MLB Week 3 Power Rankings – Who’s On Top?

Boom. Ten percent of the 2021 Major League Baseball regular season come and gone. Just like that. This week, MLB T.V. released several notable broadcasting and stream viewing reports. In their collected data, MLB T.V. claims they’ve registered the most-watched 18-day period in their 20-year history; to go with their most-watched 7 days ever. These unprecedented televised baseball high water marks paired with another MLB T.V. claim that baseball fans have watched a combined 1.34 billion minutes of lives games, through their network’s broadcasts and streams are excellent for our headlines, today, but are most likely the byproduct of reduced stadium capacity throughout the nation. All sobering hyperbole aside, the first three weeks of baseball have been, well, dynamite. And with that, let’s now power rank the league at large!

TOP TIER: Teams this week – that because of the strength of their recent games – we should expect to see make deep runs in the playoffs.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have not yet lost a single home game. 6-0 when they play in the City of Angels. As of Thursday, the Dodgers are 2.5 games better than the league’s next best baseball team, Boston. Dodgers starting pitchers, Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw, lead all starting pitchers in Wins, with 3 each. Trevor Bauer is 5th in baseball in strikeouts, with 36. And the very, very young Urias – who was also on the mound for the final out when the Dodgers won their recent World Series – much to Mariners fans’ chagrin, threw a gem, and a career-best, 7 flawless innings while striking out a career-high, 11, Seattle Mariners en-route to a 1-0 victory at T-Mobile Park, Tuesday. (This game, in particular, epitomized the classic pitcher’s duel, as it wound up significant and notable on SportsCenter because both teams achieved a dreadful offensive record low number of combined total bases on hits, 4, good for the least in one inter-league game ever.) Other Dodgers fireballers on display in Seattle for their two-game set included a rejuvenated and mechanically sound, Kenley Jansen, who struck out Kyle Lewis during the M’s reigning American League Rookie of the Year’s final AB in his return to the starting roster. Jansen picked up his 4th Save of the new season and is now good for fourth-best in baseball. The Dodgers consistently prove they’re deep enough to win games against great teams even when their stars go down with injuries. CF, Cody Bellinger is still out with a leg injury, and he was recently joined by RF, Mookie Betts on the Injured List, who got drilled with a 98 MPH fastball moments before Corey Seager ground into a game-ending double play to seal the Mariner’s game one victory of a split two-game set, right before L.A. won the very next day. Great chance the Dodgers find a way near 110 total wins this season. And the best rivalry in baseball continues Thursday when the Dodgers host the Padres – where they might actually lose, for once, or not – in LA. It’s well worth watching with the other record-setting high viewership audience, even if one must resort to any number of free internet streams. (Me.) Manager, Dave Roberts, said he expected Betts would return for Thursday evening’s showdown against San Diego.

2. Oakland Athletics: Absolutely no shortage – and I mean, absolutely none – whatsoever in firepower, flair, dramatics, pop, power, speed, and, that other big thing in baseball, winning, on the Oakland side of the Bay Area for the last ten days. Whatever this is, it vanquishes the gruesome fun-stealing slumps of yore, or of just two short weeks ago. No slacking. Only grinding out triumph after triumph is allowed within Bob Melvin’s clubhouse. Question: is this Money Ball’s newest, highest level of perfection recorded and documented to date? I don’t know. Maybe. But whatever this is, it’s downright wild, because the Oakland Athletics became the first baseball team ever to start a regular-season 0-6 before winning 11 consecutive games. Ironic though, despite winning nearly twice the number of games as they’ve lost so far, the A’s sit atop the American League West carrying a dreary -2 run differential. Matt Olson has 6 HRs and 15 RBIs to go with a .315 batting average. While the A’s are now 5th in baseball with 90 runs, and 9th in slugging percentage at .401, they remain ranked in the bottom third of every major team pitching statistic, and their starting pitchers have still not recorded one Quality Start. Therefore something, one thing or another, in the current absurd, and blazing trend will change abruptly, and soon.  If I had to make a call one way or the other, I’d say that it seems their woeful pitchers will improve as the season barrels toward summer.

