage just above .300 the rest of the season. If Smith can provide the defense he did last season (plus-7 defensive runs saved in 72 games), that would be a nice boost, but he’s off to a rougher start (minus-4 runs saved) than anticipated. — Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 34-34
Week 10 ranking: No. 18

Now that Mike Napoli is back from the DL and Joey Gallo‘s brand of Three True Outcomes mayhem — he’s homered, walked or whiffed in 56 percent of his plate appearances in 2017 — should stick around a while longer, does that mean the Rangers can make Shin-Soo Choo a full-time outfielder again? His career OPS as a Ranger while playing the field is 100 points better than when he DHs. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 34-33
Week 10 ranking: No. 14

Getting swept in their four-game series with the Indians pushed the Twins back down into second place. Is that the end of their surprise run, or will they claw back? We’ll see, but in the meantime sit back and enjoy Jose Berrios. He has a 2.74 ERA in seven starts this season, with a 0.96 WHIP. Since his first start of the season May 13, only three AL starters have been better by ERA: CC Sabathia (0.99), Luis Severino (2.59) and Mike Pelfrey (2.70). Berrios’ WHIP is better than any other qualified AL starter in that span. — Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 32-36
Week 10 ranking: No. 16

The Tigers haven’t been over .500 since May 20, when they were 21-20, going 0-3 in games where they could have cracked .500 since then. The Indians seem to have taken control of the Central race while Detroit has a lot of aging, expensive veterans on the books, setting up a potentially painful rebuild. With outfielders J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton swinging hot bats in June, are they likely to be dealt in July? — Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 33-35
Week 10 ranking: No. 15

Marcus Stroman has a 2.55 ERA since May 8, the second best in the American League in that span to CC Sabathia (1.91). The rest of Toronto’s starters have combined for a 5.33 ERA in that span. The team is 7-1 in Stroman’s starts in that span but 15-14 in games started by all others. This team had a 3.64 starters ERA in 2016, the best of any AL team. This season, that mark has ballooned to 4.48. — Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 34-34
Week 10 ranking: No. 11

Kevin Gausman has a 6.60 ERA, second-worst among 83 qualified starters and the worst of any AL starter. Toss in Ubaldo Jimenez with a 6.25 ERA, and it’s easy to see how the Orioles have allowed 358 runs, the second most in the American League behind the Athletics. Scoring 4.6 runs per game isn’t enough when the starter is liable to give up four or more before he exits. — Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 36-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 19

Somehow, the Angels are staying afloat despite being without the best player in the world. They’re oddly averaging nearly a full run per game more since Mike Trout last played on May 28 as Cameron Maybin, Andrelton Simmons and Trout substitute Eric Young have gotten hot. Albert Pujols also continues to make headlines, passing Mel Ott for 10th on the all-time RBI list on Saturday. — Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 31-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 20

Carlos Martinez continues to pitch brilliantly this season, and Lance Lynn has been great this month, at least until his four-homer shellacking on Sunday. The Cardinals have needed those performances since the rest of the rotation has had a tough stretch recently. Matt Carpenter is in the middle of his best two-week stretch of the season, but as he heats up, Jedd Gyorko has cooled off. It’s no surprise then how streaky the Cards have been. Will three games against the Phillies give them some momentum before a tough stretch against the Pirates, Diamondbacks and Nationals? — John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 33-35
Week 10 ranking: No. 24

Entering June, the Royals were 22-30 and in last place in the Central, but since June 1 K.C. has the best record in the AL and ranks top five in the league in runs per game, average and OPS, with Lorenzo Cain‘s eight June home runs (tied for the MLB lead) leading the way. On top of that, the Royals’ starters are hot this month, led by Jason Vargas and Jason Hammel. They’re creeping back into the division and wild-card races, but they need to keep banking wins to make up for their horrendous start. — Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 34-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 13

Giving up 50 runs in a five-game stretch while going 1-4 wiped out last week’s bid to return to .500, but you can’t just blame the Mariners’ injury-wracked starting staff for that wipeout, as two of those blowout losses were started by rotation regulars James Paxton and Yovani Gallardo. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma may both return in the next week, not a moment too soon. The M’s have been scoring 5.9 runs per game in June, but with a rotation ERA of 6.19 in that same time, not even that is enough. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 31-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 25

