MLB Power Rankings: NL shaken up as 2 teams surge up list (2024)

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Jun 20, 2024, 07:00 AM ET

What a week can do in MLB -- and in our Power Rankings.

In the American League, the Rangers have lost five of their past six games, dropping from No. 13 on our list to No. 18. Meanwhile, in the National League, the Cardinals have steadily dug themselves out of an early-season hole and now sit second in their division while the Mets rode a seven-game winning streak back into contention, jumping eight spots up to 17th. Both teams now find themselves in the thick of the NL wild-card race.

We're not yet at the midway mark of the season, so there's still a lot of baseball left. Can the reigning World Series champions turn their fortune around? And are New York and St. Louis legit contenders now?

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 11 | Preseason rankings

MLB Power Rankings: NL shaken up as 2 teams surge up list (1)

1. New York Yankees

Record: 51-25
Previous ranking: 1

It's been quite the week for the Yankees -- and not a good one. First, Anthony Rizzo fractured his right forearm Sunday in a loss to the Red Sox and will miss at least eight weeks. Two days later, after Rizzo and two pitchers were placed on the injured list, Aaron Judge exited a win over the Orioles when he was hit by a pitch on the left hand. Judge, unlike Rizzo, received good news: no structural damage. Crisis dodged. Finally, on Wednesday, Gerrit Cole made his season debut after being diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his right elbow in March, going four-plus innings while giving up two runs on three hits, with five strikeouts and one walk. Through it all, the Yankees' hold onto the best record in the majors. -- Castillo

MLB Power Rankings: NL shaken up as 2 teams surge up list (2)

2. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 49-25
Previous ranking: 2

The Phillies' pitching has had a couple hiccups lately, losing two of three in both Boston and Baltimore last week. Zack Wheeler had a rough outing against the Orioles, giving up four home runs and eight runs over 4⅓ innings, the first time he's ever allowed four home runs in a game and tied for the second-most runs he's allowed. Aaron Nola had a similar rough start against the Red Sox, allowing 11 hits and eight runs in 3⅔ innings. He did bounce back Tuesday against the Padres, allowing four hits and three runs in six innings. -- Schoenfield

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3. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 48-25
Previous ranking: 3

Jackson Holliday's return to the majors hit a speed bump last week when he landed on Triple-A Norfolk's IL with right elbow inflammation. Called up for his big league debut on April 10 to much fanfare, the consensus top-ranked prospect went 2-for-34 with two walks and 18 strikeouts in 10 games before being sent back to the minors. Holliday has batted .252 with five home runs and an .847 OPS in 40 games for Norfolk since the disappointing start to his major league career. The Orioles certainly do not need Holliday to contend, but the team's brass envisioned the 20-year-old middle infielder contributing in Baltimore this season. He still might. Just not for now. -- Castillo

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4. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 46-30
Previous ranking: 4

The Dodgers will be tested far sooner than anyone would have imagined. Over the weekend, one of their two best pitchers, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, suffered a rotator cuff strain, and one of their three best hitters, Mookie Betts, fractured his left hand. Both will be out for several weeks. And though neither ailment is considered season-ending, a Dodgers team that had a lot of injury and workload questions throughout its rotation and was struggling to get production from the bottom half of its lineup will need others to step up. It might not impact the Dodgers' chances of once again winning the NL West, given the NL's general mediocrity. But perhaps the next couple of months will get interesting. -- Gonzalez

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5. Cleveland Guardians

Record: 45-26
Previous ranking: 5

Daniel Schneemann has given the offense a nice boost since his call-up, hitting .333 in his first 12 games with four extra-base hits and six RBIs -- all while starting at five different positions (center field, third base, shortstop, second base and right field). Schneemann is 27 years old, a 33rd-round pick back in 2018 out of BYU, so it's been a slow and unexpected trek to the majors. He never hit much before finally putting up some numbers at Triple-A in 2023, and he had shown even more power while increasing his walk rate this season, posting a .984 OPS with Columbus. Along with David Fry, has Cleveland pulled another rabbit out of its hat? -- Schoenfield

