MLB Power Rankings Week 9: Yankees knock Dodgers down a peg

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Last week, the Phillies jumped past the Dodgers, taking over the No. 1 spot in our Power Rankings. This week, another team has leapfrogged Los Angeles -- the Yankees.

As May comes to a close, Philly holds on to the top spot, with New York grabbing the No. 2 slot. Another shake-up in the top 5: The Guardians join the party, with the Braves slipping two spots.

We're past Memorial Day, so it's finally OK to look at the standings. Although some teams -- like the Cubs, who dropped out of our top 10, and the Mets, who now have just five teams below them on the list -- might not want to.

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, Jesse Rogers, Alden Gonzalez and Jorge Castillo to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.

Week 8| Preseason rankings

1. Philadelphia Phillies


Previous ranking:1

The Phillies have soared to the best record in the National League and put themselves on pace for the best season in franchise history thanks to the best offense in the NL -- and an out-of-this-world start from Ranger Suarez, who has outpitched Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola (and they've pitched pretty well). Suarez is 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA and has allowed no runs in four of his 11 starts. On offense, the clutch hitting of Alec Bohm has helped the lineup keep the runs coming even without the injured Trea Turner for the past three weeks or so. And Bryce Harper? After a slow start (other than that three-homer game), he's been crushing it in May. -- Schoenfield

2. New York Yankees


Previous ranking:3

The Yankees' rotation hasn't been just solid during Gerrit Cole's absence, it has been elite. The group has combined for a 2.73 ERA, tops in the majors, and ranks fourth in innings pitched. Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes have rebounded nicely from deeply disappointing seasons. Marcus Stroman and Clarke Schmidt each boast an ERA under 3. But Luis Gil, Cole's replacement, has been the best of the bunch. After a rocky April, Gil has recorded a 0.70 ERA with 44 strikeouts in six May starts. Overall, he owns a 1.99 ERA -- sixth in the majors -- with 79 strikeouts and has given up just 4.1 hits per nine innings in 11 outings. The 26-year-old rookie went from optioned to the minors to an ace-level performer in two months. The Yankees have arguably the deepest rotation in baseball because of it. -- Castillo

3. Los Angeles Dodgers


Previous ranking:2

The Dodgers showed some rare vulnerability over the weekend, getting swept in a three-game series by the Reds and extending their losing streak to a season-high five games. (They then snapped it with Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of the Mets.) On Friday, three Dodgers pitchers combined to allow six runs in the fifth inning, highlighting the lack of depth in the current bullpen. On Saturday and Sunday, the Nos. 5-9 hitters combined to go 1-for-30, highlighting the lack of depth in the current lineup. A lot of this can be addressed with health, though. The Dodgers' typical No. 5 hitter, Max Muncy, is currently on the injured list. So are four high-leverage relievers -- Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips. -- Gonzalez

4. Baltimore Orioles


Previous ranking:4

A new American League MVP candidate emerges seemingly every week. The list is long -- and Gunnar Henderson belongs near the top. Baltimore's shortstop -- the reigning AL Rookie of the Year -- has taken the next step in his age-23 sophomore season. His 18 home runs are tied withKyle Tuckerfor the MLB lead. HIs 3.3 fWAR is tied for fourth in the majors with Aaron Judge. His 164 wRC+ is eighth. All while playing top-notch defense at a premium position after splitting time between shortstop and third base last season. The Orioles must bolster the back end of their bullpen to contend late in October, but a deep lineup with Henderson in the leadoff spot -- and Adley Rutschman right behind him -- will be difficult to handle. -- Castillo

5. Cleveland Guardians


Previous ranking:6

Yes, that's the Guardians battling the Phillies and Yankees for the best record in the majors after two months. How are they doing it? A bullpen that has arguably been the best in the big leagues, and a lineup that, shockingly, leads the AL in runs scored. Jose Ramirez, after a bit of a slow start, is back to hitting home runs and has absolutely destroyed opposing pitchers with runners in scoring position -- in fact, the entire team has, with the best OPS in the majors in those situations. There might be a little smoke and mirrors going on with the offense, but given the fast start and the dominant bullpen, Cleveland's playoffs odds are hovering around 75%. -- Schoenfield

