Rich 10 MLB Rankings (May 17-23, 2021)

As the 2021 MLB season begins to find its way, teams are beginning to realize once more that depth is key. While taking the league by storm for a month or so is certainly not criminal, leaving yourself vulnerable during the latter months certainly is. 

As teams begin to figure out their long-term depth pieces 40+ games into the season, another Rich 10 MLB Power Ranking installment is in order. So, how did the top of the crop shuffle out this week? Here you have it. 

Just a bit outside: St. Louis Cardinals (23-18) 

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 2-4

Setbacks happen, and St. Louis will have to adjust to one after getting humbled by San Diego over the weekend. While a three-game sweep at the hands of another potential playoff team was not what St. Louis had in mind, they will have a chance to rectify the poor showing this week when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates for a quick two-game series before playing the Chicago Cubs for three over the weekend. St. Louis is gritty. They should be OK. The key word is “should”. 

10. Tampa Bay Rays (23-19) 

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 4-2

Tampa Bay fans (and players) should be giddy with excitement. After a right knee injury sidelined Ji-Man Choi for the first month+ of the season, the 29-year-old made his 2021 debut on Sunday against the New York Mets and promptly collected three hits and one run in the 7-1 rout. With Choi back in the fold, Tampa Bay’s lineup is now more formidable and flexible with where they can slot in batters from top to bottom. In what is an offense-heavy American League East, this is necessary for success to occur. 

9. New York Yankees (22-18)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 4-2

It is as simple as saying 1-2-3. When Aaron Judge is healthy, he hits. The 29-year-old slugger is currently on a six-game hitting streak dating back to May 11. In three games against the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend, Judge mashed four home runs, which included a two-bomb game on May 14. Since his MLB debut in 2016, Judge has collectively slashed .325/.468/.727/1.195 with 24 home runs in 60 career games against Baltimore. Talk about an absolute beating. Word to the wise – don’t mention him to Baltimore fans. You might get tossed into the Inner Harbor if you do. 

8. Toronto Blue Jays (22-17)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 5-1

Perhaps the most overlooked signing of the offseason might have been Marcus Semien. While George Springer’s massive contract gathered most of the headlines, the 30-year-old shortstop has been a sparkplug for a Blue Jay offense attempting to overcome the Springer injury issues so far this season. His .819 on-base plus slugging (OPS) might not be elite, but it has been just enough to keep Toronto’s offense going. Semien and the rest of the Blue Jay bunch will play a brief six-game Dunedin “homestand” this week when they face off against the Boston Red Sox and Rays (three games each). 

7. Boston Red Sox (25-17) 

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 3-3

Boston was unable to secure the three-game sweep against the Los Angeles Angels this past weekend at Fenway Park, as a Shohei Ohtani two-run smack in the top of the ninth inning secured the 6-5 stunner win. Ironically enough, Boston has been better on the road this season than at home. Their 12 wins outside of the state of Massachusetts is tied for second-best in the league (Toronto has 13 wins), while their five losses are ranked first. Boston will vie to keep the road success going this week when they play the Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies for three games apiece. 

6. San Francisco Giants (24-16)

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 3-2

Alex Wood might not be your prototypical journeyman, but he has worn many a baseball uniform over the past few seasons. It might as well be moot now, as he has found a home in San Francisco. After his six-inning performance against Pittsburgh on May 16, the 30-year-old southpaw is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA in 36.0 innings of work. His most impressive feat has arguably been his home run totals – he has allowed only two baseballs to leave the ballpark this season. Should this 0.50 home runs per nine innings pitched (HR/9) hold up for the duration of the season, it would be Wood’s lowest of his career since his 2013 rookie season (0.35). It will likely average out, but hey, it is something to keep an eye on.  

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (22-18) 

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 4-1

There is always a catch, isn’t there? Let’s start with the facts. After losing two out of three games to the Angels last weekend, the Dodgers bounced back and swept the Seattle Mariners in two before they also claimed two out of three against the pesky Miami Marlins. You were waiting for the bad news, so here it is – a hit by pitch on Corey Seager during the Dodgers’ May 15 matchup against Miami turned out to be severe, as the 27-year-old will now miss at least a month after X-rays revealed a fractured right hand. As Los Angeles continues to overcome the injury swarm, they should be able to rest easy knowing they have a future Hall-of-Fame presence on their roster in Albert Pujols, who was acquired last week. 

4. Oakland Athletics (25-17)

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 4-2

Relocation talk aside, Oakland has a simple theory. If you win two out of three in every series, you will be well on your way to a postseason berth. Oakland lived up to this mantra this past week when they won two out of three on the road against the Red Sox and Twins. Oakland’s grittiness is well-renowned at this point, as you would assume. Now, they will need to show it once more this week as 10 of their next 13 games will take place at Oakland Coliseum. Their first series during the stretch? A three-game set against Houston. This should be interesting. 

3. Houston Astros (24-17) 

Previous ranking: +1

Record over past week: 6-0

Weaker competition aside, Houston is streaking, as the club has won six in a row and nine of its last 11. A significant reason for the surge has come from Jose Altuve. After a sub-par April where the star second baseman slashed .273/.315/.364/.679, the 31-year-old has started to find his stride with the lumber. In 14 games in May, Altuve has slashed .339/.415/.554/.969 with three home runs. The offense lives and breathes through Altuve, and when he is hitting, they are winning. Solid pitching helps, too. 

2. San Diego Padres (24-17)

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 5-1

No Fernando Tatis Jr.? No problem. Although the star shortstop and a slew of other fellow Friars were placed on the sidelines due to COVID-19, deep teams find a way to get the job done. San Diego fits the bill, and they showed it this past weekend when they swept a gritty and capable St. Louis Cardinal team in three games. San Diego will continue its nine-game homestand with a date against Colorado (three games) during the week and Seattle (three games) during the weekend. 

1. Chicago White Sox (24-15) 

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 5-2

An eye-popping 4-3 walk-off victory against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday reiterated the obvious – this team is legit. Regardless of the opponent, and no matter what the injury situation might be, this team comes up clutch when it needs to. While the offense finds a way to get the job done, so has the starting pitching. Here is the scary part about the latter – Dylan Cease, well-known for his control issues, has started to find his footing, as the 25-year-old has turned in back-to-back-to-back starts where he has shown his nastiness with a touch more control (May 16 vs. Kansas City, May 11 vs. Minnesota and May 4 @ Cincinnati). This isn’t frightening to the South Siders. No, this is terrifying for the rest of the league.

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