May 25, 2024

MLB Power Rankings: Our top 10 sees some shuffling; Who is your team’s early MVP?


By Tim Britton, Chad Jennings and Kaitlyn McGrath

Every week,​ we​ ask a selected group of our baseball​ writers​ — local and national — to rank the teams from first to worst. Here are the collective results.

“It was always the becoming he dreamed of,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of “This Side of Paradise” protagonist Amory Blaine, “never the being.”

We are firmly in the “becoming” stage of the baseball season, the time when first impressions often lapse into false ones while the storylines that will blossom in the later months are only germinating in the here and now.

Let’s take an early look at what those storylines might be. In this week’s power rankings, Kaitlyn McGrath, Tim Britton, and Chad Jennings pick out each team’s April MVP. Hypothetical past editions of this exercise would have highlighted luminaries like Chris Shelton or Runelvys Hernandez. They also would have presaged breakthroughs from Brady Anderson or Zack Greinke.

Size the grain of salt however you want. Us? We’re partial to another, more famous Fitzgerald protagonist, the one with “some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life” and “an extraordinary gift for hope.” That all ends well for Gatsby, right?

Stats through Monday afternoon.


Record: 19-8
Last Power Ranking: 1

One-month MVP: Marcell Ozuna

What a miserable first month for Atlanta. Spencer Strider’s done for the season, Max Fried has barely survived first innings, Ozzie Albies missed time, Austin Riley and Matt Olson aren’t really hitting, Ronald Acuña Jr. is on pace for a far less interesting 5/70 season — oh, and the club still owns the best record in baseball.

That’s the scariest thing that happened in the sport this month. Were you an NL East rival looking to dislodge Atlanta from its long perch atop the division, this is largely how you’d script it: injuries both small and large and unexpected underperformance from multiple stars. And yet, that’s still not nearly enough, thanks in large part to what Ozuna has done so far. A player headed for an inevitable sunk-cost release 365 days ago has hit 47 homers in 150 games since then, keeping Atlanta’s offense operating in the top tier of the majors despite the struggles of his teammates. — Tim Britton

Record: 19-12
Last Power Ranking: 4

One-month MVP: Mookie Betts

Who among the Dodgers’ former MVPs is their current one? How about the guy on pace for a 14-win season? Who, amid one position switch in spring training, switched to another position, one he hadn’t played in a decade and looks just fine there? Who leads the league in hits, walks, total bases and general aplomb, all while striking out a curiously low percentage of the time?

Yeah, this is a decision easy enough to be featured in those annoying banking ads.

Long an incredible player, Betts is making the leap to a transcendent one. This isn’t just the best April for a Dodger or a National Leaguer or a 2024 major leaguer. It’s one of the best Aprils a player has ever had. — Britton

Record: 19-11
Last Power Ranking: 2

One-month MVP: Juan Soto

What’s surprising about the Yankees is how far down the team MVP list we have to go before landing on Aaron Judge. He just hasn’t been very good. Neither has Gleyber Torres, or Anthony Rizzo, and Gerrit Cole is hurt.

So, how are the Yankees this high on our list? Their rotation has been steady, closer Clay Holmes has been dominant, and Soto has been Soto. Alex Verdugo gets a tip of the cap, too, but Soto is making a legitimate case for American League MVP while reminding everyone why he used to generate Ted Williams comparisons. He’s legitimately one of the best hitters — if not the best hitter — in the game. — Chad Jennings 

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Record: 18-10
Last Power Ranking: 3

One-month MVP: Gunnar Henderson

Henderson hasn’t just been the Orioles’ MVP so far — the 22-year-old shortstop is making a case that he could be a league MVP with his meteoric rise. Henderson has already hit nine home runs, tied for the second most in the majors, behind only Mike Trout before games on Monday. According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, Henderson’s nine home runs are two more than any other player age 22 or younger in the club’s franchise history. Along with his historic home run pace, Henderson was hitting .288 with 22 RBIs and a .960 OPS through 27 games. While much of the hype around the Orioles had been focused on Jackson Holiday, who was optioned back to Triple A last week, Henderson is reminding us that he is among the game’s best young hitters. — Kaitlyn McGrath

