2023 MLB Power Rankings: Week 5

Which teams are on the move after Week 5?

Every week, the Pitcher List team publishes an update to our power rankings, reviewing the biggest risers and fallers of the past seven days. As always, the full rankings can be found at the bottom of this article … but where’s the fun in that?

Entering the second month of the season, we start to become more confident in evaluating teams. Between bad teams trying to tank and good teams that have floundered, the bottom of the standings have remained steady for most of the year, while the top fluctuates outside of the Rays and Braves, who continue to wreak havoc on the league.

Among the squads who stood out in Week 5: the Orioles, who are proving daily that last year’s breakout was not a fluke, and the Astros, who continue to have a championship hangover (records and stats are through Wednesday, May 3).


Movin’ On Up


Baltimore Orioles

Record: 21-10

Rank change: +4 (9 to 5)


Over the past seven days, the Orioles took advantage of a soft road trip to win series in Detroit and Kansas City, going 5-2 in the process. While their opponents were certainly subpar, it speaks volumes to say that the Orioles are now expected to beat up on these types of teams. And considering that they play in a division where everyone has a winning record, it makes it even more impressive to find Baltimore where they are today.

A top-10 offense has certainly carried most of the load, as the pitching staff has struggled to find consistency, but manager Brandon Hyde is finding ways to maximize his team’s output by putting his players in a position to succeed. One of Baltimore’s traits so far in 2023 has been the ability to stay in almost every contest, as they have yet to lose three games in a row. Their largest loss actually came this week, via a 6-0 shutout to the Royals, which became their first time not scoring this season. However, Baltimore is finding contributions from all corners of the roster, which happens to feature the second-lowest payroll in MLB.

Baltimore is 11th in the league in home runs and 7th in OPS, but those numbers have been even better in late-and-close situations, where the Orioles have hit the second-most extra-base hits and are third in OPS. The damage has been spread around the offense, where eight hitters have at least 10 RBI and six lineup regulars are hitting well above league average. The rotation has mostly been hit-or-miss outside of veteran Kyle Gibson, but even his 4-1 record is bloated by the offensive support he is getting. Where Baltimore stands out is in bullpen usage, as their top guys are delivering in clutch situations. Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano have combined for a 0.70 ERA over 25 2/3 innings, with 9 saves and 38 strikeouts.

The development of Adley Rutschman as a top-3 catcher in the league has taken off some of the pressure from other top prospects off to slow starts, such as Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez. And while it could be easy to doubt the Orioles sustaining their current pace, it is undeniable that they are finding a formula to win and having fun while doing it, playing a dynamic brand of baseball that defies what the other powers of the AL East tend to do. In many ways, the Orioles have surprisingly become a go-to option on MLB.TV, and the rest of May should become a litmus test to determine if they are for real.

The next time Baltimore plays a team with a losing record will be May 29th, when they host a series against Cleveland. Before that, the Orioles will go 22 straight games against winning squads, including four current division leaders. If they can survive this brutal stretch, Baltimore will become a favorite to reach the playoffs and get to a new level in their rebuild. This also includes the possibility of becoming buyers at the deadline, which is something the Orioles have not done in a long time. With a plethora of clutch hitting and a killer high-leverage bullpen, the team is equipped to deliver Baltimore’s best season since the glory days of Manny Machado.



Hittin’ The Skids


Houston Astros

Record: 16-15

Rank change: -6 (3 to 9)


Most teams would be ecstatic to be considered a top-10 squad, but what happens when the champion stumbles to barely above .500? The 2023 Houston Astros have been hard to read on several levels. Their +22 run differential points out to a better team, and last week they were riding high after sweeping the Braves and winning a road series in Tampa. However, this week they returned home to lose back-to-back series against the Phillies and Giants. This has been a theme for Houston throughout this season, as they have lost several games to teams they should be beating.

The onus is mostly on the offense, as only two lineup regulars (Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez) are hitting above league average. Jeremy Peña and Alex Bregman have had a few good games, but not enough consistency to carry the offense; Mauricio Dubón had an impressive hitting streak and is hitting .303but it is an empty .303; the catcher position has become a black hole with Martín Maldonado slugging .243. And yet, the biggest disappointment comes from former MVP José Abreu, who came over to Houston as a free agent and is slashing .232/.267/.264, which falls way below his career norms and is slowly becoming an easy out for opposing pitchers. Over the past week, Abreu went 4-for-21, with zero extra-base hits and only two RBIs. It is understandable for a 36-year-old slugger to slow down, but this is definitely concerning.

These slow starts have combined to make Houston a bottom-third team in several key offensive categories, including OPS, homers, OBP, doubles, and a few more. The eventual returns of cornerstone players like José Altuve and Michael Brantley can only help, but the AL West is far more competitive than it has been in recent years. With Texas and the Angels playing at a high level and even Seattle having its fair share of talent, Houston needs to improve quickly if they are to repeat as division champs, let alone make yet another deep run in the playoffs.

The pitching staff, headlined by the rotation, provides a beacon of hope for the franchise, even as last week saw José Urquidy and Luis García head to the IL. Hunter Brown has been a revelation so far, showing much of the tantalizing pitches that made him such a prized prospect. Framber Valdez sports an unlucky 2-4 record, but advanced stats show that he is due to maintain his status as one of the top hurlers in the AL. Cristian Javier continues to build upon his strong 2022 to give Houston arguably the best top-of-the-rotation in the game. It has all added up to give the Astros the second-best ERA in the league, with a healthy strikeout rate and solid defense behind it.

The recent injuries are bound to make it challenging for Dusty Baker to fill out the back end of the rotation, but the Astros should find a way to mix and match in order to stay competitive. Underlying stats suggest that the offense is performing as badly as the numbers have been, but after six consecutive ALCS appearances, this is a franchise that has earned the benefit of the doubt. An upcoming road trip against the Mariners and Angels should provide an opportunity to get back on track, while the rest of May includes nine games against the A’s and White Sox, which have become close to automatic wins for every team. If the Astros hover around .500 by the end of this month, then it may be time to panic.


Week 5 Power Rankings


Pablo Figueroa

Pablo Figueroa is a Baseball Writer here at Pitcher List, with experience as a writer since 2013. He lives in Aguascalientes, Mexico - proud home of Los Rieleros. When he´s not thinking about baseball , he's a husband, owns two dogs, watches random episodes of The Sopranos , plays padel, and works on his day job to pay the bills.

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