6. Milwaukee Brewers


Previous ranking:7

An unexpected power surge has helped Milwaukee to the top of the standings as it boasts eight different players with at least five home runs, though none has reached double digits yet. And the Brewers have done it with veterans like Rhys Hoskins and Christian Yelich in and out of the lineup due to injuries. Young players like Joey Ortiz have stepped up. Ortiz, acquired in the trade of Corbin Burnes to Baltimore, has opened eyes in the clubhouse with his slugging ability. Most impressive is catcher William Contreras, who looks more than comfortable in his second season with Milwaukee. He's an MVP-caliber player right now. -- Rogers

7. Atlanta Braves


Previous ranking:5

The season-ending injuries to Spencer Strider (after two starts) and now to Ronald Acuna Jr. are obviously crushing blows. We're talking about the best position player in the game a season ago and the odds-on favorite to win the Cy Young Award this season. It doesn't help that Atlanta's offense has been nowhere near as powerful as last season's record-setting lineup -- Acuna himself had struggled with just four home runs. The 2024 Braves might now end up being a pitcher-centered club, at least with the way Chris Sale, Reynaldo Lopez and Max Fried are pitching right now, and we'll see if Alex Anthopoulos makes an outfield acquisition like he did in 2021, when he acquired Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Adam DuvallandEddie Rosario after Acuna went down that season. -- Schoenfield

8. Kansas City Royals


Previous ranking:8

As much as the rapid maturation of Bobby Witt Jr. into one of baseball's best players grabs your attention, we have to cite the Royals' starting rotation here -- mostly because its success has been so unexpected. On a Cy Young leaderboard full of unexpected front-runners, Seth Lugo rates right at the top as a shocking entrant. But Cole Ragans and Brady Singer aren't far behind, while Michael Wacha and Alec Marsh have been good enough that, game in and game out, the Royals are competitive. The rotation ranks third in bWAR and second in fWAR. They're third in ERA and tied for third in quality starts. Who saw that coming? -- Doolittle

9. Seattle Mariners


Previous ranking:10

The Mariners are in first place in the AL West even though they really aren't that great at anything. At least that's true when you look at positional breakdowns. According to the wins above average table at, Seattle doesn't rank in the top 10 at any spot. Not one. The highest rank is at shortstop (primarily J.P. Crawford and Dylan Moore), where the Mariners are 11th. It's hard to see how this adds up to a first-place club but, so far, it has. However, if this continues deep into the season, it doesn't feel like the first-place standing will hold up. A Seattle division title would certainly feature a top-five rotation and a return to star-level production by the utterly baffling Julio Rodriguez. -- Doolittle

10. San Diego Padres


Previous ranking:13

The second full month of the baseball season is coming to an end, and the Padres' best hitter remains ... Jurickson Profar, of course. The Padres are built around three superstars in Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts, and they recently traded for Luis Arraez, a batting champion each of the past two years. But it's Profar, signed to a $1 million contract this offseason, who has been their biggest contributor, boasting a .323/.421/.495 slash line with nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (33). It's a credit to Profar, who clearly fits in with the Padres a lot better than he did with the Rockies last year. But it's also a reminder that the Padres' best players have yet to get going, particularly Machado and Bogaerts, the latter of whom is nursing a fractured left shoulder. -- Gonzalez

11. Boston Red Sox


Previous ranking:11

Say it with us: Another week, another injury for the Red Sox. This week's casualty isTyler O'Neill, who hit the IL Wednesday with right knee inflammation. Lucas Giolito, Trevor Story and Garrett Whitlock have already been lost for the season.Triston Casasand Masataka Yoshida remain on the injured list. Vaughn Grissom is struggling after missing the first month. Brayan Bello and Nick Pivetta recently returned from injury. It's been one after another. And yet the Red Sox are somehow at .500. -- Castillo

