MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 (again!)

We're more than halfway through August, and teams are making a statement in the MLB playoff races ahead of the final stretch.

Have the Yankees surpassed the Red Sox in our rankings? Are the surging Braves finally in the top 10? Who's on top in the seemingly eternal battle between the Dodgers and Giants?

Here is what our eight-voter expert panel decided based on what they have learned over the course of the 2021 season so far. We also asked ESPN baseball experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 19 observation based on what they have seen recently for all 30 teams.

Previous rankings: Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | 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: 78-43 Previous ranking: 2

Based on their projections heading into the season and the general outlook of their roster, some thought that the Giants might fade down the stretch. Instead, they might be playing their best baseball through what is typically considered the "dog days" of August. Through the first 17 days of the month, the Giants had won 13 of 16 and had outscored teams by a combined 30 runs, boasting a .782 OPS and a 3.06 ERA. The Dodgers are providing a lot of pressure, but the Giants continue to maintain their distance. -- Gonzalez

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 75-46 Previous ranking: 1

While the Dodgers wait for Mookie Betts' troublesome right hip to heal, they can take solace in witnessing much-needed signs of improvement from the previously struggling Cody Bellinger. Bellinger began August with a .163/.263/.285 slash line and five home runs in 48 games. In his first 13 games since, he batted .255/.300/.617 with four home runs. He's not at his MVP level yet, but he seems to be inching closer. And the Dodgers, boosted by the addition of Trea Turner, don't necessarily need an MVP-caliber performance from Bellinger. They just need a productive one. -- Gonzalez

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 74-47 Previous ranking: 3

Watch out for Wander Franco who's heating up at the plate, hitting .288/.344/.559 with three homers, 14 RBIs and 12 runs in his last 15 games. In an effort to add depth to the pitching staff, Tampa Bay added former Yankees closer David Robertson on a minor league deal. Robertson will report to Triple-A Durham with a chance to join the division-leader Rays ahead of the playoff stretch. -- Lee

4. Houston Astros

Record: 70-50 Previous ranking: 4

In some respects, this year's Astros have been something of an enigma. Overall, the quality of the team is clear. Houston has a top-five winning percentage and only the Dodgers have a better run differential. On top of that, only San Diego has a better mark against teams at .500 or better, with Houston going 37-25 thus far. But that's where the enigma starts: The Astros are 33-24 against sub.-500 teams, which is the worst winning percentage among contending teams. In a tightly-packed AL playoff race, there are six teams who can reasonably harbor hopes of landing the eventual top seed in October. All of them, other than Houston, are at least 13 games over .500 against losing teams. To list them: Tampa Bay (39-15), Chicago (52-29), Oakland (46-19), New York (31-18) and Boston (29-16). The good news for the Astros? There won't be any losing teams in the AL playoff bracket.-- Doolittle

5. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 74-47 Previous ranking: 6

The Brewers' offense has been trending in the right direction for a while now. It came together in a huge series sweep against the Cubs and hasn't slowed down much since. Milwaukee was the only team in baseball with an OPS over 1.000 over the past seven days. Their final month will mostly be about prepping for the postseason where their trio of All-Star starting pitchers (Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes) will lead them. Rest may be in order for some next month. -- Rogers

6. Chicago White Sox

Record: 71-50 Previous ranking: 5

Eloy Jimenez made his return to the White Sox lineup with his season debut on July 26. Up to that point, Chicago ranked fifth in runs per game, sixth in average and second in on-base percentage. They ranked just 25th in home runs and 27th in runs via the home run. Since Jimenez's return, the White Sox have added additional longball threats to the mix like trade acquisition Cesar Hernandez and injury returnee Luis Robert. But since Jimenez' debut, Chicago has ranked 11th in runs per game, 21st in average and 19th in on-base percentage. They have also ranked fourth in homers and first in runs via the home run. None of this is to lay anything at the feet of Jimenez, who has been terrific since coming back. It's more to suggest at some point before the postseason, Chicago might want to blend some of the diversity of their pre-August offense with some of the firepower of what they've done lately.-- Doolittle

