MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (04/18/17)

By Mark Dankenbring

MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers

After two weeks of the MLB Regular season, we are ready to bring you our first MLB Risers and Fallers article of the year. There have been some early season injuries, teams off to hot and cold starts, and many other factors at play that bring us a Power Rankings much different than we saw in our Preseason 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 - 4/18/17.

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 stay atop our Power Rankings after two weeks of games, and even though both teams are sitting right around .500, their rosters are still the same as they were entering the year, so they should be able to pick up some wins in the near future. The Cleveland Indians move their way into the Top 5 after a 6-7 start, but have struggled to find their stride on the mound, as they have the worst team ERA in the MLB at 5.01. Once their pitchers find a groove, the Indians are bound to turn things up a notch. There are some big time changes in this week's rankings, so let's take a look at the Top 3 risers for this week.

Top 3 Risers

New York Yankees - #15 up to #9

After starting the season 1-4, the Yankees have gone on to win 8 straight games, including a pair of sweeps at home against the Rays and Cardinals. It seems like all the pieces are starting to fall into place for the Yankees, as their off-season moves to improve their offense against LHP and re-acquisition of Aroldis Chapman have started the year strong. Their offense leads the majors in WAR at 3.2, according to FanGraphs, and they are 5th in the league in slugging at a mark of .452 as a team. Chase Headley has led the charge for New York early on, batting .395 with an OPS of 1.114. Aaron Judge has shown why the Yankees are so high on him in the early going, as he's leading the team in slugging at .650 with four home runs in his first 45 plate appearances. Their bullpen has been superb as well, sitting in second in bullpen ERA at 1.36. The starting rotation has performed better than expected as well, with CC Sabathia off to a 2-0 start and Michael Pineda at 2-1 with 23 strikeouts and just one walk on the year. 8-straight is an impressive run in the first few weeks, so we'll see if the Yankees can hold true, but it's looking promising up in the Bronx.

Seattle Mariners - #14 up to #10

The Mariners come into this week's rankings riding a winning streak as well, as they enter Tuesday having won four in a row. Seattle had a tough start to the season with their first seven games on the road, and came into opening day in Seattle with a 1-6 record. Mitch Haniger has started the season leading the Mariners in runs, home runs, and RBIs in his first season with the club, and looks like a perfect 2-hole hitter in front of the three headed monster of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager. Cano and Cruz hit their first pair of back-to-back homers last night against the Marlins, and will definitely increase their slugging percentages, which currently sit right around .400. James Paxton has led the way on the mound for Seattle, throwing 21.0 scoreless innings through his first three starts while striking out 22 batters in the process. The Mariners will close out this series at home against the Marlins before heading on a 10-game road trip, but their offense and pitching staff looks poised to keep them chugging for the next few weeks.

Oakland Athletics - #23 up to #18

Oakland has started the season with a mediocre 5-8 record, but haven't quite gotten things going offensively. Khris Davis has picked up right where he left off in 2016, and has hit six homers through their first 13 games, leading to a .720 slugging percentage in the early going. No other qualified hitter is batting over .275, so the A's are hoping their bats will heat up soon. Andrew Triggs and Kendall Graveman are off to solid starts on the mound as both are 2-0, but Graveman is expected to miss his next start after straining his right shoulder. Oakland's pitching staff has done a great job keeping opponents in the park so far, as they have allowed the third fewest amount of home runs on the season with 10. Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle have both blown a save in the early going, limiting the A's from being 7-6 instead of 5-8. Oakland is eagerly awaiting the return of Sonny Gray to lock down the number one spot in their rotation, but until then hopefully they can make some strides offensively.

Top 3 Fallers

St. Louis Cardinals - #8 down to #12

St. Louis has started the season with a 4-9 record, their worst mark in nearly 30 years. All aspects of their game have been rough to start the year, as they're near the bottom in several crucial categories. The Cardinals' offense has the worst average in the league at .209, and don't have an every-day player hitting over .265. Their big off-season acquisition in Dexter Fowler has been disappointing so far to say the least, as he's hitting .137 with an OBP of .207, leads the team in strikeouts with 16, and only has one extra base hit on the year. Their bullpen has been even worse than their offense, however, with an MLB worst 7.18 ERA. Five different relievers have given up at least five earned runs and carry a 9.00 ERA or worse into tonight's game, including set up man Kevin Siegrist and closer Seung Hwan Oh. General Manager John Mozeliak says everything is on the table for the Cardinals moving forward, and there could be some serious organizational changes if the Cardinals don't right the ship soon. We'll see if their 2-1 win against the Pirates last night will jump start the Cardinals into their usual winning ways.

Texas Rangers - #10 down to #15

After starting the season as one of the favorites in the AL West, the Rangers have started 5-8, with six of their losses coming in sweeps to the Indians and Mariners. Texas has started off slow both offensively and on the mound, as they sit in bottom 10 in WAR in both aspects, according to FanGraphs. They've started off the year hitting just .226 as a team as Joey Gallo, Jurickson Profar, Mike Napoli, and Carlos Gomez all sit below .200 on the season. After starting the season 7-19 with three homers, Rougned Odor is 4-36 in his last eight games, dropping his average to .208. Needless to say, the Rangers really miss Adrian Beltre solidifying the middle of their order. However, Nomar Mazara has been carrying Texas offensively, hitting four homers with 12 runs and 16 RBIs while no one else on the team has more than nine runs or RBIs. The starting staff hasn't been that bad for the Rangers, but their bullpen has really struggled in the early going with a collective 5.80 ERA, good for 6th worst in the MLB. Sam Dyson is driving the struggle bus with 13 earned runs allowed in just 4.1 innings, good enough for a 27.00 ERA through six appearances. Texas has already blown five saves, three courtesy of Dyson, and one apiece from Matt Bush and Tony Barnette. Let's hope their offense and bullpen can stabilize themselves before the return of Beltre.

Miami Marlins - #12 down to #19

Miami has had a solid start to the year with a 7-6 record, and currently sit tied for 2nd in the NL East with the Mets. The reason for the Marlins' drop this week is due to their starting rotation. Miami is the only team in the MLB with a negative WAR for their pitching staff as they sit at -0.2 on the year, according to FanGraphs. They sit at 5th worst in the MLB in starters' ERA at 4.62, and have given up the 4th most home runs in the league with 13. They've also struggled to strike batters out, as they've combined for just 54 strike outs in 64.1 innings pitched. Their closer, David Phelps, has had a rough go of it so far, having blown three saves already and is sitting at a 5.63 ERA. Their offense has played well, however, led by Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, who are hitting .373 and .366, respectively. Ozuna has clubbed five home runs and 17 RBIs in the early going, while Realmuto boasts an OPS of 1.032, good enough for the best mark among qualified catchers. If the Marlins' staff can figure it out, the NL East could shape up to be one of the best divisions in baseball with the Mets and Nationals likely to be at the top throughout the season.