MLB Power Rankings Week 8

MLB Power Rankings Week 8 post thumbnail image

We’re past the two-month mark of the 2022 MLB season, meaning we’ve seen enough action to more accurately draw conclusions about what’s going on in the world of baseball.

If you’re a Dodgers fan, you can rest assured that despite a couple of odd outings recently against the Pirates, your team is still the offensive power it has been all season. If you’re a fan of either New York team, you’re wondering whether the Yankees and Mets can keep up this level of play come October. And if you’re a Texas fan, you’re hesitantly hopeful that the Rangers might be able to make their way into playoff contention after seemingly turning their season around.

What do the first eight weeks of the season mean for your favorite team and where it stands among all 30 squads?

Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we’ve seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee and Jesse Rogers to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.

Week 7 | Preseason rankings

Record: 33-17

Previous ranking: 1

The Dodgers’ annoying penchant for basically always being good continued into this past week, until L.A. encountered an unexpected nemesis in the Pirates. Yes, the Pirates. After being swept at home by Pittsburgh, the Dodgers are just 1-5 against the Bucs, the team with baseball’s worst run differential. L.A. is 32-12 against everybody else. What’s it mean? Baseball is a weird, wonderful thing. And, besides, if there is something to Pittsburgh having players who seem to genuinely have the Dodgers’ number, L.A. will probably just acquire those players. — Doolittle


Record: 34-15

Previous ranking: 2

While Aroldis Chapman has struggled for the Yankees so far, the team has found a new lockdown reliever in Clay Holmes. New York acquired Holmes in a trade last season that barely made ripples, but the righty has been dominant to start the season, posting a 0.36 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in 24 2/3 innings pitched across 23 games. Previously, Holmes posted a 5.57 ERA across four seasons for Pittsburgh. –– Lee


Record: 35-17

Previous ranking: 4

Dom Smith‘s up-and-down Mets career hit a low this week when the Mets optioned him back to Triple-A after he hit .186/.287/.256 with no home runs in 86 at-bats. He appeared to have a breakout season in 2020, when he ranked fourth in the NL in slugging and OPS with totals that prorated to 60 doubles and 30 home runs over a full season. His power dropped in 2021; although, he revealed this spring he had played through a partially torn labrum. Buck Showalter hinted that Smith has likely been pressing, feeling like “he has to hit four home runs in one at-bat.” The demotion could also mean Smith becomes trade bait if the Mets want to acquire more pitching depth. — Schoenfield


Record: 33-18

Previous ranking: 3

Over a six-game span before Wednesday’s win over Oakland, Houston managed to go 4-2 despite scoring just 13 runs in those games, the worst scoring rate in the majors over that span. It’s just a week, but the stretch does underscore some season-long trends for the Astros’ hitters. Houston hit just .208 in those six games, dropping its overall season mark to .228. While you don’t want to fixate on batting average as an evaluative measure, the fact of the matter is that the ability to post elite numbers in all three major slash categories is what has distinguished Houston’s elite offense for most of the past decade. The key question: Is this something that’s going to regress, or is this simply what the Astros have become after the roster turnover in recent seasons? — Doolittle


Record: 32-20

Previous ranking: 6

There’s some resiliency within the Brewers. That comes as no surprise, as Craig Counsell is as good as it gets in the dugout. Milwaukee will be tested without Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, though the former pitcher is due back soon. As long as Josh Hader is healthy, Milwaukee will always have a chance late in games. He saved both ends of a doubleheader on Monday, and through his first 18 games, he has 18 saves without giving up a run. In fact, he has given up just four hits. That’s the type of production from a closer which garners MVP votes. — Rogers


Record: 30-20

Previous ranking: 5

Joe Musgrove has emerged as an ace, while rookie and top prospect MacKenzie Gore has been similarly impressive. Musgrove currently ranks near the top of all NL starters in WAR, posting a 1.86 ERA, while Gore ranks in the top 10, with a 1.71 ERA through eight starts. Between Musgrove, Gore, Yu Darvish and Sean Manaea, San Diego has one of the top rotations in all of baseball. — Lee


