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.
We’re halfway through May and the cream has risen to the top of the MLB. The Astros move into the top three thanks to their dominant offensive performance and the Brewers leapfrog the Blue Jays. Otherwise, the top 10 remains intact.
Accordingly, the focus this week is on the bottom half of the table. The riser highlighted in this edition of the power rankings isn’t likely to make a splash in September, but they’re winning games and we’ve rewarded their success with a move up the rankings.
On the Rise
The Cincinnati Reds
Rank Change: +4 (30 to 26)
Opponents Since Last Ranking: Pirates (two games), Guardians (three games)
While 2022’s version of the Reds certainly isn’t the Big Red Machine, the past two weeks should dampen talk of them being the worst team in history. They’ve won seven of their past ten games, including two of three from the division-leading Brewers.
In that stretch, Cincinnati’s pitching staff has held opponents to a league-best .193 batting average and yielded the fourth-fewest runs of any team in the league. They posted a combined 3.83 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through those ten games as well — a massive improvement for a unit that ranked dead last in virtually every metric for the first month and a half of the season.
The result that got the most attention in this span was the game where Hunter Greene and Art Warren no-hit the Pirates and still lost. The focus on that unfortunate quirk of baseball scoring took attention away from the strides other members of the rotation are making.
In his past three starts, Tyler Mahle went 17.1 innings, allowed a total of five runs, and struck out 18 batters. That’s good for a 2.63 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, a massive stride forward from the 7.01/1.71 marks he held going into his start on May 8. Connor Overton was also impressive in his last two starts, posting a 1.29 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, although an accompanying 5.51 xFIP throws a pall on those numbers.
Tyler Naquin and Brandon Drury headline a Cincinnati offense that suddenly looks menacing. Colin Moran found his power stroke and has contributed four home runs in the past ten games. Tyler Stephenson has posted a 185 wRC+ with two home runs since returning from the IL on May 3, and Mike Moustakas turned in a 198 wRC+ performance in the same period. They’ll also get a boost with the expected return of Joey Votto from the COVID IL today.
All this is to say yes, the Reds are a long way from playoff contention, but they’re not going to be a 126-loss team, either. They’ve got some good players who deserve our attention. We’re missing out if we ignore them because of how their season started.
In a Slide
The Colorado Rockies
Rank Change: -2 (21 to 23)
Opponents Since Last Ranking: Royals (two games), Giants (three games)
The Rockies are sinking toward the low expectations fans had for them in the preseason. They are 5-10 in May and, coincidentally, 5-10 in road games. The home-away splits (perhaps unsurprisingly) explain a lot about the Rockies’ season.
137 of Colorado’s 178 runs (i.e. 77%) have come on the road. Even by Rockies standards, this is extreme
— they scored 62% of their runs at home in 2021, and 56% at home in 2020. They hit .286/.353/.458 at home and .229/.290/.345 on the road. Their ISO is also drastically lower on the road (.116) compared to at home (.172), although Milwaukee and Cincinnati have even starker differences in ISO for home and away splits.
Combine that drastic split in offensive performance with a pitching staff that’s struggling both home and away (4.91 ERA at home, 5.21 ERA away) and you have the 2022 Colorado Rockies.
The flip side to this assessment is this team can clearly rake and is a force to be reckoned with at Coors Field. The rest of their division is too strong for them to compete without shoring up their pitching and finding a way to score on the road, but they could certainly play the role of kingmaker by taking games from the teams competing for the crown.
Rank Change: -3 (24 to 27)
Opponents Since Last Ranking: Angels (three games), Twins (three games)
The A’s stopped a 9-game skid by winning a series against the Tigers, then promptly lost back-to-back series against the Angels and Twins.
Head on over to our AL West Division Roundup if you’d like the full download on why they’re last in their division. For the glass-half-full people out there, the Roundup also spotlights a few bright spots for the A’s, namely Paul Blackburn’s excellent performance to date.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)