MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Mets join Yankees in top three at Memorial Day mark, but who might make a charge?

Memorial Day is many things to many people. In the world of Major League Baseball, it’s a bit of a marker. Let’s see how things look on Memorial Day is a common refrain when wondering if a team is legit (or legitimately bad). 

Well, here we are. 

Yes, the Mets and Yankees are for real. The Twins are bona fide contenders. The Tigers aren’t. The Giants might just be slightly good instead of whatever that was last season. 

On and on we could go, but there’s also the sleeping giant to consider. It isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but there are times when a team rebounds from a slow start to make some serious noise in October — maybe even win it all. We saw it last season from the Braves and in 2019 from the Nationals. With more playoff teams than we’ve ever previously seen in a full season, the chances are higher than ever that a team dabbling in mediocrity could make a World Series run. 

Here are five candidates: 

1. Red Sox: If they do end up making a run, 10-19 will be the go-to phrasing (you know, like “19-31” for the 2019 Nats). The Red Sox have played well enough since that brutal start to get within two games of .500. They’ll need to shore up the bullpen, but there are always plenty of relievers to be had in front of the trade deadline. The upside is there. 

2. White Sox: This is funny. There was a stretch last season where the Braves alternated wins and losses for around two weeks. The White Sox went from 11-13 to where they currently sit without straying more than one game away from .500, either the high or low side. With all their injuries and underperformance, they’ve felt broken or even a bit cursed. Once they get fully healthy, they are every bit talented enough to make a deep playoff run. Just hang around .500 until everyone is back. This would be my pick. 

3. Rangers: I’m not seeing it, but the Rangers have been pretty strong since a 6-14 start. Some players aren’t playing to their full potential, either, such as Marcus Semien and Jon Gray. They’ll likely aggressively add in July (rotation help?) if they hang around the playoff picture, too. 

4. Phillies: They are talented enough to rip off something like 10 wins in 14 games. We’ve seen them play in stretches like a playoff team, such as taking three of four from the Dodgers in L.A. They are also, of course, self-saboteurs. Can they get out of their own way enough times to make the playoffs? If so, you can squint your way to a formula that would win several series (great starting pitching, power on offense, good back-end of the bullpen). Of course, those elements could just as easily fall apart with this team. We know because it’s been happening. 

5. Braves: This time around, they’ve been over .500, though not since 2-1. You know they all believe they can kick things into gear and get hot at the right time again, because they just did it last year. The problem is it’s just not that easy. They do have enough talent, though, that’s for sure. If I need an NL horse, I’m certainly not going Philly, so the Braves are the pick.   

A Braves-White Sox World Series? Nah, probably not, but don’t discount the sleeping giant. 

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1


Dodgers

They’ve won 13 of 15 and the two losses were by one run apiece — one of them was a routine grounder being cleanly fielded away from a win. 1 33-14

2


Yankees

They’ve lost five of nine and it feels like half the team is hurt. And yet, they are still up 4 1/2 games. 1 33-15

3


Mets

Pete Alonso set the Mets’ franchise record for home runs with 53 in 2019. He came four RBI short with 120 (1999 Mike Piazza and 2008 David Wright had 124). Alonso has 46 in 49 games right now, which is a pace of 152. 2 32-17

4


Brewers

The week was a lot stronger than a 4-3 record might suggest. The Brewers did that on the road against two very good ballclubs after having previously played the weakest schedule in the majors. Kudos to them. They’ve earned a promotion. 2 30-18

5


Padres

MacKenzie Gore is now sitting with a 1.71 ERA through his first 42 MLB innings. He’s struck out 47. 2 30-17

6


Astros

In his first eight starts, Justin Verlander allowed four home runs. In his ninth, he allowed four home runs. This was only the fourth time in his career he gave up at least four homers in a game and the first since 2018. As they say, you can’t predict ball. 2 30-18

7


Twins

Trivia! The Twins have had four winners of the batting title in club history. Can you name them? I ask because Luis Arraez is hitting .363 (answer in the Red Sox comment). 29-19

