MLB Power Rankings: Week 20

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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

Kris Bryant slugged a pair of home runs and Brandon Crawford finished 4-for-4 with an RBI triple as the Giants topped the Mets by a score of 7-5 in front of a raucous home crowd at Oracle Park on Monday night. They’ve now won eight of their last nine games, 10 of their last 12, and 13 of their last 16. Crawford, who scored a two-year, $32 million contract extension last Friday, is batting .306/.371/.547 with 19 home runs and 70 RBI through 98 games played this year, all at age 34.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 4

With their 2-1 victory over the Pirates on Monday and their three-game sweep of the Mets over the weekend, the Dodgers have captured four straight games and eight of their last nine. This hasn’t served them much good in the NL West standings because the Giants are on a very similar run, but Los Angeles does now hold a commanding seven-game advantage over the Padres for the top National League Wild Card spot. It’s safe to say the reigning World Series champs are playoff-bound.

3. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 2

They did drop the final two games of their three-game weekend series against the Twins, which is not ideal given the state of Minnesota’s roster post-deadline, but the Rays had won seven of eight before that and they cruised to a 9-2 win over the Orioles on Monday night. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, Tampa Bay is 3 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. A three-game set versus the White Sox looms large following this series with Baltimore.

4. Houston Astros
Last Week: 3

It is quite concerning that Alex Bregman has taken so long to recover from the severe quad strain that initially sent him to the IL back in mid-June, but Aledmys Diaz deserves a lot of praise for what he’s been doing as the primary fill-in at third base. The 31-year-old is 14-for-32 (.438) with eight RBI on an active eight-game hitting streak and now slashing .305/.353/.492 in 201 total plate appearances for the year. Bregman, as of Tuesday, has yet to resume playing minor league rehab games.

5. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 6

Finally cracking the top five of these weekly NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings, the Brewers have won six of their last seven and currently sit 7 1/2 games up on the Reds for first place in the National League Central standings. Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff are the listed starters for the three-game series in St. Louis that begins on Tuesday night. Those three have combined for a stellar 2.22 ERA and 497 strikeouts in 380 2/3 innings this season.

6. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 5

Carlos Rodon landed on the injured list last Wednesday with left shoulder fatigue, but he threw from 90 feet on Monday without issue and told reporters after the workout that he is aiming to return to Chicago’s starting rotation during the club’s series in Toronto that runs from August 23-26. The 28-year-old southpaw boasts a 2.38 ERA, 0.957 WHIP, and 160/30 K/BB ratio through 109 2/3 innings (19 starts) for a White Sox team that is currently 11 games up on first place in the AL Central.

7. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 7

Chris Sale fared pretty well in his 2021 debut Saturday versus the Orioles, yielding only two runs on a pair of solo shots while tallying eight strikeouts and issuing zero walks in what became a 16-2 blowout win for the Red Sox. A full 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, his average fastball velocity in the outing was 93.1 mph, not too far off from his career average of 93.6 mph. Kyle Schwarber (hamstring) joined the roster on Friday and stroked two doubles on Sunday.

8. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 10

They fell 5-2 to the White Sox on Monday, after also losing two of three to the Rangers over the weekend, but the Athletics were on a seven-game winning streak before this sudden stumble and are only 2 1/2 games back of the Astros for first place in the American League West standings as of Tuesday afternoon. Starling Marte, since being acquired from the Marlins at the July 30 deadline, is batting .361/.395/.500 with two home runs and a whopping 11 stolen bases in 16 games played.

9. New York Yankees
Last Week: 9

There was good news Monday on Anthony Rizzo, who has been on the COVID-19 injured list since August 8 due to a positive case of the virus. He passed the final stage of intake testing and will go through a workout with his Yankees teammates on Tuesday, setting him up to possibly return to the active roster for Wednesday’s series finale against the rival Red Sox. The veteran first baseman had hit three home runs in his first nine games with New York prior to landing on the IL.

10. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 8

So desperate for starting pitching help after having to place Yu Darvish on the injured list Sunday due to lingering lower back tightness, the Padres on Monday signed Jake Arrieta to a major league contract and will have him debut this Wednesday at Colorado. Arrieta was released by the Cubs last Thursday after struggling to a 6.88 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and 74/39 K/BB ratio in 20 starts covering 86 1/3 innings. The veteran right-hander, pitching this year at age 35, is probably not the answer.

