May 25, 2024

MLB Power Rankings: Twins, Dodgers stay hot; it’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ week

By Grant Brisbee, Andy McCullough and Stephen J. Nesbitt

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.

Each spring, the reigning World Series champs stage a pregame ceremony to hang a banner, roll a highlight reel and hand out bedazzled diamond rings commemorating their championship.

Then, over the next few months, there will be miniature ceremonies in which the manager gives rings to guys on the other side — the former teammates who have gone on to a different team. The Mariners’ Mitch Garver got his recently, as did the Royals’ Chris Stratton, Will Smith and Cole Ragans, who was traded well before the Texas Rangers won last year’s World Series but will still enjoy the spoils.

Some departures are planned. Others are regrettable. But all influence the team that remains in some way.

That’s why we’re continuing our annual “Wish You Were Here” edition of the MLB Power Rankings, in which we highlight someone for each team who’s currently hurt, has headed off to a new baseball home or, in a few cases, is no longer the player they once were. They were here, and now they aren’t, and their team is feeling it.

Record: 24-13
Last Power Ranking: 2

Wish you were here: Evan Phillips

The Dodgers have a ludicrous roster with as much talent as has ever been assembled, and on Monday they welcomed back starter Walker Buehler, who spent the better part of the last two seasons recovering from injury. But they have only one dominant reliever, Phillips, and he’s on the IL now. Dodgers starters are going deeper into their outings than expected, but if that changes, the loss of their best reliever will almost certainly be felt. Everyone will have to move up an inning to cover for Phillips’ absence, leaving them vulnerable in the middle innings. — Grant Brisbee

Record: 20-12
Last Power Ranking: 1

Wish you were here: Spencer Strider

Sometimes the most obvious answer is the correct one. The Braves have demonstrated their ability to recover from losing franchise cornerstones. The team won the World Series in 2021 despite Ronald Acuña Jr.’s devastating knee injury. But the loss of Strider still stings. He elevated the pitching staff and reduced some of the strain on the bullpen. Atlanta still has enough pitching depth and offensive firepower to win the division for the seventh consecutive season, but the Phillies will make it tough on them. So will the absence of Strider. — Andy McCullough



Braves’ Spencer Strider candidly discusses his elbow surgery and pitching injury ‘epidemic’

Record: 23-11
Last Power Ranking: 4

Wish you were here: Grayson Rodriguez

The Orioles welcomed two of their best starting pitchers back to the rotation last week. Kyle Bradish, who sprained his right UCL in spring training, limited the Yankees to one run and pitched into the fifth inning in his season debut. John Means, an Orioles All-Star during the bad old days of tanking, delivered seven scoreless innings against Cincinnati on Saturday. Corbin Burnes has been excellent, as expected. Less expected have been the strong campaigns from Cole Irvin and 34-year-old journeyman Albert Suárez. Despite the early success, though, the Orioles would like Rodriguez to rebound from his shoulder troubles soon. — McCullough



Rosenthal: Why the Orioles’ latest scouting triumph is a 34-year-old journeyman pitcher

Record: 23-13
Last Power Ranking: 3

Wish you were here: Gerrit Cole

The Yankees have held their own in the rough-and-tumble American League East, even with the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner on the shelf all season. The strength of this team was always going to be its run prevention, which has remained stalwart despite Cole’s absence. The starting rotation features five pitchers with an ERA+ somewhere between league average (Carlos Rodón at 105) and pretty good (Luis Gil at 122). The return of Cole, who has begun throwing light bullpen sessions as he recovers from elbow inflammation, would provide an ace for the unit. The Yankees will need him if they want to leapfrog the Orioles. — McCullough

Record: 25-11
Last Power Ranking: 5

Wish you were here: Trea Turner



Trea Turner to miss at least 6 weeks, testing Phillies’ depth without their most dynamic player

Yes, the injury just happened. And no, losing Turner for at least six weeks will not dim the team’s chances of earning a postseason berth. But the Phillies appear to have a legit shot to overtake the Braves and win the National League East this summer, an achievement that would represent real progress for the franchise. It will be tough to do that with Turner on the mend. The shortstop has been tremendous to start his second season in Philadelphia, still basking in the glow of his late-season revival last August. The fans at Citizens Bank Park will be thrilled for their next chance to give him a starting ovation — whenever that is. — McCullough

Record: 23-12
Last Power Ranking: 6

Wish you were here: Shane Bieber

Baseball-Reference rows are forever. Until the end of time, you’ll see a 0.00 ERA on Bieber’s page for the 2024 season. Perfect, yet simultaneously awful. Two starts. Twelve innings. There’s no telling how Bieber’s season would have gone had he stayed healthy, or how the Guardians might have operated as their ace neared free agency. What we know is that Bieber was brilliant, and then out.

