Power Rankings: Hottest team in baseball cracks Top 5

May 27th, 2024

When the season began, one of the biggest stories was the blistering start by the Cleveland Guardians, who went 8-2 and 17-6, a launch that was particularly surprising considering this team didn’t look all that different than the one last year that disappointed from start to finish. The Guardians then came back down to earth a bit, and that made sense: Sure, they came out of the gates strong, but that sort of success was unsustainable. It’s the same team, after all!

Well, the Guardians are actually hotter now than they were then. They’re now in the midst of a nine-game winning streak -- their best since the wild 22 straight wins in 2017 -- that puts them percentage points ahead of the Yankees for the best record in the American League and, just as important, a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL Central. This streak might keep going: They’ve got the Rockies and the Nationals this week before a riveting series against the almost-as-hot Royals. The Guardians shot up to No. 3 in the Rankings this week. Pretty good for “the same team as last year.”

These rankings, as always, are compiled from rankings from MLB.com contributors whose names you can find at the bottom of this (and every) piece, but the words are mine. If you dislike the rankings, yell at all of us. But if you dislike the words, feel free to yell at me.

1. Phillies (previously: 1).
Season high: 1 | Season low: 8
Losing a series at Coors Field is no big deal: The Rockies, even when they’re not a good team overall, are always good at home. What’s strange is how the Phillies did it: by not hitting. One of the best offenses in baseball scored only two runs in two of the three games. When that's all you're managing at Coors Field, frankly, you’ve got to feel relieved you didn’t get swept entirely.

2. Yankees (previously: 3).
Season high: 2 | Season low: 7
Much has been made of the fact that Anthony Volpe’s hitting streak is the longest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter’s 19-game hit streak in 2012. If Volpe can make it to 24 this week, he’ll tie Don Mattingly’s streak in 1986, which is one short of Jeter’s career high of 25 in 2006. What’s the Yankees’ longest hit streak since Joe DiMaggio? That would be Joe Gordon, who reached 29 the year after DiMaggio’s 56. If we’re still talking about this in a week, Volpe will nearly be there.

3. Guardians (previously: 6).
Season high: 3 | Season low: 21
One of the fascinating aspects of the Guardians’ start is that José Ramírez has become a different player this year. He’s still hitting the ball hard -- he leads the Majors with 52 RBIs, and he’s more than halfway to his home run total of 24 last season -- but that has come with a lower on-base percentage. He’s actually 37 points lower than his career average in OBP … but 30 points up on his career slugging. His seven percent walk rate is by far the lowest of his career.

4. Orioles (previously: 4).
Season high: 1 | Season low: 5
The Orioles navigated the Yankees' hot streak last week, with a helpful sweep of the White Sox to get them back within two games in an AL East race that sure looks like it’s going to be the highlight of everybody’s summer and fall. Their buoyancy was particularly impressive considering they finally lost their 106-series sweepless streak this week, losing three straight to the Cardinals, of all teams. MLB.com’s Tom Tango calculated last week that the Orioles had 0.07 percent odds of going that long without being swept … which sure makes me think we’re not going to see a streak like that one again for quite some time.

5. Dodgers (previously: 2).
Season high: 1 | Season low: 6
Every team hits speed bumps during the regular season, even the best ones; heck, the 1998 Yankees started 1-4. So Dodgers fans shouldn’t panic during this five-game losing streak, even if the losses in Cincinnati were relentless and incessant over the weekend. Still, you can tell Los Angeles is getting a little antsy about its “inconsistent” offense by their urgency to get Shohei Ohtani back in Sunday’s lineup despite his bruised hamstring. And it didn’t help; Ohtani went 1-for-4, and the Dodgers lost, 4-1. Still, it’s hardly time to lose one’s bearings: Los Angeles is still up 5 1/2 games in the NL West, the second-largest margin for any current division leader.

6. Royals (previously: 8).
Season high: 6 | Season low: 24
The offensive outbursts that constituted the spine of the Royals’ thrilling eight-game win streak finally ended on Sunday afternoon against the Rays, but it’s worth reflecting again on how scorching Kansas City has been over the past week. The Royals scored eight runs or more in five consecutive games for the second time in franchise history (they hadn’t done it since 1978); it was the first time any team had done it since the Dodgers in 2021, from Sept. 29-Oct. 3. They’re for real, folks. They are not going anywhere.

7. Braves (previously: 5).
Season high: 1 | Season low: 7
The Braves are deep, as they always are, but with Ronald Acuña Jr. out for the season with an ACL tear, catching the Phillies will be even more difficult than it already was. It’s also a reminder that the Braves' historic offense of 2023 was largely made possible by the team’s ability to remain healthy throughout the season. It’s not turning out that way in '24.

8. Brewers (previously: 7).
Season high: 5 | Season low: 19
The Brewers and Cubs have been within shouting distance of each other seemingly from Opening Day on, but the Brew Crew has a chance to head into the summer by putting real daylight between themselves and the North Siders in Milwaukee this weekend. The teams open a massive four-game set on Memorial Day. Enjoy these while you can: The Brewers and Cubs will play each other in a three-game series in July and then they are finished for the season.

9. Twins (previously: 12).
Season high: 8 | Season low: 23
Shhh ... Carlos Correa looks like Carlos Correa again. After a hugely disappointing 2023, the first below-average offensive season of his career, Correa looks like his old self again, putting up a .279/.366/.467 slash line, up there with his best during his time in Minnesota and rivaling his fifth-in-MVP-voting season in 2021.

10. Cubs (previously: 9).
Season high: 8 | Season low: 12
The Cubs’ starting pitching, thought to be in real potential trouble once Justin Steele went down, has turned out to be the team’s signature strength. They're currently tied with the Braves for the second-best starters ERA in the National League, behind the Phillies. The problem lately has been the hitting: Cody Bellinger, Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel have all gone into a deep slump at the exact same time.

11. Mariners (previously: 10).
Season high: 10 | Season low: 21
The baseball world has been on the lookout for the inevitable Julio Rodríguez offensive eruption, the time when he turns it on after the usual slow start. It may be happening: He has homered in two straight games, doubling his total for the season in those two contests. Remember when he went absolutely nuts in August last year, dragging the Mariners back into the AL West race? If he does that again right now, well … Seattle is already in first place.

12. Giants (previously: 19).
Season high: 12 | Season low: 23
The way the NL Wild Card chase is shaping up, all you need is one hot streak and you’ll be leading the whole pack -- eventually every team may get a shot at it. This week, it was the Giants’ turn. Their stirring run of comeback victories shot them up the standings, and at the center of it all was, finally, Matt Chapman, who had a fantastic week at the plate and made what he admitted might be the best play of his career to secure a wild comeback win over the Mets on Friday.

13. Red Sox (previously: 16).
Season high: 13 | Season low: 22
The smoking hot Rafael Devers went 0-for-2 on Sunday to remain one short of Jim Rice for the most extra-base hits by a Red Sox player before the age of 28. Devers, who will turn 28 in October, is famously signed for nine years after this one. If he plays all nine seasons in Boston, he will actually be a Red Sox player longer than Rice was by one season; he’s 200 homers behind Rice already.

14. Padres (previously: 14).
Season high: 13 | Season low: 21
Who is Fernando Tatis Jr. without his swag? If he is swagless, does he not bleed? After homering on Saturday against the Yankees -- the night after the Bronx Bombers launched baseballs at various unsuspecting passersby all evening on Friday -- Tatis did not do his usual stutter-and-hop he always does after he homers. He said it was the first time since before COVID that he hadn’t done it. Why?

“I’m not swaggy right now,” he said.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is not swaggy, folks. Black is white, backwards is forwards, upwards is down, all is chaos.

15. Astros (previously: 18).
Season high: 6 | Season low: 26
It has become an axiom to say, “the rest of the AL West should have buried the Astros while they had the chance,” but it should be said that the Astros are missing a few opportunities to take full advantage. While the Mariners and Rangers were in the midst of losing streaks this week, the Astros were sputtering themselves, losing two of three to the Angels and not sweeping the A’s like we’re used to seeing them doing. For all the talk of the Astros being “back,” they are not doing themselves any favors.

16. Tigers (previously: 15).
Season high: 7 | Season low: 20
After a five-game losing streak that threatened to make them disappear from the AL Central race as the Guardians and Royals simply refused to lose, the Tigers received the Blue Jays tonic: Coming off three straight wins over the weekend, Detroit is back to one game under .500. The problem is that they’re somehow already 10 games out of first, which is further out of first than, say, the Angels.

17. Diamondbacks (previously: 17).
Season high: 10 | Season low: 21
You have to credit D-backs general manager Mike Hazen for being honest: He knows his team has been pretty lucky these last couple of years. “We’re lucky [we’re not out of the Wild Card race], given the way we’ve played,” he told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “We were lucky last year when we lost all those games after the Trade Deadline and no one ran away with [the final Wild Card spots]. We benefited from that opportunity last year because we did something about that opportunity last year. So hopefully we can do something about that opportunity this year. But no, it doesn’t make you feel better.” Still: The D-backs have a better run differential than the Cubs, every team in the AL West and … the 2023 Diamondbacks.

18. Rays (previously: 13).
Season high: 9 | Season low: 19
Kevin Cash, remarkably, remains the longest-tenured manager in baseball, so trust that he knows of what he speaks when he says the Rays are in a dark place right now. “We’re not getting it done,” he said. “Every facet of it. I mean, we're expanding on pitches that we probably can't handle. The pitches we can handle, we're not doing any damage with. We're not able to piece too much together right now. … it’s kind of all-encompassing. I’m concerned, yeah, but I’ve been concerned for quite some time.” This is not the sort of division where it is easy to weather a six-game losing streak, that’s for sure, even if they got back in the win column on Sunday.

19. Rangers (previously: 11).
Season high: 4 | Season low: 19
The Rangers have gone from “moderately worrisome” to “overcome by injuries” all the way to “holy cow, is the bottom falling out?” An absolutely miserable road trip to Philadelphia and Minnesota has them plummeting in the standings, staying afloat only because the rest of the division is miserable right now as well. They still have time to turn this around, but this is not how defending champs are supposed to act.

20. Cardinals (previously: 23).
Season high: 18 | Season low: 27
The Cardinals were 18-25 and in last place heading into a homestand on May 17 against three winning teams: The Red Sox, the Orioles and the Cubs. Their season was in danger of imploding. And then they went out and won two out of three from the Red Sox, swept the Orioles (of all teams) and took two against the Cubs. They’re now in the thick of the Wild Card chase and feeling better about themselves than they have all year. If the Cardinals can make something happen this year, this will be the week they saved their season.

21. Pirates (previously: 20).
Season high: 9 | Season low: 25
Mitch Keller’s time has at last arrived. The erstwhile Pirates phenom has been this franchise’s ace-in-waiting for quite a few years now, and he has looked like that pitcher in May: He’s 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA. Paul Skenes and Jared Jones are the talk of the Pirates and give hope for the future, but don't overlook the "old guy."

22. Blue Jays (previously: 21).
Season high: 8 | Season low: 23
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported this week that one AL executive thinks the Blue Jays might “not be opposed” to trading Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and/or Bo Bichette this year if the team continues to struggle. While this is somewhat understandable -- both players are free agents after next season -- what a frustrating end to an era that would signal. The Blue Jays have been built up with this whole generation of young players to be the class of that strong division, but they have yet to win a playoff series and are now in last place. This can’t be how it ends, can it?

