MLB Power Rankings: Week 23

·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: 97-43
Last Week: 1

Freddie Freeman earned NL Player of the Week honors for September 5-11 after going 12-for-22 (.546) with three home runs, two doubles, four walks, eight RBI, and seven runs scored in a span of six games. He finished 0-for-3 with a walk in Monday night's series opener against the Diamondbacks, but the Dodgers won 6-0 anyway while becoming the first team to officially clinch a postseason berth. Their run differential of +316 is the fourth-best in MLB history through 140 games.

2. Houston Astros
Record: 91-50
Last Week: 2

Not only did Framber Valdez tie the single-season MLB record for consecutive quality starts (24) on Monday night against the Tigers, but he did so with his first career shutout. It was the first shutout thrown by any Astros pitcher since Justin Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays on September 1, 2019. Verlander, by the way, is making steady progress in his recovery from a right calf strain and appears to be tracking toward a return to Houston's starting rotation this weekend versus the visiting A's.

3. New York Mets
Record: 89-53
Last Week: 3

Chris Bassitt yielded more than four runs for the first time since May 24, and failed to make it past the fourth inning for the first time since June 8, as the Mets lost 5-2 to the Cubs on Monday at Citi Field. But they won two of three at both Pittsburgh and Miami last week and are currently up 1 1/2 games over the Braves for first place in the NL East. Jacob deGrom will toe the slab on Tuesday versus Chicago, boasting a 1.66 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, and 63/4 K/BB ratio in his 43 1/3 frames this year.

4. Atlanta Braves
Record: 87-54
Last Week: 4

The defending World Series champs lost the final two games of their three-game weekend series in Seattle and tried but failed to stage a late rally in what wound up as a 3-2 loss to the Giants on Monday night in San Francisco. They were undefeated in September before this sudden three-game losing streak. We'll see what Kyle Wright can muster up on Tuesday as he battles through late-season fatigue. The 26-year-old was shelled for eight earned runs by the lowly A's last week.

5. St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 83-58
Last Week: 5

Albert Pujols now stands alone in fourth place on the all-time home run leaderboard -- ahead of Alex Rodriguez and only behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth -- after going yard for the 697th time in his career to help the Cardinals earn a 4-3 comeback win Sunday versus the Pirates. St. Louis wound up taking two of three at Pittsburgh and will enter Tuesday night's series opener against the second-place Brewers with an eight-game lead on first place in the National League Central.

6. New York Yankees
Record: 85-56
Last Week: 6

Some of the panic in the Bronx has probably dissipated after the Yankees took two of three from the Rays this weekend. They have won six of their last eight games and are up 5 1/2 games on first place in the American League East with only 21 games left to play. Gerrit Cole will take the bump in Tuesday night's series opener versus the rival Red Sox, coming off a 14-strikeout performance last week against the Twins. That was a season-high for Cole, and one strikeout off his career-high.

7. Seattle Mariners
Record: 79-61
Last Week: 7

Seattle came out on top Sunday in one of the more thrilling games of the season as Julio Rodriguez hit a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the ninth and then Eugenio Suárez walked it off for an 8-7 defeat of the visiting Braves. Rodriguez is up to 25 homers and 24 steals through his first 123 major league games to go along with an .833 OPS. Suarez, perceived by some to be a bad-contract throw-in on the offseason Jesse Winker trade, has posted 30 homers and 82 RBI in 139 games.

8. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 79-61
Last Week: 8

Bo Bichette was named American League Player of the Week for September 5-11 after going 16-for-32 (.500) with five home runs, four doubles, a triple, 13 RBI, and 11 runs scored in a span of seven games. Toronto won five of those seven games and then also rallied for a 3-2 comeback victory over the Rays on Monday night, with Bichette driving in all three of the Blue Jays' runs. He hit an RBI single in the fourth inning and a full-count go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth.

9. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 78-62
Last Week: 11

Taking advantage of a favorable portion of their remaining schedule, the Phillies won five of six games last week versus the Marlins and Nationals and hold command of the second NL Wild Card spot as of Tuesday afternoon. Bryce Harper ended the longest home run drought of his career on Saturday against Washington, going deep for the first time in 102 plate appearances. Kyle Schwarber also went yard in that one and currently leads all National League hitters in home runs with 37.

10. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 78-61
Last Week: 9

After getting thoroughly out-slugged by the Yankees on Saturday and Sunday, and also then surrendering a late lead to the Blue Jays on Monday, the Rays have lost three straight games for the first time since late July. Wander Franco had three hits, including two doubles, in his return from the IL last Friday, but he made an early exit from Sunday's series finale in the Bronx and was held out of the starting lineup Monday in Toronto. Maybe his surgically-repaired hand/wrist is still barking?

