MLB Power Rankings: Week 21

·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 2022 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
Record: 89-38
Last Week: 1

Mookie Betts earned National League Player of the Week for August 22-28 after going 9-for-26 (.346) with four home runs, three doubles, seven RBI, and nine runs scored in a span of six games. He's been on a tear over the last two months, along with many other Dodgers hitters and pitchers. They enjoyed the second-best July in franchise history with a record of 21-5 and are now also 21-5 in August with two games still to go. Their run differential for the season is all the way up to +286.

2. New York Mets
Record: 82-47
Last Week: 2

Heading into a marquee three-game series against the visiting Dodgers, the Mets hold a three-game lead on first place in the National League East standings. Jacob deGrom will get the ball in the middle game on Wednesday, boasting a 2.15 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, and a ridiculous 46/2 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 innings (five starts) since returning from a stress reaction in his right scapula at the beginning of this month. He has a 1.95 ERA and 820 strikeouts over his last 610 1/3 major league frames.

3. Houston Astros
Record: 82-47
Last Week: 4

Justin Verlander was sent for an MRI on Monday, the results of which have not yet been made available, after he was removed from Sunday's series finale against the Orioles because of discomfort in his right calf. The veteran ace recorded six strikeouts over three scoreless frames before departing and stands 16-3 on the year with a 1.84 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 154/26 K/BB ratio in 24 starts covering 152 innings. Could a lengthy stay on the IL cost him the 2022 AL Cy Young Award?

4. Atlanta Braves
Record: 79-50
Last Week: 3

The defending World Series champions lost two very winnable games to finish out their three-game weekend series in St. Louis but should be able to get right this week as they return home to Atlanta to face the Rockies and then the Marlins. That said, there is ongoing concern about Ronald Acuña Jr. as he continues to battle renewed soreness in his surgically-repaired right knee. He didn't play on Saturday or Sunday, and his season OPS is 216 points lower than where it was in 2021.

5. St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 75-54
Last Week: 6

Milestone watch rolls on for Albert Pujols, who slugged his 694th career home run in the Cardinals' 13-4 blowout victory at Cincinnati on Monday night. He hit it off Ross Detwiler, the 450th different pitcher that Pujols has gone deep against. That passed Barry Bonds for the most different pitchers homered off all time. Coming out of a weekend series win over the Braves, and with the schedule softening up again, St. Louis is posed to fully run away with the NL Central title down the stretch.

6. New York Yankees
Record: 78-51
Last Week: 5

Their trip out to the West Coast got off to a nice start with wins on Thursday and Friday at Oakland, but the Yankees dropped the final two games of that series and then fell 4-3 to the Angels on Monday night in Anaheim despite Aaron Judge belting his 50th home run of the year. It was their 16th one-run loss since June 19, tied with the Rangers for the most one-run losses in that span. They are now 9-17 in August, already matching their most losses in any calendar month since May 2003.

7. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 72-57
Last Week: 10

Philly fell 5-0 in Sunday's series finale against the lowly Pirates and then blew an early 7-0 lead in what became a 13-7 loss Monday at Arizona, but a six-game winning streak preceded those two blunders. And it obviously helps that Bryce Harper is now back in the fold, two months after requiring surgery for a fractured thumb. He lit it up in a quick two-game rehab assignment and has gone 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles, three walks, and three RBI in four games since his activation from the 60-day IL.

8. San Diego Padres
Record: 71-59
Last Week: 7

They've won three of their last four games against the Royals and Giants while still clinging to the third NL Wild Card spot, but the Padres are just 25-27 dating back to the beginning of July. And they have a big Josh Hader problem on their hands. Since being acquired from the Brewers before the August 2 trade deadline, the 28-year-old left-hander has surrendered a whopping 12 earned runs on 12 hits and seven walks in only 4 2/3 innings. Nick Martinez is currently manning the closer role.

9. Seattle Mariners
Record: 70-58
Last Week: 8

After taking three of four from the Guardians over the weekend, and yielding only seven total runs across those four games, the Mariners are currently just a half-game back of the Rays for the top American League Wild Card spot. And of course the biggest news of all is that they signed 21-year-old budding superstar Julio Rodriguez to a massive contract extension last Friday. It guarantees him $210 million over the next 12 seasons and could rise as high as an 18-year, $470 million deal.

10. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 70-57
Last Week: 12

Tampa Bay had won six straight games versus the Royals and Angels before losing two of three in Boston over the weekend. Tyler Glasnow could soon be back in the picture as he nears the end of his recovery from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He signed a two-year, $30.35 million contract extension last week that bought out what would have been his first year of free agency in 2024. The righty is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment within the next few days.

11. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 69-58
Last Week: 9

They got swept by the Angels over the weekend, plating only three total runs across the three games, but the Blue Jays rebounded for a 5-4 extra-innings defeat of the Cubs on Monday in Toronto as Danny Jansen delivered a three-run blast in the bottom of the seventh inning and then struck a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 11th. Jansen had been in a deep slump, but the 27-year-old catcher has now gone 6-for-12 with two home runs and five RBI in his last three games played.

12. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 68-59
Last Week: 11

Keston Hiura added to his heroic August with a two-run walk-off homer in the Brewers' 7-5 comeback win over the Pirates on Monday night. The 26-year-old former top prospect boasts a .994 OPS with six home runs and 11 RBI in 15 games (47 plate appearances) since getting called back up to the majors at the beginning of this month. He needs to be an everyday presence in the lineup moving forward as Milwaukee attempts to chase down the Cardinals in the NL Central hunt.

13. Cleveland Guardians
Record: 67-59
Last Week: 13

Their offense fell completely flat this weekend in Seattle, but the Guardians are still holding on to first place in the American League Central and suddenly have the hottest bullpen in all of baseball. Cleveland relievers have not allowed an earned run in more than two weeks. James Karinchak is at 18 consecutive appearances (20 innings) without being charged with a run. Nick Sandlin: 15 scoreless appearances spanning 14 innings. Sam Hentges: 11 scoreless outings covering 13 1/3 innings.

14. Minnesota Twins
Record: 66-61
Last Week: 14

This time last week, the Twins were in the midst of what would become a six-game losing streak. But they have since turned the tables with a three-game weekend sweep of the Giants and a 4-2 defeat of the visiting Red Sox on Monday night. Tyler Mahle (shoulder) could return to the starting rotation within the next handful of days and Byron Buxton is said to be making steady progress from the right hip strain that sent him to the 10-day IL last Tuesday. Don't count out Minnesota just yet.

15. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 67-60
Last Week: 15

Over the last two weeks, the Orioles have won three-game series against the Blue Jays, Red Sox, White Sox, and Astros. They're not just a fun startup story anymore; they are a legitimate AL Wild Card contender. Adley Rutschman may already be the best catcher in baseball as a 24-year-old rookie. He has managed Baltimore's patchwork pitching staff with incredible maturity and is hitting .311/.441/.513 with four homers and 12 doubles in his last 35 games going back to July 16.

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16. Chicago White Sox
Record: 63-65
Last Week: 16

It's probably time, or even past time, to give up hope that the White Sox might finally pull it together for the stretch run. They got swept by the visiting Diamondbacks this past weekend on the South Side of Chicago and have now lost nine of their last 11 games. Injuries, lack of depth, managerial flubs -- whatever you want to point to, this season has been a disaster for the Pale Hose given the lofty preseason expectations. We shall see if Tony La Russa has it in him to simply resign on his own.

17. San Francisco Giants
Record: 61-66
Last Week: 17

It's almost hard to fathom, but the Giants haven't put together a winning month since April. They went 13-14 in May, 13-13 in June, 11-17 in July, and are now currently 10-15 in August after losing 6-5 to the visiting Padres on Monday night. Entering the middle game of this three-game series versus San Diego, the reigning NL West champs are 28 games back of the Dodgers for first place in the division and 8 1/2 games behind for the third NL Wild Card spot. Safe to say, that brief reign is over.

18. Boston Red Sox
Record: 62-67
Last Week: 18

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic on Monday that the organization has no plans to cut ties with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom or manager Alex Cora this offseason. It was a fair question to ask given how poorly things have gone in Boston this summer, especially in the second half. After dropping Monday night's series opener to the Twins, the Sox are just 19-34 since the beginning of July. The roster could sure use a refresh of sorts, if not an overhaul.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 60-67
Last Week: 21

Corbin Carroll made quite a splash in his MLB debut on Monday night against the Phillies, contributing a go-ahead two-run double to the Diamondbacks' six-run fifth inning as they roared back from an early 7-0 deficit to earn a rollicking 12-7 comeback win. Carroll, ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the sport by MLB Pipeline, had slashed .307/.425/.611 with 54 extra-base hits and 31 stolen bases through 93 games this summer in Arizona minor league system. He's gonna be a good one.

20. Texas Rangers
Record: 58-69
Last Week: 19

Nathaniel Lowe was named American League Player of the Week for August 22-28 after going 10-for-26 (.385) with four home runs and 11 RBI in a six-game span. The 27-year-old first baseman is slashing .373/.415/.662 with 19 extra-base hits (10 homers, seven doubles, two triples) and 26 RBI over his last 36 games and 152 plate appearances dating back to July 22. Obviously the Rangers need more pitching, but their offensive core provides some reason for long-term optimism.

