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MLB Power Rankings: Astros, Twins are early season surprises

May 29, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

May 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis (right) high fives catcher Jason Castro (left) after scoring a run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a look at Major League Baseball with analysis from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman and Nationals writer Chase Hughes:

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

30. Brewers – Hughes: (LW: 29) After looking like a playoff team at times last year, the Brewers look headed towards a lengthy rebuild right now.

29. Marlins – Hughes: (LW: 30) I can’t imagine covering the Miami Marlins this season, or in recent years in general. Just a complete trainwreck.

28. Athletics – Zuckerman: (LW: 27) We didn’t know what remade Oakland team would look like this year, but did anyone think it would be this bad?

27. Phillies – Hughes: (LW: 26) It will be interesting to see what happens in the fallout of Ruben Amaro’s comments about Phillies fans. They already didn’t like him and he just shook the hornets nest.

26. Reds – Hughes: (LW: 20) Reds manager Bryan Price was ejected before a game even started last week. That’s about how well things are going right now for Cincy.

25. Rockies – Hughes: (LW: 28) Manager Walt Weiss sports a 159-210 (.431) record in his three seasons at the helm.

24. Red Sox – Zuckerman: (LW: 16) Severe overestimation of the quality of their rotation by front office entering season.

23. Diamondbacks – Hughes: (LW: 22) The Diamondbacks are second in the NL in runs scored behind the Nationals, but it’s tough to win with one of MLB’s worst pitching staffs.

22. Blue Jays – Zuckerman: (LW: 23) If they’ve got a run in them, now would be a good time to do it while the division remains up for grabs.

21. Indians – Zuckerman: (LW: 25) Do people realize how good Jason Kipnis is? A second baseman with .949 OPS, leads AL in WAR.

20. White Sox – Zuckerman: (LW: 15) Had a nice week earlier this month, but now they’re coming back to earth.

19. Orioles – Zuckerman: (LW: 19) Given how weak the AL East is, they really just need to hang around until it starts to come together.

18. Rangers – Zuckerman: (LW: 24) Welcome back, Prince Fielder. And sorry for forgetting about you.

17. Padres – Hughes: (LW: 14) The Padres have been relatively average, but Craig Kimbrel has been nothing like his usual self. He’s got a 5.00 ERA through 20 appearances.

16. Braves – Hughes: (LW: 17) With the disasters in Philly and Miami, the Braves are actually looking like a pretty stable franchise after all the changes they made this offseason.

15. Angels – Zuckerman: (LW: 11) It’s been kind of lost amid the Bryce Harper hype, but Mike Trout still playing at MVP levels.

14. Rays – Zuckerman: (LW: 13) Most productive hitters so far this season: Logan Forsythe and David DeJesus. Go figure!

13. Mariners – Zuckerman: (LW: 18) Finally starting to look like the team many of us thought they’d be this season.

12. Yankees – Zuckerman: (LW: 12) Lose 10 of 11, then sweep the Royals! Somebody explain this team. I can’t.

11. Pirates – Hughes: (LW: 21) Gerrit Cole – 24 years old and 7-2 with a 2.11 ERA – should be receiving more attention than he’s getting.

10. Cubs – Hughes: (LW: 8) The Cubs feel like they can play with the Nationals after matching up so closely at Wrigley. Should be a fun series in D.C. next week.

9. Mets – Hughes: (LW: 7) New York has another very impressive young starter in Noah Syndergaard. He has a 2.55 ERA through four career starts.

8. Tigers – Zuckerman: (LW: 4) Every member of the regular lineup has been above average except for Nick Castellanos.

7. Giants – Hughes: (LW: 10) So much for this being an off-year for the Giants. They are starting to round into form as one of the league’s best teams.

6. Twins – Zuckerman: (LW: 9) They’ve won 19 of their last 25. How exactly are these guys doing this?

5. Royals – Zuckerman: (LW: 2) KC has become a baseball town once again. Right now, five Royals are in line to start the All-Star Game!

4. Dodgers – Hughes: (LW: 3) The Dodgers remain in first place in the NL West, but it’s a safe bet the Giants take over by the end of the week.

3. Nationals – Hughes: (LW: 5) The Nats have the best offense in the NL without Anthony Rendon having played a game and Jayson Werth either ineffective or injured all year. Pretty amazing, really.