23. Reds (previously: 25).
Season high: 11 | Season low: 25
The Reds picked a terrific time to have an excellent series at home against the suddenly sputtering Dodgers: They have a pivotal stretch coming up. Their frustrating record in one-run games has them in last place in the NL Central, but they have an opportunity to make up a bunch of ground over the next fortnight: Seven games with the Cubs, three with the Cardinals and three with the Rockies. If the Reds are going to turn their season around, now is the time to do it.

24. Nationals (previously: 24).
Season high: 19 | Season low: 27
Is MacKenzie Gore an ace? How many starts do you need to elevate yourself to ace status? Gore’s 50th start on Friday was one of his best: After giving up a leadoff homer, Gore only allowed the Mariners three hits, and no runs over seven innings. With Gore, Trevor Williams and even-younger-than-Gore Mitchell Parker, the Nationals’ rotation is primed to cause a lot of headaches the rest of this year.

25. Mets (previously: 22).
Season high: 10 | Season low: 25
The Mets have had an absolute disaster of a week, with comeback loss after comeback loss. How bad was it? After Saturday’s extra-inning loss to the Giants -- yet another one in which the Mets lost a lead in the ninth -- announcer Gary Cohen ended his broadcast by saying, “I promise you, the sun will still come up tomorrow.” (He was right, it did. The Mets had a wild comeback victory of their own on Sunday.)

26. A’s (previously: 26).
Season high: 20 | Season low: 30
One of the only real modifications we’ve had for A’s breakout rookie closer Mason Miller this season was that he needed some sort of nickname: “Mason Miller” is a fine name, but not particularly intimidating in and of itself. Thanks to A’s announcer Chris Caray, he now has one: “The Reaper.” And he likes it: “I actually had a buddy in college whose nickname was ‘The Reaper’ also,” he said. “But his was because he worked so slow.”

27. Angels (previously: 27).
Season high: 24 | Season low: 27
It is totally reasonable if the only question any rational person might have about the Angels right now is, “hey, how’s Mike Trout feeling?” So you can take solace that the answer is: “Better!” Trout spoke to reporters before yet another Angels loss on Saturday and said, “I’m feeling good.” He did also mention that he is neither running nor jogging yet, so don’t get too excited.

28. Marlins (previously: 29).
Season high: 23 | Season low: 30
This is a Power Rankings writer who will never let a Maddux go by without comment, so congratulations to Braxton Garrett for his Maddux on Friday night against the Diamondbacks, a six-strikeout, four-hit, no-walk shutout on only 95 pitches. (It was only the second Maddux by a lefty for the Marlins; Dontrelle Willis threw one in 2005.) It was also the fifth shutout in the past nine games for Marlins pitchers, if you can believe that.

29. Rockies (previously: 28).
Season high: 28 | Season low: 29
Jordan Beck hadn’t exactly been knocking the cover off the ball during his month-long sojourn in the big leagues, but the power-hitting prospect was at least getting valuable reps that would presumably benefit him in the long term; you could see something positive every day, even if he wasn’t quite hitting yet. Well, that positivity is gone now that Beck has broken his hand. Meanwhile, Kris Bryant is healthy and … hitting. 179.

30. White Sox (previously: 29).
Season high: 28 | Season low: 30
It is never the best sign when your beat reporters are already writing “so, which of these guys is gonna get traded at the deadline?” stories by Memorial Day, but that’s where we are with the White Sox right now. “There’s some players on the team that I think make a little more sense than others,” general manager Chris Getz said. One of those is Tommy Pham, who any team in baseball could have had a month ago. Because the White Sox grabbed him, they now have a trade chip who is slugging .459.

Voters: Nathalie Alonso, Anthony Castrovince, Doug Gausepohl, Will Leitch, Arturo Pardavila, Manny Randhawa, Andrew Simon, David Venn.