MLB Power Rankings: The NL West is the best division in MLB right now
Three of the top five teams this week are from the NL West, but who is number one?
As I glanced around the league in search of a knockout topic for this week's Official Power Rankings (in my boxers from my mother's basement, which goes without saying), I couldn't help but be swayed toward the National League West.
Truth be told, I often sway West. I think part of it is natural, internal pushback against this "East Coast Bias" nonsense that is constantly hurled in my direction when I know that I'm from Indiana, in the Cincinnati chapter of the BBWAA, grew up watching predominantly the NL Central and still watch more NL Central than any other division.
The other part of wanting to talk about the NL West this week, however, is that the division is really strong right now. In fact, it checks in with three of the top five teams this week.
The Colorado Rockies have the best record in the NL, sitting at 30-17. They aren't crushing teams at home, but instead have a much better record on the road at 17-7. Ian Desmond missed a lot of time to open the season, Carlos Gonzalez got off to a really slow start and Jon Gray has only made three starts. So it's not like you could say everything has gone their way in terms of injury and performance. It has gone their way for the most part on the scoreboard, though.
Nolan Arenado is, well, you should know. Charlie Blackmon is awesome again. Mark Reynolds is having an outstanding season, too, but it's mostly about the pitching. Antonio Senzatela , German Marquez and Kyle Freeland have bolstered the rotation while Greg Holland has been among the best closers in baseball. When the Rockies sit middle of the pack in ERA in the NL, that's a huge indicator they can contend. It can be better, too, once Gray returns and if Jeff Hoffman builds off his Monday gem.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are right on their heels, too. The offense has been pretty steady all season and that's not really a surprise. What was a disaster last season was run prevention. The rotation ERA has been near the top five in baseball through most of the season behind a Zack Greinke that looks like his old self. Taijuan Walker (when healthy), Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin have been inconsistent but also effective on many occasions. How about Zack Godley ? Thrown into the rotation thanks to injuries, he's sporting a 2.45 ERA through four starts.
The D-Backs relievers, though, are the shock, sitting with a top-10 bullpen ERA in the majors. Guys like Archie Bradley , Andrew Chafin , J.J. Hoover and Jorge De La Rosa have pretty quietly been excellent this season.
The four-time defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers aren't going anywhere either, with their rotation starting to get healthy and having won five of their last six games.
Even the San Francisco Giants have won eight of their last 11 and are showing strong signs of life.
And, hey, the San Diego Padres ... play in San Diego! I'll take it.
What a good and fun division right now. Keep rolling, NL West.
As always, feel free to hit me up with any comments: firstname.lastname@example.org or @MattSnyderCBS.
||One thing to keep in mind is that there's not always an equal amount of difference between each spot, especially week to week. What I mean is that two versions ago when the Yankees were one and the Astros were two, the difference was razor-thin. Last week, however, the Astros were so much better than everyone else they were nearly lapping the field. That's why they are still here after being swept this past weekend. All that did was bring them back a bit closer to everyone else while staying on top.||--||34-16|
||There just isn't that much to go on if one wants to say this team has been lucky or playing way over its head so far. Sure, they could go away, but almost everything points to this team being legit.||3||32-19|
||Masahiro Tanaka in May: 10.50 ERA, 10 HR allowed in 18 innings pitched. He's allowed 14 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last two starts combined. If he isn't fixed soon, look for the Yankees to start tumbling here. The only reason they hung here this week is that several other top teams from last week's rankings had bad weeks.||--||28-18|
||When you're going well, you get things like "Chris Hermann has homered in three straight games."||4||31-20|
||Of course, I mention the rotation getting healthy in the intro but then there was that ugly collision between Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson on Tuesday night in extras.||5||30-20|
||The Nationals are in an incredibly easy stretch of schedule, with the Mariners and the Padres coming the rest of this week. Of course, they lost series to the Pirates and Braves last week.||4||30-18|
||Really an incomplete feeling after what seemed like a big test for this team as the first-place Brewers against the defending champs. There was the sloppy, mid-game rain delayed, win on Friday, the cancellation on Saturday and then the Cubs' start-to-finish blowout on Sunday. It's hard to know what to make of all that, but the Brewers have won 10 of their last 14.||--||26-23|
