MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (05/16/17)
MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers
As we enter the 7th week of the season, we're back with another edition of Risers and Fallers for this week's MLB Power Rankings. This edition will be a little different than the norm as there weren't too many major movers in our rankings compared to last week, as five of the six teams featured only changed a maximum of four spots. However, we do see the most movement within our Top 10 so far on the season, which still makes for an exciting article. 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 - 5/16/17.
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.
For the first time this season we see the Chicago Cubs drop out of the first overall spot, conceding it to the 22-17 Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs fall down to #3 as the Houston Astros claim the two spot with their major league best 27-12 record. Believe it or not, there's even more change within our Top 5 as the Red Sox fall from 4th to 6th, only to see the Yankees jump two spots up to 5th. The Nationals round out our Top 5 as they share the biggest divisional lead with the Astros, as both teams are already 8.0 games up on their closest competitors. Again, we see some solid parity among each league in the top teams, as the Top 12 are equally representative of the NL and AL. However, towards the bottom of the list we find a few more NL teams, as four of the bottom five ranked teams play in the National League. Let's start by taking a look at the Astros, who have risen up to #2 in this week's rankings.
Top 3 Risers
Houston Astros - #5 up to #2
The Astros take over the number two spot this week as they enter Tuesday with a major league best 27-12 record. Houston has won their previous five series, including 3 of 4 from division rivals in the Rangers and the AL East leading New York Yankees. As one can imagine, the best team in the majors is producing in all facets of the game. Houston currently ranks 7th in overall WAR for their offensive and pitching efforts, according to FanGraphs, and claim the second best team average at .273 as well as the second best team ERA with a collective 3.53. They've been led by stars on both sides of the ball, as former Cy Young winner Dallas Kuechel is on quest for his second as he's started 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA in just eight starts. After finishing April with a .233 average, Carlos Correa has rebounded in May with a .377 batting average and OPS of 1.121 through 14 games. George Springer has also enjoyed a nice power surge, as he's already clubbed nine homers and leads the team with a .489 slugging percentage. With a current 8.0 game lead on the Rangers and all aspects of their game firing on all cylinders, the Astros look like the clear favorite to come out of the AL West.
Colorado Rockies - #12 up to #9
Colorado continues to impress in the NL West, as they enter Tuesday with a division best 24-15 record. The Rockies have made consistency look easy, as they haven't lost a series since the Nationals came to Coors Field and put up 46 runs in four games near the end of April. Colorado has started well on the bump, as they boast the league's third highest WAR for team pitching, according to FanGraphs. A large part of this success has come from their bullpen, which has done an exceptional job closing out games and also winning a few for the club. The Rockies currently have an 8-1 record amongst their bullpen, and Greg Holland has been perfect closing out games, as he's 16-16 and boasts a 1.06 ERA. Mark Reynolds continues to tear the cover off the ball, leading the Rockies in all major offensive categories besides runs (he's 2nd), as he's mashed right handed pitching, batting .367 with nine of his 12 homers coming against righties. Colorado's consistency will be tested, as they're about to begin a stretch where they play 22 of 29 games away from Coors Field. With the Dodgers just two games behind, the Rockies will need to continue to close out every game they can in order to maintain the division lead.
Milwaukee Brewers - #24 up to #20
We move a little further down the list for our next riser as the Brewers find themselves in 2nd place in the NL Central with a 21-18 record. Milwaukee has taken back-to-back series against solid teams, taking 2 of 3 from the Red Sox and completing a sweep against the Mets, leading to a successful 5-1 home stand. Milwaukee has shown their offensive skills through six weeks, as they're second in the majors with 208 runs scored and lead the majors with 65 home runs. Their team average is about middle of the pack at .258, but their speed and power have really made and impact as they sit third in stolen bases and second in team slugging percentage. Eric Thames continues to be a major threat in the middle of their order, as he's hitting .315 with an OPS of 1.128, and sits in second in the majors in home runs (13) and runs scored (37). Thames is also enjoying some nice reverse splits in the early going, as he's hitting .387 against LHPs compared to just .292 against righties. The Brewers would love to fix their bullpen issues, as they're a collective 7-12, led by the 1-4 record of closer Neftali Feliz, who has given up five homers in just 17 innings pitched. Milwaukee also placed Ryan Braun on the DL with a calf issue, but the Brew Crew will be just fine as long as their lineup continues to produce.
