Welcome to the NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2021 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I do tend to sprinkle in fantasy-relevant nuggets here and there. Who’s hot, who’s not, who to watch -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv.
Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 1
The defending World Series champs took three of four at Colorado to open the season and also beat the A’s in a 10-3 rout on Monday night. They’ve now won 30 of their last 38 games against the Rockies. Julio Urias was especially impressive in Sunday’s series finale at Coors Field, scattering three hits and one walk over seven innings of one-run ball. And he could have worked deeper, too -- manager Dave Roberts pulled him at 79 pitches. This could be the year that Urias fully breaks out. He’s only 24!
2. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 2
Everyone associated with Major League Baseball is on Fernando Tatis Jr. status update watch after the star shortstop injured his left shoulder on a swing Monday night against the Giants. For now it’s being called a subluxation, or partial dislocation. Tatis made five errors in the field during the Padres’ season-opening series against the D-backs and he had no extra-base hits until he connected for a solo homer in the ninth inning Sunday. A quick reminder that he has only played in 148 career MLB games.
3. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 3
Atlanta totaled only three runs in three games while getting swept by the Phillies to begin the 2021 regular season. It was the Braves’ lowest run total through their first three games since they tallied two runs in a three-game sweep by the Montreal Expos back in 2003. Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna, and Marcell Ozuna went a combined 3-for-32 in that opening series versus Philly. They’ll try to right the ship on Tuesday against a Nationals team that will be down a handful of players due to COVID-19.
4. New York Yankees
Last Week: 4
It was a slow start to the season for the Yankees as they lost two of three to the division-rival Blue Jays over opening weekend, but there were encouraging signs from Gary Sanchez with his pair of home runs -- one on Thursday and one on Saturday. Sanchez drove in three of the Yankees’ eight total runs in that opening series versus the Jays. He then went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Monday against the Orioles, but New York cruised to a 7-0 win behind a dominant Jordan Montgomery start.
5. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 5
Who is Yermin Mercedes? The 28-year-old journeyman minor leaguer made the Opening Day roster with a good-not-great showing in White Sox camp this spring and has gone 12-for-18 since his very first MLB start out of the DH spot on Friday, which was a historic 5-for-5 effort. His 12 hits are the most by any player in the modern era over his first four career starts. And he’s also the first player to have three-plus hits in a game three times in his first four career starts since Roy Campanella in 1948.
6. New York Mets
Last Week: 6
Their opening series versus the Nationals was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, so the Mets decided to go full M-E-T-S on Monday night against the Phillies to spoil another brilliant Jacob deGrom gem, who averaged 100 mph with his fastball and at one point touched 102 mph across six scoreless innings. Offseason bullpen additions Trevor May and Aaron Loup made a mess of the bottom of the eighth, yielding five combined runs in a 5-3 loss. It’s cool; they got the deal done with Francisco Lindor.
7. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 7
Nelson Cruz was limited to pinch-hitting duties in the Twins’ season-opening series at American Family Field in Milwaukee, but he got right to work out of the DH spot on Monday afternoon in Detroit, slugging two home runs in the Twins’ 15-6 rout of the Tigers. The first home run was clocked at 114.6 mph and the the second at 116.6 mph. Cruz joins Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Davidson as the only players with two 114-plus mph homers in the same game since Statcast began tracking such things.
8. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 8
The most popular name on fantasy waiver wires coming out of the opening weekend was Julian Merryweather, who earned saves on Thursday and Sunday against the Yankees while allowing zero hits, zero walks, and striking out five of the six batters he faced. He was absolutely dominant, and the data suggests what he’s doing is for real. Merryweather, not Jordan Romano or Rafael Dolis, could be the answer at closer for the Blue Jays in the wake of Kirby Yates needing Tommy John surgery.
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9. Houston Astros
Last Week: 9
The seemingly-under-the-radar Astros outscored the Athletics by a total of 35-9 in their four-game opening weekend sweep in Oakland and became just the fourth team in MLB history to score at least eight runs in their first four games to begin a campaign, joining the 2003 Yankees, the 1995 Red Sox, and the 1978 Brewers. Houston never trailed in that series at the Oakland Coliseum and went 4-0 on the road to start a season for the first time in franchise history. Monday brought a 7-6 loss at Anaheim.
10. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 10
The reigning American League champions won two of three against the Marlins to begin the season before falling to .500 through four games with an ugly 11-2 loss to the Red Sox on Monday. The back-end starters have struggled, and that could be a real issue moving forward, but did you see Tyler Glasnow on Opening Day? The 27-year-old hit 100 mph four times just in the first inning and also mixed in his new slider-cutter breaking ball as he held Miami to one hit -- and no walks -- over six scoreless.
11. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 11
Not a great start for the Athletics, who finished seven games ahead of the Astros to win the AL West last year but dug themselves into an early hole by dropping four straight at home against Houston to begin 2021. It’s the first four-game sweep the A’s have suffered since 2017, no matter the area of the calendar. Now they face the Dodgers in a three-game set, and they already dropped the series opener on Monday by a score of 10-3. Then it’ll be the Astros again for three. How deep can the A’s dig?
12. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 17
Admittedly, the Phillies probably should have been higher in the rankings last week leading into Opening Day. They’ve peeled off four straight wins to open the 2021 regular season, including a three-game sweep of the Braves and a thrilling 5-3 comeback victory over the Mets on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. It’s a statement-making start for a team with enough top-end talent to make a legitimate push in a loaded National League East. They belong above any National League Central club.
13. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 12
This drop is mostly about wanting to move the Phillies up, but the Cardinals’ rotation is … concerning. Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, and Carlos Martinez went out and allowed a combined 16 earned runs in 12 innings in the team’s opening series against the Reds. It took Daniel Ponce de Leon to end the rut with his five innings of one-run ball in Monday night’s 4-1 win at Miami. John Gant will go Tuesday. Kwang-Hyun Kim (back) and Miles Mikolas (shoulder) are on the IL. Alex Reyes is apparently the closer.
14. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 13
Milwaukee pulled off a comeback win on Opening Day against the Twins but went on to lose the next two games of that series and also suffered a 5-3 defeat Monday versus the division-rival Cubs. Corbin Burnes deserved something better in Saturday’s 2-0 loss after he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and ultimately struck out 11 batters in 6 1/3 frames. The 26-year-old right-hander was firing cutters at 98 mph and sitting 99 mph with his two-seamer. The curve was ultra-effective too.
15. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 14
The Nats have yet to play a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak that revealed itself just after the team broke camp. They’re currently scheduled to get underway on Tuesday versus the Braves, with Max Scherzer facing Drew Smyly. We’ll have a clearer picture of the individuals affected when transactions are announced ahead of first pitch and certain players are put on the IL. It sounds like there are four positives among the 26-man roster that was designed to take the field last Thursday night against the Mets.
16. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 15
Jake Arrieta dealt a dose of nostalgia on Saturday with six strong innings versus the Pirates. He was pitching in a Cubs uniform for the first time since October 18, 2017, when he beat the Dodgers and delivered the Northsiders their last postseason win. Monday’s outing versus Pittsburgh marked Arrieta’s fourth-best performance by Game Score (66) in a span of 65 starts. But, yeah … the Pirates. He is 35 years old and coming off a 5.08 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 32/16 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings with Philly in 2020.
17. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 16
Mike Trout got on the board for his first home run of the season in Monday night’s 7-6 comeback win over the Astros and is batting .400/.609/.667 through 23 plate appearances. Shohei Ohtani is probably the biggest story five games in after he touched 100.6 mph in his start Sunday against the White Sox and also slugged the hardest-hit home run (115.2 mph exit velocity) of any player on opening weekend in that same game. Ohtani may be the most important player in MLB as he returns to full two-way status.
18. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 18
The Indians almost got swept by the Tigers to begin the 2021 season before putting up some crooked numbers against the patchwork Detroit bullpen on Sunday in a 9-3 victory. But they went right back to struggling in Monday afternoon’s series opener versus the Royals, losing 3-0 to a Kansas City team that is not necessarily known for its pitching at the moment. Cleveland’s lineup, which is pretty ugly beyond Jose Ramirez, has combined for a .205/.297/.370 slash line through 127 total at-bats.
19. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 19
Cincinnati lost to the Cardinals on Opening Day but rallied to win the next two games of that three-game set and then defeated the Pirates on Monday. Nick Castellanos got a two-game suspension for his role in instigating a benches-clearing scuffle on Saturday, but he has appealed the punishment -- rightly so -- and will remain active until his appeal is heard. The 29-year-old is off to an 8-for-15 (.533) start with three homers, a double, a triple, six RBI, and seven runs scored through four games.
20. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 21
The Royals put up 28 total runs while taking two of three from the Rangers on opening weekend. They then beat the division-rival Indians by a score of 3-0 on Monday courtesy of a strong outing by Danny Duffy and another stellar table-setting performance from leadoff man Whit Merrifield, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI and cranked his third home run of the year. Merrifield is the first player in Royals franchise history to hit three home runs in the first four games of a season.
21. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 20
They drop a spot for getting swept by the Orioles, but one big positive out of the shoot is J.D. Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer and two walks in Monday’s 11-2 rout of the Rays and is now 8-for-15 (.533) with five extra-base hits -- two homers, three doubles -- through four games. He seems to be enjoying the return of in-game video access. Also encouraging is that Eduardo Rodriguez is on track to join the rotation this week after missing all of 2020 due to complications related to COVID-19.
22. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 22
Kevin Gausman was excellent on Opening Day against the Mariners and Buster Posey homered in his first game back after opting out of the 2020 season, but the Giants’ bullpen had a meltdown in the eighth inning of that one and they ultimately lost 8-7 in extras. San Francisco rebounded to win 6-3 on Saturday but then fell 4-0 on Sunday. A losing series at Seattle is a tough way to start, though the Giants did top the Padres by a score of 3-2 on Monday courtesy of a go-ahead homer by Mike Yastrzemski.
23. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 23
Fantasy managers should be paying close attention to the status of Joakim Soria after he was lifted from Sunday’s series finale against the Padres when he appeared to strain his left calf while covering first base in the bottom of the eighth inning. He could be placed on the injured list ahead of Tuesday’s series opener at Colorado’s Coors Field. Chris Devenski got the save in the game that Soria exited and could be part of a committee at closer along with Stefan Crichton and Kevin Ginkel.
24. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 24
Seattle took two of three from the Giants to kick off the season before getting shut out 6-0 by the White Sox on Monday. Mitch Haniger looked great at the plate and in the field over opening weekend. It’s good to see him back to full health after all of the injuries. Also notable from this first stretch of games was Chris Flexen’s five scoreless frames on Saturday versus San Francisco. He had some appeal as a late-round starter in fantasy drafts this spring after logging a relatively large workload last year in Korea.
25. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 25
Miami lost two of three in the opening weekend of action against the Rays along with Monday’s series opener against the Cardinals. Elieser Hernandez is on the injured list with right biceps inflammation and the Marlins are also going to be without Sixto Sanchez for a while due to right shoulder discomfort. Last year’s team made a surprise run to the playoffs, but this lineup isn’t going to intimidate anyone over the long haul, and the young rotation -- the strength of the team -- is losing significant pieces.
26. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 26
It’s early, of course, but could Akil Baddoo be the next impactful major leaguer to emerge from the Rule 5 Draft? The former Twins prospect went third overall to the Tigers this past December and lit it up this spring in Grapefruit League play with a .325/.460/.750 slash line, five home runs, and four stolen bases in 40 at-bats. Baddoo homered off the first pitch he saw in his MLB debut on Sunday versus the Indians and then slugged a ninth-inning grand slam in Monday’s blowout loss to the Twins.
27. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
Baltimore broke out of the blocks with a three-game series sweep of the Red Sox before falling 7-0 to the Yankees on Monday in the Bronx. John Means was brilliant on Opening Day in Boston, yielding just one hit and no walks while recording five strikeouts across his seven scoreless frames. And center fielder Cedric Mullins has certainly taken well to the leadoff spot with a .588/.611/.765 batting line through his first 18 plate appearances. This team may be a little more watchable than expected.
28. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 27
Texas lost two of three to the Royals on the opening weekend of the season and also fell 6-2 to the Blue Jays on Monday, but how about Nate Lowe? The 25-year-old first baseman slugged a three-run homer Sunday versus Kansas City right-hander Brady Singer and is already up to 10 RBI through just four games played. Lowe was an offseason trade acquisition from the Rays and drew a lot of hype from the NBC Sports EDGE crew as a late-round fantasy sleeper in drafts for 2021.
29. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 28
Colorado won 8-5 on Opening Day against the Dodgers but predictably dropped the next three. Austin Gomber, maybe the headliner of the Rockies’ underwhelming return package for Nolan Arenado, issued seven walks among the 16 batters he faced in his 2021 regular season debut on Sunday afternoon, a 4-2 loss. The biggest highlight of the weekend might have been that cat breaking loose onto the Coors Field playing surface on Friday night and then evading stadium security.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 30
Welp. Ke’Bryan Hayes, the future and present of the Pirates, landed on the injured list Sunday after hurting his left wrist on a swing Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. X-rays came back negative for any fractures, so this wouldn’t seem to be a hamate bone issue, but the Bucs figure to play things safe with their young third baseman as he works through what’s being described for now as inflammation. Hayes hit a towering two-run homer off Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks in Thursday’s opener.