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6. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 44-30
Previous ranking: 6

The Brewers have won games with their bats all season long, but their gloves have been just as impressive as well. The latest examples came from center fielders Blake Perkins and Sal Frelick this past Sunday and Tuesday, respectively. First, Perkins threw out the tying run at the plate to preserve a 5-4 win over the Reds, and then Frelick went above the wall to rob Taylor Ward of a home run during a 6-3 win over the Angels. Both were the final plays of the game and were reminders that good run prevention can be just as important as scoring. Milwaukee has both this season. -- Rogers

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7. Seattle Mariners

Record: 44-32
Previous ranking: 9

This season, the Mariners may be making a historical connection to the *other* team in the 1906 World Series. The 2001 Mariners are already permanently linked to one of those teams -- the 1906 Cubs -- thanks to their tie atop the all-time leaderboard for single-season wins (116). Like those Mariners, those 1906 Cubs didn't win the World Series after their record-setting season.

Instead, the Cubs were upset by the crosstown White Sox, forever known as the "Hitless Wonders." That White Sox team owns the record for the lowest team batting average for a first-place club (.230), at least among those that played at least 75 games in a season. So far, the Mariners are at .220 and yet, they lead the AL West by a whopping nine games. In other words, this year's Mariners have been both hitless ... and wonderful. -- Doolittle

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8. Atlanta Braves

Record: 41-31
Previous ranking: 8

With Michael Harris II suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain, the Braves are suddenly scrambling in the outfield -- a scenario that suddenly resembles 2021. Manager Brian Snitker said Harris will be out "a long time." In the meantime, Jarred Kelenic moves over to center field. He has experience there from his Seattle days, but he'll be a step down defensively from Harris. Adam Duvall, Ramon Laureano and Forrest Wall are the other outfield options, but Duvall has struggled filling in for Ronald Acuna Jr., and Laureano and Wall are just stopgaps. The Braves have to be looking to make a deal here. -- Schoenfield

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9. Kansas City Royals

Record: 41-34
Previous ranking: 7

The Royals' early-season surge topped out with a win on May 25 that put them 15 games over .500. A prolonged downturn after that may have reached its nadir in a 7-5 loss to the lowly A's on June 18 that was a perfect example of Kansas City's recent struggles. The loss dropped the Royals to 7-14 since that high point (and they tacked on another loss on Wednesday). During the slump, their hitters have still managed to score runs at a better-than-MLB-average rate (4.48, ranked 12th). However, during that stretch, only the Rockies have coughed up runs at a higher rate, with K.C. allowing 5.57 runs per game.

All along, the Royals' pitching depth was likely to be the key to how long they could maintain their surprise playoff contention. As that depth has been tested through injuries and unsurprising regressions in performance, the shine on this breakout season has started to fade. -- Doolittle

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10. Minnesota Twins

Record: 41-33
Previous ranking: 11

Don't look now, but Carlos Correa is stitching together his best offensive season since 2019 after a down 2023. The shortstop has been on a tear lately, as he went 17-for-28 with three home runs over his previous six games before going hitless in Wednesday's loss. That stretch helped him win AL Player of the Week and fueled the Twins' four-game sweep of the A's. After missing time in April with a strained oblique, Correa is slashing .310/.371/.505 with eight home runs in 56 games this season. The AL shortstop pool is deep, but Correa deserves consideration as one of the top at the position behind Bobby Witt Jr. and Gunnar Henderson. -- Castillo

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11. Boston Red Sox

Record: 40-35
Previous ranking: 12

The Red Sox possess more athleticism and speed than most clubs, but their 60 steals entering Sunday ranked ninth in the majors -- 42 behind the league-leading Reds. They've been good, not great, at robbing bags. But Boston sensed a weakness in the Yankees on Sunday and pounced. By the end of the night, they had set a franchise record with nine steals in a 9-3 victory to take the three-game series. It was another example of a club hindered by injuries and a lack of adequate investment from ownership finding a way to win. Somehow, the Red Sox are 40-35, winners of 11 of their past 17 and one game out of the final wild-card spot. What seemed like an early-season fluke has stretched into the summer. -- Castillo

