MLB Power Rankings: Week 7

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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. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 7

Back on April 17, the White Sox were 6-8. They are 19-7 since and had the best run differential in the majors even before embarrassing the Twins in a 16-4 victory on Monday night. That run differential is now +73. And this all with Eloy Jimenez going down before the start of the season with a torn pectoral and Luis Robert suffering a complete tear of his right hip flexor at the beginning of May. Lucas Giolito hasn’t really hit his stride yet, and Yasmani Grandal is up to 33 walks but only 10 hits.

2. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 1

Matt Barnes suffered his first blown save of the season in the top of the ninth inning Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park as the Red Sox fell just short of finishing off a three-game weekend sweep of the visiting Angels. This team will bring a 12-5 road record into Tuesday night’s series opener in Dunedin, Florida against the host Blue Jays, who just so happen to sit 1 1/2 games back of Boston right now for first place in the American League East. That should be some must-see baseball.

3. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 2

Oakland won four of six last week versus the Red Sox and Twins while clinging to the top spot in the American League West standings. Matt Chapman tallied three hits and three RBI in a 7-6 defeat of Minnesota on Sunday and is now batting .317/.389/.460 over his last 72 plate appearances dating back to April 28. His season slash line was .152/.281/.329 as of April 27. A slow start was somewhat expected for the star third baseman coming off hip labrum repair surgery last September.

4. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 5

Despite a COVID-19 clubhouse outbreak that has sidelined key players like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers, the Padres took two of three at Colorado’s Coors Field last week and then swept a three-game weekend series against the visiting Cardinals before beating up on the Rockies again Monday by a score of 7-0. They’ve won seven of their last eight even while using 39 different players in 42 games. Yu Darvish was stellar again Monday, striking out 10 while lowering his ERA to 1.81.

5. Houston Astros
Last Week: 9

Houston has won nine of its last 11 dating back to May 6 and will carry a six-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s series opener against the division-rival Athletics, who currently hold just a half-game lead over the Astros for first place in the American League West standings. There are some questions marks in the pitching staff, but this offense is humming right now and shouldering the load for an overall +56 run differential, which ranks second-best among all 30 major league teams.

6. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 6

Alex Wood stayed undefeated after holding the Pirates to one run over six innings in Sunday’s series finale, a 4-1 win for San Francisco. Logan Webb then did him one better with six scoreless frames in an eventual 6-3 victory over the Reds on Monday. This starting rotation just continues to surprise and impress. Wood now holds a 1.75 ERA, which is the lowest ERA for a Giants pitcher through six starts since Madison Bumgarner posted a 1.55 ERA across his first six outings in 2013.

7. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 3

St. Louis had won 15 of its last 20 games before getting swept by the Padres this weekend at Petco Park. Cardinals pitchers issued a total of 26 walks across the three losses, the most walks issued by any Cardinals team in a three-game series since 1900. As it stands here on May 18, a quarter of the way into the 2021 campaign, this pitching staff has a combined 4.63 BB/9, by far the worst mark of any MLB club. Maybe the impending return of Miles Mikolas (shoulder) will aid the command woes.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 4

They’ve won six of their last eight and carry the third-best run differential (+51) in MLB as of Tuesday, so the drop this week isn’t entirely fair or logical. But the defending World Series champs did get hit with another significant injury over the weekend as Corey Seager went down Saturday with a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand. That type of injury, on average, will cost a position player 52 days. The depth continues to be tested, and a 41-year-old Albert Pujols can only help so much.

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9. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 14

Including this weekend’s three-game sweep of the Mets, the Rays have won 10 of their last 14 games. And they’ll now look to beat up on the division-rival Orioles at Camden Yards. Is it Wander Franco time yet? Maybe soon? The 20-year-old shortstop, who ranks as the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in the sport, is batting .348/.404/.652 with three home runs, 10 RBI, one stolen base, and 10 runs scored through his first 11 games (52 plate appearances) for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.

10. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 15

The fast-rising Blue Jays rolled through a couple of National League East clubs last week, winning five of six versus the Braves and Phillies. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered in all three games against Philly over the weekend and is now up to 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 39 total games this season, to go along with an overall .319/.440/.609 batting line. He’s currently on pace for 46 home runs and 125 RBI. It sure looks like the 22-year-old has officially arrived as an offensive superstar.

