All aboard the Twins Bandwagon! And save us seats. Hold a spot for us on the Astros Bandwagon, too. We’ll send a staffer to ride each, the way those clubs are playing so far.
It’s been a fascinating first few months of the season for our Daily News MLB Power Rankings, to say the least. Minnesota and Houston are vying for the best record in the American League. We would not have predicted either.
The Astros, who have been stockpiling young talent like hoarders, weren’t supposed to be this good this soon. But their young players have bloomed and some shrewd pickups have put them firmly in second place in our lineup, behind only the Cardinals. And now they’re bringing up Carlos Correa, maybe the best prospect in baseball? Yikes.
No team has been the butt of more of our (hilarious) jokes throughout the distinguished history of these rankings than the Astros. That’s what you get when you go 232-416 (.358) over the past four years.
But no team deserves more praise now. Unless it’s the Twins, who were 265-383 (.409) over the last four seasons themselves.
This year, though, behind guys like Brian Dozier, who leads the big leagues in runs scored, saves leader Glen Perkins (21 already) and a revived Mike Pelfrey, the Twins are three percentage points better than the powerful Astros. Not bad.
To the numbers!
1. St. Louis Cardinals (38-19, last week No. 1): Would’ve swept four games from the Dodgers, who we love, if not for that nuisance Clayton Kershaw. That’s how good these Cards are.
2. Houston Astros (34-24, last week No. 2): Yes, the ‘Stros have struck out the second-most times in baseball (531, one behind the Cubs). But they’ve also homered the most (78). It’s working.
3. Minnesota Twins (33-23, last week No. 5): With apologies to Ratso Rizzo: “There’s no walkin’ here!” Twins have issued the second-fewest free passes in baseball, behind only the Mets.
4. Kansas City Royals (31-23, last week No. 3): Poster children for putting the ball in play: They’ve struck out 50 fewer times than the team closest to them (Boston).
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (32-25, last week No. 4): Joc-ying for position: Right now we’ll take Pederson over Kris Bryant, thanks.
6. New York Yankees (32-25, last week No. 14): Six-game winning streak equals moving up eight spots in our rankings. You do the math.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (31-25, last week No. 12): Francisco Cervelli watch: Nifty slash line of .331/.396/.405.
8. San Francisco Giants (32-36, last week No. 6): Madison Bumgarner’s follow-up season is going nicely – 7-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP.
9. Chicago Cubs (30-25, last week No. 8): Of course, we really like Kris Bryant (.861 OPS), too.
10. New York Mets (31-27, last week No. 10): You can’t say they didn’t give the six-man rotation a chance. Wait. Yes, you can.
11. Tampa Bay Rays (31-27, last week No. 13): Chris Archer is the only pitcher since 1900 with three straight starts with 10 or more strikeouts and no walks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Now that’s shoving.
12. Washington Nationals (30-27, last week No. 7): Big matchup Tuesday at Yankee Stadium – Max Scherzer v. Masahiro Tanaka. We’ll be watching.
13. Texas Rangers (30-27, last week No. 15): Nearly swept the Royals over the weekend, which we consider an eye-opener.
14. Detroit Tigers (30-28, last week No. 9): Getting our limited-edition “Verl the Pearl” T-shirts ready for Justin Verlander’s return from the disabled list.
15. San Diego Padres (29-29, last week No. 17): Can’t wait to see what GM A.J. Preller does at the trade deadline. He’s a blast.
16. Los Angeles Angels (28-29, last week No. 11): Didn’t really like what we saw at the Stadium over the weekend unless “Trout” was on the back of the jersey.
17. Atlanta Braves (27-29, last week No. 16): Matchup alert: Ex-closer Craig Kimbrel coming to town with his Padre pals this week.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (28-30, last week No. 25): Their run differential is plus-45, which either means they’re due for a run into the upper echelons or they’re the sworn enemy of the Devotees of Run Differential.
Dillon Gee is the odd man out in the Mets’ failed six-man rotation experiment.
19. Cleveland Indians (27-29, last week No. 19): Appointment viewing: Corey Kluber against the Mariners Tuesday. Kluber’s got 59 K’s and three walks in his last 40 innings.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks (27-29, last week No. 21): Against the Mets Sunday, Josh Collmenter became the first ‘Zona pitcher ever to give up three home runs leading off innings, according to Elias. Dubious distinction if there ever was one.
21. Baltimore Orioles (26-30, last week No. 20): Quirk-a-licious: Matt Wieters homered and tripled Sunday, making him the third catcher to homer and triple in the same game this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Colorado’s Nick Hundley and San Diego’s Derek Norris have also done it.
22. Boston Red Sox (27-31, last week No. 26): Was last week a red (Sox) herring or signs of a real resurgence? You decide.
23. Chicago White Sox (25-30, last week No. 22): Old chum David Robertson has a 0.80 WHIP, a 2.28 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 23.2 innings for Pale Hose.
24. Colorado Rockies (25-30, last week No. 23): Obviously, Rox should revamp pitching plans to have Kyle Kendrick pitch to Giancarlo Stanton every time Stanton bats against ’em – Stanton is 3-for-29 against Kendrick lifetime, including 0-for-last-18, Elias says.
25. Seattle Mariners (25-32, last week No. 18): No worries, M’s: Only 154 players have a higher OPS than Robinson Cano’s .598. Oh, my.
26. Cincinnati Reds (24-31, last week No. 24): If you’re a contender, you ship the farm to Cincinnati to try for Johnny Cueto, don’t you?
27. Miami Marlins (24-33, last week No. 27): They’ve got a Hech of a shortstop, you know – Adeiny Hechavarria. It’s no laughing matter when you see the man play the position.
28. Oakland A’s (23-36, last week No. 28): Their plus-3 run differential suggests an improvement is coming. Their hideous bullpen (4.97 ERA, worst in bigs) and metallic gloves (57 errors in 59 games, most in baseball) suggest they’ll stay right here.
29. Philadelphia Phillies (22-36, last week No. 29): Role-playing: Jeff Francoeur was 4-for-30 lifetime as a pinch-hitter entering this year, according to Elias. But he’s 5-for-9 with five RBI while PHing this year, including two game-winning RBI.
30. Milwaukee Brewers (20-37, last week No. 30): Only the Padres (71) have allowed more homers than the BrewCrew’s 70.
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