The 2018 MLB season is nearly a month old and we're starting to see a few teams separate themselves from the pack.
The Boston Red Sox proved they belong in the top spot in our weekly power rankings with a sweep of the Los Angeles Angels, while the Arizona Diamondbacks are now top dogs among NL teams and the Houston Astros bounced back nicely after sliding out of the top spot last week.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw our first managerial firing, as the floundering Cincinnati Reds sacked Bryan Price.
And in between, there was plenty of shifting once again.
Just remember, this is a fluid process, with teams rising and falling based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.
Here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand heading into this week's action.
|1||Boston Red Sox (17-4)|
|2||Arizona Diamondbacks (15-6)||1|
|3||Houston Astros (16-7)||2|
|4||Los Angeles Angels (14-8)||2|
|5||New York Mets (14-6)||1|
|6|| Cleveland Indians (11-8)|
|7||St. Louis Cardinals (13-8)||2|
|8||Chicago Cubs (10-9)||2|
|9||New York Yankees (11-9)||2|
|10||Toronto Blue Jays (13-8)||2|
|11||Los Angeles Dodgers (10-10)||2|
|12||Milwaukee Brewers (14-9)||5|
|13||Washington Nationals (10-12)||1|
|14||Pittsburgh Pirates (12-10)||7|
|15||Atlanta Braves (12-8)||4|
|16||Philadelphia Phillies (14-7)||2|
|17||Minnesota Twins (8-8)||3|
|18||Colorado Rockies (12-11)||3|
|19||Seattle Mariners (11-9)||3|
|20||Oakland Athletics (11-11)||1|
|21||Tampa Bay Rays (8-13)||3|
|22||Detroit Tigers (9-11)||4|
|23||San Francisco Giants (9-12)||2|
|24||Texas Rangers (8-15)||4|
|25||Baltimore Orioles (6-16)||3|
|26||San Diego Padres (8-15)||3|
|27||Kansas City Royals (5-15)||2|
|28||Miami Marlins (5-16)||1|
|29||Chicago White Sox (4-14)||1|
|30||Cincinnati Reds (3-18)|
Teams That Impressed
After falling out of the top spot for the first time since winning the World Series, the Houston Astros rebounded nicely with a 6-1 week that included a four-game series win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field and a sweep of the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Carlos Correa (13-for-24, 2 HR, 7 RBI) has caught fire at the plate, while the starting rotation went a combined 6-1 with a 0.96 ERA last week.
A bit further down the rankings, the Milwaukee Brewers enjoyed a 6-1 week of their own after a modest 8-8 start.
A strong week from the starting staff—including scoreless outings from Jhoulys Chacin (6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER) and Zach Davies (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and a solid two-start week from Junior Guerra (10.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER)—is a promising takeaway from a rotation that had been struggling.
Take that with a grain of salt since those wins came against the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins, but you have to play the schedule you're dealt.
The Atlanta Braves (plus-34) and Philadelphia Phillies (plus-33) boast the two best run differentials in the NL, and they continue their steady climb up the rankings. Another strong week could be enough for one or both to leapfrog the Washington Nationals.
At the bottom, the Detroit Tigers continue to exceed expectations in the early stages of a rebuild. A 5-2 performance last week included a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles and a four-game split with the Kansas City Royals at home, bringing their record to 9-11 on the year to go along with a plus-four run differential.
JaCoby Jones (.874), Miguel Cabrera (.855), Jeimer Candelario (.849) and Nicholas Castellanos (.820) each has an OPS over .800, and the team is averaging 4.7 runs per game.
The Tampa Bay Rays also showed some signs of life, going 5-1 last week after a 3-12 start. That included a series win over the Texas Rangers and a sweep of the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field.
Former top prospects Mallex Smith (.344 BA, .871 OPS) and Daniel Robertson (.318 BA, .996 OPS) are leading the way offensively, while Yonny Chirinos (5 G, 4 GS, 2.92 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) has pitched his way into a regular rotation spot.
Teams That Disappointed
Let's start with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who tumble down to the No. 14 spot after climbing up to No. 7 in last week's rankings. A home series loss to the Colorado Rockies and a four-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park dropped them to third in the NL Central standings.
Jameson Taillon (1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 ER) was shelled Thursday after going 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his first three starts, while the offense managed just 17 runs in seven games.
