MLB Power Rankings: Pirates surprising everyone, Yankees struggling to score (2023)

Welcome to the third edition of theScore's MLB Power Rankings for the 2023 season. The last edition ran April 17, while the next edition will be published May 15.

1. Tampa Bay Rays

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The Rays continue dismantling opponents as the only team with a positive run differential in the triple digits. The pitching - led by ace Shane McClanahan - has been very good, but the hitters deserve the praise, which is somewhat uncharacteristic for Tampa. The Rays are the only AL team with two hitters ranked in MLB's top 12 by fWAR: Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena. Franco, a former top prospect, is still just 22 and really seems to be putting it all together with elite contact, pop, and speed. Could the Rays finally have an MVP winner?

2. Atlanta Braves

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Ronald Acuna Jr. is back. A torn ACL clearly hindered him last season, but the star outfielder once again looks like an MVP candidate. Acuna leads MLB with 13 stolen bases and has cut his strikeout rate down 10% from his career average to 14.4%. Sean Murphy has also been a revelation and looks poised to solidify the Braves' catching situation for years. The catcher has a 159 wRC+ while also registering strong defensive metrics.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

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The Blue Jays are arguably the hottest team in baseball and continue to get outsized contributions from Matt Chapman, who leads the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, total bases, wRC+, and fWAR. What really makes them look dangerous right now, though, is the resurgence of Jose Berrios, who's been their second-best starter behind underappreciated ace Kevin Gausman. Despite two dismal starts to begin the campaign, Berrios ranks eighth in MLB with a 2.35 FIP thanks largely to his sudden ability to limit homers. The strikeouts and walk rates are back to career norms after a horrendous 2022, so if Berrios has found a sustainable way to miss barrels too, this rotation is a lot more daunting.

4. Milwaukee Brewers

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18-105-5+283 (-1)

Milwaukee won seven out of 12 to keep pace with the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates. Rowdy Tellez is off to a great start, going deep eight times with an .886 OPS over 25 games. The team will need to rely on him with upstart rookie Garrett Mitchell potentially sidelined for the whole season due to a shoulder injury. On the pitching front, Wade Miley has been a revelation with Brandon Woodruff out long term. The veteran left-hander owns a 1.86 ERA with 1.00 WHIP over five starts.

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates surprising everyone, Yankees struggling to score (1)

5. Baltimore Orioles

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(Video) MLB Power Rankings 5/1 Rays, Astros or Braves #1? Phillies, Pirates & Orioles RISE. Yankees DROP.

And team CEO John Angelos thought this team "overachieved and overperformed" last year. Despite receiving no additional investment into the roster this past winter, the Orioles are hanging among the top teams in the league's toughest division. The rotation remains the biggest area of need, with starters producing a collective 5.28 ERA. The offense has been very good and well-rounded - seven different hitters have appeared in at least 19 games and posted a wRC+ above the league average. Jorge Mateo's breakout remains the most impressive marker. He's already stolen 10 bases and hit six homers - not bad for a guy who didn't manage his sixth homer until June 27 last year.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers

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It’s been an uncharacteristically inconsistent start for one of baseball’s most dependable franchises over the last decade. The Dodgers are hovering around the .500 mark and could certainly use a return to form from star left-hander Julio Urias, who's posting a 4.41 ERA and 4.74 FIP while also allowing 1.93 HR/9. Urias continues to miss bats at a good clip and is also limiting walks, which is a good indication he shouldn’t be too far away from recapturing the form that’s made him one of baseball’s premier starting pitchers. The Dodgers have been able to stay afloat in large part because of Clayton Kershaw's mastery. The 35-year-old owns a 5-1 record with a sparkling 1.89 ERA and 1.2 fWAR across his first six starts.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates really are accomplishing something special, leading the NL in wins and run differential. And they're doing this without a single player - hitter or pitcher - ranking anywhere near the top of league stats. Bryan Reynolds has certainly been impressive, which is partly why he earned a seven-year extension last week. The breakouts of Connor Joe and Mitch Keller have been particularly noteworthy. Joe, a 30-year-old journeyman, returned to the team that originally drafted him this past winter and is rewarding the organization with a .575 SLG and .288 ISO. Keller, meanwhile, is a post-hype former top prospect who's now 27 and has taken a massive stride forward in getting whiffs. Is all of this success sustainable? Who knows. But let's enjoy the Pirates winning no matter how long it lasts.

