MLB Power Rankings: Where all 30 teams stand in the final week

With one week left in the season, it’s now or never for teams to secure their spot in the 2021 MLB playoffs. Ties, collapses, the kind of heroics that become legend — all are on the table as October rolls around.

Who is finally going to pull ahead in the wild-card race between the Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners and Blue Jays? Can the Dodgers avoid a wild-card game with a last-minute surge against the Giants? What standings will we see when it’s all said and done?

Here is what the members of our eight-voter expert panel decided based on what they have learned over the course of the 2021 season. We also asked ESPN baseball experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with a Week 25 observation for each of the 30 teams.

Previous rankings: Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 |
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31904647/mlb-power-rankings-week-16-where-all-30-teams-stand-clock-ticks-trade-deadline”>Week 16 |
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31856845/mlb-power-rankings-week-15-no-1-trade-deadline-approaching”>Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Opening Day

1. San Francisco Giants

Record: 104-54
Previous ranking: 2

Brandon Belt, who provided a .975 OPS and 29 home runs in 97 games this season, will be out four weeks with a fractured left thumb, a crushing blow for a pending free agent who has been among the Giants’ key cogs for more than a decade. But if you know anything about these Giants, you know they’ll find a way. With Belt out, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Darin Ruf — expected to be activated off the injured list on Thursday — will form a respectable platoon at first base. The Giants will undoubtedly miss Belt’s power and leadership, but they have consistently shown the aptitude to replace lost production. Wade and Ruf each boast a park-adjusted OPS 20% above the league average. — Gonzalez

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 102-56
Previous ranking: 1

Hard as the Dodgers might try, they can’t gain any significant ground on the Giants. They have won 39 of their 52 games since the start of August — the last of which was an epic comeback against the Padres — and yet they have gained only one game in the NL West standings. “It is what it is,” Walker Buehler said after Tuesday’s victory, the 27th instance during that stretch in which the Dodgers won a game and did not draw any closer to their division rivals. “You can’t help that the best record in the National League is in your division, and we’re right there. Win a few games, see what happens. If not, we’ll be ready to roll.” With the season drawing to a close, the Dodgers are gearing up for the likely outcome of a win-or-go-home game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium, with Max Scherzer likely taking the ball against Adam Wainwright. — Gonzalez

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 98-60
Previous ranking: 3

Is this the best team in the 24-year history of the Rays? The answer is pending and will depend on how much you factor in postseason success, but there are already plenty of reasons to think that’s the case. By the end of the regular season, the Rays should set a new franchise mark for wins, which was 97 going into 2021, set by the 2008 pennant winners. They won’t set the record for winning percentage, as last year’s club won at a .667 clip, but given the short duration of the 2020 campaign, that carries an asterisk. No Rays club has ever finished a full season over .600. And in expected record — theoretical winning percentage based on run differential — this year’s team exceeds last year’s team. Still, the 2020 Rays came two wins from clinching Tampa Bay’s first World Series. Whether this version is ultimately considered the best club the Rays have fielded will likely come down to getting those two wins. — Doolittle

4. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 95-63
Previous ranking: 4

It took a little longer than expected, but Milwaukee celebrated a division win this week. Next up is a date with the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series. Milwaukee was another team to run into the Cardinals, delaying the celebration for a few days after a sweep at home. But a sweep of the Mets over the weekend righted the ship for the Brewers, who can set up their rotation against Atlanta however they please. Their bullpen, however, will be missing top setup man Devin Williams, who broke his hand punching a wall following Sunday’s division-clinching game and is expected to miss the rest of the season, including the playoffs. Shortstop Willy Adames returned to the lineup from an injury and compiled a 1.076 OPS over the past week. He’s the engine for the Brewers. — Rogers

