MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (06/27/17)
MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers
As July nears and we approach the midpoint of the season, we welcome you back to another edition of Risers and Fallers for this week's MLB Power Rankings. This week features teams from all over the map, as the Astros hop back up to #2 and the Giants take a fall near the bottom as they wait for Madison Bumgarner to return. Our Power Rankings are developed using players on the active depth chart, which causes fluctuation week-to-week based on injuries and who is in and out of the lineup. To see a full description of how our Power Rankings are created, as well as this week's full list of rankings, please visit MLB Rankings - 6/27/17.
Within our rankings every week, there are noticeable risers and fallers throughout. The goal of this article is to identify who has gained or lost the most ground in the Majors, whether it be due to injury, roster changes, or just a decline in team performance. Each article will include the Top 3 risers and fallers in the rankings, despite their initial position.
The Dodgers remain our top team in the MLB this week after reeling off 10 in a row and 16 of 17 before coming back down to earth last night against the Angels. Even with their impressive stretch, they remain just 1.5 games up on the Diamondbacks who have won 14 of their last 17, highlighting the impressive performances the Top-3 NL West teams are giving us this season. The Astros find themselves back at #2 by winning seven of their last nine, and the Cubs drop a few spots as their offensive struggles continue. Seattle moves into the Top 10 with the return of Felix Hernandez and a 6-game winning streak last week. Their power bats seem to have come alive, as they've put themselves in the thick of the AL Wild Card race while they await the return of Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly from the DL. Our featured teams land mostly outside the Top 10 this week, but we start off with the Houston Astros who moved up four spots this week.
Top 3 Risers
Houston Astros - #6 up to #2
Our expectations were tempered with Houston's top four starters all on the DL, but they showed their depth and resilience last week winning six of seven games on their West Coast road trip. Houston reminded us their offense is completely healthy, averaging 6.4 runs in those seven games and having a margin of at least three runs in all of their victories. They've re-opened their AL West lead to 12.5 games and will begin a series with the Athletics at home tonight after taking all four of their contests last week in Oakland. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer all find themselves in the top six in WAR in the AL, showcasing their impressive depth of the talent. They continue to lead the majors in team OPS, sitting at .827 on the season, and also hold the best OPS in June at .864. Once the Astros rotation returns to full or even medium strength, Houston will be a tough train to stop heading into September.
Pittsburgh Pirates - #20 up to #17
The Pirates jump up a few spots to #17 this week and find themselves featured in this article for the first time all season. Andrew McCutchen has finally found his stroke after being moved down to the 6-spot in the lineup as he's hit .380 with an OPS of 1.161 since moving down in the order. His eight home runs are three more than any other player on the Pirates, and he's also driven in seven more runs than any of his teammates in that span. Jordy Mercer has had a nice resurgence in June as well, batting .329 with two homers in the month. He and McCutchen have become a formidable duo towards the bottom of the lineup as Mercer usually finds himself in the seven or eight spot behind Cutch. Their rotation has been decent this season, posting a collective 4.52 ERA as a starting staff, but could use better efforts from Gerrit Cole and Chad Kuhl. Jameson Taillon has been successful since his return from the DL, posting a 3.38 ERA in his first three starts back. Felipe Rivero has been exceptional this season and finds himself with a more crucial role in their bullpen as he currently sits on a 0.68 ERA, having allowed only 19 hits in 40 innings pitched. Even at 35-41, the Pirates are just five games back in the NL Central and will get Starling Marte back from his PED suspension on July 18th. If they can hold on until then, who knows what could happen down the stretch.
Cincinnati Reds - #26 up to #22
Cincinnati's struggles have come entirely from their pitching staff, as they're worst in the majors with a 6.12 starters' ERA. Luckily for them, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan have both returned from the DL, and will take over the one and two spots in their current rotation. Bailey and Finnegan struggled in their first starts, but definitely have the most talent on the staff. They also got to say goodbye to Bronson Arroyo for the time being as he landed on the 60-day DL with shoulder discomfort and a 7.35 ERA through 14 starts. They also called up prospect Luis Castillo from AA to reinforce their rotation, showing just how desperate they really are for some quality starts. Castillo allowed just two earned over five in his first start against the Nationals, and will look to provide some velocity for a staff that is severely lacking in that category. Overall, the Reds remain a team that needs starting pitching to have any sort of success this season, as they still have four players with slugging percentages over .530 and 40 or more RBIs.
Top 3 Fallers
Detroit Tigers - #10 down to #16
Detroit has taken a harsh fall from grace as they've lost eight of nine and now find themselves looking up at three teams in the AL Central. They scored less than three runs on average in those eight losses as Miguel Cabrera sits well below .300 at .261 and has a WAR equal to Jose Iglesias on the season. Eric Hosmer and Joe Mauer currently have a higher WAR than Cabrera, according to FanGraphs. His numbers are down across the board, and are especially scary when you look at his slugging percentage at .430, with his lowest career slugging mark coming back in 2004 when he finished at .512. Could this be the beginning of a true decline for the 34-year-old Cabrera? Beyond Cabrera, Detroit's pitching staff has been more than underwhelming, as Michael Fulmer is the only starter with an ERA below 4.50. It's looking like the Tigers might slip below the White Sox for last place in the Central here shortly, which would almost solidify their destiny of being sellers at the upcoming trade deadline.
Baltimore Orioles - #18 down to #21
Baltimore drops a few spots as they enter Tuesday with a 37-38 record and a 4th place spot in the AL East. Baltimore has been in focus the past few weeks after allowing five or more runs to opposing teams in 20 straight games, tying an MLB record that last occurred in 1924. This stretch that hasn't been seen in nearly 100 years was made possible by their six starting pitchers they've thrown out in the last 30 days. Of those six starters, five are above a 7.00 ERA, two above 9.00, and the lone “bright spot” comes from Dylan Bundy, who posted a 5.24 ERA in his six starts. Their starting pitching has been historically bad in this stretch, leading to the worst starters' ERA in the American League at 5.78. Their offense has remained solid through this stretch, highlighted by the success of Trey Mancini, who is batting .321 with 14 home runs and a team high .589 slugging percentage. Mancini has been getting more at-bats with the injury to Chris Davis, and has really picked up the slack in his absence. If the Orioles want any shot at reaching the playoffs, they'll need their starting staff to do a complete 180.
San Francisco Giants - #21 down to #27
San Francisco seems to only compete in the years that end in an even number, and this year is no exception. The Giants have the second worst record in the majors at 28-51 and won't be able to climb out of the hole they've dug even with the upcoming return of Madison Bumgarner. The Giants have been struggling on both sides of the ball, as they have the lowest slugging percentage and OPS in all the majors, sitting more than 70 points lower than the league average in OPS. Their pitching staff has been one of the worst as well, especially recently, as they're second worst in the month of June with a 6.20 ERA. They've gone 6-18 so far in June and 3-14 in their last 17. Buster Posey is one of the few bright spots in San Fran, posting a .347 average and is slugging .536, as he's the only qualified player on his team with a slugging percentage over .460 (Austin Slater is slugging .479 in 77 at bats). It appears as if the Giants will be major sellers come deadline time in a month, as they'll try and gear up for 2018.