Power Rankings: New week, new No. 1

May 24th, 2021

Division races are at their very best when several teams are winning at such a frenetic pace that no one can pull away, not even when one has cobbled together a winning streak that is close to reaching double digits.

The National League West is all bunched up at the top, with two teams -- the Padres and Dodgers -- each having just won nine of 10, and another club, the Giants, who are still right in the thick of a three-team all-California race despite a stumble over the weekend.

The Padres, baseball’s first 30-win team, are holding on to a slim one-game lead in the NL West. They’re barely ahead of the Dodgers, who have won seven straight. The Dodgers and Padres have another month to go before they meet again, but the Dodgers-Giants rivalry will be tested again later this week, when the two teams meet at Chavez Ravine for a four-game set.

Biggest jump: The Rays and Nats jumped five spots -- the Rays from 13 to 8; the Nats from 25 to 20. Tampa Bay stunned Toronto on Sunday with a four-run ninth and won, 6-4, extending its win streak to 10 games for just the second time in club history. The Rays have outscored their opponents 81-35 during their winning streak.

Biggest drop: The Angels dropped five spots, from 20 to 25. They enjoyed a late-game comeback effort in their 6-5 win over the A’s on Sunday, but overall, they’ve lost five of seven since Mike Trout was lost to the IL with a right calf strain.

1) Padres (5 last week)
We had our first tie for the No. 1 spot, with the Padres and Red Sox coming in dead even among our nine voters. We gave the edge to the Padres based on first-place votes: they received five to Boston’s two. San Diego probably deserves the nod, anyway, after sweeping a nine-game homestand, just the second perfect homestand of at least nine games in franchise history. They demolished the opposition, outscoring visiting teams 66-18. Fernando Tatis Jr. has resumed crushing the ball after missing some time on the COVID-19 IL. He’s 11-for-14 with four homers and 12 RBIs in four games since returning.

2) Red Sox (2)
The Red Sox, 7-3 over their past 10 games, were scoring more than six runs per game and led all of baseball in runs scored and slugging heading into their finale with the Phillies on Sunday, a 6-2 loss. Xander Bogaerts, who was off Sunday, continues to be a force. He leads the Sox with a .345 average and 1.005 OPS, and he’s slashing .394/.447/.758 over his past nine games.

3) White Sox (1)
A promising road trip that began with an action-packed series win over the Twins ended with a thud, in the form of a three-game sweep in the Bronx. That’s enough to drop last week’s No. 1 team a couple of slots, though it’s worth noting that entering that series with the Yankees, the White Sox had scored 6.1 runs per game over their prior 13 games, and they were 10-3 during that stretch.

4) Dodgers (3)
At this point, we can safely assume the Dodgers’ early-season malaise has come to a close. Los Angeles has won 11 of 12, which is almost enough to erase the sting of losing 15 of 20 prior to this stretch. And while we’re no longer pontificating that this team could win the most games in baseball history, it’s notable that they’re on pace for 100 wins -- even with all that losing earlier this month.

5) Giants (6)
Among the victims of all the Dodgers’ winning are the Giants, who followed a four-game sweep over the Reds in Cincinnati with a sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, at home, causing them to slip to third place in the NL West. This had to be especially frustrating for the Giants, considering how well they’ve been playing at Oracle Park all season. Even with the sweep, they’ve won 14 of 21 home games.

The rest of the field of 30

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

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