The MLB Power Rankings are a weekly ranking of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball as they stand entering September.
The mlb preseason rankings is a weekly power ranking of the MLB teams. It’s updated every Monday morning, and it’s created by SB Nation.
August is almost over, and the MLB postseason picture for 2021 is beginning to take shape ahead of September’s stretch run.
Is it possible that the raging New York Yankees, a newcomer to our top five, will make a case for being baseball’s greatest team? How far have the struggling San Diego Padres fallen as the NL West continues to be dominated by the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers? Will the Milwaukee Brewers be able to compete with the rest of the National League’s top teams?
Here’s what our eight-member expert panel came up with based on what they’ve discovered thus far in the 2021 season. We also asked ESPN baseball analysts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers, and Alden Gonzalez to provide a Week 20 prediction based on what they’ve observed lately for all 30 clubs.
Weeks 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1
82-44 is the score. 1st place previously
Is there a more exciting narrative in baseball right now than the one between Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford? Belt, Posey, and Crawford have been comrades in the Giants’ infield for almost a decade, and now, in their mid-30s, they’re spearheading an unlikely drive to another possible title. Belt (33), Posey (34) and Crawford (34) have combined for a.910 OPS with 101 extra-base hits, 53 of which were homers, before Wednesday’s game. They had a total of 9.6 FanGraphs wins above replacement between them. Gonzalez’s words
80-47 is the score. Previous position: 2
AJ Pollock, who made a “game-saving catch” by denying Manny Machado of a go-ahead home run on Tuesday night in San Diego and blasted the game-winning home run in the 16th inning on Wednesday, is lost within a star-studded lineup but worthy of some credit. This season, Pollock has become a lot better at moving about in the outfield, but it’s his bat that has truly stood out. Pollock is batting.351/.390/.527 in his first 34 second-half games, as the Dodgers make a determined push for their eighth straight division championship. He’s delivering much-needed performance for a lineup that has been missing Mookie Betts and hasn’t gotten much from Cody Bellinger. Gonzalez’s words
79-48 is the score. 3rd place before.
The Rays are rolling along, maintaining their lead in the American League East. The club recalled designated hitter Nelson Cruz off the COVID-19 list, and the slugger immediately tied the game with a two-run double while also playing first base for the first time in his career against the Phillies. As the club nears the end of the season, Cruz may be a game-changer on offense. Lee —
78-49 is the score. Previous position: 5
Milwaukee maintains their lead, but received some bad news when Freddy Peralta was put on the disabled list with a strained shoulder. The Brewers will be a very different club if any of their Big Three starters are susceptible going into the playoffs. When it comes to shortstop Willy Adames, who exited Tuesday’s game with quadriceps pain, the same goes for the lineup. Milwaukee’s main worry in the last five weeks is staying healthy. Rogers’ comment
74-52 is the score. Previous position: 9
Shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who has not only provided a spark of energy since filling in for Gleyber Torres, but is also impacting the New York lineup as a hometown kid, seems like a distant memory for Yankees fans as their surging team continues to climb the standings with help from unlikely contributors such as shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who has not only provided a spark of energy since filling in for Gleyber Torres, but is impacting the New York Domingo German, Corey Kluber, Luis Severino, and Michael King are all expected to return to the rotation before the conclusion of the season. Lee —
75-52 is the score. Previous position: 4
After missing more than two months due to lower body problems, Alex Bregman returned to the lineup on Wednesday. His replacements at third base combined for a 15th-place OPS during his absence. It’s not terrible. Abraham Toro was the most often utilized substitute, hitting.228/.294/.402 in his place before being traded to Seattle at the trade deadline for high-leverage reliever Kendall Graveman. Following Toro’s departure, Aledmys Diaz took over as the starting hot corner, and his output was crucial in Houston’s overall success. During Bregman’s absence, Diaz hit.325/.365/.538 in 24 starts at third base. Doolittle’s quote
73-55 is the score. Previous position: 6