Record: 19-11
Last Power Ranking: 5

One-month MVP: Ranger Suárez

While Zack Wheeler has ascended to his usual spot atop the FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboard for starting pitchers, he only owns the third-best ERA among Philly starters. We shouted out Spencer Turnbull a fortnight ago, so let’s turn our attention to Philly’s ERA leader Suárez, who finally permitted a run for the first time in four starts over the weekend.

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It isn’t just that Suárez is keeping teams off the board; he’s also going deeper into games than anyone else in baseball. No starter averages more than his 20 1/2 outs per start so far this season, and Suárez has tossed 24 innings, or an average of eight per, over his past three turns. That sounds modest, right, but only seven pitchers have accomplished a run like that in the past five years. — Britton

Record: 19-9
Last Power Ranking: 8

One-month MVP: Steven Kwan

Last season, the Guardians had their first losing record in a decade. Their biggest problem was finishing last in the majors in home runs, which led to them finishing 12th in the American League in runs and OPS. The Guardians are known for their pitching, but they still need someone other than José Ramírez to hit.

This year, they’re back in front of the AL Central largely because most of their regulars are hitting at or above league average. Their WAR leader is Kwan, who had just a .710 OPS last season but came out of the weekend with an .829 OPS this season. He also has three homers, which is halfway to a career-high. Ramírez has been only so-so by his standards, but Kwan, Josh Naylor and play-anywhere David Fry have kept the Guardians offense humming. — Jennings

Record: 18-11
Last Power Ranking: 9

One-month MVP: Shota Imanaga

Some starting pitchers dream of finishing the season with more wins than walks — a feat accomplished just once in a qualified season since the Black Sox Scandal. (Kudos to Bret Saberhagen for the otherwise forgettable ’94 Mets.) Imanaga’s tracking there: four wins, three walks.

But he also dreams of finishing the season with more wins than earned runs allowed, which he’s also winning 4-3 so far this season. Despite middling fastball velocity, Imanaga generates swing-and-miss with that pitch and a huge amount of chase on his splitter and slider. He’s struck out 28 while walking just those three.

That ace-level performance so far this season has come in an area of need for the Cubs, who have placed Jordan Wicks and Kyle Hendricks on the IL recently. The team is 5-0 in Imanaga’s starts. — Britton

Record: 16-13
Last Power Ranking: 13

One-month MVP: Logan Gilbert

After a so-so start, the Mariners have slowly but surely crept up the AL West standings. As of Monday, they sat first in the division. And helping them get there has been their stellar starting pitching, which has rounded into form. Gilbert, however, had been steady from the get-go and leads the Mariners rotation with a 2.03 ERA in 40 innings. He also leads the American League in strikeouts with 44, two up on his rotation mate Luis Castillo (who has pitched better of late after his uncharacteristically shaky start to the season). If the Mariners are going to unseat the reigning World Series champion Rangers this season, it’s going to be because of their starters and so far, Gilbert has made a compelling case that he can help lead the way. — McGrath

Record: 17-11
Last Power Ranking: 6

One-month MVP: Brice Turang

The Brewers have fallen off their torrid offensive pace to start the season, but they remain top five in the majors in runs per game (5.26) and OPS (.763). Helping the Brewers climb to the top of the NL Central has been Turang, the former first-round pick who may be finally authoring his breakout, slashing .310/.371/.437 through 25 games.

