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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
Last Week: 1
Another week, another turn in the top spot for the Giants. They lost two of three to the Cardinals to open the second half but rebounded in a big way with a 7-2 victory over the arch-rival Dodgers on Monday, kicking off a massively-important four-game set in Los Angeles. Kevin Gausman returned to the starting rotation for that one after spending some time on the family medical emergency list. San Francisco also got back Buster Posey, who hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat off the IL.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 3
The news cycle on Tuesday should bring us more information on the status of Mookie Betts, who made an early exit from Saturday night’s game in Colorado due to a lingering hip injury and was held out of the starting lineup on both Sunday and Monday. This has been a down year for Betts in some ways, but he’s registered a .370/.417/.685 batting line over 14 games (60 plate appearances) in July and is obviously a big factor for the Dodgers in their quest to repeat as World Series champions.
3. Houston Astros
Last Week: 2
A little tougher schedule just before the All-Star break and then coming out of it has led to a minor cool-off period for the once-hot Astros. They’ve gone 3-5 over their last eight games against the Athletics, Yankees, White Sox, and Indians. But there’s nothing to fret about here. Houston’s combined staff ERA of 3.64 ranks ninth among all 30 major league teams, and the ‘Stros are second only to the Blue Jays in combined OPS with a mark of .773. This roster as a whole is a juggernaut.
4. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 4
Lance Lynn signed a two-year, $38 million contract extension with the White Sox over the weekend, fresh off his appearance in the All-Star Game, and then went out and worked seven innings of one-run ball in the first half of Monday’s doubleheader against the Twins. Lynn almost certainly could have fetched a larger deal on the open market this winter, but the 34-year-old right-hander is clearly enjoying the South Side experience. His current 1.94 ERA is tops among all qualified AL starters.
5. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 5
San Diego kind of stumbled into the All-Star break but came out of it looking fully refreshed, amassing a franchise-record 24 runs on Friday night in D.C. while ultimately winning two of three games versus the host Nationals. There could be a big second half in store for the Padres, who have one of the easiest remaining schedules of any contending team. They’ll happily invite Yu Darvish (hip) back into the rotation mix on Tuesday night against the Braves following Monday’s rainout.
6. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 6
The first-place Red Sox had lost six of their last eight games before beating up on the Blue Jays for a decisive 13-4 victory on Monday night. Talented young outfielder Jarren Duran slid into the No. 2 spot in the lineup for that one and belted a two-run homer off Ross Stripling as part of Boston’s eight-run first inning. Duran could be an important tablesetter for this team moving forward after registering a .926 OPS with 15 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 46 games at Triple-A Worcester.
7. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 7
They fell 6-1 to the last-place Orioles on Monday, but the Rays have won eight of their last 11 games and can look down two promising avenues to a postseason berth. They’re sitting at the very top of the American League Wild Card standings at the moment and are only 1 1/2 games back of the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. Could we see a surprise return of Tyler Glasnow (forearm, elbow) in September? He began a light flat-ground throwing program late last week.
8. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 8
Willy Adames was named National League Player of the Week after going 8-for-13 with two home runs, seven RBI, and six runs scored in the Brewers’ three-game weekend sweep of the Reds. The high-energy shortstop is slashing .314/.398/.578 with 27 extra-base hits (11 homers, 16 doubles) in 51 games since the Rays traded him to Milwaukee back on May 21. The only players with more extra-base hits in that time are MVP frontrunners Shohei Ohtani and Fernando Tatis Jr.
9. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 9
Cole Irvin fired seven scoreless innings and Matt Olson cranked his 24th home run of the year as the A’s earned a 4-1 win over the division-rival Angels on Monday night to stay 3 1/2 games back of the Astros for first place in the American League West standings. They also currently hold the second American League Wild Card and are only two games behind the Rays for the top spot. Olson, by the way, has lifted his season slash line to .287/.375/.578, after slashing only .195/.310/.424 in 2020.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 12
Toronto carried a four-game winning streak into the week before losing in lopsided fashion to the Red Sox on Monday night in front of a crowd at Sahlen Field in Buffalo that slanted heavily toward the visiting team. This club has some work to do before the trade deadline on July 30, which is also a significant date in another respect for the Blue Jays. After getting clearance from the Canadian government, they are going to play a game at Rogers Centre next Friday for the first time since September 2019.