12. Minnesota Twins


Previous ranking:14

With injuries again surfacing for Royce Lewis, Byron Buxtonand Carlos Correa over the first two months, the Twins remain within striking distance of the Guardians in the AL Central largely because Ryan Jeffers and Max Kepler have emerged to help carry the offense. Jeffers' slash line is .247/.333/.506 with 10 home runs in 49 games between catcher and designated hitter. Kepler is slashing .282/.343/.484 in 37 games as the team's primary right fielder. They rank first and second, respectively, on the club in bWAR. The Twins need Correa, Lewis and Buxton to stay healthy and produce to make a deep October run. But you need to reach October first, and Jeffers and Kepler have been indispensable thus far. -- Castillo

13. San Francisco Giants


Previous ranking:19

The Giants came out of Memorial Day weekend with nine wins in a span of 11 games, their only two losses coming in walk-off fashion. Blake Snell was back. Matt Chapman was starting to play like a star. The record had crept back over .500. And then, just like that, another setback: LaMonte Wade Jr., who carried a .470 on-base percentage through his first 52 games, suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring, joining Michael Conforto and Jung Hoo Lee on the injured list. "He's as good a left-handed hitter as there is in the league right now," Giants manager Bob Melvin said of Wade, who will now miss the next four weeks. -- Gonzalez

14. Chicago Cubs


Previous ranking:9

Led by newcomer Shota Imanaga, starting pitching has defined the Cubs through the first two months. Imanaga is dominating, utilizing a rising fastball and dipping split-finger, while teammate Javier Assad has been equally good flashing an unhittable sinker to right-handers. Then there's rookie Ben Brown, who hurled seven no-hit innings Tuesday in Milwaukee behind a wicked fastball and curve. That came one day after Justin Steele gave up just three hits over seven shutout innings. Starting to get the picture in Chicago? The Cubs rank third in starter's ERA in the NL. It's carried them. -- Rogers

15. Texas Rangers


Previous ranking:12

A funny thing happened while we were waiting for Texas' powerhouse October rotation to gradually come together through a continually improving injury list: Texas' high-powered offense that helped propel the Rangers to their first title last year has been flat-out mediocre. Texas has dropped from second to 15th in average, third to 12th in OBP and third to 15th in slugging. If the Rangers were hitting as expected, the middling work of the pitching staff would have been good enough to keep Texas solidly in first place, with hopes of a steep ascension as the rotation gets healthier. Instead, Texas' headaches have turned out to be more widespread than the injuries to Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. -- Doolittle

16. Houston Astros


Previous ranking:17

Is the dynasty crumbling? For most of the first two months, that's how it's looked for the Astros. Houston is below replacement in both starting and relief pitching. The offense has been above average but also uneven. Kyle Tucker is having an MVP-level season and Jose Altuve has been as good as ever. However, Alex Bregman has flailed and Jose Abreu simply looks done. Two months in, the Astros still haven't gotten truly hot. The only reason they remain a factor in the AL West race is the division as a whole has been so disappointing. These are the Astros, and until that little "e" (for eliminated) pops up next to their line in the standings, you can't count them out. But it ain't looking good. -- Doolittle

17. Arizona Diamondbacks


Previous ranking:16

The D-backs made an inspired run to the World Series last fall, then bolstered their payroll with some exciting offseason additions. But they have mostly disappointed through the first two months of the season. And whileCorbin Carroll'soffensive struggles have absorbed a lot of the attention, the starting pitching is probably even more to blame. Merrill Kelly, the co-ace to Zac Gallen, made four starts before going on the injured list with a shoulder strain. Eduardo Rodriguez, signed to an $80 million contract, has yet to pitch because of a lat strain. And Jordan Montgomery, the other major addition, has a 4.69 ERA through seven starts. -- Gonzalez

18. Detroit Tigers


Previous ranking:18

One of the best developments with the Tigers this season has been the continued emergence of Tarik Skubal as a bona fide ace. And Wednesday, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Pirates, he punctuated the season's second month in dramatic fashion, outdueling the electric Jared Jones with seven scoreless innings. Skubal, 27, is now 7-1 with a 2.01 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP through his first 11 starts, striking out 80 batters and walking 11 in 67 innings. With Jack Flaherty and Reese Olson also impressing, the Tigers hold the sixth-lowest starter's ERA in the AL, giving them a fighting chance in what has become a very competitive AL Central. -- Gonzalez

