MLB Power Rankings: Sorting through the extremely crowded list of potential National League contenders
The Rays, Astros, Yankees and Twins rank highly in the AL, but, boy, is that NL field of potential contenders crowded
The 2019 Major League Baseball season now has one month in the books. It's not an official month the way we break down splits and for records (such as most home runs allowed in a month, am I right, Orioles?), but it's been a calendar month since opening day, so we've seen a good chunk of the season.
It's still way early, as it's legally required of me to say, but we can start to see if things are playing out like we thought they might in some areas.
Heading into the season, the majority opinion was that there were a lot of teams in the AL without much hope of contending, but that the NL looked like it could be very deep and competitive. Let's dig in on the latter, because it really looks like it might be true.
The Dodgers and Cardinals are the two best teams in the league right now and absolutely look to have legitimate staying power. The 16-12 Phillies I think we can be confident are contenders for the long haul.
The Mets are in a bit of a rough patch right now, having lost nine of their last 14 games, but -- as long as Jacob deGrom isn't broken -- the personnel here tells me they'll be able to hang around in contention for a bit.
The 13-14 Braves have been really up and down and they could sure use some bullpen help, but it's hard to hate on a team with Ozzie Albies, Josh Donaldson, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna in the lineup. Check out the breakout season from Max Fried in the rotation, too.
The Nationals are two games under .500 and the bullpen has been pathetic, but it can't really be this awful all season, right? And even with all the issues so far, they are only three games out of first and have a positive run differential.
The Cubs are "only" 14-12 (which in baseball is an 87-win pace), but remember how bad their start was? They were 1-6 and alternated wins and losses to 3-8. Since then? Yep, that's 11-4. They haven't lost a series since they started 2-7 and their last three series wins came against good teams.
The Brewers have gone through a rough patch but are still above water and it's hard to expect them to go anywhere, though they could stand to pitch a lot better.
The Rockies are two games under .500, but they've won 10 of their last 13 games.
I just named every National League team except for the Marlins and Giants. Thirteen of the 15 teams can legitimately claim they have a team that will contend this season. All won't. I could see teams like the Pirates, Reds and/or Diamondbacks dropping. The Mets, Nationals and Braves have things that need fixing. The Brewers likely do, too. The Padres could hit some rocky terrain. Some of the top teams could get hit with a litany of important injuries.
Still, almost the entire National League is comprised of teams actually trying to win. That's fun. Good work, NL -- well, except that it makes it incredibly tough to rank teams this early and have it not look pretty scrambled after three or four days. But that's OK. We're all smart enough to notice timestamps, right?
|1||Rays||Tyler Glasnow sits with a 1.75 ERA and 0.94 WHIP through six starts. We can talk about the opener all we want, but with Glasnow pitching like this alongside Charlie Morton (2.76 ERA in six starts) and last year's Cy Young winner Blake Snell, the Rays have a top shelf top three in the rotation.||1||89-63|
|2||Dodgers||I know I mentioned Cody Bellinger last week, but he's not getting near the attention he should for this madness. He's now at .427/.500/.913 with 14 homers and 36 RBI in 30 games. Ridiculous.||1||98-54|
|3||Astros||Heading into Sunday, the Astros were first in the AL in batting average, first in on-base percentage and third in slugging but seventh in runs. As scary as it might be for some to consider, that likely normalizes and they start scoring a lot more runs.||--||99-53|
|4||Cardinals||That's seven wins in their last eight games, including a revenge sweep of the Brewers (Note: I called a Cardinals series win in this very space last week and I was not going to let anyone forget it).||2||84-67|
|5||Yankees||They've been running out a lineup that looks like a spring training split squad game and are still only 1 1/2 games back of the best record in baseball.||4||99-53|
|6||Twins||Pay attention here. Only one AL team has a better winning percentage. Now, they do have a decent number of wins against bad teams, but good teams should beat up on the weak. This week, the Twins could really turn some heads. They'll host the Astros for four games and then head to the Bronx for three against the Yankees.||2||93-58|