11. San Diego Padres
Record: 77-64
Last Week: 10

Having dropped the final two games of their three-game weekend series against the Dodgers, the Padres are in the very same place they were this time last week, with just a two-game lead over the Brewers for the third NL Wild Card spot. Do we need to talk about Juan Soto? He's getting on base at a good clip, per usual, but the 23-year-old has batted just .218 with a .345 slugging percentage in 140 total plate appearances for San Diego. He's tallied only six RBI in 32 games played.

12. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 75-66
Last Week: 12

They won four of five last week against the Giants and Reds, but the Brewers are eight games back of the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central and two games back of the Padres for the third NL Wild Card spot. And they're going to be without Freddy Peralta for another extended stretch after he landed on the injured list this weekend due to what's been diagnosed as shoulder fatigue. Peralta has been limited to 70 1/3 innings this year due to ongoing shoulder issues.

13. Cleveland Guardians
Record: 74-65
Last Week: 13

Coming off a massive three-game weekend sweep of the Twins and a 5-4 win over the Angels on Monday night in Cleveland, the Guardians are now three games up on first place in the AL Central standings with just about three weeks left to play. Emmanuel Clase has nailed down three saves in the last four days, bringing his MLB-best saves total up to 34. The dominant 24-year-old closer owns a 1.31 ERA over his last 130 1/3 innings dating back to the beginning of the 2021 campaign.

14. Chicago White Sox
Record: 72-69
Last Week: 15

This is all a bit awkward, but the White Sox have surged to a 9-3 record under acting manager Miguel Cairo while essentially halving their deficit on first place in the American League Central standings. But word is that Tony La Russa might step back into the managerial role sometime this week after getting medial clearance to meet the team in Oakland on Sunday. The 77-year-old skipper took a leave of absence on the final day of August to have a pacemaker inserted for his heart.

15. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 73-67
Last Week: 16

Maybe we really will see Grayson Rodriguez this year after all. He has wrapped up a three-start rehab assignment between High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie and will take the mound for Triple-A Norfolk later this week for the first time since suffering a lat strain on June 1. The 22-year-old holds a 2.46 ERA and 402/91 K/BB ratio in 278 1/3 career minor league innings. That encouraging story aside, the O's have lost six of their last eight and are 5 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card hunt.

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16. Minnesota Twins
Record: 69-70
Last Week: 14

So much for that briefly-held share of the AL Central lead. Minnesota has gone 2-8 so far in September while suddenly falling to third place in the division and five games back of the first-place Guardians. Now under the .500 mark for the first time since April, the Twins are steering toward desperation mode with only three weeks left to go. Byron Buxton, per manager Rocco Baldelli, is still at least a week away in his recovery from the hip strain that sent him to the injured list on August 23.

17. Boston Red Sox
Record: 69-72
Last Week: 18

After getting swept by the Rays to begin last week's slate, the Red Sox rallied to take the final two games of their three-game weekend series in Baltimore. Rafael Devers belted a grand slam as part of a three-hit, five-RBI day on Saturday as the Sox collectively put up a season-high 17 runs on a season-high 21 hits. And then Rich Hill and four relievers combined to limit the O's to three hits in a 1-0 shutout victory on Sunday. Better vibes leading into a two-game set against the arch-rival Yankees.

18. San Francisco Giants
Record: 68-73
Last Week: 17

Congratulations to Wilmer Flores on scoring a new two-year, $13 million contract extension from the Giants. He'll make $6.5 million in both 2023 and 2024, and the deal also contains a mutual option for 2025. The 31-year-old infielder joined San Francisco in February 2020 and had earned $9.5 million combined over the last three seasons. He has already matched his career-high in home runs this year with 18 and has also delivered a career-best 65 RBI through 133 games played.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 66-74
Last Week: 19

Zac Gallen's historic scoreless innings streak predictably came to an end on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field as he surrendered three earned runs across six frames. But he did rack up 11 strikeouts -- with no walks -- and the Diamondbacks managed to slug their way to a 12-6 defeat of the host Rockies. Gallen has an eye-popping 0.97 ERA and 74/12 K/BB ratio over his last 65 innings (10 starts) going back to the All-Star break. He leads all MLB starters in hits-per-nine this year at 5.9.

20. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 61-80
Last Week: 20

Mike Trout has homered in seven consecutive games and can tie Ken Griffey Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987), and Dale Long (1956) for the longest such streak in MLB history if he sends one into the seats on Tuesday night in Cleveland. But the ‘Tungsten Arm' O'Doyle caveat here is that the Angels are just 3-4 in those seven straight games that have featured a Trout home run. He carries a 1.001 OPS in 100 games played this year, and the Halos have gone 42-58 in those 100 games.

