Big jumps, drops in latest Power Rankings

April 19th, 2021

We’re headed into the third full week of the season, and things are shaking out exactly how we drew it up. The Mariners and Royals are tops in their divisions, the Reds have the second-highest run differential in baseball and the Yankees are off to their worst start in nearly a quarter-century.

OK, maybe this isn’t exactly what we were expecting. And while most teams fall into the category of "interesting," in some capacity -- some good-interesting; others bad-interesting -- odds are, things will even out a little bit and teams will start playing more to their expected abilities.

Records are funny things this early in the season, and our Power Rankings consider more than standard wins and losses. Our guess is the law of averages will eventually catch up to a few teams off to unusual starts.

Biggest jump: The Red Sox made one of the biggest leaps in Power Rankings history, jumping 17 spots from No. 20 to No. 3. Sure, we were a little skeptical at first. But the Sox are off to a roaring start, and if we were to look at the standings (though it’s a little too early to be doing that), we’d see they’re in first place, and the only team in the AL East with a winning record.

Biggest drop: The Nationals dropped eight spots, from No. 16 to No. 24. We’re familiar with their slow starts, and we know how those sometimes turn out (ahem, 2019). But the Nats have a -15 run differential and are dealing with several injuries; mostly notably, Stephen Strasburg is out with an inflamed shoulder, discovered soon after he allowed eight runs in a 14-3 loss to the Cardinals earlier last week. The Yankees also dropped eight spots, from No. 3 to No. 11. They’ve lost three series in a row, including a three-game home sweep by the Rays over the weekend.

Power Rankings top 5

1) Dodgers (1 last week)
The Dodgers snapped an eight-game winning streak with a loss to the Padres on Sunday, but that hardly matters for the bottom line. The Dodgers are still rolling, off to their best start since they moved to Los Angeles (the ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers won 22 of their first 24 games). Over their past nine games, the Dodgers have outscored opponents, 46 to 23.

2) Padres (2)
They didn’t have to win Sunday; it would be silly to declare any game in April a must-win. But a loss would have meant a sweep in their first meeting with the Dodgers, and after the fireworks in the first two games, ending the weekend with zero wins would have been a tough one for the Friars to swallow. In the finale, Blake Snell bounced back from a poor prior outing vs. the Pirates, fanning seven Dodgers hitters over five innings.

3) Red Sox (20)
Remember all the way back to two weeks ago when the Red Sox started off the season by being swept at home by the Orioles? Yeah, we don’t either. Since then, the Sox have reeled off 10 wins in 13 games and sport one of the best bullpen ERAs in baseball. Also, in six of their 10 wins, the Red Sox have scored at least seven runs.

4) Reds (8)
The Reds are second in the Major Leagues with 24 homers, proof that the explosive offense isn’t isolated to one or two players. But in this space, let’s give a tip of the cap to Joey Votto, who has hit three homers so far, and is two shy of becoming the third player in Reds history with 300-plus long balls. He would join Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (389) and Frank Robinson (324). For good measure, Votto further elevated the team’s entertainment value by starting a slick triple play on Saturday.

5) Brewers (14)
Credit where it’s due -- after losing two of three to the Twins to start the season, Milwaukee won three straight series, before dropping a weekend set with the Pirates. The pitching has been really good -- after Sunday’s finale, Brewers starters had an MLB-best 2.07 ERA.

The rest of the field of 30:

  1. Twins (4 last week)
  2. Braves (6)
  3. Mets (10)
  4. Rays (9)
  5. White Sox (7)
  6. Yankees (3)
  7. Astros (5)
  8. Cardinals (13)
  9. Angels (11)
  10. A’s (17)
  11. Phillies (15)
  12. Blue Jays (12)
  13. Giants (22)
  14. Indians (19)
  15. Royals (21)
  16. Mariners (24)
  17. Cubs (18)
  18. Marlins (23)
  19. Nationals (16)
  20. Tigers (25)
  21. Orioles (26)
  22. Pirates (30)
  23. Rangers (28)
  24. D-backs (27)
  25. Rockies (29)

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