The White Sox have played more games against clubs with winning percentages below.500 than any other team in the majors, going 52-29 for a.642 winning percentage. Battering up on poor opponents is a part of what successful teams do. Failure to do so may land a team in hot water. Ask the Padres, who have a.500 record versus losing opponents this season and are battling for a postseason berth. The White Sox’s main focus is on the other side of the ball. It indicates they’ve played the fewest games against teams with a winning record of at least.500 (47). Worse, they have a 21-26 record in such games. Only the Athletics have a greater difference in winning percentage versus excellent and poor opponents among the AL’s other major contenders. Is there any significance to any of this in terms of October’s chances? It will be up to the White Sox to demonstrate that this is not the case. Doolittle’s quote
68-58 is the score. Previous position: 11
By winning two consecutive games, the Yankees ended Atlanta’s nine-game winning run. The Braves are now on a two-day break before a challenging schedule that includes games against the Giants at home, the Dodgers on the road, and four games in Colorado (where the Rockies are actually good). Max Fried has had a fantastic August (4-0, 0.67 ERA in four contests, including a shutout of the Orioles). Since June 6, he’s gone 9-4 with a 2.70 ERA and a.228 batting average allowed. Schoenfield’s
72-56 is the score. Previous position: 8
For the first time since early April, Boston fell to third position in the division. Jarren Duran, the club’s top prospect, failed to deliver the offensive spark that the management had hoped for and was sent back to Triple-A. While the return of Chris Sale gives the rotation reason to be optimistic, the bullpen continues to struggle. Tanner Houck is expected to help Boston’s pitching staff, while Kyle Schwarber and Travis Shaw are expected to help the offense. Lee —
70-57 is the score. Previous position: 7
Chris Bassitt, who suffered facial fractures after being struck by a line drive, will be a significant loss. Bassitt was the team’s top starter this season, with a 3.4 bWAR, 3.22 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 154 strikeouts in 151 innings. If Bassitt does not return, Oakland will have a far more difficult time reaching the playoffs. Lee —
69-59 is the current record. Previous position: 13
The Reds’ postseason hopes were hurt by losing two of three to the Cubs, but they more than made up for it with a four-game sweep of the Marlins. Although the Reds will not catch Milwaukee in the NL Central, they have seized control of the second wild card spot as San Diego struggles. The Reds have enough of mojo to make up for the Padres’ lack of it. Their winning formula continues to be at the bat rather than on the mound, which may come back to bite them in October. But for the time being, it’s working, as their starting lineup is as good as any in the National League. Rogers’ comment
66-59 is the current record. Previous position: 12
In the AL East battle, the Blue Jays are a step behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays, but pitcher Robbie Ray continues to make a case for the Cy Young Award. Ray presently has the most bWAR (5.1) among American League pitchers, with a 2.79 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 145.1 innings thrown. Lee —
68-60 is the new record. Previous position: 10
On Tuesday, the Padres faced the Dodgers for the first game since June 23, which offered an intriguing point of comparison. The Padres had just completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers on that day. The city of San Diego was in a frenzy, and supporters were starting to believe that this was the year their club would finally win it all. The Padres, on the other hand, went 23-26 in the 49 games between the Dodgers series. Their pitching is a disaster, their offense can’t keep up, the division is out of reach, and the Padres are suddenly competing for the National League’s last postseason berth. Gonzalez’s words
Previous ranking: 16 (record: 69-58)
Ty France hit game-tying home runs in the ninth inning in back-to-back games as the Mariners won both, including an 11-inning victory against Houston that improved their record in extra-inning games to 12-4. Drew Steckenrider and Paul Sewald have combined to go 13-5 with a 2.18 ERA and 13 saves in their first season together as free agents. Yes, the same Paul Sewald who went 0-13 in relief for the Mets last season. Schoenfield’s
Is it possible that games are too long? How can baseball make the most of its new crop of superstars? We go into the issues that will have a long-term impact on the game. Baseball’s Current Situation «
63-63 is the current record. 14th place before.
The move of Ranger Suarez from backup to starter has gone much better than anticipated. In five starts, he has a 2.11 ERA. On Tuesday, he pitched 62/3 innings and 99 pitches against the Rays, surrendering one run but earning a no-decision. He started 82 of his 94 minor-league games, so he knows his way around a lineup, and he continues to generate soft contact with a sinker/changeup/four-seamer combination (and a few sliders). Schoenfield’s
64-61 is the score. 15th place before.
