Updated MLB Position-by-Position Power Rankings, August Edition

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2021

Updated MLB Position-by-Position Power Rankings, August Edition

0 of 12

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Who are MLB's 10 best players at each position in 2021?

    It sounds like an easy enough question until you start trying to trim the list and are forced to decide whether a few more home runs from Player A earns him a spot above Player B, who has a slightly higher OPS+.

    Our first positional power rankings of the year were released on May 1, with subsequent updates published on June 4 and July 2. With another month of games in the books, it's time for another update.

    Once again, these rankings are solely based on what each player has accomplished in 2021. Production prior to this season and future expectations are removed from the equation.

    To make the field of candidates at each position more manageable, a player must have played 51 percent of his games at a certain position to be eligible for inclusion there. Players must also have at least 200 plate appearances on the year to be considered for a spot.

    Included under the "July" column on the positional charts is a look at where each player was ranked last month to give an idea of who has climbed and who has fallen.

    Let's get to it.


1 of 12

    Buster Posey
    Buster PoseyNick Wass/Associated Press

    Top 10 Catchers

    1. Buster Posey, SF1
    2. Salvador Perez, KC2
    3. Will Smith, LAD4
    4. Willson Contreras, CHC5
    5. Omar Narvaez, MIL3
    6. J.T. Realmuto, PHI9
    7. Eric Haase, DETNR
    8. Mike Zunino, TB6
    9. Yasmani Grandal, CWS7
    10. Sean Murphy, OAKNR


    The No. 1 Spot: The Giants have made a point of keeping Buster Posey fresh this season, starting him behind the plate in only 65 of their 107 games. The 34-year-old has responded by hitting .329/.424/.544 with 25 extra-base hits in 276 plate appearances. His 162 OPS+ is the highest since his MVP season in 2012.

    Rising: With a .122/.170/.184 line in 53 plate appearances over parts of three MLB seasons entering 2021, Eric Haase has been a revelation for the Tigers this season. The 28-year-old rookie has a 134 OPS+ with 18 home runs and 46 RBI serving as Detroit's primary catcher, and he has also thrown out 33 percent of base stealers while showing some defensive versatility with 15 games in left field.

    Falling: A fractured right wrist sidelined Carson Kelly for 31 games and halted what was shaping up to be a breakout season. The 27-year-old finally returned to action on July 30, but he missed enough time to slide behind several others at the catcher position.

First Basemen

2 of 12

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

    Top 10 First Basemen

    1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR1
    2. Max Muncy, LAD2
    3. Matt Olson, OAK3
    4. Yuli Gurriel, HOU4
    5. Freddie Freeman, ATL7
    6. Joey Votto, CINNR
    7. Pete Alonso, NYM6
    8. Anthony Rizzo, NYYNR
    9. Rhys Hoskins, PHINR
    10. Jared Walsh, LAA5


    The No. 1 Spot: Who else? Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the American League in OPS+ (187), on-base percentage (.419), runs scored (82), RBI (85) and total bases (245), and his pursuit of a Triple Crown will be one of the biggest storylines of the final two months. He currently sits third in batting average (.324) and second in home runs (34) within striking distance of both leaders.

    Rising: Since the All-Star break, Joey Votto is hitting .328/.432/.852 with 10 home runs in 74 plate appearances, and he homered in seven straight games at the end of July. The Cincinnati Reds are hanging around in the National League playoff picture, and the 37-year-old is a big reason why.

    Falling: First-time All-Star Jared Walsh hit just .200/.216/.360 with four home runs in 102 plate appearances over his last 25 games before landing on the injured list in late July with a strained intercostal. With a 121 OPS+ and 22 home runs on the year, he still hangs on to a spot in the top 10.

Second Basemen

3 of 12

    Marcus Semien
    Marcus SemienJeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Top 10 Second Basemen

    1. Marcus Semien, TOR1
    2. Jake Cronenworth, SD2
    3. Jose Altuve, HOU3
    4. Adam Frazier, SD4
    5. Jean Segura, PHI7
    6. Brandon Lowe, TB10
    7. Jorge Polanco, MINNR
    8. Ozzie Albies, ATL6
    9. Kolten Wong, MIL8
    10. Jonathan India, CINNR


    The No. 1 Spot: The Blue Jays ended up with a bargain when they signed Marcus Semien to a one-year, $18 million contract during the offseason. The 30-year-old has a 133 OPS+ with 25 home runs, which coupled with his stellar defense (12 DRS, 7.6 UZR/150) has been worth 5.2 WAR. That's tied with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the highest total among all position players.