8


Rays

Battling back to get the split was a success, but the opportunity to gain ground on the Yankees presented itself and they did nothing with it. 1 28-19

9


Blue Jays

They’ve won nine of 12 and have scored 35 runs during their five-game winning streak. Here they come? 2 27-20

10


Cardinals

How’s this for bizarre? Nolan Gorman went 4 for 18 on the week and all four hits came in one game. 26-21

11


Angels

The Angels have now lost nine of their last 12. Gulp. 3 27-22

12


Giants

A ridiculous comeback paved the way for a series win over the Mets and there was a brief thought that maybe they were back on track. And then they lost two of three to the Reds (and were nearly swept). 25-21

13


Red Sox

The Twins batting champions are Joe Mauer, Kirby Puckett, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew. Why did I put the answer here? Because J.D. Martinez is actually the leader in average right now at .379. 1 23-25

14


White Sox

Lance Lynn made his first rehab start on Sunday (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 39 pitches), so there’s one player they haven’t had all season now on the path to returning. 1 23-23

15


Rangers

The Rangers haven’t been .500 all year. They were five outs away from evening things up at 23 on Sunday and blew the game. 3 22-24

16


Braves

Maybe now is the time for a run? The Braves have a very weak upcoming schedule, not playing a team above .500 until June 20 (and it’s the Giants, who might be under .500 by then).

1 23-25

17


Phillies

I don’t think he’s necessarily a big problem, but at some point I wonder if they try the ol’ “fire the manager” move and give Joe Girardi his walking papers. 1 21-27

18


Diamondbacks

They’ve now lost eight in a row against the Dodgers. The good news is they won’t see them again until September (when they’ll play them nine times in 11 days, yet another reminder how dumb the scheduling is). 1 23-26

19


Guardians

Remember that one weird week when weather meant the Guardians didn’t play Monday, Tuesday or Friday and had two doubleheaders? Yeah, they haven’t won a series since then. 19-24

20


Marlins

Through his first 26 games, Jorge Soler had just three home runs. He’s hit eight in his last 16. 19-26

21


Orioles

The O’s aren’t a good team. They won’t contend for a playoff spot. They are, however, firmly out of “pushover” territory, I think. They’ve gone 6-5 in the last week and a half against the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. They came back from an 8-2 deficit in three innings Friday. 2 20-29

22


Mariners

On April 21, Julio Rodríguez went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts, dropping his season line to .136/.208/.159. Hey, he’s only 21 and these things often take time. Since then, though? He’s hit .313 with six doubles, a triple and six home runs in 35 games. He’s going to lead the majors in steals and he plays good defense at a premium position. Kid is a baller. 20-28

23


Rockies

They’ve now lost 15 of their last 20. 2 21-26

24


Cubs

Prepare for some serious, raw power. Nelson Velázquez is coming up Monday. He homered nine times in 26 games in the Arizona Fall League and so far this year has 12 bombs between Double-A and Triple-A. 1 19-27

25


Athletics

I mentioned it last week, but they went 1-3 since, so it’s worth reiterating: The A’s are now 7-17 at home. That’s on pace for a 24-57 home record. Their worst-ever record at home since moving to Oakland is 31-50. 1 20-30

26


Nationals

Stephen Strasburg threw five innings Sunday in a rehab start, allowing just one walk. He didn’t give up a hit and struck out six. Go grab him in Fantasy if you have room to stash and he’s available. 2 18-31

27


Tigers

Javier Báez is really, really struggling right now. He’ll get hot at some point, though. Tigers fans will just have to get used to the ride. 1 17-29

28


Reds

Sequencing is a big deal early in the season. The Reds have gone 13-9 since May 6. Imagine if they started that way? But they were 3-22 before that. 1 16-31

29


Pirates

Roansy Contreras, who is 22 and has an 80-grade first name, has a 2.55 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through 17 2/3 innings this year. He looks the part, too. 1 19-27

30


Royals

Maybe I forced the Reds out of the 30 spot a week early last time around, but this time it’s fully earned by the Royals. Since starting the season 5-5, the Royals have played at a 162-game pace of 50 wins. They are pitiful. 3 16-30



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