MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand 3 Weeks Before 2021 Playoffs

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2021

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand 3 Weeks Before 2021 Playoffs

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    Cole Burston/Getty Images

    With three weeks to go in the 2021 MLB regular season, a number of teams are still vying for a spot in the postseason.

    On the American League side, eight teams entered play Tuesday within 2.5 games of a postseason spot, including four legitimate contenders in the AL East.

    In the National League, seven teams are within 3.5 games of a playoff berth, and there are only three spots up for grabs now that the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have punched their ticket.

    For now, the shuffling continues in our weekly power rankings.

    If a team is winning, it will climb the rankings. If a team is losing, a slide is inevitable. The beauty of this exercise is that it's a fluid process, and things will continue to change.

              

    Statistics and analysis reflect action through Monday's games. Records include Tuesday's results. Check out last week's power rankings here.

Nos. 30-26

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    Daulton Varsho
    Daulton VarshoSteph Chambers/Getty Images

    30. Arizona Diamondbacks (47-98)

    Previous Rank: 30

    The battle for the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft is going to come right down to the wire. The D-backs didn't help their cause by taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners last weekend. After another solid week at the plate, catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho is hitting .307/.380/.614 with nine home runs and 23 RBI since the All-Star break.

              

    29. Baltimore Orioles (46-98)

    Previous Rank: 28

    The Orioles pitching staff was shelled over the weekend, allowing 44 runs in three games against the Toronto Blue Jays. They have now allowed at least 10 runs in 25 games and have an MLB-worst 5.93 ERA. Outfielder Anthony Santander has been a bright spot of late, posting an .862 OPS with 11 home runs in the second half.

             

    28. Washington Nationals (60-85)

    Previous Rank: 26

    The Nationals haven't lost 90 games since the 2010 season, when Adam Dunn slugged 38 home runs in the middle of a punchless offense and Livan Hernandez was the staff ace. After series losses to the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates last week, it's all but certain they'll reach that mark this year. Can a red-hot Juan Soto still make a serious NL MVP push in a wide-open field?

                

    27. Pittsburgh Pirates (53-91)

    Previous Rank: 29

    The Pirates climbed two spots after series wins over the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals last week. With three series remaining against the Cincinnati Reds and one with the Philadelphia Phillies, they have a chance to really shake things up in the NL wild-card race.

                         

    26. Texas Rangers (54-90)

    Previous Rank: 27

    With a 6-3 record on their most recent road trip, including a weekend series win over the Oakland Athletics, this young Rangers team is proving to be a thorn in the side of contenders. Center fielder Leody Taveras is hitting .288 with a .917 OPS over his last 12 games, tallying at least one hit in 11 of those contests.

Nos. 25-21

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    Joe Ryan
    Joe RyanRon Schwane/Getty Images

    25. Miami Marlins (61-84)

    Previous Rank: 25

    Despite an ugly overall record, the Marlins have gone 38-34 at home and a respectable 30-34 against the rest of the NL East, including a series win over the New York Mets last week. Along with their exciting young pitching staff, the trio of Jazz Chisholm Jr., Bryan De La Cruz and Jesus Sanchez has provided plenty of excitement for the future.

                                

    24. Minnesota Twins (64-82)

    Previous Rank: 24

    The Twins won four in a row last week, their longest winning streak since early July, and they picked up a series win over Cleveland in the process. Controllable starters Bailey Ober, John Gant and Joe Ryan are all auditioning for a spot in the future rotation, and Ryan tossed seven shutout innings of one-hit ball against Cleveland on Wednesday.

              

    23. Colorado Rockies (67-78)

    Previous Rank: 23

    The Rockies have only 21 road wins this year, and three of them came last week against a Philadelphia Phillies team on the fringe of the wild-card race. Catcher Elias Diaz has quietly been one of the breakout performers of the second half, posting an .889 OPS with 10 home runs and 21 RBI in 42 games.

                

    22. Chicago Cubs (66-79)

    Previous Rank: 22

    The Cubs had their unlikely seven-game winning streak snapped last Tuesday, but a walk-off win the next day secured a series win over the Cincinnati Reds. Outfielder Ian Happ is hitting .366/.396/.782 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI in his last 106 plate appearances, and he is once again looking like a long-term building block with control through the 2023 season.