Turang debuted last season, but the second baseman stood out primarily for his defense and baserunning, while his bat trailed behind. This season, though, Turang has increased his walk rate and cut down on his strikeouts. He’s also handling the fastball much better, as illustrated by Michael Baumann of FanGraphs. Plus, he’s still running well, with 13 stolen bases, and playing solid defense. Before the season, Brewers manager Patrick Murphy predicted Turang would “take a quantum leap,” and so far, that prophecy has proved correct. — McGrath

Record: 15-14
Last Power Ranking: T-11

One-month MVP: Marcus Semien

Back in 2021, the Rangers splurged on two free-agent middle infielders: Corey Seager and Semien. Last year, they finished second and third in MVP voting, respectively. This year, Seager is off to a slow start, but Semien has picked up the slack. While Jon Gray and Michael Lorenzen have helped keep the rotation afloat, and Kirby Yates and David Robertson have stepped up in the bullpen, Semien has been as steady as they come at second base. He’s played in every game this season, he leads the majors in outs above average with seven through Monday, and he’s putting up offensive numbers remarkably similar to the ones he had last year. Adolis García’s hit for more power, and Josh Smith has provided a less predictable boost, but Semien has been an indispensable anchor. — Jennings 


Minnesota second baseman Edouard Julien has played a big part in the Twins’ recent momentum swing. (David Berding / Getty Images)

Record: 15-13
Last Power Ranking: 22

One-month MVP: Edouard Julien

After a slow start for the Twins, sweeps against the lowly White Sox and Angels have boosted morale. They also pushed the Twins up to a winning record, and if the team can continue to hover around .500 or above until June 1, they should have a chance at the division, our Aaron Gleeman wrote in his mailbag. One of the bright spots in Minnesota’s lineup has been Julien, who, as of this writing, leads the club with seven home runs and is slashing .236/.333/.528 after 27 games. With Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis on the injured list and much of their lineup underperforming, Julien and catcher Ryan Jeffers are doing their part to keep the Twins relevant in the winnable AL Central. — McGrath

Record: 16-13
Last Power Ranking: 17

One-month MVP: Tanner Houck

Cards on the table: I’m not sure what to do with this one. My first thought was to split the prize between catchers Connor Wong and Reese McGuire (both have hit, and they’ve called games for a shockingly good staff). Outfielders Wilyer Abreu and Tyler O’Neill were also worth consideration. The same goes for starter Kutter Crawford, and even Rule 5 pick Justin Slaten deserves at least a nod of recognition.

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But Houck pitched another gem on Sunday, and that tipped the scales. The rotation has been an unexpected strength of the Red Sox, who are surprisingly relevant (given their injuries and preseason expectations) largely on the strength of their pitching. Houck is the only Red Sox starter who’s stayed healthy all season, and he’s pitched to a 1.60 ERA. He’s been one of the best starters in baseball and a symbol of what’s kept the Red Sox afloat. — Jennings 

Record: 16-13
Last Power Ranking: 14

One-month MVP: Elly De La Cruz

The Reds continue to be the Usain Bolt of baseball, speeding by teams with their league-leading 52 stolen bases, putting them on pace for 300 swiped bags this season. The electric De La Cruz leads the Reds (and MLB) with a whopping 18 stolen bases, all while hitting .281/.395/.573 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs through 28 games. With his late-season slump long in the past, De La Cruz continues to dazzle and, as Levi Weaver mused, is making a compelling case to create a club of his own by hitting 30 home runs and stealing … 100 bags? Anything seems possible. — McGrath

Record: 14-16
Last Power Ranking: 7

One-month MVP: Isaac Paredes

There’s not really a good choice here, and that might be the reason the Rays are underperforming. Their pitching has been far worse than usual — injuries are taking their toll — and they’re well below average offensively as well. Randy Arozarena isn’t hitting, Brandon Lowe has been hurt (again), and Yandy Díaz isn’t likely to repeat as batting champ. Paredes remains a really good hitter, so we’ll go with him as team MVP, even though his defensive metrics leave much to be desired. If not Paredes, Amed Rosario, maybe? He’s hit really well while playing all over the field, which fits the Rays perfectly. — Jennings 

