Power Rankings — Can the Twins rise past AL elite to reach No. 1?


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The more the Twins keep piling up wins, the more they get their due. After spending two weeks perched at No. 5, this week they’ve risen up to No. 2 on the strength of two first-place votes. Thus, Minnesota has marked itself as the latest threat to the Astros, our reigning No. 1 the past two weeks and the only team to be No. 1 since Opening Day so far besides the Dodgers — one of the clubs the Twins leap-frogged to reach their highest point yet.

Although the Twins’ gains were the most significant at the top of our rankings, they didn’t make the biggest leap. That honor goes to the Oakland A’s after they rode their current nine-game winning streak to rise eight slots up to No. 11. While the Indians fell from MLB’s top 10 in our voting this week, the Braves were on the rise to take their place.

Not everybody gets to improve, of course. The biggest decline was suffered by the Angels, our latest up-and-down team. Last week, they moved up six slots to No. 14, only to tumble this week to No. 21 after suffering a 2-4 week playing against the Twins and Rangers. With their pitching staff in disarray, is a place in the bottom 20 the destiny of Mike Trout’s team?

For Week 8, our panel of voters was composed of Bradford Doolittle, Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.

Previous: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

2019 record: 35-19
Week 7 ranking: 1

The Astros have the depth to survive an injury or two, even to a star player. Still, it was welcome news that George Springer‘s hamstring injury seems to have not been as bad as initially feared. While Springer sits out, Houston should welcome Jose Altuve back to the lineup. Altuve just went out on a rehab stint. Meanwhile, Houston keeps on punishing fools with their arms and their bats. Can you imagine what this club will look like if we hit a point where everyone is healthy and productive at the same time? — Bradford Doolittle

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2019 record: 36-16
Week 7 ranking: 5

After achieving nary an eight-homer game in the past 55 seasons, the Twins have done it twice already in 2019. Before June! Everyone talks about the impressive offense, but Minnesota’s pitching has surprised. Jose Berrios was a given; lefty Martin Perez, entering the season with a 4.63 career ERA, was not. With a new and dominating cutter he throws one-third of the time, Perez is 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA. — Eric Karabell

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2019 record: 35-18
Week 7 ranking: 2

Cody Bellinger leads the NL in WAR, Alex Verdugo leads all NL rookies in WAR, and Hyun-jin Ryu leads the NL in ERA and wins. No team has ever swept all three postseason awards. Could the Dodgers be the first? — Sam Miller

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2019 record: 34-18
Week 7 ranking: 4

During their seven-game winning streak — which was snapped Sunday — the Yankees scored at least six runs in every game and averaged 8.5. Meanwhile, only two-thirds of their injury updates this week were bad news, which feels a little like progress. — Miller

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2019 record: 30-21
Week 7 ranking: 3

Here’s a category that is exponentially more important for NL teams than AL: bench hitting. Through Saturday, the Cubs had 133 plate appearances by players off the bench this season. Only one of them has resulted in a home run, hit by Albert Almora Jr. on April 25. The Phillies are the only other NL team with one or fewer homers off the bench; every other team has at least three. That might remind you of Tommy La Stella, who was Joe Madden’s top bench hitter the past few years. Now with the Angels, La Stella has hit 12 of his 22 career homers in the first two months of this season. — Doolittle

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2019 record: 31-19
Week 7 ranking: 6

Not that we should have doubted it, but Tampa Bay’s pitching staff is for real. After leading the majors with a 2.95 staff ERA in March/April, Rays pitchers have followed with a 2.99 mark in May. That’s third in the majors for the month, trailing just that of the Twins and Dodgers. Good, deep and consistent? Those are solid traits for a postseason-worthy pitching staff. — Doolittle

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2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 8

Rafael Devers is starting to live up to his billing as a breakout candidate after a bit of a slow start, at least in the power department. In 20 games since May 3, when Devers hit his first home run of the season, he has a slash line of .375/.415/.682, with six doubles, seven homers, 20 runs scored and 20 RBIs. In that span, he has raised his OPS for the season from .748 to .901. — Steve Richards


2019 record: 31-22
Week 7 ranking: 9

The bullpen — and manager Gabe Kapler’s unorthodox handling of it — continues to make headlines. Right-hander Hector Neris seems safe and reliable, and lefty Adam Morgan has performed well, but sans the most expensive and injured bullpen pieces (David Robertson, Tommy Hunter), others have underwhelmed, and depth has suffered. Look for the Phillies to be in the market for reinforcements. — Karabell


