Every week, the PL team publishes an update to our power rankings, reviewing the biggest risers and fallers of the past seven days. As always, the full rankings can be found at the bottom of this article…but where’s the fun in that.
Week 10 was a dramatic one in the majors, as the Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi just a few days before the Angels moved on from Joe Maddon after two-plus years at the helm. Managerial firings are more often a symptom of a team’s underperformance than the cure; however, one of those decisions has appeared to immediately pay some dividends.
In fact, the Phillies have yet to lose in the post-Girardi era. Since interim manager Rob Thomson took over on June 3rd, Philadelphia has completed three-game sweeps of both the Angels and the Brewers, posting an impressive +33 run differential over that stretch. You won’t see the Phils moving up the ranks this week – they’re stuck behind equally hot Boston and Atlanta – but with Zack Wheeler rolling and the offense finding their groove, a top-10 ranking is far closer than it was a week ago.
Of course, the Angels also fired their manager this week, and although it’s too early to say they won’t pull off a Philadelphia-esque turnaround right out of the gate, it’s a bit harder to imagine given their recent performances. More on that below.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Yankees retake the top spot from the Dodgers. Los Angeles has been in a bit of a rough (by their standards) stretch, getting swept by the Pirates at the end of last week before splitting with the Mets and losing the opener to the White Sox. They took the next two in Chicago, but didn’t look particularly dominant in either game. Meanwhile, the Yankees keep on rolling, having won eight of their last ten. While their offense keeps mashing (4.9 runs per game, fourth in MLB), their pitching has overtaken Los Angeles as the best in the bigs, allowing only 3.1 runs per game. Given how these two clubs have played thus far, I suspect they’ll be back and forth the rest of the year.
Los Angeles Angels – #17 (28-31, -6):
The Angels were the talk of the baseball world this week…unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. Just three weeks ago they were the #5 team on our rankings. Since then, they reeled off a 12-game losing streak, fired their manager, and lost a couple more before finally beating the Red Sox last night thanks to a strong outing from Shohei Ohtani, who also homered.
In the past two weeks, the Angels have collapsed on both sides of the ball. Since May 27th, the offense ranks 28th in baseball with a 80 wRC+ while slashing .215/.280/.340. Nobody has been spared – Mike Trout found himself in an 0-26 slump at one point. Even Nickelback couldn’t revive the bats.
In typical Angels fashion, a huge factor here are injuries. Anthony Rendon went down on the 27th exactly with right wrist inflammation – he fielded grounders earlier this week but there’s been no news on a potential return date. Breakout slugger Taylor Ward, who already missed a few games in late May, was placed on the IL on June 3rd due to right hamstring tightness (he’s set to return on Tuesday). And to add insult to injury, in the very same game in which he broke out of that slump, Trout was removed with a hamstring issue. He’s avoided an IL stint thus far, but he hasn’t played since Tuesday.
Los Angeles hasn’t fared much better on the mound, producing a team ERA of 5.43 since May 27. They’ve certainly gotten a bit unlucky, as their FIP is almost a full run lower, but it’s clear that the semi-motley crew composing the rotation are coming back to earth. In the past two weeks, six Angels have started two games. Only Ohtani and Reid Detmers have ERAs under 5 over those starts – Ohtani rebounding from a disastrous outing vs. the Yankees with a strong performance yesterday, while Detmers has somehow posted an impressive 0.00 ERA without managing to make it out of the fifth inning. The rest of the rotation – Michael Lorenzen, Patrick Sandoval, and Noah Syndergaard (Chase Silseth was demoted two days ago) – has been rough, with ERAs in the upper fives to eights. Sandoval, an early-season breakout candidate – has been particularly disappointing. He had a 1.79 ERA going into the losing streak, but he’s pitched poorly in his last two outings.
Minnesota Twins – #8 (33-26, +4):
The Twins break into the top-10 for the first time. It’s well-earned; they’ve led the AL Central for much of the year, and their .559 winning percentage is fourth in the AL. In the past week, they took two out of three from the Blue Jays before dropping a closely fought rubber match to the Yankees.
They’ve also managed to continue winning games despite injuries decimating their rotation. Joe Ryan has been out for weeks with COVID, Sonny Gray is already on his second IL stint of the season, and Bailey Ober joined them last week with a strained right groin. Of course, that’s not to mention Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack, both out for the year. Chris Archer and Devin Smeltzer have both pitched reasonably well in their absence, although I’m sure the club would prefer to avoid too many more Dylan Bundy starts moving forward.
At the plate, however, the Twins are cruising. They’ve posted the third-best wRC+ in baseball over the last two weeks, led by MLB-average leader Luis Arraez (.388 AVG), Gio Urshela (.348 AVG), and Byron Buxton (1.100 OPS). Carlos Correa has also come back from his own COVID stint to post a .991 OPS. They’ve also been hit with some bad luck – Max Kepler has the 13th-largest disparity between his expected slugging percentage and his actual.
Knock on wood, but it seems that Minnesota has survived the worst of it – both Ryan and Ober are set to begin rehab assignments in the coming days, and it’s hard to see the rest of the weak AL Central keeping up with a full-strength Twins squad.
Week Ten Power Rankings:
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)