Record: 15-15
Last Power Ranking: T-11

One-month MVP: José Berríos

The Blue Jays’ offense is off to a sluggish start, mirroring their troubles from last season, while the club has been led by its pitching staff. The best among them has been right-hander Berríos, who looks like he could finally be putting together the Cy Young Award season many expected from him two years ago (when he had his career-worst year). His 1.23 ERA leads all qualified pitchers, while his 36 2/3 innings pitched is fourth in the American League. For the past four seasons, a Blue Jays starter has been a finalist for the Cy Young Award — Robbie Ray won in 2021 — and, early on, Berríos is making it look like that tradition will continue. — McGrath

Record: 13-17
Last Power Ranking: 10

One-month MVP: Ketel Marte

After their compelling run to the World Series last year, the Diamondbacks were a team to watch this year. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten off to the start they wanted and are now dealing with several injuries to their rotation, including starters Merrill Kelly, Ryne Nelson, and Eduardo Rodriguez. And while Zac Gallen deserves an honorable mention for his start to the season, the Diamondbacks might be worse off if not for Marte, the constant in their lineup. After his terrific performance in last year’s postseason, the second baseman has mostly picked up where he left off, batting .307 with five home runs and a .879 OPS through 29 games. If Marte can keep up his production long enough for Corbin Carroll to work himself out of his early-season slump, perhaps the D-Backs can author another late-season surge. — McGrath

Record: 16-12
Last Power Ranking: 20

One-month MVP: Tarik Skubal

If you’re not already, now is the time to start paying attention to the Tigers. Not only are they in playoff contention, but they have enough interesting players worth watching to make this MVP decision at least a little bit difficult. Mark Canha has been terrific, Riley Greene is becoming the type of player we long expected, and there are some legit arms in the bullpen. But at the end of the day, it’s Skubal who leads the way. He’s 4-0 after yet another win on Sunday, and if MVP is overstating it, he’s certainly in the early mix for the Cy Young Award. The Tigers are worth watching anyway, but when Skubal is pitching, they might be elevated to must-watch status. — Jennings

Record: 17-13
Last Power Ranking: 15

One-month MVP: Bobby Witt Jr.

However long it took to write this blurb, the real-time commitment was spent trying to convince myself to go with Salvador Perez. The Royals’ mainstay has been tremendous, hitting for massive power even as he approaches his 34th birthday. Perez is awesome, Seth Lugo has been great, Brady Singer’s been really good, and a handful of relievers have kept the whole thing from falling apart.

But, honestly, the team MVP is exactly who you’d expect it to be. Witt just does it all and may very well be the cornerstone of the next great Royals roster. A month into the season, they’re much better than we — or almost anyone — expected. — Jennings

Record: 9-19
Last Power Ranking: 18

One-month MVP: Jose Altuve

Things are bleak in Houston. The Astros did win a couple of games against the lowly Rockies this weekend, but last weekend, they lost two of three to the Nationals — the Nationals! — and then got swept by the Cubs. The Astros are one of only four teams stuck on single-digit wins. The most consistent franchise of the past seven years seems to have completely lost its magic.

Except, there’s still Altuve. He turns 34 next month, but he’s been as good as ever. Kyle Tucker is elite, and Ronel Blanco is a helluva story, but Altuve keeps putting together a Cooperstown-worthy resume. He might not be there yet, but if he keeps going at this rate, he’ll be in the conversation among the best second basemen of all time. — Jennings 

Record: 14-14
Last Power Ranking: 18

One-month MVP: Reed Garrett

Although this ostensibly looks like cutesy contrarianism, no, Garrett — whom everyone here had definitely heard of before this past month — is nearly as high as any other Met in FanGraphs’ wins above replacement. New York’s key marginal advantage in April has been its bullpen, which has consistently won battles with its competitors to mitigate the club’s rotation deficiencies. Garrett, more so than a returning Edwin Díaz or Adam Ottavino with his 0.52 WHIP, has been critical.

