MLB Power Rankings: Week 15

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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. San Francisco Giants
Record:
57-32
Last Week: 1

Yet another week in the top spot for the Giants, who will look to turn their magical first half into a bona fide run at the NL West crown. They lost four straight games between the final three days of June and the first day of July, but that -- incredibly -- was their longest losing streak of 2021. They’ve gone 7-2 since, including a three-game weekend sweep of the Nationals. All-Star catcher Buster Posey was placed on the IL on Friday with a thumb contusion, but he should be back shortly after the break.

2. Houston Astros
Record:
55-36
Last Week: 2

The first-place Astros are 7-3 so far in July and 19-8 over their last 27 games dating back to June 13. The lead has grown to 3 1/2 games over the Athletics for first place in the American League West standings. Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa, and Ryan Pressly were all named All-Stars, but none of the four are in attendance for this week’s festivities in Colorado due to either physical issues or, in Pressly’s case, paternity leave. With apologies to ‘Stros fans, maybe that’s for the best?

3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Record:
56-35
Last Week: 3

The defending World Series champs took two of three from the D-backs over the weekend, including a 22-1 drubbing on Saturday during which they tied franchise records for both runs scored and homers. But the ongoing Trevor Bauer sexual assault investigation hangs over this team right now, and also Clayton Kershaw is currently on the injured list with forearm inflammation. An MRI came back clean for any structural damage, so hopefully it’s just a short-term IL stay for the veteran lefty.

4. Chicago White Sox
Record:
54-35
Last Week: 7

Moving back into the top five in these rankings, the White Sox cruised into the All-Star break on a five-game winning streak and with the third-best run differential (+117) of all 30 major league teams, behind only the Dodgers and Astros. They have a massive eight-game lead over the Indians for first place in the American League Central standings and should be able to run away with that division in the second half. Eloy Jimenez (pectoral) could be added to the active roster within the next week.

5. San Diego Padres
Record:
53-40
Last Week: 4

The end of the first half brought on another minor rut for the Padres, who dropped two straight to the Rockies this past weekend and scored only one run across those two defeats. They’re now 4-7 since the calendar flipped to July. But look on the bright side: Manny Machado, Mark Melancon, Yu Darvish, Jake Cronenworth, and Fernando Tatis Jr. were all named to the National League All-Star team, matching the second-most All-Star selections in Padres franchise history.

6. Boston Red Sox
Record:
55-36
Last Week: 5

As this season got underway, the fantasy outlook on Matt Barnes was that he might be pretty effective in the early going as the primary closer for the Red Sox but was also a likely trade candidate as an impending free agent on a mediocre-looking roster. Scratch all of that. Barnes signed a two-year, $18.75 million extension on Sunday with a Boston team that currently resides in first place in the AL East. He has netted 19 saves alongside a 2.61 ERA and 63/11 K/BB ratio through 38 innings.

7. Tampa Bay Rays
Record:
53-37
Last Week: 6

It’s not really fair that the Rays dropped a spot this week given that they just rattled off six straight wins against the Blue Jays and Indians; blame the leapfrogging White Sox. In fitting fashion with the way this cost-conscious club operates, the Rays had only one All-Star representative (Mike Zunino) in the initial roster release before Joey Wendle and Andrew Kittredge were added as injury replacements. Kittredge is a nice story with his 1.47 ERA in 43 innings of dynamic relief.

8. Milwaukee Brewers
Record:
53-39
Last Week: 8

They rolled into July as one of baseball’s hottest teams, but the Brewers have lost six of their last eight games while managing only nine total runs across those six losses. Adding offense is sure to be a focal point for Milwaukee’s front office in the leadup to the trade deadline. The pitching looks set, assuming Josh Hader’s recent struggles are just a blip. He has allowed four earned runs over 3 2/3 innings this month after yielding only two runs in 32 2/3 innings between April and June.

9. Oakland Athletics
Record:
52-40
Last Week: 9

Oakland took two of three from the Rangers to finish out the first half, but this team is only 4-6 in July and 8-13 dating back to June 19. So, yeah, the All-Star break has come at a good time and can maybe serve as a reset for the A’s in their goal of repeating as American League West champions. They have two first-time All-Stars in Chris Bassitt and Matt Olson. Bassitt threw seven innings of one-run ball Sunday at Texas but could perhaps handle one frame for the AL on Tuesday night.

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10. New York Mets
Record:
47-40
Last Week: 10

Pete Alonso strutted onto the Home Run Derby stage on Monday at Coors Field and won the whole thing with a total of 74 big flies, 20 of which traveled more than 475 feet. He also won it in 2019, the last time a Home Run Derby was held, and is just the third player with back-to-back victories in the event, joining Yoenis Cespedes and Ken Griffey Jr. Fun fact: Alonso has earned more in Home Run Derby winnings ($2 million) than from his actual 2019-2021 salaries ($1.47 million) with the Mets.