With Jack Flaherty’s return to the disabled list, the Cardinals’ dreams of going hot and snatching a wild-card berth were dashed. Their supporters got some good news when Yadier Molina signed a new contract, but it won’t take away from an underwhelming season — though injuries to their pitching staff are the No. 1 reason St. Louis isn’t closer to returning to October. Rogers’ comment
62-62 is the score. Previous position: 18
Due to a mix of injuries and underperformance, the Indians’ rotation has been a significant disappointment this season. The recent news has been considerably better, rekindling expectations that Cleveland’s starters will once again form the cornerstone of the team’s aspirations to return to contention in 2022. Triston McKenzie has only allowed one run and three hits in his previous two starts before being placed on the disabled list on Wednesday, while Cal Quantrill had a 2.50 ERA in his last three appearances. Zach Plesac had a strong performance against Detroit on Aug. 13, but he is still looking for consistency. Meanwhile, the injured front-end of Cleveland’s rotation, Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale, are both expected to return before the season’s conclusion. Doolittle’s quote
61-65 is the score. Previous position: 17
That quickly devolved into chaos. The Mets were four games ahead of the NL East after a walk-off victory on July 31. After a 3-2 defeat to the Giants on Wednesday, they fell to 6-17 in August, seven games behind the Braves. In the month of August, they’ve batted only.223, averaging just 3.3 runs per game. With the season in shambles, it’s nearly time to start planning for 2022 and how to handle free agents like Michael Conforto, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Javier Baez. Oh, and don’t forget about Robinson Cano, who will be re-signed for $20.25 million! Schoenfield’s
63-65 is the current record. Previous position: 19
If Mike Trout’s extended calf injury has a silver lining, it’s that it’s given the Angels the chance to give both of their highly touted outfield prospects, Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell, some major-league experience. It’s obvious that they, too, need assistance. In 217 plate appearances, Adell and Marsh have combined for 75 strikeouts, 17 walks, and two home runs. The Angels badly need both of them to grow, either to enable them access top-tier pitching on the trade market or to offer relatively low-cost output to balance their salary. Gonzalez’s words
The MLB season of 2021 will be broadcast on ESPN and the ESPN App.
All timings are in Eastern Standard Time.
Sunday, August 29th, 7 p.m. on ESPN, Yankees vs. A’s
Monday, August 30th, 7 p.m. on ESPN, Red Sox-Rays
Sunday, September 5th, 7 p.m. on ESPN, Dodgers vs. Giants
61-67 is the current record. Previous position: 20
With the death of veteran Detroit catcher Bill Freehan last week, baseball fans in general and Tigers fans in particular received terrible news. During the 1960s and 1970s, Freehan was a vital part of the great Detroit teams, which included the 1968 World Series victory against St. Louis. The St. Louis duo of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina has received a lot of attention over the previous several years for the length of their relationship, which has lasted 298 games as of Wainwright’s latest start. That’s the fourth-highest number in baseball history among all batteries. Freehan and Mickey Lolich, who teamed up as a battery for the Tigers 324 times between 1963 and 1975, are at the top of the list. Doolittle’s quote
56-70 is the score. Previous position: 25
It’s difficult to imagine that the Daniel Lynch the Royals have seen since the All-Star break is the same pitcher who struggled in his first three major league starts. Lynch was 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA and 1.274 OPS allowed in his inauspicious debut in May. After a brief trip to Triple-A to iron out some kinks, he rejoined the Kansas City rotation. Since then, he’s gone 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA and a.655 OPS allowed in six starts. It’s been a remarkable reversal and progression for the guy who began the season as the Royals’ consensus #1 pitching prospect. Doolittle’s quote
58-69 is the current record. Previous position: 23
C.J. Cron has a history of being a streaky hitter, and the Rockies’ first baseman is currently on a tear. Cron is on a 20-game on-base run, during which he has increased his season OPS to.905. Cron, 31, took a minor league deal after appearing in just 13 games during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, but he’s put himself up for a far bigger paycheck this summer. Gonzalez’s words