5. Houston Astros

Record: 92-66
Previous ranking: 5

The Astros’ biggest question mark entering the postseason is their center-field rotation. This assumes that Michael Brantley is a full go for the playoffs and can hold down left field, and that the emergent depth of the Houston rotation means that when Zack Greinke returns, he’ll be more a luxury than a necessity. The turnover in center that Houston engineered with the deadline trade of Myles Straw went fine at first, but has not been so great of late, with a collective .669 OPS mark at the spot in September that ranks 22nd in the majors. And when you’re heading into the playoffs, it’s recent results that draw the most attention. During September, Jake Meyers has tended to start in center against righties, with Chas McCormick getting the call against lefties, along with the increasing presence of Jose Siri. Meyers and McCormick have both posted an OPS in the .630ish range this month, while Siri has been the hot hand with an OPS near 1.000. However, Siri is a wild swinger who might be exploited against October-caliber pitching. Houston still has work to do in order to lock up the No. 2 slot in the AL bracket, but Dusty Baker and the front office also will have to figure out their scheme for center field.— Doolittle

6. New York Yankees

Record: 90-68
Previous ranking: 9

The Yankees went into Fenway Park over the weekend and swept the Red Sox in impressive fashion, winning 8-3, 5-3 and 6-3. They then ran their winning streak to seven in a row with a 7-2 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge both homered, the 10th game that has happened — and the Yankees are 9-1 in those games (losing only the Field of Dreams game). The last time the Yankees had two 35-homer sluggers was 2011 with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. — Schoenfield

7. Chicago White Sox

Record: 91-68
Previous ranking: 7

You want to point to an X factor in the White Sox’s quest to get hot in October? Of course you do. Let’s pluck some numbers from this arbitrary point: Aug. 9. That’s the date Luis Robert returned from his early-season injury. Since then, only three AL hitters have more total bases: Salvador Perez, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcus Semien. Robert has hit .367/.403/.645 during that span with 11 homers and 33 RBIs over 39 games. No one player is likely to carry the White Sox where they want to go over the next month-plus. But on a roster full of high-ceiling talent, no one has a higher ceiling than Robert. If he can demonstrate that when the White Sox return to high-stakes play, look out. He appears poised to do just that. — Doolittle

8. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 88-70
Previous ranking: 12

A historic 17-game win streak vaulted the Cardinals into the second wild-card position on Tuesday. St. Louis is doing everything right and getting production from newcomers on the national scene. Harrison Bader was player of the week in the NL, and Tyler O’Neill blew past 30 home runs for the first time in his career. The Cardinals were middle-of-the-pack in ERA last week but overcame all obstacles by hitting 18 home runs in six games. The Cubs were an accommodating opponent on the mound. — Rogers

9. Boston Red Sox

Record: 89-69
Previous ranking: 8

Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles dropped the Red Sox to a lackluster 33-33 in the second half, and suddenly the wild card isn’t the lock it appeared to be before the Yankees swept them. If the Red Sox need a win on Sunday to lock up a playoff spot, Chris Sale lines up as the starter, which puts Nathan Eovaldi in line to start either a potential tiebreaker or the wild-card game on Tuesday. — Schoenfield

10. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 88-70
Previous ranking: 6

The Blue Jays are focused on the collective goal to get back to the playoffs for a second straight year. Individual goals, even the MVP chase for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Cy Young bid for Robbie Ray, are set aside for that pursuit. But we can dwell on the individual numbers for them. In that, it’ll be interesting to slot Guerrero’s Triple Crown bid in the hierarchy of great Toronto offensive seasons. When you turn to sabermetric-based measures to contextualize results in time and place, Guerrero’s season should rank among the top five Toronto hitting seasons. Per adjusted OPS+, he’s not going to catch the big three seasons of John Olerud (186 in 1993), Jose Bautista (182 in 2011) and Carlos Delgado (181 in 2000). But he is bidding to become the fourth Blue Jays hitter to reach 170. But of course the best news for Jays fans is that, at 22, Guerrero will have lots of chances to move even further up the list.— Doolittle