11. Cincinnati Reds
Record:
48-42
Last Week: 16

Here come the Reds! They’ve gone 9-2 so far in July to jump into second place in the NL Central, only four games back of the first-place Brewers. Cincinnati actually just won three of four at Milwaukee right before the All-Star break to quickly close that gap. Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos will both be in the starting lineup for the National League on Tuesday night, becoming the first Reds duo to start in the same outfield in an All-Star Game since Frank Robinson and Gus Bell in 1956.

12. Toronto Blue Jays
Record:
45-42
Last Week: 11

In another effort to improve their bullpen, which has been battered by injuries throughout the season, the Blue Jays traded slugger Rowdy Tellez to the Brewers last week in exchange for right-hander Trevor Richards. They also picked up Adam Cimber from the Marlins at the tail end of June. Richard has already tallied five strikeouts across 2 2/3 perfect innings for the Jays and holds a strong 2.82 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 22 1/3 total frames since departing Tampa Bay in the Willy Adames deal.

13. New York Yankees
Record:
46-43
Last Week: 14

Gerrit Cole had been looking a whole lot more mediocre since Major League Baseball began cracking down last month on pitchers’ use of sticky stuff, but the ace right-hander put some of the concerns to rest -- at least for a moment -- with a brilliant complete game outing this past Saturday in Houston. Cole struck out 12 batters over nine scoreless innings, scattering three hits (all singles) and two walks in a 1-0 victory for the visiting Yanks. Perhaps he just needed an adjustment period?

14. Cleveland Indians
Record:
45-42
Last Week: 13

Cleveland was mired in a season-worst nine-game losing streak before getting right over the weekend with a three-game sweep of the Royals. It might have been a four-game sweep had Sunday’s game not been rained out. As it stands, the Indians have won eight straight against Kansas City this year. Jose Ramirez went deep and scored three runs in Saturday’s 14-6 rout and will show up at the All-Star Game with an .870 OPS, 19 homers, 52 RBI, and 60 runs across his 82 games played.

15. Seattle Mariners
Record:
48-43
Last Week: 15

Even with a run differential of -50, the Mariners are five games above the .500 mark and only 3 1/2 games back of the Athletics for the second AL Wild Card spot. Maybe we’ll get another look at Jarred Kelenic when the second half gets underway? The 21-year-old top outfield prospect struggled mightily in his first taste of MLB action earlier this season, but he’s put up a shiny .320/.392/.624 slash line with nine homers, 28 RBI, six steals, and 29 runs scored in 30 games at Triple-A Tacoma.

16. Los Angeles Angels
Record:
45-44
Last Week: 19

The up-and-down Angels wrapped up the first half with nine wins in a stretch of 13 games, which makes it a little easier to simply sit back and appreciate Shohei Ohtani, who has really been the headlining act during this week’s All-Star festivities around Coors Field in Colorado. Ohtani put on a show, albeit an abbreviated one, in the Home Run Derby on Monday night and he will serve as both the starting pitcher and the leadoff hitter for the American League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

17. Philadelphia Phillies
Record:
44-44
Last Week: 17

They’re sitting at .500, which is pretty much where they’ve been hovering all year, but the Phillies did generate a bit of positive momentum leading into the All-Star break with seven wins over their first 10 games in July. And it was no cakewalk either. They took two of three from the Padres, three of four from the Cubs, and then won two of three at Boston’s Fenway Park this past weekend. Hopefully the COVID-19 scare can be contained. Alec Bohm is the only confirmed positive at the moment.

18. Atlanta Braves
Record:
44-45
Last Week: 20

Atlanta has won seven of its last 11 games and may soon climb over the .500 mark for the first time in 2021, but this recent surge is clouded by the devastating Ronald Acuna injury. He suffered a torn ACL in his right knee while trying to make a leaping catch on the warning track Saturday in Miami and will soon undergo season-ending surgery to repair it. The 23-year-old superstar finishes with a .283/.394/.596 batting line, 24 homers, 52 RBI, 17 steals, and 72 runs scored in 82 games.

19. Chicago Cubs
Record:
44-46
Last Week: 12

It wasn’t all that long ago that the NL Central looked like a two-team race between the Brewers and Cubs, but there has been a complete collapse on the North Side of Chicago. This club is 6-19 over its last 25 games and stumbled through an 11-game losing streak that extended from the final week of June through the first week of July. Jed Hoyer, the new head decision-maker in the Cubs’ front office, essentially gave a concession speech last week. Expect an aggressive trade deadline selloff.

20. Washington Nationals
Record:
42-47
Last Week: 17

Washington is suddenly 2-9 to begin the month of July, after going 19-9 over the course of June. Just over a week ago, the Nationals were only two games back of the Mets for first place in the NL East standings. Now they’re six games back here at the All-Star break, and a whopping nine games back in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. The easy thing to point to for this fade is Kyle Schwarber’s hamstring injury. He was on a nearly-record-setting home run outburst before hitting the IL on July 2.

