MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (07/04/17)
MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers
Hello everyone and happy Fourth of July! We welcome you back to another edition of Risers and Fallers for this week's MLB Power Rankings. 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 - 7/4/17.
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 and Astros remain the top two teams in our Power Rankings this week as they bring the two best records in the MLB into July. The Astros have a much more comfortable lead in their division, however, as they're up 15 games on the Angels while the Dodgers remain just 2.5 games up on the Diamondbacks. The Indians and Yankees retain their spots in our Top 5, and the Red Sox move up a few spots to take over #5 after winning seven of their last eight games. Even though the National League has four of the best five records in the majors, four of our top five teams in this week's Power Rankings are taken by American League squads. Let's start our breakdowns this week by taking a look at one of the NL's best teams, the Colorado Rockies, as they move up to #9.
Top 3 Risers
Colorado Rockies - #15 up to #9
The Rockies find their way into our Top 10 this week as Jon Gray returned from the DL and provided the Rockies with a much-needed boost in their starting rotation. Colorado had lost eight in a row before Gray returned, and have gone 2-2 since, including a win from Gray. Their rotation has been better than expected this season, but only Kyle Freeland currently has an ERA below 4.00, so Gray is clearly an important addition. Nolan Arenado is putting up MVP quality numbers once again this season, but Charlie Blackmon seems to have stolen the show from him in Denver. Blackmon is batting .313 with 18 homers and 59 RBIs out of the leadoff spot, and is slugging more than 30 points higher than Arenado on the season. Arenado has been much more valuable defensively, but Blackmon seems to have become the complete catalyst of the offense. Mark Reynolds continues to exceed expectations as well, as he remains batting .282 with 19 homers and 61 RBIs to go along with a .377 wOBA. The Rockies still have a chance at the division as they're just 6.5 games back, but they still have to hop over the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, which will be a difficult task. Look for them to take a Wild Card spot in the NL.
Texas Rangers - #13 up to #10
Texas has had up-and-down success all season, but seem to finally be healthy and ready to make a run in the AL Wild Card race. Adrian Beltre has returned to the lineup after missing the first couple months and added his right-handed power bat to the middle of the lineup. Elvis Andrus is having the best season of his career, batting .301 with 11 homers, 50 RBIs, 51 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases. He leads the team in all of those categories, showing just how important he's been to the offense. Carlos Gomez is starting to produce at the plate as well, as he's batting .310 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in his last 18 games. The issue with the Rangers comes from the bullpen, where they've blown the most saves in the majors with 17, and have the lowest save percentage at 43.33%. Their bullpen ERA is 7th worst in the majors at 4.66, which led them to go pick up Jason Grilli, who has had an underwhelming season so far with the Blue Jays. If the Rangers can stay healthy and figure out their bullpen, they'll have a great shot at an AL Wild Card spot.
Kansas City Royals - #25 up to #19
After starting 21-29, the Royals have turned their season around and gone 21-11 to move themselves all the way up to 2nd place in the AL Central. Their hitting and pitching both improved significantly in the month of June, as the Royals had the 7th best team ERA in the majors at 3.99, and walked the fewest batters in the majors with just 68. They were one of two teams with a perfect save record in the month, and finished the month with a 17-9 record, tied for second with the Diamondbacks for best record in June. The Royals were the lowest scoring team in April and May, but were an above average offensive team in June, batting .277 with a team OPS of .782. Their 1-5 hitters have become very consistent over the past month or so, as all five of them sit between averages in the .280s-.310s and are all slugging between .440-.555. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez have been the primary run producers, as they've both driven in more than 50, and Jorge Bonifacio has been a pleasant surprise with 11 homers on the season. The Royals have put themselves in great position to win the Central or at least make the Wild Card, but they might need to add another arm to their starting rotation in order to reach those goals.
Top 3 Fallers
Toronto Blue Jays - #8 down to #11
We've been waiting for the Blue Jays to pull it together all season, but it just hasn't worked out to this point. Toronto has lost 9 of 11 and are now last place in the AL East and have nine teams ahead of them in the AL Wild Card race. The main criticism of the Blue Jays has to be their offensive production, as they've scored the fewest runs in the American League and the 4th fewest in all of baseball. Their offensive WAR is second worst in the majors at a collective 3.8, according to FanGraphs, and their only successful offensive season has come from Justin Smoak. Smoak is carrying this team, leading them in average, home runs, RBIs, OBP, SLG, wOBA, and WAR. They've received underwhelming performances from the other big names in their lineup, as Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki combine for a 2.6 WAR, which is less than Aaron Hicks' 2.7 WAR on the season, according to FanGraphs. Toronto is likely out of both playoff races at the moment, but if Donaldson can return to MVP form while the rest of the offense picks it up as well, they might be able to push for a wild card spot. I'm not too optimistic, however.
Seattle Mariners - #10 down to #14
The Mariners have been a tough team to figure out this season as well, as they seem to breakthrough only to regress the following week. They reached a 39-37 record near the end of June, but have lost six of eight to drop down to third in the AL West and 6th in the AL Wild Card Race. They are another team that has been let down by their bullpen, as they've blown 13 of their 29 save opportunities from seven different relievers, showing they're struggling to find anyone that can shut the door. Their offense has been solid, as they're just outside the top ten in terms of total runs scored. Robinson Cano found his power stroke recently, belting six homers and two doubles in a 10-game span, bringing his home run total up to a team-high 17 on the season. Ben Gamel and Jean Segura have been impressive at the top of the order as well, as they bring averages of .330+ into Tuesday's game. Seattle needs more from their pitching staff as a whole, but really need to address their closer situation if they want any chance at playoff success.
New York Mets - #12 down to #17
Another season, another year older the Mets' starting rotation gets. All the talk three to four years ago was how dominant the Mets' rotation would be for the next several years to come, but injuries and an inability to stay on the field has sucked the life out of their organization. Of course, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey represent two of these core Mets' starters on the DL, while Steven Matz and Seth Lugo have made just nine combined starts. This is not the recipe for success the Mets were hoping for, which is why they find themselves seven games under .500 and 9.5 games back in the Wild Card. Their offense has been above average this season with Michael Conforto at the helm, but have missed Yoenis Cespedes' bat as a staple in the middle of their order. Even though their offense has performed well, they're still a team whose identity revolves around their starting pitching and great back-end of the bullpen, and this roster's production doesn't resemble that at all. It will be interesting to see if the Mets sell much at the deadline, as they certainly won't be buyers.