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2021 MLB Power Rankings 4.0



By Kyle Glaser

Our fourth installment of MLB power rankings is here.

RELATED: See the top 30 prospects in each MLB farm system

You can find our full 1-30 rankings below. All records and statistics are through May 28, and capsules are written by Kyle Glaser, Mark Chiarelli and Chris Trenkle.

 

30 Matches
See Full List Expand Collapse All Updated on: 5/28/2021
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    San Diego Padres

    32-19
    Notes:

    Despite injuries to SS Fernando Tatis Jr., RHP Dinelson Lamet, OF Trent Grisham and others, the Padres own the best record and best run differential in MLB. The Padres are 11-2 over the last two weeks, including a nine-game winning streak highlighted by a three-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Cardinals. Tatis has 14 hits in his last 26 at-bats, including four home runs and 16 RBIs. RHP Yu Darvish (1.75 ERA, 10.8 K/9) has comfortably slotted in as the team’s ace, and RHP Joe Musgrove (2.26 ERA, 12.3 K/9) has pitched just as well behind him. Add in contributions from a bevy of other players, including RHP Mark Melancon (17 saves in 17 opportunities), and the Padres look like a well-oiled machine capable of competing deep into October. (CT)

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    Los Angeles Dodgers

    31-19
    Notes:

    The Dodgers seem to be fully beyond their swoon in late April/early May. They’ve won 10 of their last 11, including all four games against the rival Giants. And that’s without LA’s Death Star being fully operational: OF Mookie Betts owned a .791 OPS entering Thursday and OF Cody Bellinger has played just four games this year. With Bellinger set to return this weekend and 1B Max Muncy crushing the ball (174 wRC+), the Dodgers look quite scary yet again. (MC)

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    Tampa Bay Rays

    32-20
    Notes:

    The Rays are the hottest team in baseball, winning 13 of their last 14 to surge to first place in the AL East and take over the best record in the American League. They’re doing it in typical Rays fashion, too. Tampa Bay traded starting shortstop Willy Adames during this hot streak, opted to install Taylor Walls instead of No. 1 prospect Wander Franco at shortstop, and Walls promptly hit .278/.409/.389 in his first six games. Its hottest hitter is Joey Wendle, who owns a 163 wRC+ in May. And 41-year-old LHP Rich Hill has 44 strikeouts in his last six starts, pitching to a 1.26 ERA. (MC)

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    Chicago White Sox

    29-20
    Notes:

    Few people would have predicted the following prior to the 2021 season: LHP Carlos Rodon is the second-most valuable pitcher in the American League in terms of fWAR (2.0) entering Memorial Day weekend. Rodon’s arc over the last two years is truly remarkable: He was non-tendered this winter after tearing his UCL in 2019 and wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the rotation prior to the season. Then he no-hit the Indians on April 14. But that wasn’t the end of the story. He owns a 38.5% strikeout percentage and opponents' expected batting average against Rodon is .163. He’s second among all AL starters in strikeouts per nine (13.32) and his average fastball velocity (95.3) is nearly four MPH faster than in 2019. The once-famed prospect finally looks the part of a potential Cy Young candidate two months into the season. (MC)

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    San Francisco Giants

    30-20
    Notes:

    The Giants’ success this year is a win for old souls everywhere. Only one of their five most productive position players per fWAR is younger than 34 years old (OF Mike Yastrzemski). C Buster Posey’s return after opting out of the 2020 season has been remarkable. He already has more homers (nine) than his previous two seasons and is hitting .336/.412/.603. It hasn’t been fluky, either. Posey ranks among the top of the league in expected batting average, slugging percentage and wOBA. Alongside 3B Evan Longoria, who is second in baseball in average exit velocity (95.9), SS Brandon Crawford and 1B Brandon Belt, long-time stalwarts are fueling San Francisco’s renaissance. (MC).