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11. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 11

Teoscar Hernandez was named American League Player of the Week for August 9-15 after going 14-for-28 (.500) with three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBI, one stolen base, and eight runs scored in a span of seven games. It is the third consecutive Player of the Week award for a Blue Jays player, with George Springer collecting the previous two. Hernandez boasts a .313/.355/.526 batting line with 20 homers, 81 RBI, eight steals, and 58 runs scored in 98 total games this year.

12. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 14

After blowing out the Marlins on Monday night, Atlanta has now won four straight games and 11 of its last 13 to take control of first place in the National League East. Dansby Swanson is on a ridiculous heater at the moment. He had four home runs and nine RBI during the Braves’ three-game weekend series at Washington and plated another two runs Monday at Miami. Across his last 163 plate appearances dating back to July 4, the 27-year-old shortstop is batting .344 with a 1.036 OPS.

13. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 12

In the 14-5 blowout victory over the Cubs on Monday night, veteran first baseman Joey Votto became just the fifth player to reach 2,000 hits in a Reds uniform since the team joined the National League in 1890. The other four players to achieve that milestone: Pete Rose, Barry Larkin, Johnny Bench, and Dave Concepcion. Also on Monday, rookie second baseman Jonathan India became the youngest Reds player with a five-RBI game since Juan Francisco in 2011. Good vibes!

14. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 13

This time last week, the Phillies were sitting alone in first place in the National League East standings, having rattled off eight consecutive victories against the Pirates, Nationals, and Mets. But they are now starting up at the Braves at the top of the division --- and 4 1/2 games back of the Padres for the second NL Wild Card spot -- after dropping four of six to the Dodgers and Reds. They probably need to sweep the Diamondbacks or at least take two of three. It’s crunch time for Philly.

15. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 18

Here come the Cardinals? Or is this a too-little, too-late type of situation? Either way, they’ll carry a six-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s series opener against the division-rival Brewers after sweeping both the Pirates and Royals last week. Jack Flaherty returned to action on Friday in Kansas City and yielded just two hits and no walks over six scoreless innings as part of an eventual 9-1 victory for St. Louis. The 25-year-old ace now holds a 2.65 ERA in 12 starts this season.

16. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 16

Winners of five of their last seven versus the Yankees, Rangers, and Blue Jays, the once-fading Mariners are no longer fading. Will this lead to their postseason berth since 2001? Probably not. But the future does look bright. Jarred Kelenic has an .872 OPS this month for Seattle and fellow top outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez is hitting .309/.404/.543 with nine home runs, 30 RBI, seven stolen bases, and 41 runs scored in 44 total games between High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas.

17. New York Mets
Last Week: 15

In sweeping the Nationals to open last week’s slate, the Mets staged their first three-game winning streak since mid-June. But they’ve now suddenly lost four straight versus the Dodgers and Giants to fall back to the .500 mark for the season and 3 1/2 games behind the Braves for first place in the National League East. Trade deadline acquisition Javier Baez is currently on the injured list with a back issue and staff ace Jacob deGrom (elbow) will be in shutdown mode for the rest of August.

18. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 17

As the Indians play out the string on what has been a disappointing, injury-riddled 2021 campaign, they can at least find some encouragement in the recent resurgence of Triston McKenzie. He’s still showing a rough overall 5.12 ERA for the season, but the 24-year-old right-hander carried a perfect game into the eighth inning Sunday against the Tigers and finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts. McKenzie should be locked into the Opening Day rotation leading into 2022.

19. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 19

Justin Upton belted a first-inning homer on Monday night against the Yankees, but the Angels managed only two other hits -- and no other runs -- while falling 2-1. They’ve now lost seven of their last 10 games and are 7-9 overall in August after managing winning records in both July (13-11) and June (15-11) in the ongoing absence of Mike Trout. A full three months since he suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right calf, there’s still no clear picture as to when -- or if? -- Trout might be able to return.

20. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 20

Given the current path he’s on, with five homers and a .340/.424/.660 slash line over his last 16 games, it stands to reason that Miguel Cabrera will reach career home run No. 500 at some point this week. He can do it at home in Comerica Park during the Tigers’ three-game series against the Angels, which begins on Tuesday, or maybe in their following three-game weekend set at Toronto. Cabrera, 38, is on the verge of becoming the 28th player in MLB history to join the 500 home run club.

21. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 21

C.J. Cron, after claiming National League Player of the Week honors for August 2-8, ripped a walk-off solo home run in Monday night’s 6-5 defeat of the visiting Padres as Colorado improved its home record to 39-21 on the year. Good stuff, right? Well, on the flip side, the Rockies are 14-45 away from Coors Field this season and have been shut out in 15 of those 60 road games. They’re hitting .285/.347/.488 as a team this summer in Denver and just .210/.284/.324 everywhere else.

22. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 26

It came in a lopsided 12-2 loss to the Braves, but Jazz Chisholm belted his 13th home run of the season on Monday after doubling in his first start off the COVID-19 injured list on Saturday and then homering on Sunday. This summer has featured a lot of stops and starts for the dynamic 23-year-old infielder, but Chisholm figures to be a very popular name in fantasy drafts next spring for his unique power and speed skillset. Miami had won four straight before getting routed by Atlanta.

23. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 25

Jorge Polanco hit a walk-off run-scoring sacrifice fly in the ninth inning Sunday against the Rays and then stroked a walk-off RBI double in the 10th inning of Monday’s defeat of the Indians, becoming the first Twins player with walk-off contributions in consecutive games since Jacque Jones in July 2005. Polanco is sporting a cool .814 OPS with 64 RBI and 72 runs scored through 111 games this season for a Twins team that has suddenly won three straight and eight of its last 11.

24. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 22

Along their current 12-game losing streak, the Cubs have been outscored 101-43. The pitching stuff, in that time, has allowed a .326/.383/.606 slash line to opposing hitters. Stretching this all back a little further, Chicago has a -123 run differential across its last 46 games, which is the worst run differential in any 46-game span in franchise history. The roster is depleted, and the one prominent position player that remains, Willson Contreras, is currently sitting on the IL with a sprained knee.

25. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 23

It’s no big shocker that the Nats are 2-13 since the day after the trade deadline given all the pieces they dealt away. But then came the unfortunate news on Sunday that Joe Ross may be headed for a second career Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. Ross, who also required the reconstructive elbow procedure in 2017, had posted a respectable 4.17 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 109/34 K/BB ratio in 108 innings this year.

26. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 24

You all know about top shortstop prospect Bobby Witt Jr., who has continued to light up box scores since his July promotion from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha. But first base prospect Nick Pratto should be getting attention too. The 22-year-old, who went 14th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft out of a California high school, has put up a .963 OPS with 21 home runs and 60 RBI through 84 games this season in the upper minors. The future outlook is getting brighter in KC.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 27

It has flown under the radar, probably because the Pirates are a fairly uninteresting team in general at the moment, but shortstop Kevin Newman has really turned it on over the last several weeks. He tied a major league record with four doubles in successive innings on Saturday against the Brewers, a 14-4 victory for Pittsburgh, and is now slashing .339/.364/.516 across his last 66 plate appearances dating back to July 24. Granted, he has zero homers and only one stolen base in that span.

28. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 29

Since there aren’t many positive things to say about the current state of this last-place Rangers team, let’s give a nod here to Adrian Beltre following his induction into the club’s Hall of Fame on Saturday alongside longtime public address announcer Chuck Morgan. Beltre recorded 3,166 hits over the course of his illustrious 21-year major league career, 1,277 of them during his eight-year run with Texas. He’ll appear on the ballot for induction into Cooperstown beginning in 2024.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 38-81
Last Week: 30

In what has been a trying year for the Diamondbacks, they at least got to let off a little steam on Saturday while celebrating Tyler Gilbert’s no-hitter against the Padres. Making his first career MLB start and just his fourth MLB appearance overall, the 27-year-old left-hander scattered three Tommy Pham walks and tallied five strikeouts across his nine mostly-spotless frames. It was the third no-hitter in D-backs history, not counting Madison Bumgarner’s seven-inning no-no from April.

30. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 38-79
Last Week: 28

With their 9-2 loss to the Rays on Monday night, the Orioles have now dropped 12 straight games, all by multiple runs. They have a -77 run differential over that stretch, which is tied for the worst run differential in any 12-game span in the modern era, matching the 1977 Braves, 1936 Athletics, and 1901 Reds. But, uh, how about Grayson Rodriguez? The 21-year-old righty holds a 2.12 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings this season between the High-A and Double-A levels.