Opening statement: Latest Power Rankings

July 27th, 2020

The season is now three or four games old, and what have we learned?

Honestly, not a lot. Even in a shortened season, it’s difficult to draw a ton of conclusions with regard to how the standings look with just a smattering of games in the books. We know each win in a 60-game season is equal to around 2.7 in a typical 162-game campaign. We know the Tigers had a very good weekend, much to the Reds’ chagrin, and the Orioles are heading into the new workweek in a dead heat with the Yankees and Rays for first place in the American League East division. We also know Nelson Cruz is on pace for 200 RBIs.

In a year where nothing is normal, we embrace the weird. Cardboard cutouts. Piped-in crowd noise. Socially distanced mascot races. Touch-free high-fives. Anthony Rizzo greeting opposing baserunners with an offering of hand sanitizer. Managers and umpires masking up before they start arguing. It’ll be a year unlike any other, but it won’t be lacking in intrigue.

Here’s one thing that hasn’t changed -- our weekly Power Rankings! Let’s dive in …

Biggest jump: The Padres jumped three spots, from No. 19 to No. 16. With a 16-team playoff field this year, it’s not hard to envision San Diego sneaking in. They had a nice start to the season, taking two of three from the D-backs. It’s notable that Garrett Richards, now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, threw five shutout innings in San Diego’s loss to the D-backs on Sunday.

Biggest drop: The Astros dropped four spots, from No. 3 to No. 7. That fall is directly related to the news that Justin Verlander has a right forearm strain and is going to be out for a while. The Astros are playing it conservatively for now, saying the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner will be sidelined for two weeks, at which time he’ll be reevaluated. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for an Astros pitching staff whose depth was already a little thin.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1) Dodgers (1 last week)
Veteran ace Clayton Kershaw, who was scratched from pitching Opening Day when his back stiffened up, told reporters recently that he is confident he won’t need more than the minimum 10 days on the injured list before returning to the rotation. Meanwhile, his replacement, Dustin May, pitched well in his season debut -- one run over 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day vs. the Giants -- and is in line to face the Astros on Tuesday. The Dodgers’ bullpen has also been a bright spot. In a four-game series against San Francisco, Dodgers relievers gave up four runs over 17 2/3 innings.

2) Yankees (2)
Aaron Boone’s savages had a good weekend, taking two of three from the World Series champion Nationals in Washington, D.C. Giancarlo Stanton had a monstrous weekend, including a 483-foot home run during the Yankees’ loss Saturday. That homer clocked in with an exit velocity of 121.3 mph, registering as the second hardest-hit by anyone since Statcast started tracking such data. It was behind only … well, Stanton, whose 121.7 mph exit velo on a homer he hit Aug. 9, 2018, is a tick faster.

3) Twins (4)
Kenta Maeda, one of the Twins’ most significant offseason acquisitions, performed well in his debut Sunday, allowing two runs over five innings with a walk and six strikeouts in the Twins’ 14-2 win over the White Sox. Offensively, Cruz is on an absolute tear to open 2020. Including a two-homer, seven-RBI performance on Sunday, the veteran slugger is batting .538 over the first three games of the season. He already has 10 RBIs. Also, you’re going to hear this repeated a few dozen times over the course of the year -- Cruz is 40 years old.

4) Rays (5)
The Rays took two of three over the Blue Jays, capping the series with a 6-5 win in 10 innings Sunday. Ji-Man Choi has had a nice start, reaching base in five of 10 plate appearances with three walks in the final two games with Toronto. He also led off all three games of the series.

5) Braves (6)
The Braves dropped the season opener to the Mets, 1-0, but since then, Atlanta’s offense has come alive, scoring 19 runs over the past two games (including 14 on Sunday). Dansby Swanson is off to a hot start, going 5-for-12 with six RBIs in the three-game series with the Mets.

The rest of the field of 30
6) Athletics (7)
7) Astros (3)
8) Nationals (8)
9) Cardinals (9)
10) Cubs (10)
11) Indians (11)
12) Reds (11)
13) Mets (13)
14) Brewers (15)
15) Phillies (14)
16) Padres (19)
17) Angels (17)
18) D-Backs (16)
19) White Sox (20)
20) Blue Jays (21)
21) Red Sox (18)
22) Rangers (22)
23) Rockies (23)
24) Marlins (25)
25) Royals (26)
26) Giants (24)
27) Pirates (27)
28) Mariners (28)
29) Tigers (29)
30) Orioles (30)

Voters: Alyson Footer, Richard Justice, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn