MLB Power Rankings Week 12

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After a short stay at the top of the list by the Tampa Bay Rays, a new team has passed the defending AL champs as No. 1 in our final MLB Power Rankings of June.

Did the San Francisco Giants finally impress our voters enough to move to the top of our list, or have their division mates in Los Angeles or San Diego edged them out for the spot? Is owning MLB’s most potent offense enough to propel the Houston Astros into the top spot? And how far did Tampa Bay tumble this week anyway?

Here is what our eight-voter expert panel decided based on what they have learned in the first two-plus months of the 2021 season. We also asked ESPN baseball experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 12 observation based on what they have seen recently for all 30 teams.

Previous rankings: 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: 48-26
Previous ranking: 4

Evan Longoria, one of their biggest offensive producers this year, continues to be out with a shoulder injury, but the Giants just keep on winning. And the reason is obvious: They can pitch, regardless of what the track records on their staff might suggest. Tuesday was a great example. Anthony DeSclafani wiggled out of some early trouble against the Los Angeles Angels and contributed seven shutout innings. It was the Giants’ major league-leading 10th shutout of the season. DeSclafani has a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings this month. — Gonzalez


2. Houston Astros

Record: 46-28
Previous ranking: 6

After losing at Boston on June 10, the Astros could take solace in their upcoming schedule, which appeared to be the softest patch on the slate, save for a four-game home series against the first place Chicago White Sox. Houston ended up steamrolling Chicago in four straight, outscoring the ChiSox 27-8. Meanwhile, that soft patch on the schedule is far from over. After Houston finishing off a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, they depart for four games in Detroit before returning to Minute Maid Park for a return match with woeful Baltimore. Houston is 17-4 this month, has outscored opponents by more than a 2-to-1 margin and has outhit them .303 to .199. Baseball’s hottest team is poised for an epic month. — Doolittle


Record: 44-30
Previous ranking: 3

The Dodgers activated Max Muncy off the injured list Tuesday and got Cody Bellinger back Wednesday. Soon, Corey Seager will venture out on a rehab assignment. The Dodgers have been among the sport’s best teams all year — both in winning percentage and run-differential — but their lineup hasn’t really been whole for any stretch of time, which makes you wonder if their best baseball might follow in the second half. — Gonzalez


Record: 44-30
Previous ranking: 2

Just when the White Sox seemed to anoint themselves as a team of destiny capable of putting up elite run totals despite missing more than half its regular lineup some days, suddenly Chicago’s attack has fallen on hard times. The White Sox dropped the first five games of a six-game road trip while scoring just 11 runs in the process. Some of the regression was to be expected. After Yermin Mercedes began the season as if he’d mastered the art of hitting, he’s fallen into one of the worst slumps of any hitter in baseball. Mercedes has hit .113 since May 25 with two extra-base hits in 86 plate appearances. On the flip side is the regression the White Sox could not have planned for: Reigning MVP Jose Abreu has followed a blistering May with a blubbering June, punctuated by a 4-for-31 skid during the White Sox’s current downturn. — Doolittle


Record: 45-32
Previous ranking: 8

The Padres have been winning, but manager Jayce Tingler has often said he doesn’t believe his team has been its best version just yet. Two of the biggest reasons, one would assume: Manny Machado hadn’t gotten hot and Blake Snell has struggled. These last few days have offered up encouraging signs for both. Machado, who has been among the league leaders in average exit velocity, accumulated seven extra-base hits over a recent nine-game stretch. And Snell pitched five scoreless innings on Tuesday night, leading the Padres to their sixth win over the Dodgers in the last seven games. — Gonzalez


6. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 44-31
Previous ranking: 1

Tampa Bay fell out of first place and lost ace Tyler Glasnow to a torn UCL, but calling up top prospect Wander Franco provided a bright spot. Franco impressed in his MLB debut, hitting a double and a homer against the Red Sox. Tampa Bay doesn’t need the 20-year-old to be a star immediately, but if he acclimates quickly to the talent level in the majors, Franco could prove to be a difference-maker in what’s shaping up to be one of the game’s tightest division races. — Lee


Record: 45-31
Previous ranking: 5

The Athletics remain neck and neck with the Astros in the AL West, with strong contributions up and down the roster. Case in point: Tony Kemp, who’s providing the team with a regular spark off the bench. Kemp is putting together the best season of his career, with an fWAR already higher than any season total in his six years in the major leagues. — Lee


Record: 44-30
Previous ranking: 7

Boston’s rotation struggled in June, with many of the team’s starting pitchers — most notably Eduardo Rodriguez — failing to make it deep into games. Despite that, Boston sits atop the AL East, ahead of the Rays. The team’s offense remains a bright spot, led by shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who ranks third in baseball in fWAR behind just Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Ronald Acuna Jr. — Lee