11. Atlanta Braves

Record: 85-72
Previous ranking: 10

If Dansby Swanson can have one final hot streak, all four Braves infielders will end up with 30 home runs. Swanson is sitting on 27 heading into Wednesday, while Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley have each reached the mark. The foursome have also shown impressive durability, as they should all get to 155 games played if Albies plays in three of the final five games. Only seven teams have had all four primary infielders play at least 155 games, the last being the 2009 Phillies (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz). — Schoenfield

12. Seattle Mariners

Record: 89-70
Previous ranking: 14

Casey Sadler has become the third key cog in the bullpen behind Paul Sewald and Drew Steckenrider, and his scoreless outing on Tuesday pushed his streak to 26 consecutive scoreless appearances — a span of 25 innings in which he has limited batters to a .125 average. With 38 home runs heading into Wednesday’s game, Mitch Haniger is now tied for third most by a player who didn’t play the previous season (not including rookies). Cecil Fielder hit 51 in 1990 (after playing in Japan), Willie Mays hit 41 in 1954 (he had spent 1953 in the Army) and Ted Williams hit 38 in 1946 after returning from World War II. — Schoenfield

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13. Oakland Athletics

Record: 85-74
Previous ranking: 11

The Mariners defeated the A’s for the 12th consecutive time on Wednesday. Seven of those losses came in a stretch of nine days, essentially knocking the A’s out of the AL wild-card race. “It’s definitely frustrating,” A’s starter Chris Bassitt told reporters on Tuesday night. “Going into this year, I don’t know how many people on either team would have said the Mariners are better than us. But the game is proving otherwise.” The A’s late-season fade isn’t simply a byproduct of the Mariners’ success against them, of course. Bassitt’s freak injury and Ramon Laureano’s PED suspension were also major factors, as was a tired bullpen. But the Mariners certainly accelerated Oakland’s demise. — Gonzalez

14. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 82-77
Previous ranking: 15

Cincinnati should be where the Cardinals are sitting. Relatively healthy most of the season, and in the hunt, the Reds faded just as St. Louis took off. After three straight winning months, the Reds were 11-14 in September entering play on Wednesday. They’re still hitting home runs — they hit 14 over the past seven days — but that’s about all that stands out. Manager David Bell received a contract extension earlier this month despite the team falling out of the race. — Rogers

15. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 81-77
Previous ranking: 16

The Phillies pretty much needed to sweep the Braves, so Tuesday’s 2-1 loss just about sealed their fate for 2021. Bryce Harper might win MVP and Zack Wheeler will finish high in the Cy Young voting, but the story of this year’s Phillies once again turns on the bullpen. Their 34 blown saves are tied with the Nationals for most in the majors (heading into Wednesday) and they rank 24th in bullpen ERA. The back-of-the-rotation ideas didn’t work either as Matt Moore, Chase Anderson and Vince Velasquez combined to go 6-14 with a 6.34 ERA over 39 starts. — Schoenfield

16. Cleveland Indians

Record: 77-81
Previous ranking: 17

Taking the wide-lens view of Cleveland’s final season as the Indians, you can go back to consensus over/under figures from around the time the season opened. Those landed in the range of 81 to 82 wins, so depending on how things go over the final few days of the season, Cleveland will be either a mild disappointment or exactly what we expected it to be. That’s a mathematical assessment, but it’s hard not to fall more on the side of disappointment, simply because of the trajectory of the season. According to baseball-reference.com, Cleveland was 10 games over .500 into late June, at which time its playoff probability was about one in five. That’s about the time that the injury wave that kneecapped the Cleveland rotation really took root, so whether you want to point the finger at bad luck or a lack of depth is up to you. In the end, the last version of the Indians appeared to be perfectly mediocre at the beginning, and that’s precisely where it’s going to end up. — Doolittle

