MLB Power Rankings: Astros, Reds make big early gains
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Welcome to the second edition of theScore's MLB Power Rankings for the 2021 season.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
8-2 +23 1 (-)

The reigning champions have looked predictably indomitable even though 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger and 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts have missed a combined nine games. Led by Will Smith and Justin Turner - who have combined for four homers and 12 runs scored so far - the Dodgers' offense is the second-best in the majors, according to FanGraphs.

2. San Diego Padres

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
7-3 +16 2 (-)

Losing Fernando Tatis Jr. is a huge blow, but all indications suggest his shoulder won't keep him sidelined for long. Meanwhile, Joe Musgrove's Herculean effort against the Rangers rightfully made headlines as the Padres finally ended their half-century no-hitter drought. The hometown hurler has yet to issue a walk or homer this season, surrendering three total hits over 15 innings while striking out 18.

3. Houston Astros

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
6-3 +23 9 (+6) ⬆️

After winning six of their first seven, the Astros cooled off in a weekend series loss to the Athletics. Nonetheless, Houston has looked like the offensive juggernaut of old. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Yuli Gurriel all boast on-base percentages north of .400. Altuve leads the league in runs scored, and Gurriel's nine walks are tied for second.

4. Atlanta Braves

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 +3 3 (-1) ⬇️

The Braves have won four of their last five to shake off a frigid start and show why they were the class of the NL East last year. Many of Atlanta's bats are still in hibernation, but Ronald Acuna Jr. looks like he might be a legitimate MVP threat. The 23-year-old already has four homers and a pair of steals.

Sarah Stier / Getty Images Sport / Getty

5. New York Mets

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
2-3 -6 4 (-1) ⬇️

Does the Mets' offense have a grudge against Jacob deGrom? The ace tied his career high with 14 strikeouts Saturday, holding the Marlins to one run and three hits over eight innings - and New York still lost. DeGrom ranks 75th of 79 qualified pitchers in run support (4.10 RS/9) over the last four seasons. The Mets' loaded offense has scored just 16 runs in five games, so maybe it's not personal.

6. Chicago White Sox

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 +11 6 (-)

Yermin Mercedes woke up Sunday to find himself third in the majors in fWAR behind Mike Trout and Byron Buxton. The 28-year-old rookie is slashing .536/.594/.857 through seven games for the White Sox and is now rostered in 78% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Pretty amazing for someone who entered the season with one MLB plate appearance.

7. New York Yankees

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 +5 5 (-2) ⬇️

The Bronx Bombers haven't lived up to their moniker this season. The Yankees have nine homers in as many games, which leaves them in a tie for 20th in the majors. Top sluggers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gleyber Torres have combined to go deep three times. At least Gerrit Cole has been dominant early, with a 1.46 ERA and 15.3 K/9 in two starts.

8. Minnesota Twins

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
5-4 +21 8 (-)

Byron Buxton is locked in. The Twins outfielder looks like he's figured it all out, pushing his slash line to a ridiculous .481/.548/1.185. Nine of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases (five homers), and he has 15 hard-hit balls (over 95 mph) to his credit.

9. Toronto Blue Jays

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 +7 7 (-2) ⬇️

This is the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that Blue Jays fans have been waiting for, as the 22-year-old has looked excellent both at the plate and in the field. He's hitting .379/.538/.621 with more walks than strikeouts and has improved his launch angle since last season; he's hit 39.1% ground balls this year compared to 54.6% in 2020.

10. Philadelphia Phillies

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
6-3 +3 12 (+2) ⬆️

If the Phillies are legit, they could be much higher in the next set of rankings. With Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto in the fold, they could easily be contenders if everything is meshing well. But there are indicators of regression. For one, the offense hasn't looked anywhere near elite: Philadelphia entered Sunday's action striking out in 28.5% of plate appearances - the fifth-worst mark in MLB. And aside from Zack Wheeler, the starters have looked pedestrian, collectively posting a 4.14 ERA over 37 innings.

Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images Sport / Getty

11. Los Angeles Angels

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
6-3 -5 13 (+2) ⬆️

Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani might be the best one-two punch in the majors. Trout is on a revenge tour after a fifth-place finish in AL MVP voting in 2020, hitting .414/.564/.828 with three home runs and 10 walks in nine games. Ohtani has six extra-base hits, two steals, and a 1.039 OPS in 36 plate appearances. He's barrelling up more balls than any other hitter in the majors, and he also struck out seven over 4 2/3 innings in his lone start.

12. Boston Red Sox

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
6-3 +15 14 (+2) ⬆️

The Red Sox should be encouraged by the early returns from their offseason makeover. Boston's pitching staff ranks sixth in strikeouts (96) and 16th in ERA (4.13), shaving more than a full run per game off an abysmal 2020 performance (5.58). J.D. Martinez looks completely rejuvenated, already racking up 12 extra-base hits (five homers) in eight games after collecting 23 in 54 games last year.

13. Cincinnati Reds

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
6-3 +20 19 (+6) ⬆️

This is the offensive juggernaut that Reds fans expected last season. Nick Castellanos and Tyler Naquin have surprisingly combined for nine home runs and 21 RBIs, and each sports an OPS north of 1.100. Naquin already has more homers through eight games this season than he managed in 40 games in 2020.

14. Tampa Bay Rays

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 -14 11 (-3) ⬇️

The Rays might have more pitching depth than any other team besides the Dodgers, and it's being tested early: Chris Archer, Pete Fairbanks, and Nick Anderson recently joined five other pitchers on the IL. Tampa has already used 17 different pitchers in nine games and has four relievers in its bullpen who didn't play for the team last season.

15. St. Louis Cardinals

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
5-4 -5 15 (-)

Nolan Arenado has been a welcome addition to the Cardinals thus far, but it's been Yadier Molina who's stood out. The veteran catcher leads St. Louis in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. Yadi's exit velocity and launch angle are also the highest they've ever been in the Statcast era, which isn't too shabby for a guy who contemplated retirement in the offseason.

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

16. Cleveland Indians

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
5-3 +15 18 (+2)

The Indians have used the long ball to power their offense; Franmil Reyes owns four round-trippers and a 1.175 OPS through eight games. Led by starters Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale, Cleveland's pitching staff has put up the third-best ERA (2.83) in the majors. Don't sleep on bullpen weapon Emmanuel Clase, either. He's struck out six across four innings, allowing just one hit.

17. Milwaukee Brewers

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
5-4 +5 17 (-)

Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes deserve more attention. The two Brewers hurlers have both carried no-hitters into the seventh inning this season and have combined to allow four earned runs and nine hits with 33 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting a measly .179 against Woodruff and just .051 against Burnes, who also owns a 0.16 WHIP.

18. Washington Nationals

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
1-5 -10 10 (-8) ⬇️

There's no worse way to start the season than ... not being able to start the season, which is what happened to the Nationals due to a COVID-19 outbreak. They're still missing several players and have just one win so far. The roster is good enough to overcome this small bump at the beginning of the road, but Washington likely needs Max Scherzer to provide more than a 3.75 ERA and 5.44 FIP.

19. Kansas City Royals

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-3 +3 20 (+1) ⬆️

Whit Merrifield just keeps hitting. The second baseman owns a .393 average and leads the Royals in hits, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS. But offseason addition Michael A. Taylor may give Merrifield some competition: Taylor has 10 hits and a .370 average through seven games after entering 2021 a career .237 hitter.

20. San Francisco Giants

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
6-3 +5 23 (+3) ⬆️

Winners of their last four, the Giants have benefited from some elite pitching performances from both Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman. The two right-handers have teamed up to allow six runs over 28 innings while striking out 25.

