Power Rankings: Rivals stake their claims for Astros' throne

Mariners holding their own in AL West (1:29)

Tim Kurkjian and Mark Teixeira break down this week's power rankings with the Mariners cracking the top five. (1:29)

The voting is in, and what figures to be a season-long three-way wrestling match for top honors in our Power Rankings has a new champ. After reclaiming the highest perch for just two weeks, the Astros, defending world champs, have again been pushed down to No. 3 as the Yankees kept mashing and cinched their best record through 60 games (42-18) since 1998, when they won their first of three consecutive World Series titles. The Red Sox held steady in the No. 2 slot, ready to take their shot at reclaiming the lead in the American League East -- and the rankings.

But just as the Astros might have lost a few strides on the rest of the AL's top tier, they're threatened by the Mariners for dominance in their own division. Seattle made the biggest move within this week's top 10, moving up three rungs to No. 6 while also displacing the Astros by percentage points in the AL West. That wasn't the only significant change in the top 10, as the Angels made their return, while the Cardinals slipped out of MLB's top third with a two-slot decline.

The biggest gain of the week, however, was made by the Giants. Call it the MadBum effect, but now that the Giants have one more good starting pitcher than they had before while bouncing around .500, their six-rung improvement could be a sign of things to come. They weren't the only National League West team to advance, as the Dodgers and D-backs both made gains as well. The biggest declines were from the reliably inconsistent Rays and Mets, who dropped five and four slots, respectively.

This week, our panel of voters is composed of David Schoenfield, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, Bradford Doolittle and Sarah Langs.

Week 9 rankings | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. New York Yankees

Record: 42-19
Week 9 ranking: 3

The Yankees joined the Red Sox as the second team in baseball to the 40-win mark after a marathon affair against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 6. After 12 scoreless innings, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton homered in the same inning for the first time. Sonny Gray was masterful in that game, pitching his first scoreless outing in a Yankees uniform. -- Dan McCarthy, ESPN Stats & Information

2. Boston Red Sox

Record: 44-22
Week 9 ranking: 2

The Red Sox had a hole in their rotation in the wake of the Drew Pomeranz injury, but knuckleballer Steven Wright stepped up. Coming off four straight scoreless relief outings, Wright tossed his first scoreless start since a shutout of the Dodgers on Aug. 5, 2016. His two hits allowed were his second-fewest ever in a start. -- McCarthy

3. Houston Astros

Record: 42-25
Week 9 ranking: 1

The Astros have a formidable lineup, but if there has been one area where they were lacking in production it's at designated hitter. Two weeks ago they were tied for last in the AL in home runs (four) and third-worst in OPS (.672) from their DHs. That has changed in the past two weeks thanks to Evan Gattis, who has six home runs in the past two weeks, tied for second-most in MLB in that time. Gattis had four home runs in his first 43 games this season. -- Jacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information

4. Chicago Cubs

Record: 37-25
Week 9 ranking: 4

A few fun facts about Cubs starters since Mike Montgomery joined the rotation on May 28: Montgomery (1.02) and Jon Lester (1.80) both have ERAs below 2.00 over three starts each. In that span, the rotation has the second-best ERA in MLB (2.30, trailing only the Mets). While expensive free agents Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood haven't gotten going yet, the rotation as a whole is beginning to live up to its preseason hype. -- Kenneth Woolums, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Washington Nationals

Record: 36-27
Week 9 ranking: 5

Max Scherzer had a crazy week. On Monday, he and Ryan Zimmerman led the "Let's Go Caps" chant before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final; the Caps won 6-2 to go up 3-1 in the series. On Tuesday, Scherzer threw his second career immaculate inning and posted his 19th career 10-strikeout, zero-walk game. On Thursday, the Capitals won and Scherzer tweeted that he was glad he didn't have to pitch Friday -- but he ended up pinch-hitting after Stephen Strasburg got injured. On Saturday, he caught a ceremonial first pitch from Alex Ovechkin. On Sunday, he lost for the first time since April 4, but he now has 142 strikeouts, the most in the majors. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

6. Seattle Mariners

Record: 41-24
Week 9 ranking: 9

The Mariners are now 19-7 since losing Robinson Cano, the AL's best record during that span. It certainly hasn't come easily, though, as 14 of those 19 wins have been by one run. It won't get any easier this week, as Seattle kicks off a 13-game stretch Monday in which it plays the Angels (three games), Yankees (three) and Red Sox (seven). -- Paul Casella, ESPN Stats & Information

7. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 39-26
Week 9 ranking: 6

The Brewers are one of the NL's top teams, but unfortunately they play in a tough division. Milwaukee has a chance to separate itself from the pack over the next two weeks, as the Brewers have 10 games against divisional opponents, facing the Cubs, Pirates and Cardinals. But Milwaukee is 12-14 against the NL Central this season compared to 27-12 against the rest of MLB. -- Nitzberg