Garrett’s the first reliever in a half-century with five wins by May 1, not because he’s a vulture but because he’s a raptor capable of excelling in every clime. He’s covered the middle innings, he’s covered extra innings, he’s covered your usual high-leverage bridge innings, he’s covered ninth innings in save situations, and he’s done all of those with a surely-this-is-a-misprint 47 percent strikeout rate. — Britton


Logan Webb has continued to impress this season and looks like an NL Cy Young Award candidate in the early going. (Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images)

Record: 14-15
Last Power Ranking: 21

One-month MVP: Logan Webb

I will admit a bias here, derived from watching Webb up close last week at Oracle Park when he dominated the Mets for eight innings. He can make the art of pitching appear so simple on nights like that when he’s pounding his sinker at the bottom of the zone for weak contact and his changeup beneath it for swings-and-misses. He made Francisco Lindor look so bad in four at-bats by throwing nothing but changeups that I asked Lindor the next morning how far off his swing felt. “I’m there,” he said, attributing all those ugly swings the night before to Webb. That afternoon, Lindor got four hits, including two home runs.

This is what Webb’s been doing for a while now, and his ability to get outs quickly and eat innings gives him as good a chance as anyone in the NL to win the Cy Young Award. — Britton

Record: 14-18
Last Power Ranking: 16

One-month MVP: Dylan Cease

Tempted as we are to get cute and give it to Jackson Merrill based on how the 20-year-old has more than held his own in center field, we had to go with Cease. San Diego’s is yet another rotation occupying a descriptive space between “makeshift” and “in disarray.” Yu Darvish is on the IL, Joe Musgrove’s ERA includes most of a touchdown plus a point after, and Michael King has had a rough couple of weeks.

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Cease, on the other hand, has been as good as the Padres could have expected after acquiring him in the spring. He’s gone at least six innings in each of his past five starts; the rest of the rotation has done that seven times total. Keep an eye here on some of the peripheral stats, though, which aren’t where they were in 2022. Cease is giving up harder contact than a sub-3.00 ERA suggests. — Britton

Record: 13-15
Last Power Ranking: 24

One-month MVP: Sonny Gray

The Cardinals justifiably drew heat for their approach to fixing their rotation over the winter. Look, we enjoy collecting Baseball Prospectus’ yearly guides as much as anybody, and we do occasionally peruse ones from 15 years ago for nostalgic kicks. We do not search the 2012 edition for insights on what we should do for the 2024 season.

But the early signing of Gray was terrific from any vantage point, and the right-hander is showing it now. Despite a tardy start to the season, he leads the team in wins and carries an ERA (1.16) within shouting distance of the most famous in team history. He’s struck out eight guys for each one he’s walked. The Cardinals’ April MVP is a black-and-white decision: It’s Gray. — Britton

Record: 14-16
Last Power Ranking: 23

One-month MVP: Jared Jones

From his MLB debut on March 30 onward, Jones has looked like a stud and is building a compelling case for NL Rookie of the Year votes. After six starts, the 22-year-old right-hander has a 3.18 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 34 innings. His 31.8 percent strikeout rate is second in the National League, and his fastball-slider combination has drawn comparisons to Braves ace Spencer Strider. The Pirates are taking a conservative approach managing Jones — and 2023 top draft pick Paul Skenes — but the rookie starter is showing early that he’s already an ace to watch out for. — McGrath

Record: 14-14
Last Power Ranking: 25

One-month MVP: CJ Abrams

Here’s the list of shortstops who have done more offensively this season than Abrams: Mookie Betts (who, why does he even get to count here?) and Gunnar Henderson. He’s in the top 10 in the league in slugging, regardless of position. In the span of about four baseball months, Abrams has morphed from a possible bust into a probable All-Star and potential down-ballot MVP candidate at age 23.