Record: 29-21

Previous ranking: 8

Tampa Bay took a blow when shortstop Wander Franco hit the injured list, but — as it is most years — this team will be carried by its depth. Taylor Walls emerged as one of the organization’s top prospects in recent years and will slot in behind Franco. While Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen continue to shine, Jeffrey Springs has made a big impact as he has transitioned into the rotation, allowing just eight runs in 38 1/3 innings pitched for a 1.88 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. — Lee


Record: 29-21

Previous ranking: 10

Talk about a team that takes a step back every time it takes a step forward. The Cardinals have seemingly trailed the Brewers in the NL Central by about three games since the first week of the season. They’ve been hot and cold, but Paul Goldschmidt has been only on fire lately. During his active 23-game hit streak, he has produced a .440 batting average and 1.369 OPS. He’s living up to every dollar of his big contract. — Rogers


Record: 29-20

Previous ranking: 12

Shortstop Bo Bichette is starting to turn things around after struggling out of the gate in 2021. Bichette followed up a subpar April by hitting closer to his career norms at .296/.339/.537 with five homers and 16 RBIs in May. Alek Manoah continues to lead this rotation with a 1.77 ERA and 1.9 WAR. Among all pitchers in baseball, Manoah trails just Musgrove for quality starts. — Lee


Record: 30-22

Previous ranking: 9

This is kind of an obscure statistic, but last week the Twins lost three games in which they led. It’s not a big deal, but it does highlight something that was already likely true, which is that assuming the Twins remain on solid ground atop the AL Central, the primary area for them to target when it comes to in-season upgrades is the bullpen. The Twins wouldn’t turn down a chance to upgrade any position group, though the rotation has excelled and they boast a position player roster that looks to be one of MLB’s 10 best. So, that leaves the relief staff as the one that you worry about when it comes to flashing forward to Minnesota’s possible task of finally getting over the hurdle in October. That hurdle being, initially, simply winning a game. — Doolittle


Record: 27-23

Previous ranking: 7

Well, that was a week to forget. The Angels’ feel-good season hit a brick wall since last week’s power rankings were published, with six straight losses through Wednesday. The pitching was the chief culprit as Los Angeles hemorrhaged runs at a clip of more than seven per game. The rotation ERA during that span was nearly eight. We all know the Angels’ recent narrative: The inability to put together enough starting pitching has been the biggest driver in a six-year-and-counting postseason drought. With L.A. using a six-man rotation, the slump basically featured one full turn through the rotation, with rookie Chase Silseth taking the place of the injured Griffin Canning. Panic? No. Concern? Let’s just say a few good quality starts would be well-timed. — Doolittle


Record: 27-22

Previous ranking: 11

The Giants started off the season hot with a 14-7 record but are now heading in the wrong direction — finishing May with a 13-14 record and dropping two of three games to the Reds. The team’s pitching staff ranks among the best in all of baseball but has fallen in ERA. For the Giants to keep pace with the rest of the division, they will need pitchers like Jakob Junis — who has a 2.68 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and ranks second among the team’s pitchers in WAR — to continue performing above career norms. — Lee


Record: 24-27

Previous ranking: 13

Boston is inching back from its bad start to the season and nearing the .500 mark. Nathan Eovaldi followed up a five-home run inning against the Astros with two starts in which he allowed just four earned runs and struck out 17 in 15 2/3 innings pitched, including a perfect game against the Orioles. Through the early part of the season, third baseman Rafael Devers leads the team’s offense, hitting .341/.371/.603 with 11 homers and a 2.6 WAR. — Lee


Record: 23-25

Previous ranking: 14

The White Sox have a lot of problems related to injuries and under-performance, but going forward, one of them won’t be former AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel was designated for assignment last week and ultimately released after clearing waivers. That’s a pretty clear indication that Chicago didn’t see a turnaround for the veteran lefty. Through the end of June last season, Keuchel’s White Sox career was looking great: 12-4, 3.13 ERA, 11 quality starts in 26 outings in the rotation. After that, Keuchel was 5-12 with a stunning 7.11 ERA and just four quality starts in 23 outings. While it seems like the time had come for the White Sox to view Keuchel’s remaining contract as a sunk cost not likely to be recovered in on-field value, there is a risk: If Keuchel latches on with another team and succeeds, it’s not going to be a good look for Chicago’s pitching processes. — Doolittle