8. Atlanta Braves

Record: 37-28
Week 9 ranking: 7

Is it possible the NL's best batting duo is Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis? Both are top 10 in the league in batting average and OPS. Markakis presents an interesting scenario: He is in his 13th season and has never made an All-Star team. A player with a .289 career average, 2,134 hits and 449 doubles has never played in the Midsummer Classic. Will that streak end this summer? -- Woolums

9. Cleveland Indians

Record: 34-29
Week 9 ranking: 8

Corey Kluber has taken his control to a new level. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, with his eight shutout innings Sunday he joined Paul Byrd as the only Indians in the past 100 years to have six consecutive games with at least six innings pitched and zero walks (Byrd did so from May 4-30, 2007). His active streak of 168 batters faced without a walk is the third-longest of any MLB pitcher in the past three season (trailing just Bartolo Colon's 204 in 2015 and Phil Hughes' 178 in 2014). -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

10. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 37-29
Week 9 ranking: 12

The Angels had the rare misfortune of simultaneously placing one of their best pitchers and one of their best hitters on the disabled list Friday when Shohei Ohtani was put on the DL with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament; he will be re-evaluated in three weeks. But there is some good news -- the Angels rattled off six straight wins last week and still have the best player on the planet in Mike Trout. -- Casella

11. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 33-32
Week 9 ranking: 13

They're ba-ack! Journeyman Max Muncy leads all hitters with eight homers over the past three weeks, while Joc Pederson has chipped in six of his own to reclaim regular at-bats in the outfield. And Matt Kemp and Cody Bellinger have five apiece, inspiring hope that however banged up the rotation might be, the Dodgers might be able to overpower that problem at the plate. -- Kahrl

12. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 35-28
Week 9 ranking: 10

Michael Wacha has been on a whole new level this season. He has a 2.47 ERA, which would be his best in any season of his career. He has now gone 10 straight starts allowing two runs or fewer, tied for the third-longest streak in Cardinals history within the past 110 seasons. The only Cardinals pitchers with longer such streaks in that span: Adam Wainwright, with a 12-start streak in 2009, and Bob Gibson, with an 11-start streak in 1968. -- Langs

13. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 35-29
Week 9 ranking: 14

Just when you might begin to wonder if Paul Goldschmidt was fading away before our eyes after his OPS bottomed out at .675 on May 22 -- with his batting average slipping below the Mendoza line, even -- the Snakes slugger has been on fire. He leads all of baseball with a 1.443 OPS since, including an MLB-best .950 slugging percentage and 16 extra-base hits, seven of them home runs. -- Kahrl

14. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 33-30
Week 9 ranking: 11

Aaron Nola continues to impress. He has a 2.35 ERA, sixth-best in the NL, more than a half-run better than Jake Arrieta's (2.97). Nola's 0.96 WHIP ranks second in the NL, and opponents are hitting just .200 against him, third in the NL. His .537 opponents' OPS also ranks third. The last Phillies pitcher to finish a qualified season with an ERA of 2.35 or lower was Roy Halladay in 2011. -- Langs

15. Oakland Athletics

Record: 34-32
Week 9 ranking: 17

While it's already great to see rookie Dustin Fowler bounce back from the knee injury that kept him from his first at-bat last year with the Yankees, the prospect is providing the A's with sparkling defense in center field. He has also started hitting, sort of -- he's already delivered four multi-hit games in June to raise his OPS almost 200 points, but three of them (and three of his four homers) came against Royals pitching. -- Kahrl

16. San Francisco Giants

Record: 33-32
Week 9 ranking: 22

Brandon Crawford is up to a .338 batting average on the season, which ranks fourth in the NL. That's quite a turnaround after his .189 batting average at the end of April, which ranked 79th of 88 qualified NL hitters. Crawford's 149-point increase in his batting average from the end of April to now is by far the largest in that span. -- Langs

17. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 32-33
Week 9 ranking: 16

Pittsburgh is in a free fall since the beginning of May. Dating back to the 18th of the month, Pittsburgh is 6-16, the worst record in MLB. The pitching has been bad (4.55 ERA in that time), the hitting has been bad (averaging just 3.7 runs per game) and the Pirates are 3-9 in games decided by two runs or fewer. -- Woolums

18. Colorado Rockies

Record: 32-33
Week 9 ranking: 18

What to make of Jon Gray? Though many expected a breakout season from the 26-year-old, Gray instead has a 5.66 ERA. But he's also averaging 10.4 K/9. No qualified pitcher in MLB history has ever completed a season with an ERA above 5.00 while averaging more than 10 K/9. The Rockies are still very much in contention, and their fate could come down to whether or not Gray figures things out. -- Casella