Record: 38-31
Previous ranking: 10

Jacob deGrom made his scheduled start and tossed a ho-hum five scoreless innings on Monday to lower his ERA to 0.50, but then came the bad news for the Mets. Joey Lucchesi will undergo Tommy John surgery and then Marcus Stroman left Tuesday’s start after one inning with a sore hip. Stroman wanted to stay in, so maybe it’s not serious, but with Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard still out, the Mets’ rotation depth is suddenly a concern. — Schoenfield


Record: 41-33
Previous ranking: 9

The Cubs might be the most unusual good team in the league. Currently, they aren’t hitting much — averaging under two runs a game over the last week — and outside of Kyle Hendricks, the starting rotation has been mediocre. But a lights-out bullpen led by Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel is shortening games to six innings. That, and Hendricks’ eight-game win streak has kept the Cubs near the top of the NL Central. — Rogers


Record: 40-31
Previous ranking: 13

Aaron Civale looks like the latest Cleveland starter to make the leap from the back of Terry Francona’s rotation in one season to Cy Young contention the next, joining the likes of Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Civale’s rise to prominence was interrupted by an injury to the middle finger of his pitching hand on June 21 that forced him out of a start one out shy of what would have been his MLB-leading 11th win. He is headed to the IL, where he will join Bieber and Zach Plesac. Meanwhile, a team built on a foundation of starting pitching ranks in the middle-of-the-pack by most starting pitching measures for the season, and now is missing its top three weapons. And yet … Cleveland continues to hover near the lead in the AL Central. Incidental note: There have been eight managers who have won at least three Manager of the Year awards. Francona has two, with his most recent coming in 2016. — Doolittle


Record: 42-33
Previous ranking: 11

The Brewers avoided a disastrous road trip against two of MLB’s worst teams after losing games started by Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in Colorado. They recovered to win the final two against the Rockies before taking two of three in Arizona. The return of Kolten Wong from another injury should be a big boost to Milwaukee both at the plate and on defense. — Rogers


Record: 39-34
Previous ranking: 14

As quickly as the panic rose, it subsided. The Yankees soothed fans by sweeping the division rival Toronto Blue Jays and then taking two of three games from the red-hot A’s. New York hopes to get a boost in its offensive production with the return of Luke Voit, who homered on the first pitch he saw after being activated from the IL. — Lee


Record: 37-35
Previous ranking: 12

The return of George Springer to the lineup provides a massive spark for a team currently sitting in fourth place in the AL East, but still within striking distance of the first-place Red Sox. Springer, who signed a six-year, $150 million contract in the offseason, started the season on the injured list due to a strained right quadriceps and played just four games in late April before the same injury landed him back on the IL. — Lee


Record: 39-37
Previous ranking: 22

A four-game sweep at home over the Rays included three walk-off wins, highlighted by Shed Long Jr.’s grand slam on Sunday. The Mariners followed that with a 2-1 win over the Rockies, with Long’s home run in the eighth the winner. That gave them 13 wins in their final at-bat, most in the majors. — Schoenfield


Record: 35-38
Previous ranking: 17

With Max Fried hitting the IL with a blister problem, the Braves need somebody to step up in the rotation and Charlie Morton has done that his past two outings. He took a no-hitter into the seventh against the St. Louis Cardinals and finished with 7⅔ scoreless innings, and followed that up with seven scoreless against the Mets, allowing one hit with 11 K’s. — Schoenfield


Record: 36-38
Previous ranking: 19

The Angels have found a way to remain relevant while Mike Trout rehabs from a strained calf muscle, and Shohei Ohtani, of course, has been the biggest reason why. Last week was a perfect encapsulation of his comprehensive dominance. He hit six home runs in seven games, and he pitched six innings of one-run ball. It’s probably already too late for the Angels to chase down the Astros, but simply playing meaningful games in August and September would be a major breakthrough for a franchise that has made the postseason only once over the past 11 years. It’s Trout’s greatest desire. — Gonzalez


Record: 36-36
Previous ranking: 15

A five-game losing streak — including four to the Padres on the road — dropped the Reds back to .500 after a recent surge. Their problems came on the mound, where Cincinnati compiled a 6.00 ERA on their six-game road trip. If Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos cool off — and they have a little — Cincinnati might be in trouble on offense as well. — Rogers


Record: 36-38
Previous ranking: 18

St. Louis is doing its best to recover from a rash of injuries but every time the Cardinals get started, they take a step back. After sweeping the Marlins, they lost a series to Atlanta then the opener against the lowly Tigers. The organization has almost never subtracted from its team in July but it may have to consider it this year. If not, the Cardinals need help — both on the mound and at the plate. — Rogers


Record: 35-36
Previous ranking: 21

Scherzer returned from his short IL stint to beat the Phillies in an eventful matchup on Tuesday. That was the Nationals’ eighth win in nine games and they have suddenly jumped back into the playoff picture in the NL East. Scherzer is making a strong case for an eighth straight All-Star selection, as he’s 6-4 with a 2.19 ERA and 112 K’s in 82⅓ innings. He’s allowed zero or one run in nine of his 14 starts. — Schoenfield


