It's a little uncanny what happens right around the quarter-season mark every year. Call it course correction, or the law of averages, or the baseball gods finally deciding to stop messing with us -- it seems like every year, with around 25 percent of the season in the books, teams start performing a little closer to preseason expectations.
As interesting as the Mariners were when they opened the season, and the Red Sox for that matter (but for completely opposite reasons), the division standings today make a lot more sense than they did three weeks ago.
The Red Sox are probably the best example of that course correction that inevitably happens when an underachieving, yet loaded roster just keeps playing the schedule.
The Red Sox have won 16 of their past 22 games, outscoring opponents by 69 runs (143 to 74) over that stretch. It's no coincidence that Boston's offensive turnaround happened around the same time that Mookie Betts started emerging from his season-opening struggles. After slashing .200/.305/371 in his first 19 games, the reigning American League MVP put together a .373/.500/.613 stretch over his next 20.
Biggest jump: The Rockies jumped five, from No. 18 to No. 13. A slow homestand ended on a positive note when the Rockies took two of three from the Padres, which followed a weather-shortened series split with the Giants. Nolan Arenado, despite going 0-for-3 Sunday, has been on fire lately, slashing .476/.500/.905 with four doubles, a triple, four home runs and 13 RBIs over his prior 10 games. Charlie Blackmon had two homers and three RBIs in Sunday's win, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, during which he's batting .381 (16-for-42) with five doubles, a triple, four homers, 10 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
Biggest drop: The Nationals dropped four, from No. 13 to No. 17. And that may be a little generous on our end. At this point, the Nationals do not look like a top-20 team after finishing their extended road trip with a 3-7 mark and nearly being no-hit by Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. It's still too early to glean much from the standings, but it's notable that the 16-24 Nats are already 7 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1) Dodgers (1 last week)
The list of contributors throughout their 5-2 homestand is long, but let’s use this space to give Ryu his due. He threw a shutout against the Braves in a 9-0 Dodgers win on May 7, and he nearly topped that with eight one-hit innings on Sunday, falling five outs shy of a no-hitter. The Dodgers lefty has pitched 24 straight scoreless frames and has a 1.72 ERA over eight starts this season.
2) Astros (3)
This is around the time the "haves" start to separate themselves from the "have-nots" and, seven weeks into the season, the Astros are more loaded than ever. They obliterated the Rangers in a four-game weekend sweep at Minute Maid Park, outscoring them 33-11 while improving their home record to 16-4, the highest home winning percentage (.800) in the Majors. George Springer was 5-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs in Sunday's 15-5 win. He now has five leadoff homers and 29 for his career.
3) Rays (2)
As the only team in the American League East that didn't stumble out of the gate when the season began, the Rays were able to use their strong start to settle in atop a division notorious for its degree of difficulty every year. Though they lost two of three to the Yankees over the weekend, the Rays entered the finale Sunday with a 1.80 ERA over their prior eight games, and overall, their 2.85 ERA led the Majors.
4) Yankees (5)
The Yankees, still far from playing at full strength, have won 18 of their past 25 games since April 16, after starting the season 6-9. They've also won three consecutive series, all of them against teams with records over .500 at the time of the matchups (Twins, Mariners, Rays). Gleyber Torres has had a nice stretch, hitting safely in 15 of his past 16 games, hitting .349 (22-for-63) with seven extra-base hits.
5) Cubs (6)
Similar to the Yankees, the Cubs have turned it on after a dreadful start to the season. The Cubs were 2-7 to open the year, but since then, they're 22-7 over 29 games since April 8 and haven't lost a series since dropping two of three to Milwaukee from April 5-7. Kris Bryant has reached base safely in each of his past 22 games since April 17, the longest active streak in the Majors. That's also a career-high for the Cubs third baseman.
The rest of the Top 20:
- Twins (4 last week)
- Cardinals (8)
- Brewers (7)
- Red Sox (12)
- D-backs (10)
- Phillies (9)
- Indians (11)
- Rockies (18)
- Padres (15)
- Mariners (17)
- Braves (14)
- Nationals (13)
- Pirates (NR)
- Mets (16)
- A’s (NR)