21. Miami Marlins
Record: 55-73
Last Week: 20

Predictably, the Marlins' lone win in their four-game series against the visiting Dodgers came in a Sandy Alcantara start. He gave up a solo homer to Mookie Betts in the top of the third inning on Saturday but otherwise kept Los Angeles off the board while tallying 10 strikeouts across a full nine innings. It was his fourth complete game of the season, and he is now sporting a 2.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 167/46 K/BB ratio in 185 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old is a shoo-in for the NL Cy Young Award.

22. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 56-73
Last Week: 23

There isn't much left for the Angels to play for here in 2022, other than perhaps putting Shohei Ohtani in the best possible position to claim his second straight AL MVP. Ohtani one-upped Aaron Judge in that regard on Monday night in Anaheim, striking for a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning as part of a 4-3 win over the visiting Yankees. Ohtani has an .882 OPS in 532 plate appearances this season and is also showing a 2.66 ERA and 176/33 K/BB ratio in 128 innings pitched.

23. Chicago Cubs
Record: 55-74
Last Week: 22

It looks like the Cubs may have something in Javier Assad, who threw four scoreless innings in his MLB debut last Tuesday against the arch-rival Cardinals and then twirled five scoreless frames in his second MLB outing Monday at Toronto. The young righty is the first pitcher in the modern era to log scoreless starts against teams 10-plus games over .500 in each of his first two career appearances. Assad, 25, had a 2.66 ERA in 108 1/3 minor league innings this year prior to his callup.

24. Colorado Rockies
Record: 55-74
Last Week: 24

Germán Márquez managed to outduel Max Scherzer in Sunday's series finale at Citi Field as the Rockies halted their four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win. Marquez has a 3.69 ERA in 11 starts on the road this season and a 6.09 ERA in 14 starts at home. Such is the life of a Colorado pitcher, having to tangle with the challenging conditions at Coors Field. Marquez, 27, is under contract for $15.3 million in 2023 and carries a $16 million club option (or $2.5 million buyout) for 2024.

25. Kansas City Royals
Record: 52-77
Last Week: 25

Kansas City's offense brought the noise on Sunday against the Padres, scoring a season-high 15 runs on a season-high-matching 18 hits to avoid a three-game weekend sweep. Salvador Perez was in the middle of it all, contributing a pair of singles and a two-run homer to the onslaught. He now has 26 RBI in 30 games played since returning in late July from surgery to repair a torn UCL in his left thumb. This has been a lost season for Salvy in a lot of ways, but he's trying to make good.

26. Detroit Tigers
Record: 50-78
Last Week: 27

Matt Manning is criminally under-rostered in mixed fantasy leagues as he heads into a two-start week against the Mariners and Royals. The 24-year-old right-hander has been limited to just seven appearances at the major league level this season due to shoulder and biceps issues, but he holds a 2.37 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 31/9 K/BB ratio in 38 innings when healthy. A former top-25 prospect, Manning tallied eight strikeouts over six scoreless frames last Wednesday versus the Giants.

27. Cincinnati Reds
Record: 50-77
Last Week: 26

Desperate for a fresh arm of any variety, the Reds signed veteran right-hander Chase Anderson to a minor league contract on Saturday and had him start their series opener against the visiting Cardinals on Monday night at Great American Ball Park. He worked a 1-2-3 first inning, even striking out Lars Nootbaar and Paul Goldschmidt, but the wheels promptly fell off in what became a six-run second inning for St. Louis. That has been a theme this year in Cincinnati: bad process, bad results.

28. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 48-80
Last Week: 28

Oneil Cruz has registered some mind-boggling exit velocities on batted balls over the last week-plus, but the Pirates are probably even more encouraged by what they've seen lately from young starter Roansy Contreras. The 22-year-old right-hander struck out seven batters across five scoreless innings on Sunday against the Phillies, helping the Bucs to a 5-0 shutout win. He carries a 3.42 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 71 total major league innings going back to his debut in September 2021.

29. Oakland Athletics
Record: 48-81
Last Week: 29

After rallying to split a four-game weekend series with the Yankees, the Athletics are now headed out on the road for three-game sets at Washington and Baltimore. Cole Irvin is lined up to start Tuesday night's series opener versus the Nationals and he should also get the assignment for Sunday's series finale against the O's. The 28-year-old lefty racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven shutout frames in last turn through the rotation while lowering his season ERA to 3.16.

30. Washington Nationals
Record: 43-85
Last Week: 30

We highlighted Joey Meneses in this space a couple of weeks ago, and the 30-year-old rookie just keeps chugging along. He has tallied 28 hits in 22 major league games since being promoted from Triple-A Rochester on August 10, surpassing Anthony Rendon for the most hits through a player's first 22 games in Nationals franchise history. Meneses carries an overall .333/.371/.583 batting line through 89 plate appearances at baseball's highest level. Shoutout to the late bloomers.