21. Texas Rangers
Record: 61-80
Last Week: 21

Josh Jung hit an RBI double in the first half of Monday's doubleheader against the Marlins and slugged a solo home run off Braxton Garrett in the nightcap. He has four extra-base hits now (two doubles, two homers) over his first five major league games, tying Ruben Mateo in 1999 and Ruben Sierra in 1986 for the most ever by a Rangers player through five career games. Jung probably would have been on the Opening Day roster in Texas had he not injured his shoulder in the spring.

22. Miami Marlins
Record: 58-83
Last Week: 22

There was a lot of hype around Trevor Rogers after he posted a 2.64 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 133 innings last season en route to a second-place finish for NL Rookie of the Year. And while he has certainly failed to meet the hype, the 24-year-old lefty is seemingly poised to go out on a high note. Rogers fanned nine batters over 6 1/3 innings on Monday versus the Rangers and has a 2.95 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings (three starts) since returning from a lower back injury on August 31.

23. Chicago Cubs
Record: 59-82
Last Week: 23

Braves center fielder Michael Harris II is running away with the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year Award, but Seiya Suzuki should wind up with a lot of down-ballot votes. The 28-year-old from Arakawa, Japan went 2-for-4 in the Cubs' upset win over the Mets on Monday night, after slugging his 13th home run of the season in a loss to the Giants on Sunday. The data shows that he has adjusted to MLB breaking balls, leading to a .342/.402/.557 slash line in his last 87 plate appearances.

24. Colorado Rockies
Record: 61-80
Last Week: 24

Colorado had won four straight games and was on the verge of a three-game weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks before falling 12-6 on Sunday afternoon. As his been a theme for this franchise, the Rockies are currently six games above .500 (40-34) at home in Coors Field and 25 games below .500 (21-46) everywhere else. C.J. Cron is batting .297/.349/.598 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI in 69 home games and .234/.295/.377 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 65 games on the road.

25. Kansas City Royals
Record: 57-84
Last Week: 25

Brady Singer might be rounding into the type of frontline starter that the Royals have been badly missing. The 26-year-old righty scattered four hits and one walk across seven scoreless innings on Sunday against the Tigers as Kansas City rolled to a 4-0 shutout win to avoid a three-game sweep. Singer boasts a 3.21 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 131/31 K/BB ratio in 134 2/3 total innings this season. He has a 2.29 ERA and 62/13 K/BB ratio over his last 63 frames (10 starts) dating back to July 23.

26. Cincinnati Reds
Record: 56-83
Last Week: 26

Nick Lodolo is lined up to start Wednesday's series finale against the Pirates and will be looking to build on a month-long run of terrific pitching performances. The rookie left-hander recorded 11 strikeouts over a career-high eight innings last Friday versus the Brewers and holds a 2.43 ERA and 38/6 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings (five starts) since August 17. Had he not missed all of May and June because of a severe lower back strain, Lodolo would probably be getting a lot more love nationally.

27. Detroit Tigers
Record: 54-87
Last Week: 27

Including their punchless 7-0 loss to the Astros on Monday night, the Tigers have been shut out in 21 different games this season. That is already tied with the 1973 Yankees and the 1976 White Sox for the most shutouts suffered by an American League team since the advent of the designated hitter. Detroit's offense as a whole is slashing just .230/.286/.341 with only 88 home runs in 5,090 combined plate appearances. Every other MLB club has far surpassed the 100-homer threshold.

28. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 52-88
Last Week: 28

Oneil Cruz was probably a runner-up for NL Player of the Week after going 11-for-26 (.423) with two homers, two doubles, one triple, seven RBI, one stolen base, and four runs scored in a span of six games between September 5-11. The 23-year-old shortstop is batting .328 with a 1.050 OPS in his last 61 plate appearances going back to August 27. Given this strong finish and the projectability of his raw power and speed, Cruz seems likely to be a top-100 pick in fantasy drafts next spring.

29. Oakland Athletics
Record: 51-90
Last Week: 29

Tony Kemp helped the A's snap another losing streak on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with a single, a triple, a home run, three RBI, and four runs scored in a 10-3 rout of the White Sox. He is just the fifth player in 122-year history of the franchise to record at least four runs, three RBI, a triple, and a homer in one game. The others: Harry Davis (1901), Jimmy Dykes (1925), Jimmie Foxx (1930), and Rogers Maris (1958). Kemp, though, has struggled to an overall .234/.309/.325 slash line for the season.

30. Washington Nationals
Record: 49-92
Last Week: 30

They went on a surprising run at the beginning of September, earning a road series win against the Mets and then splitting a four-game set in St. Louis, but the Nationals got swept by the Phillies over the weekend in Philadelphia and continue to carry the worst record in all of baseball at a whopping 43 games under the .500 mark. Kyle Finnegan, the sort of defacto closer in Washington, has surrendered seven earned runs on six hits and two walks over his last 2 2/3 innings of work.