    Rising: One of the few bright spots for the Minnesota Twins, Jorge Polanco hit .327/.366/.548 with five doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI in 112 plate appearances during the month of July. With two years and $13 million left on his contract, it was a welcome reversal of fortunes after a slow start.

    Falling: After a terrific performance in June, Ozzie Albies leveled off with a .301 on-base percentage and .697 OPS last month. The 24-year-old has been asked to fill the void in the leadoff spot with Ronald Acuna Jr. sidelined, so his low on-base percentage is less than ideal.

Third Basemen

4 of 12

    Rafael Devers
    Rafael DeversMary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Top 10 Third Basemen

    1. Rafael Devers, BOS1
    2. Manny Machado, SD8
    3. Jose Ramirez, CLE2
    4. Justin Turner, LAD5
    5. Austin Riley, ATL10
    6. Nolan Arenado, STL4
    7. Yoan Moncada, CWS3
    8. Josh Donaldson, MIN9
    9. Kris Bryant, SF6
    10. Ryan McMahon, COLNR


    The No. 1 Spot: Still just 24, Rafael Devers is a bona fide superstar on his way to a potential top-five finish in AL MVP voting. He's hitting .285/.356/.574 with 28 doubles, 27 home runs and 82 RBI for the first-place Red Sox, including a .320 average with runners in scoring position.

    Rising: After hitting only .223 with a .732 OPS over the season's first two months, Manny Machado started to pick things up in June before exploding for a .360/.433/.730 line that included nine doubles, eight home runs and 25 RBI in 25 games in July.

    Falling: Chicago White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada is hitting .218/.316/.364 with 13 extra-base hits in 190 plate appearances since June 1. With that said, his strong defense (2 DRS, 5.8 UZR/150) and on-base ability (14.4 percent walk rate) prop up his value even with a downtick in offensive production.


5 of 12

    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Top 10 Shortstops

    1. Fernando Tatis Jr., SD1
    2. Trea Turner, LAD4
    3. Xander Bogaerts, BOS2
    4. Carlos Correa, HOU3
    5. Brandon Crawford, SF5
    6. Willy Adames, MIL9
    7. Bo Bichette, TOR6
    8. Tim Anderson, CWSNR
    9. Javier Baez, NYM8
    10. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX7


    The No. 1 Spot: Young superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. leads the NL in OPS+ (181), home runs (31) and stolen bases (23), and he's been worth 5.0 WAR in 87 games despite some defensive struggles. Unfortunately, his season might be over after he suffered a shoulder injury at the end of July that could require surgery.

    Rising: The Milwaukee Brewers have an MLB-best 44-21 record since they acquired Willy Adames in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on May 21. The 25-year-old is hitting .292/.377/.546 for a 146 OPS+ with 19 doubles, 14 home runs and 43 RBI in 65 games with the Brew Crew.

    Falling: Defensive whiz J.P. Crawford has been a more productive two-way player this season, and a solid month of June at the plate earned him the No. 10 spot in our rankings last month. However, the 26-year-old cooled off at the plate in July with a .218/.282/.257 line to fall back out of the rankings.

Left Fielders

6 of 12

    Michael Brantley
    Michael BrantleyEric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Top 10 Left Fielders

    1. Michael Brantley, HOU2
    2. Jesse Winker, CIN1
    3. Mark Canha, OAK4
    4. Kyle Schwarber, BOS3
    5. Tyler O'Neill, STL5
    6. Randy Arozarena, TB6
    7. Robbie Grossman, DET10
    8. AJ Pollock, LADNR
    9. Tommy Pham, SD7
    10. Raimel Tapia, COLNR


    The No. 1 Spot: The biggest threat to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. winning the Triple Crown might be Michael Brantley, who is currently leading the AL batting race with a .332 average. The 34-year-old has one of the sweetest swings in baseball, and he is also playing a strong defensive left field (5 DRS, 3.8 UZR/150) after spending 2020 as Houston's primary designated hitter.

    Rising: Among players with at least 90 plate appearances in July, Dodgers veteran AJ Pollock ranked third with a terrific .371 batting average. He also tallied eight doubles, seven home runs and 13 RBI, and he's off to a 7-for-13 start with three extra-base hits in three games to begin August.

