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MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers and Yankees Flip-Flop at the Top

The top four teams remain the same, but they all switch places. Things are coming into focus, although by no means are they set in stone.

It feels like the big picture of the 2022 season is starting to fully come into focus. With a little more than six weeks’ worth of games in the rearview mirror, we have enough evidence to identify the early narratives of which teams and players are rising to the occasion or have a long road to success in front of them. As such, this is a very satisfying part of the season to arrive at for those like myself tasked with ranking every MLB team.

Only one team rises or falls as much as four spots in this week’s rankings, but we have a change at the top for a second straight week and more than enough trends emerging elsewhere to discuss. Let’s get to it.

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts reacts after his solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in Philadelphia.

30. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 30)

Give credit to the Reds for not completely folding after their miserable start. Losing two of three to Toronto over the weekend marked Cincinnati’s first series loss in their last five sets. Still, the fact that journeyman infielder Brandon Drury represents the team’s best trade chip at this juncture paints a dreary picture of its overall outlook.

29. Washington Nationals (LW: 29)

The trade speculation surrounding Juan Soto seems absolutely absurd to me, as the Nationals and their deep-pocketed owners would be silly to let the generational talent leave the nation’s capital anytime soon. It might take the sort of prospect haul he’d fetch to replenish Washington’s lackluster farm system, though. Josh Bell and Yadiel Hernandez, on the other hand, seem like surefire bets to be playing elsewhere after the trade deadline given their surprisingly stellar showings thus far.

28. Kansas City Royals (LW: 28)

The optimistic expectations voiced by Kansas City’s front office heading into this season appear to have been premature. The Royals own the AL’s worst run differential (-56) and ERA (4.70) despite valiant efforts from starters Brad Keller and Zack Greinke. The pitching staff’s primary battery mate has had a spring to forget, too, as Salvador Perez has followed up last season’s record-setting power display with the worst offensive campaign of his career by just about any metric.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 25)

When the Pirates are bad, they’re realllllly bad. Sunday’s 18–4 shellacking at the hands of the Cardinals marked Pittsburgh’s fifth loss by at least nine runs. No other team has more than two such defeats.

26. Detroit Tigers (LW: 26)

Tarik Skubal has been perhaps the most quietly excellent starting pitcher in the league. The former ninth-round pick ranks second in pitching fWAR (1.7) and FIP (1.98). He has done a much better job at limiting home runs and walks compared to last year’s rookie effort, and he’ll probably be rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Game, as he’s looking like the only logical Tigers representative.

25. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 27)

The Adley Rutschman era is officially upon us, and it could have hardly started in a more exciting manner: He became the first catcher to record a triple for his first career hit since 2010. It may be the last one he logs for a while, as the slow-footed switch-hitter certainly got some help from Rays right fielder Brett Phillips, who struggled to corral the ball in the corner. But baseball’s No. 1 prospect will surely provide the Orioles with more highlights than they’ve been used to seeing over the last few years.

24. Oakland A’s (LW: 23)

After an inspiring start, the A’s have come to feel the effects of their offseason talent drain. They’ve lost 17 of their last 24 games and rank last in the majors in OPS (.585), with Sheldon Neuse’s team-high 104 OPS+ serving as a reminder that this depleted roster has zero hitters who can be relied upon to carry this offense.

Chicago Cubs’ Willson Contreras celebrates his grand slam off Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Bryse Wilson during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 16, 2022, in Chicago.

23. Chicago Cubs (LW: 22)

Willson Contreras will be one of the more interesting trade chips this summer. The Cubs’ star leads all full-time catchers (sorry, Daulton Varsho) with 1.1 fWAR and is still considered one of the best all-around defensive backstops. He’d make for an interesting fit on the Astros, who have seen Martin Maldonado put forth a truly awful offensive campaign, even by his low standards.

22. Colorado Rockies (LW: 20)

The Rockies’ pitching staff came out of the gates strong, but that appears to have been an April mirage. Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland, Colorado’s top two projected starters entering the season, have had major issues limiting traffic on the base paths. They’re currently saddled with the league’s worst and second-worst opponents’ batting average, which is not a recipe for success for any pitcher, let alone those who call Coors Field home.

21. Texas Rangers (LW: 24)

Are you ready to live in a world where Martín Pérez is the Rangers’ lone All-Star representative—over Corey Seager and Marcus Semien? It very well could happen. Pérez ranks fifth among pitchers in fWAR (1.5) and is seemingly in the middle of an out-of-nowhere breakout season at age 31 after having not recorded an ERA below 4.50 since 2016. Out of the 65 pitchers with at least 40 innings under their belts, he and White Sox stud Michael Kopech are the only two that have not served up a home run. He’s also one of only three pitchers, along with Walker Buehler and Reid Detmers, to have hurled a shutout.