7. Oakland Athletics

Record: 68-53 Previous ranking: 8

The injury to Chris Bassitt after he was struck in the face by a line drive could have significant implications to this Oakland team. Bassitt has been one of the team's best pitchers this year, posting a 3.22 ERA in 25 games and 151 innings pitched. Starling Marte continues to look like one of the best trade deadline acquisitions, hitting .365/.405/.500 since the trade deadline with two homers and 11 stolen bases without being caught stealing.-- Lee

8. Boston Red Sox

Record: 69-54 Previous ranking: 10

Chris Sale made his return from Tommy John surgery and went five innings, allowing six hits and two runs. With Boston continuing to struggle, the team will depend on his arm down the stretch to push them toward the playoffs. Kyle Schwarber also made his debut for Boston, going 2-for-4 with a run and two doubles. Each loss widens the gap between Boston and the first-place Tampa Bay Rays as the resurgent Yankees continue to inch back up the standings, and the Red Sox lineup rotation and lineup hope Sale and Schwarber can each provide the spark they need. -- Lee

9. New York Yankees

Record: 69-52 Previous ranking: 11

The momentum is on the side of the Yankees, who have been surging since their acquisitions at the trade deadline with series wins over the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and division rival Boston Red Sox. Luis Gil continues to ride a wave of success in the Yankee rotation, going 4.2 innings against Boston in his third start, allowing three hits while walking and striking out four batters apiece. Through three starts, Gil hasn't allowed a run in 15.2 innings pitched.-- Lee

10. San Diego Padres

Record: 67-56 Previous ranking: 7

The Padres are slipping fast, having lost seven of their last eight games to the Marlins, Diamondbacks and Rockies, owners of three of the 10 worst records in the sport. The Padres, coming off a three-game sweep at Coors Field, are a combined 17-18 against the Rockies and Diamondbacks this season, two teams they needed to take advantage of in what is otherwise a brutal National League West. Fernando Tatis Jr. is back -- as an outfielder -- but the Padres are down to three healthy starters in Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell and Ryan Weathers. -- Gonzalez

11. Atlanta Braves

Record: 65-56 Previous ranking: 13

The power-hitting infield has led the surge over .500 and into first place. All four infielders have a chance to reach 30 home runs, which has never happened. The only team with all four of its primary infielders to reach even 25 home runs were the 2008 Marlins (Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu). The season record for an infield is 139 home runs by the 2019 Astros, and the Braves are on pace for 135. -- Schoenfield

12. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 63-56 Previous ranking: 9

Toronto hits a critical stretch of games with their season, with 11 of their next 15 games against the Nationals, Tigers and Orioles, providing an opportunity to beat up on some of the worst teams in the sport and keep pace with the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox. The team's success since the return of outfielder George Springer creates wonder about how good the team could've been had the All-Star outfielder remained healthy the entire season. It bodes well for an improving young team in the years to come. -- Lee

13. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 65-57 Previous ranking: 12

The series loss to the Cubs hurt, but it wasn't season-burying partly because the San Diego Padres aren't playing great baseball. The two teams are vying for the second wild card position. Cincinnati is improving on the mound but their strength continues to be the top of their order. Having said that, it was outfielder Tyler Naquin who led them last week hitting over .400. Add him to the Jonathan India, Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto foursome and the Reds might just hit their way to the postseason. -- Rogers

14. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 61-59 Previous ranking: 14

Bryce Harper continues to make a run into the MVP discussion, although Fernando Tatis Jr.'s return keeps him as the favorite. Harper is hitting .306/.453/.816 with six home runs in August heading into Wednesday, and he now leads the NL in OPS. People will point to the low RBI total (50), although Harper has hit with just 212 runners on base compared to the MLB average of 248 with his number of plate appearances. -- Schoenfield

15. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 61-58 Previous ranking: 19

The Cardinals have been holding out hope that face-to-face meetings with the Milwaukee Brewers would make a difference. It won't. Their only real hope is the wild card, and with the return of Jack Flaherty, they may have an outside shot. Flaherty pitched six scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals in his first action since May. That's a great sign for the stretch run. -- Rogers

16. Seattle Mariners

Record: 6\5-56 Previous ranking: 16

Heading into Wednesday's game, the Mariners' starters had a 2.83 ERA in August -- best in the AL. Trade deadline acquisition Tyler Anderson has a 2.91 ERA in his four starts with Seattle, issuing just two walks in 21.2 innings. A positive sign for Jarred Kelenic: He has cut his strikeout rate to 14.8% in 15 games in August, down from 32.2% prior to that. Down on the farm: George Kirby and Emerson Hancock were promoted to Double-A (and Kirby currently ranks as Baseball America's No. 11 prospect, with Julio Rodriguez and Noelvi Marte in the top 10). -- Schoenfield