The Guardians have been great without Bieber and Gavin Williams. They’ve thrived without their injured relievers. But now Steven Kwan is hurt, too, testing the lineup but also providing a long-awaited opportunity for Kyle Manzardo. — Stephen J. Nesbitt

Record: 20-14
Last Power Ranking: 11

Wish you were here: Royce Lewis

The outside-the-org answer is obviously Sonny Gray, who has a 0.89 ERA in his first five starts for St. Louis. But with how the Twins rotation is rolling right now, we’ll look at the lineup instead. Byron Buxton landed on the injured list over the weekend, where he joins Lewis, who’s been there since Opening Day.



Twins’ Byron Buxton is encouraged by process, listening to body as injured knee recovers

Lewis homered in his first at-bat this season, singled in his second and then suffered a severe quad strain running the bases. Lewis, when healthy, is a force. We have yet to see him healthy and in the majors for a prolonged stretch. That’s what the Twins are hoping for at some point later this season. — Nesbitt

Record: 19-16
Last Power Ranking: 8

Wish you were here: Teoscar Hernández

According to Wins Above Average, the Mariners are getting the worst right-field production in the American League, and the fourth-worst overall combined outfield production. Hernández, now with the Dodgers, is having a perfectly Teoscarian campaign, with plenty of dingers and a slightly below-average OBP that’s easy to ignore.

Instead of simply retaining Hernández last offseason, though, Mariners president of baseball ops Jerry Dipoto went with his typical Rube Goldberg machine approach to roster building, and now Seattle isn’t as good as they could have been. Still good, mind you, but that’s because of the pitching. One more productive outfielder would have helped an awful lot. — Brisbee

Record: 21-15
Last Power Ranking: 7

Wish you were here: Seiya Suzuki

Suzuki has been a plus hitter since joining the Cubs, but he’s been operating at an elite level since last summer. He batted .313 with a .938 OPS in the second half in 2023, then started hot this season, with a .305 batting average and .893 OPS in 15 games before injuring his oblique in April.

Suzuki and Cody Bellinger (ribs) could return to the lineup this week. The Cubs have held together just fine without them. And though the rotation lost Marcus Stroman this offseason, Cubs starters currently have the fourth-best ERA in the majors — and they accomplished that without Justin Steele, who returned Monday. — Nesbitt

Corey Seager has been uncharacteristically sluggish for the Rangers so far this season. Is his power outage something to be concerned about in the long run? (Ron Jenkins / Getty Images)

Record: 20-16
Last Power Ranking: 10

Wish you were here: The Corey Seager from last season

When Seager finished second in the AL MVP voting in 2023, he did it with all sorts of red ink on his Baseball Savant page, grading out as one of the top players in baseball when it came to exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, sweet-spot percentage and expected batting average. He’s average or worse in all of those categories at the moment, which explains his brutal .291 slugging percentage.When a player struggles this mightily, it’s often because of a nagging injury that isn’t enough to land the player on the IL, so don’t be surprised to find out that Seager has a pulled left doodad or something. That would almost be comforting news for the Rangers, because if this kind of power outage isn’t due to a body part that can heal, it would be absolutely terrifying. — Brisbee

Record: 20-14
Last Power Ranking: 9

Wish you were here: Corbin Burnes

The Brewers led the majors in ERA last season, so currently occupying 19th in that category can correctly be called a disappointment. But also consider that their top pitchers in 2023, by fWAR, were Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Devin Williams, Adrian Houser, Brandon Woodruff, Joel Payamps and Wade Miley. Between injuries and trades, only two have pitched for the Brew Crew in 2024.

