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MLB power rankings: Padres, Red Sox climb and Cardinals, Yankees drop

We’re closing in on the quarter point of the MLB season and there have already been a ton of surprises. The Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves sit atop the MLB power rankings 2023, with the standings getting even more interesting after that.

As always, a variety of factors influence how the teams are ranked. Several of the top World Series contenders are dealing with signifiant injuries, impacting their immediate outlook and forecast for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, some of MLB’s biggest stars and most recognizable teams are simply falling well short of expectations.

Let’s dive into our latest MLB power rankings, with each team more than 30 games through the regular season.

MLB power rankings 2023: Worst MLB teams right now

30. Oakland Athletics (30)

The Oakland Athletics run differential (-121) entering play on Saturday is almost as bad as the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox combined (134). It truly can’t be understated just how bad the A’s are and it’s even more apparent how little the Athletics’ ownership cares about the historically-bad product.

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29. Kansas City Royals (28)

Kansas City is a passionate sports town, but its fans have no reason to support this current club. Entering the weekend, the Royals ranked 29th in ERA (5.83) and 25th in OPS (.675). Even on a team with some exciting young talent, we can’t blame the local fans for having one of the lowest attendance rates in MLB.

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28. Chicago White Sox (29)

The Chicago White Sox actually took a series against the Minnesota Twins, but nothing anyone has seen through the first 30 games suggests a turnaround is imminent. At this point, it’s time to talk about the White Sox as the most attractive seller at the MLB trade deadline (Luis Robert, Liam Hendriks, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito).

27. St. Louis Cardinals (22)

Picked as the consensus choice to win the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals seem to be in a race for the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft next year. Some might want to blame injuries or bizarre regression (Nolan Arenado), but it’s a combination of everything. Just a few weeks after Carlos Marmol benched Tyler O’Neill for displaying a lack of effort, it now feels like O’Neill was just representing what he’s seen from the organization.

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26. Colorado Rockies (27)

Could a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers represent a sign of hope for the Colorado Rockies? It’s improbable. The Rockies rolled into May 6 ranked 26th in ERA (5.05) with its starting rotation (5.60 ERA) responsible for most of the damage. To make matters worse, Ryan McMahon (10 wRC+), Jurickson Profar (.227 BA) and C.J. Cron (94 wRC+) are all struggling as of late.

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25. Washington Nationals (26)

The Washington Nationals are right where they’re supposed to be in 2023, in a battle for draft position as they hope some of their young talent provides reason for optimisism. Thus far, Washington is on track for a top-five pick, but the early returns from C.J. Abrams (.676 OPS) and MacKenzie Gore (1.42 WHIP) are troubling.

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24. Cincinnati Reds (24)

The 2023 season was always going to be a lost cause for the Cincinnati Reds, but there are some bright spots. Jonathan India (.772 OPS) is playing fairly well and Hunter Greene is developing into an ace. With Greene, Graham Ashcraft and Nick Lodolo at the front of this rotation long-term, Cincinnati’s future is bright.

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23. Detroit Tigers (25)

The continued struggles of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene are becoming a bigger concern in Detroit. However, there are some small positives with each young hitter. Torkelson has only struck out in 19.2 percent of his plate appearance in the last 14 days, while Greene is slashing /271/.327/.354. With little to play for in 2023, all that matters for the Tigers is Torkelson and Greene beginning to find their stride.

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22. Cleveland Guardians (21)

From 5-2 to 14-18, the Cleveland Guardians have plummeted down the 2023 MLB power rankings in a hurry. Pitching isn’t a big issue, Cleveland’s starting rotation ranks 12th in ERA, but this team can’t buy a hit and ownership won’t try. Through its first 32 games, Cleveland has the lowest OPS (.636) in the majors and the second-worst batting average (.224).

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21. Miami Marlins (19)

When the Miami Marlins’ pitching isn’t excellent (19th in rotation ERA), this is one of the worst teams in baseball. The Marlins can rack up singles, but those don’t translate to a lot of runs when the lineup is 25th in slugging (.376) and 27th in isolated power (.126). Just par for the course after similar issues last season.