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    Boston Red Sox

    30-20
    Notes:

    The Red Sox have handled the early part of their schedule. Now comes crunch time. The Red Sox have three games against the sub-.500 Marlins this weekend, but then comes their biggest test of the season—a 10-game stretch that includes seven games against the Astros and three against the Yankees. It will be Boston’s first time seeing the two AL powers this season, and should be an excellent measuring stick for where exactly it stands in the league’s top tier. (KG).

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    Oakland Athletics

    30-22
    Notes:

    RHP James Kaprielian is making the most of his first extended opportunity in the majors, sliding into the rotation after injuries to RHP Mike Fiers and LHP Jesus Luzardo. Through three starts, Kaprielian is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA while posting a respectable 27.1% strikeout percentage. His changeup, which has seven inches more vertical drop compared to similar changeups of that type, has been particularly effective against lefties. That Kaprielian has the opportunity to sustain success in the majors is remarkable. The No. 16 pick in the 2015 draft by the Yankees, Kaprielian battled a slew of arm injuries and went nearly three years without pitching in a professional game. (MC)

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    New York Yankees

    29-21
    Notes:

    Remember when the sky was falling in New York? The Yankees are 23-10 since they were a season-low five games below .500 on April 17. OF Aaron Judge is absolutely pulverizing baseballs. He leads all hitters in xwOBA and is top-five in expected batting average, barrels per plate appearance and expected slugging. New York will have to withstand the loss of RHP Corey Kluber, who will miss the next two months with a right shoulder strain. He heads to the IL just a week after throwing a no-hitter against the Rangers. (MC)

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    St. Louis Cardinals

    28-22
    Notes:

    Think Nolan Arenado is starting to settle in? The Cardinals third baseman owned a 1.012 OPS in May entering Thursday’s game and his wRC+ has climbed to 140, solidifying the middle of the Cardinals order. Only Kris Bryant of the rival Cubs has more fWAR among third basemen than Arenado. Perhaps the unlucky Paul Goldschmidt is next: His expected slugging percentage is 100 points higher than his current slugging percentage (.406). (MC)

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    Houston Astros

    27-22
    Notes:

    The Astros have benefitted from a lot of big performances this season, but the returns to form from 1B Yuli Gurriel and 2B Jose Altuve can’t be understated. The ageless Gurriel is batting .312/.385/.520 and owns a team-high .905 OPS, while Altuve is batting .311/.360/.460 with six home runs in 38 games, more than he had in all of last year’s 60-game season. Both are hitting at least 80 points higher with an OPS at least 170 points better than last year, a big reason why the Astros are once again an offensive juggernaut. (KG)

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    Cleveland Indians

    27-21
    Notes:

    Don’t look now, but the Indians are surging in the AL Central with six wins in their last nine games and a 15-9 mark in May. RHP Aaron Civale has joined RHP Shane Bieber as one of the top starters in the American League this season, with a 7-1, 3.04 mark in 68 innings and a 1.00 WHIP. The back of the bullpen is giving opponents headaches, led by RHPs Emmanuel Clase (0.83 ERA), Bryan Shaw (1.35 ERA) and James Karinchak (1.59 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 22.2 innings). Now to work on the offense, which still has yet to produce outside of 3B Jose Ramirez and DH Franmil Reyes—who was placed on the injured list on May 23 with a left abdominal strain. (CT)

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    Chicago Cubs

    27-22
    Notes:

    Since starting the season 12-16, the Cubs have gone 15-6, including winning 10 of their last 13 and are a half game back in the NL Central. 3B Kris Bryant looks like he’s rebounded from a dismal 2020 campaign with a .320/.405/.604 line, 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. An underrated part of the Cubs success? Their bullpen. RHP Craig Kimbrel has been lights-out with a 0.86 ERA, 11 saves, 35 strikeouts in 21 innings, while setup men Ryan Tepera (2.66 ERA), Andrew Chafin (2.42) and Dan Winkler (0.54) have shut opponents down well before the game even gets Kimbrel. (CT)

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    New York Mets

    24-20
    Notes:

