Here are my Week 9 MLB power rankings with comments on the top 10. Hope you have a great Memorial Day holiday. Take a minute out of your day to remember those who paid the ultimate price to protect our liberty and what that liberty means.
1. Tampa Bay Rays (34-20, No. 5): I’ve always had respect for what manager Kevin Cash and his team have going on, but this 21-5 run has raised that respect to an almost awe-like reverence.
2. San Diego Padres (34-20, No. 1): GM A.J. Preller had the guts of a burglar in pulling off what he saw as a heist. I’m sure he thought he was stealing lefty Blake Snell from the Rays, but now he’s sitting with Snell’s sneer and an ERA of 5.55. The Rays, meanwhile, have a young, controllable catcher in Francisco Mejia and three other former top-20 Padres prospects.
3. San Francisco Giants (33-20, No. 7): Right-hander Kevin Gausman is 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. While my analysis of Gausman during his tenure in Baltimore always came across as being critical of the player, I was really railing at O’s management for force-feeding him at the major-league level when he was still a puppy. The Giants are reaping benefit of a full-grown pit bull. Ah, what could have been.
4. Chicago White Sox (32-20, No. 8): Manager Tony La Russa’s gang is taking charge of the AL Central despite his flawed leadership style. He’s relearning how to use the best closer in the game –remember, he used to have a guy named Dennis Eckersley — in Liam Hendriks. Just keep feeding that beast the ball.
5. Boston Red Sox (32-20, No. 3): That amazing offensive quartet of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers has slowed down a bit because Martinez is hitting an age wall. In April, the 33-year-old hit .351/.430/.745 and nine homers. In May, he’s hit .305/.368/.432 with three homers — still good, but not quite what he did in April.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (31-22, No. 2): Maybe the return of Cody Bellinger will light a fire under the Dodgers — or maybe if Mookie Betts could start playing like the guy making all that money. When I watch the Dodgers, they seem to have that they-think-their-you-know-what-don’t-stink look about them. They have to get in an entirely different gear if they intend to really defend their title. While I may have my doubts about Preller’s Padres, I don’t think the Giants are just posers. Plus, San Francisco has lots of money to acquire better help than just former Yankee Mike Tauchman.
7. Oakland Athletics (31-24, No. 6): Look, who am I to question A’s president of baseball operations Billy Beane, GM David Forst and the best skipper in the game, Bob Melvin? But while Chris Bassitt has become an elite starter, the rest of the vaunted rotation — Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and Mike Fiers — has been either ineffective or hurt. Lefty Cole Irvin has pitched well at times but is 3-7. Luckily, vulture reliever Yusmeiro Petit is 7-0 coming out of the ‘pen and James Kaprielian is 2-0 and looking the part of a solid piece.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (30-23, No. 9): With the NL Central likely to only have one playoff participant — the winner of the division — the Cardinals have two pursuers in the Cubs (No. 9) and Brewers (No. 13). Manager Mike Shildt may need to bring home a division crown to get into the playoffs and if he doesn’t do that, he possibly could be short-lived as a big-league manager.
9. Chicago Cubs (29-23, No. 15): I have talked at length about the volatility of the 2021 rankings, and no team typifies that more than the Cubs, who in the past four weeks have gone from No. 25 to 20 to 19 to 15 to now a place in the top 10. Manager David Ross gets props for keeping this ship together to fight another day.
10. New York Mets (25-20, No. 10): The fact is the Mets are playing well enough to be where they are, but none of their NL East competitors are firing on all cylinders and it doesn’t seem likely that any of them will get their act together. The Mets had to shut down the rehab of right-hander Noah Syndergaard for a long pause, so he may not be of any help this year.
11. New York Yankees (29-24, No. 4)
12. Cleveland Indians (28-23, No. 13)
13. Milwaukee Brewers (28-25, No. 14)
14. Toronto Blue Jays (27-25, No. 12)
15. Houston Astros (28-24, No. 11)
16. Kansas City Royals (25-26, No. 18)
17. Seattle Mariners (27-27, No. 23)
18. Miami Marlins (24-28, No. 19)
19. Washington Nationals (21-28, No. 17)
20. Philadelphia Phillies (25-28, No. 16)
21. Atlanta Braves (24-26, No. 20)
22. Los Angeles Angels (24-29, No. 25)
23. Minnesota Twins (21-31, No. 21)
24. Cincinnati Reds (23-28, No. 24)
25. Detroit Tigers (22-31, No. 26)
26. Texas Rangers (22-33, No. 22)
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-32, No. 30)
28. Colorado Rockies (20-34, No. 29)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (19-35, No. 28)
30. Baltimore Orioles (17-36, No. 27)