2019 record: 30-24
Week 7 ranking: 7

The Brewers opened the season with three big-armed, young pitchers in their rotation, and all three struggled out of the gate. While Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes have been shifted to the bullpen to find themselves, Brandon Woodruff has emerged as Milwaukee’s best starting pitcher with a strong run. Woodruff is 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his past six outings, with 43 strikeouts and eight walks over 38 innings. For good measure, he also rakes, with an .874 OPS so far this season. — Doolittle

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2019 record: 30-24
Week 7 ranking: 12

Ronald Acuna Jr.’s first 162 games — he played in No. 163 on Saturday — produced 37 homers, 21 steals, a .289/.367/.533 line and 6.5 WAR. Your favorite team will draft amateur players next month who are older than he is. — Miller

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2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 19

Starting pitching set the stage for the A’s nine-game win streak, as they put up a 2.21 ERA and seven quality starts in their past 10 games (counting last weekend’s suspended game). Leading the way is Frankie Montas, who ranks third in the AL and fifth in the majors with a 2.40 ERA, thanks to the addition of a splitter that has helped him cut his OPS against lefties from an unstartable .995 before this season to .700 this season. — Christina Kahrl

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2019 record: 26-26
Week 7 ranking: 11

The Cardinals’ 7-16 record in May ranks last in the NL, and they are the only team in baseball that can claim four starting pitchers with at least nine starts and an ERA greater than 4.20. The Cardinals bumped Michael Wacha (5.59 ERA in nine starts) from the rotation, and though they’ll probably utilize a temporary fix to fill his spot in the short term, Alex Reyes, who tossed five strong innings while routinely flashing a 97 mph fastball for Class-A Palm Beach on Thursday, could soon provide a spark. — Tristan Cockcroft


2019 record: 26-26
Week 7 ranking: 10

If not for winning three of four games against the Orioles earlier this month, the Indians’ May would be even uglier than it has been, with them losing six of seven games against the A’s and Rays. Between this week’s series against the Red Sox and White Sox and next week’s homestand against the Twins and Yankees, the matchups don’t get any easier. Seeing their bad run get worse could trigger the teardown many expect by the trade deadline. — Kahrl

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2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 13

After scoring 12 total runs in losing five in a row, the D-backs broke out in a big way with a three-game sweep at San Francisco, outscoring the Giants 34-8. In the sweep, the top three hitters in Arizona’s lineup hit a combined .447/.469/.830 with 16 runs and 16 RBIs. Ketel Marte led the way with three home runs, leaving him two shy of his career high of 14. — Richards


2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 15

Padres pitching stepped up in a big way last week, getting five wins in a row and five quality starts from their starters while going 4-for-4 converting save chances. They’re going to need to maintain that kind of momentum at Yankee Stadium, but closer Kirby Yates is one of their few pitchers with any experience at that venue, having made 41 appearances for the 2016 Yankees. He has retired 16 consecutive batters, 11 via strikeout, and could be the difference against his former team. — Cockcroft

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2019 record: 25-25
Week 7 ranking: 16

Seeking to plug a pair of holes in their patchwork rotation, the Pirates used an “opener” three times in their past eight games and will need to do so again multiple times in key division games this week. The Pirates have a ghastly 5.91 team ERA in May, but help is on the way: Mitch Keller, whose five wins, 3.45 ERA and 27.6 percent strikeout rate rank among the Triple-A International League’s top six, will make his big league debut for them Monday. — Cockcroft

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2019 record: 25-25
Week 7 ranking: 22

An 8-3 surge pushed Texas back above .500, with starting pitching (surprise!) playing a key role. Over that 11-game stretch, Rangers “starters” — we’re including Adrian Sampson in this group, as he has been following an opener his previous two turns — had a 2.48 ERA, allowing two earned runs or fewer 10 times, with 56 strikeouts and 19 walks over 61⅔ innings. — Richards


2019 record: 24-28
Week 7 ranking: 18

The Reds have done an effective job of nailing down ninth-inning leads, thanks to the performance of closer Raisel Iglesias. Since speaking up about his usage on May 6 — he voiced a preference to be used as a traditional finisher — the right-hander has eight consecutive scoreless appearances and is a perfect 5-for-5 converting his save chances. — Cockcroft


