What’s rather remarkable about the 2021 baseball season’s first five weeks is how unremarkably the great majority of teams have played.
The Dodgers got off to a 14-4 clip but have lost seven of their last 10. Two teams on the flip side of that coin — the Rockies (10-18) and the Tigers (8-21) — look like they are in a pitched battle for the No. 1 2022 draft pick.
Twelve of 30 teams have a record between two games above .500 and two games below .500. If you just expand that to four games above .500 and four games below .500, 20 of the 30 teams fit into that pocket.
That is what is causing such volatility every week in the rankings.
As Gary Thorne used to say during the Buck Showalter era, “Buckle up. This is going to be quite a ride.”
Here are my power rankings, with comments on the top 10 teams:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (17-12, No. 1 last week): The Dodgers’ top quartet of starters — Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias — have tossed 147.2 innings to an ERA of 2.62. But the late innings will become an even bigger problem, which makes the club vulnerable.
2. Oakland Athletics (17-12, No. 2): Just as Bob Melvin gets back savvy Mike Fiers to round out his rotation, lefty Jesus Luzardo breaks his left pinky playing video games before his start against the Orioles May 1.
3. San Diego Padres (16-13, No. 3): Yu Darvish has been has been as advertised, Joe Musgrove a huge surprise and Blake Snell soft so far. Not looking as if Dinelson Lamet (just two innings so far) will be much help. Good news is offense has not even kicked into second gear yet.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (17-11, No. 6): The Brewers are doing all of this with Travis Shaw driving in 21 and injured outfielder Chistian Yelich just one. Lefty reliever Josh Hader (Old Mill) being back in full glory helps a lot.
5. Boston Red Sox (17-12, No. 5): Two trios tell the tale of Boston’s surprising start. JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are doing real damage offensively. Starters Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta have 11 wins thus far. That said, reliever Adam Ottavino has struggled. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is a very smart baseball man, but did he really think the Yankees would have given up on Ottavino if he were really a useful piece?
6. Kansas City Royals (16-10, No. 7): Can you imagine what this club could be doing if Brad Keller’s ERA was half of his current 8.06 mark and his WHIP weren’t 2.14?
7. St. Louis Cardinals (16-12, No. 8): The Cardinals got a huge lift May 2 with Carlos Martinez throwing 8 shutout innings in Pittsburgh. A return to this form on a consistent basis would elevate expectations for the Cards.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (14-12, No. 11): The Jays’ young nucleus is leading the way. They have an early-season gut-test this week — a four-game series in Oakland.
9. New York Yankees (14-14, No. 12): I heard Aaron Boone during an MLB Network Radio appearance about 7-8 days ago talking about Corey Kluber and how close he was. Sounded as if it was just wishful thinking, but Kluber’s gem against the Tigers is a very promising development in Yankeeland.
10. Chicago White Sox (15-12, No. 4): First they lose Eloy Jimenez for at least 80 percent of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Now Luis Robert is probably going to be on the injured list for more than 10 days with a hip flexor injury. I’ve been wrong before, but it seems like Tony La Russa’s return could go south in a hurry.
11. Seattle Mariners (16-13, No. 13)
12. San Francisco Giants (17-11, No. 14)
13. Houston Astros (15-13, No. 17)
14. Tampa Bay Rays (14-15, No. 10)
15. Cleveland Indians (13-13, No. 16)
16. New York Mets (11-11, No. 9)
17. Washington Nationals (12-12, No. 21)
18. Los Angeles Angels (13-13, No. 22)
19. Philadelphia Phillies (13-15, No. 20)
20. Cincinnati Reds (13-14, No. 24)
21. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-13, No. 23)
22. Atlanta Braves (12-16, No. 15)
23. Minnesota Twins (10-16, No. 18)
24. Baltimore Orioles (13-15, No. 25)
25. Chicago Cubs (12-16, No. 19)
26. Texas Rangers (13-16, No. 28)
27. Miami Marlins (11-16, No. 26)
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-15, No. 28)
29. Detroit Tigers (8-21, No. 29)
30. Colorado Rockies (10-18, No. 30)