Power Rankings: NL East contenders make their move to the top

AL East holding strong, Braves rising in Power Rankings (1:25)

The Baseball Tonight crew breaks down the freshest batch of Power Rankings, with the AL East's elite at the top and the Braves the best from the NL. (1:25)

Another week into the season, we're no closer to a consensus about who the No. 1 team is. Our voters split their first-place votes between the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros, leaving the three top teams separated by just two points in the voting. Whether any of these three powerhouses will break away from the others should be one of the most exciting stories to follow for the rest of the season.

The major development for the week was the progress made by National League East teams, as the Braves, Nationals and Phillies have all pushed their way up among the top seven clubs in the rankings. The Braves have made the biggest move upward of any club this week, fueled in part by taking two of three games from the Cubs, one of the clubs they leapfrogged on their way into the top five. But the Nats and Phillies both made two-rung jumps upward themselves. The AL East might be baseball's drama division, but the NL East isn't far behind with that trio and a winning Mets team all contending.

The other big move up in the standings this week was the Pirates, who ascended four slots. But the single biggest move up or down was made by Arizona, who tumbled eight slots, all the way out of the top five and top 10. The D-backs' dive reflects their losing 10 of their past 11 games.

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

Week 6 rankings | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. New York Yankees

Record: 30-13
Week 6 ranking: 1

The Yankees are 12-3 since May 1, backed by 11 home runs from Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, powering a push to the top of the AL East standings. May has not been a boon for everyone on the team, however. After a blistering start to the season (.327, 10 home runs and 30 RBIs), Didi Gregorius has fallen back to earth. He is hoping to break out of his slump soon, as he has just one hit in his past 45 plate appearances. -- Dan McCarthy, ESPN Stats and Information

2. Boston Red Sox

Record: 32-15
Week 6 ranking: 2

After three consecutive losses, David Price got back on track with two good outings in a row. His most recent start was one pitch away from being his first shutout since 2015, but after allowing a two-run home run to Manny Machado with two outs in the ninth, he settled for his first complete game since August 17, 2016. He induced 13 swings-and-misses, his most this season. -- McCarthy

3. Houston Astros

Record: 30-18
Week 6 ranking: 3

With apologies to Charlie Morton, the Astros' one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole is about as good as it gets. Verlander and Cole rank first and second in the AL in ERA, WHIP and opponent batting average, OBP and slugging this season. Verlander is a cut above so far; on Wednesday, he threw his first shutout since August 2015, recording his 2,500th career strikeout by fanning Shohei Ohtani in the ninth. That ranks second most among active pitchers. -- Jacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats and Information

4. Atlanta Braves

Record: 28-17
Week 6 ranking: 10

You can thank Atlanta's resilient offense for an incredible comeback victory Sunday, having rallied to win after being down five runs in the ninth inning. The Braves lead the NL in OPS (.775) and runs per game (5.4); it's becoming time to acknowledge that this offense is for real. Along with producing runs, they rarely strike out (NL's best strikeout rate), and they hit for power (leading the NL in isolated slugging). -- Kenneth Woolums, ESPN Stats and Information

5. Chicago Cubs

Record: 25-19
Week 6 ranking: 7

As the Cubs' offense and starting pitching continues to lurch through a roller-coaster start, one unit that deserves more attention is the bullpen. Chicago's relievers are tied for No. 1 in MLB in ERA (2.62), fifth in WHIP (1.19) and third in HR/9 (0.66). Even with Carl Edwards Jr.'s recent struggles, the back of the Cubs' bullpen has been lights-out between Brandon Morrow (1.13 ERA), Steve Cishek (1.71) and Pedro Strop (1.35). -- Woolums

6. Washington Nationals

Record: 24-21
Week 6 ranking: 8

Max Scherzer has won the past two NL Cy Young Awards and is off to an even better start this season, just like his 2017 start was better than 2016. Through 10 starts in 2016, he had a 3.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 11.4 K/9 and 14 home runs allowed. In 2017, it was a 2.77 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.7 K/9 and 10 homers. And this season? Try a 1.78 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 14.3 K/9 and five home runs allowed. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats and Information

7. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 26-18
Week 6 ranking: 9

Mike Foltynewicz and Nick Pivetta will face off Monday for the fourth time this season. On Tuesday, Brandon McCarthy and Vince Velasquez will do the same, a fourth meeting. Elias Sports Bureau research tells us the last time two pitchers faced off for a fourth time in a team's 46th game or earlier was on May 31, 1959, when Lew Burdette faced Robin Roberts in the Braves' 44th game and the Phillies' 45th game. And the kicker: Elias says that since 1900, there have not been two pairs of starting pitchers (within the same team vs. team matchup) to face each other four times by Game 50 or earlier for both teams. -- Langs

8. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 26-21
Week 6 ranking: 4

The Angels started last week with an impressive, series-opening win over the first-place Astros. However, it was mostly downhill from that point. They lost the final two games of that series, then dropped three straight against the Rays before snapping the five-game skid with Sunday's win. -- Paul Casella, ESPN Stats and Information

9. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 25-19
Week 6 ranking: 6

Paul DeJong's injury could be a big hindrance to the Cardinals' offense. Through his last game, on May 17, he had eight home runs, tied with Tommy Pham for the team lead. DeJong's 19 RBIs were third most on the team through that date. Since DeJong debuted on May 28, 2017, all other Cardinals playing shortstop are hitting .203 with two homers and 13 RBIs, compared to DeJong's .271 batting average, 28 home runs and 71 RBIs. -- Langs

10. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 28-19
Week 6 ranking: 12

After he went 2-for-18 on the Brewers' most recent homestand as part of a 6-for-51 stretch dating back to last week, Travis Shaw's bat came alive on their swing through Colorado and Arizona, as he went 10-for-27 in those games, with three home runs. The Brewers won all three games against Arizona and Colorado in which Shaw homered and are 9-1 when he hits a home run this season. -- Nitzberg

11. Cleveland Indians

Record: 22-23
Week 6 ranking: 11

As the Indians keep wallowing around .500 and make a target for the Twins or Tigers (!!!) to catch, where would the Indians be without SS Francisco Lindor and 3B Jose Ramirez? They rank No. 3 and 4 in OPS in May behind Boston's chart-topping duo, while Lindor is second in homers in May with eight. They're also among the leading defenders at their positions via defensive runs saved and UZR. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

12. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 26-20
Week 6 ranking: 16

Somewhat surprisingly, the Pirates have been able to keep pace with the Brewers, Cardinals and Cubs at the top of the NL Central. While Pittsburgh is playing well, it is worth noting it also has played the easiest schedule in the division. The Pirates are 16-7 against opponents below .500 but 10-13 against opponents who are .500 or better. -- Woolums

13. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 25-21
Week 6 ranking: 5

Paul Goldschmidt 's struggle to hit high-velocity offerings this season is no secret. His performance against pitches 95 mph or faster drop from a .790 career OPS before 2018 to .406 so far this season, without any extra-base hits and a 31 percent strikeout rate. If the centerpiece to the Snakes' offense can't regain the form that helped him finish second in MVP voting twice, it will hurt Arizona's bid to win the NL West, not to mention crush his value as a free agent after 2019. -- Kahrl

14. Seattle Mariners

Record: 27-19
Week 6 ranking: 13

The Mariners remain in contention in the competitive AL West, but they were dealt a significant blow last week. It looked bad enough when Robinson Cano suffered a broken hand last Sunday, but things got much worse Tuesday when the eight-time All-Star was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance. Even if the Mariners snap their 16-season playoff drought, Cano will not be eligible to play in the postseason. -- Casella

15. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 20-26
Week 6 ranking: 14

With Clayton Kershaw out until June and Hyun-Jin Ryu out until July, the Dodgers could thank their good fortunes that both rookie Walker Buehler and swingman Ross Stripling have picked up the slack. But now that Rich Hill is out for another four weeks with his third trip to the DL for blisters, they might be running out of good options to shore up the rotation. The timing is unfortunate given they're just starting to reap the benefit of the returns of Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig to the lineup. -- Kahrl

16. Colorado Rockies

Record: 25-22
Week 5 ranking: 15

Rockies pitchers have not enjoyed the Coors Field effect this season. They have a 5.65 ERA at home this season, more than two runs higher than it is on the road. They are just 7-11 at Coors Field but have one of the best road records in the majors. The good news is they are currently in the midst of a nine-game road trip, but having played 11 more road games than home games, there is still plenty of baseball to be played at Coors Field this season. -- Casella

17. Oakland Athletics

Record: 25-22
Week 6 ranking: 20

A four-game sweep of the Blue Jays might have marked a breakthrough, but it might be hard to sustain that success if they lose Khris Davis to a strained groin for an extended period of time after the DH got hurt Sunday. On the other hand, Oakland is the AL team getting the highest OPS and wOBA from its infielders, with Oakland's men on the dirt trailing only the Braves' fab four in MLB in both stats. -- Kahrl

18. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 22-25
Week 6 ranking: 17

Despite not winning any of their past six series, there is some good news. Entering 2018, Kevin Pillar was widely known for his sensational defense in center field, but not necessarily his bat because of a career .302 OBP and .390 slugging percentage. But he has been on a tear this season, hitting .297 and slugging .486. The Blue Jays should be thrilled with the added production. -- McCarthy

19. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 22-23
Week 6 ranking: 22