8. Houston Astros

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The Astros might be feeling some early buyer's remorse on the Jose Abreu contract. Houston signed the former AL MVP to a three-year, $58.5-million contract in the offseason hoping he would solidify first base. Abreu, however, is off to the worst start of his career. He still hasn't hit a home run in 115 at-bats, and his .537 OPS is the sixth-lowest in MLB among the 181 qualified hitters and worst among qualified first baseman.

9. New York Mets

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15-124-6+84 (-5)

New York dropped five out of six before the weekend matchups with the Atlanta Braves were rained out. The biggest news for the Mets is the imminent return of Justin Verlander. The three-time Cy Young winner impressed in a rehab start and will likely return to the majors soon to debut with his new club. The rotation needs a jolt, especially with Carlos Carrasco sidelined. After two games with Atlanta, the Mets will play 13 straight against teams with a losing record.

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates surprising everyone, Yankees struggling to score (2)

10. San Diego Padres

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With Fernando Tatis Jr. finally back, the Padres are starting to resemble the offensive juggernaut many expected. San Diego put on a show in Mexico, scoring 16 runs with six homers in the first game of a series against the San Francisco Giants. Manny Machado had a long-awaited offensive explosion, reaching base five times with a pair of long balls. One area of concern has to be the continued struggles of Juan Soto. The star outfielder is hitting .202 and striking out at the highest rate of his career. Soto is hitting the ball to the opposite field at the lowest rate of his career and pulling the ball at the highest clip of his career. Until he finds a way to start using the whole field again, Soto will likely struggle to approach the gaudy offensive numbers fans are accustomed to.

11. Minnesota Twins

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(Video) MLB Power Rankings #1- Rangers DESTROY Yankees, Dodgers SWEEP Cardinals, Padres Win Mexico Series

Minnesota has been playing around .500 ball over the last few weeks but leads a putrid division that features only one team with a winning record. Joey Gallo's resurrection has been one of the Twins' biggest developments. The former All-Star slugger has swatted seven homers with 14 RBIs and a 1.063 OPS over 19 games. Sonny Gray continues to lead an underrated rotation. The right-hander has accrued a sparkling 0.77 ERA with 46 strikeouts over six starts. He'll have to continue to be great with Tyler Mahle expected to miss time with an elbow strain.

12. Texas Rangers

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Taking three out of four against the Yankees helped soften the blow of losing three straight games to the Cincinnati Reds with two of those via walk-off. The biggest concern in Texas is Jacob deGrom's health. The oft-injured ace is back on the IL with right forearm tightness. He's been exceptional when healthy, amassing a 2.67 ERA with 13.4 K/9 over six starts. The Rangers will need him to stay on the field if they're to have a shot at reaching the postseason for the first time since 2016.

13. New York Yankees

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The Yankees are looking a little toothless at the plate, ranking 28th in runs scored and 30th in OPS over the last 15 days. Reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge is dealing with a hip injury but hasn't hit the ground running in 2023. Judge has struck out more than 32% of the time, with his batting average and on-base percentage slumping compared to last season's transcendent performance. With slugger Giancarlo Stanton also on the shelf with a hamstring injury, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been forced to turn to the likes of Franchy Cordero, Aaron Hicks, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Willie Calhoun more than he likely would've anticipated. Until the Yankees get a bit healthier, it's hard to envision them suddenly morphing into an above-average offensive attack.

14. Boston Red Sox

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The Red Sox continue to get solid results despite a rotation that's really struggled. Boston's starting pitchers rank 29th in the majors in ERA (6.05) - only ahead of the Oakland Athletics. Of the six pitchers to make at least three starts, Tanner Houck is the only one with an ERA under 5.00. Meanwhile, Jarren Duran looks like a different player this season. The 26-year-old is hitting .396/.415/.646 with 10 extra-base hits in 13 games since being recalled and appears much more confident in center field. Masataka Yoshida is also benefiting from a slight tweak to his stance and is 16-for-39 (.410) with three homers over his last 10 games.

