MLB Power Rankings: A red-hot AL team makes its top-3 debut


With less than three weeks to go before the All-Star break, the Guardians have made their top-three debut.

Cleveland, winners of seven of its last eight games, took a series in Baltimore to leapfrog the dominant Orioles, as well as the Dodgers, in our power rankings. Meanwhile, the Phillies took back the No. 1 spot from the Yankees, the Red Sox broke into the top 10 and the Blue Jays have continued their slide all the way down to 25th on our list.

What will the final few weeks of the first half bring?

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, Buster Olney and Jorge Castillo to weigh in with observations for all 30 teams.

Week 12 | Preseason rankings

Record: 53-27
Previous ranking: 2

The Phillies agreed to a four-year extension with Cristopher Sanchez that includes team options for 2029 and 2030. The deal guarantees Sanchez $22.5 million with the two options worth at least $14 and $15 million. Not bad for a pitcher not even guaranteed a rotation spot entering last offseason. Remember, the Phillies pursued Yoshinobu Yamamoto, which would have likely bumped Sanchez out of the rotation. Instead, he has a 2.67 ERA and has allowed just one home run in 84⅓ innings. — Schoenfield


nyy

Record: 52-30
Previous ranking: 1

It has been a rough few weeks for the Yankees after a smooth two months. Injury scares to Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. Significant injuries to Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton and top prospect Jasson Dominguez. Several bullpen moves — a few by choice to improve the group, a few due to injury. But the most alarming development has been the starting rotation’s recent struggles.

Carlos Rodon has been rocked in his past two starts. Luis Gil was knocked out in the second inning last week. And on Tuesday, Gerrit Cole faltered in his second start of the season. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner gave up six runs on seven hits (four home runs), walked four and didn’t record a strikeout in four innings. The Yankees have built too much of a cushion to fumble away a playoff spot, but they’ll need the starting rotation back on track to beat Baltimore for the division. — Castillo


cle

Record: 51-27
Previous ranking: 5

With their seventh straight win Tuesday, the Guardians improved their winning percentage to .662 — best in the majors. (After Wednesday’s loss, however, they’re now one game being the Phillies for best record in MLB.) Cleveland has finished with the best record in the majors six times in franchise history: 2007 (tied with Boston at 96 wins), 1996 (99 wins), 1995 (100 wins in a 144-game season), 1954 (111 wins), 1948 (97 wins) and 1920 (98 wins). Leading the way is Steven Kwan, who is finally qualified for the batting title and hitting .377 (best in MLB) with more walks than strikeouts. OK, he probably won’t hit .377 all season, but the last Cleveland player to hit .350 was Manny Ramirez in 2000 (.351), and the last to hit .360 was Earl Averill in 1936 (.378). — Schoenfield


bal

Record: 50-30
Previous ranking: 3

The Orioles rolled through the Bronx last week, taking two of three from the first-place Yankees to move within a half-game in the AL East race. The positive momentum ended there. Baltimore was swept out of Houston over the weekend before losing two of three games to the Guardians to start this week. The offense had combined for four runs in a three-game stretch before bouncing back to score eight and four runs in their last two games, but the starting pitching has been the more pressing issue. Orioles starters have combined for a 6.56 ERA and 1.63 WHIP over 46⅔ innings in the past nine games. The struggles coincide with Kyle Bradish undergoing Tommy John surgery after John Means and Tyler Wells were lost for the season last month. The depth behind ace Corbin Burnes is a huge question mark. — Castillo


lad

Record: 51-31
Previous ranking: 4

We know this about Andrew Friedman, the head of baseball operations for the Dodgers — he’s going to do something at the trade deadline. He has added stars such as Manny Machado and Yu Darvish in the past, and in other years, it has been lesser names. But he always does something. So it’s go time for some of the struggling players on their roster. The Dodgers have waited for Gavin Lux, believing in his talent, and he has had some good days recently. Chris Taylor has been throwing out hits lately, which is good timing. Friedman will soon evaluate and fix his roster. — Olney


