MLB Power Rankings: Week 2

Drew Silva
·16 min read

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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. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 1

Clayton Kershaw had a rough outing on Opening Day against the Rockies but bounced back to strike out eight batters over six innings of one-run ball last Tuesday in Oakland and he worked six scoreless frames in the Dodgers’ 3-0 shutout victory over the Nationals on Sunday. All told, Dodgers starters have pitched to a 2.60 ERA and 61/7 K/BB ratio through 62 1/3 innings this year. Cody Bellinger is on the IL with a left calf contusion, but it sounds like he may be activated when first eligible later this week.

2. San Diego Padres
Record: 8-3
Last Week: 2

San Diego swept a three-game weekend series against the Rangers, highlighted by Joe Musgrove firing the first no-hitter in the 53-year history of the Padres on Friday night. He struck out 10 batters across his nine hitless frames and was one hit-by-pitch away from delivering a perfect game. A very cool moment for the San Diego native. And, hey, word is that Fernando Tatis Jr. (shoulder) could be activated from the IL as early as Friday’s much-anticipated series opener versus the division-rival Dodgers.

3. Houston Astros
Record: 6-4
Last Week: 9

Zack Greinke got roughed up by the Tigers on Monday, yielding six earned runs on 10 hits and three walks, but the Astros get a sizable bump in this week’s rankings even as they navigate a three-game losing streak. They have two more games against a bad Detroit team, then three against the Mariners, and three against the Rockies to kick off next week. A surge is coming, and Jake Odorizzi can go a long way toward stabilizing the rotation in his 2021 debut on Tuesday. The lineup is already clicking.

4. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 3

Atlanta got swept by the Phillies to open the season but exacted revenge by taking two of three from Philly over the weekend. Then came an ugly 5-3 extra-innings defeat versus the Marlins on Monday. The lineup as a whole is off to a pretty slow start, with the exception of Ronald Acuna. He tripled and drew three walks in that loss to Miami and is now slashing .447/.500/.947 with nine extra-base hits, eight RBI, three stolen bases, and 10 runs scored through 10 games this year. Huascar Ynoa might be a thing too.

5. New York Yankees
Last Week: 4

Gerrit Cole helped the Yankees get back to .500 on Monday night with six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays. Cole scattered three hits and one walk while punching out eight hitters and tied David Cone (1997) for the most strikeouts (29) recorded by a Yankees pitcher through his first three starts of a season. There are question marks at the back end of the rotation -- Domingo German was optioned to the alternate training site after another rough outing on Saturday -- but Cole sure looks fine.

6. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 5

The White Sox earned a 4-3 walk-off win over Cleveland on Monday, thanks to a bungled fielder’s choice in the bottom of the ninth, and have now won four of their last six games with Tim Anderson (hamstring) possibly returning on Thursday. Lance Lynn was lights-out Friday versus the Royals, delivering 11 strikeouts and no walks over nine scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory. It was his fourth complete game and his second career shutout. He’s sporting a 0.00 ERA and 17/2 K/BB ratio in 13 2/3 innings this year.

7. New York Mets
Last Week: 6

The Mets have only played five games so far because their opening series against the Nationals was postponed due to COVID-19 and their series finale Sunday against the Marlins got suspended just nine pitches and two batters in due to rain. Monday’s series opener versus the Phillies was also postponed by inclement weather. As of now, Mets hitters are a combined 6-for-41 with RISP. That may help explain why Jacob deGrom doesn’t have a win yet despite a 0.64 ERA and 21/2 K/BB ratio in 14 innings.

8. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 7

Their scheduled series opener Monday night against the visiting Red Sox got postponed following the police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis. The NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild also postponed their games on Monday due to unrest in the Twin Cities and out of respect for the Wright family. It sounds like the Twins plan to begin that series versus Boston on Tuesday and play a doubleheader Wednesday.

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9. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 12

The Phillies rattled off four straight wins to begin the season -- against the division-rival Braves and Mets, no less -- and currently sit atop the National League East standings despite losing three of their last five against those same two clubs. And they get the Mets again to kick off this week’s schedule, starting with a doubleheader on Tuesday after Monday’s rainout in Queens. Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins all have OPS numbers north of .900 as it stands here on Tuesday afternoon.

10. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 8

After falling 3-1 to the division-rival Yankees on Monday night, the Jays have now lost five of their last six games to fall two games under the .500 mark. They could really use George Springer, who strained his right quadriceps last week while nearing the end of his rehabilitation from a Grade 2 oblique strain. The oblique is fully healed at this point, per manager Charlie Montoyo, but the $150 million offseason addition is still probably a week away from making his Toronto -- er, Dunedin? -- debut.

11. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 10

The reigning American League champions took two of three from the Yankees over the weekend and have now won five straight series against New York; six straight series if you count the postseason. Tyler Glasnow continued his dominant start to the season on Monday night against the Rangers, recording a career-high 14 strikeouts over 7 2/3 scoreless frames. The ace right-hander now has a 0.46 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, and 29/3 K/BB ratio through 19 2/3 innings (three starts) this year.

12. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 14

Milwaukee took two of three in St. Louis over the weekend and topped the Cubs by a score of 6-3 on Monday night at American Family Field courtesy of a brilliant outing by Freddy Peralta. The 24-year-old right-hander now has a 0.69 ERA with a whopping 24 strikeouts through his first 13 innings (two starts, one relief appearance) this season. If he can be a reliable No. 3 starter for the Brewers, behind the two-headed monster that is Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, this team can go far.

13. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 19

Yes, the offense should probably be the lead story given the MLB-leading .857 combined OPS, but what’s gotten into Wade Miley? The veteran left-hander tossed five scoreless innings in the Reds’ 3-0 shutout win over the Giants on Monday and has gone unscored upon across his first 11 innings (two starts) this season, with only three total hits allowed. Miley, 34, missed a lot of time last year with groin and shoulder issues and registered a 5.65 ERA and 12/9 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings when he wasn’t on the IL.

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14. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 11

The A’s went 0-6 out of the gate -- six straight losses to the Astros and Dodgers -- before taking three of four against those same teams to wrap up last week’s slate. And they beat the D-backs on Monday by a score of 9-5 as Jed Lowrie stayed hot and Ramon Laureano collected his sixth and seventh stolen bases of the young season. Another notable item from that win on Monday: Lou Trivino worked the ninth inning, after Jake Diekman handled the eighth. That could be the bullpen blueprint moving forward.

15. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 7-3
Last Week: 17

Anthony Rendon is on the injured list due to a left groin strain and Dexter Fowler is done for the year with a torn left ACL, but the Angels are currently in first place in the AL West standings after a 10-3 rout of the Royals on Monday night and could continue moving up these rankings if they’re able to weather the storm. Shohei Ohtani missed a scheduled start on Sunday due to a blister, though he checked out just fine at the plate Monday with a 3-for-5, three-RBI showing which included a 119.0 mph double.

16. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 13

The Cardinals swept a three-game series against the Marlins last week and made it four straight victories with a 3-1 win on Thursday versus the Brewers. That game on Thursday was the home opener for St. Louis, and it featured a big go-ahead homer by Nolan Arenado. But the Cards then lost 9-5 on Saturday and 9-3 on Sunday, and they also fell 5-2 to the Nationals on Monday. Jack Flaherty will try to right the ship for this scuffling rotation in a matchup against Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday night.

17. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 18

The Indians had won four straight games and five of their last six before losing in walk-off fashion to the division-rival White Sox on Monday night in Chicago. Jose Ramirez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in that defeat, and when he doesn’t hit, this lineup gets all the more easy to navigate. Granted, there have been encouraging signs in the early going from Franmil Reyes, who drove in another run on Monday and is batting .313/.361/.750 with four homers and eight RBI through nine games this season.

18. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 15

It’s been a tricky start to the year for the Nationals, who had to postpone their opening series against the Mets due to a COVID-19 outbreak and then went 1-5 last week versus the Braves and Dodgers. But they got Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, and Kyle Schwarber off the COVID-19 IL ahead of Monday night’s game in St. Louis and went on to win 5-2, with Brad Hand collecting his first save of 2021. Hand had an ugly spring, but he has rebounded with a pair of scoreless appearances out of the gate.

19. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 16

Chicago lost two of three to the Pirates over the weekend, and got outscored 17-7 in that three-game series, before then falling to the Brewers on Monday. Let’s keep it positive, though, and highlight Craig Kimbrel. He has retired all 14 batters he’s faced to begin the year, nine via strikeout. If the Cubs are going to contend in the NL Central, the veteran closer can play a key part in that. Or if they opt to sell ahead of the July 30 deadline, maybe they can actually get something for Kimbrel beyond salary relief.

20. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 21

J.D. Martinez has already tallied 12 extra-base hits, the most ever by an American League player through the first eight games of a season. And here’s another encouraging stat, via Alex Fast of PitcherList: Nathan Eovaldi, entering play on Monday, was one of just seven MLB pitchers to record at least 25 batted-ball events without yielding a barrel to an opposing hitter. With better health on his side, the 31-year-old right-hander boasts a 1.46 ERA through 12 1/3 innings (two starts) so far in 2021.

21. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 22

After winning four straight versus the Padres and Rockies to close out last week’s slate, the Giants got shut out 3-0 by the Reds on Monday. Aaron Sanchez was impressive again, though, in that loss to Cincinnati, yielding just three hits and a walk over five innings. His only real blemish was a two-run homer to Jesse Winker in the third. Sanchez has a 2.70 ERA with seven strikeouts and one free pass in 10 innings this year. Before his Giants debut last Tuesday, he hadn’t pitched in a major league game since August 2019.

22. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 20

The Royals fell 10-3 to the Angels on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium and have now lost four of their last six games after opening the season with back-to-back high-powered victories against the Rangers. Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, and Michael Taylor all continue to rake, but Kansas City sure could use some better overall pitching. And fantasy managers continue to await the return of Adalberto Mondesi, who is still on the injured list with an oblique strain that popped up at the very end of spring camp.

23. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 23

A cool story that’s maybe flown under the radar: Tim Locastro recorded his 28th stolen base in as many career tries on Sunday against the Reds, breaking a major league record held by Tim Raines, who went 27-for-27 on stolen base attempts to begin his Hall of Fame career. Locastro has been starting in center field and batting leadoff for the Diamondbacks as of late and could continue to do so until Ketel Marte returns from the serious-looking right hamstring strain that he suffered last Wednesday.

24. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 24

Seattle took two of three from the Twins over the weekend and entered Monday night’s series opener against the Orioles a game above .500, but that game was postponed due to rain and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday. James Paxton is headed for Tommy John surgery, or so it seems, after making it through just 24 pitches in his season debut last Tuesday night against the White Sox before his left elbow gave out. He’s getting a second opinion, but the writing is on the wall.

25. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 25

How about Trevor Rogers’ performance on Saturday versus the Mets? The 23-year-old left-hander put up 10 strikeouts over six scoreless innings, with only two walks and three hits allowed, in a 3-0 victory for Miami. Rogers, a top-100 prospect at Baseball America and MLB Pipeline entering the season, now holds a 1.80 ERA with 16 strikeouts through his first 10 innings of work in 2021. It’s yet another exciting young arm for the Marlins to build around. Now if only they could develop some bats.

26. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 26

Is there a post-hype Casey Mize breakout in the works? The 23-year-old former No. 1 overall pick quieted a dangerous Astros lineup on Monday night in Houston with seven scoreless innings in a 6-2 victory for Detroit. He is the first Tigers rookie to throw seven-or-more shutout innings in a game since Michael Fulmer’s complete game shutout back on August 14, 2016 at Texas. Mize averaged 95.3 mph with his four-seam fastball on Monday, up from a 93.7 mph average reading on that pitch last year.

27. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 4-5
Last Week: 27

The O’s swept three games from the Red Sox to open the year but have predictably lost five of their last six entering their series this week against the Mariners. That includes a three-game sweep this past weekend by the Red Sox. The good early vibes have faded, though Cedric Mullins deserves a shoutout. The dynamic 26-year-old has been starting in center field and hitting leadoff while going 17-for-37 (.459) through his first nine games. Oh, and Trey Mancini has homered in two straight.

28. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 28

The bullpen is in absolute shambles. Jose Leclerc was already done for the year following Tommy John surgery in early March, and then it was Jonathan Hernandez’s turn to undergo the reconstructive elbow procedure on Monday. They’ll both be sidelined until sometime in 2022. Matt Bush has a flexor tendon strain in his right arm and is expected to miss a minimum of 12 weeks. So it appears that veteran Ian Kennedy is going to be the closer by default for Texas here in the first half of 2021.

29. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 29

Colorado got swept by the Giants in a three-game weekend series and managed only four total runs across those three games. And the April schedule only gets tougher from here, with three at the Dodgers beginning Tuesday, then three versus the Mets, two against the Astros, and three against the Phillies. One sign of hope for the lineup: Ryan McMahon has drastically increased his launch angle from last year and is already up to five home runs through 10 games played, alongside an overall 1.126 OPS.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 30

Pittsburgh finally snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday against the Cubs and then also won 7-1 on Sunday before falling 6-2 to Yu Darvish and the Padres on Monday night at PNC Park. It’s hard to envision the Bucs moving out of this bottom ranking at any point in the near future, especially with Ke’Bryan Hayes still sidelined because of a left wrist injury. Hayes has been taking some grounders and doing other light baseball activities, but he has yet to be cleared to swing a bat.