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MLB power rankings: Shakeup for top teams before MLB trade deadline

The 2021 Major League Baseball season rolls on as we are one-third of the way through a 162-game schedule, with the MLB standings delivering quite a few surprises.

Let’s dive into our latest MLB power rankings for the 2021 season with the All-Star Break behind us and the sMLB trade deadline closing in.

1. San Francisco Giants (1)

The San Francisco Giants retain the No. 1 spot in the latest MLB power rankings thanks to the series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Taking three games on the road, even if two are aided by Kenley Jansen, is a huge accomplishment against the reigning World Series champs. Let’s see what pitching they add at the trade deadline.

2. Houston Astros (3)

When presented with a light schedule, great teams usually take advantage. The Houston Astros proved why the Cleveland Indians are a fluke and easily took care of business against Texas. The upcoming week will be telling for the Astros’ World Series hopes with the trade deadline and a litmus test against the Giants.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (7)

MLB power rankings, Nelson Cruz
Jul 23, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) hits a solo home run in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Nelson Cruz trade is significant. Entering Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays ranked 22nd (92) in wRC+ vs. southpaws. For comparison, Cruz holds a 171 wRC+ and 1.10 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season. With Cruz on board, Tampa Bay should approach the trade deadline focused on adding pitching depth and pursuing a Jose Ramirez trade.

4. Boston Red Sox (4)

Boston is back to establishing its control over the inferior AL East opponents. A series victory over the Toronto Blue Jays followed by consecutive wins against the New York Yankees maintained this team’s dominance against its divisional foes. We’ll see if that continues in the next week with the Blue Jays coming to Fenway Park followed by a Red Sox trip to Tampa.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (2)

Before blowing three consecutive saves, including on back-to-back nights against the San Francisco Giants, Kenley Jansen has been sharp in 2021. He posted a 1.24 ERA, 28.7 percent strikeout rate and had just a 0.25 HR/9 at the All-Star Break. Once he gets settled, the Dodgers get healthy and add a set-up man on July 30, fans should calm their nerves.

6. Milwaukee Brewers (6)

The Milwaukee Brewers became the first team in NL history to record 1,000 strikeouts before their 100th game of the season. Milwaukee’s pitching is simply dominant and the lineup is showing signs of improvement. If the Brewers want to contend for the World Series, we’d suggest acquiring another starter and an impact bat at first base by July 30.

7. Chicago White Sox (5)

MLB power rankings, Chicago White Sox
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

If it wasn’t clear before a weekend trip to Milwaukee, the Chicago White Sox need to find help for their lineup. It’s great that Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert are on rehab assignments, that will provide a huge spark. But Chicago must find a quality hitter to fill the void at second base. If that happens, the White Sox can be the best team in the American League.

8. San Diego Padres (8)

The San Diego Padres are starting to get healthy and their pitching is rounding back into form. However, the lineup really struggled to string hits together in key situations against the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins. The Adam Frazier trade is nice, especially considering the cost, but bigger moves are necessary.

9. Oakland Athletics (9)

At a time when many of the top teams in our MLB power rankings are scuffling, the Oakland Athletics stay afloat. Pitching is clearly not this team’s biggest problem, though, strengthening the bullpen is recommended. After missing out on Nelson Cruz, the Athletics must find another way to add some pop to this lineup.

10. Toronto Blue Jays (10)

As mentioned above, many of the best teams in MLB experienced inconsistency this week. So, our latest MLB power rankings before the trade deadline consider how aggressive a front office will be. The Toronto Blue Jays have a deep farm system, a small payroll and are determined to field a winner in their return to Canada. This team could erupt in August.

11. New York Mets (11)

Landing Rich Hill can only be the start for New York. Whether the Mets acquire a big bat, such as Kris Bryant, or find an arm to plug into the middle of the rotation, it’s necessary. This isn’t about winning the NL East, though, that is more in question than before. If the front office has World Series aspirations, it’s time to prove it.

12. Seattle Mariners (13)

After dominating the Oakland Athletics with their pitching, MLB trade rumors have surfaced linking the Seattle Mariners to Whit Merrifield. That would be the dream trade for this franchise, one that might give them an outside shot at a WC spot. Even if a smaller deal is made, this team is going to be a problem in the AL for years to come.

13. New York Yankees (14)

Crushing. That’s the only way to describe the New York Yankees turning a potential no-hitter into another devastating loss. The Clay Holmes trade means nothing and there’s very little reason to forecast good things for this club, even with guys getting healthy, if a big bat isn’t acquired by July 30.

14. Cincinnati Reds (12)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Cincinnati Reds showed some signs of life and gave fans a taste of what a meaningful second-half push could feel like. Cincinnati has since crashed back to earthy and should be aggressive sellers at the deadline.

15. Philadelphia Phillies (17)

The Mets’ recent struggles have opened the door just slightly and it seems Philadelphia intends to make a push. If ownership is willing to go past the luxury tax, even with this team’s thin farm system, the Phillies could make a few interesting moves in the days ahead.

16. Los Angeles Angels (16)

17. Cleveland Indians (15)

18. St. Louis Cardinals (19)

19. Atlanta Braves (18)

20. Detroit Tigers (21)

21. Chicago Cubs (20)

22. Kansas City Royals (25)

23. Colorado Rockies (24)

24. Washington Nationals (23)

25. Pittsburgh Pirates (26)

26. Minnesota Twins (27)

27. Miami Marlins (22)

28. Baltimore Orioles (28)

29. Arizona Diamondbacks (30)

30. Texas Rangers (29)