The Boston Red Sox were good last year. They just didn’t have a lot of power, so when the postseason came around, they foundered. Remember the offseason? When the Red Sox and free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez seemed like such an ideal fit?
That seems to have totally worked out.
Martinez blasted his MLB-leading 20th homer Tuesday night as the Red Sox won again, their MLB-best 42nd victory. That offense that wasn’t so powerful last year? Boy, does it look fixed. The only team that’s hit more homers than the Sox this season is the New York Yankees (which, OK, fine). In fact, the Red Sox are already more than halfway to their team home-run total from last year.
This all seems like a good way to usher in this week’s MLB Power Rankings, where the Red Sox sit at No. 1 for another week. Martinez, those homers and that offense remain a big reason why. Elsewhere, the Dodgers seem to be waking up, the Rockies and Mets are reeling and we’re interested in what’s happening in the Bay Area.
1. Boston Red Sox (42-19; last week: 1)
The Red Sox remain No. 1 despite some not-great news the past week. Mookie Betts went on the DL. Dustin Pedroia, who had just rejoined the team, did too. Still, the Sox were able to split a series with the Astros and beat up on the Blue Jays. Their offense is still the best in baseball — and it’s continuing with Betts on the DL.
2. New York Yankees (39-18; last week: 3)
The Yankees have won six out of their last seven, which proves that while some issues have arisen — Jordan Montgomery needing Tommy John surgery, for instance — the Yankees’ offense is still potent enough to keep winning.
3. Houston Astros (37-25; last week: 2)
The Astros have dipped down into second place in the AL West, but we’re realists here: We’re not worried about Houston. They just played four against the Red Sox, the top-ranked team, and had series before that with the Yankees and Indians, which is basically the AL playoff bracket. So they’re 4-6 in their last 10 games? We can live with that and still rank them this high.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (37-24; last week: 4)
The Brewers surprisingly have the best record in the National League. How? The revamped top of the order is hitting, the bullpen has been awesome and Jesus Aguilar’s breakout might be for real.
5. Seattle Mariners (38-22; last week: 6)
The Mariners have gone 14-5 since Robinson Cano’s suspension. We can’t prove whether the team is extra motivated by that, but we can say that Nelson Cruz coming around at the plate in the past week has probably helped quite a bit.
6. Atlanta Braves (36-25; last week: 5)
If you don’t think the Braves are for real yet, consider this: The current NL East leaders took three of four from the Nationals this past week. Yes, those same Nats that were *supposed* to run away with the division.
7. Chicago Cubs (33-24; last week: 8)
Chicago has been on point lately, thanks in part to a four-game sweep of the Mets. They’re still chasing the Brewers in the NL Central, but the Cubs are starting to even out. They rank second in both team ERA and batting average.
8. Washington Nationals (34-25; last week: 7)
Before they ran into the Braves (see above), the Nats had mowed through the Orioles and Marlins for seven straight wins. They’re good — because how can a team with 2018 Max Scherzer not be? — but their offense (18th in runs scored, 17th in OBP) isn’t nearly as dangerous lately as it could be.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (32-26; last week: 12)
It’s safe to say the Cardinals are back to being the Cardinals again. A bunch of their players are performing better than expected, including Harrison Bader and Miles Mikolas. The rotation has been one of the best in baseball and that includes ace Carlos Martinez missing his last few starts.
10. Los Angeles Angels (34-28; last week: 10)
Mike Trout somehow continues to get better. His .316/.450/.679 slash line has put him on a historic pace this season. It’s getting to the point where we’re running out of things to say about him. He’s the best player in baseball. No one else comes close.
11. Philadelphia Phillies (32-26; last week: 13)
We’re about to find out if the Phillies are for real. Their next 24 games are against the Cubs, Brewers, Rockies, Cardinals, Nationals and Yankees. All six of those teams are currently over .500.
12. Cleveland Indians (31-28; last week: 9)
He might not be as good as Mike Trout, but Jose Ramirez looks like the most underrated player in baseball. Did you realize he’s hitting .299/.397/.624 this season and that he’s tied for the second-best fWAR in baseball? He’s not just a good player, he’s a top-5 hitter right now.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (32-28; last week: 14)
After a strong April, the D-backs went 8-19 in May. One reason for that: Paul Goldschmidt hit just .144 during the month. He’s been uncharacteristically bad to start the year, and it’s not just bad luck. He’s striking out in a career-high 30 percent of his plate appearances.
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (30-30; last week: 17)
The Dodgers’ turnaround is keeping steady. They made some headway in the division by sweeping the Rockies over the weekend and split a series against a tough Rockies team. The Dodgers are 14-4 since May 17 and first place in the NL West is within reach.
15. Oakland A’s (31-30; last week: 15)
16. San Francisco Giants (30-31; last week: 19)
Interesting times in the Bay Area, as both the A’s and Giants are hanging around, trying to contend. Neither is in a place of power at the moment, but the fact that both teams are lingering around .500 and within striking distance of first place remains impressive. The Giants just got Madison Bumgarner back from the DL, so their long-term prospects stand to improve in the coming weeks.
17. Colorado Rockies (31-29; last week: 11)
The record is decent, but some of the Rockies’ other numbers point to a team with troubles: Their ERA is in the bottom third of the league and their offense — which is supposed to be their strength – is stuck in the middle. When it comes to getting on base, they’re in the bottom third of the league again. It explains why they’ve dropped from 11th to 17th.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (30-30; last week: 18)
19. Tampa Bay Rays (28-31; last week: 20)
20. New York Mets (27-31; last week: 16)
21. Toronto Blue Jays (26-34; last week: 21)
22. Minnesota Twins (26-31; last week: 22)
The question with the Pirates, Rays, Mets, Jays and Twins is whether this is just who they’re going to be. Each of them had higher hopes and some analysts — whether real or computer projections (we’re looking at you, Rays) — thought that might have a chance to do it. Now they’re just … existing. They’re not in the tank but they’re stuck in a rough type of no man’s land.
23. Detroit Tigers (29-33; last week: 23)
24. San Diego Padres (28-35; last week: 24)
25. Texas Rangers (26-37; last week: 25)
26. Cincinnati Reds (21-40; last week: 27)
27. Kansas City Royals (21-40; last week: 28)
28. Miami Marlins (21-39; last week: 26)
29. Chicago White Sox (19-39; last week: 30)
30. Baltimore Orioles (18-41; last week: 29)
Started at the top and now we’re here! No, wait, that’s not how the song goes. Oh well, here are your Bottom Seven this week. It’s mostly the same as last week except: The Orioles are now No. 30, taking that “honor” away from the White Sox. The Marlins dropped a couple spots after a rough week and the Tigers have turned our cellar-dwelling Bottom Six into a Bottom Seven.
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