Top 3 Fallers
Chicago Cubs - #1 down to #3
As mentioned in the opening, there aren't too many big movers this week, so the Cubs will start off our fallers list as they drop down two spots to #3. Chicago has really struggled on offense and with their starting pitching, probably the two most important aspects of producing a winning ball club, which helps us understand their 18-19 record a little more. Chicago sits in the bottom seven in the majors in terms of overall team average and slugging percentage, in large part due to the struggles of Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber. Other guys like Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist have struggled as well, but Rizzo and Schwarber are supposed to support Kris Bryant as being the most dangerous 1-3 hitters in the majors. Rizzo currently sits at a .213 average while Schwarber is stuck at .179 average through about a quarter of the season. Both players have struggled to drive the ball, as they both have just 12 extra base hits on the season. They've been able to keep their OBP up with high walk numbers, but the Cubs need these two to start driving in runs if they want to turn things around. The starting staff has also struggled in a major way, as just one of them enters Tuesday with a winning record, which just so happens to be Jake Arrieta who's currently struggling with a 5.44 ERA. Brett Anderson has been atrocious in his first six starts, as he sits with an 8.18 ERA and a paltry 1.25 K/BB ratio through just 22 innings pitched. We all expect Chicago to turn it around, but they better start soon as the Cardinals and Brewers have shown to be formidable opponents in the Central.
Seattle Mariners - #14 down to #17
After winning six of seven games last week, the Mariners headed to Toronto for a four game series to face the last-placed team in the Blue Jays, only to be swept with a combined score of 21-6. Seattle's offense has looked solid through the first six weeks with Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz all putting up impressive numbers. Their downfall, however, has been their pitching staff. James Paxton was off to an incredible start before heading to the DL with forearm tightness, and injuries to the pitching staff has been the major story so far in Seattle. The top four pitchers in their rotation are all on the DL at the moment, leaving an underwhelming group to handle the load. Besides Paxton, everyone in their starting rotation has an ERA of 4.35 or worse, contributing to their 6th worst 4.64 team ERA. Seattle has struggled keeping the ball in the ballpark, as they've allowed the fourth most homers in the majors with 54. The Mariners also lead the league in blown saves with 9, with three different relievers having blown two. If their starting staff doesn't get healthy soon, their playoff chances look bleak with the red hot Astros in their division.
Cincinnati Reds - #21 down to #27
The Reds remain one of the most interesting teams in the majors as they've scorched the ball on offense but continue to have the worst starting staff to go along with it. After a season where they set the record for most home runs allowed by a pitching staff, their starters have picked up right where they left off, allowing the fourth most homers so far with 35, leading to the worst starters' ERA in the majors at 5.15. Bronson Arroyo has gotten hit especially hard in his return to the majors, allowing nine homers through seven starts, amounting to a 5.94 ERA. Outside of their starting staff, their bullpen has been pretty solid with good starts from Raisel Iglesias and Drew Storen, who have become a reliable 8th and 9th inning tandem. Their offense has been legit as well, as Joey Votto leads the Reds in runs, homers, RBIs, walks, and has struck out just four times in his last 12 games. Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez have also been off to amazing starts, as Cozart sits pretty at .336 with an OBP of .432 and has hit 11 doubles and four triples in the early going, while Suarez has had some solid pop, jacking seven homers and seven doubles, leading to a solid .523 slugging percentage. The Reds likely won't see much of an improvement from a starting staff comprised of rookies and oldies, but if they can find another gear and figure it out, the Reds could end up being solid contenders in the NL behind the strength of their offense.