    How banged up are the Mets right now? Even the depth pieces—OF Kevin Pillar, INF Luis Guillorme, OF Albert Almora—expected to spell their injured stars are in the 10-day IL. New York has scrambled to acquire OFs Cameron Maybin and Billy McKinney to hold things over. The Mets have managed to stay afloat thanks to some timely scheduling, though, taking three of four from the Rockies. With series against the D-backs and Orioles looming and a mostly healthy rotation performing admirably, New York could potentially ride this out a bit longer and await reinforcements. (MC)

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    Toronto Blue Jays

    25-24
    Notes:

    1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s breakout season is in full effect. He leads all position players in fWAR (3.2), homers (16) and wRC+ (199), and his average exit velocity (94.8) trailed only Aaron Judge and Evan Longoria. Considering Guerrero’s emphatic start to the season, Toronto’s 25-24 record feels pedestrian, and it'll need to find another gear to keep up with the rest of the AL East. Keep tabs on RHP Alek Manoah. Toronto desperately needs a stabilizing force at the back of its rotation. The No. 11 pick in the 2019 draft, Manoah dominated Triple-A hitters, striking out 27 batters to just 3 walks in his first three starts, then promptly shoved in his big league debut Thursday, becoming the first Blue Jays pitcher to go 6+ innings and strike out 7+ batters in his debut. (MC)

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    Atlanta Braves

    24-25
    Notes:

    The Braves’ decision not to re-sign RHP Mark Melancon looks worse and worse with each passing week. While Melancon is 17-for-17 in save opportunities and has a 0.81 ERA for the Padres, the Braves have nearly as many blown saves (eight) as saves (nine) and rank in the bottom 10 of MLB in bullpen ERA. With an offense that ranks near the top of the National League in every category and a rotation that has been solid, even with RHP Mike Soroka injured, LHP Max Fried regressing and LHP Drew Smyly only recently rounding into form, the blame lies with the bullpen for the Braves being under .500.

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    Milwaukee Brewers

    25-25
    Notes:

    It looked like the Brewers would gain some momentum with the return of C Omar Narvaez, OF Christian Yelich and RHP Corbin Burnes in mid May, yet the inverse has happened. Since Burnes returned May 13, the Brewers have lost eight of their last 13 games. Starters Adrian Houser and Brett Anderson have combined to allow 14 runs in their last 20.2 innings over five starts, and the lineup has combined for a .649 OPS on the season, third-worst mark in the majors. On the plus side, the Brewers acquired shortstop Willy Adames from the Rays hoping he would be an upgrade over Luis Urias, and on Thursday he delivered four hits and hit a three-run homer. (CT)

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    Philadelphia Phillies

    20-18
    Notes:

    The Phillies are in the midst of a bizarre stretch, highlighted by Joe Girardi’s reticence to detail Bryce Harper’s injury status until after the team put Harper on the 10-day IL with a bruised left wrist, admitting he was dishonest as to not give opposing teams a competitive advantage. Philadelphia has mostly oscillated on either side of .500 this season and has seen its depth tested without Harper, C J.T. Realmuto and SS Didi Gregorius in the lineup. The struggles of 3B Alec Bohm are confounding, too. He’s last among all qualified third basemen in fWAR (-0.4), his OPS (.566) is second-lowest and his strikeout percentage is up 8% compared to last year. His fielding is perhaps even worse: Bohm’s -4 Outs Above Average is tied for second-worst in baseball at third base, ahead of only Maikel Franco. (MC)

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    Miami Marlins

    24-26
    Notes:

    Much like their NL East counterpart in New York, the Marlins are dealing with a rash of injuries. 3B Brian Anderson, 2B Jazz Chisholm and SS Miguel Rojas are all on the 10-day IL. And like the Mets, Miami is finding ways to stay afloat, at least splitting each of its previous three series against the Phillies and Red Sox. The Marlins trio of RHP Sandy Alcantara, LHP Trevor Rogers and RHP Pablo Lopez has been delightful, combining for 3.9 fWAR already this year. Now, Miami must withstand a nine-game road trip which starts with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. If it can? Easier times await, with seven games against the Pirates and Rockies on the other end, and OF Starling Marte due back soon. (MC)

