Believe it or not, we are already about a month into the 2021 MLB season with the calendar set to flip to May. Many teams have broken out surprisingly this season, while other teams haven’t quite hit expectations yet. Come see where your favourite team ranks on the April edition of The Intermission’s MLB Power Rankings.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-11)
After a hot start, the Dodgers have started to cool down a bit, dropping seven of their last ten games. The offense has languished a bit, but it will undoubtedly come around again. The serious concerns for the Dodgers are in their bullpen. Corey Knebel, David Price, and Victor Gonzalez are now hurt, and their bullpen ranks near the bottom of the league in WHIP -- only the Rockies and Tigers have a worse WHIP.
2. San Diego Padres (15-12)
Fernando Tatis Jr. caught fire against the Dodgers in a four-game series at Dodger Stadium, totaling five home runs and three stolen bases. Trent Grisham has also been on fire for the Padres to start the season, hitting .300 with an .894 OPS. The Padres offense remains dangerous when those two are clicking at the top of the lineup.
3. Oakland Athletics (16-11)
After dropping seven of their eight first games of the season, the A’s managed to go on a tear, winning 13 games in a row before finally losing to the Orioles. The bullpen has been elite, with Yusmeiro Petit leading the way. The reliever has a 1.10 ERA along with 11 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched. He’s been an x-factor for the A’s to start the season.
4. San Francisco Giants (16-10)
The Giants have been a surprising breakout team to start the season. The starting pitching has been elite, boasting the lowest ERA for starting pitchers in the league. When you consider who’s in this group, it’s a pretty amazing feat -- a former first-round pick who was once considered a bust; a 14-year veteran who has only totaled 25 starts over the three previous seasons; a guy coming off of shoulder surgery; a guy with a 7.22 ERA last season; a 24-year old fourth-round pick who earned a spot on the rotation during spring training; and a 30-year old with a lot of medical history.
5. Boston Red Sox (17-10)
The Red Sox hitting has been elite to start the season. The team boasts the second-highest OPS in baseball (.759) and ranks in the top ten for nearly every offensive statistic. Boston’s success will rely instead on their pitching depth. Garrett Richards had a great start in his last outing, going seven innings allowing one run, and striking out ten. If the Red Sox can get more good starts like these out of Richards for the rest of the season, we might be looking at an unexpected dark horse to win the AL East.
6. Kansas City Royals (15-9)
While the Royals have had a great start to the season and did boast the best record in the MLB for a bit, their success might not be sustainable. They are 6-1 in one-run games, and are hitting an absurd .381 in late-inning, high leverage spots -- the MLB average for this is .156. Still, the Royals have shown they can be successful and it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep up this pace.
7. Milwaukee Brewers (16-10)
Corbin Burnes has been a man on a mission to start the season. In five starts, he’s amassed a 1.53 ERA to go along with an absurd 49 strikeouts and zero walks in just 29 innings. He’s been a big reason why the Brewers find themselves in first place in the NL Central. Burnes being placed on IR for an “undisclosed reason” is a big loss for the club, but it’s not expected he will miss much time.
8. Chicago White Sox (14-11)
The early success of the Royals and self-destructing tailspin of the Twins as of late has coincided with the gradual arrival of the White Sox team we expected to see at the start of the season. They’re starting to look like the team to beat in the AL Central. The rotation has been consistently good, and the offense ranks near the top of the league in almost every statistic. Watch out, the White Sox are coming.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (13-14)
While they haven’t been playing like the defending AL champs, you can’t write off the Rays. Tyler Glasnow is pitching like a Cy Young candidate -- 1.67 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 56 strikeouts in 37.2 innings pitched. Randy Arozorena has also picked it up after a sluggish few weeks.
10. Houston Astros (14-12)
While the Astros have been dealing with many roster issues due to health and safety protocols, they’ve still been finding ways to win. Christian Javier has had a great rookie season so far, boasting a 0.87 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 20.1 innings pitched. Houston also boasts the second-best per-game run differential in the league.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (12-12)
After a disappointing season last year from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., he’s finally beginning to live up to the hype of being one of the most exciting young prospects the sport has ever seen. He’s batting a .360/.484/.693 line with seven homers following his three-homer performance against Max Scherzer. With many offensive pieces slated to return soon for the Jays, they could start to catch fire.
12. Atlanta Braves (12-14)
Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to be a one-man wrecking crew, showing no signs of slowing down. He’s hitting .333/.431/.708 with eight homers in the month including a monster 481-foot home run last Tuesday, giving him two 480-foot home runs in his career. The only other player with two 480-foot home runs since 2018 is Nomar Mazara.
13. New York Mets (9-11)
Francisco Lindor’s debut so far for the Mets hasn’t been great, as he’s been greeted by more boos than cheers so far. While Lindor has not been great so far, neither has the rest of the team. The lineup has struggled to score runs, totaling only 15 homers in their first 18 games. The only positive so far has been the two-headed pitching monster of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, who have a combined 1.17 ERA so far.