17. San Diego Padres

Record: 78-80
Previous ranking: 13

The Padres were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention on Saturday night and seem to be sleepwalking through what remains of their highly disappointing season. They entered 2021 with championship aspirations, but their offense underperformed, their starters didn’t pitch deep enough into their games and their bullpen took on too much of a workload. Now, with rumors swirling about a toxic culture within their clubhouse, fingers are being pointed at Jayce Tingler, who is on the verge of completing his first full season as a major league manager. Asked where he believes he can improve, Tingler said: “I just think being able to address things a little bit more quicker, certainly communication and things like that.” — Gonzalez

18. Detroit Tigers

Record: 75-83
Previous ranking: 19

The Tigers’ first season under manager A.J. Hinch exceeded expectations by almost any measure. Detroit entered the season with an over-under figure of around 67 to 68 wins and will exit it with a win total in the mid-to-upper 70s, easily the Tigers’ best mark during this half-decade stretch of rebuilding. The Tigers never seriously contended for anything, an experience all but ruled out by the team’s slow start. Still, the recovery from that start and the improvement on the roster both collectively and by individuals suggests the Tigers are doing a lot of things right. The buzz for what might be an aggressive offseason approach is already starting to build. That means the expectations for 2022 will likely be very different from those in 2021, but that doesn’t mean Tigers fans should view the soon-to-be-over current campaign as anything but a large step in the right direction. — Doolittle

19. New York Mets

Record: 75-83
Previous ranking: 18

As the Mets slog through these final games, a reminder that they were 56-48 and five games up at the end of July, before going 9-19 in August and heading to a similar record for September. In the end, even a healthy Jacob deGrom wouldn’t have been enough as the offense just never got going, even with the addition of Javier Baez, who has hit well with the Mets. The Mets rank 29th in the majors in catcher OPS, 24th at left field, 24th at second base and 25th at right field. — Schoenfield

20. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 75-83
Previous ranking: 20

In the past week, Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Joe Maddon each expressed frustration, in their own way, about the state of an organization that has clinched its sixth consecutive losing season and has made only one trip to the playoffs over the past dozen years. Ohtani’s comments were the most subtle but also the most cutting. Asked about staying with the Angels beyond the 2023 season, at which point he will be eligible for free agency, Ohtani said through his interpreter: “I want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.” In order to have any chance at contention, people throughout the sport have said, the Angels need to revamp their bullpen and add at least two frontline starting pitchers. They also need a healthy Trout and Anthony Rendon, two men who will combine to make more than $365 million over the next five years. — Gonzalez

21. Colorado Rockies

Record: 73-85
Previous ranking: 21

Jon Gray made what could potentially be his last start at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies on Saturday, allowing four runs and recording 14 outs in a loss to the Nationals. Gray will be a free agent at season’s end, and though there has been mutual interest in a return, there also is no certainty once players venture into the free-agent market. Gray has a 4.28 ERA in 145 innings this season, with 150 strikeouts and 58 walks. He didn’t live up to the promise of being the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, but he has turned into a solid mid-rotation starter, part of a group that morphed into quite possibly the best collection of starters in Rockies history. And he will garner plenty of outside interest this offseason. — Gonzalez

22. Kansas City Royals

Record: 73-85
Previous ranking: 22

The Royals entered the season with a little bit of hype around them. Initial over-under figures had them in the 71-to-72-win range, and that attracted so much “over” action that they ended up at 74-to-75. And, indeed, that’s where they’ll likely end up. Still, after being one of the past offseason’s most aggressive clubs, adding Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor, Carlos Santana and Mike Minor, among others, it’s been a bittersweet season in Kansas City. Such is the dynamic you end up with when you begin the month of May with baseball’s best record and a 15% shot at the postseason, per baseball-reference.com. It took two weeks for that number to dip below 1%. And that, more than anything, is what marked the Royals’ season: Inconsistency. Still, the Royals are going to end up with an improved winning percentage for a third straight season, got a historic performance from Salvador Perez and had a minor league system full of eye-catching breakouts. It’s entirely possible that this year’s preseason excitement will manifest in regular-season sustainability as soon as 2022. — Doolittle

