The Houston Astros are the first team in the majors to reach the 40-win mark and already own a 12 1/2-game lead in the American League West. That performance has them atop the rankings for a second straight week.
Here’s a look at how each team stacks up this time around:
1. Houston Astros
The 41-16 Astros can play .500 ball the rest of the way and still win 94 games – but that’s not going to happen. Instead, it’s time to start looking at the fact that they’re on pace to beat the all-time record of 116 wins. Yeah, they’re that good.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
A plus-84 run differential – second only to Houston in all of baseball – has helped lift the Dodgers back into a race for top spot in the NL West with Colorado. That Kershaw guy, who became the third-fastest ever to record 2,000 strikeouts this weekend, has also helped LA’s push a great deal.
3. Washington Nationals
The Nats have a very comfortable lead in a weak division and an absolutely scorching offensive unit, so losing Bryce Harper to a three-game suspension this week didn’t really affect them all that much – as evidenced by Washington’s 2-1 record without the superstar.
4. New York Yankees
While they’ll certainly take the 2-2 split in Toronto, a 3-4 week against AL East opponents is not what Joe Girardi’s club needed in an increasingly tight division. Now, the first-place Yankees get Boston for three, and a Sox sweep would drop the Baby Bombers out of first.
5. Colorado Rockies
The best baseball news of the week came out of Denver, where Chad Bettis – who completed his chemotherapy treatments last month – announced Friday that he’s beginning his rehab this week and plans to return to the majors this season. We can’t wait to see him back on the mound at Coors.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks
Maybe it’s because the D-Backs just seem to be stuck spinning their wheels in third place, but Paul Goldschmidt’s push toward becoming just the second full-time first baseman to record a 30-30 season isn’t getting nearly enough attention. Goldy may even take a run at 40-40. You should probably watch him play some time.
7. Boston Red Sox
Amid all the talk of John Farrell possibly being on the hot seat, and a large number of Red Sox (who aren’t named Chris Sale) performing below par to date, the Red Sox are suddenly just two back of first place heading into what should be a fun series at Yankee Stadium.
8. Baltimore Orioles
The O’s have a weird week coming up. Thanks to an earlier rainout, they lose an off-day Thursday and must instead travel to Washington for a single game before heading to the Bronx for a key divisional battle beginning Friday. We may find out just who the 2017 Orioles are when it’s all said and done.
9. Chicago Cubs
Was rock bottom for the defending champions getting swept by the lowly Padres to fall below .500? The team’s response – a weekend sweep of the rival Cards at home – has to give Cubs fans a sliver of hope that San Diego will end up being the turning point.
10. Cleveland Indians
Corey Kluber’s 10-strikeout return from the DL on Thursday was a welcome sight for the Indians, who are somehow still chasing Minnesota in the AL Central. It’s starting to feel like order in that division will be restored within a few weeks’ time.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
The prevailing sentiment seems to be that the Brewers are simply keeping the first-place seat warm for the floundering Cubs. The pitching remains the fly in the ointment, having registered just 20 quality starts.
12. Tampa Bay Rays
Corey Dickerson continues to surge. While his .342 batting average and 13 home runs are certainly impressive, he’s also avoided going hitless in back-to-back games so far. He’s the real deal.
13. St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Carpenter’s bat still hasn’t fully woken up despite leading the team in home runs (nine). He’s hitting only .213, and his inconsistency has been emblematic of the team’s underwhelming play of late.
14. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are somehow only a game below .500 after an almost apocalyptic start to the season. With a healthy Josh Donaldson hitting monster home runs and Troy Tulowitzki playing his customary top-shelf defense, this team is back from the dead in a big way.
15. Minnesota Twins
The AL Central-leading Twins don’t get any respect, and maybe that’s because of their minus-19 run differential. The team is bound to come back down to earth sooner rather than later, but Miguel Sano’s emergence has been fun to watch.
16. Detroit Tigers
Fortunately, the AL Central is still winnable despite the Tigers hovering around .500 for most of the season. That said, they’ll need to overcome extremely long odds if they want to get mainstays Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera back to the World Series.
17. Texas Rangers
After a surprising 10-game winning streak in late May, the Rangers have gone 2-9, dropping even further back in the standings. The slide was punctuated by a three-game sweep at the hands of the division-leading Astros. A fire sale of the team’s top assets could be incoming.
18. Seattle Mariners
Getting James Paxton back healthy couldn’t have come at a better time. With the majority of Seattle’s rotation sidelined for the better part of the season, Paxton’s first start in nearly a month – going 5 1/3 while striking out six and not allowing a run – was a sign of the team’s potential.
19. Los Angeles Angels
Yes, Albert Pujols hit home run No. 600, but now there’s very little to look forward to with Mike Trout potentially out for the next two months. If there was any hope of sneaking into the postseason, it evaporated with his injury.
20. New York Mets
The Mets may be within spitting distance of second place in the NL East, but that’s more of a testament to how weak the division is than New York’s success. It seems that every other day features a new controversy or baffling loss. #LOLMets indeed.
21. Chicago White Sox
After a surprising start to the season, the rebuilding White Sox have fallen back to earth. The team has combined to an 11-21 record since the end of April corresponding to Jose Quintana’s poor performances.
22. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds continue to hover under .500 despite surprisingly efficient and steady contributions from Zack Cozart. One notable stat: the club ranks second in baseball in park-adjusted defensive efficiency (2.60).
23. Miami Marlins
The Marlins have quietly gone 8-2 in their past 10 games, and thanks to a brutal division, that’s a much-needed positive development. Edinson Volquez’s brilliant no-hitter is a great story, too.
24. Atlanta Braves
It’s safe to say that offseason additions Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey haven’t worked out thus far. The Braves’ rotation has combined for the league’s third-worst FIP (5.10) and fifth-highest BB/9 (3.57).
25. Pittsburgh Pirates
Many keep waiting for the Pirates to string together some wins, but so far that hasn’t happened. On the bright side, Ivan Nova has issued only six walks in 77 innings this year, good for a 0.70 BB/9 – second best in the majors.
26. Oakland Athletics
Athletics hitters continue to mash baseballs, tied with the Yankees in 4th place with 84 home runs. Unfortunately, they can’t seem to win games away from the Coliseum, combining to an 8-20 road record.
27. Kansas City Royals
As long as the Royals remain in last place, trade rumors will fly. Lorenzo Cain has performed very well (albeit with limited power), hitting .272/.356/.385 this year. Alex Gordon, however, has not. (.175/.286/.205, -0.3 WAR and 0 HRs to date).
28. San Francisco Giants
The Giants have averaged 86 wins the past three seasons. The current group is projected to finish with 75 victories, 11 games below .500 for the first time since 2013. Times are dire in the Bay Area.
29. Philadelphia Phillies
After fairly productive 2016 campaigns from starters Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff, those three have combined to post a 5.25 ERA (4.60 FIP) in 27 starts. The club also desperately need Maikel Franco to be better.
30. San Diego Padres
The Padres recently saw their five-game win streak snapped, and that’s not a typo. Their surprising run included a sweep of the reigning World Series champions, with the other two wins coming against the Nationals and Rockies.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)