Power Rankings: New club conquers No. 1

June 7th, 2021

Though it’s still considered very early in the season, a few division races are becoming clearer, with some shaking out as predicted before the season started. 

The American League West, for example, is essentially a two-team race between the A’s and Astros, the only two clubs in that division with winning records. The White Sox are starting to put a little room between themselves and the rest of the Central field, with the help of a surprisingly poor start by the team that was once considered the biggest threat to the Sox -- the Twins, who are tied with the Tigers for last place. 

The National League Central continues to be one to watch, for a couple of reasons. First, the most obvious -- every team but the Pirates appears to be in this race, even the Reds, who made quite a statement with a sweep in St. Louis over the weekend. 

But also, keep an eye on the Brewers, tied with the Cubs for first place and employing two of the best starting pitchers in baseball. If they stay on par, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes will be very much in the Cy Young Award conversation. 

Woodruff’s 1.42 ERA is third-lowest in the Majors, while Burnes’ 1.97 is fifth-lowest. They’re also second and third in the NL in WHIP -- 0.71 for Burnes; .074 for Woodruff.

Biggest jump: The Reds jumped six spots, from 23 to 17. Over the weekend, the Reds beat the Cardinals four straight at the current Busch Stadium (which opened in 2006) for the first time ever. Cincinnati has won six of seven and could be back to .500 with a win over the Brewers on Tuesday.

Biggest drop: The Cardinals dropped seven spots, from 8 to 15. Including the four-game sweep by the Reds, St. Louis has lost five straight and seven of eight. Sunday’s game was the Cardinals’ 17th in 17 days, and they’ll get a little bit of a breather with two scheduled off-days this week.

1. Rays (2 last week)
It’s normally the pitching that we think of first when talking about the Rays, but their offense has been on point all season as well. Through Sunday, the Rays have the third-highest run differential in baseball at +75, behind only the White Sox (+85) and Dodgers (+83). Individually, Austin Meadows is on a nice run. He leads the Majors with 39 RBIs since the start of play on May 2, and he’s on a 10-game hitting streak, which has produced 15 hits in 38 at-bats with five homers and 19 RBIs.

2. White Sox (3)
The Sox have won 10 of 14, and during that stretch, the bullpen has been strong, pitching to a 2.75 ERA. Of the 11 runs relievers allowed, six came in one game -- on Friday, during 9-8 win over the Tigers. Chicago's win over Detroit on Sunday moved manager Tony La Russa into second-place all time on the managerial wins list with 2,764.

3. Padres (1)
The drop from the No. 1 spot can probably be attributed to the Padres being swept by the Cubs in Chicago early last week and then splitting a four-game set with the Mets. San Diego, which still boasts the best starter ERA in baseball, can even things up a little bit starting Monday -- the Friars are hosting the Cubs for a three-game set.

4. Dodgers (6)
After going 3-3 in the past week against the Cardinals and Braves, the Dodgers are hitting a softer part of their schedule. Three of their next four series are against last-place teams: they’ll play three in Pittsburgh beginning Tuesday before heading home to host the Rangers. After a three-game set with the Phillies, the Dodgers will end this stretch with three in Arizona.

5. Giants (5)
The Giants continue to roll, having won nine of their past 12, dating back to the start of play on May 25. They enjoyed an especially fruitful weekend, beating the Cubs three out of four on their home turf. Still, the Giants will have to navigate through their most challenging injury loss of the season, after learning Evan Longoria will be out four to six weeks with a shoulder sprain. The veteran third baseman had nine homers and an .892 OPS at the time of the injury.

The rest of the field of 30:

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

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