21. St. Louis Cardinals
Record:
44-46
Last Week: 21

There’s a debate right now in St. Louis as to how the Cardinals should operate at the July 30 trade deadline. They’re not completely out of the hunt in the NL Central, but both NL Wild Card spots would appear to be spoken for by NL West clubs. Don’t be shocked if they listen to offers on stud setup man Giovanny Gallegos, who has pitched to a 2.57 ERA, 0.776 WHIP, and 170/30 K/BB ratio in 136 2/3 innings since being acquired from the Yankees as part of the Luke Voit trade in mid-2018.

22. Minnesota Twins
Record:
39-50
Last Week: 22

The defending American League Central champions are 11 games under .500 and 15 games back of the first-place White Sox here at the All-Star break. And they will have only one representative at Tuesday night’s Midsummer Classic: veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz. It’s the seventh career All-Star nod for Cruz, who turned 41 years old on July 1 but just keeps plugging along. Through his 78 games played this season, he’s batting .304/.381/.549 with 18 homers and 46 RBI.

23. Detroit Tigers
Record:
40-51
Last Week: 23

We’ll be milestone-watching on Miguel Cabrera over the course of the second half. He is six home runs away from 500 for his career and 73 hits away from 3,000. And it’s not getting as much attention, but Cabrera can also become just the 18th player in MLB history to reach 600 doubles if he manages another 13 of those. Fortunately or unfortunately, this won’t be the final year for these pursuits. The veteran slugger is still owed around $80 million on a contract that runs through 2023.

24. Colorado Rockies
Record:
40-51
Last Week: 28

The hosts of the 2021 MLB All-Star Game generated some positive buzz leading into this week’s festivities, going 9-4 over their last 13 games to close out the first half. And they actually won a series on the road over the weekend in San Diego, taking two of three from the Padres thanks to excellent pitching performances Saturday and Sunday from German Marquez and Jon Gray, both prominent trade candidates. That was their first road series win this year, and it came in early-to-mid July.

25. Miami Marlins
Record:
39-50
Last Week: 24

Yeah, the Marlins probably deserved some of the blowback they got for this poor attempt at pranking Trevor Rogers as he learned that he had been named to the National League All-Star team. But his unaffected demeanor throughout the whole clip was rather impressive and very much indicative of how he’s handled himself over the first half of his first full MLB season. The 23-year-old left-hander boasts a 2.31 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 122/34 K/BB ratio in 18 starts covering 101 1/3 innings.

26. Kansas City Royals
Record:
36-53
Last Week: 25

Do we finally see the Whit Merrifield trade at this year’s deadline? He is 32 and not performing quite as well offensively as he has in the past, but Merrifield can play second base, first base, and all three outfield spots, and he does lead all of MLB in stolen bases with 24. The versatility, the speed, and the very affordable contract -- which can potentially run through 2023 -- all serve to make him a fit for a wide range of clubs. It’s probably time -- or even past time? -- for the Royals to part ways.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record:
34-56
Last Week: 26

With the first overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, which began on Sunday night, the Pirates selected catcher Henry Davis from the University of Louisville. His overall defense behind the plate is a bit of a work in progress, but Davis has a cannon for an arm and he was regarded as the best college hitter on the board by most draft experts. The 21-year-old batted .370/.482/.663 with 15 home runs, 48 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 45 runs scored over 50 games played this past season in the ACC.

28. Texas Rangers
Record: 35-55
Last Week: 27

Joey Gallo fell to Trevor Story in the first round of Monday night’s Home Run Derby, a somewhat sour note as the 27-year-old slugger enters into a whirlwind of trade rumors. He’s already been connected to the Padres and would make sense for several other teams that need outfield help or simply a boost of offense. Gallo currently boasts a career-best .923 OPS with 24 home runs and 52 RBI through 84 games this season. He’s under control through 2022 via salary arbitration.

29. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 28-61
Last Week: 29

Major props to Trey Mancini for agreeing to participate in Monday night’s 2021 Home Run Derby despite not being named to the American League All-Star team. And not only did he participate, he made it all the way to the final round, just 16 months after being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. The lone representative for the O’s in the Midsummer Classic will be outfielder Cedric Mullins, who earned the nod by slashing .314/.380/.541 with 16 homers and 16 steals over 88 games in the first half.

30. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 26-66
Last Week: 30

Arizona has won four of 10 games so far in July, which counts as a relative triumph for this club. The stumbling Snakes collected only three wins in 27 games in June and five wins in 29 games in May. Put that all together and they are just 12-54 since going 14-12 in April. Eduardo Escobar, who’s already been mentioned in multiple trade rumors, will be the lone representative for the D-backs in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game after tallying 20 home runs and 60 RBI over 88 games in the first half.