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12. San Diego Padres

Record: 38-40
Previous ranking: 10

Just when it seems as if the Padres are going to go on a run, they fall back further. They lost five of their first six games at the start of June, then bounced back to win five of six. And then, most recently, they were swept in a weekend series against the Mets and lost two of three to the Phillies, ending their six-game East Coast trip two games below .500. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jurickson Profar have stepped up offensively this month, as have Michael King and Matt Waldron on the mound. But the likes of Jake Cronenworth, Luis Arraez, Dylan Cease and Wandy Peralta have struggled. The Padres just can't seem to bring it all together, not unlike last year's group. There's still time to change that, though. -- Gonzalez

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13. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 36-38
Previous ranking: 17

Corbin Carroll felt something grab at his left side during a throw Sunday, prompting an MRI and triggering ominous thoughts around a Diamondbacks team that had already suffered its fair share of injuries. The development, though, was positive: An MRI did not reveal any significant damage, and Carroll rejoined the team Tuesday, reaching base five times in a 5-0 win over the Nationals. The D-backs are already without fellow outfielder Alek Thomas and three starting pitchers -- Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez. They could ill afford to lose Carroll, especially given his recent hot stretch offensively. Since seeing his batting average fall to .192 on June 5, Carroll is slashing .348/.455/.543. -- Gonzalez

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14. San Francisco Giants

Record: 36-39
Previous ranking: 16

The Giants' leader in Baseball-Reference WAR is a 24-year-old outfielder who spent the season's first five weeks in Triple-A. That would be Heliot Ramos, who is slashing .310/.388/.545 and has provided excellent defense for a team that lost its center fielder and leadoff hitter, Jung Hoo Lee, to a torn labrum. Ramos was the 19th overall pick out of Puerto Rico in the 2017 draft and is now starting to come into his own. He's getting heavy consideration for the All-Star Game, and he recently drew praise from legendary center fielder Torii Hunter, who told KNBR in San Francisco that Ramos is "one of my favorite players." -- Gonzalez

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15. Houston Astros

Record: 34-40
Previous ranking: 15

The Astros reached second place in the AL West this week for the first time since the Opening Day. Don't let the order of the standings fool you: This was yet another week devoid of any reason to think Houston is suddenly going to revert to championship form. The "rise" in the standings was a whole lot more about the non-Seattle portion of the division than anything the Astros have done. Of their many failings, perhaps the standout trait has been an inability to win close games. They are 5-14 in one-run games and 9-24 in games decided by two runs or less. Houston is due for some positive regression, but it may already be too late. -- Doolittle

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16. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 36-37
Previous ranking: 23

Closer Ryan Helsley is on a nice run this month, as he's gone scoreless for St. Louis in seven of eight appearances, lowering his ERA into the mid 2.00s while leading the league in saves. He's been extremely consistent for the Cardinals, pitching exactly an inning in every outing while giving up just two home runs in 33 innings overall. It puts him in the mix for the All-Star Game next month as he's already blown by his career high in saves -- previously 19. -- Rogers

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17. New York Mets

Record: 35-38
Previous ranking: 25

Watch out, Mr. Met -- somebody (or something?) might be coming for your job. Grimace, the purple McDonald's character, is getting credit for turning around the Mets' season. Grimace threw out the first pitch on June 12, and the Mets beat the Marlins that night. They beat the Marlins again the next day, swept the Padres over the weekend and took the first two games against the Rangers to run their winning streak to seven games before losing on Wednesday. They scored 32 runs in a three-game stretch and hit .314 with 13 home runs over that seven-game winning streak. Welcome to the Grimace Era. -- Schoenfield

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18. Texas Rangers

Record: 34-40
Previous ranking: 13

The Rangers haven't played well, but there's no denying that injuries have kneecapped their title defense. Some of this we knew heading into the season, given the IL status of standout starters such as Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle. A team with a season-opening IL like that needs some good injury luck elsewhere on the roster, but the opposite has been the case for Texas. According to the injury tracking metrics at Spotrac, the Rangers lead the majors in IL days lost, just ahead of the Dodgers. But the cash estimate of those injuries swamps everybody: According to that site, Texas has outspent every team on injured players by nearly $20 million. Tough to overcome. -- Doolittle