mil

Record: 48-33
Previous ranking: 6

Should Willy Adames get some MVP votes? It sounds wild for a .238 hitter who has an OPS under .800 and isn’t among the leaders in WAR, but the award shouldn’t just be about stats. Adames is the heart and soul of a Brewers team that has been in first place all year long. But if you want stats, how about this one: His batting average in games deemed late and close is .308, while his OPS is .852. That sounds a little more MVPish, right? He also has a whopping nine multirun home runs. Remember, the MVP ballot has 10 spots. There are more absurd things than giving Adames a bottom-five vote. — Rogers


atl

Record: 44-34
Previous ranking: 8

Heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader against St. Louis (which they ended up splitting), the Braves were 24-26 since April 29, an extended streak of mediocrity following a 19-7 start. The offense had an .801 OPS those first 26 games but hit .226 with a .671 OPS over those next 50. The pitching has remained consistent: 3.62 ERA over those first 26 games, 3.58 in the 50 following. One bright spot is Austin Riley is finally starting to look like the Riley of the past three seasons, hitting .441 with five home runs over a recent 10-game stretch. — Schoenfield


bos

Record: 43-37
Previous ranking: 11

Jarren Duran spent last season bouncing between Triple-A and the majors as the Red Sox limped to their second straight 78-84 record. This season, he has solidified himself as a cornerstone and potential All-Star for a club unexpectedly in possession of a wild-card spot in late June. Buoyed by his elite speed, the 27-year-old outfielder is slashing .288/.351/.480 with seven home runs and 20 steals. He leads the majors in triples and is tied for the AL lead in doubles while being among the top outfielders across the sport in defensive runs saved. He ranks 11th in fWAR. In short, he has been one of the most complete players in baseball in 2024. — Castillo


sea

Record: 46-37
Previous ranking: 7

On June 18, the Mariners beat fellow AL front-runner Cleveland to begin a nine-game road trip. That pushed Seattle’s mark to a season-best 13 games over .500 and extended its lead in the AL West to a whopping 10 games. Order your playoff tickets now! Seattle still leads the division, but its lead over the Astros has fallen by more than half since that very recent apex. Suffice to say, it has been a long road trip for Seattle, literally and figuratively.

In general, the Mariners have struggled away from home all season, especially in run prevention. Well, they haven’t really hit anywhere, but the pitching has fallen off badly away from T-Mobile Park. Seattle has a 2.54 ERA while going 27-12 at home but is 19-25 on the road with a bloated ERA of 4.55. — Doolittle


min

Record: 44-36
Previous ranking: 10

Royce Lewis just keeps on hitting. The 25-year-old third baseman is batting .311 with 10 home runs and a 1.138 OPS in 20 games. After an 0-fer game last week, Lewis told reporters, “I don’t do that slump thing.” He wasn’t lying. He went out and posted a three-hit game the next day. He has at least one hit in all but five games he’s played this season and has rarely had consecutive hitless games in his major league career, though he’s hitless in his past three games. For the most part, hitting comes easy for him. Staying on the field has been the problem. If he does that, the Twins will have a superstar fueling a dangerous lineup in October. — Castillo


kc

Record: 44-38
Previous ranking: 9

With the Royals’ playoff probabilities shrinking rapidly, president of baseball operations J.J. Picollo and his staff have amped up their aggression with the roster. Struggling slugger Nelson Velasquez was demoted when spark plug Michael Massey came off the IL, and a reshaping of the flailing bullpen seems to be underway. In the minors, lefty Kris Bubic was shifted to the bullpen for the duration of his rehab assignment for Omaha. The Royals also signed veteran Jesus Tinoco to a minor league deal, though that signing is more of a flier than anything. The Royals haven’t been terribly proactive when it comes to churning the last few spots of their 40-man roster, so hopefully this spate of activity is not arriving too late for a team still in the playoff hunt — if the bleeding can be stopped. — Doolittle


sd

Record: 44-41
Previous ranking: 12

The National League mud bog of wild-card contenders is, for now, a messy race of 10 teams vying for two spots. You could make a reasonable case for each of the clubs, including the Nationals, but interestingly, many executives echo a similar sentiment as they assess what they see: The Padres should be the best team in this group of wild-card wannabes.

