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Sunday's power rankings

6/1/2015

1. Martin Maldonado, Milwaukee Brewers: Hitting your first walk-off homer in the 17th inning to beat the Diamondbacks 7-6 is pretty much always going to top a list like this. But what really made this impressive wasn't what got done, but who did it. Maldonado is a career backup backstop in his fourth full season with the Brewers, the kind of career caddy whose opportunities are defined by the starter's scheduled rest days and injuries -- like the broken toe that Jonathan Lucroy is currently coming back from. Maldonado's career OPS was .612 before Sunday's action, and using OPS+ he ranked among the 10 worst hitters among active catchers.

So on any list of likely heroes, you weren't likely to find Maldonado, but he wound up delivering the best game at the plate of his career: His first four-hit game in the majors (two doubles and a single before he clouted that Vidal Nuno fastball for the game-winner), his most total bases (nine), runs (three) and RBIs (six). And he chipped in a pair of walks. But the most insanely great thing about a day we should forever remember as Martin Maldonado Day? The dude caught all 17 innings.

As impressive as that sounds, that isn't a recent record -- Matt Wieters caught into the 18th for the Orioles in a loss to the Rays on Sept. 20, 2013, and Yadier Molina caught all 20 innings of the Cardinals' loss to the Mets on April 17, 2010. But those guys are starters with top-shelf credentials, while Maldonado was a guy coming into the game hitting .157 with a .431 OPS this season, so the real surprise is that he got the chance, when you might have expected he'd get erased in a double-switch or by a pinch-hitter. Instead, he delivered the game of his life … just in time for Lucroy to reportedly get reactivated from the DL on Monday.

2. Blaine Boyer and Glen Perkins, the Minnesota Twins' sweet relief twins: This got sussed out as far as the Twins' hot start and big picture elsewhere, but seeing Boyer and Perkins team up to protect another slim lead in the Twins' 6-5 win over the Blue Jays seemed like the perfect way to cap Minnesota's league-best record two months into the season. Perkins notched his 19th save in 19 opportunities, while Boyer held a lead an 11th time in 13 tries. They couldn't be more different, Perkins being the former Twins first-rounder (2004) enjoying his third full season as a closer, while Boyer is the well-traveled former Braves farmhand. Boyer has gotten a second wind on his career after recovering a quality breaking pitch to complement the mid-90s heat that has not slowed even after his 2006 shoulder surgery. They're both in their early 30s, so chuck any “young Twins” notions, but it's a combo that manager Paul Molitor is using to good effect in the early going. They've been an easy answer to a big question any new manager confronts: bullpen management.

3. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: Hamilton capped a great first week back in Texas with a two-run pinch-hit double to beat Boston 4-3 in a come-from-behind victory. Whatever else you want to make of Hamilton's misjudgments, deciding to leave Texas as a free agent probably ranks close to the top of the list. Seeing that fixed and getting to see Hamilton back and happy with the Rangers and playing like the past two seasons in Anaheim never happened is good news indeed.

4. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds: Frazier hammered his 16th home run of the season and added a double as the Reds took down the Nationals 8-2 to complete a sweep at home. For the guy who ranks third in the majors in home runs behind Bryce Harper and Nelson Cruz with 18 apiece, Frazier hasn't gotten a ton of publicity, but he's the guy who should probably be the National League's starter at third base in the All-Star Game in his own home park in Cincinnati. It should be between Frazer and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, where both profit from hitter-friendly venues -- with Frazier posting the better year at the plate, while Arenado adds more value via excellent defense. Of course, Cardinals fans are voting early and often for Matt Carpenter, but at least he's a legit alternative. When it comes time to select the rest of the roster, it'll be good to see Frazier get his due.

5. Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics: Eight shutout innings from one of the game's best swingmen gave the A's a 3-0 victory over the Yankees, but this marked Chavez's sixth quality start in eight turns, and second straight game with eight innings and no earned runs. This mirrors Chavez's hot start last year, when he threw 10 quality starts in his first 15 games last year, only to wind up gassed for the second half, adding just one QS more before the A's made their big deals to shore up their rotation for the stretch. If the lean righty can sustain this performance deeper into the season, he could expand on his potential value in trade, especially considering his modest price tag ($2.15 million this year, and arbitration-eligible in his last year of club control in 2016).

Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.