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MLB Power Rankings: Astros reclaim top spot from Yankees

With Memorial Day near, it has become abundantly clear which three teams are setting the pace in Major League Baseball. The Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have owned the top three spots in our weekly MLB Power Rankings, and this week is no different.

The only thing that has changed is the order we’ve ranked them. This week, the defending World Series champion Astros are back on top after the Yankees owned the No. 1 spot the past two weeks. Prior to that, the Red Sox were No. 1 for three straight weeks.

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Once you get past the top three, it’s wide open. The Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers did the most to establish their positions this week, while the Arizona Diamondbacks experienced quite a fall from grace. Here’s a look at how we’re ranking all 30 teams heading to Memorial Day weekend.

Gerrit Cole has proven to be an excellent addition to the Astros already dominant starting rotation. (AP)

1. Houston Astros (32-18; last week: 3)
Welcome back to the top, Houston. While the Red Sox and Yankees had been duking it out for No. 1 the past few weeks, the Astros just kept being the Astros. That meant dominant pitching on top of dominant pitching. They lead MLB in ERA, WHIP and batting average against. It all equals a run differential of +107, 28 better than anybody else. Wowzer.

2. New York Yankees (31-14; last week: 1)
The Yankees lineup continued to mash this week, becoming one of only four teams over the last 100 years to record three straight game with at least eight extra-base hits during a trip to Kansas City and Texas. Rookie Gleyber Torres looks like he could be the team’s next superstar. He’s hit seven home runs in May.

3. Boston Red Sox (33-15; last week: 2)
In most seasons, these Red Sox would have been the talk of baseball for the first two months. Instead, they’re jostling for position with two other powerhouses. Though most believe Boston is the clear No. 3, they’ve more than held their own so far thanks to a starting rotation that ranks top three in ERA and an offense that is scorching hot behind Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

4. Atlanta Braves (29-18; last week: 7)
We’re in! We were slow to get on the Braves bandwagon (sorry, ATL), but it’s hard to argue that they’re not one of MLB’s best teams right now. After the Houston-Boston-Bronx trifecta that’s been at the top of this list for a while, the Braves are as strong a choice as any. They remain balanced between offense (third-most runs scored) and pitching (eighth best ERA) — that equals power.

5. Washington Nationals (26-21; last week: 6) 
Every time the Nationals seem to find their footing, another key player goes down to injury. This past week, it was veteran Howie Kendrick who went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. In his place, Washington promoted 19-year-old phenom Juan Soto. Based on the early returns, the situation won’t be too big for the young prospect. He homered on the first pitch of his first start and is helping to keep Washington moving in the right direction. It goes to show, the Nats are deep and talented.

6. Milwaukee Brewers (31-19; last week: 9)
Are the Brewers the team to beat in the NL Central? They’re becoming more difficult to deny after getting off to their best 50-game start in 50 seasons. Milwaukee is up to 31 wins (and a .620 winning percentage) after completing an impressive three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks. The Brewers pitching staff was simply dominant in the series, allowing a total of 10 hits.

7. Philadelphia Phillies (27-19; last week: 8)
Manager Gabe Kapler has found his stride and it’s showing in the results. He was roundly criticized for his bullpen management early in the season, but has found success sticking to his unconventional methods. It helps when you have late-inning relievers as talented as Seranthony Dominguez and Hector Nerris.

8. Chicago Cubs (25-20; last week: 10)
Kris Bryant called the Cubs an “average team” this week. While we understand that sentiment based on their recent disappointing play, we certainly don’t agree. There’s still too much talent on this roster for the Cubs to continue floundering long-term. If the most recent outings of Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana are any indication, those two are poised to turn their season around. If and when they do, the Cubs will be ready to take off.

