Power Rankings: Shakeup thanks to AL East

June 21st, 2021

It would be overstating things to say the Rays are panicking in the wake of a season-high losing streak, but it’s also worth noting that they are promoting Wander Franco, the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball two years running (per MLB Pipeline), just as they’ve lost six games in a row, and just as they’re about to host the Red Sox, the team that has taken over first place in the American League East division.

Not long ago, everything seemed to go right for the Rays. A month ago, they strung together an 11-game winning streak and had a firm grasp on a division that has four legitimate contenders, all with.500-or-better records. From that lens, the recent skid is probably nothing more than a rough patch even the best teams will encounter at least once during a six-month slog to the finish.

But the AL East is still the division to watch. The Blue Jays have slipped back to the .500 mark with series losses to some of the stronger teams in baseball, including the Yankees and Astros. The Yankees are playing better but still have yet to really hit a stride, and the Red Sox, while holding on to first place, have shown vulnerabilities that were on full display during a recent stretch of games against Houston, in which they lost five of seven.

Biggest jump: The Astros jumped four spots, from No. 6 to No. 2. They have the best run differential in baseball at +112 and have been steamrolling opponents with barely a hiccup for the entire month of June. In fact, the last series they lost was May 21-23, when they were swept by the Rangers.

Biggest drop: The Rays had a bad week and road trip, losing two of three to the White Sox before being swept in Seattle in four games. As a result, they dropped five spots, from No. 1 to No. 6.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1. Dodgers (2)
The Dodgers benefitted from an easier segment of their schedule with 10 wins in their past 12 games, all against the Pirates, Rangers, Phillies and D-backs. Now, it gets trickier -- over the next week and a half, they’ll play all above-.500 teams: the Padres, Cubs and Giants. The Dodgers are 1 1/2 games behind the Giants, but they have the best run differential in the NL West at +103. For those secretly (or openly) rooting for a Dodgers-Astros 2017 Fall Classic rematch, the past couple of weeks were a reminder that it very well could happen.

2. Astros (6)
Speaking of soft schedules, the Astros just finished up a series with the only above-.500 team they will play the rest of the month, and they not only swept it, they crushed the opponent. The Astros-White Sox matchup ended up being one of the most lopsided of Houston’s season -- it outscored the Sox 27-8. Only one game was decided by fewer than four runs. The Astros were predicted by some insiders to be in first place by the end of June, and it looks like they’re ahead of schedule.

3. Giants (4)
The Giants have not lost two games in a row in nearly a month. The last time it happened was May 21-23, when they lost three straight to the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Buster Posey is slashing .372/.438/.535 with seven runs scored in his past 12 games, and Brandon Belt is hitting .429 (12-for-28) with eight extra-base hits in his past seven games.

4. A’s (7)
The A’s lost two of three to the Yankees in New York over the weekend, the first time they lost a series since they lost two of three from May 24-26 vs. the Mariners. That was also Oakland’s first road series loss of the year. The A's 19-11 road record is second-best in the Majors, behind only Boston (23-12).

5. White Sox (3)
As mentioned above, the White Sox series with the Astros lacked a lot of the drama expected when these two opened their set at Minute Maid Park last Thursday. Even with the four-game sweep, the Sox are still in first place in the American League Central by 2 1/2 games over the Indians, the only other team in that division with a winning record.

The rest of the field of 30:

6. Rays (1) 
7. Red Sox (8) 
8. Padres (5) 
9. Mets (10) 
10. Cubs (9) 
11. Yankees (13) 
12. Brewers (11) 
13. Blue Jays (12) 
14. Indians (14) 
15. Reds (18) 
16. Braves (16) 
17. Phillies (17) 
18. Cardinals (15) 
19. Angels (20) 
20. Nationals (22) 
21. Mariners (23) 
22. Marlins (19) 
23. Royals (21) 
24. Twins (24) 
25. Tigers (26) 
26. Rangers (25) 
27. Rockies (27) 
28. Pirates (28) 
29. Orioles (29) 
30. D-backs (30) 

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