Rich 10 MLB Rankings (May 4-10, 2021)

One month down. 

Five to go. 

Just like that, the 2021 MLB season has concluded one month of action and started up another. As all 30 MLB clubs begin to find their groove in playing day in and day out (COVID-19 pauses aside), more heated battles between inter-division opponents will only show out more and more. Is anyone opposed to the inevitable action we will likely see on top of what we have already witnessed? Yeah, I did not think so. I doubt anyone is opposed to another power ranking installment, either. Well, maybe some won’t like where I rank certain teams, but hey, don’t roast the writer harshly. 

Anyway, here you have it — the sixth edition of Rich 10 MLB Rankings, 2021 edition. 

Just a bit outside: Kansas City Royals (16-11) 

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 2-4

Last week’s performance was not what Kansas City signed up for, but nevertheless, they remain inside this power ranking installment. Should the Royals mask the potential warts in their pitching staff, they will need to swing a more consistent bat with a sprinkle of more power — the team’s collective On-base plus slugging (OPS) of .710 will likely not hold up against the bigger and more potent offenses in the American League. The Royals will finish off this week with three more games against Cleveland before playing the White Sox for three to finish off their seven-game homestand. 

10. Toronto Blue Jays (14-13)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-2

Although George Springer was not in the starting lineup on May 3 against Oakland, Toronto fans got a taste of what the 31-year-old outfielder can do (and why he was brought in on a contract worth approximately $150 million) over the weekend. Over the course of his Blue Jay debut on May 1, the right-handed hitter slugged not one, but two home runs out of TD Ballpark in Dunedin. In fact, his second bomb of the game went for 470 feet. Has it landed? Sure, Springer exited Sunday’s due to fatigue, but this was simply a precaution. After all, if Toronto wants more of what Springer had to offer, they will need to take it slow with him. 

9. Houston Astros (15-13) 

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 4-2

Many might have questioned what Lance McCullers Jr. would be coming into the 2021 season. Could he be that potential top-of-the-rotation starter many envisioned him as before he underwent Tommy John surgery after the conclusion of the 2018 season? Well, he might not be a reliable (and durable) ace yet, but he might be on his way to becoming one. After churning out seven innings of nine-strikeout (and shutout) ball against the Tampa Bay Rays on Apr. 30, one could make the case. Whatever the weather might be regarding what the 27-year-old is in the long-term, he is producing in the short-term, and that is all that matters.

8. San Francisco Giants (17-11) 

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 2-3

If anyone expected the Giants to still be inside the top 10 or this ranking installment in May, you might as well book a plane ticket, head on over to Vegas and sit down at a casino for an hour or five. It is the same tune sung on a different day (or week) for San Fran – the lineup might not possess the heaviest firepower in the league, but they can pitch. One of their premier starters so far this season has been Kevin Gausman, who turned in six innings of one-run ball against the Padres on May 2. A crisper release point has been the x-factor for the LSU alum, who currently possesses a 2.04 ERA in 39.2 innings pitched. The Giants will look to keep it going this week when they tackle the Colorado Rockies and Padres for three games apiece. 

7. Chicago White Sox (15-12)

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 3-3

The White Sox have already had to hurdle over the Eloy Jimenez injury, but now they will have to crank it up a notch even more, as outfielder Luis Robert sustained a grade 3 strain of his right hip flexor during Sunday’s match against the Cleveland Indians. The injury will sideline the star 23-year-old for several months at the minimum. With his high-octane offense and Gold Glove-caliber defense out of action, the likes of Adam Eaton, Leury Garcia and Co. will need to step it up as the South Siders continue their trek through a tricky American League Central. Does Chicago have the depth to potentially make it work? Perhaps, but it will not be easy.  

6. Boston Red Sox (17-12)

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 3-3

Matt Barnes won the Reliever of the Month Award on the American League side of the coin for the month of April. His four-seam fastball and curveball combo made it possible, but let’s not discount what Garrett Whitlock has done out of the bullpen. In 14.1 innings pitched this season, Whitlock has allowed only one earned run and has punched out 19 on top of it all. Sure, most of the rookie’s work has come in the sixth and seventh inning (he has combined for 9.2 innings of work there), but this should not put him on a pedestal below the closers of the world. He is bridging the gap, and Boston likes it that way. Why wouldn’t they? It is working. 

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (17-12) 

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 2-4

The big news coming out of the Los Angeles camp has not been the inconsistency in scoring runs, but in the severe injury bug that continues to sting an already struggling club. The most recent injury to plague the Dodgers came in the form of Dustin May, who exited Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers due to an elbow injury. The worst was expected, and the worst most certainly will happen, as the flame-throwing righty will undergo Tommy John surgery on May 11. How Los Angeles adjusts to the devastating loss will be interesting over the ensuing weeks. Months, even. 

4. Milwaukee Brewers (17-12) 

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 4-3

Look out, folks. Milwaukee not only made a statement by winning three out of four against the Dodgers, but also received reinforcements on May 3 when both Christian Yelich (back) and Lorenzo Cain (left quad) returned to the lineup and immediately showed their vintage in the batter’s box. The pair combined to tally three hits and drive in one, courtesy of a Cain solo shot off Philadelphia’s Vince Velasquez. Milwaukee might not be the healthiest team right now, but boy, if they do get healthy, they will be more lethal than they are already.  

3. Oakland Athletics (18-12)

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 3-4

Oakland fans should be excited. Why? Ramon Laureano has started to find his stride in the green and gold. Over his past seven games played, Laureano has slashed .286/.333/.643 with three home runs. The three home runs, in fact, have come in his last three games. His two-run tater in the bottom of the fifth inning of Monday’s action against Toronto was just what was needed for his team to prevail over a potent club starting to get a streak going. Laureano (in addition to most of the Oakland lineup) might not be the household name everyone can recite, but he is productive. And clutch. Oakland couldn’t ask for more. 

2. St. Louis Cardinals (17-12)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 6-1

St. Louis was a fringe team that just missed the cut in last week’s power ranking installment. Jumping the gun and vaulting all the way to the runner-up spot might seem blasphemous, but such is the character of the MLB season at this early stage of the 2021 campaign. There is a lot of parity, but this should not take anything away from St. Louis. Being winners of five straight games is something to brag about, especially if Paul Goldschmidt has yet to find his stride with the lumber (he currently has a .652 OPS). No matter. The starting pitching is holding steady, the bullpen is holding (and saving) their own and the offense is chipping away as needed. This might not be the most star-studded St. Louis team, but make no mistake – they are solid.

1. San Diego Padres (17-13)

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 4-2

A bullpen game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 3 did not phase the Friars in the slightest. Instead, six relievers combined to strike out 10 Pittsburgh batters in the 2-0 shutout. San Diego’s prowess in the relief department has been nothing new – the unit’s collective 2.82 ERA leads all National League teams and ranks fifth in all of baseball. San Diego will take every advantage they can get in what is an extremely competitive National League West. Then again, they have so many advantages that it is no wonder they find the top spot once more. They are not even clicking all the way yet and are still finding a way. 

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