Final MLB Power Rankings of the 2021 Regular Season
The 2021 MLB regular season has come to a close, and it's time for one final edition of our weekly power rankings, this time focusing on the season as a whole.
For context, we've provided a look back at where each team fell in our Opening Day power rankings to help illustrate which teams exceeded expectations, which lived up to the hype and which fell short.
With the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox punching their ticket to the AL Wild Card Game on Sunday, the 10-team postseason field is now officially set, and the 10 teams headed for the postseason will occupy the top 10 spots in our rankings.
Once the postseason wraps up, we'll reset everything with our first power rankings of the offseason that take into account free agency, roster needs and future outlook.
For now, let's put a bow on another exciting regular season before we turn our attention to playoff baseball.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (52-110)
Opening Day: 25; High: 14; Low: 30
After starting the year with a 14-12 record in April, the D-backs quickly devolved into one of baseball's worst teams. They lost a staggering 17 straight in June and won just 20 games all year on the road, where they logged a minus-141 run differential. Will Ketel Marte hit the trade block this winter?
29. Baltimore Orioles (52-110)
Opening Day: 28; High: 18; Low: 30
The Orioles will be picking No. 1 overall in the 2022 draft. The tiebreaker for draft position is the previous year's record, but since the O's and D-backs also had the same record in 2020, it reverted to 2019 when Baltimore lost 108 games. The Cedric Mullins breakout was the story of the year as the Orioles continue to rebuild.
28. Texas Rangers (60-102)
Opening Day: 26; High: 18; Low: 29
When the Rangers traded Lance Lynn and Elvis Andrus during the offseason, it was clear they were looking to get younger with an eye on the future. It was a long season as some of the up-and-comers gained valuable experience, and guys like Nathaniel Lowe, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Adolis Garcia and Dane Dunning emerged as potential long-term pieces. It was the club's first 100-loss season since 1973.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (61-101)
Opening Day: 30; High: 17; Low: 30
It's a minor upset that the Pirates managed to avoid finishing 30th in these rankings, though they still managed to lose 100 games for the first time since 2010 while finishing in the NL Central cellar for the third year in a row. Bryan Reynolds emerged as a bona fide star, and they were productive sellers at the deadline. The rebuild will continue in 2022.
26. Washington Nationals (65-97)
Opening Day: 9; High: 9; Low: 28
The Nationals blew things up at the trade deadline, leaving Juan Soto and high-priced pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin as the only major pieces left standing from the 2019 World Series winner. The farm system improved dramatically at the deadline, and trade pickups Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas, Riley Adams and Mason Thompson all saw action over the final two months. Are they eyeing a quick turnaround or more of a full-scale rebuild?
25. Miami Marlins (67-95)
Opening Day: 20; High: 17; Low: 26
The Marlins finished 11th in the majors with a 3.96 ERA as a team, but a lackluster offensive attack ranked 29th in OPS (.671) and 29th in runs scored (623) to undermine their solid work on the mound. The trio of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and NL Rookie of the Year contender Trevor Rogers should headline the rotation for years to come, and there are more talented arms on the way.
24. Chicago Cubs (71-91)
Opening Day: 14; High: 5; Low: 28
The Cubs entered the 2021 season hoping for one last playoff push with the World Series core, but an 11-game losing streak in early July triggered a fire sale at the deadline, and they limped home with a 20-36 record after trading Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and others. General manager Jed Hoyer has indicated the team plans to be "really active" in free agency, but there's a ton of work to do.
23. Minnesota Twins (73-89)
Opening Day: 8; High: 4; Low: 30
After back-to-back division titles and three postseason appearances in four years, the Twins were expected to challenge the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central division title. Instead, they finished in last place due in large part to an inconsistent pitching staff that struggled to a 4.83 ERA (26th in MLB). After trading controllable starter Jose Berrios at the deadline, they're a wild card this offseason.
22. Kansas City Royals (74-88)
Opening Day: 24; High: 7; Low: 29
The Royals went 38-35 after the All-Star break, and Salvador Perez set the single-season home run record for catchers with 48 long balls. With a young rotation on the rise and an offensive core that was bolstered by a breakout season from Nicky Lopez and a solid second half from Andrew Benintendi, this will be a team to watch in 2022 as a potential dark-horse contender.
