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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. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 1
After taking two of three from the Rangers over the weekend, the Rays now boast a 25-8 record since May 2. Rich Hill has turned into a heck of a pickup on that one-year, $2.5 million free agent contract he signed with Tampa Bay in mid-February. The veteran left-hander went five shutout innings -- on 59 pitches -- Saturday versus Texas, giving him a 0.68 ERA over his last seven starts. And as each day passes, we draw closer and closer to the debuts of Wander Franco and Vidal Brujan.
2. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 3
The ever-entertaining White Sox won three of four against the Tigers to finish off last week’s slate and have opened up a four-game lead on the top spot in the AL Central standings. Tony La Russa passed John McGraw on Sunday for sole possession of second place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list with 2,764. He’s not going to catch Connie Mack, who is 967 wins ahead, but it’s a safe bet that nobody ever will. Mack began managing in 1894 at age 31 and retired in 1950 at age 87.
3. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 5
With their three-game sweep of the the arch-rival Yankees over the weekend and a 5-3 victory over the Marlins on Monday, the Red Sox sit a season-high 14 games above .500. They are 15-3 in their last 18 games against AL East opponents and they lead all MLB teams with 21 comeback wins. Health has been a huge factor. In a year in which we’re probably going to see a record number of injured list stints, Boston only has two players on the IL at the moment: Chris Sale and Ryan Brasier.
4. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 6
We’re a little over a third of the way through the 2021 season and the Giants reside in first place in the National League West standings, so it was time to vault them over the Padres and Dodgers in these weekly NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings. But it’s fair to wonder how the offense is going to hold up without Evan Longoria, who projects to be sidelined until mid-July after suffering a shoulder sprain on Saturday. Mike Yastrzemski is also currently on the IL due to a sprained thumb.
5. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 2
They got swept by the Cubs at the beginning of last week and have lost six of their last nine games, but the Padres must be feeling good about what they saw from Blake Snell in his most recent turn through the starting rotation Friday versus the Mets. The 28-year-old left-hander tossed a season-high seven innings, yielding only one hit and one walk while striking out 10 batters in an eventual 2-0 victory. He reached 100 pitches for the first time this year and got his ERA back below 5.00.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 4
The defending World Series champs have lost six of their last nine games, including the final two games of a three-game weekend series in Atlanta. Trevor Bauer has sort of become the poster boy for MLB’s foreign substance scandal -- if we can call it a scandal -- and the spin rate on his four-seam fastball did indeed plunge on Sunday in Atlanta as he allowed a season-high 10 baserunners in a 4-2 loss for Los Angeles. “I just want to compete on a fair playing field,” Bauer said after the game.
7. Houston Astros
Last Week: 7
Houston has won six of its last eight games against some pretty tough teams -- Padres, Red Sox, then Blue Jays -- and will hope for another strong outing Tuesday from Framber Valdez as he toes the slab at Boston’s Fenway Park. The 27-year-old left-hander has registered a sharp 1.64 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 11 innings (two starts) since returning at the end of May from an early-March finger fracture that initially threatened to end his season before it even got started. Thankfully it did not.
8. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 8
Even after a successful trip last week through Seattle and Colorado that helped the A’s cling to first place in the American League West standings, their current run differential of +6 trails well behind the +69 run differential of the second-place Astros. Matt Olson, Mark Canha, and Tony Kemp have been terrific offensively, but the waiting game continues on star third baseman Matt Chapman as he tries to find his stroke coming off last year’s hip surgery. He’s batting just .205/.311/.330 in 60 games played.
9. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 12
Milwaukee is 9-1 over its last 10 games, despite an offense that currently ranks 26th among all 30 major league teams in combined OPS at .669. The combined team batting average of .211 is second-worst in all of MLB. Keston Hiura got sent back to Triple-A Nashville on Monday after going 2-for-29 with 16 strikeouts since his return to Milwaukee’s roster on May 24. But there’s no denying the three-headed starting pitching monster that is Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta.
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10. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 10
Patrick Wisdom, a former supplemental first-round pick of the rival Cardinals, has become quite a story for the Cubs since his May 25 promotion from Triple-A Iowa. He just picked up National League Player of the Week honors after batting .435 (10-for-23) with a double, six home runs, nine RBI, one stolen base, and a 1.261 slugging percentage in seven games between May 31-June 6. And he then drew two walks and scored a run out of the cleanup spot in Monday night’s loss to the Padres.