“There’s just a talent there,” one high-ranking official said of San Diego last week. “They’ve got starting rotation problems, but with [the quality of] their position players, they should win a spot. Nobody can hit — but [the Padres] can hit.” — Olney


hou

Record: 40-40
Previous ranking: 15

All those who were ready to pop a cork over the demise of the Houston dynasty had better keep that bubbly on ice, because the Astros aren’t done yet. Last week, we noted that despite the urgency generated by their glacial beginning, the Astros still had not been able to reel off a sustained winning streak. Almost certainly motivated by that exact power rankings-related commentary, they proceeded to reel off a sustained winning streak. With the Mariners and Royals stumbling at the same time, Houston is — as ever — very much in the AL West title picture and looms in the league’s wild-card race. Better check to see if that champagne has a return policy. — Doolittle


stl

Record: 41-38
Previous ranking: 16

The Cardinals’ run up the standings is looking more and more real thanks to a pitching staff that continues to overachieve. Of course, St. Louis might disagree with that description, but honestly, who saw this coming? The Cards rank fourth in ERA over the past month as, all of a sudden, Kyle Gibson has found the fountain of youth, Miles Mikolas has stopped giving up more hits than innings pitched and reliever Ryan Fernandez has turned into a monster on the mound. It doesn’t hurt when your closer goes 10-for-10 in save opportunities during that time frame as well. Plus, there’s still room for improvement, so it’s not like the Cardinals are necessarily peaking and will fall back. They’ve been impressive since their slow start and deserve credit for it. — Rogers


ari

Record: 39-41
Previous ranking: 13

The worst of Corbin Carroll’s sophomore slump is seemingly behind him. Through May 28, Carroll was batting .184 with a .279 slugging percentage. Since then, he’s hitting .286 and slugging .396 with a .387 OBP. He’s also contributing to the Arizona offense by getting on base and stymieing defenses with his speed; he’s scored 22 runs in his past 26 games. For now, however, his power has abandoned him — his last home run came on May 7. There is more work to be done in what has been a learning experience for the 23-year-old. — Olney


nym

Record: 39-39
Previous ranking: 17

Mark Vientos has been up and down between the Mets and Triple-A the past two seasons, including playing 31 games this season for Syracuse. He was recalled for a second time in 2024 on May 15 when Joey Wendle was designated for assignment, and he’s taken advantage of that opportunity. Vientos had back-to-back three-hit games last week against the Rangers and homered twice off Gerrit Cole on Tuesday. He’s still just 24 years old, and his rookie numbers so far don’t look all that different from the rate stats Pete Alonso put up at the same age in 2019. Vientos has been playing third base and while defense isn’t his strong suit, he’s certainly surpassed Brett Baty as the third baseman of the future (or maybe he’s a possible replacement for Alonso at first base, if Alonso doesn’t re-sign as a free agent). — Schoenfield


Record: 37-43
Previous ranking: 18

If the Rangers are able to crawl back into the postseason race, an unsung hero of their survival quest will be utility player Josh H. Smith. We’re including the middle initial (the “H” is for Harris) because he’s actually the third Josh Smith to play in the majors in the past decade. Josh H. has flourished during the absence of injured third baseman Josh Jung, whose recovery from a wrist injury may have hit a snag this week when some soreness cropped up during his rehab.