Record: 24-27

Previous ranking: 15

After hitting two home runs in two games in April and then .280 with five home runs in 16 games in May, William Contreras is earning more playing time, split between catcher and DH (and one disastrous game in left field). Contreras’ bat started coming around last year when he hit .290 and slugged .516 at Triple-A, and while he struggled in the majors, he did show some power potential. The Braves also surprisingly called up top prospect Michael Harris II from Double-A to play center field, so they are suddenly relying on two young players to boost the offense. — Schoenfield


Record: 24-25

Previous ranking: 23

Dare we say it, the Rangers are climbing back into the playoff race after a very slow start. Winning three of four in Oakland, followed by two of three against the Rays, highlighted a productive week on the field, especially at the plate. Texas hitters have been among the best in OPS over the past seven days. Kole Calhoun led the way, going 11-for-32 over an eight-game span while Marcus Semien — finally — hit his first home run of the season. The Rangers are a wild-card sleeper. — Rogers


Record: 22-29

Previous ranking: 16

Speculation continues to mount about Joe Girardi’s future as manager after the Phillies stumbled to a 10-18 record in May. They went 2-5 on an important road trip to Atlanta and New York, blowing another ninth-inning lead to the Mets on Sunday and losing in 10 innings. The Phillies have the fourth-highest payroll in the majors, but the preseason concerns about the bullpen and the defense have proved justified — and maybe those issues fall more on Dave Dombrowski than Girardi. Still, Girardi’s contract is up at the end of 2022, and it’s safe to say he hasn’t gotten the most out of this team. — Schoenfield


Record: 22-24

Previous ranking: 17

Jose Ramirez‘s rapidly climbing RBI count has started to capture a lot of attention. For one thing, his 51 ribbies over Cleveland’s first 45 games puts him on pace for 184 on the season (and that was before adding one more RBI on Wednesday). That would tie for the third-highest total in history. Indeed, it would be an outlandish statistic given the league context in which it would be achieved. The top three single-season RBI counts are 191 by Hack Wilson (1930, league OPS of .808), 185 by Lou Gehrig (1931, league OPS of .740) and 184 by Hank Greenberg (1937, league OPS of .770). The aggregate OPS in the majors this season, through Tuesday, was .696. According to baseballmusings.com, Ramirez has driven in 28.8% of runners who have been on base when he has stepped up to the plate. Pete Alonso, the NL’s RBI leader, is at 21.7%. — Doolittle


Record: 25-27

Previous ranking: 19

There’s something kind of fun about the Diamondbacks this year as they continue to hover around .500. That’s a huge improvement over their disastrous 2021 season. Having said that, it wasn’t the best of weeks for them. Arizona was swept at home by the Dodgers over a four-game weekend series, scoring a total of eight runs to the Dodgers’ 26. Zac Gallen continues to pitch well, but Zach Davies, Merrill Kelly and Madison Bumgarner all had rough outings last week. — Rogers


Record: 21-29

Previous ranking: 20

Ty France has been the best first baseman in the AL in 2022 — and, really, nobody is even a close second. Among the top-10 first basemen in FanGraphs WAR, France ranks third behind the NL’s Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman, and the only other AL players are Cleveland’s Owen Miller and Baltimore’s Trey Mancini. Besides ranking among AL leaders in batting average and OPS, France has been a force with runners in scoring position. He’s in line for the All-Star Game (just don’t expect him to get the starting nod from the fans over Vladimir Guerrero Jr.). — Schoenfield


Record: 20-28

Previous ranking: 18

It was a disappointing May for the Marlins, who went 7-19 even though they were outscored by just six runs. Their 14 one-run losses entering Wednesday led the majors — only the Cubs with 13 were close. A bright spot continues to be Jazz Chisholm, although a recent 1-for-18 stretch sandwiched around missing four games with a sore hamstring dropped his numbers. Along with starters Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez, he’s still making a case to represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game. — Schoenfield


Record: 23-27

Previous ranking: 22

Kris Bryant‘s return to the injured list isn’t helping Colorado’s offense — at least not on the road. The Rockies have just 13 home runs away from Coors Field, the fewest in baseball. Bryant wasn’t hitting them out anyway, but he was probably due for a few long balls. That will have to wait until he’s healthy. Colorado pitchers compiling an ERA over 7.00 last week is not helping matters. — Rogers


