MLB Power Rankings: Week 3

Drew Silva
·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 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
Last Week: 1

Yet another week at No. 1 for the Dodgers, but we’re all on Mookie Betts watch here at NBC Sports EDGE after he took a pitch off the inside of his right forearm in the ninth inning of Monday night’s 4-3 loss to the Mariners. The defending World Series champs are already without Cody Bellinger, who was officially diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his left fibula last week after getting spiked on a play at first base back on April 5. There’s so much depth on this roster, but it’s being tested early.

2. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 2

Dinelson Lamet is scheduled to make his 2021 debut on Wednesday against the Brewers after missing the first three weeks of the season due to a right biceps/elbow issue that initially popped up down the stretch last year. He has apparently looked sharp in his throwing workouts at the Padres’ alternate training site and will further extend a pitching staff that currently owns the best combined ERA in the majors at 2.52. Lamet put up a 2.09 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 93 strikeouts over 69 innings in 2020.

3. New York Mets
Last Week: 7

The Mets have had to navigate a ridiculous number of postponements -- it was snow that got them last Friday in Colorado -- so they’ve only played 11 total games leading into Tuesday night’s series opener against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. But they have seven wins in those 11 games, and they’ve won five of their last six. Leadoff man Brandon Nimmo currently leads all major league hitters in batting average at .447. Jacob deGrom somehow looks better than ever, as does Marcus Stroman.

4. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 13

The Reds took two of three from the Indians over the weekend and currently sit atop the NL Central standings, with the best run differential in the division at +24. Cincinnati’s offense has generated the second-most runs (91) in the National League and the third-most runs in MLB. Starting pitchers Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman, and Tyler Mahle all have ERAs in the 2.00s. Sonny Gray was pretty effective in his 2021 season debut on Saturday against the Indians after missing time with a back injury.

5. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 15

The Angels have been due for a boost in these rankings, and it was easy to fit that in this week with so many preseason top-10 and top-15 teams underperforming out of the gate. They got in just one game this weekend against the Twins due to COVID-19 issues on Minnesota’s end, but that one game was a 10-3 win. Shohei Ohtani (blister) is due to return to the mound Tuesday versus the Rangers, and it sounds like Anthony Rendon (groin) could be ready for activation off the IL toward the end of this week.

6. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 14

Oakland began the season 0-6, but this team has suddenly rattled off eight straight victories for by far the longest active winning streak in the major leagues. Jed Lowrie, somehow at age 37, is slashing .333/.410/.519 through 61 plate appearances. Matt Olson has a .922 OPS. Ramon Laureano is MLB’s current stolen bases leader with eight. The starting rotation hasn’t really impressed yet, but there is certainly talent there. Lou Trivino, the closer by default, has yielded just one run in 10 2/3 frames.

7. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 9

The Phillies dropped three straight to the division-rival Mets last week before then taking two of three from the Cardinals, with Aaron Nola delivering his first career nine-inning shutout in Sunday’s series finale, a 2-0 victory. Nola struck out 10 batters, yielded only two hits, and didn’t walk a batter in the 109-pitch outing. He now boasts a 2.19 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 28/3 K/BB ratio through his first 24 2/3 frames (four starts) this year. Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin have been pretty great too.

8. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 6

The Pale Hose are under .500 after losing to the Red Sox on Monday in Boston, but the run differential sits at +11 -- best in the AL Central -- even after that 11-4 defeat on Patriots’ Day. They swept a doubleheader Sunday at Fenway Park, with Yermin Mercedes belting his fourth home run of the year in the second tilt. Mercedes then collected a hit on Monday and is currently batting .404 with a 1.127 OPS through 61 plate appearances. Also, star shortstop Tim Anderson (hamstring) is back and raking.

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9. Houston Astros
Last Week: 3

Welp. The Astros made a big leap in last week’s rankings with a favorable schedule on the horizon, but they got swept by the Tigers and then dropped two of three to the Mariners. They’ve now lost seven of their last eight games entering Tuesday night’s series opener at Colorado’s Coors Field. Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Yordan Alvarez are among the impactful Astros players that landed on the COVID-19 injured list last Wednesday, which obviously was a factor in the downturn.

10. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 20

They jump 10 spots this week, into the top 10, and there will be some Boston fans clamoring for them to be even higher. Can this starting rotation really hold up over the long haul? Will that matter if this lineup continues to obliterate opposing pitchers? J.D. Martinez went 3-for-5 and connected for his sixth home run of the season as the Red Sox earned an 11-4 victory over the White Sox on Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park. The veteran slugger is batting .383/.439/.800 with 20 RBI through 15 games played.

11. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 12

Christian Yelich is on the injured list with a lingering back issue, but the hope is that he can be ready for activation when first eligible later this week. Corbin Burnes boasts a 0.49 ERA, 0.22 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts -- with zero walks -- through his first three starts covering 18 1/3 innings. He’s looking like a legitimate challenger for the NL Cy Young Award. Brandon Woodruff, meanwhile, delivered six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 win over the Padres on Monday and currently holds a 1.96 ERA.

12. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 4

They blew out the Cubs on Sunday night, 13-4, but got a big scare in that game when Ronald Acuna was forced to make an early exit due to an abdominal strain. The MRI results that came back Monday were encouraging -- it’s a mild strain, and Acuna is listed as day-to-day -- but he’s probably going to be out at least a couple of games. Atlanta is already missing three key pieces from the projected starting rotation: Max Fried (hamstring), Drew Smyly (forearm), and Mike Soroka (Achilles, shoulder).

13. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 11

Tampa Bay surprisingly dropped three of four to the Rangers last week before rebounding to earn a three-game weekend series sweep of the division-rival Yankees. Tyler Glasnow moved to 2-0 on the season with a win over New York on Saturday, after striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits over five innings of one-run ball. The 27-year-old right-hander is now sporting an eye-popping 0.73 ERA, 0.649 WHIP, and 36/7 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings (four starts) this season.

14. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 8

Minnesota is on pause due to COVID-19 issues, but it sounds like there will be a doubleheader against the A’s on Tuesday. Andrelton Simmons, after speaking out against the vaccine, returned a positive test last week. Then it was outfielder Kyle Garlick testing positive, along with another unnamed Twins player and a staff member. We’ll have more clarity on the exact scope of the outbreak once the team makes a string of roster moves before that tentatively-scheduled twin-bill versus Oakland.

15. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 10

The Jays are one of two teams in the AL East with a positive run differential -- the Red Sox being the other -- and that’s despite dropping three of four to the Royals over the weekend. They took two of three from the Yankees before that. Now they’ll travel to Boston for a quick two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday, then comes a three-game weekend series at Tampa Bay. George Springer, who’s been out with oblique and quad injuries, is aiming to be ready for those games against the Rays.

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16. New York Yankees
Last Week: 5

Panic in the Bronx! But seriously, things are looking a little rough at the moment for the Yankees. They’ve lost five straight games leading into Tuesday night’s series opener against the Braves and GM Brian Cashman had to dish out votes of confidence -- specifically for manager Aaron Boone -- during a Zoom call with the media on Monday. The rotation had some red flags entering the year, but what’s going on with the offense? Yankees hitters have combined for a .346 SLG, the worst mark in MLB.

17. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 22

Kansas City currently sits in first place in the American League Central standings after winning five of six last week versus the Angels and Blue Jays. Danny Duffy took a hard-luck loss on Monday night against the Rays despite tallying eight strikeouts over six innings without yielding an earned run -- there were two unearned runs off him in Tampa Bay’s eventual 4-1 victory. The 32-year-old left-hander owns a shiny 0.50 ERA with 19 strikeouts through his first 18 innings (three starts) this season.

18. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 21

The Giants lost two of three to the Marlins this past weekend, but they’ve won eight of their last 11 games overall. Alex Wood looked sharp in his season debut on Sunday afternoon versus Miami, scattering three hits over five scoreless frames. The oft-injured left-hander required an ablation procedure in his spine in mid-March, after signing a one-year, $3 million free agent contract with San Francisco in mid-January. He totaled just 48 1/3 innings between the Dodgers and Reds in 2019-2020.

19. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 17

Cleveland split a four-game series with the division-rival White Sox last week before dropping two of three to the Reds over the weekend. Shane Bieber started Sunday afternoon’s series finale versus Cincinnati and struck out 13 batters over eight innings of work in a 6-3 victory for the Indians. Bieber is the first pitcher in major league history -- at least since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893 -- to record a double-digit strikeout total in each of his four starts to begin a season.

20. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 16

Paul DeJong slugged two home runs -- a solo shot and a grand slam -- as the Cardinals rolled to a 12-5 rout of the Nationals on Monday night in Washington, D.C. It’s been a little while since St. Louis has strung together consecutive wins, but maybe that’ll change on Tuesday behind Adam Wainwright. The starting rotation as a whole has logged only two quality starts to date, and they were both from Jack Flaherty. Notable here: Miles Mikolas (shoulder) has advanced to throwing simulated batting practice.

21. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 24

Seattle took two of three from the Astros over the weekend and then bested the Dodgers by a score of 4-3 on Monday night at T-Mobile Park. This club is in first place in the American League West standings right now despite a negative (-2) run differential. 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis is set to make his 2021 debut on Tuesday versus Los Angeles after missing the Mariners’ first 17 games due to a bone bruise in his right knee. He had an .801 OPS with 11 homers and five steals in 58 games last year.

22. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 25

Starling Marte is probably looking at an extended absence after being diagnosed Monday with a non-displaced fracture of his 12th rib. The 32-year-old outfielder was slashing .316/.420/.491 with two home runs and three stolen bases through 15 games (69 plate appearances) this season as the locked-in No. 2 hitter in a Marlins lineup that just got a whole lot easier to navigate. Jazz Chisholm can’t do it all; or can he? The young infielder boasts a 1.126 OPS in 51 plate appearances so far in 2021.

23. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 18

Joe Ross worked 11 scoreless innings across his first two starts this year before getting hammered for 10 earned runs in the Nationals’ blowout loss to the Cardinals on Monday. Patrick Corbin also suffered a 10-run drubbing last Thursday against the Diamondbacks and the Nats are now the first team to have two pitchers give up 10 runs in a game within a week of each other since the 2017 Mariners (Yovani Gallardo, Christian Bergman). Oh, and Stephen Strasburg is on the IL with a shoulder issue.

24. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 19

The reeling Cubs don’t have a series win since taking two of three from the Pirates to begin the 2021 campaign. Their current run differential of -23 is the worst in the National League and the second-worst in all of baseball. The combined team batting average sits at .192 entering Tuesday night’s series opener against the Mets, and the combined on-base percentage is .285. Many had questions about the starting pitching and the bullpen, but nobody could have seen this level of futility coming from that lineup.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 23

Arizona’s medical staff finally provided an update this weekend on the status of Ketel Marte’s right hamstring strain, an injury he suffered back on April 7. But there wasn’t a whole lot of news to pass along. Marte is doing some light movements but has yet to be cleared for any baseball-related activities, so it figures that his absence will extend through the remainder of this month and probably into May. The dynamic 27-year-old slashed .462/.500/.846 in his first 28 plate appearances this season.

26. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 27

Baltimore gets a one-spot bump this week after winning two of three against the Rangers over the weekend. It could have been a sweep, but the O’s spoiled an excellent outing by John Means on Sunday afternoon, falling 1-0. Means stuck out nine batters over seven scoreless innings and now boasts a 1.52 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 23/6 K/BB ratio through 23 2/3 innings (four starts) this season. The 27-year-old lefty is proving to be a heck of a value at his 290 ADP this spring on Yahoo.

27. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 28

The Rangers have won five of their last seven, including a 6-4 victory over the Angels on Monday night, which qualifies as a turnaround for this club. Kyle Gibson was pretty much off the fantasy radar this spring after his rough showing during the condensed 2020 season, but the 33-year-old right-hander fired eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 win for Texas on Sunday against the Orioles and now holds a 2.53 ERA in four starts to open the 2021 campaign. He’ll get the White Sox next on Saturday.

28. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 26

After staging a surprising three-game road sweep of the Astros last week, the Tigers went out to Oakland and dropped four straight between Thursday and Sunday. They currently hold the worst run differential (-28) of any team in Major League Baseball. Rule 5 Draft pick Akil Baddoo, one of the feel-good storylines in the sport over the first two weeks, went 0-for-11 with eight strikeouts in his three games played versus the A’s. He’s suddenly batting .263 with an on-base percentage of just .275.

29. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 7-9
Last Week: 30

Here come the Pirates? Probably not, but they are out of the basement after winning two of three against the Brewers over the weekend and splitting a four-game set with the Padres before that. JT Brubaker was especially impressive in the team’s 6-1 win over Milwaukee on Friday, striking out eight batters, scattering four hits, and issuing no walks over six innings of one-run ball. The 27-year-old now has a 1.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 18/5 K/BB ratio through his first 15 1/3 innings this season.

30. Colorado Rockies
Record: 4-12
Last Week: 29

What’s interesting about this Rockies team is that the starting rotation has actually been pretty good in the early going, combining for a 3.66 ERA through 83 2/3 innings. But the bullpen holds a collective 5.80 ERA -- the second-worst mark in MLB -- and the lineup as a whole has registered a .655 OPS, which currently ranks 25th among all 30 teams. The countdown has already begun for the Trevor Story trade. It might make some sense to begin dangling him well before the July 30 deadline.