Power Rankings: Who's new No. 1?

May 17th, 2021

Six weeks into the season, the American League East division is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing races, and for the best possible reason -- no fewer than four teams are proving to be legitimate contenders, and there’s no default involved with how things are shaking out so far.

This isn’t a situation where the top team is struggling to stay above .500, and therefore, the other clubs in the division are in the race, too, but with losing records. No, the AL East race is four-deep, and every team is at a minimum four games above .500, with healthy run differentials.

Consider, for example, the Rays. They’re in fourth place, but their record is 23-19, and their .548 winning percentage is just a smidge behind the third-place Yankees (.550). Both teams are only two games behind the Red Sox for first place in the division, and the 22-17 Blue Jays, winners of seven of their past 10 games, are not-so-comfortably in second place, 1 1/2 games back.

Biggest jump: Fresh off an 8-2 homestand that ended with a four-game sweep of the Rangers, the Astros jumped six spots, from No. 10 to No. 4. Houston scored 64 runs over that 10-game stretch.

Biggest drop: Three teams dropped four spots: the Giants (2 to 6), A’s (5 to 9) and Royals (18 to 22). The Giants may have dropped out of the top five, but we’re probably far enough into the season to safely say this is no longer a fluky “hot start.” They’re going to be a presence in the NL West this season.

Power Rankings Top 5

1) White Sox (No. 3 last week)

The White Sox are 8-2 over their past 10 games and are starting to take a little bit of a command in the AL Central, though the Indians are holding their own with a firm grip of second place. The Sox have the best run differential in baseball at +61 and own the best record in baseball at 24-15, a .615 winning percentage. Chicago has also won five straight games started by Dylan Cease, including Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Royals. Cease is 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA in those five games (five earned runs in 27 innings).

2) Red Sox (1)

Prior to their 6-5 loss to the Angels on Sunday, the Red Sox had outscored opponents 21-4 over a three-game stretch, and their offense led the Majors in runs (212), slugging (.445) and extra-base hits (146). With Saturday's win, Boston officially passed its win total of 24 from the 60-game 2020 season.

3) Dodgers (7)

The Dodgers made headlines over the weekend when it broke that they're adding Albert Pujols, but the bigger news is far more impactful -- they’ll be without Corey Seager for about a month after the shortstop fractured his right hand. The Dodgers are still plenty good and a recent four-game winning streak that ended on Sunday showed promise, as they outscored the opposition, 29-11. Los Angeles has had its share of issues in the past few weeks, making it more likely the NL West is going to be a more evenly matched race between the Dodgers, Padres and Giants.

4) Astros (10)

The Astros’ bats were on display in their recent 8-2 homestand. Jose Altuve has an 11-game hitting streak, batting .400 (18-for-45) with eight RBIs during that stretch. Yordan Alvarez is hitting .408 with five homers and 10 RBIs during his past 17 games, and Yuli Gurriel, while hitless on Sunday vs. the Rangers, slashed .321/.370/.631 with 14 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs over his prior 22 games.

5) Padres (4)

Despite losing a big chunk of their offense because of COVID-19 issues, the Padres are thriving, having won six of their past seven games, while outscoring the opposition 49-18 during that stretch. A bulk of the credit for keeping this team afloat goes to Manny Machado, who has hits in nine of his past 11 games, with nine runs scored.

The rest of the field of 30

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

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