After tearing his ACL in September 2016, Wilson Ramos missed the first half of the 2017 season while rehabbing. He been exceptional since his return, hitting 17 home runs since June 24 last season, good for top five among AL catchers in that span. Earlier in this season, he strung together an 18-game hitting streak, one shy of the Rays' franchise record, and had his first multi-home run game of the year on Friday. -- McCarthy

20. New York Mets

Record: 23-19
Week 6 ranking: 18

With Saturday night's win, the Mets won back-to-back games for the first time since winning nine in a row from April 3-13. In that Saturday win, Michael Conforto hit another home run -- he now has three homers in his past eight games after hitting one in his first 24 games. His homer Saturday was his seventh career blast off a left-handed pitcher, compared to 45 career homers off righties. -- Langs

21. Minnesota Twins

Record: 19-23
Week 6 ranking: 19

The only thing keeping things from looking gloomy in Minnesota is that despite being several games under .500, Cleveland is also struggling to get above .500. Even though the Twins gave Lance Lynn a $12 million deal, they might not have an option other than to remove him from the rotation. Through eight starts, he doesn't have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, but if he did, he would rank dead last in ERA (7.47) and WHIP (2.04). -- Woolums

22. San Francisco Giants

Record: 24-24
Week 6 ranking: 21

Brandon Crawford has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball lately. His .444 batting average in May leads the majors. What's even more remarkable is his turnaround: Through the end of April, Crawford was hitting .189, which ranked 159th of 176 qualified hitters. Now, with his hot May, he's up to .302, which ranks 27th of 164 qualified hitters. The Giants are 9-3 this season when Crawford gets multiple hits and 15-21 when he does not. -- Langs

23. Detroit Tigers

Record: 20-26
Week 5 ranking: 24

The Tigers have been hit with a string of injuries on offense, with Jeimer Candelario joining Leonys Martin and Miguel Cabrera on the disabled list. One guy who has stepped up in place of Cabrera is John Hicks, who is hitting .353 in May. Hicks has seven multihit games this month after having none in his eight April starts. -- Nitzberg

24. Texas Rangers

Record: 18-30
Week 6 ranking: 23

The Rangers' offense ranks among the league's worst in batting average, OBP, slugging and strikeouts. Unfortunately, things aren't much better on the mound. Texas pitching ranks near the bottom in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. Making matters worse, Adrian Beltre landed on the disabled list for the second time this season due to a left hamstring injury. -- Casella

25. San Diego Padres

Record: 20-28
Week 6 ranking: 25

Jordan Lyles came close, but the Padres still have never thrown a no-hitter in franchise history. Lyles was perfect through 7⅓ innings Tuesday before Trevor Story singled to break it up. It was the 22nd time in franchise history the Padres carried a no-hit bid through seven innings, but only five of those times did they make it through eight, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. It was by far the longest bid of Lyles' career; his previous best was four innings last September. -- Nitzberg

26. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 16-32
Week 6 ranking: 28

Here is a question worth pondering: If the Reds were not in the NL Central, would they look like a different team this year? Cincinnati is 4-18 against NL Central opponents and nearly .500 (12-14) against the rest of MLB. The Reds are at such a huge disadvantage against the rest of their division (everyone is playing .550 baseball or better) that there likely will not be much keeping them from a top-three pick in next June's draft. -- Woolums

27. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 14-32
Week 6 ranking: 27

The Orioles' offense has had to spend a lot of time trying to out-muscle their opponents this year. Baltimore pitchers have allowed at least seven runs in a league-high 16 games this season. They have shut out an opponent just once. On seven occasions, the offense has scored at least five runs in a losing effort, trailing just the Dodgers and Reds for most in MLB (eight); that is not a successful formula for a winning ballclub. -- McCarthy

28. Kansas City Royals

Record: 14-32
Week 6 ranking: 26

It might be time to make a change to the Royals' rotation. Kansas City's starters have a 5.59 ERA, fourth worst in the majors, and have two of the three worst ERAs among qualified starters in Danny Duffy (6.88) and Jason Hammel (6.28). Hammel has allowed five or more earned runs in three of his past four starts, including eight or more in two of those starts. -- Nitzberg

29. Miami Marlins

Record: 17-29
Week 6 ranking: 29

The Marlins might be starting to do something about their bullpen -- designating Junichi Tazawa for assignment -- but Sunday's brutal loss marked the first time any team blew a five-run lead in the ninth since Sept. 9 last season. The Fish pen leads the majors in runs and hits allowed by relievers, the unit's ERA is the MLB's worst (5.86) and their rate of inherited runners scored is second worst in the NL. -- Kahrl

30. Chicago White Sox

Record: 13-30
Week 6 ranking: 30

It took only 42 games for the White Sox to reach 30 losses this season. That's the fastest this team has ever reached the 30-loss mark in the 118-year history of the franchise. They have scored fewer runs than any team in the American League, and their starting rotation has the highest ERA (5.76) of any team in the majors. -- Casella