Smith has hit .294/.389/.462 this season, giving him a robust 144 OPS+. He’s literally put his body on the line: Smith is tied for the MLB lead by getting plunked 12 times already. According to baseball-reference.com, on a team led by superstars like Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Adolis Garcia, it’s Smith who leads the way in runs created and WAR. — Doolittle


tb

Record: 40-41
Previous ranking: 25

The Rays have surged lately after falling a season-high five games under .500 on June 18. Yandy Diaz is a significant reason for this. The first baseman was batting .243 with a .661 OPS through May after hitting .330 to win the AL batting crown and making the All-Star team last season. Díaz has resembled that 2023 version of himself so far in June, slashing .343/.365/.500 with three home runs in 23 games. He has recorded hits in 22 of the 23 games and multiple hits in five of the past seven games. The Rays, coincidentally, have won six of their past eight games to sneak back into the fringe of the wild-card race. Maybe they won’t be subtracting at the deadline after all. — Castillo


cin

Record: 37-43
Previous ranking: 19

Jonathan India is finally heating up. A team leader and basically the elder statesman of the infielders (along with Jeimer Candelario) even though he’s only 27, India was 10-for-17 over the past seven days (ending Tuesday) while compiling a 1.741 OPS — the highest in baseball over that time frame. Six of his hits went for extra bases, as his timing has been right on the money. He hasn’t flashed the same kind of power that he showed in 2021, but his current OPS+ is in line with that season, when he was the Rookie of the Year. Cincinnati has been looking for an offensive spark outside of Elly De La Cruz — and India may be it. — Rogers


wsh

Record: 38-42
Previous ranking: 20

The Nationals have a new rival after all the fireworks involving Jurickson Profar on Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Nationals lost both games, with Profar hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning Monday. That followed a walk-off loss Saturday against the Rockies, when Colorado scored once in the eighth and twice in the ninth to win 8-7. Kyle Finnegan and Hunter Harvey have been clutch at the back end of the bullpen, but Harvey factored into both losses and Finnegan was given the loss Saturday. — Schoenfield


det

Record: 37-43
Previous ranking: 22

Jack Flaherty’s decision to take a one-year deal with the Tigers was a bet on himself — and it may pay off in a big way. Flaherty has been dominant, with 108 strikeouts in 83⅓ innings — easily the best whiff rate of his career — but more importantly, he’s absorbing innings, averaging six per start. He’s been so good that if the Tigers kept him through this season, they could justify giving him a qualifying offer of close to $20 million. But for now, the industry wonders: Will he get traded? — Olney


pit

Record: 39-41
Previous ranking: 24

Should the Pirates subtract from their roster at the trade deadline or add? Their owner says they want to make a playoff push, but with their top pitchers being so young, some insiders say a postseason berth is more likely next year than this one. The simple thinking is the team should take it easy on young phenoms Jared Jones and Paul Skenes while building up their stamina for future playoff runs. However, with the NL so bunched, it might be a wasted opportunity to stand still. The next month of baseball will decide the course for Pittsburgh. — Rogers


chc

Record: 37-44
Previous ranking: 23

Normally, when a team has a good starting staff, it leads to a good season. But the Cubs are the rare case in which that’s not happening, mostly due to the rest of their game being problematic. The team has squandered more runs than is acceptable on the bases, played less than expected defense, slugged a lot less than last year and last, but certainly not least, they’ve blown all sorts of late-inning leads, including another ninth-inning meltdown Monday in San Francisco. That one ended on a walk-off walk issued by Drew Smyly, who nibbled his way into a bad loss. There have been many of them for Chicago this season. — Rogers


sf

Record: 39-42
Previous ranking: 14

In recent years, you could’ve reasonably faulted the effort of the Giants’ front office. But last winter, San Francisco was a big spender, scooping up unsigned stars throughout the winter, from Jorge Soler to Blake Snell to Matt Chapman. And yet nothing has really changed. We’re halfway through the season, and the highest batting average for any qualified hitter on their roster is .234 (Thairo Estrada and Chapman). Heliot Ramos leads the team in home runs with 10. Chapman has the highest on-base percentage at .314. The Giants fired manager Gabe Kapler after a 79-win season last year, and at present, they are on a trajectory to win 76-78 games under Bob Melvin. — Olney


