MLB Power Rankings: Twins, Angels and Yankees come surging into May

MLB Power Rankings: Twins, Angels and Yankees come surging into May

We have a new number one this week and we’ll get to that — I covered them in this space last week anyway — but probably the biggest news of the week would be the hot streaks of three teams in particular. Two of them sit in the top five in the Yankees and Angels. Let’s do a quick dive into the other big mover of the week. 

Just a week ago, the American League Central didn’t have a single team above .500. Sure, there’s always bound to be some small-sample funkiness here in the early going, but every other division had at least one team at least four games over .500 already. The Padres were 10-7 and in fourth place! 

The AL Central still appears to be the worst division in baseball and I expect that to be the case all season, but there has been one team emerging through the dregs. We probably can drop derogatory phrases like, “it’s a race to 83 wins!” because the Minnesota Twins are now 13-9, which is a full season pace of 96 wins. That movement is thanks to a recent surge in which the Twins have won nine of their last 10 games. 

They have the ingredients of a team with staying power, too. 

The rotation was a concern heading into the season and even looked like a bit of a patchwork job, but it has been so good. Twins starters have combined for a 2.62 ERA to this point and that’s with one of their big-ticket offseason acquisitions, Sonny Gray, on the injured list. They even had to put Bailey Ober (2.75 ERA in four starts) on the IL before Sunday and fill-in Josh Winder threw six scoreless innings. The Twins have gotten good work from Chris Archer, Chris Paddack and Dylan Bundy while Joe Ryan looks like a Cy Young candidate. 

The bullpen would be the weak spot, but it’s plenty adequate here in the short term. Jhoan Duran has stuff about as electric as anyone in baseball and let’s keep in mind relievers are easily the most traded position each July. With as aggressive as the front office was last offseason, you can bet they’ll be just as aggressive in shoring up the bullpen this summer. 

Speaking of the front office being aggressive, the biggest move of the offseason was the surprise swoop-in signing of Carlos Correa. He got off to a slow start, but he’s settling in now and looks every bit like the MVP he’s capable of being. In his last four games, Correa is 10 for 18 with five RBI and five runs. He’s still, quite shockingly, looking for his first Twins home run, but that isn’t far off. 

In terms of any MVP discussion, though, it starts with Byron Buxton as long as he stays on the field a decent percentage of time. We — I’m speaking of all baseball fans, because he’s a treat for all of us — had a scare in Boston, but Buxton returned just a few days later and he’s still cooking. In 14 games, he’s hitting .283/.345/.755 with four doubles, seven home runs, 12 RBI and 13 runs along with his usual amazing defense and baserunning. 

While Max Kepler and Luis Arraez deserve to be highlighted for their excellent offensive work among supporting cast members, the Twins’ offense as a whole really is capable of better than it has shown (what if Miguel Sanó and Gary Sánchez find their power stroke, for example?). 

Simply, things are going pretty well in Minnesota right now, and there’s reason for optimism on it being a strong 2022 season. They move up five spots below and into the top 10, just two weeks after languishing in the 20s. 

Biggest Movers


9

Diamondbacks


7

Mariners

Rk

Teams

 

Chg

Rcrd


1


Mets

This week, several teams had a case for the top spot, but it goes to the only team in baseball that has won every single series this season. From that perspective, the Mets are 7-0. 1 16-7

2


Blue Jays

Kevin Gausman has 41 strikeouts and zero walks so far this season. Yowzah. 2 15-8

3


Yankees

Just like that, they’ve won nine in a row and have baseball’s best record. They have beaten up on inferior talent, but that’s what great teams do. You want a test? The Yankees now head to Toronto for a must-watch series. 5 16-6

4


Dodgers

In all honesty, they are still likely the best team, but losing a series to the Diamondbacks has to carry consequences, otherwise all the contenders will be under the impression this was acceptable. I just can’t let that stand. 3 14-7

5


Angels

If the Taylor Ward breakout is real and sustained, holy smokes this is an offense with big upside. And how about that rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Patrick Sandoval, Jaime Barria and Michael Lorenzen all firing bullets? Fun and great team so far. 7 15-8

6


Giants

They’ve lost three of four, to bad teams, too, but after a day off the Giants get a crack at the Dodgers. A two-game sweep there could erase any bad memories. 3 14-8

