We’re two months into what’s been a very entertaining 2018 season.
Some things we thought we knew this spring have proven true, like the fact that the Yankees and Red Sox are really good. Other things, though, have been relatively surprising, like the Mariners and Brewers holding division leads and Matt Kemp hitting like it’s 2011.
That’s enough of an intro to this edition of the MLB Power Rankings, right? Let’s get into the good stuff …
1. Boston Red Sox
May 15 ranking: 2
Why they’re here: The Yankees get all the attention — have you heard they’re 30-9 since starting the season .500 through their first 18 games? — but the Red Sox have been consistently excellent the entire season. Boston has 25 wins in that same stretch, and Alex Cora’s team has three more wins than any other team this season (though not every team has played an equal number, of course). Even with MVP candidate Mookie Betts on the DL, Boston has won six of nine games. J.D. Martinez has been everything the Sox could have hoped for in the middle of the lineup: .318 average, .659 slugging percentage, 169 OPS+, 20 homers, 52 RBIs. Those last two numbers lead MLB.
2. New York Yankees
May 15 ranking: 1
Why they’re here: Gleyber Torres is fun to watch, isn’t he? The rookie hasn’t skipped a beat in the majors; he’s popped 10 homers in the 37 games since he was called up to the bigs. His 1.5 rWAR is third on the team among position players, ahead of Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez. You know who else has been really good lately? Brett Gardner. In his past 19 games, since his average dropped to .198, Gardner is batting .354 with a 1.028 OPS and 14 runs scored. And you know who has been really good all damn season? Luis Severino. He’s made 13 starts this season, and he’s allowed more than three runs only once, while holding opposing teams to zero or one earned runs seven times.
3. Houston Astros
May 15 ranking: 3
Why they’re here: Yes, they’ve slowed down a bit lately, with just three wins in their past 10 games. And, yes, they’ve fallen out of first place in the AL West. But that rotation is still ridiculously good and only three teams have scored more runs than Houston. The bullpen issues will get sorted out one way or another, and the defending World Series champs will be just fine.
4. Seattle Mariners
May 15 ranking: 14
Why they’re here: All the Mariners do is win baseball games, in any way possible. They’re 15-5 since lineup stalwart Robinson Cano landed on the DL with a broken hand (and then was hit with an 80-game suspension), which is, well, surprising. With that in mind, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that they won their game against the Rays on Sunday despite striking out 16 times — including the first seven batters of the game against Blake Snell — and managing just four hits. They’re all line drives in the box score, folks.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
May 15 ranking: 9
Why they’re here: Speaking of teams that only win games, the Brewers are an NL-best 16-8 since May 9 (yes, an arbitrary end date but still impressive) and they own a NL-best 37-24 record despite a run differential of plus-28, a number that’s sixth in the NL. Reliever Josh Hader continues to be ridiculous: In 20 appearances covering 34 1/3 innings, he’s struck out 69 batters and allowed just 10 hits.
6. Chicago Cubs
May 15 ranking: 11
Why they’re here: Remember how Anthony Rizzo struggled so much through the season’s first month (.149 average, .448 OPS) and most everyone said, “Don’t worry about him. He’ll be fine.” Well, Rizzo homered on May 1 and hasn’t stopped hitting. Since the end of April, Rizzo has a .316 average, seven homers, 30 RBIs and a .982 OPS. And remember how Jon Lester failed to make it past five innings in two of his first three starts and people started mentioning he’s 34 years old? In his past nine starts, Lester has a 1.94 ERA and has allowed more than three runs just once.
7. Atlanta Braves
May 15 ranking: 5
Why they’re here: It’s well past time to stop waiting for the young Braves to falter. They’re legit playoff contenders right now. They’ve passed the tests, including taking three of four in a home series against the Nationals, the longtime NL East powerhouse. You’ve heard about 21-year-old phenom Ozzie Albies (14 homers) and resurgent veteran Nick Markakis (.332 average) and superstar Freddie Freeman (.988 OPS), but have you noticed Sean Newcomb? The lefty starter has a 2.49 ERA/3.14 FIP in a dozen starts. He was a first-round pick (15th overall in 2014) who came to Atlanta in the trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to Anaheim.
8. Washington Nationals
May 15 ranking: 4
Why they’re here: The offense can be frustratingly inconsistent, but that rotation is damn good and closer Sean Doolittle has allowed just 18 of the 99 batters he’s faced to reach safely while striking out 39 of those 99. If he stays healthy, Max Scherzer is almost certainly going to win his fourth Cy Young award this season. He currently owns career bests in ERA (1.95), FIP (1.75), H/9 (5.5), K/9 (13.7) WHIP (0.833) and HR/9 (0.6).
9. St. Louis Cardinals
May 15 ranking: 10
Why they’re here: The Cardinals have managed to stay above .500 despite dealing with an assortment of injuries and inconsistencies, but maybe things are starting to stabilize. Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina came off the DL Tuesday, and slugger Marcel Ozuna is hitting .571 with a couple of homers in June after muddling through the first two months of the season. On the other hand, Kolten Wong and Dexter Fowler are still hitting under .190, and of the nine relievers with at least 13 innings this year, five have ERAs above 4.00. And losing Alex Reyes to the DL after just four innings wasn’t exactly what they hoped would happen.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
May 15 ranking: 23
Why they’re here: Clayton Kershaw’s back is still a pretty big concern, but the Dodgers have been playing very good baseball lately. Since bottoming out at 10 games under .500 (16-26), they’ve played 10 games over .500 (14-4). That surge has coincided with mediocre play by the other NL West squads, which means the 30-30 Dodgers are just two games out of the division lead. Oh, and Matt Kemp continues to defy expectations, with an NL-best .344 average to go with nine homers and a .942 OPS.
11. Phillies. May 15 ranking: 8
12. Indians. May 15 ranking: 15
13. Angels. May 15 ranking: 7
14. Diamondbacks. May 15 ranking: 6
15. Rockies. May 15 ranking: 12
16. A’s. May 15 ranking: 19
17. Giants. May 15 ranking: 17
18. Pirates. May 15 ranking: 13
19. Twins. May 15 ranking: 20
20. Rays. May 15 ranking: 24
21. Tigers. May 15 ranking: 21
22. Blue Jays. May 15 ranking: 16
23. Mets. May 15 ranking: 18
24. Padres. May 15 ranking: 25
25. Rangers. May 15 ranking: 26
26. Reds. May 15 ranking: 22
27. Marlins. May 15 ranking: 28
28. Royals. May 15 ranking: 29
29. White Sox. May 15 ranking: 30
30. Orioles. May 15 ranking: 27