14. Los Angeles Angels (12-12)
The best player in baseball is playing the best baseball of his career. Mike Trout has posted an insane .425/.530/.759 line so far with seven homers in April. Shohei Ohtani has been a force both on and off the mound, Albert Pujols is posting some promising power numbers, and Anthony Rendon is back from the injured list. We know this team can hit, it’s just how far can their pitching help take them?
15. Philadelphia Phillies (13-13)
There are some big holes in the Phillies lineup at the moment. Alec Bohm is off to a slow start, Andrew McCutchen has struggled, and the Phillies can’t find a centre fielder right now -- Phillies centre fielders are hitting .154 in April.
16. New York Yankees (12-14)
The Yankees have been subpar to say the least. While they have picked it up against Atlanta, Cleveland and Baltimore, a slow start to the year hurt the Yankees. The Yankees also benched catcher Gary Sanchez in favour of Kyle Higashioka. At least the rotation has been solid for the Yankees -- Corey Kluber tossed his longest start in nearly two years against the Orioles on Sunday.
17. Seattle Mariners (15-12)
The bullpen has been great for the Mariners so far. They have a 2.29 ERA and a .180 average in the month of April. This is definitely a big surprise so far, as the Mariners ranked 28th in bullpen ERA (5.92) last season.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks (14-12)
The Diamondbacks are playing good baseball right now. The offense, led by Carson Kelly, has been a surprise, and Madison Bumgarner throwing seven no-hit innings in the second game of a double header is nice too. Zac Gallen also allowed only one hit in the first game of the double header as well. Those two hold the keys to the Diamondback’s hopes of pushing for a playoff spot in a loaded division.
19. Cleveland Indians (12-12)
The Cleveland Indians are an interesting team. They rank near the bottom of the league in batting average (.210), but rank in the top five in isolated power. The pitching has been solid, so if Cleveland manages to connect with some pitches for some runs, their pitching is good enough to win. Talk about boom or bust.
20. St. Louis Cardinals (14-12)
The Cardinals are slowly starting to find their groove. Carlos Martinez has thrown well, only allowing three earned runs in 13 ⅓ innings in his last two starts. Arenado is off to an alright start, hitting .265 with five homers. In a decent division, the Cardinals are going to have to hope that they can keep getting more out of their star players.
21. Cincinnati Reds (12-13)
After starting off the year sitting in first place in the NL Central, a seven-game losing streak bumped them right out of first and into third place. Despite this, the hitting has been phenomenal. The Reds rank near the top five in every offensive category. They will just have to hope that their pitching can keep up.
22. Miami Marlins (11-14)
Despite the pitching being really good, Trevor Rodgers is the only starter with a win right now, going 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA. His swing-and-miss stuff has been great (38 K’s in 28 IP) and has pitched 13 scoreless innings in his past two starts. The offence will have to start performing better if the Marlins want to have any postseason hopes this season.
23. Chicago Cubs (11-15)
Despite the resurgence of Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, the Cubs just can’t put it together right now. The team is playing too inconsistent; especially their offence. The only pieces of consistency in their lineup have been Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. This may be due to several key injuries they’ve suffered so far, but the Cubs will hope that they can get back on track in the month of April.
24. Minnesota Twins (9-15)
Byron Buxton is playing like the best player in baseball in April. He hit .425 with seven homers and a 1.363 OPS. Despite this, the team still dropped 13 of 15 games and the team ranks 28th in scoring and 29th in ERA. Something is definitely wrong in Minnesota right now, and manager Rocco Baldelli is on the hot seat for it.
25. Washington Nationals (10-12)
The Nationals haven’t been getting anything from their two big offseason pickups. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber are hitting a combined .157 with two homers, six RBIs and 37 strikeouts in April. They better hope they get more out of them in May.
26. Baltimore Orioles (12-14)
John Means has had one of the most underrated starts to the season so far. He has a 1.50 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in five games. Cedric Mullins has also been great in April, hitting .356 with three homers and nine doubles.
27. Texas Rangers (11-16)
After a great start for the Rangers rotation that saw them hold the best ERA in the American League, they quickly came crashing down to earth after getting swept by the White Sox, moving down to ninth. Don’t expect them to be great in a loaded AL West division.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-13)
Surprisingly, the Pirates are almost a .500 team heading into May thanks to a great week on the mound. Over their last seven games, they’ve given up just 16 runs. It isn’t just one or two players that are doing it for them either -- their entire staff is playing well.
29. Detroit Tigers (8-19)
The Tigers continue to be a poverty franchise in the MLB. They rank dead last in every offensive category except for home runs (21st) and stolen bases (15th). The pitching hasn’t been great either, ranking near the bottom ten in every pitching category. There is no hope in Motown.
30. Colorado Rockies (9-17)
The Rockies are just a mess. They’ve already lost Nolan Arenado after trading him for mere pennies in the offseason, and Trevor Story could be on his way out soon since he’s so close to free agency. The farm system is ranked 27th by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. The only positive this season has been the breakout of Ryan McMahon, who’s hitting .281 with eight homers this season. If McMahon can keep this pace up, the Rockies will hopefully try to ship him off at the deadline to boost their farm system.