19. Tampa Bay Rays


Previous ranking:15

The Rays are the sport's model franchise because they almost always overcome a payroll shortfall to snatch a playoff spot. But this season has so far proved that even the Rays can't surmount extensive pitching injuries and widespread underperformance in the batter's box. On the pitching side, Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey SpringsandDrew Rasmussenhaven't toed the rubber at all. Zach Eflin is on the injured list. Ryan Pepiot, Pete Fairbanks, Shane Baz and Chris Devenski have all been on the injured list. On the offensive side,Josh Lowe, Brandon Loweand Jonny DeLucaall missed time with injuries -- but a lack of production is the pressing issue. Yandy Diaz is batting .245 after claiming the 2023 AL batting title. Randy Arozarena is hitting .161 with a .571 OPS. Jose Siri is slashing .180/.272/.289.Isaac Paredesis the team's only All-Star-level hitter with a .296 average and .881 OPS. That hasn't been nearly enough. -- Castillo

20. Toronto Blue Jays


Previous ranking:20

Perhaps no game encapsulates the 2024 Blue Jays' frustrations better than what transpired at Comerica Park on Sunday when they overcame two five-run deficits only to watch Matt Vierling crank a walk-off three-run home run off closer Jordan Romano in a 14-11 loss. In a season in which the Blue Jays' offense has been a major letdown, one of the worst bullpens in the sport couldn't keep the light-hitting Tigers in the ballpark. Time is running out on these Blue Jays. General manager Ross Atkins said it himself earlier this month. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is on a tear after a frigid April, but Bo Bichette, George Springer, Alejandro Kirkand Justin Turner all have an OPS+ of 91 or below. The bullpen, meanwhile, ranks 21st in win probability added. Either the roster performs better or significant changes are likely to come ahead of the July 30 trade deadline. -- Castillo

21. St. Louis Cardinals


Previous ranking:25

St. Louis hasn't been great but it's still in the race thanks, in part, to the newcomers on the mound who were widely criticized when they were acquired. So far, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson and Sonny Gray have been better than anticipated -- especially the former two pitchers, who boast ERAs in the 3s after struggling last season. Gray, on the other hand, has come as anticipated -- even with a late start due to an injury. He's given up 40 hits in 52 innings, walking just 12 over his first nine starts. The trio has kept the Cardinals afloat while their offense has found its footing of late. Perhaps the front office wasn't so wrong bringing in three older pitchers. We'll see. -- Rogers

22. Cincinnati Reds


Previous ranking:24

A lack of offensive punch -- outside of Elly De La Cruz-- has banished the Reds to the second tier of teams in the NL Central. The Reds currently rank 26th in OPS after finishing 10th in that category last season. Everyone from Spencer Steer to Jonathan India to newcomer Jeimer Candelario has struggled to find rhythm at the plate, and while De La Cruz has stolen 31 bases already, even his OPS dipped below .800 recently. He can't do it all by himself. Outfielder Will Benson is a great example of the Reds' struggles so far. He's shown some pop with eight home runs but is hitting below .200 with 74 strikeouts in just 168 at-bats. It's a microcosm of Cincinnati at the plate right now. -- Rogers

23. Pittsburgh Pirates


Previous ranking:21

The Pirates' storyline so far revolves around the young pitching combo of Paul Skenes and Jared Jones. They provide hope for a franchise still looking for help on offense. Skenes lit up the radar gun in his first few starts, and Jones wasn't far behind him. Pittsburgh will tread lightly using both budding stars, as the team might need to remake its bullpen before it can contend. Thought to be a strength heading into the season, the Pirates' pen ranks 27th in ERA through the first two months. David Bednar looks very hittable this season compared to 2023, as his ERA hovers just under 7. -- Rogers

