Rich 10 MLB Rankings (May 31-June 6, 2021)

Another month has flown by, and just like that, the 2021 MLB season is on the verge of transitioning to a brand-new month of action. 

As the “Dog Days” of the season begins to be spotted over the horizon, more and more teams hungry for the postseason have continued to make their mark. While the postseason is still miles away, their mark might only be microscopic when compared to the grand scheme of the entire 162-game campaign. 

Each team’s mark, though, might have been a little bit bigger when looking at this week’s installment of Rich 10 MLB Rankings. So, how does the top of the crop stack up this week? Let’s give it a read, shall we? 

Just a bit outside: St. Louis Cardinals (30-23) 

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 4-3

Although St. Louis dropped two out of three against the Chicago White Sox last week, they rebounded and won three out of four contests against the Arizona Diamondbacks. With the likes of Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina and Tyler O’Neill (among others, of course) doing what is necessary with the bat, the Cardinals will win when their pitching is as durable as it is known for. St. Louis might have lingered around this ranking position for quite some time, but do not fret, Cardinal fans. If St. Louis continues to play balanced baseball, they will be in the thick of things to the very end. No question about it. 

10. Toronto Blue Jays (27-25)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-3

Everyone expected Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to be atop the team home run leaderboard, but did anyone expect Marcus Semien to be closely behind him? After he rocketed a Domingo German fastball into the Yankee Stadium seats on May 27, the 30-year-old infielder now has 13 taters to his name this season. It is worth repeating – Semien has been a solid spark plug in what is a youthful lineup. Toronto simply has a knack for getting the most out of their position players, and it has been made apparent once more. 

9. Oakland Athletics (31-24) 

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 3-4

When you have a gritty team as opposed to a flashy one, there are weeks where the club in question does not implode, but does not take off, either. Such was the case for the Athletics this past week, as they dropped a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners before settling with a four-game split against the Los Angeles Angels. Nevertheless, a 162-game season is anything but a sprint, and Oakland realizes this. The A’s will head on the road and face off against the Mariners for a three-game rematch before they take part in an interleague set against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The good news? The Athletics are 14-7 on the road so far this season. That’ll play. At least, that is what Oakland is banking on.

8. New York Mets (25-20) 

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-1

Everyone knows what the Mets’ starting rotation can do, but their late-inning relief corps (most notably their closing unit) has been more of a mixed bag. Bring up Edwin Diaz in a sports bar in Queens and see the reaction you might get. Over the past seven games, however, Diaz has been much more productive than other stretches since he has made New York his home. Over his past seven games, Diaz has compiled a 2.35 ERA with 12 strikeouts and five saves in 7.2 innings pitched. Small sample size? Absolutely. It is all about the moral victories, though, and who knows, maybe this is the beginning of something new. New Yorkers can certainly hope. 

7. Chicago Cubs (29-23) 

Previous ranking: +1

Record over past week: 5-1

I mentioned in last week’s ranking installment that if they wanted to legitimately compete, the Cubs had to take care of business against the vulnerable opponents. The North Siders did just that this past week, as they not only swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in three games, but took two out of three against the Cincinnati Reds, too. One test (at least, for one week) has been passed. Now comes the next challenge – steal a series or two against the contenders. The Cubs will have their chance this week when they host the San Diego Padres for three before heading on the road to face the San Francisco Giants for four. 

6. Los Angeles Dodgers (31-22) 

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 2-4

A two-game split against the Houston Astros, followed by a series loss against the Giants, was not what the Dodgers hoped for. However, there is a glimmer of hope as they march into June. Cody Bellinger (fibula) and Zach McKinstry (oblique) were both activated from the Injured List (IL) over the weekend. Additionally, Albert Pujols has made solid contact since donning the Dodger Blue. It could certainly be better for the Dodgers, but then again, it could be much, much worse. I imagine the Dodgers will take what they can get. Bad weeks happen. 

5. Boston Red Sox (32-20) 

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 3-1

This is not to say that Boston was let off easy this past week – every game matters. However, playing the up-and-down Atlanta Braves and rebuilding (albeit pesky) Miami Marlins at Fenway Park is nowhere near the gauntlet compared to the next avenue the team will have to trek down. Starting on Memorial Day, Boston will play the Houston Astros and New York Yankees on the road for a total of six games. And the team’s reward after the fact? A seven-game stretch against Houston and Toronto. Time to see what the Red Sox are truly made of. 

4. Chicago White Sox (32-20) 

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 6-1

It is time for Nick Madrigal to get a pat on the back. The former Oregon State Beaver has been the unsung hero toward Chicago’s fluid, frequent and frenzied offensive barrage. In 46 games played this season, the 24-year-old infielder has slashed .300/.344/.412/.756. The power might not be notable when compared to the rest of the South Side sluggers, but generating power is not his job. Instead, Madrigal’s role is to be the table-setter for the rest of the lineup, and it has showed, whether it be from batting second, ninth or anywhere in-between. As Madrigal and the rest of his team have illustrated, they will not go quietly after the “unwritten rule” controversy that plagued them last week. 

3. San Francisco Giants (33-20) 

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 5-1

San Francisco has been a tricky team to rank, solely based on the fact that they are top-heavy on one facet of the game and questionable at another. However, this past weekend the Giants combined their significant strength in pitching with some much-needed hitting, as they waltzed into Dodger Stadium and took three games out of four against their inter-division rival. Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Co. might not be what they once were, but if San Francisco continues to pitch at a high level, they might not need to be elite. 

2. San Diego Padres (34-20) 

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 4-3

The Padres not only maintain a premier position in this ranking installment, but also hold the honor of possessing the best run differential in the entire sport (+86). This does not tell the entire story, however. After all, their weekend interleague series against the Houston Astros illustrated the main point of emphasis – this team, even with a deficit in front of them, can fight their way back. Putting up a seven-spot in the 11th inning Friday night, followed by a five-run deficit turned three-run margin of victory on Saturday, should tell the entire league that the Padres are for real. Now, if they could get Blake Snell into working order…

1. Tampa Bay Rays (34-20) 

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 5-1

All good things must come to an end, and while Tampa Bay’s 11-game winning streak was snapped on May 25 (a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals), they promptly started up another one the next day. While a four-game winning streak does not sound as dandy as a double-digit one, every streak must start at one, right? With youthful pitching sprinkled in with a veteran or two (hello there, Rich Hill), Tampa Bay will continue to win games. It is their bread-and-butter and they are certainly good at it. This is why they are No. 1 in this ranking installment, of course.

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