2. Astros – Zuckerman: (LW: 4) It feels like this is happening a year ahead of schedule. But the longer it keeps up, maybe next year is now.

1. Cardinals – Hughes: (LW: 1) I had a feeling Michael Wacha would someday turn into a Wainwright/Carpenter like ace and carry the torch in St. Louis. Looks like that’s happening this year.

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

  1. micksback1 - May 29, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    I have no problem with these rankings and Mark is spot on

    Astros are a great story and so are the Cubs

  2. Bruxtun - May 29, 2015 at 11:52 AM

    Any word on how Rendon came out of his 5 inning sim the other day (yesterday?)? I’m assuming today would be a scheduled day off for him.

    • Eric - May 29, 2015 at 12:03 PM

      I believe it was the day before yesterday, and I’ve been wondering, too.

      • Steady Eddie - May 29, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        There were murmurs in some of the sports columns – probably all based on the same single source – that it all went well, TTB MIGHT be able to start a rehab stint this weekend.

        I am doubly rooting for it as I have tickets for the Senators game at Bowie on Sunday.

      • Eric - May 29, 2015 at 12:33 PM

        Thanks Steady E.

        The item I read indicated that he got his 5 innings in with as many at bats as that brought (I believe 2?) and then continued playing in the field a bit after that? I can’t remember where I read it…I think it was the Post.

        I wonder if they’re keeping it lower key this time given that he’s already had two false starts this season.

      • Steady Eddie - May 29, 2015 at 1:03 PM

        Agree, Eric — prudent for them to state things only as they happen, not before. No benefit at this point in publicly raising expectations for any next step.

      • Steady Eddie - May 29, 2015 at 1:03 PM

        Agree, Eric — prudent for them to state things only as they happen, not before. No benefit at this point in publicly raising expectations for any next step.

  3. NatsLady - May 29, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    I’m WAY more surprised by the Twins than the Astros. The Strohs are a little ahead of schedule. The Twins weren’t even ON the schedule. Let’s see if they can maintain.

    • bisonaudit - May 29, 2015 at 2:24 PM

      Twins are way to high on that list. They’re winning games but it’s a complete mirage.

      The run differential doesn’t support the record and the 3rd order hitting and pitching stats don’t support the run differential. Cluster luck at it’s finest.

      They’re my team. Love the Twins, but this isn’t lasting. Though there is more talent in the pipeline so they could legitimately be a better team in the near future.

  4. Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    Mets deserve to be in the top 10, but you’ve got to wonder how this 6-man rotation is going to work and how it will affect them. Will they drop a position player and keep the bullpen in tact? Or will they drop someone from the bullpen? If the purpose of the 6-man is to save young and/or recovering arms for the stretch, how does that square with talk of letting all six starters (including Matt Harvey) go deeper into games? And if they drop a postion player from the bench, will we see Bartolo Colon used as a pinch hitter?

    • masterfishkeeper - May 29, 2015 at 1:46 PM

      As long as they don’t use Colon as a pinch runner, they should be okay.

      • ArVAFan - May 29, 2015 at 3:45 PM

        Is there a lowlight reel to go with the highlight reel? That would be a Top Play!

  5. stoatva - May 29, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    TClipp with a save last night, featuring a two out walk, run scoring double, and line shot to the warning track in center for the third out.

    Kickin it Soriano-style!

  6. natsjackinfl - May 29, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Rendon is in the lineup for Harrisburg tonight.

    • Bruxtun - May 29, 2015 at 3:35 PM

      He is Risen!

    • Steady Eddie - May 29, 2015 at 3:36 PM

      +6!

      • natsjackinfl - May 29, 2015 at 3:39 PM

        You going to the game?

      • Steady Eddie - May 29, 2015 at 3:53 PM

        Sunday

    • ArVAFan - May 29, 2015 at 3:48 PM

      Warm fuzzy feeling . . . and fingers crossed.

      It would be nice if when he’s back in the lineup in DC, they do something special before the game to recognize his Silver Slugger. He didn’t come to DC for Opening Day to be recognized, and I think the Nats should make a big deal about it. That and $9.75 will get you a beer at the park, but I wanted to put that out there.

    • Eric - May 29, 2015 at 4:31 PM

      Good deal!

      Looks like he’s playing 2B

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