20. San Francisco Giants (23)

The San Francisco Giants took advantage of an injury-depleted Houston Astros roster just a week after they seized on an opportunity to sweep the lowly Cardinals. Even after those results, the Giants rank 19th in run differential (-16). The past year from the Giants has proven this team isn’t going anywhere if it can’t bring in high-end talent.

Related: MLB standings

MLB power rankings today: Yankees, Astros in trouble

19. Seattle Mariners (19)

We’ll start with the positives for the Seattle Mariners. When the weekend began, Seattle had the 10th-best rotation ERA (3.94) and boasted the fourth-best bullpen (2.87 ERA) in the majors. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to nearly as many victories when the entire lineup can’t even crack a collective .220 batting average. Things might only get worse on the upcoming road trip.

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18. Philadelphia Phillies (18)

Two steps forward, three steps back. Bryce Harper returned far quicker than anyone expected, but the Philadelphia Phillies lost every game with him in the lineup. There’s a tough two-game home set against the Toronto Blue Jays early, but it makes a six-game road stand against the Rockies and Giants feel a lot easier.

17. Chicago Cubs (11)

The Chicago Cubs have run into a bit of a lull in recent weeks, swinging from 12-7 to 16-16. It’s easy to spot the issue for fans, the Cubs’ lineup is slashing .238/.313/.391 in the last two weeks. Thankfully for the Cubbies, St. Louis should provide a spark but that’s immediately followed up by matchups against the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros.

Gordon Wittenmyer, MLB expert and former beat writer for NBC Sports Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times. Get Gordon’s latest Sportsnaut Exclusive today!

16. New York Yankees (9)

Carlos Rodón and Frankie Montas are sidelined indefinitely, meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are on the injured list. This team is a shell of what it used to be, with the Yankees seemingly incapable of avoiding an avalanche of injuries. Facing Oakland (May 8-10) provides a slight relief, but the Rays and Blue Jays take on New York immediately after.

Related: New York Yankees receive troubling Carlos Rodon injury update

15. Arizona Diamondbacks (13)

It’s never going to be pretty with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but they keep hanging around. Merrill Kelly (2.75 ERA) is throwing gems, Zac Gallen is pitching like an All-Star (0.84 ERA) and the Diamondbacks’ lineup (.747 OPS) is at the level where we have to call this club a threat for a Wild Card spot in the National League.

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14. Pittsburgh Pirates (10)

The feel-good story of the 2023 MLB season came off the rails in May. After entering April 30 with a 20-8 record, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost five consecutive games and were outscored 26-6. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Pittsburgh was 9-7 just a few weeks ago. The Pirates are better than we expected, but the reality is this team’s ascension up the MLB power rankings was always going to be very brief.

13. Houston Astros (12)

On the brink of getting Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve back, the Houston Astros rotation was dealt a massive blow. Already without Lance McCullers Jr, Luis Garcia is now headed for Tommy John surgery and Jose Urquidy (shoulder) is sidelined indefinitely. We feared what would happen to Houston if injuries struck its thin rotation and we’re about to find out.

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12. Los Angeles Angels (17)

Already streaking as they head into the weekend, the Los Angeles Angels have an excellent opportunity in front of them. The Guardians and the injury-depleted Astros pose favorable matchups for Los Angeles and if it can take advantage, first place in the AL West awaits.

11. New York Mets (8)

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are back, providing a much-needed shot in the arm for the New York Mets rotation. Things would look even better if Kodai Senga (15.6 percent walk rate) figures out how to command his pitches. Unfortunately for New York, the highest payroll in MLB is still only producing a .710 OPS (16th) and it’s been even worse (.653 OPS) as of late.

