Sports

MLB Power Rankings: Yankees are an absolute mess; Brewers catch fire; Dodgers regain No. 1 spot

Well look at that, will ya? We’re a bit past the halfway point of the full 2021 season. The full 162! Halfway! 

In a bit of a self-loathing way, I actually started thinking back to last season and realized we still hadn’t even started the faux-season. We had just started “Summer Camp” and were actually excited about it. 

OK, jeez, let’s not relive the days without actual baseball games. 

Instead, let’s look at what we’ve seen in this 2021 season. It feels like it’s been overly crazy, but that’s likely due to recency bias as every single season seems crazy when we’re in it. Given that we’re in this one, let’s run down some of the crazy we’ve seen just in terms of the roller coaster ride some teams are taking. 

Given that it’s Major League Baseball and this world revolves around them, I’m contractually required to start with the Yankees. What an absolute mess. Remember when they started 5-10? How about when they got hot and ran their record to 28-19? Up and down, up and down, up and down. Not that they are alone. 

How about the NL Central? The Brewers rose to No. 1 in our rankings before losing 13 of their next 17 games. They’ve now won 27 of their last 36 and have a commanding lead, thanks to the Cubs completely falling apart with a nine-game losing streak and the Cardinals going 11-22/12-21 since late May. Not to be outdone, the Reds ups and downs have been extreme as well. 

The Giants were expected to finish a distant third — maybe even fourth — heading into the season and have been at or around the best record in baseball for a bit. 

The Nationals closed May with a five-game losing streak. They were 25-36 through June 12. They won 14 of their last 17 games in June to climb right into contention, riding a ridiculous power stretch from Kyle Schwarber. They’ve opened July with four straight losses and Schwarber is now injured for a while. 

The Royals were 16-9! Then they lost 11 in a row. Still, they were three games over .500 through June 4. They’ve gone 6-22 since. 

The Twins were supposed to be competing with the White Sox for the AL Central title. They’d won the division two straight years, after all. They started 5-2. They lost 13 of their next 15 and haven’t really recovered. Every time it looks like they are turning the corner, they fall apart. The most recent was their stretch of winning seven of nine through last Sunday. They then lost five straight. 

The Braves were supposed to be a powerhouse, yet they still haven’t been over .500 for even one game. 

The Red Sox weren’t supposed to be a powerhouse, but they are 21 games over .500 and have built a 4 1/2 game lead in the AL East over the defending AL champs. 

And finally, the Mariners. Did you realize Seattle is now five games over .500? They have a better record than the Yankees, Braves, Cubs, Cardinals and Blue Jays, among other expected contenders. 

I told you. It’s been insanity. And we’re barely halfway done. Bring on the second half! 

Biggest Movers

Rk

Teams

 

Chg

Rcrd


1


Dodgers

And we’re right back where we started, huh? 6 53-31

2


Giants

A little blip on the radar there with the four-game losing streak, but they immediately bounced back. I’m not expecting them to go away. 1 53-30

3


Red Sox

They’re streaking again. The Red Sox just took a hard-fought series in Oakland and have won nine of their last 10. 1 53-32

4


Astros

The Astros getting swept by the Orioles in three games was one of the most bizarre things that has happened this season. 2 52-33

5


Padres

That’s a 3-3 trip with some tough losses, but they’re set up to finish strong with seven home games, closing with three against the hapless Road Rockies. 1 50-36

6


Brewers

Just two weeks ago, the Brewers were tied for first place. Now they have a seven-game lead. The 11-game winning streak that was snapped on Sunday was the second-longest in franchise history. 3 51-34

7


White Sox

Former first-round pick Jake Burger hadn’t played since 2017 due to injuries — most notably a ruptured Achilles tendon — and he’s now 4 for 11 with a double and triple in his first three MLB games. Save the hamburger puns. This is a legitimately feel-good story. 1 49-34

8


Rays

They won Sunday, but I easily could’ve profiled the Rays in the intro. They were once number one here. They’ve now lost 12 of their last 17 games. 5 48-36