24. Washington Nationals


Previous ranking:23

The Nationals have been competitive -- more so than many would have projected -- thanks to some solid and surprising performances. CJ Abrams has played well, although has slowed down the past few weeks after a blazing start. MacKenzie Gore has pitched well, combining with Abrams to make the Juan Sototrade look better (and better yet when James Wood arrives at some point this season). Trevor Williams has been excellent and rookie starter Mitchell Parker has emerged out of nowhere to add another arm to the rotation, which has been drastically better than last season. The offense still needs a lot of work, however, as some of the stopgap veterans such asJoey Gallo and Eddie Rosario haven't helped. -- Schoenfield

25. New York Mets


Previous ranking:22

It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to explain the rough first two months for the Mets: Their best five players were supposed to be Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Kodai Senga and Edwin Diaz. Senga has been hurt all season, Diaz, now also on the IL, blew four saves in May, and the three position players haven't hit like they have in the past. Things got so bad last weekend that Lindor simply stood at the plate on a 3-2 pitch with no intention to swing and took a called third strike. And after another Diaz-blown save and five-run 10th inning for the Giants, announcer Gary Cohen had to remind Mets fans that the sun would still come up the next morning. -- Schoenfield

26. Los Angeles Angels


Previous ranking:26

This is a bad team with no obvious path to near-term contention, one that needs to start calculating when and how thoroughly it wants to lean into a rebuild. Assuming the Angels' brass comes to the same conclusion, the Cy Young-level season starter Tyler Anderson has enjoyed should give L.A. a chance to leverage one of the trade deadline's most alluring upgrades, especially since he has a team-friendly season left on his pact after 2024. If anyone thought the Angels might remain relevant after Shohei Ohtani's departure, those notions have to be dead by now. This team needs a fresh start. -- Doolittle

27. Oakland Athletics


Previous ranking:27

The Athletics have punched above their weight over the first two months. but they still have the second worst run differential in the AL. There is not going to be an inspirational swan song in the club's last season in the Bay Area. However, they did a good thing in converting Mason Miller into a closer, if only to attract contending teams to the possibility of adding an elite ninth-inning hammer. Miller -- and this is not a mistake -- has a 0.09 FIP this season. Given Oakland's place on the winning cycle -- if it indeed has one -- and Miller's injury history, the A's should give serious thought to moving Miller while he's dealing at this level. -- Doolittle

28. Colorado Rockies


Previous ranking:28

After a brutal April, the Rockies have been mostly treading water this month. And a big reason for that has been Austin Gomber, the 30-year-old left-hander who has secretly been one of the game's best pitchers in May. Gomber has a 0.68 ERA in four starts this month, limiting the Pirates, Rangers, Padres and A's to three runs (two earned) in 26 innings. The Rockies have won three of those games. Gomber was scratched from his start earlier this week because of discomfort near his elbow, just below his left triceps muscle, but he's expected to take the ball this weekend at Dodger Stadium. Gomber said it's nothing serious or altogether foreign to him. The Rockies hope that's the case. -- Gonzalez

29. Miami Marlins


Previous ranking:29

Injuries, injuries, injuries. Sandy Alcantara, already out for the season from last September's Tommy John surgery. Eury Perez, out for the season. Edward Cabrera, currently out with a shoulder issue. Braxton Garrett, missed April with a shoulder problem (although his recent shutout was a good sign). Jesus Luzardo? Missed a few starts. The Marlins have already churned through 25 pitchers. All that led to the early trade of Luis Arraez to the Padres. One season after making the playoffs, the Marlins are back to being the Marlins -- and a bad version at that. -- Schoenfield

30. Chicago White Sox


Previous ranking:30

A lack of offense has defined the White Sox over the first two months of the season as they rank last in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. Almost on cue, their veteran hitters got hurt again this year as Yoan Moncada andLuis Robert Jr.missed most of April and all of May, while Eloy Jimenez has been in and out of the lineup. The team wasn't supposed to be very good in the first place, but those injuries have simply made Chicago very easy to pitch to. Because of that, the White Sox have almost no chance to beat the good teams around the league, as evidenced by their 6-30 mark against plus-.500 squads. -- Rogers

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