23. Minnesota Twins

Record: 71-87
Previous ranking: 24

The process of doing an internal autopsy on what went wrong for the Twins in 2021 will be a fascinating one. And while we might not get a full accounting of those findings, we’ll get a pretty good idea from Minnesota’s Hot Stove approach. How much of this year’s considerable underachievement was a fluke? How much was a bad plan? Can things be fixed with a couple of targeted free-agent signings, or was that the exact problem with this year’s roster? It’s all kind of a muddle, but that’s what happens when a team goes from first place to last in what many view as baseball’s softest division. With the season mercifully drawing to a close, Minnesota’s brain trust has a quick turnaround to chart a course back to contention for 2021, or else pivot to at least some form of a soft rebuild.— Doolittle

24. Washington Nationals

Record: 65-94
Previous ranking: 26

A final Power Rankings tip of the cap to Ryan Zimmerman. We don’t know his plans for 2022, but this could be the end of a wonderful 16-year career. He can still hit lefties, but it’s hard to squeeze a platoon first baseman onto the roster these days. There’s an unfortunate “What if” to his career if he hadn’t hurt his back and could have stayed at third base, where he was on a potential Hall of Fame trajectory, but he’ll finish with nearly 2,000 hits and over 1,000 RBIs. — Schoenfield

25. Miami Marlins

Record: 65-93
Previous ranking: 23

The offseason plan has to center on figuring out how to add some offense to the lineup. The Marlins are last in the NL in walks, last in OBP, 14th in slugging percentage, 12th in batting average and next to last in strikeouts. None of the top hitting prospects in the minors really broke out, which means the Marlins might have to trade from their young pitching depth. — Schoenfield

26. Chicago Cubs

Record: 68-90
Previous ranking: 24

The Cubs are actually fun to watch — that is if you like hitting and high-scoring games. First baseman Frank Schwindel hasn’t cooled off much, though the team did slump a little against the red-hot Cardinals as it was swept in a four-game series. The Cubs’ problems are on the mound as they have to overhaul their pitching staff which once again produced the highest ERA over the past seven days (8.78). It was a whopping two runs higher than the the ERA of the next-worst team. — Rogers

27. Texas Rangers

Record: 58-100
Previous ranking: 27

The spoiler role hasn’t been a fruitful one for Texas lately as it lost series to the Astros, White Sox and Yankees before splitting a four-game set with lowly Baltimore. After a surge at the plate earlier this month, the Rangers got some good starts out of their young pitchers. A.J. Alexy and Dane Dunning combined to give up just four runs over 9.2 innings in their past outings. The Rangers have some building blocks on the mound for next season. — Rogers

28. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 59-99
Previous ranking: 28

Pittsburgh has been a bit more respectable in September, producing its best win percentage for a single month since April. Colin Moran has been red hot, compiling a 1.257 OPS over the past seven days, but Pirates pitching is having plenty of issues. Pittsburgh had the second-highest ERA behind the Cubs, though rookie Max Kranick had his best start of his season recently, throwing five scoreless innings against the Phillies. — Rogers

29. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 50-108
Previous ranking: 29

The D-backs are wrapping up a thoroughly disappointing season, but Ketel Marte — signed at a team-friendly rate through 2024 — has been a stark positive. Through his first 85 games, Marte was batting .321/.383/.533 while drastically improving as a right-handed hitter. Marte, who will turn 28 in October, began the season in center field but has moved to second base down the stretch. He is expected to remain at the latter position next season. The question is: What type of group will surround him? — Gonzalez

30. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 51-107
Previous ranking: 30

Baltimore has actually found a little mojo on the mound to end the season, giving up more than four runs only twice in its past eight games entering play on Wednesday. That might not sound like much, but for a team with the highest ERA in the game, the little victories are worth noting. Twenty-five-year-old rookie Zac Lowther threw his best game of his young career last week, pitching five scoreless innings against the Rangers. — Rogers

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