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

21. Chicago Cubs

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 -11 22 (+1) ⬆️

The Cubs have lost four of their last five despite some vintage performances from their stars. Kris Bryant owns a .928 OPS with two homers through nine games, Jake Arrieta is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA across two starts, and Craig Kimbrel hasn't allowed a run while striking out nine over four appearances. If nothing else, Chicago could have some decent trade chips.

22. Oakland Athletics

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
3-7 -32 16 (-6) ⬇️

The Athletics' rotation - expected to be a strength - has combined for a 6.39 ERA and 5.42 FIP, while the normally dependable bullpen looks just as bad with a 5.95 ERA and 5.76 FIP. The loss of closer Trevor Rosenthal for potentially the entire season is a tremendous blow after the frugal A's spent $11 million to sign him.

23. Seattle Mariners

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
5-4 -11 24 (+1)

The Mariners have strung together some wins despite injury issues. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis has yet to play a game, while left-hander James Paxton could be done for the season after it was recommended he undergo Tommy John surgery. Veterans Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager have carried the offensive load early, combining for four home runs, five doubles, and 14 RBIs in 18 games.

24. Miami Marlins

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
2-6 -8 21 (-3) ⬇️

The Marlins received an early reality check after making the playoffs in the shortened 2020 season. Miami owns just two wins, thanks in large part to an offense that isn't producing. The club has hit an MLB-worst three homers and accrued a .603 OPS. Young hurlers Sixto Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez are dealing with injuries and haven't been able to help a promising rotation.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-6 -7 25 (-)

Until Luke Weaver flirted with a no-hitter and led a shutout Sunday, the Diamondbacks' pitching had looked hapless at best. Entering that contest against the Reds, Arizona owned one of two worst pitching staffs in the Senior Circuit with a K/9 under eight and an NL-worst 5.05 FIP. It's early, but play like this won't play in what figures to be a top-heavy division.

26. Colorado Rockies

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
3-7 -2 27 (+1) ⬆️

The good news: The Rockies might finally be giving Jon Gray the leash he deserves to succeed. The right-hander has a reasonably high 10.9% walk rate through 11 2/3 innings, but he's combining it with a strong 26.1% strikeout rate and has yet to allow a homer this season. Whether he's a trade chip or a player to build around, those are positive indicators.

Sarah Stier / Getty Images Sport / Getty

27. Baltimore Orioles

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
4-5 -9 29 (+2) ⬆️

The Red Sox have likely seen enough of Cedric Mullins. The Orioles outfielder is 14-for-25 (.560) with five doubles against Boston this season. His 17 hits are tied for the major-league lead and leave him only 23 short of his season-best mark from 2018. Unfortunately for Baltimore, the rest of the lineup has struck out 13 or more times in each of the last five games.

28. Detroit Tigers

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
3-6 -25 26 (-2) ⬇️

It's Akil Baddoo's world, and we're just living in it. The rookie outfielder has stolen the thunder of top prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal thanks to a sizzling start, slashing .313/.353/.813 with two homers and seven RBIs in six games. It's going to be a long year for the Tigers, but at least they employ some exciting young players.

29. Texas Rangers

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
3-6 -15 28 (-1) ⬇️

After taking a series from the favored Blue Jays, the Rangers were on the wrong end of Joe Musgrove's no-hitter; that's been the tale of the tape for an inconsistent squad. Texas' offense has scored seven runs or more three times, but it's also been held to two or fewer in four contests. After a hot start that included 14 RBIs in his first five games, Nate Lowe has come back to earth and is hitless over his last four.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record RD Previous Rank (Change)
3-6 -15 30 (-)

The Pirates' 2021 season is all about seeing what they have for the future. Phillip Evans is already 28, but he's been excellent in the early days of his Pittsburgh career. After posting a .932 OPS in 11 games last season, Evans is hitting .393/.452/.750 with three homers and just two strikeouts in eight games this year. With open playing time, maybe the club can unearth some gems.

MLB Power Rankings: Astros, Reds make big early gains
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