MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (04/25/17)

By Mark Dankenbring
MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers

We're back with another edition of Risers and Fallers for this week's Power Rankings. With all teams nearly 20 games in, we're starting to get a better idea of how each team's season will shape out at this point, and which teams will underachieve or surpass their expectations. A few teams have had some major movement in our rankings compared to last week based on their early season performance, so check out our rankings from last week to see some of the smaller changes. 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 - 4/25/17.

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 Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers remain atop our Power Rankings after three weeks of games, and even though both teams are sitting close to .500, their rosters are still the same as they were entering the year, so they should be able to pick up some more wins in the near future. There was hardly any movement in our Top 10 this week, as the St. Louis Cardinals were the only new team to appear after falling out of the Top 10 the previous week with their 3-9 start. We see solid parity among our top teams to begin the season, as the 12 highest ranked teams include six from the NL and AL. There are some major changes outside the Top 10 in this week's rankings, so let's start by taking a look at the Top 3 risers for this week.

Top 3 Risers

Miami Marlins - #19 up to #13

The Marlins have had an impressive start to the season, as they've managed to go 10-8 with 12 of their first 18 games taking place on the road. The backbone of their team appears to be their offense, as their 1-6 hitters have had some great success in the early going. Four of their top six hitters are batting .300 or better and three have a slugging percentage over .500. As a result, the Marlins are 7th overall in the majors with a .260 team average. Giancarlo Stanton is leading the team in home runs with seven and is 9-17 with four homers and seven RBIs in his last four games. Their pitching staff has room to improve, as they're currently ranked 28th in WAR as an overall staff, and have given up the 5th most home runs in the majors at 26, according to FanGraphs. Their bullpen has let them down on a few occasions already, having blown four saves in the early going. Miami will end their 9-game road trip against Philadelphia this week before returning home, and are looking to remain in 2nd place in the NL East.

Tampa Bay Rays - #20 up to #14

The Rays make our list this week after jumping up to the #14 spot. Tampa Bay's 10-11 record is a little deceiving due to the fact 10 of their 11 losses have come against the four best teams in the AL: Yankees (2-5), Red Sox (1-3), Astros (1-2), and they just lost their opening game against the Orioles. They've handled lesser opponents, sweeping the Tigers and winning three of four against the Blue Jays, but the Rays seem to be a solid team who just need to play a little better against their division rivals. Tampa Bay has gotten off to a great start offensively, leading the league in offensive WAR at 4.7, according to FanGraphs. They sit at 8th in the league with 25 home runs, and have done a great job being patient at the plate, as they rank 4th in the majors in walks with 74. Corey Dickerson has done an exceptional job so far in the leadoff spot, batting .324 with five home runs and eight doubles, leading to a team high .635 slugging percentage. Steven Souza Jr. is having an even better start to the season, however, hitting .333 with an OBP of .416. Souza Jr. has four homers and 17 RBIs in the early going, and just took home AL Player of the Week after posting a .414 average and 1.192 OPS last week. If Tampa Bay can get more help from their pitching staff, they could continue to battle for the division and wild card spot in the AL East.

Arizona Diamondbacks - #23 up to #15

After a disappointing 2016, the Diamondbacks look determined to make 2017 their year. Their offense has been scorching hot in April, scoring 112 runs through 21 games, which is nine more runs than the next closest team. David Peralta currently leads their team with a .329 average, but the whole roster is doing their part as Arizona boasts the second best team average in baseball at .267. Paul Goldschmidt has had an interesting start, as he's hitting just .257 but has walked a league-high 17 times, resulting in a team-high .409 OBP. Their pitching staff has had a solid start as well, ranking 5th in overall WAR, according to FanGraphs. Their starters have a collective ERA of 3.60, which is 7th best in the majors, and their bullpen is one of three in the league who are yet to blow a save. With the Giants and Dodgers both off to slow starts, this could be the year that the D-Backs or Rockies break through in the NL West, and Arizona is clearly hoping it's their turn.

Top 3 Fallers

Toronto Blue Jays - #11 down to #27

It's hard to believe an 89-73 team the year before could start 5-14 with most of their pieces returning, but that's what has happened to the Blue Jays in the early going. After being one of the top offenses in the majors the last few seasons, Toronto has limped into Week 3 of the season with their team AVG, OBP, SLG percentage, and total strike outs all in the bottom six in the MLB. The absence of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki are definitely contributing factors, but their other every day stars have been sub par to say the least. Jose Bautista is hitting .129 with a slugging percentage of .200, good for 5th worst out of any qualified position player in the majors. Devon Travis joins his teammate in the bottom five, as he is third worst in the majors with a .190 slugging percentage early on. Their pitching has been respectable, sitting right in the middle of the majors with a 4.03 ERA, but they haven't gotten any run support as the Blue Jays are second to last in the majors in scoring runs, scoring just 64 in their first 19 games. Toronto could really use the 2015 AL MVP in the heart of their order, so hopefully Donaldson can return in the next few weeks to help turn things around. If not, it's going to be a long season for them in the juggernaut that is the AL East.

Detroit Tigers - #13 down to #18

After starting the season 6-2, Detroit has gone 4-6 in their last ten, resulting in a slight degradation in our power rankings this week. Miguel Cabrera has also found his way onto the DL with a groin strain, which hurts the Tigers in our rankings as well. Their offense has been solid so far, sitting in the middle of the pack in runs produced, and they are just outside the Top 10 in team OPS. The issue with the Tigers in the early going has been their pitching staff. Detroit has the worst team ERA by more than half a run at 5.23, and Michael Fulmer is their only starter with an ERA below 3.70. AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander has been shaky to begin the year, allowing 15 earned runs in just 22.1 innings pitched, good enough for a 6.04 ERA, which is currently the worst in their rotation. Their bullpen, however, has been even worse. Detroit has the worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 6.63, and have combined to blow five saves, also good enough for worst in the majors. If their staff can't turn it around, the Cleveland Indians will likely run away with the AL Central.

Texas Rangers - #15 down to #20

After a four-game sweep of the struggling Royals, Texas remains under .500 with a 9-11 record. They fell five spots last week in our rankings, and fall another five this week. The Rangers continue to struggle on offense, as they now have the third worst team average in the majors at .211. They've still managed to score a solid number of runs due to the long ball, as they've hit the third most in the majors with 28, but they're struggling to get runners consistently on base. Joey Gallo has played well for them in the past week, hitting four home runs and driving in six runs, but they're still hoping he can put together a longer, more consistent stretch. Their starting pitching has been great to start the year, as they're second best in the majors with a 3.12 combined ERA. The bullpen is another story, however, as they have only two successful saves as opposed to five blown ones. Their lack of offense and poor performance from the bullpen has resulted in a 2-5 record in one run games to start the season. If they can't figure out those two aspects of their games, it's going to be hard for the Rangers to win close games in the future.