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MLB power rankings 2023: Best teams in MLB

10. Boston Red Sox (18)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season began, MLB executives ripped the Boston Red Sox for overpaying Masataka Yoshida. Through his first 28 games, Yoshida (.315/.400/.537) is one of the best hitters in baseball. Between Yoshida, Rafael Devers (32 RBI), Justin Turner (.364 OBP) and Alex Verdugo (.897 OPS), it’s clear who is leading the hottest team in MLB.

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9. Milwaukee Brewers (3)

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at San Francisco Giants
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

After a 14-5 start to the season, the Milwaukee Brewers have come crashing down. Following the latest loss from Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee had lost five consecutive games and the schedule gets a lot more challenging moving forward. With Brandon Woodruff sidelined, the Brewers can only hope Burnes (19.8 percent K-rate) figures things out, otherwise, things get bleak.

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8. San Diego Padres (16)

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres are 9-4 since Fernando Tatís Jr. returned from suspension. During that stretch, Manny Machado boasts a .859 OPS with three home runs and we still haven’t seen Juan Soto (131 wRC+) play at his MVP-caliber form yet. Vaulting San Diego up this high in the MLB power rankings so quickly might be an overreaction, but the best assessment will come after next week’s sets against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins.

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7. Texas Rangers (5)

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Through its first 31 games, the Texas Rangers rank eighth in batting average (.260), fifth in OPS (.786) and 10th in team ERA (3.74). It’s an accomplishment considering the volatile range of performances we’ve seen from this club. Texas keeps its top-10 spot in our MLB power rankings because of injuries and overall performance, but it’s worth keeping in mind the Rangers’ run differential (+68) includes a pair of 13-run wins.

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6. Toronto Blue Jays (4)

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

A trip to Fenway Park saw the Red Sox lineup demolish the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff. It’s a concern, one that has lingered for a while, but Toronto also entered that series with an 18-9 record. If George Springer can regain his form and Daulton Varsho warms up, we’d still bet on one of the best lineups in baseball making the Blue Jays a World Series threat.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (14)

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A six-game winning streak helped the Los Angeles Dodgers catapult back up the MLB power rankings, with the club looking more like the version of itself from last season. It’s a positive development for one of the best teams in the National League, but the bullpen (4.38 ERA) remains an issue that must be addressed this summer.

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4. Minnesota Twins (6)

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

No one would’ve predicted before the season that the Minnesota Twins had the second-lowest rotation ERA (3.13) in the majors. It’s largely thanks to Sonny Gray (0.77 ERA), but Joe Ryan (2.37 ERA, 0.76 WHIP), Tyler Mahle (1.005 WHIP) and Pablo Lopez (3.77 ERA) are equally critical to this team’s success. Throw in the new plan with Byron Buxton and Michael A. Taylor, you’ve got one of the best teams in baseball.

3. Baltimore Orioles (7)

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles are one of the best MLB teams in 2023 and credit can be distributed throughout the lineup. Jorge Mateo (.307 BA, 1.4 fWAR), Ryan Mountcastle (26 RBI), Cedric Mullins (.435 SLG) and Adley Rutschman (.845 OPS) are all playing critical roles. If the Orioles decide to buy aggressively this summer, addressing a bad rotation (5.50 ERA), they are a dark horse threat in the American League.

2. Atlanta Braves (2)

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves might not compile massive winning streaks, they just pick up one series after another. Atlanta is as consistent as they come, boasting a top-five pitching staff and one of the best lineups in baseball. It also helps to have a pair of NL MVP candidates playing every day.

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1. Tampa Bay Rays (1)

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in MLB and there are countless numbers behind it. Entering May 6, Tampa Bay had three players hitting .300-plus, resulting in an MLB-best .877 OPS and .251 isolated power. As for the Rays’ pitching staff, it boasts the lowest rotation ERA (3.05) and the lowest bullpen ERA (2.74) in the majors. Did we mention Tyler Glasnow is close to rejoining Tampa Bay’s rotation? All of this is why Tampa Bay is No. 1 in MLB.

Statistics via ESPN and FanGraphs