The Evil Empire is officially back! The New York Yankees have claimed the top spot in our MLB Power Rankings for the first time this season, and it’s tough to argue against that choice.
The only team threatening the Yankees for that spot is the Boston Red Sox, who we ranked No. 1 last week. Both teams currently have the same record, but the Yankees are on one heck of a streak right now. New York has lost just one game out of its last 17. That gave them the edge over Boston for now.
There’s still plenty of season left, though. We have a feeling these two teams will be stealing the top spot from each other a few times before the postseason starts.
Through Tuesday’s action
1. Yankees (25-10; last week: 4)
Here come the Yankees. We all knew the team would get rolling eventually, but we aren’t sure we expected this. The Yankees have won seven straight games, but if you look back even further, you’ll notice the team is 16-1 in their last 17. They are dominating in every facet of the game right now.
2. Red Sox (25-10; last week: 1)
If there’s a threat to dethroning Mike Trout as the best player in baseball, Mookie Betts has the best shot to take it happen. The 25-year-old is hitting .360/.436/.825, with 13 home runs, in 31 games. He’s a big reason the team is near the top of the league in home runs after it ranked 27th in dingers in 2017.
3. Diamondbacks (24-11; last week: 2)
The new humidor at Chase Field has nothing on A.J. Pollock. The 30-year-old has been a monster no matter where he plays, but he’s really dominated at home, where he’s hit .338 with six of his 11 home runs. He’ll be an MVP candidate if he can stay healthy.
4. Astros (24-15; last week: 3)
Gerrit Cole is probably the leader in the clubhouse for the AL Cy Young Award. The only thing threatening that right now is his teammate. Justin Verlander has been almost as good, and Astros fans might have to worry about the two splitting votes.
5. Angels (22-14; last week: 11)
At some point, Mike Trout is going to stop improving, right? Somehow, his numbers keep getting better. Through 35 games, he has a .328/.453/.703 slash line with 12 home runs. There’s no debate, he’s the best player in baseball.
6. Rockies (21-16; last week: 17)
The Rockies are on fire. The team has won six straight games, giving them the second-highest win total in the NL. Even with the recent surge, they still trail the Diamondbacks by 3.5 games in the NL West. Aside from the Yankees and Red Sox, that might be the next best rivalry in baseball in 2018.
7. Nationals (20-17; lat week: 16)
The Nats were bound to get better. A team with Max Scherzer pitching as well as he has — 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA and an MLB-best 80 strikeouts — was going to turn it around. And now the Nats have won nine of their last 10.
8. Brewers (21-16; last week: 10)
The NL Central is bunched up. Four teams sit within one game of the division lead. The Brewers have managed to get into that position without Corey Knebel and Jimmy Nelson for most of the season. Knebel came back Wednesday. Once Nelson returns, the team could separate itself from the pack.
9. Cubs (19-15; last week: 5)
The Cubs’ rotation has a problem with walks. Both Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana have seen their performance take a dive due to control issues. Jon Lester and Tyler Chatwood have pitched well, but both have seen their walk rates surge too. That might not be a huge problem now, but teams tend to exploit that type of thing in the postseason.
10. Phillies (20-15; last week: 9)
Odubel Herrera deserves your attention. The 26-year-old has been on fire to start the season. He’s hitting .346/.404/.535, has lowered his strikeout rate and has reached base in 37 straight games.
11. Braves (20-14; last week: 14)
The Braves’ youngsters are getting all the attention, so Nick Markakis’ excellent season has flown under the radar. Markakis is hitting .333/.417/.533 in 34 games. After hitting eight home runs all last season, he already has six. Is he turning back the clock at 34?
12. Cardinals (20-14; last week: 13)
The Cardinals currently lead the NL Central by a half game, but there’s hope on the way. Top prospect Alex Reyes began his rehab assignment Wednesday. He could be a huge boost to the Cardinals once his stamina is all the way back.
13. Mariners (20-14; last week: 15)
The Mariners have to hope James Paxton’s no-hitter will pass some good vibes to the rest of the rotation. Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake and Felix Hernandez all have ERAs over 5.00.