9


Athletics

Call them the All-Snub team, with just one All-Star. No Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea or Mark Canha? 4 49-37

10


Blue Jays

Oddity or sign of a coming breakout? The only AL teams with a better run differential than the Jays are the Astros and White Sox. 43-39

11


Mets

The last three games on the schedule show “at Atlanta.” Will the Mets regret not burying the Braves when they had the chance? 43-37

12


Mariners

They haven’t lost a series since June 11-13 and have won 14 of 19. 3 45-40

13


Angels

Big week for the Angels. They have the Red Sox at home before heading to Seattle. If they can finish hot — they’ve won six of seven — they’ll hit the second half as contenders who just added Mike Trout. 6 42-41

14


Reds

The bullpen had been a major problem all season, but so far this month Reds relievers have gone 13 scoreless innings. 2 43-40

15


Braves

I’ve belabored the point about them not having been over .500 for even a game this year because it’s so amazing, given their talent. They have a shot to go into the break feeling very confident, however, as they have won four of their last five and face the Pirates and Marlins three games each to finish the first half. 2 41-42

16


Indians

It’s getting pretty ugly, as they’ve lost eight of their last nine and next have to travel to Tampa Bay for three games. 4 42-39

17


Yankees

Aroldis Chapman is broken, Gerrit Cole is getting booed at home. It’s a scene, man. 3 42-41

18


Nationals

At least they are done with the Dodgers, right? They just finished going 0-7 against the defending champs. Perhaps it was payback for the shocking upset in 2019. 40-42

19


Phillies

One of the more weird stat lines we’ve ever seen is happening with Bryce Harper. He has 14 homers and just 26 RBI. What if he really ended up with this pace? Have we ever seen a season like 28 homers and 52 RBI from a regular? The closest match I could find was 1999 Ruben Rivera finishing with 23 homers and 48 RBI. 1 39-42

20


Cubs

Well that escalated quickly, didn’t it? That’s nine straight losses since the combined no-hitter. They went from a first-place tie to not even in contention in the matter of a week and a half. 7 42-42

21


Tigers

In addition to having an 80-grade name, Akil Baddoo is having a pretty nice season. He’s a gap-power with speed throwback, hitting .281/.369/.481 with 14 doubles, four triples and 13 steals. 38-46

22


Cardinals

If we exclude their series against the Diamondbacks and Marlins, the Cardinals are 7-25 since May 19. They have even lost series to the Tigers, Pirates and Rockies. 41-44

23


Marlins

Might Starling Marte be on the move again? He’s having an outstanding season and is due for free agency after the season. The Marlins have already traded Corey Dickerson, so we know they aren’t shy about selling. 1 35-47

24


Rockies

What a series for Elias Diaz. Thursday, he hit a three-run walkoff homer and Sunday he again walked things off with an RBI single. The Rox are now 31-17 at home. Too bad they have to leave. 4 37-48

25


Rangers

The Rangers got Adolis Garcia from the Cardinals in December of 2019 for cash. Few people even batted an eye. He’s now an All-Star. 1 33-51

26


Royals

Maybe he’ll be named an injury replacement or something, but Scott Barlow deserved a look as an All-Star. The 28-year-old reliever has a 1.99 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings. 1 35-48

27


Twins

Last week I wondered if they were attempting to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve been in all season. They proceeded to lose five straight. It’s over. 4 34-48

28


Pirates

It’s weird to see a team this bad with two position player All-Stars, but both Adam Frazier and Bryan Reynolds deserve it. 3 30-53

29


Orioles

Assuming Trout doesn’t come back for the All-Star Game, which is incredibly likely, the open starting outfield spot belongs to Cedric Mullins. The former 13th rounder was never considered a top prospect and was a career .225 hitter through 115 games entering this season. What a story. 27-57

30


Diamondbacks

They went 3-24 in June. That’s the worst June in baseball history aside from the 1981 Blue Jays, who thanks to a strike-shortened month went 0-10. 23-63




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