Burnes has a 2.61 ERA for the Orioles. He’s an AL Cy Young frontrunner. Sure, the Brewers miss him. But they’re in playoff position anyway, and they have the rights to Joey Ortiz and DL Hall for the rest of the 2020s. That’s comforting. — Nesbitt

Record: 19-16
Last Power Ranking: 12

Wish you were here: Justin Turner

In recent days, the Red Sox have been using the duo of Garrett Cooper and Dominic Smith to plug holes at first base and designated hitter. The Cubs designated Cooper for assignment in late April. Smith opted out of a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay a few days later. The team would probably have been better served taking a more aggressive tack in the winter with Turner, who put together a solid season with Boston in 2023 (23 homers, 96 RBIs, .800 OPS) and looks to be on the same track with Toronto in 2024. — McCullough



Red Sox win on a dizzying day of trades, roster moves and a 14th player to the IL

Record: 18-18
Last Power Ranking: 13

Wish you were here: Brandon Lowe

The Rays miss a lot of players right now. They miss Wander Franco, who remains on administrative leave through June 1 as MLB investigates his alleged inappropriate relationship with a minor. They miss Tyler Glasnow, who has been excellent for the Dodgers. They miss the versions of Randy Arozarena and Yandy Díaz who used to terrorize opposing pitchers. They miss all those injured starters — Shane McClanahan, Shane Baz, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen and Taj Bradley. They miss a healthy and effective Pete Fairbanks. And, certainly, the offense misses Lowe, who is recovering from an oblique strain. — McCullough



Reasons for each MLB team to be optimistic — and pessimistic — about the rest of the season

Record: 19-19
Last Power Ranking: 22

Wish you were here: Juan Soto

The Padres just traded a fairly substantial set of prospects for Luis Arraez, hoping to get a left-handed bat to complement the rest of their lineup. You know who has an even better left-handed bat, though? Hear me out …



MLB trade grades: Taking stock of the Padres-Marlins Luis Arraez deal

Michael King has had his bright spots as a starter, and he was perhaps the key piece of last offseason’s Soto trade, and the Padres were able to turn Drew Thorpe into Dylan Cease, who is thriving, so let’s not pretend the deal has been a disaster. Besides, the Marlins are paying Arraez’s salary, and no one was going to do that for Soto.

You can make the argument that the Soto trade was sensible, and it’s not hard to do. They’re still giving up chunks of the future for a left-handed bat when they had perhaps the very best left-handed bat in baseball just a few months ago. It’s hard not to notice. — Brisbee

Record: 21-15
Last Power Ranking: 18

Wish you were here: Alec Marsh

That’s right — Alec Marsh!

After pitching six innings only once as a rookie, Marsh threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Orioles in his 2024 debut. He blanked Baltimore again two weeks later, and had turned in back-to-back scoreless outings when an elbow contusion sent him to the IL in late April. Marsh has a 2.70 ERA and a 3.26 FIP. It could be smoke and mirrors. He’s not getting strikeouts or swing-and-miss, but so far, it has worked. Marsh is expected to return to the rotation soon, bringing up the rear behind Cole Ragans, Seth Lugo, Brady Singer and Michael Wacha. — Nesbitt



What we learned in MLB’s first month of the season, an unpredictable and electric April

Record: 18-17
Last Power Ranking: 17

Wish you were here: Gio Urshela

In the long run, the Tigers might prefer Eduardo Rodriguez or Michael Lorenzen back in their rotation, but for now, they’re wishing for a lineup upgrade. They rank 24th or 25th in each slash line category, and yet they still have a winning record. Runs are at a premium. Urshela, in theory, should help provide more. Even if he’s not a 20-homer threat — he had none in his first 18 games before a hamstring strain in April — he hits for average and gets on base at a solid clip. When you’ve got five position players on the roster batting below .180, the impending return of a potential .300 hitter is a thrill. — Nesbitt

Record: 12-22
Last Power Ranking: 19

Wish you were here: Cristian Javier

The Astros went on a mini-hot streak last week before dropping their final two games of the weekend, but the story is still the same: Boy, the pitching staff is struggling to stay healthy. They had a strong week in the run-prevention department, but consider how many pitchers the Astros have used in the last couple of seasons:

2022: 22 different pitchers
2023: 24
2024: 23

They miss a lot of pitchers, though the recent return of Framber Valdez will certainly help some. Everyone is happy to see him back, except for the rest of the AL West, that is. — Brisbee



Cristian Javier becomes fifth Astros pitcher on IL

Record: 16-19
Last Power Ranking: 15

Wish you were here: The 2021 version of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

In 2021, at just 22, Guerrero led the American League in homers (48), on-base percentage (.401) and slugging percentage (.601). If it weren’t for Shohei Ohtani, he would have run away with the AL MVP. Even so, the future looked bright. And it still may be, but you have to squint through the clouds of the past few years. Guerrero put together a solid season in 2022 (133 OPS+) and a tolerable one in 2023 (117 OPS+). But he has gotten off to another slow start in 2024, at a time when the Blue Jays are scrambling for a foothold in the AL East. He’s been better than some of the other disappointments in the Toronto lineup, like Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, but Guerrero still shoulders more responsibility, given his talent and his resume. — McCullough



