Rich 10 MLB Rankings (Apr. 27-May 3, 2021)

As the 2021 MLB season rolls into a new month, teams are starting to show stride. Now, this comes with a disclaimer – it is still early. However, significant strengths and potential weaknesses are beginning to show themselves in more ways than one for many clubs across the sport. 

Even when you discount the issues teams might think they have through the first handful of weeks, there has still been much to discuss, whether it be seven-inning “no-hitters,” front office resignations or thrilling late-game comebacks. 

Whatever MLB topic suits your fancy, this much is certain – another installment of Rich 10 MLB Rankings is in order. Here is where the top teams rank as the month of April wanes down. 

Just a bit outside: New York Mets (9-8)

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 2-3

A three-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs last week was not what New York envisioned after winning five of their previous six games. Winning two out of three against the Washington Nationals over the weekend was a nice rebound, but they will have little, if any, room to ease up on the throttle. Their next several opponents include Boston, Philadelphia and St. Louis, just to name a few. When the Mets are at their best, they are one of the more complete teams in baseball in terms of position player and pitching talent. Now, it is about finding consistency with it. 

10. Houston Astros (11-11)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-2

After COVID-19 derailed several of their star producers, Houston has started to find their winning ways once more as their players have made their return to the baseball diamond. Scoring 16 runs on Apr. 24 definitely illustrated this, but instead of Alex Bregman or Yordan Alvarez stealing the show, it was Kent Emanuel who, in his MLB debut, came in for relief after starter Jake Odorizzi exited the first inning after retiring only one batter. Emanuel went on to go the distance and pitch 8.2 innings of two-run ball. The last time a reliever pitched 8.0 innings or more in his MLB debut was Sept. 4, 1984, when Roger Mason of the Detroit Tigers pitched 8.0 innings against the Baltimore Orioles in what amounted to a 4-1 loss for the former. Houston is still a mixed bag in terms of what their true potential is, but if they can get more performances like this, they could find themselves in better shape. 

9. Seattle Mariners (13-10)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 2-3

Sometimes, players must take their talents overseas to rekindle their craft. This is exactly what Chris Flexen did. After a slew of sub-par MLB seasons, the Newark, California native pitched for the KBO League’s Doosan Bears in 2020 before signing with Seattle for two years and $4.75 million during the offseason. Through four games started, the 26-year-old has pitched to a 2.74 ERA in 23.0 innings pitched. His 4.20 strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio might simmer down to a more mortal total as the season progresses, but no one can deny that Flexen has made the most of his opportunity so far.  

8. San Francisco Giants (15-8)

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 4-2

San Francisco’s offense has definitely surprised some, but so has their starting corps. Even with Johnny Cueto on the 10-Day Injured List (IL) with a lat strain, the likes of Kevin Gausman, Aaron Sanchez and Alex Wood have helped their team not miss a beat in the slightest. This is without even mentioning Anthony DeSclafani, who pitched a complete game shutout on Apr. 26 against the Colorado Rockies. Say what you want about the Giants, but they can definitely take reclamation projects and get phenomenal production out of them. This has been the name of their rotation, and so far, so good. 

7. Chicago White Sox (12-9)

Previous ranking: +1

Record over past week: 3-0

Chicago just might be starting to find a groove, as the South Siders are winners of four straight dating back to Apr. 20. At their best, Chicago’s offense is a nine-deep machine that can constantly churn out hits every single inning. What is scary for the rest of the league is the fact that the reigning 2020 American League Most Valuable Player in Jose Abreu has yet to hit at the level he did last season (he is currently slashing .225/.312/.438/.749 through 21 games played). Once Abreu inevitably finds a hot bat, Chicago will be much more lethal of a club. 

6. Kansas City Royals (14-7)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 5-0

How has Kansas City surprised pundits so far this season? By going back to their bread-and-butter, of course. What exactly is there forte, though? Simple – their knack for making contact and stealing bases. Heading into Apr. 27 action, Kansas City has struck out 165 times, fourth-best in all of baseball. Their 22 stolen bases, meanwhile, ranks second (San Diego has 32). After sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four this past weekend, the Royals will look to keep up their momentum this week when they play the rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates (two games) and struggling Minnesota Twins (three games). 

5. Milwaukee Brewers (13-9)

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 3-2

There is a plethora of star starting pitching in the game today, but no starting staff has been as sharp as Milwaukee so far this season. Through Apr. 26, Milwaukee’s 2.43 starter ERA ranks second in all of MLB (San Francisco’s 2.11 starter ERA ranks first). Opponents are batting .191 combined against the likes of Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Co. Hitting the ball has been more of a struggle for the Brew Crew, as the team’s 239 strikeouts trails only Texas (248) for the most in all of baseball. All eyes will be on Christian Yelich (back), who could return to the lineup by the end of the week.  

4. Boston Red Sox (14-9)

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 2-3

We see you, Eduardo Rodriguez. In four games started this season, the 28-year-old southpaw is 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA in 23.0 innings pitched. While Rodriguez was never wild with his pitches in previous seasons, he was not completely precise with them, either, as the lefty walked more than three batters per nine innings pitched in his previous four years of action. So far this season, though, he has put this notion to bed, as he has only walked two total batters. This is good enough for a 0.78 walks per nine innings pitched total (BB/9). Rodriguez’s increase in precision was very noticeable on Apr. 25 when he did not yield a walk in seven innings of work against Seattle. When healthy, Rodriguez is a valuable asset, and should Boston continue to turn heads, they will need their starter to keep it up. 

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (15-8)

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 1-4

Going 3-17 with runners in scoring position will not get the job done in the majority of baseball games. Going 8-43 over the course of entire four-game set will not get a winning streak going, either, but such was the case for the Dodgers against the surging San Diego Padres on Sunday and for the entirety of the four-game series, respectively. Even with the offense sputtering, the Dodgers can hang their cap knowing their pitching will remain strong, and the hitting will eventually find a groove. This might be a blanket statement, but when you look at the sheer amount of talent they have at their disposal, it is not completely far-fetched. 

2. San Diego Padres (13-11)

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 3-2

At this stage of the article, you probably have taken a glimpse at one of the video clips in the opening, but in case you did not, I will paint the picture for you – San Diego faced a 7-1 deficit at Dodger Stadium at the start of the seventh inning of Apr. 25. With nine outs to work with, the Friars immediately went to work and grinded all the way back to tie the game up in the ninth inning. An 11th-inning Eric Hosmer sacrifice fly later, and San Diego went home with the series win against their heated rival. To say taking three out of four on the road is one thing, but for San Diego to do it against the Dodgers? Just saying it like that makes it jaw-dropping. 

1. Oakland Athletics (15-8)

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 4-1

The mark of a resilient team reveals itself the moment a torrid winning streak is snapped. Although Oakland’s 13-game winning streak was snapped in Baltimore on Sunday, what did Oakland do after the fact? Buckle up, pack the bags and call the road trip right then and there? Of course not. Instead, they grinded out a hard-fought 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field the very next day. The Athletics only mustered together three hits in the contest, but if they are still winning games despite it, this is not solely a sign of stingy pitching. No, this is also a sign of unwavering tenacity. 

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