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates surprising everyone, Yankees struggling to score (3)

15. Philadelphia Phillies

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The Phillies are beginning to heat up. Phillies fans should be encouraged by Nick Castellanos' and Brandon Marsh's early-season performances. Castellanos appears back to his usual consistent form at the plate after struggling through an inconsistent debut season with the Phillies in 2022. Dave Dombrowski paid a significant price to acquire Marsh at last season's trade deadline, and the outfielder has rewarded that confidence with the best offensive stretch of his career. If Marsh and Castellanos continue to produce, the Phillies should be loaded at the plate when Bryce Harper returns to action - which could be as soon as this week.

16. Chicago Cubs

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14-133-7+4317 (+1)

It could be far worse for the Cubs, who are floating around .500 in a wide-open division and boast the third-best offense in MLB by wRC+. A lot of that is thanks to Patrick Wisdom's white-hot start - he's already hit his 10th homer - and Cody Bellinger recapturing some of the magic that made him the 2019 NL MVP. Perhaps the best sign, though, is that Nico Hoerner is cooking in the shift-restricted world, hitting .328 with a 90.6% contact rate. And despite a rotation that doesn't miss bats, Drew Smyly, Justin Steele, and Marcus Stroman are doing a great job at putting their team in a position to win almost every game they start.

17. Los Angeles Angels

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(Video) MLB Power Rankings #2- Rays WALK OFF; Cardinals, Pirates, Mets, Yankees SLUMPING, Red Sox HOT

Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout continue to produce absurd numbers despite the Angels' mediocre start to the season. Ohtani has seven home runs with an .896 OPS while posting a 1.85 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 34 innings on the mound. Meanwhile, Trout is tied with Ohtani and Hunter Renfroe for the club lead in HRs. The three-time AL MVP is also slashing .308/.395/.589.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks

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Zac Gallen looks like he could win a Cy Young sooner than later. The electric right-hander has now gone 28 straight innings without allowing a run. He's also collected at least 11 strikeouts in three of his last four starts. Everybody expected Corbin Carroll to be an impact player in his rookie season. However, Geraldo Perdomo's production has come out of nowhere. The 23-year-old infielder is slashing .383/.456/.617 through 22 games.

19. Miami Marlins

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The undoing of reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara has been rough. Omitting his stupendous complete-game shutout against the Twins in the second start of the year, Alcantara has a 7.17 ERA. His advanced metrics, specifically the 3.82 FIP, indicate that better days are around the corner, but he's not especially great at missing bats either way. If he isn't working deep into games, that could spell a lot of trouble for the Marlins' prospects as a potential dark horse or NL East spoiler.

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates surprising everyone, Yankees struggling to score (4)

20. Seattle Mariners

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It's been a disappointing opening stretch for the Mariners by wins and losses, but a lot has gone right for the upstart AL West contenders. Jarred Kelenic has continued tearing the cover off the ball and finds himself among the league leaders in a handful of offensive categories (7 HRs, .981 OPS, 1.3 fWAR). Luis Castillo is a legitimate ace and genuine Cy Young contender with a 1.82 ERA and 2.24 FIP through six starts. Unfortunately, that just hasn't been enough, as role players like Kolten Wong (.171/.263/.186) have been entirely unable to contribute at the level expected of them.

21. Cleveland Guardians

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Cleveland's offense continues to hold the club back. While the lineup doesn't strike out, they hit for almost no power, ranking 25th in home runs and 26th in OPS over the last two weeks. Of course, the Guardians proved that they can win without a lot of power last season, but the pitching hasn't been as good this year. Injuries in the rotation have opened the door for Logan Allen, and the young left-hander has delivered. He owns a 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts across 11 innings.

22. San Francisco Giants

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It hasn't been pretty for the Giants, but Thairo Estrada has certainly been a bright spot. The versatile infielder is off to a roaring start at the plate, hitting .346 with 11 extra-base hits. Estrada has benefitted from some good luck in the early going, but he consistently makes contact and causes problems for opposing pitchers. Although president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has thus far failed to lure a marquee star to San Francisco, his 2021 acquisition of Estrada from the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations was a good move.

23. St. Louis Cardinals

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The Cardinals are reeling after a brutal road trip. The Cardinals desperately need All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado to get back on track. The 32-year-old has slumped to a puzzling 65 wRC+ after finishing as a finalist for the 2022 NL MVP. Arenado is striking out at an alarmingly high rate - 21.5% compared to last season's 11.6% - while struggling to make consistent hard contact. The veteran is posting the worst average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, and barrel percentage of his 11-year career. The Cardinals have other issues to address, but it's hard to envision them getting things going in a positive direction until Arenado starts to resemble one of the best all-around players in the game.

