MLB Power Rankings: Harper’s bat helps Phillies gain ground

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper celebrates after hitting a home run off Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jesse Biddle during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP)

How do you know it’s still early in baseball? If the Orioles have more wins than the Yankees and Red Sox, that’s a pretty good indication it’s still too soon to draw sweeping conclusions.

Even so, some injuries and notable performances have shifted our power rankings after one week of baseball. For week two of sportsnet.ca’s MLB power rankings, we pick one notable number for each of the 30 teams (previous week’s rankings in parentheses)…

1 (2) Los Angeles Dodgers

5 – With five early-season home runs, Cody Bellinger has helped power the Dodgers’ MLB-best offence.

2 (3) Houston Astros

7 – George Springer’s .926 OPS might actually undersell how well he’s hitting the ball. After a week of games, he had hit seven balls at least 100 m.p.h. to lead the team.

3 (1) Boston Red Sox

89.1 – Chris Sale averaged just 89.1 m.p.h. with his fastball in his second start of the season, topping out at 92. You can’t read too much into one start, but this isn’t what the Red Sox would have wanted.

4 (4) New York Yankees

11 – Already the Yankees have 11 players on the injured list including Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Miguel Andujar, Giancarlo Stanton and, as of Thursday, Troy Tulowitzki.

5 (5) Washington Nationals

∞ – The Nationals aren’t off to the greatest start. Case in point, the infinity ERA that Trevor Rosenthal has through three appearances. The right-hander has allowed seven earned runs without recording an out.

6 (7) St. Louis Cardinals

15 – Yadier Molina became the 10th catcher in MLB history to start at least 15 opening days, joining the likes of Ivan Rodriguez, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Bill Dickey.

7 (8) Philadelphia Phillies

440 – Bryce Harper has hit three home runs already. He’s averaging 440 feet per homer.

8 (6) Chicago Cubs

$15.003 million – Extension season is in full swing throughout Major League Baseball. On Wednesday, Cubs utility player David Bote was the latest to cash in with a $15.003-million contract. On the off-chance you haven’t heard of the 25-year-old, he has a solid but unspectacular .731 OPS in 79 career games.

9 (11) Milwaukee Brewers

96.8% – Why even use your breaking stuff when your fastball’s this good? Josh Hader has thrown fastballs 96.8 per cent of the time to this point, but he still whiffed 10 of the first 17 hitters he faced.

10 (10) Atlanta Braves

4 – By signing Ronald Acuna Jr. to a $100-million contract, the Braves extended their team control of last season’s Rookie of the Year by four seasons. Acuna hit 26 home runs with a .917 OPS last year, cementing his status as one of the game’s young stars. This looks like a great deal for Atlanta.

11 (9) Cleveland Indians

.494 – Cleveland’s clearly built around pitching, but they have to hit a little bit. The MLB-worst .494 OPS they had after one week won’t be enough.

12 (12) New York Mets

24 – Last year’s NL Cy Young winner picked up where he left off. Through two starts, Jacob deGrom has 24 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched.

13 (14) Oakland Athletics

10 – It was 10 years ago this month that Brett Anderson made his MLB debut. To give you an idea of how long ago that is in baseball terms, Jason Giambi, Nomar Garciaparra and Ken Griffey Jr. played in that game. A decade later, Anderson’s still getting results in Oakland.

14 (13) Los Angeles Angels

-14 – The Angels already have a run differential of minus-14, so perhaps it’s not surprising that they won just one of their first seven games.

15 (15) Minnesota Twins

30 – Byron Buxton has now stolen 30 consecutive bases without getting caught. Better still, he has an .896 OPS in the early going.

16 (16) Tampa Bay Rays

35 – Even at 35 years old, Charlie Morton continues producing. In his first two starts since signing a two-year, $30-million deal, the right-hander has a 1.64 ERA.

17 (19) San Diego Padres

20.089 – Just 89 days after turning 20, top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. hit the first home run of his big-league career.

18 (17) Colorado Rockies

.299 – Daniel Murphy will miss at least a month with a fractured finger, leaving the Rockies without his lifetime .299 average.

19 (20) Seattle Mariners

7 – Despite trading away some of their top players over the winter, the Mariners got off to an MLB-best start, winning seven of their first eight games.

20 (18) Cincinnati Reds

1.42 – Luis Castillo has been a bright spot for the Reds during an otherwise disappointing start, posting a 1.42 ERA with 17 strikeouts through two starts.

21 (21) Pittsburgh Pirates

1.55 – The Pirates’ rotation had a 1.55 ERA after a week of games, and they’ll likely need to stay among the league leaders to contend for a wild card.

22 (22) Arizona Diamondbacks

2 – Zack Greinke hit two home runs Tuesday, bringing his career homer total to eight. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, Greinke has also allowed six homers this year.

23 (25) Texas Rangers

115.4 – Another season means more hard-hit balls off of Joey Gallo’s bat. His hardest-hit ball yet was clocked at 115.4 m.p.h.

24 (24) Toronto Blue Jays

979 – With the 979th pick of the 2011 draft, the Blue Jays selected Kevin Pillar. Eight years, 697 games and 14.6 wins above replacement later, Pillar’s a member of the San Francisco Giants as the Blue Jays’ rebuild continues.

25 (23) San Francisco Giants

11.8% – Hitters are swinging and missing at nearly 12 per cent of the pitches that leave Madison Bumgarner’s hand, compared to just 9.2 per cent a year ago.

26 (28) Detroit Tigers

23 – To this point in his career Matt Boyd has been a back-end starter. But the Tigers can dream a little now that the left-hander has 23 strikeouts over his first two starts to go along with a 3.18 ERA.

27 (27) Kansas City Royal

7.45 – The Royals’ bullpen has a 7.45 ERA early on, contributing to some frustrating late-game losses.

28 (26) Chicago White Sox

9 – A good sign for the White Sox: left-hander Carlos Rodon outpitched Corey Kluber Wednesday, striking out nine over six innings of work.

29 (29) Miami Marlins

9,576 – After seven home dates, the Marlins were averaging fewer than 10,000 fans per game. And you thought the Blue Jays had trouble drawing.

30 (30) Baltimore Orioles

4 – By winning four games in a row during the first week of the year, the Orioles matched the longest win streak of their dismal 2018 season. It’ll take more than that to climb these rankings, though.

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