                  

    21. Kansas City Royals (66-78)

    Previous Rank: 21

    With a weekend series win over the Minnesota Twins, the Royals are 29-25 since the All-Star break. With home series against the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners this week, they could have a major impact on the AL wild-card race. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi has a 1.051 OPS with 15 RBI in 12 games in September.

Nos. 20-16

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    Robbie Grossman
    Robbie GrossmanDylan Buell/Getty Images

    20. Cleveland (70-73)

    Previous Rank: 18

    Cleveland was no-hit for the third time this season last week, and they've gone 2-8 in their last 10 games to slip below the .500 mark. It's not out of the question to think they could fall from second to fourth in the AL Central standings before the season is over if they continue to struggle.

                  

    19. Los Angeles Angels (70-74)

    Previous Rank: 19

    The Angels have yet to win a series in September, leaving their slim playoff hopes all but dashed heading into the final weeks of the season. Left-hander Jose Suarez has been a bright spot of late with a 2.96 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 27.1 innings over his last five starts. The 23-year-old could be a rotation X-factor in 2022.

                   

    18. Detroit Tigers (69-76)

    Previous Rank: 20

    The Tigers already have their highest win total since 2016, and they are nipping at the heels of Cleveland for the No. 2 spot in the AL Central standings. Has there been a more under-the-radar offseason addition than Robbie Grossman? The 31-year-old has a 121 OPS+ with 20 doubles, 23 home runs and 17 steals with 2.5 WAR in 139 games.

              

    17. New York Mets (72-74)

    Previous Rank: 16

    It might be too little, too late, but we're starting to see what a middle infield of Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor could look like with both players healthy and productive. With series against the Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves still to come, the Mets' road ahead is tough, and they entered the week five games back in the NL East standings.

              

    16. Philadelphia Phillies (72-72)

    Previous Rank: 15

    With a 1-5 record in their last six games, the Phillies have slipped to 4.5 games back in the NL East standings, but they're still only 2.5 back in a wide-open race for the second NL wild-card spot. They face the Orioles and Pirates for seven games at home next week, so they'll have a golden opportunity to make up the ground they lost.

Nos. 15-11

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    Logan Gilbert
    Logan GilbertAbbie Parr/Getty Images

    15. San Diego Padres (74-70)

    Previous Rank: 12

    The Padres are 8-20 and have not won more than two consecutive games since Aug. 10. They've logged a minus-55 run differential during that stretch while clinging to life in the NL wild-card race. Left-hander Blake Snell left his Sunday start with adductor tightness, leaving the starting rotation shorthanded once again.

                                

    14. Cincinnati Reds (75-70)

    Previous Rank: 14

    The Reds have lost their last six series, yet they still held a half-game lead for the second NL wild-card spot entering play Tuesday. With nine games left against the Pittsburgh Piratesa team they've gone 9-1 against and outscored 82-26 so far this yearand a four-game series with the Washington Nationals, the ball is still in their court.

                

    13. St. Louis Cardinals (75-69)

    Previous Rank: 17

    Winners of five of their last six games, the Cardinals are making a late push in the NL wild-card race while the Padres and Reds continue to struggle. They have a huge weekend series with the Padres coming up this week, followed by two series each with the Milwaukee Brewers and rival Chicago Cubs to close out the year.

                

    12. Oakland Athletics (77-67)

    Previous Rank: 13

    The Athletics have limped along to a 7-13 record in their last 20 games, and they now sit fifth in the AL wild-card standings. They have gone a combined 8-17 on the year against the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners, who they play for their final 13 games. Starling Marte is up to 23 steals in 39 games since joining the A's at the trade deadline.

               

    11. Seattle Mariners (78-67)

    Previous Rank: 9

    The Mariners stumbled last week in their pursuit of a long-elusive playoff berth, dropping two of three to the Astros and the lowly Diamondbacks. They enter play Tuesday two games back with two teams to pass to climb into the second AL wild-card spot. Rookie Logan Gilbert has a 2.35 ERA in three September starts.

Nos. 10-6

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    Teoscar Hernandez
    Teoscar HernandezMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    10. Boston Red Sox (82-65)

    Previous Rank: 8

    The Red Sox are 2-6 in their last eight games, with series losses to the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays last week. The offense has been inconsistent this month, with four or fewer runs scored in seven of 12 games, and their highest-scoring game during that stretch was an 11-10 loss in extra innings. They have six games left against the Orioles and three against the Nationals to close out the year.