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20. Seattle Mariners (LW: 17)

After the Mariners were swept out of Fenway Park in a four-game set over the weekend, their playoff odds are down to 7.4%, per FanGraphs—not a great look for me after I was the only SI writer to pick them to win the AL West this season! If you’re looking for a silver lining, they’ve played 26 games against teams at or above .500, the second-most in the league behind only the Orioles. But they’ve also gone 7–9 against teams with losing records.

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19. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 19)

The Snakes could very well be in playoff position if they hadn’t executed one of the offseason’s more surprising moves. Soft-tossing closer Mark Melancon, whom they signed for $14 million over two years after he received just $3 million from San Diego in 2021, leads all relievers with five losses. He is sporting a 7.53 ERA and .349 opponents’ batting average, in addition to a rather pathetic 7:5 K/BB ratio over 14⅓ innings. If this is the last rodeo for the 37-year-old reliever, at least he has his turf installation business to fall back on.

18. Miami Marlins (LW: 18)

Despite enduring mediocre starts from 2021 All-Star Trevor Rogers and Elieser Hernandez, the Marlins’ pitching staff has lived up to the hype and then some, ranking fourth in ERA (3.31). Their +17 run differential indicates the team has been a victim of some poor luck, but they also have seemed overmatched against quality clubs. Miami’s 4–11 record against teams with .500 records or better measures as the fourth-worst winning percentage against such opponents.

Boston Red Sox’s Trevor Story flips his bat after hitting a grand slam against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, May 20, 2022, in Boston.

17. Boston Red Sox (LW: 21)

No team moved up more in this week’s rankings than the Red Sox, who took two of three from the Astros, swept a four-game set against the Mariners and saw Trevor Story awake from his season-long slump. He’s hit six home runs in his last 24 at bats to help revive Boston’s season, which should receive another boost from matchups against the Orioles, Reds and A’s over the next two weeks.

16. Cleveland Guardians (LW: 14)

Cleveland benefited from such much-needed progress Friday from Aaron Civale, who didn’t allow an earned run in a win against Detroit after allowing six earned in three of his other six starts. Among pitchers with at least 30 innings, his 7.84 ERA still ranks last by more than a full run.

15. Atlanta Braves (LW: 16)

Charlie Morton, 38, may be nearing the end of the road. His strikeout rate has shrunk from 28.6% last year to 20.7% this season, and he also owns the fourth-highest walk rate (10.6%) in the majors. He got off to a slow start in 2021 before rounding into form and helping the Braves win the World Series, and Atlanta will need a similar resurgence to harbor realistic hopes of a repeat.

14. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 13)

The Phillies clinched a win in their season series against the Dodgers when Max Muncy committed a walk-off, two-run scoring error in the 10th inning of Sunday’s game. That was a timely bit of luck, because the immediate road forward hardly gets easier. Philadelphia’s next five series are against the Braves, Mets, Angels, Giants and Brewers.

Chicago White Sox’ Tim Anderson reacts towards the crowd while running the bases after hitting a three-run home run off New York Yankees relief pitcher Miguel Castro in the eighth inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader, Sunday, May 22, 2022, in New York.

13. Chicago White Sox (LW: 15)

Tim Anderson’s kiss-off to Yankee Stadium after his eventful weekend in the Bronx was well earned. The White Sox shortstop is on pace for his second AL batting crown with a .359 batting average and also ranks 12th in the majors with a .917 OPS, which would measure as a career-high mark if he can sustain it.

12. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 12)

The Blue Jays haven’t lived up to the lofty preseason expectations, but they’ve also played the league’s toughest schedule thus far and should be able to count on some of their struggling veterans (Hyun Jin Ryu, José Berríos, Teoscar Hernández, Matt Chapman) to improve as the season chugs along. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah would rank as the league’s best starting pitcher duos in the playoffs if they can get there.

11. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 9)

Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen have combined for a heck of a one-two punch atop the Rays’ rotation with identical 2.33 ERAs and the supporting underlying stats to match. The left-handed McClanahan has been especially terrific, ranking second in the majors with 65 strikeouts and fourth with a 0.86 WHIP.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 10)

Paul Goldschmidt looks like a man on a mission to earn his first All-Star nod since 2018 in a crowded NL field at first base. Over the last month (April 22 to May 22), the Cardinals’ first baseman is slashing .414/.463/.703 across 28 games. He ranks fifth in MLB with a .975 OPS and leads all first basemen with 1.9 fWAR (and most offensive categories, for that matter), all of which has undoubtedly been helped by a career-low 17.4% strikeout rate. Getting a seventh career ASG appearance would make him one of 22 first basemen with that distinction, and that’d be a pretty special accomplishment considering there are 23 first basemen enshrined in Cooperstown.

