MLB Power Rankings: Week 4

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Drew Silva
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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
Record: 15-8
Last Week: 1

They did drop three of four to the division-rival Padres over the weekend and fell 5-3 to the Reds on Monday, but the defending World Series champs still hold the best run differential in MLB at +30 and the top spot in these NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings. David Price suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in Sunday’s series finale versus San Diego, but the veteran lefty had been working as a reliever, and the Dodgers’ five primary starters boast a combined 2.62 ERA with 161 strikeouts in 140 2/3 innings.

2. San Diego Padres
Record: 13-11
Last Week: 2

Dinelson Lamet made it just 29 pitches into his 2021 debut last Wednesday against the Brewers before reaggravating his throwing arm, which is obviously a downer in the short term and long term. San Diego rallied from that dose of bad news, however, to take three of four against the Dodgers between Thursday and Sunday, including a big comeback win in the series finale. Fernando Tatis Jr. slugged five home runs in the final three games of that four-game set and is currently sporting an overall .970 OPS.

3. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 6

The big 13-game winning streak finally came to an end in an 8-1 loss to the Orioles on Sunday, but the A’s returned to nearly-unbeatable form in a tight 2-1 victory Monday night at Tampa Bay. Sean Manaea started Monday’s game versus the Rays and tallied six strikeouts over five innings while yielding only one run for his third straight victory. The 29-year-old left-hander now has a 1.50 ERA and 24 strikeouts over his last four starts covering 24 innings, after struggling in his first rotation turn April 4 against the Astros.

4. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 8

Michael Kopech got his second start of the year on Sunday against the Rangers and struck out 10 batters across five innings of one-run ball as the White Sox won 8-4 and finished off a three-game weekend sweep of Texas. Kopech began the season in the bullpen but is filling in now for the injured Lance Lynn (trapezius) and suddenly looks like a must-have in fantasy. The 24-year-old former top prospect owns an overall 1.72 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 27/4 K/BB ratio through 15 2/3 total innings here in 2021.

5. New York Mets
Last Week: 3

The Mets were swept by the Cubs last week but rebounded to take two of three from the Nationals in a weekend series at Citi Field. Jacob deGrom started Friday’s opener, a 6-0 victory for New York, and recorded a career-high 15 strikeouts while logging his first nine-inning shutout since 2016. The 32-year-old right-hander holds a ridiculous 0.31 ERA and has tallied more strikeouts (50) through four starts than any pitcher in major league history. Francisco Lindor will get going at some point, right?

6. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 10

The power-hitting Red Sox earned yet another comeback win on Sunday against the Mariners to split the four-game set with Seattle. They lead all major league teams in comeback victories (11) this season and also hold the highest combined OPS (.794) of any club here on Tuesday afternoon. J.D. Martinez started hot out of the blocks and has shown no signs of a let-up with his current .370/.446/.753 batting line through 92 plate appearances. He’s delivered 17 extra-base hits and 21 RBI in 21 games.

7. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 11

Corbin Burnes had his worst start of the year in the Brewers’ 8-0 loss to the Marlins on Monday night, yet he still pushed toward a unique historical achievement in that outing with his nine strikeouts and zero walks across five innings. Burnes has 49 strikeouts and no walks through 29 1/3 total innings of work this season, to go along with a 1.53 ERA, and he’s now just three strikeouts away from breaking Kenley Jansen’s record for the most strikeouts (51) without issuing a walk to begin a campaign.

8. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 17

The upstart Royals earned a 3-2 victory over the Tigers on Monday afternoon in Detroit and have now won five straight games and 10 of their last 13. They sit in first place in the American League Central with the very best winning percentage (.667) of all 30 major league teams. It’s early, but who could have seen April shaking out this way for Kansas City? Salvador Perez left that matinee game on Monday after jamming his right thumb, though it sounds like he should be back in action after a day or two of rest.

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9. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 5

The pitching end of Shohei Ohtani’s night on Monday didn’t go very smoothly, though he did settle down after a messy first inning and he didn’t bring any of that with him to the plate as the two-way star went 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI, and three runs scored in a 9-4 victory at Texas. He has an OPS of 1.016, topped in that lineup only by Mike Trout and his 1.359 mark. Trout smacked a double and three singles Monday, after missing a handful of games with a left elbow bruise. He’s slashing .426/.539/.820.

10. Houston Astros
Last Week: 9

Jose Altuve returned from the COVID-19 injured list on Monday night and went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored out of the leadoff spot as the Astros topped the Mariners by a score of 5-2. Altuve also stole his first base since August 6, 2020. Houston has now won four of its last five, after grabbing three of four from the Angels to finish off last week’s slate. The lineup is starting to click again and the ‘Stros currently hold by far the highest run differential of any American League West team at +21.

11. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 7

Zack Wheeler was brilliant in Monday night’s series opener at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, yielding only one run over eight innings while recording nine strikeouts in a 2-1 victory for the visiting Phillies. Rhys Hoskins provided all of the offense for Philly in that one with a pair of solo home runs. The 28-year-old first baseman has lifted his OPS up to .907 and he leads all major league hitters in longballs at the moment with eight. The top-end talent on this roster has come through. Now for some more consistency.

12. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 12

Maybe something clicked for Freddie Freeman when he was asked earlier this month whether he’d had any recent discussion with the Braves about a long-term contract extension and had to give the old “I don’t want any distractions” retort. The impending free agent first baseman popped a go-ahead three-run homer in Monday night’s 8-7 win over the Cubs and boasts a .900 OPS with five home runs and 12 RBI over his last 16 games played. Other good news: Max Fried (hamstring) is on track to return next week.

13. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 18

Is there anything to the idea that a full year off from catching might have been greatly beneficial for Buster Posey? It’s among the most physically demanding positions in all of pro sports and Posey put in a whole lot of time behind the plate over the first 11 years of his career, before opting out of the 2020 campaign. He went 4-for-5 with a double, a homer, three RBI, and three runs scored in the Giants’ 12-0 rout of the Rockies on Monday and is now batting .327/.397/.654 through his first 58 plate appearances in 2021.

14. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 13

The defending AL champs had a five-game winning streak going early last week, but they’ve since lost four of their last five, including Monday night’s series opener against the Athletics. Some positives from Monday: Randy Arozarena went 3-for-4, raising his batting average to .301 and his OPS to .801. Rich Hill struck out 10 batters over six innings and gave up only two hits, though one of them was a go-ahead two-run homer to Sean Murphy. It was Hill’s first double-digit strikeout game since May 17, 2019.

15. New York Yankees
Last Week: 16

They’re back in the top 15 for now after taking four of six from the Braves and Indians last week, but Monday night’s 4-2 loss at Baltimore won’t help to quell the panic among Yankees fans. Among the nine hitters in the Yankees’ primary lineup, only Aaron Judge has an OPS above .800. DJ LeMahieu is at .671. Giancarlo Stanton: .687. Rougned Odor: .593. Gleyber Torres: .548. Gio Urshela: .756. Aaron Hicks: .569. Gary Sanchez: .617. Clint Frazier: .495. At least Luke Voit (knee) should be ready soon?

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16. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 20

St. Louis swept a three-game series from the Reds this past weekend before dipping back to .500 with a loss to the Phillies on Monday night. Adam Wainwright got the start in that one and worked a complete game on 107 pitches, but he served up a pair of solo homers as the Cardinals ultimately fell 2-1. It was just the second time in his career that Wainwright threw a nine-inning complete game in a loss. The other? His first career complete game back on August 10, 2007, a 2-1 loss versus the Dodgers.

17. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 4

They beat the Dodgers in extra innings on Monday, but seven straight losses preceded that win and so the Reds fall all the way out of the top 15 this week. Frigid weather can be blamed for Luis Castillo’s ugly Opening Day start against the Cardinals, but he’s pitched in fine conditions as of late and still holds a rough 6.29 ERA in 24 1/3 total innings. He has allowed more hits (32) than any other National League pitcher as of Tuesday. Amir Garrett, meanwhile, is sporting a 14.21 ERA in a high-leverage bullpen role.

18. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 19

Jordan Luplow belted a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning Monday night against the Twins as Cleveland earned consecutive wins for the first time since sweeping a three-game series from the Tigers between April 9-11. Luplow has begun to see everyday playing time in the Indians’ outfield as of late and is coming through so far with six home runs, 14 RBI, and an overall 1.006 OPS in 17 games played. He’s helped to extend the lineup beyond just Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes.

19. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 15

Despite losing ace Hyun-Jin Ryu (glute) in Sunday’s series finale at Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays pulled out a 1-0 victory to move a win away from the .500 mark. They haven’t been above .500 since April 6, when their record was 3-2. Ryu’s glute strain looms large for a pitching staff that already carried question marks and has recently been ravaged by IL stints. At least Nate Pearson (groin) should be an option soon. And offseason addition George Springer (oblique, quad) could debut Tuesday against the Nationals.

20. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 21

The Mariners sat in first place in the American League West standings this time last week, but they’ve lost four of their last six games and been leapfrogged by the hard-charging A’s. It was nice to see Kyle Lewis check in with his first home run of the season on Monday, a 429-foot shot off the batters’ eye in Houston. Entering that series-opening loss to the Astros, the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year had been 2-for-16 with five strikeouts in four games since his activation from the injured list last Tuesday.

21. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 14

The fast-tumbling Twins fell in extra innings to the Indians on Monday night and have now lost seven of their last eight. They are seven games under .500 just 21 games into the 2021 season after claiming the American League Central title in both 2019 and 2020. Kenta Maeda finished second in the AL Cy Young Award balloting last year, but he got lit up for seven earned runs over just three innings of work in his last turn against the A’s and will carry a 6.11 ERA into Tuesday night’s matchup with Cleveland.

22. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 24

Kris Bryant slugged a grand slam Monday night against the Braves, but the Cubs still lost 8-7 after Zach Davies yielded five runs on six hits and four walks in a start that lasted just 3 2/3 innings. Chicago did rattle off four straight wins last week against the Mets and Brewers, coinciding with Nico Hoerner’s callup on April 22. He went 2-for-5 at leadoff on Monday and is 6-for-14 (.429) since his promotion. Why wasn’t Hoerner on the Opening Day roster? And where is Bryant going to be playing on July 31?

23. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 25

An official MLB ruling from 1991 defined a no-hitter as “a game in which a pitcher, or pitchers, gives up no hits while pitching at least nine innings.” So even though Madison Bumgarner was granted a complete game and a shutout for his seven-inning, no-hit gem in the second half of Sunday’s doubleheader versus the Braves, it will not go in the record books as a no-no. Got all that? Anyway, the Diamondbacks have suddenly won six of their last seven entering a two-game series with the Padres.

24. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 22

Trevor Rogers kept right on rolling as the Marlins pulled off an 8-0 rout of the Brewers on Monday night in Milwaukee. The 23-year-old left-hander scattered six hits and punched out seven over six scoreless innings and now has an ace-like 1.29 ERA with 38 strikeouts through his first 28 innings (five starts) this season. Yet another young arm for the Fish to build around. 23-year-old middle infielder Jazz Chisholm brought the noise on Monday, too, with a double, a single, and his fifth and sixth stolen bases.

25. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 23

Juan Soto was placed on the injured list last Tuesday evening after being diagnosed with a left shoulder strain and there is still no timetable for his return, though the star outfielder did express optimism recently that it’s not an overly serious injury. 2021 has been a struggle so far for the Nationals, and there is already growing chatter about a possible Max Scherzer trade. The 36-year-old impending free agent holds a 1.80 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, and 33/4 K/BB ratio through 25 innings (four starts) this season.

26. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 29

So, uh, the Pirates suddenly have three straight series wins against the Twins, Tigers, and Brewers? And they’ve won 10 of their last 15 games overall? Even more surprising is that this turnaround has come without the presence of budding star Ke’Bryan Hayes, who injured his left wrist on a swing April 3 at Wrigley Field and then reaggravated the ailment during a workout last week. The 24-year-old third baseman is back in rest and treatment mode, unable to contribute to the sudden surge in Pittsburgh.

27. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 26

Cedric Mullins, John Means, and Trey Mancini drew the focus in these NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings over the first three weeks of the season, and all remain great stories, but let’s throw some love Matt Harvey’s way after he held the Yankees to one run over six innings on Monday night at Camden Yards. He gave up just one hit through the first five frames and touched 95.3 mph with his fastball. That pitch averaged 93.1 mph in 2020. He said afterward that “it was probably the best I’ve felt in years.”

28. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 27

There was quite a bit of fantasy intrigue this spring around young center fielder Leody Taveras after he put up four home runs and eight stolen bases over his first 33 major league games last summer, but the 22-year-old went 4-for-46 (.087) with zero extra-base hits out of the gate this season and officially got optioned to the Rangers’ alternate training site on Monday. On the flip side, Adolis Garcia just earned AL Player of the Week honors. He’s rocking a .924 OPS with five homers and 13 RBI in 13 games.

29. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 28

It feels like ages ago that the Tigers swept that three-game series from the Astros. They’ve since lost 10 of 11 and currently have by far the worst run differential of any team in the majors at -38. But, hey, Miguel Cabrera milestone watch is back on! The veteran slugger was activated from the injured list on Sunday, after missing two weeks with a left biceps strain, and recorded the 2,870th hit of his career in Monday’s loss to the Royals. He is 130 hits away from 3,000 and 12 home runs away from 500.

30. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 30

Jeff Bridich is officially out as GM, in what was labeled Monday as a “mutually agreed” decision. Greg Feasel will step in as team president, a promotion from his previous role as chief baseball officer, and he’s presumably been given the go-ahead to launch an aggressive organizational rebuild. Nolan Arenado is already gone -- that whole saga might have been the final nail in the coffin for Bridich -- but the Rockies still have a number of players who could fetch substantial returns on the trade market.