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Welcome to the NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2021 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I do tend to sprinkle in fantasy-relevant nuggets here and there. Who’s hot, who’s not, who to watch -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv.
Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.
1. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 1
Holding down the No. 1 spot for yet another week, the Giants became the first team to clinch a postseason berth on Monday after earning a 9-1 victory over the visiting Padres. They’ve won eight consecutive games and 10 of their last 11 as they look to claim the National League West title for the first time since 2012. This is also shaping up to be the first 100-win season for San Francisco since 2003. Hats off to club president Farhan Zaidi, who should be a shoo-in for Executive of the Year.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 2
The defending World Series champions have won four straight games, highlighted by Clayton Kershaw’s encouraging return from the 60-day injured list on Monday versus the Diamondbacks and Max Scherzer’s one-hit gem on Sunday against the Padres. Scherzer became the 19th pitcher in MLB history to join the 3,000-strikeout club in that outing versus San Diego and also threw his third career immaculate inning. He has a 0.88 ERA and 72/5 K/BB ratio through eight starts with Los Angeles.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 3
Tampa Bay lost two of three to the Tigers over the weekend, including a walk-off defeat in the 11th inning on Sunday, before then getting routed 8-1 by the Blue Jays on Monday. They’re going to win the AL East title, but the Rays are facing some adversity at the moment from a health standpoint, what with Shane McClanahan hitting the IL last Friday because of a back injury and Wander Franco suffering a right hamstring later that night. Franco’s on-base streak is stalled at 39 games.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 4
Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader, on Saturday against Cleveland, combined for the second no-hitter in Brewers franchise history. Burnes worked eight scoreless, hitless frames on 115 pitches while recording 14 strikeouts. Hader then finished it off with a dominant nine-pitch ninth inning in which he recorded two more punchouts. It was part of a three-game weekend sweep of the Indians. Milwaukee should officially lock up the National League Central crown in the early part of this week.
5. Houston Astros
Last Week: 5
After a bit of a lull, the Astros won a pair of series last week versus the Mariners and Angels, taking two of three from each. And then they boat-raced the Rangers by a score of 15-1 on Monday as recent callup Jose Siri posted a 4-for-5 night with two home runs, five RBI, and three runs scored. He is the only player in MLB history to record multiple homers and five-plus RBI in his first career MLB start. Houston is up 6 1/2 games on first place in the AL West with only 19 games to go.
6. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 6
It’s all about getting healthy right now for the White Sox, who are on the verge of locking up their first American League Central banner since 2008. Lance Lynn (knee) returned on Sunday and struck out nine batters over five scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory versus Boston. Lucas Giolito (hamstring) is set to be activated ahead of Tuesday night’s series opener against the Angels. Tim Anderson (hamstring) has resumed baseball activities and should be back by the end of this week.
7. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 9
You’ve seen all the recent accolades for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- and really the entire Blue Jays offense -- but how about Alek Manoah? The rookie right-hander, on Monday night against the AL East-leading Rays, became the first pitcher in Blue Jays history to tally 10 strikeouts across eight-plus scoreless innings while allowing no more than one hit and zero walks. Toronto has rattled off a 12-1 record so far in September to climb to the very top of the American League Wild Card standings.
8. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 8
Boston has dropped six of its last eight games and will enter play on Tuesday in a gridlock with the arch-rival Yankees for the second American League Wild Card spot. But the roster is coming back together following a COVID-19 outbreak that plagued this team for the last couple of weeks. Chris Sale, who has remained asymptomatic throughout his IL stint, is expected to return to the starting rotation this weekend against the Orioles. Matt Barnes appears to be on a similar track.
9. New York Yankees
Last Week: 7
New York was 0-35 on the year when trailing by four-plus runs before overcoming a 5-0 deficit to beat the Twins in 10 innings on Monday in the Bronx. It was a crucial comeback victory for the Yankees, who are 4-12 since August 28. They’ll now play three games at Baltimore, with Gerrit Cole (hamstring) set to handle Tuesday night’s opener, before then hosting the Indians and Rangers. After that, it goes three at Boston, three at Toronto, and three at home versus the Rays. Let’s get weird.
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10. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 10
Mitch Haniger homered for a third straight game as part of a 4-for-4 night as the Mariners earned a thrilling 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Monday. Logan Gilbert got the start in that one and tied a career high with nine strikeouts while scattering two runs over six strong innings. The rookie right-hander is sporting a 2.35 ERA and 18/2 K/BB ratio in three September starts covering 15 1/3 frames. Seattle is two games back of the second AL Wild Card. This team simply refuses to go away.
11. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 11
Winners of five of their last seven, the Braves are 4 1/2 games up on first place in the National League East with less than three weeks remaining in the 2021 regular season. They are also the only team in that division with a positive run differential (+100) as of Tuesday afternoon. Ozzie Albies, if he tallies just six more runs batted in across Atlanta’s final 20 games, would become the first Braves middle infielder to record 100 RBI in a season since Herman Long reached that mark in 1899.
12. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 12
Having lost the final two games of their three-game weekend series against the lowly Rangers, the A’s will enter play on Tuesday a full seven games back of the Astros for first place in the AL West and 2 1/2 games behind the pack in the crowded AL Wild Card chase. But don’t tell Starling Marte that hope is fading. The impending free agent outfielder has hit .345/.377/.497 in 175 plate appearances since being acquired from the Marlins in late July. He is 23-for-23 on stolen base attempts.
13. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 14
After dropping two of three to the Cardinals over the weekend, the Reds have now lost 10 of their last 14 games. And it’s not like they’ve been facing a string of dominant teams. The rest-of-season schedule does lay out relatively favorably -- 3 @ PIT, 3 vs. LAD, 3 vs. PIT, 4 vs. WSH, 2 @ CWS, 3 @ PIT -- but this recent downturn in Cincinnati has resulted in a far more crowded competition for the second National League Wild Card spot. It’s time for the Redlegs to put the pedal to the metal.
14. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 13
San Diego got shut out three times in five games last week and managed only one run in a loss to the division-rival Giants on Monday. It’s gone from bad to worse for the Padres, who just had to place Chris Paddack back on the injured list due to right elbow inflammation. Jake Cronenworth is currently sidelined with a small fracture in his left ring finger and Blake Snell made an early exit from his last start Sunday versus the Dodgers after experiencing left adductor (groin) tightness.
15. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 16
Adam Wainwright continued to defy the aging curve on Monday night at Citi Field, working six scoreless innings as the Cardinals went on to beat the host Mets by a score of 7-0. Wainwright, who just turned 40 years old, boasts a 2.88 ERA and 1.03 WHIP through 190 1/3 innings (29 starts) this season. He’s on pace to become just the second pitcher in Cardinals history to log an ERA below 3.00 over 200-plus innings at age 39 or older. The first to do it, Pete Alexander, was born in 1887.
16. New York Mets
Last Week: 17
They dropped back under the .500 mark after getting shut out by the Cardinals on Monday night, but the Mets are coming off a series win against the Yankees over the weekend and have been generating more positive vibes in general as of late. Francisco Lindor had a three-homer game on Sunday, the first three-homer game in the 25-year history of the Subway Series. He currently holds a 1.121 OPS with six home runs, 14 RBI, and 14 runs scored through 13 games played in September.
17. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 15
Losers of five of their last six against the Brewers and Rockies, the Phillies currently sit 4 1/2 games back of the Braves for first place in the National League East standings and 2 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second National League Wild Card spot. There are technically two avenues to claim a postseason berth, but the Phillies need to start filling the win column. The rest-of-season schedule could be advantageous: 3 vs. CHC, 3 @ NYM, 3 vs. BAL, 4 vs. PIT, 3 @ ATL, 3 @ MIA.
18. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 19
They’re going to miss the playoffs yet again, but the Angels have to feel encouraged by what they’ve seen from Jo Adell over the last few weeks. The young outfielder, who struggled mightily in his first taste of MLB action last season, has slashed .333/.371/.667 with three home runs, one stolen base, eight RBI, and six runs scored through nine games (36 plate appearances) in September. He was scratched from the lineup on Sunday due to a sore back, but it sounds like a minor issue.
19. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 18
2-8 over their last 10 games, the wheels have really fallen off for the Indians. Not that this team has been in the hunt for much of anything over the last few months, what with the White Sox running away with the American League Central and teams in the other two AL divisions controlling the Wild Card race. If there’s any good news in Cleveland right now, it’s that Shane Bieber (shoulder) is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday. He’s been out since mid-June.
20. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 20
Miguel Cabrera recorded a hit in nine straight plate appearances last week and is now 14-for-31 (.452) since the calendar flipped to September. The veteran slugger probably isn’t going to reach the 3,000-career-hit milestone this year -- he needs 25 more and the Tigers only have 18 games remaining -- but it’s quite amazing that he has even made it close. And on the current pace he’s on, who knows? Cabrera, 38, is under contract for $32 million in 2022 and another $32 million in 2023.
21. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 21
As it stands right now, the Rockies are 45-27 (.625) at Coors Field this season and 21-51 (.292) everywhere else. They have an outside shot to finish with the largest difference between home and road winning percentage in MLB history. The record is .356, set by the 1945 Philadelphia Athletics. Leading into a three-game series at Truist Park in Atlanta, which will be followed by a three-game set at Nationals Park, the Rockies’ margin between home and away winning percentage is .333.
22. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 23
Andrew Benintendi grabbed American League Player of the Week honors for September 6-12 after going 14-for-28 (.500) with three home runs and 14 RBI in seven games. But his overall numbers for the season are still rather underwhelming and there would seem to be a decent chance that he gets non-tendered by the cost-conscious Royals this winter, making him a free agent at age 27. The outfielder was acquired from the Red Sox in a three-team, seven-player swap this past February.
23. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 22
The seven-game winning streak came to an end last Tuesday versus the Reds, and now the Cubs have lost three straight. But the legend of Frank Schwindel continues to grow. He went 6-for-12 this weekend against the Giants and is batting .422 with a 1.247 OPS, five home runs, and 14 RBI through 11 games in September after also putting together a tremendous month of August. The 29-year-old would appear to be carving out some sort of regular role on the North Side of Chicago for 2022.
24. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 24
It came in a frustrating extra-innings loss to the Yankees, but Jorge Polanco belted his 30th home run of the season on Monday afternoon in the Bronx, becoming the first switch-hitter in the history of the Twins franchise to reach the 30-homer mark. Byron Buxton also went deep in that one and is now batting .302 with a .978 OPS, 14 home runs, 14 doubles, 24 RBI, five stolen bases, and 32 runs scored in 43 games when healthy this year. He just hasn’t been nearly healthy enough.
25. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 25
Sandy Alcantara was absolutely brilliant on Monday night in Washington, yielding just one hit and no walks over eight scoreless innings as the Marlins earned a 3-0 shutout victory over the Nationals. He has logged six outings this year of eight-plus innings pitched with one run allowed or fewer, the most of any MLB pitcher. And if you remove that 10-run drubbing at Coors Field from back on August 6, the 26-year-old would have a 2.68 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 184/46 K/BB ratio in 185 frames.
26. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 26
It may be flying under the radar because the Nats shed most of their good players at the July 30 trade deadline, but Juan Soto is tracking toward a historic finish to the 2021 campaign. Dating back to the All-Star break, the 22-year-old owns a .349/.521/.651 batting line in 236 plate appearances. Only a handful of players have registered that high of an on-base percentage in the second half. Among the names: Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Mantle.
27. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 27
Leody Taveras started in center field for Texas on Opening Day, but he played so poorly out of the gate that the Rangers optioned him on April 26 to Triple-A Round Rock, where he remained until late August. Maybe a little more minor league seasoning did him some good? The 23-year-old extended his hitting streak to eight games on Monday in Houston and boasts a .917 OPS with three home runs and three stolen bases over his last 53 plate appearances. There’s a lot of fantasy upside here.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 28
In a weird scheduling oddity, nine of the Pirates’ final 19 games are against the division-rival Reds, beginning with a three-game set that will get underway on Tuesday evening at PNC Park. Can they play spoiler? Cincinnati is currently tied with the Padres for the second National League Wild Card spot, with the Cardinals, Phillies, and Mets also lurking in that hunt. It’s at least something to play for in Pittsburgh given that the No. 1 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft is likely out of reach.
29. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 29
Seth Beer has one of the best names in the sport and may be rounding into an exciting long-term piece for a Diamondbacks team that badly needs exciting long-term pieces. The 24-year-old former first-round pick of the Astros homered in his very first major league at-bat on Friday against the Mariners and is 4-for-9 with three RBI through his first four games at baseball’s highest level. He was acquired from Houston as part of the five-player Zack Greinke trade back in July 2019.
30. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
Michael Baumann, last week against the Royals, became the ninth reliever in Orioles franchise history to earn a win in his big league debut, and the first since Alberto Castillo in April 2008. Baumann also became just the fourth O’s reliever to not allow an earned run over at least 3 2/3 innings of work in his first career MLB appearance. The 26-year-old righty then went out and coughed up six earned runs across three frames on Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays, part of a 22-7 loss.