3. Boston Red Sox: This season we’ve learned one thing: that West Coast baseball stadiums are where we should expect to find this modern version of elite baseball hanging out. Elite talented teams that are not exactly earned, mostly, the West Coast has climbed atop the baseball Parthenon by stealing the old East Coast baseball model of not blinking as they dump a ton of cash into their payroll to flat out buy wins. Still, even though elite West Coast baseball is by far the young 2021 regular season’s favorite place to thrive, it seems also true that the scorching Boston Red Sox are hanging tough and recruiting the season’s nascent semi-post-pandemic folklore sway by posting florid, outrageously exciting double-digit box scores on a slew of other great baseball teams; again mimicking more of what’s happening for West Coast baseball teams. Just like the Oakland Athletics, the Red Sox dropped their first three home games of the new season – a tragic first in Red Sox franchise history – right before winning 9 games in a row, and rocketing to the top of the American League East. The Red Sox lead all of baseball in team batting average at .285, in runs, 103, and in Slugging Percentage, at .470. They’re second in baseball in OBP, with .345. And the pitching staff isn’t half bad either. Their team ERA is 11th in baseball, 3.73.

4. Seattle Mariners: Before their day-off to travel, and following a 1-0 loss to the Dodgers in the game right after defeating the very same, and baseball’s best, L.A. Dodgers, 4-3, the Seattle Mariners were tied for the best record in the American League. Yup. It’s real. It’s legitimate. It is… well, unbelievable. And true. And reigning American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis is finally back from the Injured List. He’d missed every game before, and Jared Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are still minor leaguers. Also true, that even many locals disbelieve the awesome Baby M’s before their eyes and the new standard of excellence they’ve set thus far. My brother, texted me, last week, “I had no idea the M’s were off to such a hot start. Maybe I am interested in baseball…” Sure, the man is a brilliant soccer player first, and foremost, but such is also the curse of writing about and praising and hosting a professional sports team not good enough for the playoffs since 2001 – my brother also called the M’s, “Baseball’s Cleveland Browns” – in a wise, snarky, emerald city at times much too clever, erudite and sagacious for its own baseball lovin’good; Seattle has the second-youngest starting pitching staff in baseball, but the bullpen has been the most lights out unit on the field lately. Jen Mueller of Root Sports recently Tweeted, “Kendall Graveman has now made 10 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. (dates back to last September) Has pitched 13 innings and recorded 10 K’s in those outings.” The Dodgers series, in particular, showed why the M’s pitching is so promising. Over both games, 18 innings of work, the M’s allowed only 4 runs total, and held LA to a combined 7 hits while the defense made 0 errors. All hype aside, the M’s have their work cut out for them during the next 8 games. They have 4 scheduled in Boston. Then 4 scheduled in Houston. Yes, the last two decades have been brutal for those, “True To The Blue.” But take note of what’s already happened in this 10% of the total regular-season sample size. After defeating the Dodgers once, the M’s were 11-6 and tied for the best record in the American League, all on the strength of mostly winning, and in some games crushing, but primarily just – and this is the point – outperforming very good baseball teams bound for the playoffs; Giants, Twins, Astros, Dodgers; with plenty of room to grow. 

SECOND TIER: Strong baseball teams with some serious flaws – that because of how they’ve played this recent week in games – we should still expect to make playoff runs.

5. Los Angeles Angels: There is absolutely no reason why anyone should listen to anyone else talk about their take on the best division in baseball if they don’t first begin the contested discussion with, “And at number one, no question: the American League West.” Every single one of these teams has a real shot at a playoff run right now. Even the Rangers could get hot at the right time. But it’s the Angels who look the most menacing on paper. The Angels – let’s never forget, the entire season, please, because the M’s have to face them many times – will always be a super stacked and loaded – on paper, at least – baseball team that has not even begun to peak, until they finally win something like 25 of 30 in the Dog Days of Summer. CF, and the best baseball player on the planet for the last decade, Mike Trout is hitting .393 with 6 HRs. Trout also has a .507 OBP and his slugging percentage is .804. Is anyone quaking yet? You should be if you’re paying attention. Trout leads an L.A. battery at the dish that sits second in all baseball in batting average, .266, third in slugging percentage at .446, and 7th in OBP at .327. If the modern Japanese Babe Ruth incarnation, Shohei Ohtani, manages to solve his nagging blister issues, the triple-digit cannon might have a shot at both a Cy Young Award and a Silver Slugger Award in the same year. 