21. Colorado Rockies (74-87)
Opening Day: 29; High: 21; Low: 30
The Rockies inexplicably failed to find a trade partner for Trevor Story at the deadline and now stand to lose another homegrown star for a fraction of his market value a year after trading Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals. This time around, they'll settle for draft-pick compensation. By standing pat at the deadline, they managed to leapfrog a few of the more aggressive sellers, but this organization still doesn't seem to have anything remotely resembling a long-term plan.
20. Los Angeles Angels (77-85)
Opening Day: 15; High: 9; Low: 25
The Angels paid Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon a combined $65.2 million for 94 games of action in 2021. That said, the middling pitching staff once again deserves a solid portion of the blame for the team's inability to contend in the AL West. Until they shore up the pitching side of things, it's hard to view them as anything but also-rans.
19. New York Mets (77-85)
Opening Day: 6; High: 6; Low: 20
The Mets entered the season with sky-high expectations after the Francisco Lindor blockbuster and with new owner Steve Cohen poised to bring a free-spending attitude to the front office. Instead, this team struggled to stay healthy all year, and a 9-19 month of August dug what proved to be an insurmountable hole en route to a losing season.
18. Detroit Tigers (77-85)
Opening Day: 27; High: 17; Low: 30
The Tigers averaged 103 losses from 2017 through 2019 and finished in the AL Central cellar during the shortened 2020 season, but they finally appear to be coming out the other side of a long rebuild. Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are a promising one-two punch in the rotation, and there is more young talent on the way headlined by Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, who both offer superstar upside offensively. A playoff push in 2022 is not out of the question, and they might be ready to open up the payroll in free agency.
17. San Diego Padres (79-83)
Opening Day: 2; High: 2; Low: 17
It's hard to argue any team was more disappointing in 2021 than the Padres, who were viewed as bona fide World Series contenders by many after they added Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove to the starting rotation in support of a dynamic young offensive core. They started to wobble in August, and then the wheels fell off during a 6-19 month of September. Expect a busy offseason, starting with a new manager.
16. Cleveland (80-82)
Opening Day: 16; High: 11; Low: 22
Despite myriad injuries to the pitching staff, including 2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber pitching just 96.2 innings, Cleveland still hovered around the .500 mark for most of the year. Third baseman Jose Ramirez could be the next superstar out the door if a new long-term deal can't be hammered out this winter. This organization knows how to develop pitching, but the offense has taken a step back and the front office has not shown a willingness to spend.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (82-80)
Opening Day: 17; High: 6; Low: 23
After going 80-82 in 2018, 81-81 in 2019 and 28-32 last year, a winning record was a step forward for the Phillies, but a team with the fifth-highest payroll in baseball is not looking for moral victories. They managed to pull within a half-game of the NL East lead on Sept. 18 but couldn't get over the hump. Individually, Bryce Harper had an MVP-caliber season and Zack Wheeler will receive some down-ballot NL Cy Young votes, but they disappointed as a team once again.
14. Cincinnati Reds (83-79)
Opening Day: 21; High: 4; Low: 23
Led by Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos and NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Jonathan India, the Reds had a vastly improved offensive attack in 2021. However, the bullpen was shaky all season, finishing 27th in the majors with a 4.99 ERA and racking up 25 blown saves in 66 opportunities. This looked like a playoff-bound team during a 10-2 stretch in late July and early August, but they went 22-28 over their final 50 games.
13. Oakland Athletics (86-76)
Opening Day: 10; High: 1; Low: 21
The Athletics were 67-48 and staked to the No. 1 AL wild-card spot on Aug. 12 but went 19-28 with a minus-25 run differential the rest of the way to miss the postseason. An unheralded starting rotation led by Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, Cole Irvin and James Kaprielian ranked ninth in the majors with a 3.91 ERA and deserves a ton of credit for keeping them competitive.
12. Seattle Mariners (90-72)
Opening Day: 23; High: 5; Low: 23
The Mariners went 18-8 in September to make a serious run at clinching their first postseason berth since 2001, only to fall one game short of tying for a wild-card spot with a 7-3 loss to the Angels on Sunday. With a 33-19 record in one-run games and a 14-7 mark in extra innings, this team thrived in close games thanks to a surprisingly excellent bullpen led by Paul Sewald and Drew Steckenrider. The future is bright.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (91-71)
Opening Day: 12; High: 6; Low: 20
With a 45-29 record after the All-Star break, including a 22-9 record in their final 31 games, the Blue Jays made a valiant effort but fell one game short of factoring into the AL wild-card picture. Robbie Ray will likely take home AL Cy Young honors, and both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien could finish in the top five in AL MVP balloting. Can they find a way to bring back both Ray and Semien in free agency?
