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Injury bug can't stop Power Rankings' top club

@alysonfooter
June 9, 2019

The National League Central division picture, while far from complete, may have become a little clearer over the weekend. The Cubs, who bolstered their bullpen with the signing of closer Craig Kimbrel, swept the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, outscoring them, 17-6, while widening the gap by a significant margin in

The National League Central division picture, while far from complete, may have become a little clearer over the weekend.

The Cubs, who bolstered their bullpen with the signing of closer Craig Kimbrel, swept the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, outscoring them, 17-6, while widening the gap by a significant margin in the division standings.

The Cardinals will open a three-game series in Miami on Monday one game under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind both the Cubs and Brewers, two first-place teams separated by a mere two percentage points.

The Cubs rebounded from a bad stretch a week earlier, having lost two of three in Houston before they were swept by the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. They responded by winning five of six on their recently completed homestand and are keeping pace with the Brewers, who are 7-3 in their past 10 games, including a sweep of the Pirates at home over the past weekend.

The NL Central was predicted to be a dogfight between no fewer than three teams, and possibly four. With more than a third of the season in the books, will this division race eventually come down to just two front-runners?

On to the rankings...

Biggest jump: The Rockies jumped five spots, from No. 16 to 11. They've won 10 of 14, though they were just 2-4 during their recent road trip at the Cubs and Mets. Offensively, Trevor Story is heating up -- over his past 10 games, he has 17 hits in 42 at-bats (.405), with 10 extra-base hits and 12 runs scored. David Dahl is batting .444 (20-for-45) with 12 runs scored in his last 10 games.

Biggest drop: The Indians dropped five spots, from No. 11 to 16. This might be a little harsh, given the Indians are coming off a nice 4-2 homestand against the Yankees and Twins, two of the best teams in baseball. But Cleveland is just one game over .500 and has a double-digit deficit to the Twins in the American League Central. Eventually, the Tribe may have to pivot its attention to the Wild Card race.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1) Astros (1 last week)

The Astros' lengthy list of injuries has still had little effect on their record, and they're actually on pace with the 2017 World Series championship team with a 45-22 mark through 67 games. Nonetheless, Houston received offensive reinforcement on Sunday when the club recalled outfielder Jordan Alvarez, one of the top hitting prospects in baseball. Alvarez homered in his second at-bat, sending a Dylan Bundy changeup 413 feet to left-center, with an exit velocity of 107.3 mph, according to Statcast.

2) Dodgers (2)

Corey Seager has been on a tear, logging 12 hits in his past 25 at-bats, with five doubles, a homer and nine RBIs. Entering play on May 12, Seager was slashing .227/.323/.362 with 13 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs through 40 games. Since then, he's hitting .341 (31-for-91) with 16 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs over 23 games.

3) Twins (3)

The Twins' bullpen had a better day on Sunday, and it needed it. Mike Morin gave up a harmless run in a 12-2 route over the Tigers, a welcome turn of events given what's happened over the past couple of weeks. Heading into Sunday's game, Twins relievers had allowed 30 earned runs in 35 2/3 innings over 11 games -- a 7.57 ERA with 11 homers. On a happier note, the offense continues to hum – the Twins hit four more home runs on Sunday, bringing their season total to 125 over 63 games.

4) Yankees (4)

The Yankees ended a tough road trip on a high note Sunday, beating Cleveland (after blowing a ninth-inning lead) to win in 10 innings, 7-6. But that only improved the road trip record to 2-4. Their next extended homestand (not counting the upcoming two-gamer with the Mets) should be interesting: It begins with a visit from the Rays from June 17-19, followed by the Astros from June 20-23.

5) Rays (5)

Unlike the Yankees, the Rays just completed a sterling road trip, winning two of three in Detroit before taking three of four in Boston. They've won 13 of 19 and have outscored opponents 106-60 over that stretch. They logged their 40th win Sunday, in their 64th game of the season -- comparatively speaking, last year, it took them until their 81st game to reach 40 wins. And that year ended up being a good one, considering they went on to win 90 games.

The rest of the Top 20:

6) Cubs (6 last week)

7) Brewers (8)

8) Phillies (7)

9) Red Sox (10)

10) Braves (9)

11) Rockies (16)

12) Cardinals (13)

13) D-backs (14)

14) A's (12)

15) Padres (15)

16) Indians (11)

17) Rangers (18)

18) Pirates (17)

19) Mets (19)

20) Nationals (NR)

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