tor

Record: 36-43
Previous ranking: 21

Orelvis Martinez’s career was flipped upside down over the weekend. On Friday, after being called up to replace the injured Bo Bichette on the Blue Jays’ roster, the organization’s No. 2 prospect made his major league debut and registered his first hit. On Sunday, Martinez was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, lost their sixth straight game that day. It was a fitting week for Toronto, a club with playoff expectations now closer to the floundering Angels in the standings than the third wild-card spot. This team could look very different come August. — Castillo


laa

Record: 33-46
Previous ranking: 26

Starting pitching will be in high demand on the trade market between now and the end of the deadline. Unfortunately for the Angels, we can cross one name off the list of potential targets: lefty Patrick Sandoval. His season is over because of a serious elbow injury that will require surgery. Sandoval was 2-8 with a 5.08 ERA, continuing a career in which he’s struggled to establish a firm foothold as rotation stalwart. During the three years from 2021 through 2023, he posted a 3.53 ERA (122 ERA+) while averaging 127 innings per season. It’s not prime Chuck Finley, but in 2024, those numbers will play. Nevertheless — and say what you want about pitcher records — Sandoval is 27 years old and has 19 career wins and a 19-45 mark despite a 108 career ERA+. Now, the bad luck has gotten worse. — Doolittle


oak

Record: 29-54
Previous ranking: 27

And then there were none. Maybe. Oakland designated veteran reliever Aaron Brooks for assignment on June 25, ending the righty’s stay in the majors for now. If he doesn’t land another big league job, it will end a nearly two-decade reign for Aaron Brooks in American major league sports that has spanned the NFL, NBA and MLB. They weren’t all the same guy, of course, but the name — Aaron Brooks — has quarterbacked the New Orleans Saints (2000 to 2006), played point guard for various NBA teams (2007 to 2018) and operated out of big league bullpens for four teams (2014 to present). Can it really be over? — Doolittle


mia

Record: 28-52
Previous ranking: 29

It somehow just keeps getting worse for the Marlins, as they recently transferred Jesus Luzardo from the 15-day IL to the 60-day IL with a lumbar stress reaction (so take him off those trade rumor lists). The IL for the Marlins now includes starting pitchers Luzardo, Sandy Alcantara, Braxton Garrett, Ryan Weathers, Edward Cabrera, Eury Perez and Sixto Sanchez. They’ve used 13 different starters but somehow rank 28th in the majors in rotation ERA instead of last. With a 5.01 rotation ERA, they should avoid the franchise worst of 5.58 in 2007. Despite that, the Marlins still managed to win consecutive series against the Cardinals and Mariners (including three straight walk-off wins). — Schoenfield


col

Record: 27-53
Previous ranking: 28

If we were to draw up a list of the best fans in major league baseball, the Rockies’ faithful would have to be in the conversation. Think about what they’ve signed up for. This is a franchise that has posted a winning record just twice in the past 14 seasons — and yet, Colorado fans consistently turn out in the range of 30,000 a game. Their loyalty to the sport seems to be the only sure thing about the organization’s future. — Olney


chw

Record: 21-61
Previous ranking: 30

We’ve written about Garrett Crochet a few times in this space, but he deserves even more recognition after yet another stellar performance — this time against the mighty Dodgers. Granted, it was sans Mookie Betts, but Crochet mowed through them like it was his own lineup of last-place hitters. He only pitched 5⅔ innings, but that’s because the White Sox are taking it easy on him in his first year as a starter and with the trade deadline approaching — but he was extremely effective while in there. He gave up five hits without issuing a walk while striking out six. He continues to lead the AL in K’s — he’s up to 130 now — and he leads the majors with 17 starts. Teams should be lining up for his services next month. — Rogers



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