55-71 is the score. 22nd in the previous ranking
With a.784 OPS, the Twins’ leadoff batters are tied for sixth in the AL this season. Luis Arraez, Minnesota’s main leadoff man until late July, and Max Kepler, who has been the choice for the most of the past month, have been the two most often leadoff guys. In 2019 and 2020, Kepler was the Twins’ primary leadoff batter. They’re a striking difference that may indicate what type of offensive the Twins intend to run in the future. This season, Kepler has six home runs from first base, while Arraez has none. Despite this, due of his on-base abilities, Arraez had a higher slugging percentage in the role (.429 to.412). Arraez is hitting.342/.396/.429 in the leadoff spot, while Kepler is hitting.193/.295/.412. Doolittle’s quote
54-71 is the score. Previous position: 24
In MLB.com’s midseason farm rankings, the Nationals were placed No. 20, up from No. 30 at the start of the season. The additions of Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray, who were acquired in the Trea Turner-Max Scherzer trade, have contributed significantly to the team’s improvement, while Cade Cavalli is having one of the most impressive seasons of any minor league starter, with a 2.37 ERA across Class A and Double-A and 151 strikeouts in 982/3 innings. Schoenfield’s
56-73 is the score. Previous position: 26
With a walk-off home run against the Rockies on Monday, the Cubs matched a major league record by dropping 13 straight home games by multiple runs. That game was won by Rafael Ortega, who had been one of the league’s top hitters before the trade deadline until lately cooling down. He, along with other role players, will be able to participate in the game. On Wednesday, Patrick Wisdom blasted his 21st home run. Rogers’ comment
52-75 is the score. Previous position: 21
The Marlins’ pitching has deteriorated in August, resulting in an 8-15 record. They’ve given up 10-plus runs in five games (one of which they won, 14-10) and five or more in 13 others. Max Meyer, a first-round selection in 2020, has a 1.97 ERA in 87 innings at Double-A with solid-but-not-dominant statistics (93 strikeouts, 35 walks), while hard-throwing Edward Cabrera has advanced to Triple-A. Keep a watch on southpaw Jake Eder, a 2020 fourth-round selection out of Vanderbilt who has pitched better than Meyer in Double-A. In 2022, all three may fight for rotation positions. Schoenfield’s
44-82 is the score. Previous position: 27
Since selling Joey Gallo, the Rangers have finally found some offense, with Nate Lowe and Andy Ibanez having big weeks. Over the course of seven days, Ibanez went 11-for-21, while Lowe went 9-for-19. Texas may have identified a handful of guys with responsibilities for next season as they continue to build around youngster Adolis Garcia, who had a strong week at the bat with a.966 OPS. They just need to find some pitching now. Rogers’ comment
From Monday through Friday, presenter Pablo Torre gives you an inside peek at ESPN’s most compelling stories, as recounted by the best reporters and insiders on the globe. Listen
46-81 is the score. Previous position: 28
After being swept by the Dodgers, Pittsburgh enjoyed a good week at the bat, winning four of five games. The Pirates’ series victory against the Cardinals prevented the Cardinals from gaining ground in the wild-card race, thanks to Kevin Newman’s OPS of over 1.000. In the last month of the season, the Pirates will have plenty of opportunities to play spoiler. Rogers’ comment
43-85 is the score. Previous position: 29
Despite a defeat on Saturday, the D-backs had a strong performance from Zac Gallen, who dominated the Rockies with seven scoreless innings, nine strikeouts, and just one walk. Gallen discovered he was holding his front shoulder too tight, which prevented him from landing his breaking ball, after giving up nine runs in his previous two starts. Despite pitching in a highly advantageous hitting environment, he thinks the adjustment helped him regain his form. Only hope remains for the D-backs. Gallen must be actively involved if they are to regroup. Gonzalez’s words
39-86 is the score. 30th in the previous ranking
On Wednesday, the Orioles ended a 19-game losing skid that came within two defeats of matching the American League record. Baltimore has one of the finest farm systems in baseball, but the club will need a number of prospects to break out in order to turn the franchise’s fortunes around. Lee —
- power rankings
- 2021 mlb playoff predictions