17. New York Mets

Record: 60-60 Previous ranking: 15

Tuesday's loss dropped the Mets to 59-60, which is their first time under .500 since they were 12-13. That loss dropped them to 4-12 in August and 5-14 over their past 19 games. Mets owner Steve Cohen is getting upset. "It's hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive. The best teams have a more disciplined approach. The slugging and OPS numbers don't lie." Oh, Steve, you thought owning a major league team would be more fun, didn't you? -- Schoenfield

18. Cleveland Indians

Record: 58-61 Previous ranking: 17

After struggling to find his footing early in the season at the big-league level, lately rookie righty Triston McKenzie has looked like Cleveland's latest successful pitching development story. This was true even before his run at a perfect game at Detroit last weekend, but that masterpiece (91 game score) put his gains on full display. McKenzie still needs to refine his command, as he too often misses in the middle of the plate and gets barreled up more than you'd like to see. But his control -- getting the ball over the plate at all -- has jumped up a tier or two. Overall, McKenzie had a 5.47 ERA with a 32% strikeout rate and a 19% rate of walks before the All-Star break. Since then, the strikeouts have dropped to 22%, but the walks have nearly disappeared, down to 4%. More importantly, McKenzie's trajectory seems to be trending upward, and his progress gives Cleveland fans something to root for as the club plays out the string.-- Doolittle

19. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 61-61 Previous ranking: 18

Anthony Rendon underwent season-ending surgery to repair a troublesome hip recently -- a development that suddenly makes the $188 million remaining on his contract feel a little dicey -- but we also have some good news: Mike Trout is back to doing on-field workouts and seems to be on a path towards potentially returning to play. Trout was putting together another MVP-caliber season before a right calf strain sent him to the injured list on May 17. After a recent setback, it would've been easy for him to give up on the season, given the Angels' place in the standings, but he badly wants to play. And baseball is better for it. -- Gonzalez

20. Detroit Tigers

Record: 58-64 Previous ranking: 20

When Miguel Cabrera becomes the 28th big leaguer to reach 500 career home runs, he'll be the first to do so while playing for the Tigers. That's a bit surprising for a franchise that's been around for 121 years and toiled for much of that time at homer-friendly Tiger Stadium. The only other players that have reached 500 homers and played for the Tigers at any point were Eddie Mathews and Gary Sheffield, and both came close to hitting No. 500 during their time with the Tigers. Mathews hit 493 homers for the Braves, then ended up with the Astros, for whom he hit No. 500 in 1967. He then finished with Detroit, hitting his last nine dingers to end up at 512. Sheffield was even closer: He had clubbed 455 homers for six teams before ending up with the Tigers in 2007. He then added 44 homers to that total over two seasons in Detroit -- leaving him at 499. Sheffield hit 10 homers, including No. 500, for the Mets during his final season in 2009, finishing at 509. The Tigers' franchise record for homers is 399 by Al Kaline. Cabrera was sitting at 361 while awaiting his milestone longball, with his first 138 coming during his years with the Marlins.-- Doolittle

21. Miami Marlins

Record: 51-70 Previous ranking: 22

The Marlins averaged 21,662 fans for a three-game series against the Yankees at the end of July. They drew less than 10,000 fans for all four games against the Mets, and the first two games of the Atlanta series drew under 7,000. The COVID outbreak in Florida isn't helping. They also drew under 10,000 for games against the Dodgers and Padres in early July. Oh, Derek, you thought owning a major league team would be more fun, didn't you? -- Schoenfield

22. Minnesota Twins

Record: 54-67 Previous ranking: 26

In a preseason outlook for the Minnesota Twins, who featured an everyday lineup that would include the likes of Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson, who could have guessed that we reach the latter stages of August and the team's home-run leader would be ... Jorge Polanco? This says more about the Twins than Polanco, who is one homer shy of his career-high of 21 in 2019. Still, there's no doubt that the underrated Polanco has established himself as one of the game's better middle infield bats. The standard setter in Senators/Twins history for middle infield homers is Brian Dozier, who had a three-year run of 28, 42 and 34 homers, respectively, from 2015 to 2017. Beyond Dozier, the only Twins shortstop and/or second baseman to surpass Polanco in a season are Roy Smalley (24 in 1979) and Jonathan Schoop (23, 2019).-- Doolittle