11. New York Mets
Last Week: 14
Sure, the Mets have pretty much owned the top spot in the National League East standings since the middle of April, but it’s starting to feel a lot more real lately. They’ve won eight of their last 11 games, including the final two games of a big four-game series in San Diego this weekend. Jacob deGrom carries an absurd 0.62 ERA, 0.589 WHIP, and 93/8 K/BB ratio through 58 innings of work. And offseason additions Francisco Lindor and James McCann are both finally heating up.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 15
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may have overheard the chatter that his tremendous early-season production was primarily a product of power-friendly TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida. He went 4-for-4 with a double, a homer, and three RBI in the Blue Jays’ return to Sahlen Field in Buffalo last Tuesday versus the Marlins and then logged three hits -- including his MLB-leading 18th home run of the season -- Saturday in a home win over the Astros. The 22-year-old has a 1.098 OPS (201 OPS+) so far in 2021.
13. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 13
Cleveland dropped two of three to the lowly Orioles over the weekend, including a brutal 18-5 loss on Sunday that featured rotation fill-in Cal Quantrill getting blasted for seven runs -- five earned -- over just 1 1/3 innings of work. The overall run differential for the Indians has sunk to -15. Compare that to the MLB-best run differential of +85 that the American League Central-leading White Sox will carry into play on Tuesday night. How can the Tribe, as currently constructed, possibly keep up?
14. New York Yankees
Last Week: 9
The lack of power production from the Yankees this season has been downright confounding given the names that populate the lineup on a daily basis. They’ve slugged just .371 as a team, which ranks 25th among all 30 major league clubs, ahead of only the Marlins, Mets, Mariners, Tigers, and Pirates. D.J. Short and I had Bryan Hoch, the Yankees beat writer for MLB.com, on the Circling the Bases podcast last Thursday night to comb through a lot of the issues and some possible solutions.
15. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 20
Jesse Winker slugged three home runs and tallied six total RBI on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium as Cincinnati finished off a four-game sweep of the division-rival Cardinals. It was the first four-game sweep for the Reds in St. Louis since 1990. Winker is batting .350 with a 1.077 OPS, 17 homers, 37 RBI, and 44 runs scored through 50 games played here in 2021. Oh, and he’s also the first player in the 140-year history of this franchise to have multiple three-homer games in a single season.
16. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 11
This is … a sinking ship. Jack Flaherty suffered a left oblique strain last week in Los Angeles and it sounds like he will miss multiple months. Carlos Martinez had one of the worst starts in modern baseball recollection during that series against the Dodgers. Miles Mikolas has pitched just four innings since the end of 2019 due to ongoing shoulder and forearm problems. Kwang-Hyun Kim is also on the IL now with a back issue. The starting rotation is in real trouble and there are no internal saviors.
17. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 16
Having won the final two games of a three-game weekend series against the visiting Dodgers, the Braves will carry a bit of momentum -- if that’s a thing in baseball -- into a six-game road trip this week through Philadelphia and Miami. Incredibly, the defending NL East champs have yet to climb above .500 at any point in 2021. Drew Smyly will take the mound on Tuesday in Philly and try to start living up to the one-year, $11 million deal he scored from Atlanta over the winter. He has a 5.98 ERA in 46 2/3 innings.
18. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 17
Kansas City had a five-game winning streak in the works at one point last week but then lost the final two games of a four-game weekend series versus the Twins and fell 8-3 to the Angels on Monday night. Adalberto Mondesi went back on the injured list Sunday with a left hamstring strain, after missing basically the first eight weeks of the 2021 regular season because of a pulled right oblique. He stands 9-for-25 (.360) with two home runs and one stolen base in only seven games played this year.
19. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 18
Jarred Kelenic was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma on Monday, having posted a wretched .096/.185/.193 batting line with 26 strikeouts across his first 92 plate appearances at baseball’s highest level. There was a whole lot of excitement when Kelenic got the call to Seattle on May 13, and he did show flashes of his high-level upside here and there, but the 21-year-old top outfield prospect clearly needs a little more minor league seasoning. He’ll undoubtedly get another look later this summer.
20. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 19
Scott Kingery was activated from the injured list on Monday, but instead of adding him back to the 26-man roster, the Phillies opted to send him through outright waivers to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Kingery signed a pre-debut six-year, $24 million contract extension with Philly in March 2018, which is the main reason he passed through waivers unclaimed. He showed promise in 2019 with 19 homers and 15 steals in 126 games, but the 27-year-old has slashed just .144/.204/.205 between 2020-2021.
21. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 22
Mike Trout remains without a timetable in his recovery from a Grade 2 calf strain and it’s difficult to envision the Angels making a push in his absence. But two-way star Shohei Ohtani continues to shine. He drew three walks and recorded his ninth stolen base of the season in Monday’s win over the Royals, after striking out 10 batters across six innings Friday in Seattle. Only one other player in the modern era has logged nine-plus steals and 60-plus strikeouts in a single season: Nixey Callahan in 1901.
22. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 21
Not even two weeks ago, the Marlins sat just one game under the .500 mark with a record of 24-25. But they’ve dropped nine of their last 10 and could soon shift into sell-off mode under first-year general manager Kim Ng. 32-year-old impending free agent outfielder Starling Marte figures to be one of the more coveted names on the pre-deadline trade market. When healthy this season, he has batted .322/.429/.552 with four home runs and five stolen bases in 24 games as the No. 2 hitter for the Fish.
23. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 24
Washington went 3-3 last week versus the division-rival Braves and Phillies, which counts as a positive stretch for this team. Next comes a tough two-game series on the road against the AL East-leading Rays, followed by a four-game set at Nationals Park against the NL West-leading Giants. Juan Soto has provided some hope that his shoulder issue may be in the rearview, posting a .333/.481/.857 batting line with three home runs and nine RBI over six games (27 plate appearances) so far in June.
24. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 25
A couple of encouraging developments for the Twins on the health front: Byron Buxton (hip) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday night at Triple-A St. Paul, and Kenta Maeda (groin) is set to join him there on Wednesday. Buxton was slashing .370/.408/.772 with nine home runs and five stolen bases through 24 games this year. Maeda had not pitched well in the leadup to his IL stint, but he did finish second in the American League Cy Young Award balloting in 2020.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 27
Ke’Bryan Hayes (wrist) was activated from the 60-day injured list when first eligible last Thursday and has gone 7-for-18 (.389) with a homer, a double, a triple, three RBI, and four runs scored in four games since, with the Pirates picking up three wins in those four games. As of Tuesday afternoon, the young third baseman holds a sensational .370/.438/.694 batting line through his first 121 plate appearances at the major league level. Regression will inevitably set in at some point … right?
26. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 26
Detroit got hit hard by injuries over the weekend, with Spencer Turnbull going on the IL on Saturday because of a right forearm strain and Michael Fulmer joining him Sunday due to a lingering right shoulder issue. Turnbull threw a no-hitter last month against the Mariners and was sporting a sharp 2.88 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 44/12 K/BB ratio through 50 total innings (nine starts) this season. Fulmer had been working in relief as of late but was -- or is? -- going to be an important trade chip.
27. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 29
This report will come as no shock to anyone outside of Colorado -- or even anyone inside of Colorado -- but sources tell Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that impending free agent shortstop Trevor Story does not intend to re-sign with the Rockies if he is still with the club at the conclusion of the season. What would be shocking is if he is not dealt away before the July 30 trade deadline. Story is currently sidelined with right elbow inflammation but should be activated before the end of this week.
28. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 23
They eked out a win over the Rays this weekend, but the Rangers have lost 11 of their last 12 games and 20 of their last 25. It’s time to start thinking about trade scenarios, with power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo already drumming up heavy attention on the rumor mill. Kyle Gibson could maybe even beat Gallo out the door. The veteran righty went 5 1/3 scoreless innings Friday versus Tampa Bay and holds a 2.06 ERA through 11 starts this year after struggling to a 5.35 ERA across 12 outings in 2020.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
Ryan Mountcastle was named American League Player of the Week for May 31-June 6 after going 11-for-24 (.458) with four homers, three doubles, 10 RBI, and seven runs scored in six games played. Baltimore is 4-1 so far in June, rebounding from a brutal 14-game losing streak and an overall 5-23 record in May. But it’s hard to see the upward trend continuing much further given the absence of ace John Means. He was diagnosed Sunday with a shoulder strain and there is no timetable for his return.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 28
The complete free-fall continues for the Diamondbacks, who went 14-12 across the opening month of the season but are now 6-29 since the beginning of May. They just got swept by the Brewers in a four-game set at American Family Field in Milwaukee and have lost 17 consecutive road games dating back to a doubleheader sweep in Atlanta back on April 25. Madison Bumgarner, a possible trade candidate for Arizona, landed on the injured list last week because of a left shoulder issue.