6. San Francisco Giants: The Giants are stellar on the bump this year. They’re currently 4th in baseball in ERA at 3.09, 6th in Quality Starts with 6, seventh in WHIP, at 1.17, and 8th in BAA at .221. Then, broad strokes, the West Coast, and California, in particular, has never enjoyed such a wonderful cornucopia of elite baseball teams all playing great ball at the exact same time. The Giants are no exception to the new West Coast supremacy rule, either, because they’ve now set their own strange, yet emblematic MLB all-time record right alongside Oakland. It only took the Giants 18 games for the ballclub’s pinch hitters to slug a combined 5 HRs and thus become the quickest pinch-hitting group to 5 HRs this early in a regular season ever. The Giants have one major problem when it comes to their chances for the post-season, however, they share a division schedule with the Dodgers and…(right below)

7. San Diego Padres: This is the most terrifying .500 baseball team I’ve ever seen. True, the Padres are 10-10 as of Thursday. And they’re 3-7 over their last 10 games. But they dropped 5 of 6 without a healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. on the roster to two of the best teams in the National League, Dodgers – the best record in baseball – and the Brewers – tied for the fourth-best record in baseball with the Giants and Mariners – who now together have a combined record of 25-11. If you’re gonna lose to someone without your team playing at full strength…right? All kidding aside, San Diego is loaded with big bats. I completely expect a roster with Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, Will Myers, Jurikson Profar, Tommy Pham, Jake Cronenworth to come close to winning – and with cannons Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Chris Paddack finding their groove – and cruising, casually eclipsing 100 wins this year. 

THIRD TIER: Using one key fact, insight, these are the teams that might tweak a few things here and there and win, but still have major problems to solve before becoming bonafide playoff contenders. 

8. Milwaukee Brewers: Starting pitcher, Corbin Burnes, has already thrown 40 K’s without issuing 1 BB. The best mark since Kenley Jansen in 2017, who threw 51 Ks before surrendering one base on balls.

9. Atlanta Braves: RF, Ronald Acuña Jr., before suffering an abdominal strain injury either diving back to first base or diving headfirst at home, over the weekend, was on something of another kind of tear, hitting .419, with 7 HRs, 16 RBIs, a .486 OBP, and a .887 slugging percentage.

10. Cincinnati Reds: The Big Red Machine is second in Runs, behind Boston, with 100, and second in Slugging Percentage at .457, behind, again, baseball’s leaders, Boston, at .470.

FOURTH TIER – Ranking the rest of baseball. All of the teams must alter many more things before they make a run for the playoffs.

11. Philadelphia Phillies
12. Kansas City Royals
13. New York Mets
14. Tampa Bay Rays
15. Chicago White Sox
16. Minnesota Twins
17. Texas Rangers
18. St. Louis Cardinals 
19. Toronto Blue Jays
20. Cleveland Indians 
21. Arizona Diamondbacks 
22. Chicago Cubs
23. Houston Astros 
24. New York Yankees
25. Baltimore Orioles
26. Miami Marlins
27. Pittsburgh Pirates 
28. Washington Nationals 
29. Detroit Tigers
30. Colorado Rockies 

About Jackson Pappin 39 Articles
Jackson Pappin is a freelance writer. A 2018 WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication alumni, he writes fiction, journalism, columns, essays and poetry. His work has been published in Anastamos, The Oregonian, The Spokesman Review, The Seattle P.I. Reader Blogs, The Daily Evergreen, The Central Circuit, LandEscapes and at the Spectra Art Gallery. His writing is available at https://jacksonpappin.blogspot.com

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*