It’s been largely assumed that the White Sox will be sellers at the trade deadline, but they enter Monday with a positive run differential, having won five of their past seven. Matt Davidson is a big reason why, pounding five home runs during the stretch. One oddity: First baseman Jose Abreu is having a strong season and has 11 home runs so far — but all have been hit on the road. — Paul Hembekides, ESPN.com


Record: 31-38
Week 10 ranking: No. 23

The Pirates have hung around in the NL Central as the offense has turned a corner, led by Andrew McCutchen. He’s been one of the best hitters in baseball the past 25 days, and his power has returned in a big way. On top of that, the Buccos have gotten great starting pitching in the past week, even from Gerrit Cole, who rebounded after a couple of stinkers. But they have a big road trip this week in Milwaukee and St. Louis to show if they can truly come back. — John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 30-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 22

We declared Ichiro Suzuki all but done a few weeks ago, but he’s on a hot streak, going 10-for-24 in his past 16 games. That run includes four straight pinch hits. With 3,049 hits, Suzuki is within striking distance of Rod Carew (24th at 3,053) and Rickey Henderson (23rd at 3,055) on the all-time list. He remains stuck on 508 stolen bases, having attempted only one all season. — Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 31-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 21

Next year is officially now for the Mets, whose hopes of getting back into the playoff race were muted by the unsurprising struggles of a depleted roster matching up with the Nationals. Top priorities moving forward include praying that their two best healthy trade chips — Jay Bruce and Addison Reed — stay healthy for the next six weeks. One or both could bring back the second baseman or third baseman of the future. — Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 29-39
Week 9 ranking: No. 17

The Reds’ nine-game losing streak sank them to the bottom of the NL Central. The streak coincides with Joey Votto’s continued resurgence, as he’s reached base safely in every game since May 30. Votto is on pace to set career highs in homers, RBI and slugging percentage, but that can’t overcome the offensive onslaught allowed by a pitching staff allowing 6.8 runs per game during the streak. — Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 31-38
Week 10 ranking: No. 28

First it was Khris Davis, then it was Yonder Alonso, but now it has been Ryon Healy‘s turn to go nuts at the plate, putting up three multihomer games in June (and eight overall). The A’s also made an important move to upgrade their defense by calling up top third-base prospect Matt Chapman. With 80 homers hit in 317 minor league games, Chapman might also join the A’s collection of power threats. — Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com


Record: 31-37
Week 10 ranking: No. 26

What are the Braves going to do with Matt Adams when Freddie Freeman comes back in two months? Adams has far exceeded expectations in his brief Braves tenure. He already has three four-RBI games, one fewer than he had in his entire Cardinals career. The Braves’ outfield is crowded and Adams isn’t the best fit there given his lack of defensive skills. If only he could pitch. — Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 26-45
Week 10 ranking: No. 27

The Giants scored 33 runs from Sunday through Friday but went just 1-4 in those five games. Since the second half of the 2016 season, the Giants are just 56-87 (.392). The only team worse in that span is the Phillies. But Buster Posey has grabbed the MLB lead in batting average at .352, although he has just 25 RBIs and is on pace for 57 this season. The fewest RBI in a season (since RBI became official in 1920) for a .330 hitter who qualified for the BA title is 17, by Luis Castillo in 2000 (.334 BA). Fewest for a .340 hitter: 27 by Matty Alou in 1966 (.342 BA). Fewest by a .350 hitter: 27 by Lloyd Waner in 1927 (.355 BA). — Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 28-42
Week 10 ranking: No. 30

A four-win week helped get the Padres back out of the basement, but the Padres don’t have a single regular with a batting average above .275 and Wil Myers is the only hitter with an OPS over .800. But June’s improvements are relying on a few surprisingly hot hitters, as Yangervis Solarte, Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero all have OPS marks north of .900 this month. — Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information


Record: 22-46
Week 10 ranking: No. 29

The Phillies are in a tailspin, losing 11 of their past 12 games and getting outscored by almost three runs per game in that span. Their starting pitching has actually been improved recently, but the bullpen has been a mess. And offensively they’re in the bottom five teams of the league in almost everything you can think of. Several players who looked to be building blocks aren’t playing like it, and there’s nobody in the minors about to force their way into the lineup. — John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information



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