10. Atlanta Braves (88-73)
Opening Day: 4; High: 4; Low: 22
It looked like the Braves were sunk when they were 4.5 games back in the NL East standings with a 44-44 record on July 10, the day Ronald Acuna Jr. was lost for the year to a torn ACL. However, a busy trade deadline of under-the-radar moves, a breakout season from Austin Riley, an otherworldly second half from Max Fried, and the general ineptitude of the NL East has them atop the division and playing in the postseason once again.
9. Boston Red Sox (92-70)
Opening Day: 19; High: 1; Low: 25
The Red Sox were in control of the AL East for much of the first half before slumping shortly after the trade deadline and eventually settling for a wild-card spot with a weekend series sweep of the Nationals. The bullpen has been sketchy down the stretch and will need to right the ship for them to go on an October run. First things first: a date with the rival Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game.
8. New York Yankees (92-70)
Opening Day: 3; High: 2; Low: 26
The Yankees weathered a storm of injuries to the pitching staff and an ugly 2-11 stretch of games in late August and early September to finally clinch a postseason berth Sunday with a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. There's a lot of thunder in a lineup that features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, and the starting rotation has rounded into form behind ace Gerrit Cole of late. This team has shown the ability to catch fire with a 13-game winning streak in August.
7. St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
Opening Day: 11; High: 3; Low: 22
The Cardinals were a complete afterthought as recently as Sept. 7 when they sat a distant third in the NL Central standings and fifth in the NL wild-card standings with a 69-68 record. However, they went 21-4 the rest of the way, including a 17-game winning streak that vaulted them to an unlikely postseason berth. With veteran Adam Wainwright anchoring the rotation and the trio of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and breakout star Tyler O'Neill leading the offense, this team could go on a run if it can survive the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Wild Card Game.
6. Chicago White Sox (93-69)
Opening Day: 5; High: 2; Low: 13
After holding a lead of at least eight games in the AL Central standings for the entirety of the second half, the White Sox will now need to flip the switch and up the intensity level. The trio of Carlos Rodon, Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito backed by a dynamic collection of bullpen arms gives this team World Series upside, and the offense is finally fully healthy at the perfect time.
5. Houston Astros (95-67)
Opening Day: 13; High: 1; Low: 15
The highest-scoring offense in baseball with 5.3 runs per game, the Astros also have an underrated starting rotation anchored by Lance McCullers Jr. and the young trio of Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy. Outfielder Kyle Tucker is a rising star, Carlos Correa has made his case for a massive payday, and Zack Greinke will be an X-factor out of the bullpen in October. This is a well-rounded roster built to succeed in October.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (95-67)
Opening Day: 18; High: 2; Low: 23
Led by the three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta in the starting rotation and an overpowering stable of bullpen arms, the Brewers finished third in the majors with a 3.50 ERA as a team. They have the type of pitching staff a team can ride all the way to a World Series title, even if the offense is sputtering a bit of late and lacking a true elite-level performer.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (100-62)
Opening Day: 7; High: 1; Low: 20
The Rays captured home-field advantage in the American League with the first 100-win season in franchise history, and it's going to be interesting to see how they deploy their pitching staff in October. Lefties Ryan Yarbrough and Shane McClanahan are the only pitchers on the staff who eclipsed 120 innings, and it could be all hands on deck all postseason for a staff that had an AL-best 3.67 ERA.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56)
Opening Day: 1; High: 1; Low: 10
The reigning World Series champions were heavy favorites to repeat when the season began, and their outlook only improved when they added Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the deadline, but their run of eight straight division titles came to an end Sunday. Now they'll have to survive the winner-take-all NL Wild Card Game, despite tying a franchise record with 106 wins.