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19. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 35-39
Previous ranking: 14

Cincinnati had a good run to get back into the playoff race but a little slide backwards has some wondering if the team will be adders or dealers at the deadline. Considering the Reds haven't made the postseason -- outside of the shortened 2020 season -- since 2013, there is little appetite to subtract come July 30. They also believe their best is yet to come as they're getting healthier, and infielder Noelvi Marte is due back from suspension soon. There have been signs both on offense and on the mound that the Reds can go on a bigger run, which means you can expect them to add during trade season. -- Rogers

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20. Washington Nationals

Record: 36-37
Previous ranking: 24

The Nationals swept the Marlins over the weekend, allowing just two runs in the three games. On Friday, MacKenzie Gore fanned 10 batters, giving up just one run in seven innings. On Saturday, DJ Herz struck out 13 in six scoreless innings, the most by a Nationals starter since Max Scherzer fanned 14 on May 8, 2021. Herz also became just the second pitcher since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893 to have 13 K's and no walks in one of his first three career starts. The other? Stephen Strasburg in his major league debut. To cap off the sweep, Mitchell Parker allowed one run in six innings -- also walking nobody. Yes, it was the Marlins, but it was an impressive series nonetheless for the three young lefties. -- Schoenfield

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21. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 35-39
Previous ranking: 19

Bo Bichette's rough season took a turn for the worse Tuesday when he was placed on the 10-day IL with a right calf strain. Bichette, an All-Star two of the past three seasons, is batting .237 with four home runs and a .629 OPS. The peripheral numbers are also alarming: He ranks in the 18th percentile in barrel rate, 10th percentile in chase rate and 15th percentile in walk rate across the majors. It's been a struggle for a shortstop who went from franchise cornerstone to a constant subject of trade rumors in a few months. His days in Toronto might be numbered. -- Castillo

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22. Detroit Tigers

Record: 34-40
Previous ranking: 18

The Tigers have the seventh-lowest OPS in the sport and rank 20th in runs per game. There haven't been many encouraging signs on the offensive side, but Riley Greene sure is one of them. The fifth overall pick in 2019, Greene is slashing .256/.350/.485 with 14 home runs in 73 games this season, ranking among the best in the sport in walk rate, barrel percentage and expected slug, among other metrics. His .975 OPS in June ranks 24th among 183 qualified hitters. With Spencer Torkelson in Triple-A and Kerry Carpenter dealing with a stress fracture in his lumbar spine, Greene has become a focal point for opposing teams. It has seemingly brought out his best. -- Gonzalez

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23. Chicago Cubs

Record: 36-39
Previous ranking: 20

Replacing one struggling catcher -- Yan Gomes -- with another is a decent sign of where the Cubs stand these days. Who knows, maybe adding former Met Tomas Nido could turn out to be a boon, but right now it's just a minor upgrade on the margins at an important position. Chicago is looking for any spark to move it past a nearly two month malaise. Nido won't be that for the Cubs, but the move is a sign of what the front office is thinking: We need to get better wherever we can. Next up, between now and the deadline, should be a closer and a bigger bat. Without the former, Chicago will likely have more moments like it did Monday when Hector Neris blew a two-run ninth-inning lead. -- Rogers

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24. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 36-38
Previous ranking: 21

In discussing the young, skillful starting pitching that the Pirates have in Jared Jones and Paul Skenes, we shouldn't forget that Mitch Keller is still their ace. After a rough start to the season, he's been strong over the past couple of months, giving up more than two runs just once. That includes a seven-inning masterpiece on Wednesday against the Reds. Keller gave up just two hits and two walks while striking out seven in the 1-0 win. It lowered his ERA to 3.11, a far cry from its high water mark of 5.18 at the end of April. That trio of starters just might keep the Pirates in the NL wild-card race. -- Rogers

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25. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 35-39
Previous ranking: 22