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9. San Francisco Giants (LW: 6)

After everything seemingly went right for the Giants last year, Lady Luck has been far less kind to them in 2022. They have been unable to replicate last season’s strong pitching, currently ranking 24th with a collective 4.05 ERA, but a significant amount of that seemingly can be attributed to poor fortune. Every starter in the Opening Day rotation has a FIP substantially lower than his ERA, with Alex Cobb being particularly snakebitten as the owner of the third-biggest difference between his ERA (5.61) and FIP (2.67) among pitchers with at least 25 innings.

Minnesota Twins’ Byron Buxton runs the bases on his solo home run against the Cleveland Guardians during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, May 13, 2022, in Minneapolis.

8. Minnesota Twins (LW: 11)

Derek Falvey is looking like the executive of the offseason after he responded to last year’s shocking fall to the AL Central cellar by immediately retooling the Twins into a contender again. His most significant maneuver may have come last summer, though, when he acquired starting pitcher Joe Ryan for half a season of Nelson Cruz. Ryan’s All-Star caliber campaign—as well as Byron Buxton’s power surge and breakout offensive seasons from Luis Arraez, Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino—has helped the Twins withstand what so far has been an underwhelming debut season in Minnesota from Carlos Correa.

7. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 5)

Absorbing a three-game sweep from the Rangers knocks the Halos down a couple of pegs this week, but it’s still hard not to feel optimistic about Mike Trout & Co. returning to the postseason for the first time since 2014 (and snapping the league’s third-longest playoff drought in the process). Los Angeles leads the league with 59 home runs and a 119 wRC+, boasts the league’s third-best run differential (+51) and, most surprising of all, ranks fifth with a team ERA of 3.37. The six-man rotation is working beautifully; no-hitter hurler Reid Detmers may be this team’s fifth-best starter. Shohei Ohtani, despite some early-season struggles at the plate, has been even better on the mound with improved strikeout, walk and whiff rates.

6. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 7)

The Brewers’ offense has sneakily been a top-five unit by OPS (.729), which bodes very well for their World Series aspirations if Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta can see the positive regression their underlying stats indicate should be right around the corner. Milwaukee has been lucky to play the league’s softest schedule (.452 opponents’ winning percentage) thus far, though.

5. San Diego Padres (LW: 8)

The Friars boast the second-best record in the NL after sweeping the Giants in San Francisco over the weekend and appear primed to challenge the Dodgers for the NL West crown once Fernando Tatis Jr. returns to the fold, even if Manny Machado (MLB-best 3.5 fWAR and .374 batting average, NL-best 1.065 OPS) cools off his MVP pace.

4. Houston Astros (LW: 3)

Justin Verlander is the runaway favorite for Comeback Player of the Year—and maybe for the AL Cy Young, too. The Astros’ ace leads the majors in ERA (1.22), WHIP (0.72) and even wins (6), for the voters who are still into that sort of thing. He also has an MLB-high 95.7% strand rate of runners on base, which is bound to come down at some point and temper his dominance. But for now, enjoy the 39-year-old’s renaissance.

3. New York Mets (LW: 4)

Of the eight Mets with the most plate appearances, seven have an OPS+ above 110, meaning they’ve all been at least 10% above average. Even if the rotation falters a bit while dealing with the absences of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, that sort of deep lineup should help New York stay on top of an NL East that looks otherwise uninspiring. Is this the year we retire the concept of Metsiness?

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits a three-run home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in New York. The Yankees won 6-5.

2. New York Yankees (LW: 1)

Aaron Judge is going to make a whole lot of money next offseason. He’s a legitimate AL MVP contender despite Shohei Ohtani’s singular place in the sport and Mike Trout’s overall excellence. Judge is right on the edge of being on pace for the first 60-home run season since the steroid era, and there’s nothing fluky in his batted-ball metrics or the eye test to indicate he can’t do it if he stays healthy. Oh, and the Yankees’ pitching staff is leading the league in FIP (3.16), with a deep rotation containing no starters with an ERA above 3.50, an amazing feat considering they have to regularly navigate Yankee Stadium’s hitter-friendly dimensions. Their fall out of the top spot may be a short one.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 2)

The Dodgers are back on top after a one-week demotion after reeling off a seven-game winning streak that was rather unluckily snapped in extra innings Sunday. As the owners of the league’s best ERA (2.80) and highest-scoring offense (5.4 runs per game), it’s hard to deny them. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are doing what they’re supposed to do, each ranking in the top 15 of fWAR. Once again, the bullpen has been excellent as Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia and Phil Bickford have responded with aplomb to more prominent roles. The NL West is a gauntlet this year, but it’s hard to bet against the Dodgers emerging from the pack.

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