The Texas Rangers continued their steady slide down the rankings, as they've looked more like an afterthought than anything remotely resembling a legitimate challenger in the AL West. Series losses to the Rays and Mariners dropped them to their lowest position of the year at No. 24.
The starting rotation has pitched to a 5.10 ERA, and an offense that's averaging just 3.7 runs per game has been unable to shoulder the load.
The Los Angeles Angels (1-5) and New York Mets (2-4) both lost back-to-back series after climbing into the top five last week, and they'll now need to prove their hot starts were the real deal.
Six different Angels starters combined to go 1-5 with a 9.38 ERA last week, while the Mets suffered through a bullpen performance that included a 9.00 ERA and two blown saves as all eight relievers who made an appearance allowed at least one earned run.
The Minnesota Twins (minus-2), Seattle Mariners (minus-12) and Colorado Rockies (minus-22) all enter the week with negative run differentials and records that are hovering around the .500 mark, so they're at a crossroads of sorts in the push to contend.
It's not a huge surprise to see the Miami Marlins (minus-58), Chicago White Sox (minus-56) and Cincinnati Reds (minus-56) checking in with the worst run differentials in baseball.
However, the fourth-worst mark of the Baltimore Orioles (minus-49) is a bit alarming for a team that opted against selling during the offseason in favor of one final push to contend. It could be a busy summer for the O's on the trade market if things don't dramatically improve.
MVPs of the Week
AL MVP: Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics
Stats: W, 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
After a record seven no-hitters were thrown during the 2015 season, we had just one each in 2016 (Jake Arrieta, CHC) and 2017 (Edinson Volquez, SD).
However, with a gem from Manaea on Saturday, we already have our first no-no of 2018.
The 26-year-old showed flashes during his first two seasons in the big leagues, but he's coming into his own this year, as he's gone 3-2 with a 1.23 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 36.2 innings over his first five starts.
Acquired from the Royals in the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City during the 2015 season, Manaea has a chance to be a significant long-term piece in Oakland.
NL MVP: Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
Stats: 12-for-25, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R
Baez was a strong contender for top NL honors last week, and he's continued swinging a red-hot bat.
The 25-year-old has six multihit performances in his last 10 games, posting a .378/.391/.978 line with seven home runs and 19 RBI during that span.
"It's just fun to watch him play baseball," teammate Kyle Schwarber said, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. "He always has so much fun out there. It doesn't matter if he's 0-for-20 or 20-for-20 or has four homers in two games or whatever. ... I get wowed by him all the time. It's great to have him on our side because he plays with joy."
Video Highlights of the Week
Longest Home Run: Franchy Cordero, San Diego Padres
An injury to Manuel Margot temporarily opened the door for Cordero to take over as the starting center fielder in San Diego. Margot's return will cut into his playing time, but he remains on the active roster for the time being.
The 23-year-old has three home runs in his first 40 plate appearances. The most impressive of which came on Friday when he launched a 489-foot missile off the center field scoreboard at Chase Field, taking fellow rookie Matt Koch deep.
That's the longest home run of the young season, and it left the yard at an impressive 116.3 mph exit velocity.
Cordero is an intriguing prospect for the rebuilding Padres thanks to his tantalizing mix of power and speed. He posted a .326/.369/.603 line with 21 doubles, 18 triples, 17 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 93 games at Triple-A El Paso last season.
Best Defensive Play: Albert Almora Jr., Chicago Cubs
With Ian Happ slumping (.222 BA, .646 OPS, 25 K), Almora is making a strong case to be the everyday center fielder for the Cubs.
The 24-year-old put on a defensive clinic during the team's weekend trip to Colorado, as the above play is just one of a handful of highlight-reel grabs he made that also included a terrific over-the-shoulder basket catch.
Aside from his glove work, Almora also went 7-for-15 during the Rockies series, and, for the time being at least, it looks like he has staked claim to the leadoff spot in the batting order and the regular center field gig.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians (Tuesday-Wednesday)
For the first time since a memorable World Series Game 7 in 2016, the Cubs and Indians will play each other—this time in a quick two-game series.
Tyler Chatwood and Josh Tomlin will square off in the first game of the series, while Wednesday features a pair of starters that factored prominently into the World Series with Jon Lester facing off against Trevor Bauer.
While there have been changes to both rosters since that fateful October meeting, there are still plenty of players on both sides who were there the last time these two teams played.
That should make for an exciting—albeit brief—meeting at Progressive Field this week.