                  

    9. New York Yankees (81-64)

    Previous Rank: 7

    Since the Yankees had their 13-game winning streak snapped on Aug. 28, they've gone an AL-worst 4-12 in their last 16 games. Closing out the season against the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays will be a tall order, and a 28-36 record against the rest of the AL East this season could prove to be their undoing.

              

    8. Atlanta Braves (76-67)

    Previous Rank: 11

    The Braves seized control of the NL East race with an 18-8 month of August, and they maintained a 4.5-game lead entering play Tuesday. Veteran Charlie Morton has a 2.94 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 57 strikeouts in 49 innings over his last eight starts, and he could anchor the staff in October alongside Max Fried.

                

    7. Chicago White Sox (83-61)

    Previous Rank: 6

    With a 28-26 record since the All-Star break and a 25-29 record against teams with a winning record, the White Sox have not looked like a top-tier contender for quite some time. That could stem from the stranglehold they have on the AL Central race and a lack of urgency, but with the rotation back at full strength, they are poised to ramp things back up with a friendly schedule the rest of the way.

                  

    6. Toronto Blue Jays (81-64)

    Previous Rank: 10

    The Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball with a 12-1 record and a plus-58 run differential in September. After sweeping a four-game series with the Yankees last week, they have vaulted into the No. 2 spot in the wild-card standings. They have scored 114 runs this month while hitting an absurd .331/.410/.636 with 36 home runs.

Nos. 5-1

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    Lance McCullers Jr.
    Lance McCullers Jr.Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    5. Houston Astros (84-60)

    Previous Rank: 5

    After a rocky start to the month, the Astros rebounded with series wins over the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels. With a 45-27 record at home, securing home-field advantage in the ALDS will be a priority down the stretch. Lance McCullers Jr. has a 3.34 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 64.2 innings since the All-Star break, and he's lining up to be the club's ace in October.

                

    4. Tampa Bay Rays (90-55)

    Previous Rank: 4

    The Rays were dealt a blow when rookie standout Wander Franco was placed on the injured list with a hamstring strain. They recalled Taylor Walls from Triple-A to man shortstop until Franco returns. With a 3.10 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 20.1 innings over his last four starts, Michael Wacha is emerging as a potential X-factor in the rotation.

                     

    3. Milwaukee Brewers (89-56)

    Previous Rank: 3

    The Brewers enter play Tuesday riding a five-game winning streak in which they've outscored opponents by a 38-7 margin. Beyond their trio of aces atop the starting rotation, Eric Lauer (3 GS, 0.93 ERA, 19.1 IP) and Adrian Houser (2 GS, 0.00 ERA, 15.0 IP) have also been throwing the ball extremely well since the start of September. This team is going to be a problem in October.

                

    2. Los Angeles Dodgers (93-53)

    Previous Rank: 2

    Following a dominant series sweep of the San Diego Padres in which they tossed a pair of shutouts, the Dodgers have an MLB-leading plus-238 run differential. Max Scherzer has stormed to the front of the NL Cy Young race since joining the Dodgers at the deadline, going 6-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in eight starts.

                 

    1. San Francisco Giants (95-50)

    Previous Rank: 1

    The Giants became the first team to clinch a playoff berth on Monday with a 9-1 victory over the Padres that extended their winning streak to eight games. Since returning to action on Sept. 3, third baseman Evan Longoria is hitting .320/.441/.640 with two doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI in 34 plate appearances.

Complete Rankings

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Complete Rankings

    1. San Francisco Giants
    2. Los Angeles Dodgers
    3. Milwaukee Brewers
    4. Tampa Bay Rays
    5. Houston Astros
    6. Toronto Blue Jays
    7. Chicago White Sox
    8. Atlanta Braves
    9. New York Yankees
    10. Boston Red Sox
    11. Seattle Mariners
    12. Oakland Athletics
    13. St. Louis Cardinals
    14. Cincinnati Reds
    15. San Diego Padres
    16. Philadelphia Phillies
    17. New York Mets
    18. Detroit Tigers
    19. Los Angeles Angels
    20. Cleveland
    21. Kansas City Royals
    22. Chicago Cubs
    23. Colorado Rockies
    24. Minnesota Twins
    25. Miami Marlins
    26. Texas Rangers
    27. Pittsburgh Pirates
    28. Washington Nationals
    29. Baltimore Orioles
    30. Arizona Diamondbacks

Highlight of the Week: A Combined No-Hitter for Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader

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    An MLB-record ninth no-hitter of 2021 was tossed Saturday, with Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes and All-Star closer Josh Hader combining to join the long list of pitchers who have accomplished the feat this season.