|7||Phillies||They went through a mini-funk, losing five of six, but have righted the ship now with wins in four of their last five. Through all this, somewhat interestingly, they've never been more than 1 1/2 games ahead or more than one game behind first place all season.||--||77-72|
|8||Cubs||The Cubs were already hitting their stride, but now it looks like Kris Bryant is starting to come around. Bad news for opposing pitchers.||3||82-69|
|9||Padres||Four games over .500 and they haven't gotten much at the plate from Manny Machado (and they will). Hopefully Fernando Tatis Jr. doesn't make a habit of doing the splits, though.||11||68-83|
|10||Diamondbacks||Few hitters are hotter than Eduardo Escobar is right now. He's scorching the ball. Also, my apologies for having your D-Backs too low last week, Arizona fans. It happens on occasion and I hate it, but it does happen.||12||77-75|
|11||Indians||We've gotta give him until around the end of May, but -- if this continues -- at that point you start to worry about a lost season with Jose Ramirez. He's at .188/.284/.287 right now.||4||88-63|
|12||Brewers||Ryan Braun is hitting .196/.245/.391 while Jesus Aguilar is hitting .123/.217/.151. Yikes.||7||82-69|
|13||Blue Jays||The Jays have won 10 of their last 13 games, Vlad Jr. is up -- and it's only a matter of time before he gets really hot -- and Marcus Stroman has his swagger back. Things are looking up.||8||60-91|
|14||Athletics||Last three series: Got swept, swept the Rangers, got swept. Earlier this season they lost four in a row before winning four straight. Mix in some consistency, A's. With it being so early, you're really making it tough on power rankers.||9||91-61|
|15||Rangers||Pretty boom or bust, huh? That's pretty fun to watch, assuming it's not your favorite team, then it's really frustrating on the "bust" days.||1||74-78|
|16||Mariners||Still living off the credit from a 13-2 start, but this team is playing to the level it should at this point. It was fun while it lasted, though.||12||63-88|
|17||Rockies||A big part of the turnaround has been Charlie Blackmon sorting himself out. He has an 11-game hitting streak now, during which he's hit .380/.418/.720 with four doubles, two triples and three homers.||2||66-86|
|18||Mets||It's still April and Steven Matz has a 3.68 ERA despite having one start where he allowed six earned runs without getting an out. That's pretty tough to do.||2||78-73|
|19||Braves||The Braves have actually lost eight of their last 12. The only good stretch of the season came when they won seven of eight after losing their first three. There's certainly reasonable concern here that this is simply a mediocre team that had one hot streak.||9||93-59|
|20||Nationals||Carter Kieboom seems fun. He's already got two homers in three games and one of them was clutch.||3||83-67|
|21||Pirates||I sang their praises last week and then they go out and lose every single day this past week. Thanks, guys!||9||65-86|
|22||Reds||So many offensive players are in a deep slumber right now. They temporarily woke up last Friday, but still. They should be so much better on offense. Perhaps it's coming. As for the drop here, it's a crowded field. I have 22 (OK, MAYBE 23) teams right now I don't consider bad.||4||71-81|
|23||Red Sox||I wondered if sweeping the Rays last weekend helped get the champs their mojo back. They went out and split with the Tigers and lost two to the Rays. Nope. Something's wrong.||10||79-71|
|24||Angels||They are 12-17 and had a six-game winning streak earlier this season. It's pretty tough to think of them as more than just a bad team.||--||68-83|
|25||Giants||What's funny is a decent number of these guys are way older than they seem. Jeff Samardzija is 34. Brandon Craword and Buster Posey are 32. Brandon Belt is 31. Just to name a few. This group as a whole just went totally south in a hurry. But hey, three rings.||--||73-78|
|26||White Sox||They can be fun to watch, but are maddeningly inconsistent. Part of the reason? Five pitchers had made at least three starts and here are the ERAs: 4.94, 5.30, 6.03, 8.42 and 9.45. Yuck.||1||65-86|
|27||Tigers||Matthew Boyd is pretty interesting. He's made continual improvements at the big-league level and this season has a 3.13 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings across six starts. He's 28 and under team control through 2022. I actually wonder what they could get in a trade this summer? Yeah, probably a longshot. Just thinking out loud.||1||45-105|
|28||Royals||How about 35-year-old Alex Gordon flashing a slash above the .300/.400/.500 threshold? Pretty good.||--||56-96|
|29||Orioles||Starting with the game he finally broke his drought, Chris Davis has gone 10 for 31 (.323). He just needed that monkey off his back.||--||49-102|
|30||Marlins||If you ever happen to stumble on a Marlins game when Caleb Smith is pitching, watch him work. He's a beast.||--||53-98|
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