7


Padres

Manny Machado is putting up MVP numbers and that’s what stars do when they need to pick up the slack with other stars out. Also, Eric Hosmer is hitting .382/.447/.579 — just like we all knew he would. 15-8

8


Brewers

Speaking of things we all knew would happen, Eric Lauer leads the team in strikeouts (34 in 23 1/3 innings!). 3 15-8

9


Twins

Hey, “the Rays never lose trades” people, can we talk about the Nelson Cruz trade? You know, the one that sent Joe Ryan to the Twins for a few months of Cruz? 5 13-9

10


Cardinals

I discussed their weak schedule last week. This week, they lost two of three to the Mets and split with the Diamondbacks. Tsk, tsk. 5 12-9

11


Rays

We know Mike Zunino won’t hit for average, but he still had a slug-heavy 137 OPS+ last year, thanks to 33 homers in 333 at-bats. This year? .093/.130/.186. That’s a -3 OPS+. Yes, negative. 2 12-10

12


Marlins

Jorge Soler has homered twice in the last three games and went 2 for 5 on Sunday. What if he gets 2019 levels of hot? While we’re here, could we order a 2018 version of Jesús Aguilar? I guess we shouldn’t get greedy. 4 12-9

13


Mariners

Starting to figure things out? Julio Rodríguez is 12 for 33 (.364) with three doubles and a home run in his last nine games. Remember, he’s only 21 years old. 7 12-10

14


Astros

Look, I’m trying to keep everything in small-sample perspective, but hitting Aledmys Díaz third is bleak stuff. On a serious note, at least Kyle Tucker seems to be waking up. 1 11-11

15


Phillies

That’s a great week, even with the series loss in Queens. They’ll get a home crack at the Mets this next weekend. Four games worth. 6 11-12

16


Rockies

Four road losses and three home wins? They’re back! That’s the most Rockies week possible. 6 13-9

17


Braves

Rough start for Ronald Acuña, Jr., but that isn’t shocking. He’ll get hot soon enough. I reckon the team follows. 10-13

18


Guardians

Through last Thursday, the Guardians were 7-2 against teams in Central divisions and 0-10 against everyone else. But then they went into Oakland and took three from the A’s. Baseball. 10-12

19


Diamondbacks

They beat the Dodgers in a series and then split with the Cardinals. That’s one hell of a week for this ballclub. I wouldn’t expect them to ever raise higher than this spot the rest of the season, though. 9 10-13

20


Rangers

Here’s a good example of why people shouldn’t pay so much attention to how far a team rises or falls. The Rangers went 3-4 this week and shot all the way up here. It’s a product of every team behind them either being bad or playing terribly, not due to the Rangers looking impressive. This whole No. 19-29 group down to almost the end (not the dreadful Reds, obviously) is really clumped together closely. 7 8-14

21


Athletics

They’ve now dropped six of their last eight. 1 10-12

22


Red Sox

They’ve been so bad that manager Alex Cora called them out publicly Saturday night, saying they needed to play a lot better. They responded by losing to the Orioles on Sunday. 7 9-14

23


White Sox

They were number five two weeks ago. And they might be ranked too high right now. Just awful. I do, however, expect both Sox teams to eventually rise out of this 19-29 group I mentioned in the Rangers comment. 4 8-13

24


Pirates

The names might not sound familiar, but Wil Crowe, Dillon Peters and David Bednar are as impressive a trio of relievers as any team has had to this point. 1 9-13

25


Cubs

The 6-4 start is a distant memory and Willson Contreras might as well start packing his bags. 1 9-13

26


Orioles

Coming this weekend: A rematch of the 2014 ALCS. You just KNOW these Orioles have their eyes on the Royals with payback in mind. I’m 100 percent, dead serious, too. 1 8-14

27


Tigers

If they are going to turn the tide, now is a good time to start. Yes, the Tigers have four in Houston in the latter half of this coming week, but the rest of their next 14 games come at home against the Pirates, A’s and Orioles. 5 7-14

28


Royals

The series win over the White Sox was very good, but everyone is beating them right now. 2 7-13

29


Nationals

It’s still way early, but given Nelson Cruz’s age (41), I’m a bit worried he might be cooked. He hit .226/.283/.442 after being traded to the Rays last season. Through 23 games this year, he’s at .148/.240/.216. 8-16

30


Reds

The Reds are on pace to go 22-140 this season. 3-19

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