24. Cincinnati Reds

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It looks like Hunter Greene is ready for a breakout season. The flame-throwing right-hander has struck out an eye-popping 32% of opponents while only permitting an 8% walk rate. Greene continues to befuddle hitters with a devastating fastball that routinely hits 100 mph paired with a wipeout slider. The next rung on Greene's developmental ladder will be pitching deeper into games. The 23-year-old has only completed six innings twice in six starts this season and only went six or more innings on nine occasions over 24 starts in 2022. If Greene can find a way to keep his stuff strong as he runs up his pitch count, he could blossom into one of baseball's best pitchers before too long.

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates surprising everyone, Yankees struggling to score (5)

25. Colorado Rockies

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Colorado has lost nine out of 13 to worsen an early-season slump. The club only has one qualified hitter with an .800 OPS or better. More is expected out of the veteran bats of Kris Bryant (3 HR, .786 OPS), Charlie Blackmon (2 HR, .793 OPS), and C.J. Cron (6 HR, .747 OPS). The rotation was also dealt a big blow when German Marquez returned to the IL. The longtime Rockies hurler fears that he may require Tommy John surgery.

26. Detroit Tigers

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10-173-7-4727 (+1)

Spencer Torkelson continues to really struggle, hitting two homers while striking out 23 times in 26 games. The 23-year-old is still young, but he's not getting on base, making contact, or hitting it hard when he does. Some Savant numbers indicate that the process is somewhat better than the results, but the upshot is a hitter that's still barely above the mean. Riley Greene isn't looking much better, either (.620 OPS, 37 K in 107 ABs). It might be best for them to work through these things in the minors and gain back some confidence.

27. Washington Nationals

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10-175-5-2629 (+2)

It's been about as dismal as expected for the Nationals, but there are some positives in a developmental year. MacKenzie Gore seems to really be settling into his role as a major-league starter, posting a 3.00 ERA and 3.51 FIP through five starts. His 31.5% strikeout rate is astounding, but he's held back from being truly elite thanks to a 14.4% walk rate. The rest of the way this season, it's about Gore trusting his stuff and commanding inside the zone more often.

28. Chicago White Sox

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Andrew Vaughn's homer Sunday capped a monster ninth-inning comeback to end a 10-game losing streak, but the White Sox situation remains bleak. Internal drama is starting to boil over, as Luis Robert Jr. was pulled from a game for a lack of hustle but claimed he's dealing with a hamstring injury. General manager Rick Hahn publicly said that he should be blamed for the terrible start. Major changes could soon come if the club doesn't get out of this nose-dive.

29. Kansas City Royals

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(Video) Most Surprising Players in MLB This Season

The Royals own the second-worst record in baseball after dropping 10 out of 13 to end the month. Former top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is still struggling to find his game, slashing .222/.266/.393 with four homers over 29 contests. Brady Singer, who broke out in 2022, is one of several slumping starting pitchers. The 26-year-old has authored an 8.49 ERA with 1.52 WHIP over six starts.

30. Oakland Athletics

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The Athletics are giving up runs hand over fist and could threaten some all-time records of futility if they don't figure things out. One of the few bright spots so far has been the play of outfielder Esteury Ruiz. There are concerns about his ability to make contact, but when he gets on base, Ruiz's speed is one of baseball's biggest weapons. The 24-year-old stole four bases in a game against the Angels, becoming the first player since Jon Berti in 2019 to swipe at least four bags in a contest. Watching Ruiz on the basepaths could be one of the few reasons to tune into the A's.


1. MLB Power Rankings 4/26: Rays, Astros or Braves At 1? Astros, Pirates & Orioles RISE. Yankees DROP.
(Jim Riley | BALLCAP Sports)
2. Yankees & Mets Both Lose Continuing Their Nose Dive. PLUS Jays & Braves Win and What Of The Pirates?
(Jim Riley | BALLCAP Sports)
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4. MLB POWER RANKINGS - Pregame Show
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5. Ranking EVERY MLB Team for 2023 Season TIER LIST
6. The Most Surprising Team in Major League Baseball


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