The Angels are 6-1 in games started by Shohei Ohtani. (AP)

9. Los Angeles Angels (26-22; last week: 5)
Shohei Ohtani’s impact has been very real. In his seven starts on the mound, the Angels are 6-1 this season. In the games he hasn’t been the Angels starting pitcher, they’re 20-21. Mike Trout has been his usually brilliant self as well, posting a ridiculous 4.0 WAR through the team’s first 47 games.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (26-21; last week: 12)
How do the Cardinals keep doing it? Even with Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong on the disabled list. And even with new additions Marcell Ozuna and Greg Holland struggling, they’re still finding a way to stay relevant in the National League. One of the biggest reasons? Miles Mikolas. The 29-year-old right-hander reinvented himself pitching in Japan, and is one of the season’s best stories are starting the season 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA in his first 60 innings.

11. Colorado Rockies (26-23; last week: 13)
The Rockies are looking like the NL West’s sturdiest team to date, though they’re not without flaws either. The offense doesn’t offer much beyond Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. Their ace, Jon Gray, still hasn’t found his footing. Yet their finding ways to squeak out wins, mainly because of a shutdown bullpen led by Wade Davis, Adam Ottavino and Jake McGee.

12. Arizona Diamondbacks (25-24; last week: 4)
It’s not a shock Arizona is in free fall. After A.J. Pollock was lost to injury last week, we warned you that this could happen — they’d lost six in a row and 12 of 13 entering play Wednesday. It could just be things evening out after their red-hot start. Or it could be worse. If they want to fix it, they’ll need Paul Goldschmidt to wake up

13. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-21; last week: 11)
14. Cleveland Indians (23-23; last week: 14)
15. Oakland Athletics (25-23; lat week: 19)
16. Seattle Mariners (28-19; last week: 15)
17. New York Mets (24-21; last week: 17)
18. San Francisco Giants (24-26; last week: 18)
Contenders/pretenders: These teams are all entering a pivotal point in their season. In the next few weeks we should be able to determine which are contenders and which are pretenders. The Indians are the team best built for success in the short-term, but they’ll have to start backing that up with wins. The Pirates have faltered with four straight losses, but remain firmly in the NL Central mix. The A’s and Mariners are playing well lately, but face an uphill battle chasing the Astros. Now Oakland has lost Khris Davis to injury, while Seattle lost Robinson Cano to injury and an 80-game suspension. Now they’ve lost Dee Gordon too. The Mets and Giants are one hot stretch from being serious threats.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are still trying to find themselves are a disappointing start to the season. (AP)

19. Los Angeles Dodgers (21-27; last week: 23)
Ahhh, the Dodgers, once again, what to make of them? They’re climbing up in the rankings a bit after winning five of their last six. The volatile NL West has them just four-and-a-half-games out. We’ll need to see more before we move them up any higher, but it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where the Dodgers lead the division by July.

20. Toronto Blue Jays (23-25; last week: 16)
21. Tampa Bay Rays (22-24; last week: 21)
22. Minnesota Twins (21-24; last week: 20)
23. Detroit Tigers (21-28; last week: 22)
Not quite the bottom: Here’s the good news, none of these teams are the Orioles or the White Sox. But they’re not exactly charging up the rankings either. The Blue Jays, for instance, looked good a few weeks ago, but have been steadily in decline. The Twins could make some strides, but they shouldn’t wait too much longer.

24. San Diego Padres (20-30; last week: 24)
25. Texas Rangers (19-31; last week: 25)
26. Cincinnati Reds (17-32; last week: 26)
27. Miami Marlins (18-30; last week: 27)
28. Baltimore Orioles (15-33; last week: 28)
29. Chicago White Sox (14-31; last week: 30)
30. Kansas City Royals (16-33; last week: 29)
The bottom: Congrats to the White Sox, who have moved up from the very last place in our rankings this week. They’ll probably be back one of these weeks because that’s what the bottom is about, folks. If you’re down there, you’re probably not getting too much higher. The records might change and you might go up or down one spot, but it’s going to take a lot for the team like the Marlins, Reds or Orioles to jump.

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