MLB Power Rankings: Astros are the best team in baseball after the first quarter
After a disappointing 2016 season, these Astros are firing on all cylinders and sit at No. 1 with ease
Sometimes, like last week, there's a very tough decision at the top of the Official Power Rankings. Sometimes, it's the most no-brainer spot on the board.
For this week, the latter is the case with the Houston Astros.
We can't be sure how long this run continues, but we can be sure that there is no question who the best team in baseball is as of May 17, 2017.
The Astros have the best record in baseball. They have three more wins than the closest team. They've gone 12-3 with a plus-35 run differential in May, a stretch that included them taking three of four in Yankee Stadium from what has been one of the top three teams in baseball to this point.
The offense is a wrecking crew. There are two players legitimately good enough to win MVP in Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. Dallas Keuchel is back to Cy Young form and Lance McCullers has been outstanding in front of a very good bullpen.
The rotation will need help down the road. That much seems obvious, but I have a strong feeling general manager Jeff Luhnow learned his lesson after 2016. No more passivity in roster construction. It started in the offseason, when the Astros traded for Brian McCann while signing Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran and picking Nori Aoki off waivers. Charlie Morton thus far has been a nice signing for their rotation as well.
Expect the Astros to be just as aggressive in filling holes this July. Opportunities with a team like this don't come around too often for a franchise that has never won the World Series.
I can't help but continue to connect the Astros to the Cubs. They went through massive rebuilds at similar times. They both started to turn the corner a bit in 2014 before busting through with a playoff berth in 2015. The Astros then kinda sat on their hands the following offseason while Theo Epstein went for the Death Blow and it resulted in the Cubs' first World Series title since 1908. (By the way, the Astros right now are only one game worse than the 2016 Cubs were through 40 games).
Again, the Astros have never had one. Is their turn now? They have most of the pieces. We'll see if Luhnow can do something like add another ace type to Keuchel and in front of McCullers for a killer playoff rotation. Or maybe they don't need it. Time will tell.
For now, they look to make that Sports Illustrated cover come true: The 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros.
That has a nice ring to it for many long-time Houstonians, no?
Feel free to hit me up with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or @MattSnyderCBS on Twitter.
||There was an uncharacteristic blemish on Sunday, but when all is said and done, there might not be a more valuable reliever than Chris Devenski this season.||1||93-58|
||This isn't an insult on the Nationals -- I do have them ranked second, after all -- but what a joke of a supporting cast in the NL East. Scroll to the bottom for more. The Nats might have this thing clinched by the All-Star break. I kid, I kid (maybe).||2||92-59|
||It appears the Gary Sanchez bandwagon emptied as fast as it filled up so people could hop on the gigantic back of Aaron Judge, but Sanchez is hitting .400/.514/.633 with two homers and eight RBI in his past eight games.||2||85-67|
||A quantum leap in the matter of a few weeks here for the birds on the bat. They've won 18 of their last 25 games while having a few injuries, getting very good run prevention and MVP-level work from Jedd Gyorko.||5||79-72|
||Coors Field? Please. At 12-5 (.706), the Rockies have the best road record in the majors.||--||82-70|
||(In my stern father voice) That sweep in Kansas City was unacceptable. Go to your room for a timeout, Orioles. (Now I just realized I can't really drop them any further, so I have to go back upstairs with my tail between my legs and let them out early).||3||73-80|
||If not for two losses in the 10th inning, the Brewers would have won nine of their last 10. Still, seven out of their last nine ain't too shabby.||4||81-71|
||Fernando Rodney is 10 for 12 in save chances with an 8.59 ERA. In my best Cousin Eddie voice: "I don't know."||6||88-65|
||It looked like they were starting to come around, but then dropped series to the Brewers and Rays. Just a lot of inconsistency so far in Beantown.||2||88-64|
||The rotation is starting to come back together from the DL, but the issues hitting lefties linger. Ty Blach dominated them on Tuesday.||2||97-56|
||No one in baseball hits the ball as hard as Miguel Sano and now we have the Statcast to prove it.||2||78-74|
||Rotation inconsistency and health is becoming a major concern.||6||95-57|
||You could try to get all complicated and break down a bunch of the different players, but sometimes less is more: A good number of their talented players are not playing well. Perhaps the home runs on Tuesday from Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo get those three in particular going at the plate.||3||84-67|
||Here they come? That's wins in seven straight for the Rangers, who could be getting Adrian Beltre back soon. Of course, losing Carlos Gomez for four to six weeks will hurt, as he had just started to get hot.||9||75-76|
||They still haven't strayed further than three games above or below .500 all season. Fifteen seems like the perfect spot.||6||74-78|
||Yay: Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez are back! Boo: So is the leaky bullpen, which now has eight losses, nine blown saves and the worst bullpen ERA in baseball. I'm not even allowed to post the ERA here because it's too obscene.||--||62-90|
||The Jays had some momentum, with a five-game winning streak drawing them to within four games of .500 for the first time since they were 1-5, but now they've lost two straight to the Braves. Still, they are 15-12 since that nightmare 2-11 start.||9||71-81|
||Joey Votto has 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 38 games. That's a pace of 47 homers and 149 RBI. And I bet if he did that, there would still be a litany of excuses for a portion of that fan base -- the portion that seems to skew older -- to say he's not doing what he's paid to do. Of course, the Reds have lost four in a row and I'm sure it's all his fault.||6||66-86|
||The Magic Mountain ride continues as the Angels have now won four of five.||3||76-75|
||Signs of life! (Part 1)||7||74-77|
||Signs of life! (Part 2)||9||60-93|
||Robinson Cano hasn't been on the DL since 2006 so OF COURSE he would land on it this season for the Mariners. "Uncle" cried abound from the Pacific Northwest as the Mariners lost Tuesday for the fifth time in six games.||5||74-78|
||The A's lead the majors in errors and have a terribly inconsistent bullpen. That's a rough way to pile up victories.||4||69-83|
||Some good news: After a brutal first month, Dansby Swanson is starting to settle in. He's hit safely in eight straight games, hitting .345 with a .412 OBP in that span. Before these last two games, he only had one multiple-hit game all season, but he's now done it in back to back games and hit his third homer of the season on Tuesday.||5||67-83|
||Judging them based upon what they are right now instead of what they could be, this is an objectively terrible team. At least Michael Conforto is back on track after his sophomore slump.||10||65-87|
||Their only two wins in the last 10 games came against the Padres at home.||8||60-91|
||It appears last year wasn't an outlier. Andrew McCutchen seems to have hit his decline and it absolutely sucks to watch. The team has gone with him, too, as the Pirates have lost seven of nine.||7||69-84|
||Hey, the Hunter Renfroe walk-off on Monday was pretty fun, right?||--||68-84|
||Oh man, is this a rut. The Phillies have now gone 3-13 since an 11-9 start.||5||61-92|
||The Curse of the All-Star Game? A host team hasn't been above .500 at the time of hosting an All-Star Game since 2011 (Diamondbacks, who would win the NL West). The Marlins have now lost 16 of their last 20.||5||72-80|
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