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    Kansas City Royals

    23-25
    Notes:

    One day after OF Andrew Benintendi hit his fourth homer of the season, the Red Sox optioned struggling OF Franchy Cordero, the top player in the package they received to deal Benintendi to Kansas City, to Triple-A Worcester. Benintendi hasn’t hit for much power but has posted a respectable .285/.346/.388 line—an improvement over his wretched cameo in 2020. In a lot of ways the Benintendi-Cordero juxtaposition is emblematic of where the Royals stand. They’re not perfect, but they’ve made an effort to remain competitive this year. Kansas City has stabilized after an 11-game losing streak in early May, going 7-5 since then, and has remained somewhat in the picture in the AL Central. (MC)

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    Washington Nationals

    21-25
    Notes:

    RHP Max Scherzer is showing no signs of slowing down at 36 years old. His 35% strikeout percentage is in line with previous years and his .198 expected batting average ranks seventh among pitchers who have yielded 100 or more balls in play. His whiff percentage with his four-seam fastball is actually slightly better than his previous three seasons, too. In other words, Scherzer is still dominant. The Nationals, though, remain four games below .500 in a wide-open NL East. Don’t expect Scherzer trade rumors to go away any time soon, especially if Washington can’t find more consistency from the middle of its lineup. (MC)

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    Cincinnati Reds

    22-26
    Notes:

    Not much has gone right for RHP Luis Castillo so far in 2021. His unseemly 7.61 ERA and 1.80 WHIP may not be quite as bad as it looks thanks to some bad luck and shoddy defensive play behind him, but his strikeout percentage has dropped by more than 11% and the Reds are 1-9 in games he’s started this year. He’s not the only Reds star scuffling: 3B/SS Eugenio Suarez is hitting .160 and striking out nearly 33% of the time. (MC)

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    Seattle Mariners

    24-27
    Notes:

    May has been a month to forget for a Mariners lineup packing little punch in 2021. Only two teams—the Pirates and Tigers—have accumulated less fWAR among hitters so far. Seattle is hitting .203 as a team, easily the worst mark in the American League, and also owns the lowest slugging percentage at .359. OF Mitch Haniger (141 wRC+, 13 homers) and 3B Kyle Seager are looking like trade bait for a Seattle team still in the midst of a rebuild. (MC).

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    Minnesota Twins

    20-29
    Notes:

    The Twins have a prime opportunity to get their season back on track with 13 straight games against the Orioles and Royals. They took care of business with a three-game sweep of the O’s to start the stretch, headlined by RHPs Matt Shoemaker, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda all pitching at least 5.2 innings and allowing only one earned run. If the Twins rotation can keep it up and put less responsibility on their beleaguered bullpen, they may just find their way back in the AL Central race. (KG)

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    Los Angeles Angels

    22-28
    Notes:

    Yes, it’s a familiar refrain for the Angels: Where’s the pitching? Jose Quintana’s ERA is 7.92 and that actually represents a bit of progress: He pitched into the fifth inning for the first time this season in his previous start against the A’s. Dylan Bundy is 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA. Their underlying metrics suggest they’ve suffered from a combination of bad luck and bad defense—the Angels rank 28th in baseball in Outs Above Average, trailed only by the Reds and Phillies. With Mike Trout out for potentially two months with a calf strain, Los Angeles is staring down the barrel of another lost season. (MC)

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    Texas Rangers

    22-30
    Notes:

    OF Adolis Garcia is in must-watch territory right now. In the past week alone, Garcia hit a walk-off three-run homer to beat the Astros and robbed a homer Thursday night against the Mariners. Garcia is tied for the MLB lead in homers (16) and only Shohei Ohtani is barreling more balls per plate appearance than the Rangers outfielder. It’s fair to wonder whether Garcia’s breakout is sustainable looking at his chase percentage (39.4%) and low walk rate. But considering his story—Garcia is 28 years old and has been designated for assignment twice, including by the Rangers—and infectious energy, ‘El Bombi’ is an easy player to root for. (MC).

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