Record: 21-29

Previous ranking: 21

Remember this name: Christopher Morel. He might be the first new position player, outside of Seiya Suzuki, to become a mainstay on the North Side of Chicago. Morel has a good baseball body and some electricity to his game. He has been batting leadoff and producing both early and late in contests. He has stolen five bases and played all over the diamond. There’s an “it” factor with Morel. Now he has to prove he has staying power. — Rogers


Record: 22-30

Previous ranking: 24

The Orioles are showing signs of life — a signal of what the future of the team could look like. Through 10 games, Adley Rutschman is hitting .179/.273/.256, but the team’s bullpen looks like the real deal. Highlights include reliever Jorge Lopez (1.16 ERA in 23 1/3 innings), Dillon Tate (six holds, 1.80 ERA in 25 innings), Felix Bautista (two saves), Keegan Akin (0.80 WHIP in 33 2/3 innings) and Cionel Perez (0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings). — Lee


Record: 22-27

Previous ranking: 27

The Pirates are kind of just there. They aren’t winning a lot, but they aren’t losing a lot lately either, going 11-11 over their past 22 games. It’s been mostly low-scoring affairs for them other than a 10-run explosion against the Rockies last week and eight against the Dodgers on Wednesday. JT Brubaker, Jose Quintana and youngster Roansy Contreras all threw well for Pittsburgh. Contreras held a good Padres team to just two runs over five innings. There’s promise in Steel City. — Rogers


Record: 20-33

Previous ranking: 25

Oakland picked up its second series win of May by winning two of three against Seattle before losing three of four to Texas. Meanwhile, trade candidate Frankie Montas continues to put up strong numbers to the tune of a 3.20 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 11 games so far this season. Oakland ranks among the worst teams in baseball offensively, with an 81 wRC+, ahead of just Detroit. — Lee


Record: 17-32

Previous ranking: 30

Cincinnati might find its way out of last place if the Reds keep up the pace they’re on. They are 13-9 in their past 22 games. They’ve made some strides on the mound, compiling a top-10 ERA last week. Tyler Mahle and Vladimir Gutierrez spun good outings, which hasn’t always been the case this year. Combined with a resurgent Joey Votto, the Reds are at least legit spoilers. Kyle Farmer‘s big week at the plate helped as well. — Rogers


Record: 20-30

Previous ranking: 28

The Tigers showed a pulse this past week, winning five of seven games against Cleveland and Minnesota — both clubs ahead of them in the AL Central race. Of course, it’s still a stretch to say that Detroit is part of that race, and the Tigers were outscored in the aggregate during those games. But, you’ve got to start somewhere. Despite the mini surge, the Tigers’ offense continued to flounder, and given Detroit’s injury-riddled pitching staff, any remaining faint hopes for a recovery depend on some of the Tigers’ struggling hitters catching fire. Perhaps a ray of hope can be found in Triple-A, where top hitting prospect Riley Greene just started playing after suffering a foot injury late in spring training. — Doolittle


Record: 18-34

Previous ranking: 29

“We are not trading Juan Soto,” GM Mike Rizzo said in a radio interview on Wednesday amidst trade speculation for the team’s star player. “We made it clear to his agent and to the player.” With the Lerner family exploring the possibility of selling the franchise and Soto not locked into a long-term deal with a difficult rebuild ahead in the years to come, it certainly makes sense for the Nationals to explore trade ideas, even though Soto is under team control through 2024. Still, they have years to figure this out and continue to seek a megadeal with Soto. — Schoenfield


Record: 16-33

Previous ranking: 26

It’s hard to say whether the Royals have hit rock bottom in terms of the quality of their play, but they might have reached rock bottom in the MLB pecking order because dead last is as low as you can go. After a second straight pounding at the hands of Cleveland on Tuesday, the Royals dropped near the bottom in overall winning percentage and run differential. Despite winning two of three in a series at Minnesota last week, Kansas City has shown little evidence of being able to get up off the mat during the first two dreary months of the season. Kansas City begins a nine-game homestand on Friday, and while the opponents are tough (including Houston and Toronto), this might be the last chance for this version of the Royals to flip the narrative. Otherwise, you have to think Kansas City’s second-half roster is likely to look very different from its first-half roster. — Doolittle



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