Record: 34-37
Previous ranking: 16

The Phillies-Nationals rivalry just got a lot more interesting after Joe Girardi had Max Scherzer checked mid-inning for illegal substances and then later got ejected after Scherzer gave him the stink eye and Girardi challenged Scherzer to a fight. Overshadowed in all of that: Zack Wheeler’s hot streak — 1.25 ERA over his previous eight starts — came to an end in that game as he lasted just three innings, throwing 73 pitches. — Schoenfield


Record: 31-42
Previous ranking: 20 Poor Sandy Alcantara. Last week, he lost 1-0 to the Cardinals on an unearned run in the ninth inning, the first complete-game loss for a Marlins starter since Ricky Nolasco in 2012. Then on Tuesday, he allowed one run in eight innings against the Blue Jays, only to end up with a no-decision in a 2-1 loss. — Schoenfield


Record: 33-39
Previous ranking: 17

After tearing through the Royals’ Central-exclusive September schedule last year, Adalberto Mondesi seemed poised to fulfill his long-coveted potential. In a sense he has: Mondesi is hitting .361/.378/.833 this season. His six batting runs above average ranks second on the Royals to Salvador Perez. The problem of course is that Mondesi has put up those numbers over just 10 games and 38 plate appearances. He hit the IL for the third time this season earlier this week, this time succumbing to an oblique injury. — Doolittle


Record: 31-42
Previous ranking: 24

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Byron Buxton has hit .282/.322/.581 with 35 homers, 98 RBIs and 23 steals per 162 games. On a per-650-plate-appearances basis, he’s averaged eight baserunning runs above average, 32 defensive runs saved and a Trout-like 9.8 WAR, per baseball-reference.com. During that time, Buxton has participated in 52 percent of the games the Twins have played. And that number is about to dwindle further: Buxton is out again, this time after having his hand broken by a pitch on June 21. — Doolittle


Record: 32-42
Previous ranking: 27

The Tigers will be able to dangle some intriguing trade candidates during the run-up to the trade deadline, with starter-turned-closer Michael Fulmer emerging as a classic kind of deadline target. Yet Detroit’s best opportunity for bringing back an impact prospect in a deal may have already been lost, thanks to Matthew Boyd’s injury. Boyd, 3-6 with a 3.44 ERA and 125 ERA+, hit the injured list after experiencing shoulder discomfort last week. Later, Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said that Boyd will be shut down until after the All-Star break. The break ends for Detroit with a doubleheader against Minnesota on July 16, a little over two weeks before the deadline. That will make it tough for Boyd to reestablish himself in time for contenders to make a push for his services. Still, the deadline’s starting pitching outlook looks pretty woeful at the moment, so you never know. — Doolittle


Record: 31-44
Previous ranking: 25

The Rockies, who recently lost two assistant general managers over the course of a week, have actually been worse than the D-backs on the road. After Tuesday’s loss in Seattle, they were 5-28 away from Coors Field, mustering only a .567 OPS on the road — 127 points below the major league average. Home/road splits can usually be lumped in with the long list of statistical anomalies within a baseball season. But for the Rockies, who face completely different conditions when playing outside of high altitude, it’s a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed with urgency. — Gonzalez


Record: 27-47
Previous ranking: 26

Texas still hasn’t won a series since late May and the losses are piling up. A home sweep to the lowly Twins last week has to be one of the lowlights of the season for the Rangers. It wasn’t a particularly good seven days on the mound for Texas as their 5.28 ERA shows. — Rogers


Record: 26-46
Previous ranking: 28

A healthy Pittsburgh lineup is starting to play the spoiler role as the Pirates ended a long losing streak with a series win against Cleveland and then won the opener against the White Sox. Second baseman Adam Frazier is among those playing well and could find himself in the middle of trade talks next month. He compiled an OPS just under 1.000 last week and is hitting over .320 on the season. — Rogers


Record: 23-51
Previous ranking: 29

Cedric Mullins continues his star turn in Baltimore. The Orioles selected Mullins in the 13th round out of Campbell University in 2015, and he rose through the minor leagues as a relatively unheralded prospect. So far this season, he’s been one of the best hitting outfielders in the sport. — Lee


Record: 21-54
Previous ranking: 30

You might have heard that the D-backs have been losing a lot of games recently — 17 in a row and 40 of 45 until finally winning on Monday, not to mention 23 in a row and counting on the road — but you might be confused by it. The D-backs’ lineup isn’t that bad. And their starting pitching looks decent when healthy. But that rotation has been anything but, and now their lineup will be short-handed again with Ketel Marte nursing a hamstring injury. Marte will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about players leading up to the trade deadline, but it’s hard to imagine — even given these circumstances — that the D-backs would trade him given his team-friendly contract. — Gonzalez

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