11. New York Yankees
Last Week: 8

Gerrit Cole set a new MLB record on Monday versus the Rangers, reaching 61 straight strikeouts between walks, but the Yankees lost that game 5-2 and got some bad news before first pitch as Giancarlo Stanton went on the IL with a strained quad. Stanton had managed to stay healthy through the first quarter of the 2021 season and was rocking an .882 OPS with nine homers and 24 RBI in 33 games. He played in only 23 regular-season games in 2020 and 18 regular-season games in 2019.

12. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 11

The light-hitting Indians got on a roll between late April and early May, but they dropped the final three games of their four-game weekend series in Seattle and then fell 7-4 on Monday night in Anaheim. That’s a four-game losing streak, tied for their longest this season. Given the Twins’ wretched start, the quick regression from the Royals, and the Tigers being the Tigers, it’s probably up to the Tribe to challenge the White Sox in the AL Central. Do they have the bats to make a real charge?

13. New York Mets
Last Week: 10

They beat the Braves on Monday night, bouncing back from a three-game weekend sweep at Tampa Bay, but the Mets could be in trouble from a health standpoint. Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil were both placed on the injured list ahead of Monday’s game in Atlanta and then Taijuan Walker had to be pulled after three scoreless innings because of left side tightness. Walker is headed for an MRI and will probably need an extended absence of his own. He has a 2.05 ERA through eight starts.

14. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 12

They’ve lost three of their last four games and 10 of their last 14, but the Brewers activated Corbin Burnes from the COVID-19 injured list late last week, and this week could bring the return of Christian Yelich, who’s appeared in just one MLB game since April 11 due to a lower back strain. Yelich began a minor league rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Nashville and has played in three games on the farm without issue. He is 12-for-34 (.353) for Milwaukee this year when healthy.

15. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 19

Top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since his promotion to the major leagues last Thursday evening. He stands 4-for-22 (.182) with six strikeouts as of Tuesday afternoon, though three of those hits came in the same game last Friday and they were all for extra bases: a homer and two doubles, yielding two runs scored. That was a taste of Kelenic’s potential. And his simple presence now in Seattle makes this roster seem a whole lot more legitimate.

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16. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 13

Philly’s lack of depth reared its ugly head during this weekend’s three-game series against the Blue Jays after J.T. Realmuto (wrist) and Bryce Harper (shoulder) were both forced to make early exits on Saturday. Didi Gregorius, too, has been sidelined since last Wednesday with lingering elbow stiffness. It all left manager Joe Girardi working with only 10 healthy hitters for Sunday’s series finale at an American League park, though Harper did eventually talk his way off the bench in a 10-8 loss.

17. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 20

With the caveat that he was facing the Tigers, right-hander Kyle Hendricks turned in his best outing of the season on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park, working into the ninth inning while allowing only one run and recording eight strikeouts -- with zero walks -- in a 5-1 victory for Chicago. He had a 7.54 ERA in five April starts and has turned it around for a 2.70 ERA through three starts here in May. If the Cubs are going to contend in the NL Central, it’ll require Hendricks pitching like an ace.

18. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 18

Cincinnati hasn’t strung together more than two consecutive wins since rattling off a 6-1 record across the first eight days of the 2021 regular season. We’ll see what Luis Castillo has in store on Tuesday night against the Giants, following the Reds’ 6-3 loss in Monday’s series opener. Castillo got hammered for eight earned runs on 10 hits and two walks over just 3 2/3 innings last Thursday at Colorado and is currently languishing to the tune of a 7.71 ERA and 1.795 WHIP through eight starts this year.

19. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 16

Huascar Ynoa, a bright spot for the Braves in the first quarter of the season, broke a bone in his pitching hand when he punched a bench in frustration after leaving Sunday’s game against the Brewers and will be sidelined for the next few months. The 22-year-old leaves behind a 3.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 50/11 K/BB ratio through 44 2/3 innings. Kids, inanimate objects remain undefeated in hand-to-hand combat. Oh, and it sounds like Mike Soroka (Achilles) might not pitch at all now in 2021.

20. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 17

Get your weekly Shohei Ohtani update right here. The two-way star clubbed his MLB-leading 13th home run of the year on Monday night as the Angels earned a 7-4 victory over the visiting Indians. It was the 60th home run of his career, and he also topped 100 career strikeouts in his last pitching appearance May 11 versus the Astros. The only players in MLB history to record 60-plus homers and 100-plus strikeouts: Babe Ruth, George Van Haltren, Rick Ankiel, Johnny Lindell, and now Ohtani.

21. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 21

Kansas City finally snapped an 11-game losing streak in the first half of Friday’s doubleheader against the White Sox before ultimately splitting the four-game weekend series at Guaranteed Rate Field. This team was seven games above .500 on May 1 at 16-9 and has since gone 2-13 to fall four games under the .500 mark. And now staff ace Danny Duffy is facing an extended absence after being diagnosed Monday with a left flexor strain. He had pitched to a 1.94 ERA through 41 2/3 innings.

22. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 22

Texas snapped a season-high six-game losing streak on Monday night against the visiting Yankees as Adolis Garcia continued his torrid start to the 2021 campaign with a single, a solo homer, and a steal of home. It was the 11th homer already for the Cuban outfielder, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers back in February but passed through waivers unclaimed and is now suddenly gunning for AL Rookie of the Year honors. He’s batting .296 with a .933 OPS.

23. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 23

Zac Gallen is out indefinitely after being diagnosed last Wednesday with a sprain to a section of the UCL in his right elbow and Carson Kelly could miss over a month after suffering a chip fracture in his left big toe last Thursday. What a brutal month it’s been for the D-backs, who are now 4-12 in May after losing 3-1 to the Dodgers on Monday night. Kelly was the MVP for this team in the first quarter of the season, showing a .338/.491/.613 batting line through 110 plate appearances.

24. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 24

Jon Lester entered Monday night’s game against the Cubs -- his first outing back at Wrigley Field since September 16, 2020 -- having surrendered no homers and only four total runs through 16 innings (three starts) this year for an ERA of 2.25. But the veteran left-hander gave up dingers to former teammates Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras, and Javier Baez as the Nats ultimately fell 7-3. Lester’s ERA is now at 3.80, and Washington sits in dead last in the National League East.

25. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 26

23-year-old left-hander Trevor Rogers has been the primary focus of these weekly writeups on the Marlins, and rightly so, but let’s give a quick nod here to Jesus Aguilar. Even after going 0-for-9 this weekend against the Dodgers as the Fish dropped two of three, Aguilar boasts a .916 OPS with nine home runs and 32 RBI through 38 games (153 plate appearances) this season. The 30-year-old slugger is shaping up as a decent trade chip for first-year general manager Kim Ng.

26. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 25

Matt Harvey will take the mound for the Orioles in Tuesday night’s series opener versus the Rays after getting lit up for seven earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in his first career start against the Mets last Wednesday in Queens. It was the first time he had surrendered seven-plus runs in a game at Citi Field since 2015, his first year back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. Harvey entered the outing with a respectable 3.60 ERA on the season and watched it jump all the way to 4.81.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 28

Tune in for JT Brubaker’s next scheduled start on Tuesday night at St. Louis and see if he can build on his impressive showing from the first quarter of the 2021 regular season. The only outing this year in which he surrendered more than two runs was against the Cardinals back on April 30. As of Tuesday afternoon, the 27-year-old right-hander holds a 2.58 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 41/9 K/BB ratio through 38 1/3 innings (seven starts) for a Pirates club that badly needs more building blocks.

28. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 27

J.A. Happ might suddenly come up with some other plans the next time he lines up to face the White Sox. That’s been his opponent in back-to-back starts and he has been pounded for a combined 15 earned runs over seven innings between the two outings. The veteran left-hander has a 1.91 ERA this year against all other teams. Here on May 18, a little over a quarter of the way into the 2021 regular season schedule, last-place Minnesota trails first-place Chicago by 11 1/2 games in the AL Central.

29. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 30

Casey Mize delivered the longest outing of his young career on Monday night against the Mariners, yielding just one run on three hits and three walks over 7 2/3 innings while striking out seven Seattle hitters as the Tigers went on to win 4-1. It was the second straight victory for Mize and his fourth consecutive quality start. The former No. 1 overall pick is now sporting a respectable 3.69 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, and 34/19 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings (eight starts) this year. Hope! Progress!

30. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 29

Josh Fuentes was just named National League Player of the Week for May 10-16 after going 11-for-22 (.500) with three doubles, two home runs, and a whopping 13 RBI in five games. It’s the first Player of the Week honor for any Rockies player since Daniel Murphy got the nod in July 2019. But, well, this team is 6-10 in May, coming off a 9-17 record in April, and currently resides at the very bottom of the National League West standings with the worst run differential in the division at -33.