Sports

MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

We are now two weeks into the 2021 MLB season and one thing is already becoming very clear: It’s the Los Angeles Dodgers and then everyone else so far.

L.A. is once again a unanimous No. 1 in our Week 2 MLB Power Rankings — but then things start to get interesting with movement throughout our top 10, starting at the No. 2 spot.

Do our voters favor the San Diego Padres over the New York Yankees even with Fernando Tatis Jr. on the injured list? Which American League teams are hot on that pair’s heels? And what did our voters make of hot starts by the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels?

And at the bottom of our rankings, has anyone played poorly enough to move the Pittsburgh Pirates out of No. 30?

Here is what our expert panel decided based on what we’ve seen. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 2 observation for all 30 teams.

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Opening Day


1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 10-2
Previous ranking: 1

Trevor Bauer has been as advertised — with a 2.70 ERA, 29 strikeouts and five walks in his first 20 innings — and so have the Dodgers as a whole. They swept the Nationals over the weekend without both Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger in their lineup, a testament to their unmatched depth. When Betts returned earlier this week, he quipped: “We don’t really need me.” — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

2. San Diego Padres

Record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 3

The Padres have 10 pitchers on the injured list, and yet they lead the majors in ERA. The face of their franchise, Fernando Tatis Jr., is recovering from a shoulder subluxation, but Jake Cronenworth is emerging as a star in his absence. Perhaps the most positive sign for the Padres (if one can be gleaned this early): As of Wednesday morning, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers were batting a combined .341/.438/.634 in 96 plate appearances. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

3. New York Yankees

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 2

The success of the Yankees will likely rest on whether their rotation can step up. Jameson Taillon struggled in his second outing, going just 3⅔ innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and striking out three. Taillon, who is returning from his second Tommy John surgery, will need to show more for the Bronx Bombers to be a serious World Series contender. New York will also need more from Corey Kluber, who went just 2⅓ innings in his second start, allowing five runs, three earned. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 5

When you’re in the middle of April, it’s amazing how quickly a fast start can turn into a shaky one. The Astros rolled over the A’s to begin the season, but have gradually been sliding back to .500, a slump that was low-lighted by getting tattooed at home in back-to-back games against former manager AJ Hinch and the rebuilding Tigers. Zack Greinke hasn’t been great so far and the Houston debut for Jake Odorizzi did not go well. While the Astros still have a cadre of young power arms, the veterans on the staff — Greinke, Odorizzi and Lance McCullers Jr. — need to be a source of consistent innings, in both quantity and quality. Otherwise, Dusty Baker will be scrambling to keep things covered. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 4

At times, the Twins have looked like they may have their strongest team yet during their current run of success. However, there is a disconnect between their record and their underlying indicators that mostly can be traced to a 1-3 start in one-run games. Bad luck? Maybe. But there is no doubt the Twins’ offseason signing of high-leverage reliever Alex Colome has yet to pay dividends. Colome has blown two of his four save opportunities and has been tagged for seven runs (four earned) over his first 5⅓ innings. Over the first couple of weeks, Colome ranks dead last among MLB relievers in wins probability added (minus-0.9). — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 4-8
Previous ranking: 7

OK, they lost Sunday night on a bad call at home plate. Those things even out over a season … unless they don’t. Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to be one-man highlight reel. Just in the past few days we saw him beat out a routine grounder for a single, triple to right field and then score on a sac fly to second base. Most importantly, he has cut down on his strikeout rate and if that holds he’s going to hit a lot higher than .250 this season. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 12

While injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson certainly have not helped Chicago’s bid to build early momentum, some of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa’s choices have raised eyebrows. The most curious has been the odd usage of rookie Andrew Vaughn, who seemed poised to inherit Jimenez’s everyday spot in left field until the slugger returns. Instead, Vaughn has played less than half the time and La Russa has hidden him against most righties, instead opting for offensive ciphers like Nick Williams, Leury Garcia and Billy Hamilton. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

8. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 10

While the Angels wait on Shohei Ohtani‘s blister to heal enough for him to return to pitching, they’re enjoying his majestic power and blazing speed on offense. Through his first 11 games, Ohtani batted .364/.391.795 with four home runs and two triples, ranking in the top 2% of the league in barrel percentage. On Monday, he lined a 119 mph double. On Tuesday, he beat out a routine grounder by running 29.5 feet per second (30 feet per second is considered elite). — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-3
Previous ranking: 6

Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker are off to a great start through two outings apiece with a 1.24 ERA and just two home runs allowed over 36.1 innings. The Mets haven’t needed a fifth starter yet, with Joey Lucchesi getting his first opportunity on Friday. The bats are struggling, but a positive early sign: Entering Wednesday the Mets are second in the majors in walk rate. This team will get on base and score runs. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 8

The defending American League champions stumbled out of the gate, with questions rising about the rotation. Starter Ryan Yarbrough has struggled, posting a 6.48 ERA through three starts. Rich Hill, Michael Wacha and Chris Archer — who just landed on the injured list with forearm tightness — will need to step up to fill the gaps left behind by the departures of Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 9

While Toronto dropped series to the Rangers and Angels, the Jays still possess a positive run differential, which suggests the team is outperforming its win-loss record in the early part of the season. One of the biggest bright spots has been Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has posted a 1.89 ERA in three starts, allowing no runs in 6⅔ innings and striking out seven against the Yankees in his last start. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

12. Boston Red Sox

Record: 9-3
Previous ranking: 21

Starting the season by getting swept certainly didn’t get Boston off to a strong start, but a hot streak by J.D. Martinez ignited the offense. Whether or not this team makes it to the postseason will be dependent on the rotation, which will need season-long strong performances from pitchers like Garrett Richards, who bounced back after an abysmal first start to go five innings, allowing two runs against the Orioles. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

13. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 19

The Reds took their show on the road after a successful homestand to open the season and have maintained their slim lead in the NL Central. The offense came back to earth a little, but they still possess the highest team OPS in baseball. Newcomer Tyler Naquin continues to be the surprise driving force at the plate. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 11

Rotation? Pretty good so far. Bullpen? Doing its job. Offense? Off to a sluggish start. J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius had combined for five walks and 44 strikeouts through Tuesday’s doubleheader loss to the Mets, leading to subpar on-base and home run numbers so far. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 16

The Brewers are showing signs they could be the cream of the crop in the division as they continue to pitch lights out with the twosome of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes performing as advertised. A resurgent Travis Shaw is helping a just-good-enough-to-contend offense, while Christian Yelich is beginning to look like his old self. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 13

St. Louis might be the most confusing team in the division, showing some signs of being a playoff contender but then taking a step back — hence their .500-ish record. Normally known as a pitching franchise, the Cardinals’ team ERA is near the bottom of the league. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-5
Previous ranking: 17

Cleveland has allowed the fewest runs per game of any team, ranks third in strikeout percentage and has yielded the lowest average on balls in play. Shane Bieber looks every bit as dominant as he did en route to last season’s AL Cy Young Award and leads Cleveland’s young rotation. And Emmanuel Clase has returned from a season-long suspension last year to join James Karinchak in giving Terry Francona one of baseball’s nastiest one-two bullpen combinations. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 18

Oakland looked brutal in the first weekend, getting outscored 35-9 against the Astros, but bounced back with a 3-3 week. Despite looking better, the team lost closer Trevor Rosenthal, who signed a one-year, $11 million contract this offseason, to thoracic outlet syndrome — he is expected to be out at least 12 weeks. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 8-4
Previous ranking: 23

The Giants’ starting rotation had been carrying the load, and that was especially true for Kevin Gausman, the former No. 4 overall pick who might finally — at age 30 — be coming into his own. Despite getting roughed up by a surprisingly good Reds team on Tuesday, Gausman sports a 3.20 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP through his first three starts. The Giants’ starters entered Wednesday with MLB’s seventh-best ERA despite ranking 17th in strikeout percentage. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 14