Rosenthal: Guessing which teams could be surprise sellers at the trade deadline, plus more MLB notes

Record: 15-20
Last Power Ranking: 16

Wish you were here: Eduardo Rodriguez

One of these offseasons, I’ll remember that most expensive free agents will break your heart. Maybe put a few sticky notes above my desk. Rodriguez is on the 60-day IL with shoulder tightness and Jordan Montgomery was absolutely lit up by the Dodgers in his last start. There is still a lot of time for both pitchers to contribute to fun and exciting Diamondbacks seasons, but neither of those adjectives are applicable right now.

A pennant-winning team upgrading its rotation with a solid, reliable starter will always be an offseason win. But when you get to the season, sometimes you’re reminded that those spooky comparisons you ignored might have been worth paying attention to. — Brisbee



Weird & Wild: Opposite day for Yankees, D-Backs, Marlins. New lows for White Sox, Rockies

Record: 17-18
Last Power Ranking: 20

Wish you were here: Francisco Alvarez

Experience is vital for a young catcher. When Alvarez injured his thumb last month, the ailment robbed the Mets’ lineup of a player with serious power. It also robbed Alvarez of the chance to grow into his role, in terms of managing pitchers and developing as a hitter. His replacements, Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido, do not offer much offensive potential. Alvarez did. The Mets will be thrilled when he returns. — McCullough

Record: 16-18
Last Power Ranking: 13

Wish you were here: Matt McLain

Not to add salt to the festering wound of a five-game losing streak, but the Reds have the worst batting average in baseball: .210. One point behind the Chicago White Sox. That’s bad company these days.

McLain had a .290/.357/.507 slash line as a rookie. He just hits. He also plays shortstop, so Elly De La Cruz doesn’t have to. But after undergoing shoulder surgery this spring McLain will be out until at least August. TJ Friedl (wrist) should be back soon, and Noelvi Marte (suspension) will return late in the first half. They’ll help. But, boy, these Reds miss McLain right now. — Nesbitt

Record: 15-21
Last Power Ranking: 21

Wish you were here: Joey Bart

Just a few days ago, Patrick Bailey was one of the best stories on the 2024 Giants, which made it easier to understand why they traded away their other first-round catcher. But Bailey is on the concussion IL now, and backup Tom Murphy is on the IL with a knee strain, leaving the Giants with a catching combo of Blake Sabol and Jakson Reetz.

Bart hasn’t had a hit since April 25, so it’s not as if the Giants are missing a potential lineup savior, and it always made sense to give him a change of scenery. The Giants need a catcher who helps their rotation — the only part of the team that’s thriving — with pitcher-whispering and quiet receiving while also giving them at least a chance of offense. — Brisbee

Record: 15-20
Last Power Ranking: 23

Wish you were here: Tyler O’Neill

Since leaving St. Louis, Jordan Montgomery won a World Series with the Rangers. Jack Flaherty is leading the AL in strikeouts with the Tigers. Jordan Hicks has a 1.89 ERA (as a starter!) with the Giants. And yet at this point, pitching isn’t the Cardinals’ primary problem; St. Louis needs O’Neill’s bat back more.



Cardinals’ frustrations on offense reach new low in series loss to White Sox

The Cardinals entered the week tied with the White Sox for fewest homers in the majors, with 23. O’Neill has nine so far for the Red Sox, already matching his 2023 homer total, and leads the AL in slugging percentage (.637) and OPS (1.044). He’s chasing less, whiffing less, walking more and barreling more than ever before. That trade looks like a massive mistake. — Nesbitt

Record: 17-19
Last Power Ranking: 26

Wish you were here: Sam Moll

This is typically where I’d make a cheeky reference to Walter Haas Jr. as the most crucial missing piece. Maybe I’d recount the tale of the level-39 warlock who stole Dave Kaval’s human essence and keeps it in a jar in his alchemical workshop. But the A’s are almost .500, and they keep climbing these charts. Good for them.

