Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

New club cracks top 5 in latest Power Rankings

Milwaukee rising, while Dodgers hold down No. 1 spot
MLB.com

Maybe it shouldn't have taken this long for the Milwaukee Brewers to appear as one of the top five teams in our weekly Power Rankings. After all, they've been one of the most consistent teams in a National League that, as a whole, has struggled all year. Heading into Tuesday, only six of the 15 teams have a record above .500.

While all eyes have been on the Cubs for much of the year, the Brewers have quietly put together a terrific three-plus months, during which they built an impressive, albeit slim, advantage in a surprisingly mediocre NL Central.

Maybe it shouldn't have taken this long for the Milwaukee Brewers to appear as one of the top five teams in our weekly Power Rankings. After all, they've been one of the most consistent teams in a National League that, as a whole, has struggled all year. Heading into Tuesday, only six of the 15 teams have a record above .500.

While all eyes have been on the Cubs for much of the year, the Brewers have quietly put together a terrific three-plus months, during which they built an impressive, albeit slim, advantage in a surprisingly mediocre NL Central.

Though Milwaukee is pretty much in the middle of the pack statistically in most categories, the club has received stellar performances in several areas. Starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson ranks eighth in the NL with a 3.27 ERA, while All-Star Corey Knebel ranks sixth among relievers with a 1.62 ERA. Offensively, Travis Shaw is having a career year so far, with a .293/.361/.564 slash line.

Part of the Brewers' success can be attributed to playing well on the road -- at 24-19, only the Nationals (30-17) and Dodgers (25-18) have better road records in the NL than Milwaukee.

Video: MIL@NYY: Nelson strikes out Judge to end the 3rd

Biggest jump: The Mariners were unranked last week, and they come in at No. 14 this time around. That jump can be attributed to six wins in seven games heading into their matchup in Houston on Tuesday. July didn't start well for Seattle -- the club had a four-game losing streak July 3-6 that included a sweep by the Royals, but a sweep of the White Sox over the weekend boosted its status this week.

Biggest drop: The Yankees dropped three spots, from No. 8 to No. 11. Their steady drop in the Weekly Power Rankings is in line with their decline over the past three weeks. Heading into Tuesday's tilt in Minnesota, the Yankees had lost 21 of 30 games and 7 1/2 games in standings over that time. That dropped them from first to third in the American League East.

Power Rankings Top 5

1. Dodgers (1 last week)
This really isn't debatable. Los Angeles hasn't lost in two weeks, stringing together nine wins in a row. The monthly breakdown: April: 14-12; May: 19-9; June: 21-7; July: 10-1. Need more good news, Dodgers fans? They play exactly one .500-or-better team the rest of this month -- the Twins, who are 47-45. The rotation has a 2.27 ERA in July, the best in the NL by nearly a half-run.

Video: Must C Cycle: Bellinger completes historic cycle

2. Astros (2)
Houston has produced numbers nearly as eye-popping as the Dodgers, minus the nearly double-digit winning streak. The Astros have won 18 of their past 27 games heading into Tuesday's game against Seattle. There is a laundry list of hitters who have contributed to the Astros' stellar season, but let's give the nod to Jose Altuve, who ranks first in the AL with a .347 average. He's reached safely in 21 straight games, during which he has registered a nearly .500 on-base percentage.

3. Nationals (3)
Maybe this will be the last week we harp on the Nationals' bullpen woes. While it remains to be seen how effective the newly acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson will be, it's a safe bet they'll at the very least take pressure off the relief staff. Kudos to general manager Mike Rizzo, who likely realized this is probably the best of all of the Nats' recent contenders and he needed to act accordingly. The NL East race has been over for a while -- these recent moves were with an eye on October.

Video: Nationals acquire pair of veteran bullpen arms

4. Red Sox (4)
Boston has been mediocre in July, going 7-7 including a loss to Toronto on Monday. The Red Sox dropped seven of their past 10 games and aren't hitting all that well. Still, they maintain a decent lead in the AL East race and they're still getting very good performances from their starting pitchers. Before Monday's game, they compiled a 1.89 ERA over their previous seven games.

5. Brewers (7)
It's more than time to acknowledge that the Brewers have been really good all season. Even with their loss to the Pirates on Monday, they're still nine games over .500 and enjoying a decent lead in the NL Central. Among several top performers is Jonathan Villar, who batted .353 (12-for-34) with six runs scored during a recent eight-game hitting streak, which ended Monday.

Video: MIL@CIN: Villar belts two solo homers vs. the Reds

The rest of the Top 20

6. D-backs (5)
7. Indians (6)
8. Rockies (9)
9. Rays (10)
10. Cubs (11)
11. Yankees (8)
12. Twins (13)
13. Royals (12)
14. Mariners (NR)
15. Cardinals (14)
16. Rangers (15)
17. Braves (19)
18. Pirates (18)
19. Angels (16)
20. Blue Jays (20)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.