MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (06/06/17)
MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers
With June well underway and every team more than a third of the way through their season, we're back with another edition of Risers and Fallers for this week's MLB Power Rankings. There are some big movers in our rankings this week, as five of our six teams featured have moved five spots or more since last week. 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 - 6/6/17.
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 Astros claim the top spot in our Power Rankings this week after they've won 11 in a row and opened up a 14-game lead in the AL West. Houston is firing on all cylinders right now, as they've scored six or more runs in eight straight games, and are averaging 8.09 runs per game over their 11-game winning streak. There's a lot of movement in the Top 10 behind the Astros as well, with the Nationals moving up three spots to #3, while the Cubs dropped out of the Top 5 down to #7. The Yankees and Red Sox both find themselves in the Top 5 as they are set to play a 3-game series this week, and find their division foe Blue Jays just a few spots below them at #8. Overall, we see the Top 10 teams shift positions, but all stay in the same vicinity since we have a strong idea how teams look after 55+ games. Let's start our Risers section by taking a look at the Seattle Mariners, who take a huge leap in our rankings with the return of James Paxton.
Top 3 Risers
Seattle Mariners - #23 up to #9
Seattle has won seven of its last eight games to move two games below .500 at 28-30. As mentioned above, the return of James Paxton is a monstrous boost for their rotation, which has struggled with injuries all season. Through just seven starts, Paxton has managed to post a 2.1 WAR, good enough for 6th in the major leagues among starting pitchers. He's excelled in areas that every pitcher is trying to, with a K/9 rate in the top 15 at 10.67, while also being the only pitcher with more than 40 innings pitched to not allow a home run. With his effectiveness, he's posted an ERA of 1.26 and WHIP of 0.93. If he can continue to dominate until King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma return, the Mariners will suddenly have one of the strongest rotations in the AL West. Jean Segura's most recent trip to the DL is a blow for Seattle, as he was leading the club and majors with a .341 batting average, but their big three remains intact with Cano, Seager, and Cruz. It appears as though the Mariners will be fighting for a wild card spot with the Astros appearing unstoppable at the moment, so it will be crucial for their players currently on the DL to have a big impact when they return.
Detroit Tigers - #18 up to #12
It seems that every week we have a lot of movers between the 10-18 range, and the Tigers are a beneficiary this week as they move up six spots. Detroit seems to have found its stride on offense in their last six games, as they've won five of them with an average of 9.6 runs in those wins. Alex Avila continues his career year as he remains at .317 with a slugging percentage of .625. Miguel Cabrera has played better since coming off the DL, as he's hit over .300 since his return, and they're still waiting on Nick Castellanos to have more success, as his BABIP is just .281 and he possesses a hard contact rate of 48.3%, so hopefully his balls in play will turn into hits more frequently. Despite their success on offense, they continue to struggle in the pitching department. Michael Fulmer remains the only starting pitcher with an ERA below 4.47, and Justin Verlander left his last start with groin discomfort. Their bullpen has pitched well of late, however, as they've combined to allow three runs in their last five games. If the Tigers have any hope to compete for the AL Central, they'll need to reinforce their starting rotation, as they definitely have the offense to carry them to victories.
Miami Marlins - #22 up to #15
After going nearly a month without winning a series, the Marlins have taken their past three, including a sweep against the Phillies and winning 3 of 4 from the Diamondbacks. Their recent stretch is highlighted by Edinson Volquez's no hitter against the D-Backs, as he seems to have figured it out as he's won both of his last two starts. He and Dan Straily remain the only reliable starters, but their offense is where the team excels. Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and Justin Bour have created a 3-headed monster in Miami. Their offensive statistics are strikingly similar, as they've all hit between 14-16 homers, are right around 40 RBIs, have a walk percentage around 10%, and are slugging between .569-.589. J.T. Realmuto, Dee Gordon, and Christian Yelich are all having solid seasons as well, so the Marlins really have something going on the offensive end. Just like the Tigers, if the Marlins could find some more talent for their starting rotation, they could potentially contend for a wild card spot in the National League.
Top 3 Fallers
Colorado Rockies - #11 down to #16
The Rockies remain atop the NL West as we enter this week, but might be in a little more trouble than you think. While they definitely aren't the 14th worst team in the majors, the Rockies have some holes, and with our simulations playing them against every other team, it's a little easier to understand why they slipped this week. Their starting staff has started to regress behind Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman, and the Rockies need their starters to do well if they want to win, as their four losses last week came when pitchers didn't record a quality start, while their three wins all stemmed from a quality start. Also, besides Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, no other positional player owns a WAR over 0.7. After Mark Reynolds' scorching start, he's hit .184 in his last 13 games while striking out 16 times, looking more like his normal self. Ian Desmond has struggled offensively, as he's slugging just .383, and D.J. LeMahieu isn't living up to his 2016 numbers either, hitting .285 but has an ISO of just .083 and a slugging percentage of .368. Even though the Rockies have the second-best record in the NL, they're relying on mostly rookie pitchers to carry their staff, and behind their two best offensive players, they're still searching for help in that area. It will be extremely interesting to see how they progress in the next few weeks/months.
Pittsburgh Pirates - #16 down to #20
Pittsburgh remains last in the NL Central, but is just 3.5 games behind the first place Brewers/Cubs. The Starling Marte suspension remains a major reason for the Pirates lack of success thus far, as the Pirates have scored the 6th fewest runs in the majors. Their leading RBI man, Andrew McCutchen, sits a 28 RBIs, which is tied for 65th in the majors among players, showing their inability to drive in runs. Besides Ivan Nova, who's 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA, the starting staff for the Pirates has really struggled as well. None of them have an ERA below 4.26 or have won more than three games. Gerrit Cole has struggled with the long ball this season, as he's allowed 15 homers in his 12 starts. Overall, the Pirates are an average team who will struggle to score runs with their current lineup. If they can hang in the race until Marte returns, they might be able to make a push if their young pitching figures it out, but it appears that the Pirates are a year or two away from contending once again.
Minnesota Twins - #13 down to #23
After getting swept by the Astros in dramatic fashion last week, the Twins' numbers have changed considerably, dropping them down 10 spots to #23 this week. As mentioned last week, the Twins are the poster boy for negative regression. Miguel Sano continues to have a BABIP more than 50 points higher than the next closest batter, while Ervin Santana carries a 2.44 ERA after 12 starts even though he has a career high 4.91 SIERA. A large part of his success comes from his .153 BABIP after posting a .285 one in each of his past two seasons. His K/9 is the lowest it's been in his career while his BB/9 is the highest, so expect some serious regression coming his way in the near future. After a career year last year, Brian Dozier has returned to his career averages, batting around .240 but has an even lower slugging percentage than normal at .404. The Twins are likely to show their true colors in the next few weeks as they'll probably lose the division-lead to the Indians, so keep an eye out for their regression.