23. Colorado Rockies

Record: 55-66 Previous ranking: 21

The Rockies could be a juggernaut if they never left Coors Field. No, seriously. On the road, they're a ghastly 14-45 with a minus-119 run differential. At home, where they just completed a sweep of the Padres, they're 41-21 and have combined to outscore teams by 74 runs. That is a stunning home-road split, to say the least, but it is not without explanation, given the significant difference in conditions when playing home games at high altitude. It'll be up to the new head of baseball operations -- whoever that is -- to figure out how to make up that gap. -- Gonzalez

24. Washington Nationals

Record: 52-68 Previous ranking: 23

Tuesday's win temporarily halted a 1-12 skid, but this is a terrible baseball team right now. Since Max Scherzer beat the Phillies 3-1 in the first game of a doubleheader on July 29, the Nationals have a 6.11 ERA and have allowed five or more runs 14 times in 18 games (heading into Wednesday). -- Schoenfield

25. Kansas City Royals

Record: 52-67 Previous ranking: 25

During his minor-league career, Nicky Lopez looked like a bat-on-ball maestro who might carve out a niche at the highest level as a high-contact, patient hitter who would add value with his glove and on the basepaths. Alas, he spent much of his first two seasons with the big club in Kansas City looking like someone simply overwhelmed by big-league pitching. This season has been different, as Lopez now looks like a quality utility player, at worst, and possibly even a semi-regular starter in the middle infield. While his lack of power will always be an issue, Lopez's contact skills have finally manifested against big-league pitching, as his 2021 contract rate (85%) rates in the 93rd percentile of all qualifying hitters. He's also filled in admirably at shortstop during the extended absence of Adalberto Mondesi and looks like he'll be a plus defender no matter where you plug him in on the infield. And as for the basepaths: Lopez was just 1 for 7 in steal attempts before this season. In 2021, he's a perfect 13 for 13.-- Doolittle

26. Chicago Cubs

Record: 54-69 Previous ranking: 24

Tryouts are well underway for next season with one player jokingly calling it 'Game of Thrones'-esque. May the best men win jobs. The unfortunate part is the Cubs aren't sending top prospects out to play, mostly older retreads from other organizations. They finally won a series in beating the Reds as the one bright spot of the season. Kyle Hendricks won his league-leading 14th game of the year. -- Rogers

27. Texas Rangers

Record: 42-78 Previous ranking: 27

Texas played the spoiler role over the weekend in a series win against Oakland. They scored 15 runs in winning two games, something that's been lacking since the trade of Joey Gallo to the Yankees. Reliever Joe Barlow has been a nice find this season as he's produced a 0.61 ERA in 16 games to go along with two saves -- both coming against the A's. -- Rogers

28. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 42-79 Previous ranking: 28

Considering how poorly the Cubs are playing, the Pirates actually have a shot at getting out of the cellar of the NL Central before season's end. It may not be their true motivation as the Pirates have to rely on high draft picks -- not free agency -- to improve their team. Building around rookie Ke'Bryan Hayes is the best Pittsburgh can hope for right now. -- Rogers

29. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 40-81 Previous ranking: 30

The D-backs' miserable, tough-luck season received a much-needed feel-good moment on Saturday night, when Tyler GIlbert -- a 27-year-old making his first major league start, who was originally acquired in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft -- threw a no-hitter against the mighty Padres. Gilbert only recorded five strikeouts and allowed 10 batted balls that traveled 95 mph or harder. But as D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said: "We were at the right place at the right time. And made plays. And it equaled a no-hitter." The D-backs will certainly take it. -- Gonzalez

30. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 38-81 Previous ranking: 29

Baltimore finds itself in the middle of a 13-game losing streak and sole claim to the worst record in baseball. As the rebuild continues, the Orioles moved to the top of the FanGraphs farm systems rankings, but whether or not it was worth it will depend on how those prospects eventually blossom at the major league level. Cedric Mullins continues his reign as not only the team's best player, but among the best in the entire sport. -- Lee

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