The Rays are on pace for their first losing season since 2017, which could spark several moves ahead of the July 30 trade deadline. But one person definitely isn't going anywhere for a long time: manager Kevin Cash. The Tampa Bay Times reported Cash recently signed a contract extension through the 2030 season, and for good reason: Cash has over a .500 winning percentage with five postseason berths and a World Series appearance in his 10 seasons in Tampa. The Rays have been a steady winner despite their payroll restrictions. History strongly suggests they'll get back on track -- whether that's this season or next. -- Castillo

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26. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 29-45
Previous ranking: 26

Other than trying to best position their roster for the seasons ahead, the best use of the rest of the Angels' season is to further the development of the youngest players on the roster. One of those is catcher Logan O'Hoppe, who has established himself as one of baseball's best young backstops. At the plate, he's been terrific, with an OPS since the start of last season that ranks seventh among regular catchers. The defense is a work in progress. Opponents have stolen an MLB-high 49 bases against O'Hoppe this season. Angels pitchers are partly culpable for this but so, too, is O'Hoppe, whose pop time outranks only three other catchers, per Statcast. His arm strength is a little better than average, so it's really a matter of mastering the small things in order to become a complete catcher. -- Doolittle

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27. Oakland Athletics

Record: 28-48
Previous ranking: 27

One of the more encouraging player-related developments for Oakland this season has been the blossoming of center fielder JJ Bleday at the plate. Bleday was the fourth overall pick of what has turned out to be a pretty strong 2019 draft, taken before early-career standouts such as Bryson Stott, Corbin Carroll, George Kirby, Riley Greene and Anthony Volpe, just to name a few. That he was acquired from Miami before last season for oft-injured lefty A.J. Puk in a one-for-one deal kind of tells you how his stock had subsequently dropped. This season, Bleday has played most days in center for Oakland and his 139 OPS+ ranks second to only Judge among qualifying center fielders. Bleday entered this season with a career OPS+ of 79. -- Doolittle

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28. Colorado Rockies

Record: 26-48
Previous ranking: 28

The Rockies suffered quite possibly their most gut-wrenching loss amid a gut-wrenching season on Tuesday night. They were up five runs in the ninth inning against the first-place Dodgers and then surrendered a grand slam to Jason Heyward and the go-ahead three-run homer to Teoscar Hernandez, one pitch after Rockies players and coaches believe he went around on a check swing that would've resulted in a game-ending strikeout. As the baseball sailed over his head and beyond the Coors Field fence, Rockies right fielder Jake Cave berated first-base umpire Lance Barksdale from his position. It was the Rockies' third consecutive loss. It sank them a whopping 20 games out of first place. -- Gonzalez

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29. Miami Marlins

Record: 25-49
Previous ranking: 29

After posting a 14-13 record in May, the Marlins are back to looking like they did in April, starting 4-12 in their 16 games in June. Manager Skip Schumaker doesn't have much to work with, but he made one of the more baffling lineup decisions of the season when he batted Tim Anderson leadoff on Saturday -- even though Anderson entered the game with a .250 OBP. Anderson went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and the Nationals won 4-0. The Marlins' team OBP has dipped to .284, which would be the lowest for an NL team since the 1972 Padres had a .283 OBP (the White Sox are at .280, so the Marlins somehow aren't even the lowest of 2024). -- Schoenfield

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30. Chicago White Sox

Record: 20-55
Previous ranking: 30

With all the success Garrett Crochet and Erick Fedde have had in the rotation for Chicago this season, it was 2022 third-round pick Jonathan Cannon who may have tossed the best outing of the year. Cannon, just 23 years old, pitched 8⅔ shutout innings against the Astros on Tuesday, using a sneaky sweeper/sinker/cutter combination to keep Houston off balance. He only struck out four batters while giving up seven hits, but there was a lot of soft contact, which kept the Astros off the board. Cannon nearly finished the complete game shutout before being replaced in the eventual 2-0 win and exited to a standing ovation. -- Rogers

MLB Power Rankings: NL shaken up as 2 teams surge up list (2024)
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