19. Minnesota Twins

Record: 28-34
Week 9 ranking: 19

While the Twins are still struggling to put things together as a team and regain last season's status as contenders, at least Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar are providing some good news. Both continue to be among MLB's biggest surprises, and both are top-20 performers with OPS marks north of .900. -- Woolums

20. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 29-35
Week 9 ranking: 15

After a five-game win streak pushed their record to 28-26, the Rays lost eight straight games. With Chris Archer joining Jake Faria on the disabled list, Tampa Bay dropped to just two healthy starters in the rotation. The Rays could bounce back, as they have been a streaky team: They have had as many five-game losing streaks as they have five-game winning streaks (three apiece). -- McCarthy

21. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 30-35
Week 9 ranking: 21

The Blue Jays have found some much-needed help for their rotation from second-year pitcher Sam Gaviglio, who has a 2.59 ERA over four starts, the lowest ERA among their starters in that span. Gaviglio has shown some more deception with his pitches this year, inducing a chase on 33 percent of pitches out of the zone (up from 24 percent last season). -- McCarthy

22. Detroit Tigers

Record: 31-36
Week 9 ranking: 23

After another solid start in Boston on Thursday, Matthew Boyd lowered his ERA to 3.20 (11th in the AL). Boyd has allowed four or fewer runs in all 12 of his starts this season, the longest such streak of his career. He has done so by holding opponents to a .205 batting average, but that is partially helped by a .234 opponent BABIP. -- Nitzberg

23. San Diego Padres

Record: 31-36
Week 9 ranking: 25

The Padres were 10-20 at the end of April, the second-worst record in the NL. Since then, they have gone 21-16. This week will be a challenge for them to keep up their winning ways, as they travel to St. Louis and Atlanta for the final seven games of a 10-game road swing, tied for their longest trip of the season. -- Nitzberg

24. New York Mets

Record: 28-34
Week 9 ranking: 20

The story with the Mets' offense and bullpen lately has not been pretty, but the one bright spot has been Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo has a .408 OBP in 147 PAs in the leadoff spot this season. The only player in the majors with at least 100 plate appearances batting leadoff with a higher OBP? Mookie Betts, at .440. Nimmo's .975 OPS batting leadoff also ranks second (to Betts' 1.201). The highest OPS by a Mets player out of the leadoff spot (min. 150 PA) for a season is .976 by Lee Mazzilli in 1980. -- Langs

25. Texas Rangers

Record: 27-41
Week 9 ranking: 24

Not much has gone right for the Rangers against AL teams this season, but maybe things will go better against the NL? Texas will spend this week battling a pair of NL West opponents. Perhaps interleague competition will help jump-start Adrian Beltre, who donned the golden sombrero Friday for just the fourth time in his career -- and the first since 2012. -- Casella

26. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 23-43
Week 9 ranking: 26

The Reds are 2-6 in their past eight games and had lost 13 straight against the Cardinals before Sunday's victory. For a while, it looked like the Reds had at least turned a corner, but now they can take solace in the fact that Eugenio Suarez is third in the NL in OPS and teammate Scooter Gennett is fifth. -- Woolums

27. Chicago White Sox

Record: 22-41
Week 9 ranking: 30

The White Sox haven't had much to cheer about this season, but that certainly wasn't the case Friday night. Right-hander Dylan Covey outdueled former White Sox ace Chris Sale as Chicago knocked off the Red Sox 1-0. Trayce Thompson drove in the lone run off Sale, while Covey tossed six scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.22 across five starts this season. -- Casella

28. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 19-45
Week 9 ranking: 28

Manny Machado has slowed down since his early-season run. Through 45 games, Machado was hitting .347 with a .665 slugging percentage, battling for the league lead in home runs. Since then, he is hitting just .254 and is not getting on base as frequently. He could bounce back, however, as this might just be a case of bad luck: His batting average on balls in play since May 19 is just .220, down from .346 before then. -- McCarthy

29. Miami Marlins

Record: 23-42
Week 9 ranking: 29

As rough as things might be, count utilityman Derek Dietrich among the reasons the Marlins are playing better than their expected record; since May 1, his .976 OPS ranks fifth in the NL among players with 100 or more plate appearances. Less happily, Lewis Brinson has a .192 OPB in that period of time, so the brightest hope among Fish futures is still looking fairly dim. -- Kahrl

30. Kansas City Royals

Record: 22-44
Week 9 ranking: 27

The Royals suffered through another losing streak this week and have now had four separate losing streaks of five or more games this season, the second-most in MLB behind only Baltimore (five). The inevitable sell-off has already begun, as they sent Jon Jay to the Diamondbacks for two minor leaguers Wednesday. Could impending free agent Kelvin Herrera be next? -- Nitzberg