14. Indians (18-18; last week: 8)
No, that’s not a typo, Cleveland actually leads the Central with a .500 record. That’s likely the reason the team made underwhelming moves all offseason. They knew the Tigers, Royals and White Sox were tearing things down. It might backfire. The Twins have won five straight games, and could play spoiler as the season goes on.
15. Pirates (21-16; last week: 12)
The Pirates deserve plenty of credit for not only grabbing Corey Dickerson from the Rays, but getting him to make some adjustments. After coming into the season with a career strikeout rate above 22 percent, he’s cut that number in half by choking up with two strikes. His improved performance might actually be real.
16. Blue Jays (19-17; last week: 7)
Are the Blue Jays really contenders? The rest of May will be telling. Of the team’s remaining 20 games during the month, only three will come against teams under .500.
17. Mets (18-17; last week: 6)
Remember when the Mets were good earlier this season? We still do, but they are making it really hard with the way they are playing right now. Batting out of order Wednesday didn’t help.
18. Giants (19-17; last week: 20)
The Giants have clawed their way above .500 despite Madison Bumgarner missing the entire season thus far. Is regression going to hit, or will he make them a legitimate playoff contender when he returns?
19. Athletics (18-19; last week: 18)
The Athletics just got swept by the Astros and things aren’t going to get much better any time soon. The team plays the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners and Diamondbacks over their next five series.
20. Twins (15-17; last week: 21)
The Twins are surging — well, if you can say a 15-17 team is surging. They’ve won five straight games and are starting to put some pressure on Cleveland. Even with their poor record, the Twins sit just a game out of first place in the AL Central.
21. Dodgers (15-20; last week: 19)
Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu, Justin Turner and Corey Seager have all hit the disabled list. The Dodgers dealt with a record number of injuries a few years ago and still made the playoffs. They might not be so lucky this time around.
22. Rays (15-18; last week: 23)
The only thing holding back Blake Snell from becoming an ace was his control. It should come as no surprise that his breakout is tied to a dramatically reduced walk rate. Snell has a 2.40 ERA in eight starts. The scariest part: He’s also striking out more batters than ever.
23. Tigers (15-21; last week: 22)
It’s tough to blame people for not paying attention to the Tigers early on, but Miguel Cabrera seems to be back after injuries impacted his numbers in recent seasons. The 35-year-old is hitting .323/.407/.516 in 35 games. He’s also cut his strikeout rate by five percent.
24. Padres (13-24; last week: 25)
If we told you the Padres and Dodgers would be next to each other in the standings in early May, would you assume the Padres got off to a great start or the Dodgers completely fell apart?
25. Rangers (15-24; last week: 24)
Tim Lincecum won’t save the Rangers once he gets promoted to the big leagues, but he’ll make them a lot more entertaining.
26. Marlins (13-23; last week: 26)
The Bad: The Marlins have the worst offense in baseball. The Not as Bad: Drew Steckenrider figured out his control issues and might be one of the best relievers in baseball.
27. Royals (12-23; last week: 29)
Mike Moustakas is on a tear, but the more surprising story is that Jorge Soler finally seems to have figured things out. The 26-year-old is hitting .324/.436/.546. After a couple years of uncertainty, Soler could actually be a useful piece during the Royals’ lengthy rebuild.
28. White Sox (9-25; last week: 27)
Former No. 1 overall prospect Yoan Moncada is having a sneaky good season. He’s hitting .263/.359/.509 over 132 plate appearances. The strikeouts are still a problem, but as he’s shown, he doesn’t need to hit for a high average to provide plenty of value.
29. Orioles (8-27; last week: 28)
It’s not going so well for the Orioles. The team has lost seven straight games, and finds itself with the worst record in baseball. Manny Machado better bring back a lot in a trade, or this could be a long rebuild.
30. Reds (10-27; last week: 30)
Manager Jim Riggleman caught the Mets batting out of order Wednesday. It was the biggest win the Reds have had in weeks.
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