1. San Francisco Giants (107-55)
Opening Day: 22; High: 1; Low: 26
I'd like to take this space to formally apologize to the San Francisco Giants for having them at No. 22 in my Opening Day power rankings. Tip of the cap to this team for blowing past mine and many others' expectations. From Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey returning to peak form to Logan Webb and Kevin Gausman fronting a terrific starting rotation to LaMonte Wade Jr. and Darin Ruf emerging as unexpected contributors, it's been a total team effort nailing down baseball's best record.
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Houston Astros
6. Chicago White Sox
7. St. Louis Cardinals
8. New York Yankees
9. Boston Red Sox
10. Atlanta Braves
11. Toronto Blue Jays
12. Seattle Mariners
13. Oakland Athletics
14. Cincinnati Reds
15. Philadelphia Phillies
17. San Diego Padres
18. Detroit Tigers
19. New York Mets
20. Los Angeles Angels
21. Colorado Rockies
22. Kansas City Royals
23. Minnesota Twins
24. Chicago Cubs
25. Miami Marlins
26. Washington Nationals
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
28. Texas Rangers
29. Baltimore Orioles
30. Arizona Diamondbacks
2021 All-MLB Team
C Salvador Perez, KC
.273/.316/.544, 72 XBH (48 HR), 121 RBI, 88 R, 1 SB, 5.3 WAR
1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
.311/.401/.601, 78 XBH (48 HR), 111 RBI, 123 R, 4 SB, 6.8 WAR
2B Marcus Semien, TOR
.265/.334/.538, 86 XBH (45 HR), 102 RBI, 115 R, 15 SB, 7.1 WAR
3B Jose Ramirez, CLE
.266/.355/.538, 73 XBH (36 HR), 103 RBI, 111 R, 27 SB, 6.7 WAR
SS Fernando Tatis Jr., SD
.282/.364/.611, 73 XBH (42 HR), 97 RBI, 99 R, 25 SB, 6.6 WAR
OF Juan Soto, WAS
.313/.465/.534, 51 XBH (29 HR), 95 RBI, 111 R, 9 SB, 7.0 WAR
OF Bryce Harper, PHI
.309/.429/.615, 78 XBH (35 HR), 84 RBI, 101 R, 13 SB, 5.9 WAR
OF Cedric Mullins, BAL
.291/.360/.518, 72 XBH (30 HR), 59 RBI, 91 R, 30 SB, 5.7 WAR
DH Shohei Ohtani, LAA
.257/.372/.592, 80 XBH (46 HR), 100 RBI, 103 R, 26 SB, 4.9 WAR
SP Max Scherzer, WAS/LAD
15-4, 2.46 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 236 K, 179.1 IP, .185 BAA, 5.3 WAR
SP Corbin Burnes, MIL
11-5, 2.43 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 234 K, 167.0 IP, .201 BAA, 5.7 WAR
SP Walker Buehler, LAD
16-4, 2.47 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 212 K, 207.2 IP, .199 BAA, 6.7 WAR
SP Robbie Ray, TOR
13-7, 2.84 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 248 K, 193.1 IP, .210 BAA, 6.7 WAR
SP Brandon Woodruff, MIL
9-10, 2.56 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 211 K, 179.1 IP, .200 BAA, 5.7 WAR
RP Josh Hader, MIL
34/35 SV, 1.23 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 102 K, 58.2 IP, .127 BAA, 3.3 WAR
Final 2021 Award Rankings
This is what my hypothetical MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year ballots would look like:
1. Shohei Ohtani, LAA
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR
3. Salvador Perez, KC
4. Aaron Judge, NYY
5. Matt Olson, OAK
6. Marcus Semien, TOR
7. Carlos Correa, HOU
8. Cedric Mullins, BAL
9. Jose Ramirez, CLE
10. Rafael Devers, BOS
1. Juan Soto, WAS
2. Bryce Harper, PHI
3. Fernando Tatis Jr., SD
4. Trea Turner, LAD
5. Austin Riley, ATL
6. Brandon Crawford, SF
7. Joey Votto, CIN
8. Freddie Freeman, ATL
9. Paul Goldschmidt, STL
10. Nick Castellanos, CIN
AL Cy Young
1. Robbie Ray, TOR
2. Gerrit Cole, NYY
3. Carlos Rodon, CWS
4. Lance Lynn, CWS
5. Frankie Montas, OAK
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. Luis Garcia, HOU
3. Casey Mize, DET
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Jonathan India, CIN
2. Trevor Rogers, MIA
3. Dylan Carlson, STL