2019 record: 26-26
Week 7 ranking: 17

With so much controversy surrounding the team, whether it is the manager or the injuries or the utilization of the closer, let us focus on a positive: Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso is the lone Met with double-digit home runs, and he leads the team in runs and RBIs. No MLB rookie can match these numbers. Alonso appears on course to become the sixth Met to win NL Rookie of the Year honors. — Karabell

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2019 record: 24-27
Week 7 ranking: 20

It was a distressing statement upon the Rockies’ season that they barely scratched out two wins against the Orioles and dropped Saturday’s contest. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story have been carrying the offense, but the team has gotten precious little production elsewhere from the lineup. — Cockcroft


2019 record: 23-28
Week 7 ranking: 14

Right-handers Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey were scheduled for starts at Oakland and Seattle, but then the latter hit the injured list with a strained ERA. Seriously, the Angels must do better than these guys, with a combined 6.96 ERA, but they lack major-league-ready replacements in the minors. Mike Trout is doing what he can, but he is not a pitcher. — Karabell

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2019 record: 22-31
Week 7 ranking: 21

The 1930 Phillies had a bullpen ERA of 8.03. Fourteen pitchers made at least one relief appearance, and none had an ERA lower than 5.00 in the role, with batters collectively hitting .371/.426/.525 against the pen. Why bring them up? Those 1930 Phillies are the only thing keeping these Nationals relievers from the worst bullpen ERA of all time (currently 7.25). — Miller

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2019 record: 23-29
Week 7 ranking: 24

The White Sox’s lineup was acceptably potent in the early going, but the past week-plus has seen a decline that in retrospect was all but inevitable. Through May 13, Chicago ranked a middling 17th with a .742 team OPS, but led the majors with a robust .320 team BABIP that, once adjusted for park and league, was among the highest of all time. Since then, that number has been a more pedestrian .295. Playing the Astros and Twins on the road might have something to do with this. — Doolittle


2019 record: 23-32
Week 7 ranking: 23

During their 13-2 start, the Mariners stole 17 bases. In going 10-30 since then, they’ve stolen just 15, and this week, team leader Dee Gordon went on the injured list. That isn’t even among the top 50 reasons the Mariners have collapsed, but as a microcosm for a team that seemingly flipped its switch from 45 RPM to 33 in mid-April, it works. — Miller


2019 record: 21-31
Week 7 ranking: 25

Mound misery isn’t just an Orioles thing. The Giants’ pitching staff has been coming apart at the seams over the past month, surrendering double digits in runs an NL-worst seven times in their 25 games since April 28 and seven or more runs in 12 games to total an MLB-worst 173 runs allowed and an NL-worst 47 home runs in that span.

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2019 record: 21-32
Week 7 ranking: 26

It seems that the future is now in Toronto. First, it was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., then Cavan Biggio, who had his first home run among the first three hits of his career Sunday. How about Bo Bichette, the third member of the Jays’ second-generation prospects? He’s just beginning a hitting progression in his recovery from a broken hand, so his debut is still a ways off. — Richards

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2019 record: 18-34
Week 7 ranking: 28

Opening Day starter Brad Keller offered hope for the future in his recent outing by tossing seven innings of two-hit, two-run ball against the Cardinals. Prior to that, Keller’s six most recent outings failed to register as quality starts. He has permitted just three home runs in 11 starts, but walks are a problem. The rebuilding Royals need to see whether Keller, Jakob Junis and Jorge Lopez can be future rotation pieces, but so far, there is little clarity. — Karabell


2019 record: 19-31
Week 7 ranking: 27

If Nicholas Castellanos is going to have much value to the Tigers as a bargaining chip at the trade deadline, he’s going to have to start producing at the plate. Sunday’s home run, just his fifth of the season, was a step in the right direction, but he’s putting up his worst hitting numbers since 2015 in his walk year before free agency. — Kahrl


2019 record: 16-34
Week 7 ranking: 30

Sweeping the Tigers last week to run their win streak to six could end up being the season highlight for the Marlins; it was certainly enough to get them out of the basement of our rankings. Unfortunately, they capped that by losing three straight to the Nationals. Same old Marlins? We’ll see, though moving Brian Anderson back to third base in the latest reshuffle of the outfield bodes well for the infield defense. — Kahrl


2019 record: 16-37
Week 7 ranking: 29

By losing 10 of 11 entering Saturday, the Orioles took their rightful place at the very bottom of the MLB standings. As bad as the O’s were last year (47-115 for those with strong constitutions), their record through 53 games this year is one game worse. — Richards

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