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11. New York Yankees
Last Week: 13
Their weekend series against the arch-rival Red Sox did not get off to the greatest start with Thursday’s postponement due to an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Yankees’ active roster -- Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, Kyle Higashioka were among the players affected -- but New York did manage to win two of three and currently sit just four games back of the second AL Wild Card spot. Entering a two-game set against the Phillies, the Yanks are 7-3 over their last 10. Hope? Progress?
12. New York Mets
Last Week: 10
This two-spot drop for the NL East leaders is all about the injuries to Francisco Lindor and Jacob deGrom. Lindor suffered a Grade 2 oblique strain on Friday and figures to be sidelined for several weeks, and the Mets have pledged that they are going to play things cautiously with deGrom after he went on the IL on Sunday due to forearm tightness. Lindor was batting .333 with a .989 OPS in July. And we probably don’t need to tell you how important a healthy deGrom is to this club.
13. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 11
This time last week, so right at the start of the All-Star break, Cincinnati seemed to be in a really good place, having just taken three of four from the Brewers to finish out the first half. But, as Cubs president Jed Hoyer would say, “life comes at you fast.” Milwaukee got revenge over the weekend in a three-game sweep and then the Reds also fell to the Mets in a 15-11 slugfest on Monday night. They’ve lost four in a row and are suddenly 7 1/2 games of first place in the National League Central.
14. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 14
That crushing nine-game losing streak that stretched from late June past the first week of July served to bury the second-place Indians behind the first-place White Sox in the American League Central standings. Now come the questions about whether Cleveland’s front office will listen to trade offers for Jose Ramirez in the week-plus that remains before the deadline. In his latest column at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal writes that the Rays “are among the teams that would love to find out.”
15. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 15
Mitch Haniger earned American League Player of the Week honors after going 5-for-11 with two home runs, six RBI, and seven runs scored as the Mariners took two of three from the Angels over the weekend. It was the first career Player of the Week nod for Haniger, who has managed to avoid the injured list this year and boasts an .831 OPS with 22 homers, 58 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 89 games. Trey Mancini will probably win AL Comeback Player of the Year, but Haniger has a case.
16. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 17
After going 13-13 in April, 12-16 in May, and 12-12 in June, the Phillies are suddenly 10-4 since the calendar flipped to July and have won each of their four series this month against the Padres, Cubs, Red Sox, and Marlins. Now comes a two-game set at Yankee Stadium and then a four-game set at home versus the Braves. Aaron Nola will be activated from the COVID-19 injured list to start Tuesday in the Bronx. He was a close contact of Alec Bohm but never tested positive himself.
17. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 16
Shohei Ohtani went 2-for-3 with two walks and slugged his MLB-leading 34th home run of the season on Sunday afternoon versus the Mariners. The two-way star and AL MVP favorite then struck out eight batters while yielding only three hits over six shutout innings on Monday night against the Athletics. But, in fitting fashion with the way this year has gone, the Angels lost both of those games. They are somehow only 15-16 when Ohtani hits a homer and 8-6 in his starts as a pitcher.
18. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 21
Paul Goldschmidt hit his 16th home run of the year on Monday night against the Cubs as the Cardinals, who took two of three from the Giants over the weekend, won their third game in a row. They’ve been hovering around the .500 mark for several weeks now -- really since the beginning of June -- and must go on a run to close out the month of July to have any hope of catching the Brewers atop the NL Central. Granted, there are 13 remaining games between St. Louis and Milwaukee.
19. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 18
So the Braves haven’t been above .500 at any point this year, just lost their best player to a devastating season-ending knee injury, and have a number of very tradable players on expiring contracts. And yet they are just 4 1/2 games back of first place in the National League East standings and could very well buy instead of sell at next week’s deadline. They did already add outfielder Joc Pederson from the Cubs last Thursday and he’s driven in four runs in 10 at-bats since that move.
20. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 19
Javier Baez looked mostly uninterested in still wearing a Cubs uniform as he committed a pair of consecutive run-scoring errors in the fourth inning of Monday night’s loss at St. Louis. He is the first player to make an error on back-to-back plays with the bases loaded since Jack Wilson of the Mariners on April 6, 2011. Baez, an impending free agent who’s said to want $200 million in a contract extension, could be traded before the July 30 deadline along with a number of other big-name Northsiders.
21. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 20
Juan Soto is crediting his participation in the 2021 Home Run Derby with helping him rediscover his power stroke, and it’s sort of hard to argue with that at this point. Since besting Shohei Ohtani in the first round last Monday night in Colorado, the 22-year-old slugger has become the first player in MLB history to register 10 hits -- including five home runs -- in his first four games immediately following the All-Star break. His season OPS has soared from .851 to .933 in a span of just 17 at-bats.
22. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 23
Even with a starting rotation that has been hit hard by injuries, the Tigers swept a three-game weekend series from the Twins and then routed the Rangers by a score of 14-0 on Monday night at Comerica Park. Fantasy managers may want to keep an eye on outfielder Derek Hill, especially as the Detroit front office begins to possibly shed some parts ahead of the July 30 trade deadline. In limited action at the major league level this year, Hill has recorded six stolen bases across 11 games.
23. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 22
It’s looking like the Twins might very well be the most active seller in the leadup to next week’s trade deadline. Nelson Cruz and Andrelton Simmons seem sure to be moved as impending free agents, and the Twins would probably love to find a trade partner for Josh Donaldson given his age and the money he’s owed. Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda are big fish in a market that is light on effective starters. Taylor Rogers could certainly draw heavy interest as a high-leverage lefty reliever.
24. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 24
Charlie Blackmon belted a walk-off homer in the 10th inning Sunday against the Dodgers as the Rockies pulled out a 6-5 victory while managing to avoid a three-game sweep. We know that Trevor Story and Jon Gray will likely be moved before next week’s trade deadline, but there hasn’t been much chatter on Blackmon. Probably because he’s 35 years old, carries $31 million in player options for 2022 and 2023, and has slugged just .376 this season despite taking half of his at-bats at Coors Field.
25. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 25
Including an embarrassing 18-1 defeat on Monday night against the Nationals, the Marlins have lost seven of their last nine while falling 10 1/2 games back of the first-place Mets in the NL East standings. Just a few weeks ago, every team in that division seemed to be alive to some degree. Now we can at least shut the door on Miami, especially with dynamic young infielder Jazz Chisholm suffering a serious-looking shoulder injury on Sunday. He was up to 11 homers and 11 steals in 70 games.
26. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 26
You might have forgotten by now that the Royals sat in first place in the American League Central as of the first week of May and were above .500 as recently as early June. They’re now at the very bottom of those same standings, having gone 8-29 over their last 37 games. On a positive note, top shortstop prospect Bobby Witt Jr. was promoted to Triple-A Omaha on Sunday after batting .292/.367/.564 with 16 homers and 14 steals in his 60-game stay at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 27
Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez should be among the most sought-after relievers on the trade market in the leadup to next week’s deadline. He’s had some recent blowups, but Rodriguez holds a strong 2.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 31/4 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 total innings this season. And, taking it back to the beginning of 2020, the 31-year-old right-hander boasts a 2.67 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and 65/9 K/BB ratio across his last 60 2/3 major league frames. He’s also under control through 2023.
28. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 28
Things could not be going much worse right now for the Rangers, who’ve dropped six straight games and been outscored 51-7 by the Athletics, Blue Jays, and Tigers across those six losses. The last three have all been shutouts, at a combined score of 29-0. Not since the Brooklyn Superbas in 1906 has a Major League Baseball team allowed that many runs while suffering three straight shutouts. Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson -- and likely some others -- are halfway out the door already.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
Hey, the O’s have won three straight! And they might have stumbled into something with Ramon Urias, who’s slashing .323/.373/.468 in 67 plate appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk near the end of June. The 27-year-old infielder was a waiver claim from the Cardinals in February 2020 and now holds an .812 OPS in 51 career games (158 plate appearances) at the major league level. He should get everyday playing time down the stretch as the O’s continue to look to the future.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 30
It’s been nearly a full month since the rumor surfaced that Eduardo Escobar was headed to the White Sox, and yet he still remains a member of this last-place D-backs team. Escobar further padded his trade value on Monday night against the Pirates, belting a triple and a homer as part of a 4-2 victory. The 32-year-old infielder is not a perfect player -- his on-base percentage for the season sits at .301 -- but he does have 22 home runs in 92 games and is fresh off his first All-Star nod.