If they’re a normal baseball team with normal needs, then they could probably use another reliable left-hander like Moll in the bullpen to pair with Kyle Muller, as T.J. McFarland is struggling. Moll was just optioned to Triple A after five scoreless innings with the Reds, but if the category is “Players from the 2023 A’s who could help the 2024 A’s,” it’s slim pickings. Other than that, though, there isn’t anyone responsible for last year’s “success” who could have helped this season. That’s by design. — Brisbee

Record: 17-19
Last Power Ranking: 24

Wish you were here: Johan Oviedo

Losing Oviedo to Tommy John surgery this winter sent the Pirates scrambling to fill his innings. The timing was tough — for them, but also for him. Oviedo had shown serious promise in a season and a half since a trade over from St. Louis, posting a 4.15 ERA in 39 starts for the Pirates. He had a habit of letting homers fly about once a month, but aside from a handful of blow-ups Oviedo was generally reliable and occasionally dominant. Oviedo, Mitch Keller, Jared Jones and Paul Skenes would have set a strong foundation for the 2024 rotation. — Nesbitt

Record: 17-17
Last Power Ranking: 25

Wish you were here: Josiah Gray

Don’t look now, but the Nationals are playing some of their best baseball since 2019. This is not exactly the highest compliment, but it does represent progress for the franchise. Some of the young players acquired during the franchise’s rebuilding phase are looking more like cornerstones. CJ Abrams looks like a stud. MacKenzie Gore has taken a step forward. The club is still missing Gray, who suffered a forearm strain in early April. The initial diagnosis suggested he was dealing with a muscular problem, rather than issues with his ligament. If he can return with good health, the Nationals can continue to flirt with .500. — McCullough

Record: 12-23
Last Power Ranking: 27

Wish you were here: Shohei Ohtani

Once upon a time, there was a baseball team that had two of the greatest talents in the history of the sport. They were on the same team at the same time. You could buy a ticket and watch them and everything. They showed moving pictures of them on the tee-vee, and people from all over the world would watch.

Without Ohtani — and with Mike Trout likely to miss most of the 2024 season — what are the reasons to watch the Angels, exactly? To see if first-round picks like Nolan Schanuel, Zach Neto and Jo Adell can form the nucleus of the next playoff team? There’s watchability in there for the baseball sickos, but those types were always coming back. There’s nothing the Angels could have done to keep Ohtani, but they sure miss him. — Brisbee



Rosenthal: Mr. Angel? Mike Trout’s chance of ever escaping the franchise now seems even less likely

Record: 10-27
Last Power Ranking: 28

Wish you were here: Luis Arraez

Too soon? Look, the Marlins are in a terrible spot. They’ve lost Sandy Alcantara and Eury Pérez to elbow reconstruction. Braxton Garrett is hurt. Trevor Rogers has been unable to build upon his 2021 breakout campaign. The club is going nowhere in 2024. It made sense for new president of baseball operations Peter Bendix to start dealing away useful big-league players for minor-league reinforcements. With Arraez gone, though, it becomes that much more challenging for the Marlins to score runs on a daily basis. In the long run, the trade may look like a coup for Bendix, especially if Dylan Head reaches his ceiling. In the short term, an already struggling team became that much harder to watch. — McCullough



Rosenthal: For the Marlins, will the return in Luis Arraez trade make sense in the end?

Record: 8-26
Last Power Ranking: 28

Wish you were here: Yes.

Who does this team miss? You can’t miss players if you’re bringing back essentially the same roster every year. So instead of pretending that Randal Grichuk would have been the difference maker on this team, just look at the “Who they’re missing” prompt a different way. They’re missing all sorts of things.



Rockies set MLB record while trailing for 29 consecutive games

Better baseball players at almost every position is the main one, though. If the Rockies can get their hands on 23 or 24 of those, then they’ll really be cooking. — Brisbee

Record: 8-27
Last Power Ranking: 30

Wish you were here: Dylan Cease

We could get squirrelly and pick Reynaldo López, who has a 1.50 ERA in 30 innings for the Braves. But we’ll stay with the simplest answer and say Cease, whom the White Sox traded during spring training. He has a 2.55 ERA across seven starts for San Diego, and he’s gotten there pitching the same way as ever, only better. While maintaining a 30 percent strikeout rate, Cease has a career-best walk rate (8.7 percent) and hits per nine innings (4.3), for an 0.803 WHIP. Here are Cease’s earned-run totals per start so far, in descending order: 5, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 0. He’s put himself back in the Cy Young Award conversation. — Nesbitt

(Top photo of the Minnesota Twins: David Berding / Getty Images)