The year-over-year improvement is perhaps best experienced on Abrams’ Baseball Savant page, where his percentile rankings go from an icy blue in 2023 to a spicy red in 2024. (Fine, quibble all you want about the chase rate.) He’s hitting the ball more often, he’s hitting it harder, he’s hitting it farther, and he’s making all the leaps that portend a centerpiece for a franchise that needs one. — Britton

Record: 13-17
Last Power Ranking: 27

One-month MVP: Mason Miller

Would you believe that, until Sunday, the A’s had two pitchers with a first-month case for making the All-Star team? The most obvious was Miller, who’s become a must-watch with the fastest fastball in the game and a strikeout against more than half the batters he’s faced. He’s ultimately our choice for A’s MVP, though, for a while, Paul Blackburn was making a pretty compelling case. He struggled against the Orioles on Sunday, but before that, he was top 10 in the American League in innings and ERA. He’s made six starts, and the A’s have won five of them (accounting for nearly half of their wins). — Jennings 

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Record: 11-18
Last Power Ranking: 26

One-month MVP: Mike Trout

The Baseball-Reference version of WAR is trying to convince me to pick someone else. It’s tempting me with a Reid Detmers breakout, distracting me with Tyler Anderson’s hot start, and trying to sway me with Taylor Ward’s gaudy RBI total and fine defensive work in left field.

But, come on, Trout leads the majors in home runs. He’s stealing bases, barreling baseballs, and playing a fine center field. The Angels aren’t going anywhere, but Trout is healthy and awesome again. Let’s not overthink this. — Jennings 

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Record: 7-21
Last Power Ranking: 29

One-month MVP: Brenton Doyle

Last season, no player with at least 400 plate appearances struck out at a higher percentage than Doyle’s 35 percent. Of course, last year wasn’t a complete disaster for Doyle, who won a Gold Glove for his work covering Coors Field’s expansive center field.

This season, however, Doyle’s bat has led the way. The 25-year-old is slashing .323/.368/.505 in 27 games and leads the Rockies with a .873 OPS. He is still striking out close to 30 percent of the time, but he is making more and better-quality contact. Surprisingly, it’s his defense that’s taken a hit this year, as he’s been worth minus-4 defensive runs saved, per Sports Info Solutions. While many Rockies fans are happy to see Doyle’s bat come around, if he can combine it with his typically elite defense, he can be a center fielder for Colorado for years to come. — McGrath

Record: 6-24
Last Power Ranking: 28

One-month MVP: Trevor Rogers

Up until this past weekend, the MVP of the Marlins’ first month was the White Sox, for hogging all the “Can this team lose more than the ’62 Mets?” attention. Now Miami has a record just as bad and a narrative arc that is arguably worse. At least Chicago didn’t win you over with a strong 2023.

Rogers, for his part, has been a solid starter in the rotation, which is a win given the series of injuries he’s dealt with to his back, lat and biceps since his breakout 2021 season. He’s already made more starts this year than last, and if he can invert a high BABIP and low strand rate, he’ll look even more like his All-Star self.

Plus, despite not taking any at-bats, Rogers is in a large tie for second among Marlins in position player WAR, according to FanGraphs. That’s what happens when Jazz Chisholm Jr. is the only position player with his head above 0.0 WAR a month into the season. — Britton

Record: 6-23
Last Power Ranking: 30

One-month MVP: Campfire Milkshake

I know, I know — this is the running gag around the White Sox after the dismal start to their season. I wasn’t going to stoop this low … and then I saw this meme on Reddit and couldn’t resist. The Campfire Milkshake — a decadent chocolate milkshake topped with whipped cream, a toasted marshmallow, graham crackers and chocolate pieces — has gone viral and become one of the few selling points to attending a White Sox game. It is indeed bleak on the South Side. (Although, perhaps this weekend’s sweep of the Rays was the series that will turn it all around.) But really, one has to wonder what is next for the White Sox. — McGrath

(Top photo of Ha-Seong Kim: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)





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