    Falling: Alex Verdugo hit a punchless .250/.320/.341 with one home run in July, and he now has a 103 OPS+ with 33 extra-base hits and 1.3 WAR on the year. The 25-year-old still looks like a big part of the future in Boston, but he slips out of the top 10 for now after occupying the No. 8 spot last month.

Center Fielders

7 of 12

    Cedric Mullins
    Cedric MullinsMary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Top 10 Center Fielders

    1. Cedric Mullins, BAL1
    2. Bryan Reynolds, PIT2
    3. Chris Taylor, LAD5
    4. Starling Marte, OAK6
    5. Enrique Hernandez, BOSNR
    6. Trent Grisham, SD3
    7. Adolis Garcia, TEX4
    8. Ramon Laureano, OAK7
    9. Akil Baddoo, DETNR
    10. Steven Duggar, SF8


    The No. 1 Spot: After a slight lull in May, Cedric Mullins has proved over the past few months that his breakout performance is the real deal. The 26-year-old is hitting .323/.385/.546 with an AL-leading 130 hits, and he's on his way to the 11th 20-20 season in Baltimore Orioles history with 18 home runs and 20 steals.

    Rising: In the first season of a two-year, $14 million deal with the Red Sox, Enrique Hernandez sports a 115 OPS+ with 43 extra-base hits, and he has provided phenomenal defense (12 DRS, 14.2 UZR/150) in center field. He had a .949 OPS with eight doubles, six home runs and 15 RBI in July.

    Falling: A diamond in the rough over the first few months of the season after joining the Cincinnati Reds on a minor league deal, Tyler Naquin has crashed back to earth this summer. The 30-year-old hit .218/.269/.299 with 22 strikeouts in 93 plate appearances in July to slip out of the rankings after filling the No. 10 spot last month.

Right Fielders

8 of 12

    Juan Soto
    Juan SotoNick Wass/Associated Press

    Top 10 Right Fielders

    1. Juan Soto, WAS6
    2. Bryce Harper, PHI8
    3. Joey Gallo, NYY4
    4. Mookie Betts, LAD5
    5. Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL1
    6. Nick Castellanos, CIN2
    7. Aaron Judge, NYY3
    8. Kyle Tucker, HOU7
    9. Teoscar Hernandez, TOR9
    10. Mitch Haniger, SEANR


    The No. 1 Spot: It was only a matter of time before Juan Soto caught fire. He ranks among the MLB leaders in average exit velocity (94th percentile) and hard-hit rate (97th percentile), and that finally translated to power production in July when he hit .356/.487/.689 with nine home runs. The 22-year-old also leads the NL in walks (79) and on-base percentage (.422).

    Rising: Bryce Harper is suddenly hitting .306/.417/.557 after a stellar month of July, and on the year he has a 165 OPS+ with 26 doubles, 17 home runs and 41 RBI for a Philadelphia Phillies team lurking on the fringe of postseason contention.

    Falling: The shakeup at the top in the right field rankings was due in large part to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nick Castellanos both missing significant time to injury. Acuna suffered a season-ending torn ACL on July 10, while Castellanos has been sidelined since July 19 with a fractured wrist.

Designated Hitters

9 of 12

    Shohei Ohtani
    Shohei OhtaniAlex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Top 5 Designated Hitters

    1. Shohei Ohtani, LAA1
    2. J.D. Martinez, BOS2
    3. Nelson Cruz, TB3
    4. Yordan Alvarez, HOU4
    5. Franmil Reyes, CLENR


    The No. 1 Spot: Even ignoring his contributions on the mound, Shohei Ohtani is having an MVP-caliber season as the AL leader in home runs (37) and slugging percentage (.660). He's hitting .272 with a .360 on-base percentage, and he's added 24 doubles and 15 steals for good measure en route to 3.9 WAR as a position player.

    Rising: Tasked with protecting Jose Ramirez in the middle of the Cleveland lineup, Franmil Reyes has a 142 OPS+ with 20 home runs and 51 RBI on the year. The 26-year-old hit .309/.341/.667 with nine home runs and 22 RBI in 20 games in July to move into the designated hitter rankings.

    Falling: It was a quiet month of July for Giancarlo Stanton, who hit .214/.320/.333 with 31 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances. That kept him from climbing into the rankings after he was knocking on the door for the No. 5 spot last month.

Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

10 of 12

    Jacob deGrom
    Jacob deGromFrank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Top 10 Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

    1. Jacob deGrom, NYM1
    2. Walker Buehler, LAD9
    3. Freddy Peralta, MIL8
    4. Brandon Woodruff, MIL3
    5. Zack Wheeler, PHI5
    6. Lance Lynn, CWSNR
    7. Kevin Gausman, SF2
    8. Corbin Burnes, MILNR
    9. Max Scherzer, LAD7
    10. Joe Musgrove, SDNR


    The No. 1 Spot: It was hard to figure out what to do with Jacob deGrom in these rankings. He has made only 15 starts and pitched 92 innings this year, and he's currently sidelined with forearm tightness. However, he could allow 10 earned runs without recording an out in his next appearance, and he would still have a lower ERA than any qualified starter. He has a 1.08 ERA, 0.55 WHIP and .129 opponents' batting average on the year.

    Rising: With deGrom sidelined, the door is open for Walker Buehler to make a run at NL Cy Young honors. The 27-year-old has a 1.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 33.1 innings over his last five starts, and he is now the NL ERA leader among qualified starters with a 2.16 ERA in 141.2 innings.

    Falling: Since the start of the crackdown on pitchers using "sticky stuff" at the end of June, Gerrit Cole has gone 2-3 with a 5.35 ERA, 1.40 WHIP over 33.2 innings in six starts. His ERA has climbed from 2.33 to 3.11 in the process, which sent him tumbling out of the top 10 in a stacked season for elite right-handed starting pitching.

Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

11 of 12

    Carlos Rodon
    Carlos RodonColin E. Braley/Associated Press

    Top 10 Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

    1. Carlos Rodon, CWS1
    2. Trevor Rogers, MIA2
    3. Robbie Ray, TOR6
    4. Wade Miley, CIN7
    5. Clayton Kershaw, LAD5
    6. Hyun Jin Ryu, TOR8
    7. Sean Manaea, OAK4
    8. John Means, BAL3
    9. Patrick Sandoval, LAANR
    10. Julio Urias, LADNR


    The No. 1 Spot: Despite lasting only four innings in each of his past two starts, Carlos Rodon remains the top dog among left-handed starters. The 28-year-old has a 2.49 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 149 strikeouts in 104.2 innings, and he's poised to cash in this winter after playing on a one-year, $3 million deal.

    Rising: Since the beginning of June, Los Angeles Angels southpaw Patrick Sandoval has a 3.21 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 56 innings. Still just 24 years old, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins on July 24, allowing only one hit and one walk with 13 strikeouts in 8.2 innings.

    Falling: Sidelined from June 6 to July 19 with a shoulder strain, John Means is finally back in action for the Baltimore Orioles. He has a 5.09 ERA in three starts since returning to action, but he threw the ball better his last time out with six innings of four-hit, one-run ball against the Detroit Tigers on July 31.

Relief Pitchers

12 of 12

    Craig Kimbrel
    Craig KimbrelNuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    Top 10 Relief Pitchers

    1. Craig Kimbrel, CWS3
    2. Josh Hader, MIL1
    3. Alex Reyes, STL2
    4. Kendall Graveman, HOUNR
    5. Emmanuel Clase, CLE6
    6. Ryan Pressly, HOU8
    7. Jake McGee, SFNR
    8. Mark Melancon, SD4
    9. Liam Hendriks, CWS9
    10. Matt Barnes, BOS10


    The No. 1 Spot: The Chicago White Sox paid a steep price to acquire Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline, sending Nick Madrigal to the crosstown Chicago Cubs. The future Hall of Famer has a 0.47 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 15.4 K/9 with 23 saves in 25 opportunities. He has limited opposing hitters to a .101 average while striking out 66 of the 143 batters he has faced.

    Rising: Right-hander Kendall Graveman missed roughly a month in late May and early June after a positive COVID-19 test, but he picked up right where he left off in a breakout season out of the bullpen. The 30-year-old has a 0.76 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 9.9 K/9 with 10 saves and six holds in 32 appearances.

    Falling: Sidelined with a forearm strain since June 24, Cincinnati Reds bullpen ace Tejay Antone slips out of the top 10 relievers after checking in at No. 7 in the July update. The multi-inning weapon has a 1.87 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 in 33.2 innings over 22 appearances this year.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs and are accurate through Tuesday's games.