||He's got company (such as Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel), but Ervin Santana could well end up being the All-Star Game starter. Wouldn't that be something.||3||26-19|
||The Red Sox are 6-3 when Chris Sale starts, but he's conserving the bullpen (7 1/3 innings per start on average) and taking pressure off the defense with eight consecutive double-digit strikeout games. He's been worth more to them than any stat could indicate, especially with the banged up rotation -- notably the David Price injury -- this season.||--||27-21|
||Sweeping the Astros was nice and keep an eye on Edwin Encarnacion. He's starting to heat up.||2||24-23|
||So I promote you to the top five and you proceed to lose five of six? Tsk, tsk, tsk.||7||24-22|
||They have an extended stretch (I'm talking like 30 games) of excellent baseball in them. Maybe it's already started, as they've now won five of their last seven.||1||25-23|
||Ten-game winning streaks in May can completely turn around a season and it appears that is what has happened here. Now they need to sustain the success. The schedule in the next few weeks through the middle of June isn't easy.||1||24-26|
||The bullpen has blown nine leads of at least three runs, which leads the majors. Overall, the Orioles have lost nine of their last 12.||8||25-22|
||If you can't appreciate Mike Trout's transcendent play without finding a way to detract, maybe you just aren't really a baseball fan?||4||26-26|
||Continuing to hover around .500, the Rays are just 4-9 in one-run games this season and most of the time -- "most," not "all" -- that evens itself out over the course of 162.||1||26-26|
||If only scratching the surface, Jordan Zimmermann only giving up two earned runs in six innings against the Astros would be encouraging. Of course, he gave up four runs in all (two unearned) and two home runs. He's given up four runs or more in six innings or fewer in seven of his nine starts this year with 13 home runs allowed in 50 2/3 innings. There's three years and $74 million left on Zimmermann's deal after this year.||1||23-26|
||The Freddie Freeman injury felt like a season-ruiner. They did the best they could with that Matt Adams trade and he just came through with the walk-off winner on Tuesday night -- meaning the Braves have won nine of their last 12.||6||21-26|
||Despite two terrible outings mixed in, Marcus Stroman is off to a very nice bounce-back season (3.00 ERA through nine starts).||2||23-26|
||Johnny Cueto has now given up 11 homers in 64 innings. Last year he allowed 15 in 219 2/3 innings. Especially with Madison Bumgarner out, the Giants can't fully climb back into contention without last year's version of Cueto.||1||21-30|
||Amir Garrett has very good stuff and pitched to a 1.83 ERA through three starts, but he's really taken it on the chin three times this year, including his last two starts, where he allowed 13 runs in nine innings. He coughed up six homers in those last two starts, too. Just keep in mind he's a rookie in a rebuilding year. Lumps happen.||3||23-25|
||It's not really *that* small a sample any more and Avisail Garcia still hasn't really hit a wall, slashing .311/.354/.541 in May and .342/.384/.584 overall.||4||22-26|
||That's wins in three of their last four with two more against the Padres coming and a Yoenis Cespedes return coming soon. Of course, every time this season things have started to look good, disaster has quickly followed.||2||20-27|
||After that dreadful start and through all the pitching injuries, the Mariners desperately climbed their way to .500 on May 10 at 17-17. They've gone 3-9 since. At some point it's just not your year.||2||21-29|
||Regulars know I love me some Rob Deer/Dave Kingman All-Stars. Heading into Wednesday, Khris Davis is hitting .219 with 13 homers and 54 strikeouts in 159 at-bats. Yes sir!||2||22-26|
||They headed to Atlanta having won six of their last eight -- even taking a series from the Nationals -- and have now lost back to back games, including an utter gut-punch of a loss after a ridiculously long rain delay on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, actually). So the nightmare of a season continues.||1||23-27|
||Is "Alcides Escobar, leadoff man" really the way Ned Yost wants to go again? The 2015 Yostda (as in "Yoda") magic is gone. Just put Lorenzo Cain there.||7||21-27|
||Things are so bad we're complaining about opposing players swinging on 3-0. And yet, they still moved up two spots because there are two greater debacles.||2||17-30|
||The Phillies are sitting here like, "dude, we're doing everything we can to be ranked 30th," but the Padres just can't be stopped for this week.||--||17-30|
||I'm surprised they haven't been here more often so far, but you can bet they'll be making themselves cozy here for much of the remainder of the season.||2||18-33|