The Cubs are reaching historic lows at the plate. Through 10 games, they had compiled the fewest hits in franchise history with just 49. After a round of good starts by recently acquired pitchers, both Zach Davies and Trevor Williams imploded in their most-recent outing. And the schedule has not been an especially tough one. That’s coming. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 3-6
Previous ranking: 15

The slow start is concerning, although they’re just getting back their full roster after the COVID-19 outbreak. The big issue at the moment: What happened to Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday? He had the second worst start of his career (five walks, three HRs), the lowest fastball velocity of his career and was seen rubbing his shoulder in the tunnel next to the dugout. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-4
Previous ranking: 20

It’s very early but the brand-name veterans the Royals picked up over the winter have mostly struggled out of the gate. Lefty Mike Minor has been decent over his first couple of starts and Wade Davis has been a strike-thrower out of the bullpen. But among the hitters, Carlos Santana started 5-for-33 with a lone homer and Andrew Benintendi went 7-for-35 without an extra-base hit. Nevertheless, the Royals have managed to remain around break-even in the win column by eking out just enough one-run wins. It’s not a terribly sustainable formula, so K.C. needs the proven players they added for stability to provide stability. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-6
Previous ranking: 22

At some point during spring training, I wrote something along the lines of: “Don’t be surprised if Trevor Rogers has a better season than Sixto Sanchez.” With 16 strikeouts in 10 innings and a swing-and-miss rate that ranks in the 98th percentile, the early returns are promising. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-5
Previous ranking: 24

James Paxton will undergo season-ending elbow surgery, but the Mariners are sticking with a six-man rotation for now, with Nick Margevicius stepping into Paxton’s slot. Still, you have to think this means top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert will be up sooner rather than later — probably not in April, in order to conserve innings, but he has a chance to be the team’s best starter right now. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 4-8
Previous ranking: 25

Madison Bumgarner, owed $79 million from 2021 to 2024, has allowed 17 runs and has hit three batters in 13⅔ innings, even though his stuff has slightly ticked up from last year. In 55⅓ innings since signing with the D-backs, he sports a 7.64 ERA and has allowed 16 home runs. “I don’t know what to say,” Bumgarner said after allowing six runs to the A’s on Monday. He later added: “I feel like at any time things could start clicking.” If it doesn’t happen soon, the D-backs are in the type of trouble that extends beyond their 2021 hopes. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 27

You wouldn’t go so far as to say the Tigers have played well, but they have been lots of fun. The offense looks like it has one strength: hitting the long ball. Detroit has gotten multiple homers from offseason acquisitions Nomar Mazara, Wilson Ramos, Akil Baddoo and Renato Nunez. The pitching has mostly struggled but the entire franchise got a boost earlier this week when former top overall pick Casey Mize picked up his first big league win in dominant fashion, tossing seven scoreless frames against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 28

The Rangers have alternated between being unable to pitch and hit en route to their current below-.500 mark. They’ve been much better on the mound in week 2 but in getting swept against the Padres over the weekend, they scored just four runs in three games — including being no-hit by San Diego’s Joe Musgrove. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 5-6
Previous ranking: 26

Baltimore started its season on a high note by sweeping Boston, but has struggled to do much since. Outfielder Cedric Mullins remains the team’s brightest spot, hitting .442/.510/.651 with two homers and two stolen bases through 11 games. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

Record: 3-9
Previous ranking: 29

Antonio Senzatela has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in six innings against the Dodgers this season and has a 7.08 ERA in 48⅓ innings against them for his career. His response to those struggles? “I don’t know. It’s the Dodgers.” He can probably speak for the whole team. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings Week 2: Which hot starts led to a big move up our list?

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 30

With an injured Ke’Bryan Hayes, the Pirates are just not dangerous enough against good pitching to do much damage. The Pirates are in the bottom third in both pitching and hitting, which explains everything about their below-.500 record. — Rogers

Most Related Links :
newsbinding Governmental News Finance News

Source link

Back to top button