    Burnes, who lowered his ERA to 2.25 on the year with eight untouchable innings, struck out 14 batters and issued only one walk in the eighth inning. However, he was lifted after a season-high 115 pitches before he had an opportunity to close things out himself.

    "Pushing the pitch count there probably wasn't the smartest idea," Burnes told reporters. "I had to fight to go out there for the eighth, so I knew I had no shot for the ninth."

    Hader, who has nailed down 31 of 32 save chances with a 1.42 ERA and 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings in another dominant season out of the Milwaukee bullpen, struck out two and needed only nine pitches for a 1-2-3 inning to finish it off.

    "I was nervous," Hader told reporters. "I was nervous as heck when they called and said I was in the game. You don't want to be the guy that gives up the hit in that situation—especially after eight innings of clean baseball."

    It's the third time Cleveland has been no-hit this year, a single-season record. Strangely enough, right-hander Zach Plesac was the opposing starter in each of those three games.

    "I don't even know if that makes sense to me yet," Plesac told reporters. "I think it's insane. I don't know if it's me or what's going on, but it's incredible."

Team of the Week

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    Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Marcus Semien and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    C Elias Diaz, COL
    (7-for-20, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI)

    1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
    (11-for-33, 5 HR, 5 RBI)

    2B Marcus Semien, TOR
    (12-for-33, 3 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI)

    3B Alex Bregman, HOU
    (9-for-21, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI)

    SS Nicky Lopez, KC
    (13-for-32, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI)

    OF Andrew Benintendi, KC
    (14-for-28, 3 2B, 3 HR, 14 RBI)

    OF Teoscar Hernandez, TOR
    (13-for-29, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

    OF Bryce Harper, PHI
    (9-for-22, 5 HR, 8 RBI)

    DH Nelson Cruz, TB
    (13-for-28, 2 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI)

    SP Max Scherzer, LAD
    (2 GS, 2 W, 16.0 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 22 K)

    SP Corbin Burnes, MIL
    (1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K)

    SP Zack Wheeler, PHI
    (2 GS, 2 W, 12.2 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 17 K)

    SP Eric Lauer, MIL
    (2 GS, 2 W, 12.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13 K)

    SP Joe Ryan MIN
    (1 GS, W, 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)

    RP Giovanny Gallegos, STL
    (4 G, 4/4 SV, 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K)

           

    Note: Team of the Week stats reflect games from Sept. 6-12.

Award Rankings

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    Max Scherzer
    Max ScherzerHarry How/Getty Images

    If the season ended today, this is what my MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year ballots would look like:

          

    AL MVP

    1. Shohei Ohtani, LAA
    2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
    3. Aaron Judge, NYY
    4. Matt Olson, OAK
    5. Carlos Correa, HOU
    6. Marcus Semien, TOR
    7. Cedric Mullins, BAL
    8. Jose Ramirez, CLE
    9. Salvador Perez, KC
    10. Rafael Devers, BOS

          

    NL MVP

    1. Fernando Tatis Jr., SD
    2. Bryce Harper, PHI
    3. Max Muncy, LAD
    4. Juan Soto, WAS
    5. Trea Turner, LAD
    6. Willy Adames, MIL
    7. Freddie Freeman, ATL
    8. Buster Posey, SF
    9. Bryan Reynolds, PIT
    10. Nick Castellanos, CIN

         

    AL Cy Young

    1. Robbie Ray, TOR
    2. Gerrit Cole, NYY
    3. Lance Lynn, CWS
    4. Carlos Rodon, CWS
    5. Lance McCullers Jr., HOU

              

    NL Cy Young

    1. Max Scherzer, LAD
    2. Corbin Burnes, MIL
    3. Walker Buehler, LAD
    4. Brandon Woodruff, MIL
    5. Zack Wheeler, PHI

          

    AL Rookie of the Year

    1. Randy Arozarena, TB
    2. Casey Mize, DET
    3. Luis Garcia, HOU

            

    NL Rookie of the Year

    1. Jonathan India, CIN
    2. Trevor Rogers, MIA
    3. Dylan Carlson, STL

            

    Stats courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.

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